“Renungan” for Orangutan Protection Foundation

7 April 2015

Blog post
“Renungan” 11.7″ x 16.5″, 90lbs (150gm) Canford black paper. Caran D’Ache pablos colored pencils.

“Renungan”  in the Malay language means ‘reflections’, ‘musing’ or even ‘contemplation’ in English. I figured that since orangutans are mainly found in the Malay archipelago, it is befitting to title this piece in the Malay language.

This portrait is an auction piece for the Orangutan Protection Foundation http://opf.org/ This organisation has been promoting the preservation of the wild Orangutan in their natural habitat and the advance of the public benefit in the study, preservation and protection of the wild Orangutan.

I have been a member in the Go APE for Art on Facebook since end of 2013. It is a group for artists of all medium to contribute work of Orangutan for this organisation. This year, OPF is planning a month dedicated to the Orangutan in August. This coincides with Indonesian Independence Day and World Orangutan Day. It will be held in Limehouse Marina in London and will include an exhibition of art and photography dedicated to the future of the Orangutan. And of course, all proceeds from it will go towards helping these poor souls.

Selamat PagiI have contributed last year where I have sold my painting “Selamat Pagi” to a lovely lady here in Penang for RM$1,000.00 and the money (100%) was donated to the organisation itself. It felt good that someone love my work and that I am able to do my part in helping the Orangutan that way, not much, but it helped.

Reference Photo by Jamartin Sihite of BOSFI have their permission to use one of their photo as reference and this  particular photo, taken by Jamartin Sihite, CEO of Borneo Orangutan Survival Foundation, really ‘grabbed’ my attention.

For this painting, I used Daler-Rowney Canford black paper. I chose black because I want to focus on those soulful eyes. Orangutans very bright reddish/orange hair and with my style of work, it will be very hard for me to tone down the reds and orange on white paper because I am very heavy handed when it comes to colouring.

 Black paper eats up colours, if I do not use the right colour pencils. I decided to use the pablos from Caran D’ache (my most expensive colour pencil so far). They are wax based and the colours are very vibrant. Wax based pencils are less shinny compared to oil based pencils and therefore the colours will pop easily. And the best thing about this particular pencils is that they build up nicely without the awful wax bloom that many coloured pencil artists dreads.

Below is the progress from the initial sketch to the finish. As you can see here, there are layers upon layers of multiple colours.

Using the grids, I roughly sketched out the features and thereafter proceed with the layering of the eye.


progress 1


progress 2




progress 3


progress 4


progress 5



progress 6


progress 7


progress 8

After I have done all the initial ‘base’, I compared to the reference photo and adjust the values of the overall painting. That is why the difference from the progress 8 compared to the finish work.

Overall, it does not look 100 % like the photo and that was the idea. I usually post all my work in progress on my Facebook art page and only post the reference photo in my blog. I want people to see the painting as it developed and not compare it with the photo.

Even I, need to convinced myself to not compare my work with the photograph! The more I see the photo, the more adjustments I will make and if I do that, I will never be able to complete a satisfying piece of art.

All in all, I have achieved what I want to portray, the soulful eyes of this beautiful Orangutan, I want it to speak to you, does it?


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