Take the scenic route and paint along the way, says Malaysian artist


In Kuala Lumpur, Hisham has a close connection with the Kampung Baru neighbourhood. Photos: Hisham Salmin

If there is one childhood incident that validated Hisham Salmin’s love for drawing and encouraged him to explore his artistic side, it must be what happened on his first day of primary school.

“I remember that I drew a yacht, a very stylish one. The teacher and my classmates really liked it and since then, I have always been drawing – whether for leisure or for work, ” he says.

That incident was four decades ago, and he still talks fondly about it today.

If you have free time at hand, people should unleash their creative sides and paint, says Hisham. Photo: JejaiIf you have free time at hand, people should unleash their creative sides and paint, says Hisham. Photo: Jejai

The Batu Pahat, Johor-born Hisham, 47, has dabbled in the publishing world for most of his career, working his way up to art director before throwing in the towel last year to forge a new artistic path for himself.

Today, he is a full-time freelance graphic designer and artist, with four watercolour art books to his name.

When the movement control order (MCO) was announced in March, he sat down and got to sketching scenes from Germany and Switzerland, based on photographs he took in 2016. This, along with six drawings made on location during the trip, was compiled into his fourth and newest book, Sketching The City: Germany And Switzerland.

Despite the pandemic, it has been a busy time for Hisham – prior to the publication of this book, he released Kuala Lumpur In Watercolour in February, which boasts over 70 scenes of KL.

“You will see many scenes of Kampung Baru, which is near where I live. KL is a city that has been a source of inspiration for me, even while I was living in Johor Baru. I have always felt it is a place filled with amazing stories and subjects, ” says Hisham.

These books are available for purchase, either on their own or bundled with two other books: Sketching Trip: Perak (2017), which comprises artwork from Hisham, Maroz Khuzaini, Abey Zoul and Jamal Tommy during a trip to Batu Gajah, Ipoh and Papan in Perak; and Intrig (2019), which was published in conjunction with a watercolour exhibit by Gangsta Watakala.

Intrig includes step-by-step guides to watercolour painting as well as works from Hisham, Abey, Azman Nor, Ryzal Mysran, Jamal Tommy and Wan Borhanuddin, among others.

A painting of the streets of downtown Kuala Lumpur.A painting of the streets of downtown Kuala Lumpur.

“The first book, Sketching Trip: Batu Gajah, Ipoh And Papan, was our attempt at producing something that we rarely see from local artists.

“We chose Perak because this is a place with many interesting sites and subjects like the Istana Bilah in Papan and Pasar Loken in Ipoh. Based on the success of that book, we decided to publish the other books, ” says Hisham.

During the MCO, he also worked on Malaysia In Watercolour, a compilation of watercolour works from various locations around the country. Fans can expect this book to be published soon, plus a few other titles currently in the pipeline, including Sketching The City: London And Paris, Sketching The City: Italy and Sketching The City: Johor Bahru, which was where Hisham was raised.

The iconic Frankfurt train station Hisham painted while in Germany a few years ago.The iconic Frankfurt train station Hisham painted while in Germany a few years ago.

“Through these books, I hope to present art directly to art lovers and enthusiasts, budding collectors, young artists and art students.

“I must say that feedback has been very encouraging, with many people giving me suggestions about what to paint next.

“I hope readers will be excited to see their hometowns or places they know in these books, as captured through the eyes of an artist, ” he concludes.

To purchase the books, call: 016-661 1479. Facebook: Hisham Salmin Gallery.

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