Daring Enough to Make Mistakes and Admit Them
A personal reflection on the Asialink Urban Sketching Trip to Kuching by Yuki Lee Yu Qiao (S3S)
I felt that the Asialink Kuching Urban Sketching trip really let me grow as an artist. By observing many other experienced artists and architects, I was able to break it down composition, technique and media wise to understand their purpose, style and final outcome on a deeper level than I usually would have been able to before.
Since I did not have much experience in other forms of media apart from color pencil, graphite and acrylic, this trip that recommended the use of watercolor really incentivized me to embrace failures and mistakes. One of the older, more experienced artist, Mr Tony Chua said “Do not be afraid of failure.” Those words resonated deeply within me, and as I think about it now many new ideas come into my head, but the best thing is that I am no longer afraid to put them onto paper instead of hiding them away in the recesses of my mind.
The aesthetic quality that mattered the most to me this trip was composition. It was the ability to look at an object and quickly rearrange its position onto a piece of paper, altering angles and shapes to make it look pretty, was the ability that I felt I lacked. By practising more of urban sketching, I feel like the time limits presented and the necessary sacrifice to quality and detail sometimes necessary in order to finish the product have taught me to be less stingy with small details and focus on my main subject of an art piece.
By first visualising the final product in it’s desired composition, I simplified the object that I was looking at into a large block, placing it on paper. This sometimes required a simple pencil sketch of the general shape before I could use pen to map out the details. I have not yet reached a level where I can directly pen out the shape, however I am working on improving my tolerance of mistakes when I do put pen on paper and make small mistakes. While observing many talented and experienced artists, the bar for my own expectations have been raised higher since the trip. I have a broader range of styles to reference from that all differentiate from each other in the weight of strokes, intensity of color, choice of color palettes and technique of watercolor used.
I am pleased with some of the growth that I have achieved during this trip, especially with capturing the life and brightness of the city Kuching. My weak point was drawing architecture and solid buildings; at the beginning of the trip I was much more comfortably drawing people and their features. However, after experiencing the friendly, captivating culture of Kuching, it has sparked a craving in me; to capture the city in all of its glory. Even if my current skill set has not been able to do so efficiently, I feel like it definitely played a part in invoking an interest in sketching the area.
I reached out of my shell and communicated with many names, some big and some small, and gained valuable information, such as the validity of art schools and how to add in an abstract twist in ruined artwork by covering them with colorful magazine pastings among other things. Some of the mistakes resulting from my experiments still make me cringe and blush to my embarrassment, because the piece will look as if a preschooler has drawn it, but when looking back through my sketchbook, these mistakes make me smile in pride at the bravery I emitted when I was daring enough to make mistakes and admit them.
This trip has allowed me to grow not just as a budding artist, but as a person. I hope that whatever is in my sketchbook tells as such.