Collaboration with Zurich Insurance Malaysia to raise funds for less fortunate children

It is truly a refreshing experience for me to be collaborating with Zurich to spread the message of financial and physical wellness. As a children’s book author and mother, these messages resonated strongly with me. With my artwork, I wanted to incorporate values of family togetherness whilst showcasing elements of protection and saving up for the future. I hope I can invoke these same feelings to all who see my art.

Zurich Insurance Malaysia Road Show

Throughout May to August, Zurich Insurance Malaysia Berhad (ZIMB) is running a series of initiatives under its Journey to Wellness campaign. These initiatives, aimed at inspiring fellow Malaysians to adopt healthier lifestyles to achieve both physical and financial wellness, includes a series of nationwide roadshows, exclusive wellness seminars, a social media contest as well as a charity drive.

One of the highlights in these roadshow locations is a giant coin jar, specially hand-painted by me to help raise funds for the less fortunate children from the Shelter Home for Children.

The giant coin jar will be travelling to selected locations nationwide (please see below).  The proceeds collected will be channelled to the Shelter Home for Children to help provide food, clothing and education for the children, and maintenance of the home.

Here’s the list of the roadshow locations:

  • Palm Mall, Seremban: 17 – 19 June 2016
  • IOI City Mall, Putrajaya:  15 – 17 July 2016
  • Village Mall, Sungai Petani: 29 – 31 July 2016
  • Gurney Plaza, Penang 4 – 7 August 2016
  • Ipoh Parade, Ipoh 18 – 21 August 2016

After Ipoh, the roadshow team will be at Johor Bahru, Kluang, Melaka, Kota Kinabalu and Kuching. For more updates, please visit Zurich’s Journey to Wellness page.

What to Pack for a Hiking Vacation

Selecting the right hiking gear is vital if you want to have an enjoyable hiking trip. In order to have a safe and refreshing hike, you need to pack enough supplies and make sure you have suitable clothing for the trip. Thankfully, packing for a hacking trip doesn’t have to be a tricky task to tackle. These next three tips will help you prepare for your next adventure.


Pack Layers of Clothes

The best way to dress for a hiking trip is to wear layered clothes. If there’s one thing unpredictable about this type of adventure, it’s the weather. The weather in the mountains can shift from hot and sunny to absolutely freezing in a matter of minutes, especially when the sun sets or rises.

Wearing layers of clothes when hiking can help you adapt to changes in the weather condition quickly. You can add more to stay warm, or simply remove some layers if the day gets a bit warm. Be sure to consider these layers when packing your clothes.

The outmost layer is the most important. Even when you’re expecting a hot day during the trip, you must always pack a windbreaker or a waterproof jacket. A pair of waterproof trousers is a good idea too.

Hiking Boots

You’ll be walking most of the time, so choose a pair of hiking boots that fits you perfectly. Women’s walking boots are easy to find these days, so finding a pair that fits you like a glove – well, like a good pair of shoes – is very easy. Be sure to select hiking boots that are light and comfortable; comfort should be your priority.

Some hiking boots have more features. You can, for instance, choose a pair that’s waterproof and dirt-proof. These features will help make the entire trip so much better since you can keep your feet dry and protected.

A Backpack for the Job

Many hikers – especially beginners – focus most of their attention on accessories and hiking gear. These items are indeed essential, but you should never forget the backpack that will carry them throughout the trip. Never – and I do mean NEVER – settle for a cheap backpack, especially when you have a lot to carry or you’re going on a long hiking trip. The last thing you want to happen is for the bag to fail you in the middle of your adventure.

When it comes to backpacks for hiking trips, I usually suggest carrying two backpacks: a 45-litre one and an 18-litre daypack. The larger backpack is for storing clothes and all of the hiking essentials. The daypack, on the other hand, is useful for carrying items that you will use frequently during the trip, such as sunglasses and your medications.

Of course, these are just the basics. You can add more items to your packing list according your needs and personal preferences. Check your bags before you embark on the adventure and be sure to carry extras of essential items to ensure an enjoyable and truly satisfying hiking trip.

How to practice life drawing from your living room

Don’t have a life drawing studio near you? No problem.

As an artist, one of the most trying things to get a grasp upon is the human form. Where endless hours have been spent in capturing gesture drawings and “real-world” situations, I have found that there is still a bit to be gained from just studying the human form in an artistic pose. And where I would encourage anyone who is a serious artist to seek out a life drawing session at an art studio, such may not be realistic. For those who do not have access to such a studio, do not fret. You can still get life drawing practice through the use of 3D models. However, before you fire up your computer and start looking for a 3D model, here are a few things to consider.

Get an atomically correct model

There are a great deal of sites which are available on a number of sites. When you are looking for a model in which to practice your life drawing, it is crucial that you find a model that is proportionate and atomically correct. Where those which are not accustomed to an atomically correct may find that being presented with either male or female genitals, buttocks, and breast a bit unsettling, such is needed (not as a perverse application but as a means of understanding the muscles in how they correspond to each other). As live models would be presented in both clothed and nude models at most studios, it is advised that 3D models used for atomically studies be both clothed and nude.

cgtraderCredit image: Copyright: Aiman Akhtar.

Choose a high poly model

When you look to find a 3d model, first ensure that the model is not skewed but proportionate. Secondly, the model needs to be high poly. High polygons ensure that the model has an ample amount of detail. The more detail, the more the polygons the model will have. If you find that a model has low detail but a high polygon count, check to see how the model was constructed. In many cases a low detail and high polygon model will be the results of a conversion from another program which was done improperly, or it will be the result of errors within the model. Both of these are not what you will want in your 3D model.

Get a rigged model

A rigged model means that the model can be moved around and posed. This will require that you have a 3D program for the model, but the results you will get in being able to pose your model is priceless. By being able to move your rigged character, you can stimulate the various gestures and poses which you would get in a studio setting.

Draw as though you were in a studio

When I draw from a 3D model, especially a human model, I treat my drawing session just as though I would treat a studio session. This means that I set my computer up in an area that can be easily seen from my canvas. In some situations, I wire the computer to my television to allow for a larger viewing area. After I have the set up completed, I allot a certain amount of time for gestures and warm-up. One way in which you can mimic the time constraints of gesture poses is to set up various poses within the timeline of your 3D program. For example if your playback is 29.95 frames per second, you can put a different pose every 300 frames for 10 second gestures.

Once you have the warm up and gesture drawing pose your character as needed. This can be either a preset gesture on the character, or you can create a custom pose. The good thing about the 3D model is that you can zoom in on the model to get details on a particular muscle group. Just ensure that you do not change the angle.

Studio or 3D model

It is always advised that you try to get a live model when you draw. Whether you are attempting to draw wildlife or the human form, real models are always preferred. Yet, when you cannot get a live model the 3D model is clearly the alternative over pictures and static references. Again, ensure that you have a model that realistically proportioned, is rigged, and one that does not fit into the “perfect” mold (as most people have a bit of a flaw here or there). If using 3D models, ensure that you purchase various ethnics, ages, sexes, and weights to help with the diversification of your skills. It is also advised that you try different mediums (such as charcoal or pastel) when sketching so that you can further focus on the anatomy and less upon the pencil, paint or pen.

Catching a train in Rome

When travelling, time management is very important. Every little detail has to be taken into account; the time you wake up, the time you take to bathe, the time to leave the hotel, transportation schedules and what not. Evi and I learned a precious lesson, we almost did not make it home last April. But we did; with lots of running and high determination to catch our train in time. Our train was scheduled to leave Rome for Bologna at 8.45am, and a few minutes before that we were still in a bus, caught in a traffic jam.

Evi and I left our accommodation, located some 40 minutes from Rome city centre by train, around 7.00am despite 6.45am as planned, because we had to actually take some time to return the key set which comprises of the keys to gate, building, apartment and our room. The automatic gate can only be opened with the key, so we figured out a way. After opening the gate, Evi ran back to the apartment at 1st floor to keep the key while I stand in the way of the gate to keep it open.

We then walked 10 minutes to the nearest Torrenova train station. We took the 7.15am train and journey from Torrenova Station to C Lodi Metro Station took about an hour as it stopped longer at every station during week days. We arrived at Piazza Lodi around 8.15am. From there we then had to take a bus before reaching Rome Main Station. We have 30 minutes to reach the station, but the bus was nowhere in sight. We tried to hail taxis, but no luck. The bus finally came around 8.30am. 15 minutes to catch our train. At this time, we were counting minutes and looking at the time as often as we could. We were panicking. To make matter worst, the traffic was at its peak; moving slowly as if time and speed had become distorted. We prayed hard in the bus. God knows we did.

You see, our train from Rome Main Station to Bologna was scheduled to leave at 8.45am. We have to catch that train as we bought a Smart ticket for two persons for 34,90€. It was a good deal. If we miss the train, we might have to buy new tickets at more expensive rate.

With my phone in hand, I searched for ticket from Rome to Bologna and found out that it cost about 60€ per person—with arrival time at Bologna at 3.00pm. Smart ticket was not available on that date. Taking the regional train was out of the option as it would reach later than 3.00pm. We knew then that by hook or by crook, we had to take our train because our flight to Kuala Lumpur was scheduled at 3.30pm. We had to be there on time, else we will get stuck in Rome with only 60€ in my pocket. Evi tried to withdraw some money a day earlier, but it was rejected. Something wrong with the withdrawal setting on the bank side, even though she had it activated for overseas withdrawal. Mine was good, but there was no money in it (haha!).

With the money in my pocket combined with Evi’s money in the bank (if we were at all successful at withdrawing it), it was still not enough to cover new flight tickets, plus train tickets from Rome to Bologna to Gugliemo Airport, not to mention money for food. It’s not cheap. Asking money from family members was the last thing on our minds.

Anyway, we reached the main station around 8.40am. We ran as fast as we could and were trembling as we reached the check-in gate, the platform and the train. 8.43am. Phew. That was close.

When inside the train we panicked once again as we had not validate our ticket. We asked around and a man told us that we do not have to validate as our ticket has confirmed seats. Phew again.

At 8.45am, the train made its way to Bologna with two women laughing their asses off (while still having trembling leftover), happy that they made it.