Painting Kuching in Watercolour

Archive for April 2011

Another “hua niao” painting, the “hua” being the coconut tree in my next door neighbour’s garden and the “niao”is a male Brown Throated Sunbird. It is a frequent visitor, even in the rain. I think it’s after insects in the tree rather than the nectar in the blossoms.

I tried to capture the iridescent effect of the sunbird’s plumage with alternate dabs of Peacock Blue, Alizarin Crimson and Viridian.

As you can see, I didn’t spent too much time on the coconut blossoms because they are so bo-oo-oooringg.

Painted with Holbein’s watercolours on Cotman’s coldpressed 140lbs watercolour paper, 8” x 12”.


On a trek at Matang, we came across this unusual orchid blooming on a shady bare earth hillside. I can see why it has not been plundered by orchid collectors. Not only is it small, about 1.5 inches across, but also its colours are dull. In fact, after a while it starts to look rather creepy…this was the effect I was after when I painted the green stripes! The green is a mixture of Winsor Newton Oxide of Chromium ad Holbein’s Sap Green and painted on Cotmans’ 140 lbs cold pressed paper 5” x 8”. I painted small because the extremely humid weather the past week has turned my watercolour paper into blotting paper.

Incidentally, jungle trekking in Matang is in the family – I came across this article in the Sarawak Museum Journal of September 1950 which mentioned my maternal grandfather, and the plant Tacca cristata:

‘It was re-discovered in September 1949 by Mr Kho Leng Guan* on the eastern slope of the Matang Hills, near Kuching. Only a few plants have been found, growing sparsely in peaty soil overlying rocky ground among other shrubby undergrowth of the virgin forest. Its habitat is at an elevation about 1000 to 1500 feet above sea level.
*Mr Kho Leng Guan is a member of the Floricultural Improvement Society; his present collection of orchids may be regarded as the best in Kuching.”

Our next Matang trip is to look for the Tacca cristata!


A rank amateur self-taught watercolour artist

April 2011
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