A day in the life of artists

A day in the life of artists

Touch Yin Vannith spends a day with NIGHT MARKET painter May Sak
I spent one and a half hours chatting with a young painter at the Night Market near the riverside. Dressed in jeans and a long- sleeved-shirt, this young painter May Sak, whom I have known since I joined in the Cannon party at the Korean Center, is a senior student at the Royal University of Fine Arts, and painting is his major. 

I met Sak around 5:45pm. He was waiting for me because we had made an appointment for 5:30pm. When I showed up at his booth, it seemed quiet as it was early in the evening, so people had not come out yet.
Sak has to spend his nights painting for people who go to buy something at the Night Market. Every Friday to Sunday evening he must come to his booth to prepare his paintings and other items.

After Sak had prepared all his stuff, he told me: “Besides me, we have others painters, maybe three booths in the row, but they do not study with me at all, we just know them and we work on paintings here.”

His job is not easy – he had to wait for someone to come to his booth so he can draw them, but I was there for almost one hour and no one showed up.

He seemed a little bit sad, but he still cracked some jokes to encourage me to stay longer. “As a painter, I am not like a photographer since a painter can paint whatever and whenever they want, not only in the middle of the day, but also in the middle of the night.”

The sky was getting darker and darker, but I still did not see any customers come to his booth. Some people just walked over and looked at us, but then kept going. What about the other painters nearby us? They were also looking forward to making some paintings, like Sak.

Due to a lack of customers, professional painter Sak recalled that on Friday he did not have many customers. He said he only gets about three customers each day. However, he has had good days when he gets up to seven customers.

I asked him how he draws pictures and if he uses pencils and water colours. He told me that painting with water colours seems quite easy because there was no need to leave spaces. With black and white drawings using pencils, he must leave some spaces to make the pictures more visible.

While we talked his phone kept ringing, but he never took the calls. Perhaps he did not want to be rude to me. Sak said his paintings can feed him and sometimes he can save US$200 per month, but now he has to feed his two younger brothers. He cannot save a thing, but he has enough, he said.

Although I did not see any of his drawings, I still learned a bit about how to paint pictures. I think I will go back to the Night Market again to see him painting.

Dara Saoyuth SPENDS A DAY WITH ILLUSTRATOR Moeu Diyadaravuth
A picture has been said to be something between a thing and a thought”. It was said by Samuel Palmer, a British landscape painter and etcher. However, this sentence cannot fully explain a day in the life of a painter like Moeu Diyadaravuth who has been working since 2005 as an office assistant and graphic artist at Our Books, a non-profit organization that creates and distributes books throughout Cambodia and provides illustrations for various publications.
I’ve spent last Thursday morning with a 28-year-old Moeu Diyadaravuth to reveal his experience of being an artist. In an apartment near Royal University of Fine Arts, Moeu Diyadaravuth was sitting in his office room at his desk checking his phone when I arrived, and he put it down when our conversation began. Everything on the desk was in order, and in the left corner, I could see a pile of picture he has done while there was a box of some foreign cartoon books on the top right hand side of the desk and below that was a large white box which he called a light box that he normally uses to ink the picture, copy the sketch to another white paper using a pen, by putting papers on that box and turn on the light so that he could see the sketch clearly and copy it easily.

He told me that he’d just finished drawing pictures for an organization and that he was free to talk. It seemed to be a bit frustrated for me that I could not see his drawing processes; however, it turned into a good chance that he had more time to explain me about his works and show his achievements.

Moeu Diyadaravuth can make three different kinds of pictures like black-and-white picture, watercolor painting, and digital painting. But, he said the most popular ordered picture is a third category because color from computer has better quality.

Moeu Diyadaravuth cannot start drawing until he understand what his customers want and that require him to talk or read the text to understand the context. Even though most of the time he can imagine the picture as soon as the customers tell their idea, some challenges cannot be an exception.

“Our customers want picture that fit to their contents, but they are not professional, so there are chances that we cannot draw for them because sometimes they are too imaginative,” he said, explaining that drawings aren’t like video that have action, so you have to capture the main idea in one image.

When it comes to being a good artist, he advised many hours of practicing and researching other people’s  work. “Drawing is one of my leisure activities, I read some others artists’ books and Google things I know I’m not good at. This helps me improve my skill constantly.”


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