Silence is …

8 July 2021

Blog post

Silence can be calm and soothing to some but it can also be quite deafening and scary to others.

I believe that it all depending on the individual’s state of mind, at that certain time. Personally, I find it very calming. Silence is my place of refuge, where I contemplate all the good and bad that goes on with life.

I live across a beautiful stretch of beach but I hardly go there. Reason is because it is a public beach with food stalls, so there’s always some crowds. If I ever feel like taking a stroll on the beach by myself, I would usually go quite early in the morning.

So, one fine day, when I was feeling a bit ‘stuffy’ in the head (not from cold, just too much going on up there), I decided to pay the beach a visit.

The sound of the waves was soothing, like a repeated lullaby. I stood still, facing the open sea and I felt as though I was lulled into this void of silence. My brain and thoughts are blank of everything and I felt a wonderful sense of calmness.

There and then, I knew I wanted to try to ‘interpret’ that feeling I had into an artwork.

This was the photo that I took. In fact, I took quite a few pictures of the beach. But this particular photo takes the cake because I like the composition.

But instead of doing this scene exactly like in the photo, I decided to do in monochrome, with colour pencil.

The Process:

As seen in the reference photo, the subject matter is quite simple and straightforward. Not much details there. So if I draw or paint it as it was, it will be pretty boring, apart from that gorgeous sky.

So I had to improvised. As set in my mind initially, I wanted to do it in just plain black and white. But then again, I thought, if I am doing it colour pencil, why don’t I play it with some muted colours instead? Just the sky.

And so I did…

….. and it was quite a challenge! That, soft, muted coloured layers took me around 3 days to complete. To get that result with colour pencils need lots of patience in order to achieve that softness. So trying to silent the mind and concentrate on the technique at the same time can be pretty conflicting.

Working on the rocks was fun as I love creating textures. The only difference between using colour pencils and graphite on this is that I had to pay more attention on the application of warm and cool grays. Instead of working on every little detail of the rocks, I focused on the textures and subtle transition from cool to warm and vice versa.

Value (light and shadow) play a huge part in making this piece come ‘alive’.  It is one of the most important element in all my artworks. I can work on as much details and colours as I could, but if the value is not incorporated accordingly, no matter how excellent the work is, it will be flat. Unless that is intentional, then it is a different story altogether.

Of the skies, there are some light blue, magenta, ochre etc.. but I emphasised more on the yellow/golden hues to depict a sense of awakening.

Let’s imagine this….

… When you have so much in your mind and you need some time alone, in a quiet place to contemplate everything. Then suddenly, after finding some peace at the end of the meditative state, when you opened your eyes, you realised that everything seems so trivial. You saw the light at the end of the tunnel, so to say.

That’s the one I am trying to convey.

Overall, this was a relaxing piece of work. I like the outcome that looks more like a painting than an exact replica of a photograph.

Will I create more like this? Yes.

Silence was not the absence of sound but was itself a sound that could be loud or soft, soothing or disturbing, complex or simple.” ― Julius Lester.

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