Sunday, October 25, 2009 at 3:13 AM

Johan Ishak
Oil on Canvas
25cm X 30cm
25 Dec 2005
12:00 am
Chiswick, London

Given as a gift to Fawzita Ishak

ROMISED earlier, in my blog manifesto, was my commitment to various forms of art display. So far, poems have been published. This time, I think I should make my fine arts debut. I attach here the image of my first oil painting, "Lake Balaton".

On Christmas Eve 2005, I was alone in my Chiswick apartment. My wife and boy had gone back to KL for holidays. So were most of my Malaysian friends in London. As for my British friends, they had gone to their home towns to celebrate Christmas with their families. London being London, was dead on Christmas Eve. No buses, no tubes and no taxis as well. Unfortunately, I had no cars as it was not sensible to have one in London.

Being dead bored, I started to flick the channels on the TV. Nothing interesting. I was hoping for some documentaries on Jesus Christ but NO!, bloody BBC had to wait for Christmas Day itself before they air such programmes. Anyway, all the books I had had been read and no shops were opened for me to buy magazines, newspapers or even to hire video tapes / DVDs. I suddenly remembered that my wife had bought me some white canvas and oil paint tubes for my birthday 3 months ago. BINGO! a perfect opportunity for me to start what I've always wanted to venture in,... Oil Painting!

A painter is supposed to embrace his work by letting feelings and emotions guide the brush strokes. Well that did not happen to me. As I mentioned earler, my feelings and emotions were plain monotonuous "boredom", "ennui", "tedium" and whatever words you can find in the Thesaurus that describes the state of absent-interest. Can't let such negative feelings translate into an oil piece. So, I decided to flick the tabloid and paused at a picture of a lake snapped somewhere in Hungary. It was plain but unique. Not too much colours nor was it too complicated. BINGO! again. What a pleasant coincidence for it to be the inspiration for my first oil on canvas attempt. So I painted the lake as how it appeared in the tabloid page.

My previous art work has always been water colour or pencil based. Pencils are not too bad because you can erase and re-do when there are mistakes. Water colours are not that forgiving. Once you skrew, you are skrewed. Using oil made me realised how difficult it was to use water colours. With oil, do what you like. You can correct mistakes or you can choose to change your mind. It does not matter. The oil based paste is fantastic!

By the time I completed the piece, it was already Christmas. I wished my self and the wall,.. and the painting, Merry Christmas and washed my hands with olive oil (turpentine doesn't smell that good. So as an alternative, olive was good - not that I was going to cook anything when living alone like that). So I did it! My very first oil on canvas. I named the piece after the name of the lake itself, "Lake Balaton".

The painting has been given to my sister as a present for her house. Currently it is hanging on her wall. I gave her my trust not to lose this piece as this is, after all, my very first attempt of oil on canvas.


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