New York Trip Reflections

Empire State Building as seen from Top of the Rock

Image via Wikipedia

Reflections that I’m submitting to the school. Personal thoughts not included, naturally.

On this trip we visited several museums, and I immensely enjoyed most of them. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Museum of Modern Art’s 19th- and 20th-century wings as well as the Guggenheim’s 19th-century collections were all of great interest to me. I am one of those people who can spend hours in front of a classical sculpture or painting; one who believes that art’s highest purpose is to bring beauty to the world. It is quite an old-fashioned view, I suppose, but it could be argued that beauty exists in different forms and thus my maxim encompasses all kinds of art from old to new. Thus I spent many happy hours in these museums sketching and just taking in the skill of the works. Before leaving for New York I had already tentatively tried out oil paints after being inspired by some contemporary illustrators who worked in oil. Now I am further convinced that I would like to work in a traditional style using oil paints for my art ILP this year.

I was not very fond of the modern art museums such as MoMA PS1 and the New Museum because the works there came with little or no explanations/wall text, making them hard to understand. Some of the works there were just plain strange or “vulgar” by today’s standards as well. However after thinking about this for a while I decided that our reactions to these works now would be akin to how critics reacted to new, experimental styles of art that started emerging in the 19th century like Impressionism or Fauvism. Back then works in these styles were regarded as vulgar and almost blasphemous. Now we wonder how such masterpieces could ever be derided and say that critics of that time were too stuffy and conservative. And yet now I was acting like one of these conservative critics when faced with new art forms, because I had been raised to believe that the works of the Old Masters were the ultimate form of beauty. I decided that I should not be too closed-minded and disparage a work just because it offended my sensibilities.

After visiting the Empire State Building, I accidentally took one of their audio guide machines with me. This incident was quite embarrassing but on the plus side it made me become much more careful and alert when we visited other places of interest. Speaking of alertness, I feel I did quite a good job of taking care of my personal belongings and being sharp. Even though I was sleeping most of the time when we took the subway and a bit zoned-out due to jet lag, I made sure to stay near the group and stay cautious of suspicious strangers like a tout who offered us a ride back to our hostel one night after we finished a sightseeing cruise.

Some of the others on the trip wanted to spend all the available time shopping, which I think is the wrong attitude. After all, the main aim of the trip was not to shop but to learn more about the cultures of the world. The shoppers probably felt I was a bit of a spoilsport in this regard but my reasoning is why fly to the other side of the world just to buy something you can get for pretty much the same price back home? It’s not as if the product is any better – even a Made in America or Japan tag doesn’t guarantee quality nowadays. Standing in between two towers made of melting white chocolate in an installation, now that’s something more intimately tied to the experience of being overseas.


The Tragic Tale of the Holga and I

I went out for a little gallivant on the 18th with The Holga (I am considering giving it a name, as I often do with my possessions) and took some photos. At least, that’s what I planned to do. In a way, I did, but it wasn’t quite what I had in mind.

I spent 20 minutes trying to figure out how to load the film. Then I asked my mum to help me, and she spent 15 minutes doing that. Basically I couldn’t manage to get the tabbed bit (the “leader”, I think)  at the front to stay in the take-up spool properly. But it got loaded in the end. The numbers in the little red window at the back were upside-down though…I’m not sure if that’s supposed to happen.

Afterwards (“afterwards” is an acceptable variant of “afterward”, Firefox, no matter what you tell me. In fact, my dictionary defines “afterward” as Am E AFTERWARDS) I took the roundabout way to the field near Holland Link. And I had just taken a photo of some rich person’s really cool sidewalk-lining flower plantation, crossed the road, when it rained. If you have never been to Singapore then you will not understand the way rain happens here. Simply put, rain just happens. There is no gradual build-up in intensity, no warnings (you might get lightning, if you’re lucky). You just get drenched and then it stops (the same way, it’s like there’s an on/off switch for it in the heavens) and you’re left wondering what the blazes just happened and why your clothes and hair are all wet.

I did get to see these really cool god rays coming up and out from behind a cloud though. Very nifty.

Speaking of which, the shutter seemed to be permanently set to Bulb mode though I set it to Normal. But it worked when I tested it without the film inside…

To top it off I put in ISO 100 film = totally underexposed? Either that or I accidentally exposed the whole roll when loading. Oops.

I also went to the Botanic Gardens at night, and discovered that my hands are very shaky indeed.

10 Things I Learnt About Oils Today

  1. A palette can be easily made by wrapping a hard backing in chicken rice paper.
  2. Oil painting is not difficult to pick up. (it’s even easier to use than color pencils, but maybe that isn’t a good comparison because color pencils are horrible to me)
  3. It is not advisable to use Poems Deep and Dangerous as a backing for your palette.
  4. Oil painting in a corner of the art room causes migraines.
  5. Oil painting is surprisingly quick and (mostly) painless.
  6. Do not attempt canvas sizes of more than 1m in height/width when painting in oils for the first time. Heck, when painting in anything for the first time.
  7. It is wise to heed the advice of your teacher when mixing paints and use a palette knife, not a brush.
  8. If your paint-cap is stuck, soften it with turpentine and pry it open with a palette knife.
  9. Oil paints are fun to play with when you have a palette knife on hand – like butter.
  10. It is really not advisable to use Poems Deep and Dangerous as a backing for your palette.


Okay, fine, so baking is fun. But who would have imagined you need so much stuff just to bake one cake?

Anyway, have a look at the cake we just made:


Picture blurriness aside, I think it’s quite nice. Though it’s lopsided and the icing was a pain, I tried a bit of it (not from the main cake, from the baking pan) and it tastes quite nice.


It’s here! It’s here!

The delivery man delivered it about half an hour ago.

Ito Noizi’s art is seriously awesome.


The book cover, or rather the jacket, is made of decent-quality cold-pressed paper. It’s a nice change from plastic-coated paper book jackets that are so common nowadays. It’s got gold lettering on a purple background, which is a bit of a cheap trick but nevertheless serves to make the book look even more expensive (which it is…)

ShanaParallel docking!

About 1/3 of the book is Shakugan no Shana art, while the rest is divided into sections – “Different” which features her other, non-Shana artwork, “Creation” which has “?人誌”, personal doujinshi is my guess. The following ToHeart 2 pictures are from the “Different” section.

ToHeart 2

Kaguya-hime story

The last section, “Secret Notes” contains a short story “Kaguya-hime no Shana” or something like that. I don’t know, I could only recognize the “Kaguya-hime” part. It’s written by the Shakugan no Shana author, so I think my guess is correct. But why is “Shana” in Hiragana though…? I give up~

Last page

Last page. Apart from the usual publisher information and whatnot, there’s a handwritten, uh, note thing plus a doodle too. ” Doumo konichiwa. Itou Noizi desu.” are the only characters I can recognize, orz.

The great thing about artbooks is that the pictures are high-resolution, so it’s easy to examine the artwork in detail. It’s actually kind of fun to guess how she painted this or drew that or how she achieved this effect.

Ohnoes, now I love her art more than ever~

In Memoriam

My CCA video trainer, Mr Astley, died in a fatal bike accident on 15 August.

He was 35.

He last logged in to his Friendster profile on the 15th.

It feels so sad now to think that we usually didn’t pay attention while he was going through videos with us.

I think for all the time he spent training us, we never appreciated him as much as we should have.

Sometimes it takes the realization that someone will be gone forever before we learn not to take things for granted.

May he rest in peace.

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