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Tay Thain Lin

Sketching and storing

When he's not donning his IT cap, Thain Lin devotes a lot of his free time doing things that he loves, particularly sketching and ink-washing heritage shophouses around Singapore. His favourite haunts are at Joo Chiat, Little India, Chinatown, Tiong Bahru and Tanjong Pagar. 

It was a beautiful and sunny day when we met at the newly expanded pedestrian walkway along Eng Hoon Street. Sketching under a hot sun sounds like an arduous task but Thain Lin epitomises “心静自然凉” (a Chinese idiom meaning, a calm heart keeps you cool.) He reminds us what it is like to do things for yourself at your own pace.

He likes to document heritage sites. By sketching them, the place etches in the mind better than just taking a photograph. It is a good way to store memories. "Art is therapeutic. It exercises the brain instead of passive enjoyments like watching televsion programmes," he said. Creating is often more rewarding than consumption.

It is too hot to sit outside for too long. Sometimes he leaves the drawing alone and then returns to it when he feels rejuvenated to work on it again. Sometimes he can complete it at one sitting. Thain Lin is fully aware of his own limits and it is important to know when to stop to take a break. 

He is very intrigued when I showed him a drawing app on my iPad but he prefers the permanence of traditional drawing with a pen and paper. You know where the mistakes are and art is not about perfections.  

Besides heritage shophouses, Thain Lin also does amazing pet portraits. He certainly knows how to keep good memories alive.


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