As mentioned before, someone has commissioned me to do a watercolor birds scenery painting last week. And the client asked for 11 birds.. any kind of birds would be fine.
I brainstormed alone.. then with my bee.. then with my dad. After I learned that this painting was going to be a gift for the Prime Minister’s wife, Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor.. I became.. a liiiiittle bit apprehensive.
See, I haven’ painted much birds before. But if I have to pick a bird to paint.. what bird would it be?
Among many birds.. I would say that this particular bird has been quite familiar and close to my heart. It was a pigeon. Back in October, year 1999.. on my birthday.. there was a lost pigeon greeting me in front of my office in Petaling Jaya. It did not fly away when I came closer and it pretended to run around a little before I picked her up between my two hands.
I checked to see if she was hurt in any way.. but she seemed fine. I left her outside the door and thought she would fly away after a while. But she stayed. So I decided to keep her and named her “October“. The sweet thing could fly as learned later on. But she didn’t fly that far and would come back to the cheap bamboo cage that I bought sitting on the balcony of my 4th floor apartment.
One day, I decided that city life was not for her and brought her back to Kuala Terengganu where my parents lived at that time and let October had some friends over there as there was so much space and it was not far from the beach and so many chickens around that my family reared for fun. She seemed happy befriending all the feathery friends and maybe.. just maybe.. she thought she was a chicken too.
To make the story short, after a few months enjoying her freedom in the State.. October left for good. It could be that she found a new flock of its kind to fly with or… dead somewhere near the beach (well, there was a rumor that a neighbor’s cat had been spying on her for a while). My parents and younger siblings grew fond of her.. so they were more sad than me when she disappeared.
Now, my parents are living in one of the Selangor State’s well-known residential area.. Subang Jaya. But not without plenty of space to run around too as there is this field- completes with a playground, pavements for morning & night brisk walks, basketball & badminton courts and a small surau in the corner- all right in front of their house. Since my dad retired from the police force, he spent much time taking care of the field (well, no one asked him to but he enjoys making his rounds..) and somehow, he managed to summon a flock of pigeons to come by every morning for feeding.
This scenery was uncommon before he moved in the area. Initially, it used to be just leaving the food on the grass and let the birds had a good time… but now, people would stop by and watch as a couple of pigeons or more.. flew and perched on his hand to eat from his palm. Some of his neighbors would take part in this morning event as well lately.
One of the carefree pigeons landed on my dad’s hand.
A neighbor’s kid trying her luck to get one on her hand.. err.. head..?
Thus, back to my painting story- I studied those pigeons.. drew them.. colored them until I could ‘feel’ them. Then I decided to paint the birds at the Dataran Merdeka’s fountain. Yes, the beautiful fountain would be a nice, fresh feature to add in the painting. Meanwhile, pigeons symbolize freedom and they come in many shades and colors.. just like the 1 Malaysia concept! It’s pretty obvious that the painting should convey the message of PEACE for Malaysians.. and to give it to the PM’s wife? Aaahh.. suits the occasion well, I’ll say.
So I’ve recorded the work-in-progress and I’m going to show the sequences here..
What about the number Eleven?
My client explained that it’s an almost well known fact about the Prime Minister, Najib’s Lucky Number. Here’s what I got from a 2009′s piece online:
THE number 11 is significant in the upcoming three M’sian by-elections; it’s also PM Najib Razak’s lucky number.
The by-elections for Bukit Gantang, Bukit Selambau and Batang Ai will be held on the fourth month of the year and the seventh day in April.
4 + 7 equals 11
There are 15 candidates contesting the state seat of Bukit Selambau, three for the Bukit Gantang and two for the Batang Ai parliamentary constituencies.
1+5+3+2 equals 11
PM Najib takes over as prime minister in 2009.
2+9 equals 11
PM Najib’s appointment as deputy prime minister was on 6 Jan 2004.
6 + 1 + 4 equals 11
His house address in Jalan Langgak Duta, off Taman Duta in KL is also No 11
His late father, former PM Abdul Razak Hussein, was born on 11 Mar. His mother, Tun Rahah Mohd Noah, was born on 11 Jun. PM Najib has a son born on 11 May
And then, my client said that Rosmah & Najibs’ cars have number 11 on all their plate numbers.
” I see…,” I said- while nodding my head.. acknowledging yet another trivia in my database knowledge of life. Oh well..
Stage 1: After much research of the birds and the background scene, I sketched with pencil and used masking liquid to save my whites.
Stage 2: Light colors for the first layer.
Stage 3: Building layers of colors on the fountain.. to make it seemed closer to the viewers.
Stage 4: Started peeling off the masker and coloring the birds.. one by one.
Stage 5: While concentrating to the birds.. I also built the background scenery in light washes as to make my viewers focused more on the birds.
Stage 6: Refining each pigeons and buildings in the painting .
Stage 7: The masker on the fountain’s water was peeled off, revealing the fresh paper’s original white.
Final Stage: More details were added on the birds.. and buildings were defined more.. so as the palm trees. I also darkened the areas which are supposed to be dark so that the contrasting effect was enhanced.
By the way, do you notice that I’ve made an alteration to the flying bird in the sky at the final 2 stages? Changed the wings to make it looked more lively.. caught in the fleeting moment..
So.. after I felt that I need to stop with the painting (well, I could go on and on.. but I was given a deadline and my bee kept reminding me about it), I sent it to the frame shop… and here’s the result:
I’ve chosen a classy, golden frame for this painting along with a non-reflective glass over it.
Hey, do you notice that I have 11 pictures in this post?
Sheer coincidence, huh?