Chinese Ink Painting class – Learning some basic strokes

The class started to learn how to write 兰 meaning Orchid. Chinese ink painting is closely related to forming of strokes and one calligrapher, Zhao Meng Fu (赵孟頫), a prince and descendant of the Song Dynasty‘s imperial family, and a Chinese scholar, painter and calligrapher during the Yuan Dynasty was the first artist to combine calligraphy and painting as he believed that both came from the same spiritual source. (Reference: “Behind the Brushstrokes: Appreciating Chinese calligraphy” by Khoo Seow Hwa and Nancy L. Penrose.) He encouraged the Yuan scholars to write calligraphy on their paintings and this style became the “Scholar’s style”. From his time onwards, painting also became “写画” or writing a painting.

The use of the Chinese ink brush requires the student to fully concentrate during the forming of the strokes. I was just joking with one of my students that I notice that he was rather distracted today when I saw how he was practising the strokes. Well, he was indeed as he was trying to solve a puzzle about rock climbing that he did earlier in the day:)

As an intro to famous calligraphers, I thought it might be interesting to share about the Yong Tau Foo team with my students and let them do the YTF scorecard. As our personalities very often determined our brushstrokes and what style we best write in, perhaps it might be useful to start them thinking about knowing more about themselves. (Reference: Growing Your Team: The Yong Tau Foo Team)

It turns out that my three students were Chilli with a mix of Bittergourd, Fishball and Bee Hoon.

The class were soon enough engaged to form that perfect stroke and busy practising…here are some of the pix taken during class.

 

More references:

  1.  Chinese Painting from Metropolitan Museum of Art website (https://www.metmuseum.org/toah/hd/chin/hd_chin.htm)
  2. “Behind the Brushstrokes: Appreciating Chinese calligraphy” by Khoo Seow Hwa and Nancy L. Penrose.

 

 

Chinese Ink Painting Class

Mar 19 marks the beginning of two new classes to teach Chinese ink painting and calligraphy. By the grace of God and the kindness of man, I was able to have an inclusive classroom where the young, the older and the visually impaired can all learn in 1 classroom.

Here are some snapshots of the class in progress at a local bakery, East Manhattan near Beauty World MRT every Sat afternoon and also at my studio (aka Gallery@OURF), every Thursday evening.

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Loss Aversion and the Yong Tau Foo Team

As the year draws to a close, what are some of your thoughts?

Are you, like me, surprised that 2015 just passed by so quickly? Wasn’t it just yesterday we began the year with New Year resolutions? With a new resolve to do things?

What are some things you have done well this year? What can be better managed?

For me, it was a deliberate decision to update my accounts periodically and not wait until the day of tax is here!

Ever since we started OURF, doing accounts has been something I did not quite enjoy. Updating the various items in the income and expenses is a dreaded chore.

And when the day for submission for tax draws near, I just went into panic mode. The dreaded spreadsheet challenged me since 2008.

So in 2015, I thought it is high time I managed my compliance to a daily routine better. For a Fishball, being open and being kept “structures” free as much as possible are so important to me that the risk of “losing” this freedom sometimes causes a brain freeze for me.

So I decided to setup a simple structure to help me do my accounts regularly.

Instead finding it a dread, I told myself that I would be rewarded when tax day draws near. I will not need to go into panic mode. I can be confident.

If I were to be diligent enough to update the important details, I can even find out if I was overbuying something! (a very common fishball trait!)

I like to experiment and just yesterday as I was packing my cupboard, I found that I have so many different sizes of photo papers, empty cards, different sizes of plastic bags and other things that I have forgotten! The evidence was clearly staring at me in the face. I have simply forgotten that I have acquired them, so new ones are bought! Sometimes I bought something because they are too pretty. Sometimes, it is because they are cheap. And most times, it could just plain “I might need it someday!” and what a hassle to have to go down and buy again! Think of the petrol and time I can save:)

“In economics and decision theory, loss aversion refers to people’s tendency to strongly prefer avoiding losses to acquiring gains. Most studies suggest that losses are twice as powerful, psychologically, as gains” – wikipedia.

Loss Aversion is a Cognitive Bias that all humans have and for a Fishball, setting structures remain one of the most challenging tasks to me. The perceived “loss” of being “free from structures” seems to outweigh the gains from having some structures in my biasness!

All Fishballs fight with this tendency to be less impulsive and complete what they have started out with…so as the year draws to a close, I am happy to say that at times I lost the “battle” with putting some structures in my life, but well, my accounts statement is almost ready for the tax year and it is not as nightmarish and scary as I thought it will be. In fact, I do like knowing how much I spend on art stuff, how much I spend on buying paints and yes, what income do I get from teaching and team building or art!

Who knows as I gain more confidence, I may even get rid of my “loss aversion” to structures by doing a pie chart of my expenditure and income!

So what are your challenges as you strive to develop and train yourself to be a complete Yong Tau Foo team?

Have a merry Christmas and a blessed New Year!

Paintings were done at Palais Renaissance, Orchard Road, Singapore. The little red dot:)

 

Of culture and costumes

A pleasant surprise when one of the helper put on her Karen costume for a young lady and showed us the tassels and the pride of her hometown. It was another session where we learn as much from them as they from us. Lesson was on using a table to type out their daily schedule and while we help to correct their phrases in English and taught them how to use the table function, the committed learners also shared a part of their world with us. We learnt about the Chin and Lahu tribes from Myanmar where two of them are from.

The Lahu  people and costume
The Lahu people and costume

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The Chin people and costume
The Chin people and costume
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The Karen people and the costume brought by Sree from Myanmar

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Adjusting the headband....
Adjusting the headband….

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Presentation time!

The deliverable was to write about the food in their hometown. The helpers work on the images and tried to spell out the food names in English for us during a 2 hour session at My Helper’s makeshift IT office….and despite working with different versions of MS Word, having internet connectivity issues and mouse/track that don’t quite listen to their fingers, all 4 of them managed to finish a couple of slides to show us. One was still struggling but gamely continued and work on her notebook despite having difficulties. Kudos to her for not giving up so easily! We were given a quick tour of typical Karen food, the local tea salad and also the vermicelli breakfast they were craving for!

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Yes, we can!

James, formerly the Exec Director of World Vision, has setup a social enterprise My Helper to “Protect and Preserve” the helpers he bring in from Myanmar since 2014.

Almost 2 years have passed since he started his agency and I was privileged to have joined in some of the outings he organised for them every quarter, acting as the adhoc photographer during the outings.

Since Oct this year, I have been able to experience first hand the joy of teaching IT skills to a small group of helpers who gave up their shopping and leisure hours to learn MS Word and Powerpoint. My ex-student Alexis also decided to chip in and spend her sunday afternoons with me at the small setup across James’ agency in Peninsular Plaza. Such is the power of doing a little good….the joy that we experienced in giving what little we know and in turn being privileged to be able to take a peek into their personal lives – learning about the various Myanmese home towns they came from, the food they crave, the family they missed and also the dreams that they have.

All of us have our dreams. One shared that she dreamt of a red sports car! Another dreamt of tasting her hometown cooked food. May each helper realised her dream and experienced the abundant life that Jesus promised!

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Creative Humanitarian Lab Prog for Youths

Am grateful for the opportunity to create the Creative Humanitarian Lab Prog and deliver the pilot in Oct 2015 for World Vision Singapore:)

Through 5 sessions, including one using off site e-learning, youths from the pilot programme were tasked to create a biz plan for economic development of a village, write a letter to encourage a sponsored child and learn about the World Vision child sponsorship model. The sessions require the youths to do their own research on the culture, food, language, history and geography. To understand the vital role of how the Savings group and Cooperative model work to help villagers learn skills and run small businesses, youths were tasked to create a simple business plan to either plan a farm or run a small business eg setting up a barber shop in Kirivong ADP (Area Development Programme, World Vision Singapore). I am encouraged by the range of presentations given at the end of each session as well as the reflections they wrote after the session. While many youths came not knowing what to expect, I guess I was the “biggest” winner of all…as by preparing and delivering the course, I have discovered and learnt much about the rich history and heritage of the Cambodians. The 4th session was one where the youths get to know one another better through the Yong Tau Foo Team. The final session was where they were tasked to talk about what does an influencer mean to them. Choosing from 10 social influencers, youths shared how they inspire the through a reflection piece done on google drive. Kudos to each and everyone of the pilot group who diligently tried their best during each session. As they set out to influence the world with the new knowledge they have gained, may they too experience the richness and abundance that life has to offer to them!

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Sharing on the street food in Cambodia

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