My name is Erwin and I am from Singapore. My art journey started in 2001 when I enrolled as a full-time student at the Columbus College of Art and Design. Though I went through a rigorous foundation program in traditional medium, I stop practicing traditional medium until 2013, when I began traveling.
I travel to distance myself from the anxieties of my own familiar landscape, and new surroundings and cultures allow me to lose myself and to be immersed in the moment.
I usually don’t plan too much and will just pick places that I can afford. When there’s a tairfare sale to some destination that I haven’t been, I will assess my budget and try to make it happen whenever possible. Over time, the sketchbooks, sketching and painting slowly seeped into my travels and became my companion.
Instead of focusing on making differentiated work or be consumed by the ambition of a professional artist, I found joy in making small studies during my travels. Often, I will just pack a tiny sketchbook, a fountain pen, a few broken brushes, a clutch pencil and a tiny watercolor box and off I would go.
Ideally, an oil easel, more equipment, and bigger canvases will be great. However, over time, I realized that greater ambition doesn’t necessarily yield better work or satisfaction.
Occasionally, I will translate these small studies into bigger work for shows and etc. However, making a living off painting is something I have yet been able to achieve and that remained a puzzle that I been trying to solve.
One of the reasons why I like watercolor is the convenience factor. It’s fuss-free, extremely portable and I am able to complete on-site studies very quickly. If its ink studies, I can suggest colors by layering them with thin washes.
When I have more time, I can invest in more elaborated watercolor studies. My travel sketches usually take between 15 minutes to 2 hours.
My journey with watercolor and sketching has also inspired me to produce my own sketchbook, ‘The Perfect Sketchbook’. Over the span of 4 years, we raised more than $150,000 on crowdfunding platforms and produced three over-the-top 100% cotton-paper sketchbooks that were shipped to thousands of backers from more than 40 different countries.
Aspired to synthesize my love for sketching, traveling and art education into a business, I also started Sketch Bhutan and would bring participants to the Kingdom of Bhutan once every year.
Sketch Bhutan is one of these initiatives where I bring tourists to Bhutan to not only sketch and tour but also for creating meaningful interactions and exchanges with Bhutanese artists. This year, it will happen from June 16 until June 20 and registration is still open. You can also read more about Sketch Bhutan via this article I wrote on Parka’s blog.
Moving forward, I hope to eventually fulfill my dream of traveling and painting the American landscapes. When I was in college, I dreamt about that but never had the resources or opportunity.
The idea of buying a used RV and converting it into a liveable painting mobile that can traverse across the vast American landscape is so appealing to me. Unfortunately, that option is unavailable to me since I can’t get insurance coverage as a foreigner.
Currently, I am exploring other options like the Amtrak or a bicycle and may embark on this new adventure in July. The idea of a bicycle tour is exciting and I have experimented with traveling, cycling and sketching when I was in South Korea. The drawback of a bicycle tour is that it can be physically demanding and there would be less time for sketching and painting.
Though I am not exactly sure how or where I will be painting next, you can definitely follow me on Instagram to stay up to date to my adventure and the links below.
Erwin LianRecommended6 recommendationsPublished in
Creator of Doodlewash®, founder of World Watercolor Month (July), World Watercolor Group™, and host of the Sketching Stuff Podcast. Sharing daily watercolor illustrations and stories while proudly featuring talented artists from all over the world! If you’d like to be a guest artist on Doodlewash.com, contact me!