Casino Royale


casino royale

Casino Royale (the first James Bond novel) was written by Ian Fleming, largely from his own experiences and imagination; he also devised the artwork for the original cover.

I’m currently reading Casino Royale — one of the first things I liked was the fast pace and simple but eloquent language. There’s also a lot of dry wit and Ian Fleming’s attention to detail is astounding! I think a lot of these details were lost in the movie version starring Daniel Craig (not because of Craig’s acting, but because of radical story and character changes).

“You must forgive me,” he said. “I take ridiculous pleasure in what I eat and drink. It comes partly from being a bachelor, but mostly from a habit of taking a lot of trouble over details. It’s very pernickety and old maidish really, but then when I’m working I generally have to eat my meals alone and it makes them more interesting when one takes trouble.”
~ Casino Royale, Ian Fleming

Here’s a core difference between book-Bond and movie-Bond. And it’s one of perception. It’s just assumed that Bond is a snob about clothes, food, drink…everything. Actually, he’s a planner and works things out to the finest detail, in his work and private life.

My copy of Casino Royale shows a James Bond silhouette on a simple navy blue background with red and yellow text. The above is the book cover of the first edition.

I think wise sayings DO hold true, so I actually do subscribe to the idiom “don’t judge a book by its cover.” A long-lasting type of satisfaction can be derived from valuing substance > image + quick money + popularity.


john ruskin

The Elements of Drawing, by John Ruskin

“And I’m giving them dreadful elementary exercises at Oxford which they mew and howl over, and are forced to do, nevertheless…”
~ John Ruskin

I first started drawing around age 16 (late) — I remember going through several drawing books (the “how to draw/paint” types). I also remember a distinct sense of frustration — there was just something about the books that I felt I was “failing” to “get,” understand, and/or truly learn.

The only drawing book that was a lifechanger was John Ruskin’s Elements of Drawing. It’s a tough book to read. Ruskin makes the reader/student do some truly tedious exercises (such as very light and very fine cross-hatches that could drive even a patient person insane), and I think I took about 5 years (off and on) to actually read the book cover to cover.

I haven’t drawn much this year (too busy with writing), though I’ve lately had some time/energy/interest to fiddle around with drawing again.

I’ve concentrated on pens/pencils for some time. At the start, I used to get very confused with shading and lighting. I think I’m finally beginning to make some progress in that department, so I’ll continue to practice drawing diligently. I like to draw birds and people the most, though I occasionally switch to landscape/scenery/architecture because those are nice too.

I think the difference in Ruskin’s book is that he doesn’t really teach you “how” to draw (in terms of a step-by-step “technique” or method). He trains you to use your eyes and be observant and appreciative of nature. He also trains you to “dirty the paper delicately” (Ruskin said that “all art is but dirtying the paper delicately” in The Elements of Drawing).

savannah tree


The above two drawings were done in pencil (my personal preference is mechanical pencil for the details). I’ll try some nudes soon.

I post some drawings on my deviantART account — I’ve always liked drawing because I find it calms the mind ^^.

I think I’ll stay a perpetual student when it comes to art/writing/drawing/etc. I think one learns more that way.

Drawing Confidence


japanese rock hairstyleJapanese Rock Hairstyle, 2
–> Ballpoint pen — was flipping through a Japanese hairstyle magazine for guys (sooo much better than the one for girls!) | first pic using the ‘cutout’ filter, second pic maybe using ‘dark strokes’ filter on PS

I’ve been a private tutor in the past (very fun) — there were a couple of kiddies I used to teach (who are now 11 years old, if I’m not wrong — WOW, that was fast). I think they were one of the few people I knew who truly enjoyed drawing/illustrating/doodling, in a pure kind of way. They didn’t have a whole guilt and/or negative complex that many adults seem to have when it comes to creating artwork (myself included, for a time).

I remember the first “proper” sketch I attempted, back in 2003 when I was 16+:

elf sketch, legolas
–> Legolas from LOtR | referred to an Orlando Bloom pic.

I drew a lot more when I was 17-18. I remember being quite diligent about it, because:

1) Those years of my life were very dismal and miserable — drawing calmed my nerves down, A LOT.
2) I used to compare drawing to my attempts/experience with writing. I wrote poems + stories throughout my childhood and teenage years — not so with drawing. I always wanted to draw though, I don’t know why.

So I kept drawing, despite people (teachers/lecturers) telling me not to (if they weren’t so boring as facilitators, maybe I wouldn’t have been doodling?)…despite feeling overwhelmed at times by all the crazy artistic talents out there…despite many trial-and-error type drawings that couldn’t be salvaged…

It’s quite strange to look back on, coz through it all, I think the whole process helped me gain confidence in not just drawing, but writing, and myself, and living life itself…it’s quite strange all this could come from “dirtying the paper delicately” (John Ruskin’s fine definition of “drawing”).

Side Note: If you want to buy just one drawing book, make sure it’s John Ruskin’s The Elements of Drawing.


I think confidence is very important if one wants to do something/anything…confidence to try in the first place, confidence to keep going when it gets tough/sh*tty, confidence to say ‘yes’ even when the whole world is telling you ‘no’ (or the other way around, whichever)…

It’s what allows me to press forward with my next book (and I’d like to do some drawing, if I can slip that in somewhere. I can do those things now because I managed to clear out all the files from my thumbdrives and external hard drive, blahx3, email inboxes too. So everything is really nice and decluttered — just like an uncluttered blog, lol. Just a little bit more packing/cleaning to do with my room — THAT, completed, would be a bonus).

I could write/journal everyday — I don’t know if I’ll ever manage to do one drawing per day (no matter how small / seemingly insignificant). Long ago, I used to think it’d be an impossibility, but right now, it’s a matter of discipline and keeping to a schedule (unless one feels really burned out, in which case some rest would probably be most beneficial).

End Note: There is, however, a difference between confidence and foolishness/arrogance. One is progressive (and not necessarily loud/highly visible/detectable), whereas the other, well, essentially lacks substance. I hope I’ll always know/be aware of the difference.

06 and 07


My favorite pieces from 2006, and 2007.


1. Multi-Coloured Pillars (done in mid-2006)

mechanical pencil + digitally colored

mechanical pencil + digitally tweaked/colored

The pillars really are that colour IRL (In Real Life). I think it’s the IT building at Temasek Poly!


2. Hummingbird / Watercolour (Dec 2007)

hummingbird watercolor

hummingbird watercolor

Watercolour piece. Reference from a Nat Geo issue ^^.