3 ways to bring out the artist in you

creativity knows no bounds, you just need conducive avenues to let those artistic juices flow. here are three channels through which you can indulge your inner van gogh.

stroll the back lanes

george town’s now-iconic murals were probably what set off the malaysian public’s interest in street art and while some of ernest zecharevic’s popular works have faded away, the scene in klang valley is just starting to pick up.

random bits of graffiti and mural have been popping up in bangsar’s telawi area, with no particular theme or direction. shah alam, on the other hand, actually set out to create street art galleries in two commercial areas, with a specific objective in mind: to transform dark, dinghy alleyways into places that people would actually want to visit. majlis bandar shah alam (mbsa) and creative agency khznh studio put their heads together two years ago, and decided that a combination of art and architecture was the best approach.

that resulted in laman seni 2 and later, laman seni 7. graffiti-style murals, 3d art and installation pieces that include works by non-professional artists who were chosen through an open call for entries now wallpaper the previously plain walls and deserted paths. laman 2 is a small strip that’s most distinctive for a bright yellow school bus mural and an installation of old school desks and chairs, mounted on a wall. it’s much quieter compared to laman 7, which takes on a festive mood on weekends as crowds of young families, college students and art enthusiasts descend upon it. photo opportunities are aplenty: from a gigantic pink hippopotamus promoting animal welfare to an installation of ‘dripping’ ice cream cones, and a monochromatic mural commemorating p ramlee.

clearly, the two laman seni have successfully transformed negative spaces into positively appealing landmarks, and the idea appears to have caught on in other parts of the klang valley. last year, the petaling jaya city council (mbpj) sponsored a similar exercise in pj state, brightening up a short stretch behind jalan 52/18 with licks of pastel paints and several murals, including one depicting a venetian canal scene.

mpbj repeated the initiative in the busy commercial centre of ss2 earlier this year, in a joint effort with damansara utama assemblyman yeo bee yin. a competition themed ‘bestnya malaysiaku’ was held and winners, who were selected by a panel of artists, materialised their ideas into nine murals. some of the back lanes are now lit up with led lamps in the evenings.

> pj state jalan 51/28, petaling jaya

> ss2 scattered around jalan ss2/60, 61, 63, 64, 66, 67

> shah alam (laman seni 2) jalan bunga melur 2/18, seksyen 2, shah alam; (laman seni 7) jalan plumbum q7/q, seksyen 7, shah alam

freestyle painting

the term ‘art jamming’ may have you thinking that some dancing or singing is involved, but it is really just you, an easel and the freedom to groove with it any way you like. you’re provided with everything you would need to produce a piece of art – brushes, paints, a comfortable and relaxing space – that you get to take home at the end of the session. there are no rules as to what you should paint as it’s all about your personal expressions, and you don’t need any prior training or qualification either.

the studio at kl in publika, the first to introduce art jamming locally, starts jammers off with a quick tutorial on the available art supplies and how to achieve certain effects. sample paintings are also provided if you need references or simply look around for inspiration: the studio also conducts painting classes for adults and children, who share the warehouse-style space so you could be jamming next to an experienced painter working on their masterpieces. their art teachers, including founder and self-taught artist jennifer tai, often go around offering tips and suggestions.


> the studio at kl d1-g4-09 solaris dutamas (publika), kuala lumpur tel +603 6211 3840 www.thestudioatkl.com; check website for art jamming schedule price rm120 per person for three-hour sessions (age 16 and above), rm100 per person for 90-minute sessions (age below 16)

art jamming is also available at:

> lorem ipsum 59-1 jalan bangkung, taman bandaraya, kuala lumpur tel +603 2201 6969 opens 10am-7pm, sunday-thursday; 10am-10pm, friday-saturday; closed on tuesdays note art jamming is available daily until 3.30pm, at rm120 per personinclusive of one coffee or tea

> the refinery g-15, d7 jalan sentul, sentul east, kuala lumpur tel +012 2050 716 www.facebook.com/d7refinery note art jam is available every sunday, 1pm-4pm at rm30/rm50 per person depending on canvas size

stay within the lines

we all loved colouring books as kids but somewhere along the road called growing up, it became relegated to little more than child’s play. as an adult, your only contact with colour pencils is probably picking them up after your brood. in recent years, however, colouring books intended for adults have been gaining a following, with scottish artist johanna basford’s secret garden one of the catalysts of this growing trend.

flipping through the pages filled with intricate, finely-detailed line illustrations easily reignites that childhood love and apparently, there’s more to these books than a walk down a colourful memory lane. they are said to help de-stress, lower anxiety and enables better sleep besides training one’s focus and improving attention span.

whether it is for those benefits or if you simply want to create pretty things, there are a lot of stunning options to choose from. besides secret garden, kinokuniya’s line-up includes lizzie mary cullen’s magical city (featuring urban landscapes) and beverly lawson’s meditative mandalas colouring book. japanese editions are available as well.

the local branch of taiwanese bookstore cite, in bandar sri petaling, carries the chinese editions of a similar range while czip lee stocks the pepin press’ artists’ colouring books, a series of thematic titles that run the gamut from classic cars to popular travel destinations and vintage fashion. each volume contains 16 pages of illustrations, printed on acid-free drawing paper that can support a variety of medium, including ink and water colour.


> kinokuniya level 4, suria klcc tel +603 2164 8133 opens 10am-10pm daily www.kinokuniya.com

> cite book garden 41 jalan radin anum, bandar baru sri petaling tel +603 9056 3833 opens 11am-7pm daily www.cite.com.my

> czip lee 1 & 3 jalan telawi 3, bangsar baru tel +603 2287 7699 opens 9.30am-8.30pm, monday-saturday lite.cziplee.com


this article first appeared in the malay mail online and crave, sunday mail