“For me, a picture, since it is easel paintings that we have to paint, should be something lovable, joyful, and pretty: yes, pretty!,” – Pierre-August Renoir

It has been some time since I last wrote – things have been rather busy this week, which culminated in a full day retreat on Friday, which was absolutely fabulous. M and I especially had been in a state of jitters – us being the organizers, and susceptible to all manner of possibilities of things going wrong. Thankfully, everything fell seamlessly in place for the whole day, the only wrong thing happening was that there was a mild scare that the barbecue caterers had missed out on the fruit cordials, but even so we got over that as Eugene drove out and managed to find quick replacements.

Everything was awesome- and I loved Snow City. I must be a little child (and easily satisfied), for just stepping into the place with its neon faded orange lights and long snowy slopes, I felt a little excitement at the bottom of my stomach – and climbing up the steps towards an opportunity to slide down was awesome. We played, amongst others, a game called ‘Breakage’, where all 12 group members had to keep their arms linked even when sliding down the slope, and my partner said to me “I will not let go of you, so please do not let go of me” in a cheery smile, and before we knew it we started sliding down at high velocity, and the sheer feeling of going down at high speed was fantastic! Now I have had a smaller taster of what WL always told me about skiing in Vancouver.

The painting class was good fun- and my second favourite. We did our own interpretations of a painting each by Monet, Picasso and Matisse – my group worked on Monet’s waterlilies, which was like a stroke of fate, because Monet has always had a special place in my heart. But as none of us are really skilled in painting, we had such a reckless and clueless affair, but how absolutely enjoyable!

Here are some of the ‘masterpieces’ which emerged from the day – I was half painter/half photographer (Yew Yee from my team assisted for half of the pictures), a position which gave me much joy as I got to see many pieces in process!

Each sub group of about 4 people worked on a canvas, and two sub groups combined to form one joint painting. Thus, we ended up with 3 Monet paintings, 3 Matisse paintings, 3 Picassos…you get the idea.

My favourite ‘pre’ layout….a happy face before the waterlilies were added!

‘The other Grace’, my good friend and inspection partner, in a beautiful shot enjoying the moment! I always catch her smiling in my shots, her joy radiates from inside, and I am sure her two children love her for the same reason too.





My group’s final picture! From left, my new tablemate G, my boss E, and one of my inspection mates SP (whom I am steadily growing to like…) We are so proud of the painting, and worked really hard on it! (Admitably all our paintings look better from far away, ha ha)

Three Monets in a row!

One of the Matisse pieces! Amusingly the group only discovered they had left out one of the rungs on the chair by mistake…but I thought it was gorgeous nevertheless. Matisse represents the brighter side of modernism, full of color and joy, yet still as inventive, experimental, and overflowing as the often angst-ridden, psychologically intense work of Picasso. I loved this piece they chose, Harmony in Red, and how Matisse juxtaposes nature with the bright, oriental colours of daily living.

I first learnt about Matisse through jazz art – an old jazz bar I ever visited in Prague was plastered with Matisse’s paintings, and I remembered the curious impressions and came to learn about him another way. Even when Matisse could no longer hold a paintbrush, he continued to create in color.

Matisse’s series of cut paper figures called Jazz, provided Matisse with the luxury of working in pure, saturated color the way a sculptor worked in pure stone. “There are wonderful things in real jazz, the talent for improvisation, the liveliness, the being at one with the audience,” Matisse once said, sharing in that spirit in all his works, but perhaps most powerfully in these late cutouts, which remind me of the last great performances of an aged jazz musician—no longer the young lion but still the king of the jungle. Matisse played a joyful song all his life, and the melody lingers on. – From T.A.B

Picasso’s The Three Musicians! (In my opinion, the three zany deluded musicians! I don’t know why, but they remind me of the characters that always emerge in a Betty Boop cartoon) From T.A.B: “One of the many things that sets Picasso apart from most artists is that, while he did associate with other painters, it was with poets and writers that he associated most often. When Picasso moves to Paris in 1901, he meets the poet Max Jacob and soon shares an apartment with him. Over the door, Picasso places a sign that reads, “The meeting place of poets.” Yale University Press’ Picasso and the Allure of Language, the catalogue to the exhibition at the Yale University Art Gallery organized by Susan Greenberg Fisher, analyzes how Picasso’s visual art drew inspiration from the techniques and ideas of the poets and writers around him. Gertrude Stein  served not only as a patron of Picasso’s art, but also as a modernist template upon which he could elaborate. “In Stein’s prose, the rhythmic play of repetition and difference acts to undercut the separation of one thought from another,” Patricia Leighten writes of Stein’s influence on Picasso’s still lifes. “In Picasso’s painting the elements of pictorial illusionism serve not to delineate objects, but to confound our expectations, acting to merge objects with their surroundings.” If “a rose is a rose is a rose” for Stein, a table is a table is a table for Picasso—a commonplace from which he could spin out endless variation leaving the original far behind. Subtle, yet stunning insights such as these shed new light on Picasso the poet in pictures who seems deeper and more complex as his art becomes sparer and more simplified visually.

But much like my weakness in acting, I feel sometimes so stressed when I am not in control of the process, as I felt whilst painting. A little bit of failure makes me miserable, desiring to wipe the slate clean and start again! But what a delicious fear, starting with a white, blank slate, and mixing colours with no clue on art methods, and gradually learning how to put colours and concepts together.

“Art is never finished, only abandoned.” – Leonardo Da Vinci

Dreadfully jealous of Beansprouts who will be traveling to Rome in the next couple of days…


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