Macau’s diverse architecture is a magnet for those with an artistic eye. Singaporean infographics journalist Teoh Yi Chie from Parka Blogs found places to go in Macau that inspired him to create a series of watercolour sketches. I caught up with him for his impressions on Macau and his sketches of the main Macau points of interest.
What was your initial impression of Macau?
Macau is a beautiful place. I like architecture and the place is really wonderful with the mix of old and new buildings.
There are many nice side alleys with nice surprises in the form of World Heritage buildings and interesting junctions.
I could stay there for months to sketch these Macau points of interest.
When did you start sketching?
I’m not sure of the exact time I started sketching but I got more serious about it after joining a local sketching group called the Urban Sketchers Singapore.
I’ve been drawing on and off all my life as I like comics, but I sketched more frequently after joining the group.
Sketching is a relaxing hobby. One thing I like about sketching is how I can remember more vividly and for longer, the things and scenes.
When drawing from observation, and if you really concentrate, you can get into a sort of meditative state, which is why it makes remembering things easier.
Where did you learn art?
I’m a self-taught artist. I learn all the drawing techniques from library books.
I also learn from fellow artists from the sketching group.
As with most skills, practice makes perfect. The more you draw, the more you can draw.
What are the challenges of being an artist in Asia?
There are many ways to be creative. Nowadays you can get inspiration from anywhere or anyone.
There are some who say it’s difficult producing creative work, but I say that they are limiting themselves by saying that.
The challenge is to find new ways to do things, to design, and also to develop your own unique style.
I have a Patreon page for my website to create an additional source of revenue. It’s doing fine but it certainly can be much better.
There are examples of webcomic artists who are able to make a full-time income from the support of their fans.
I’m still a long way from that happening. It’s a slow process. Those who do well on Patreon have a huge fan base that has been growing for years.
My art goal would be to travel the world and sketch as much as possible. It’s amazing what you can notice when you start sketching. You begin to see things in a different way.
What Macau points of interest did you like best?
Macau is an interesting place. The three main things that will always be in my mind would be the architecture, the Macanese food and just how crowded it is.
I find the blend of modern architecture with the old very refreshing.
Food is good but more expensive than I expected.
I’m from Singapore and food in Macau is, on average, priced at half of what it costs you in Macau.
I’m talking about street food.
Lastly, I’m surprised by how many tourists there are, at least at the touristy places.
Has being an artist changed the way you travel?
Unless you sketch while you’re travelling, there’s no difference between an artist or photographer in my opinion.
When you are an artist sketching the place you have been to, you create a sort of relationship with the place you sketched.
That’s because you have just spent your time to observe and record down what you see. The more time you spend, the more details you will be able to remember from your sketch.
I’ve been to Manhattan before my sketching days and I can’t really remember the experience other than to say that I’ve visited the big name locations.
For places that I’ve sketched, I have a much more vivid recollection.
I don’t even need to refer to photos to remember the place because a part of them are still in me through observational sketching.
My girlfriend would wait for me to finish my sketch which takes around half an hour to an hour to sketch and colour.
Nowadays when I travel with her, I would bring an A5 sketchbook as it is smaller and I can complete each sketch faster.
For an A4 sketchbook, it would take me two to three hours to complete.
It’s more satisfying to draw bigger because you can spend more time at the place, capture more details, and as a result remember the place better.
You may visit fewer places because you spent a lot more time at each place sketching, but you’ll remember each place much better than rushing through them and checking them off the list.
Why do you choose to work in this medium?
Sketching is a very portable medium. I use pen, ink and watercolour. They can be brought anywhere as they are small and compact.
You’ll want a convenient medium that can be brought around easily and is easy to set up and keep.
With sketching, actually, all you ever need is just a sketchbook and a pen or pencil.
Teoh Yi Chie is working on an e-book which will have his sketches and techniques on how to create some of the effects.