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Meet Kar-Keat

Sketching at Saint Louis Art Museum in August, 2018.

 

Born and raised in the tropical city of Penang, Malaysia, I have always been interested in drawing from a very young age. It wasn't until I was fourteen, that I started formal training under renowned Penang watercolor artists Choon-Ghee Tan and Chuan-Jin Chai. As an active member of the high school art society, I enjoyed regular group plein air sketch outings. The picturesque character of old fishing villages, colorful Buddhist temples, historic streetscapes, and the hustle and bustle of everyday life in Penang, made for a dynamic environment filled with amazing sketching opportunities.

I came to the U.S. in 1995 to pursue my undergraduate studies and was able to make use of my creative abilities in different avenues such as rendering and designing built environments. After graduating, I worked in award-winning architecture firms, before deciding to pursue a Master’s degree in Architecture at the University of Minnesota to expand my design knowledge and skills. Returning to school while working full-time made for many long hours in the studio. Painting and sketching took a backseat to my professional pursuits but I never lost my love for art. In 2017, I decided to make time for my childhood passion again by conducting plein air painting sessions on my own and joining regular sketch outings hosted by the Urban Sketchers-Twin Cities Chapter. Today, I run my own art and architecture studio. I am fortunate to gain insight and mentorship from world renowned watercolor artist Cheng-Khee Chee, who happens to be my father-in-law. I currently live with my wife Yen who's a jewelry designer, son, and daughter in Golden Valley, Minnesota.

My work has a realistic quality, with bold confident strokes in some scenes, as well as soft, more delicate lines in others. My drawing skills have come in handy with my current architecture profession, where I develop design ideas and construction details through sketches. You can see the influence of my past drawing skills, woven into my current work. Through my sketches and paintings, I aim to create a mood that makes the viewer feel as though they were present at the very spot I sketched from. As a storyteller, hoping to share glimpses of other cultures and parts of the world through my art, I've enjoyed attending International Urban Sketchers Symposiums in Porto and Amsterdam in the last few years, where friendships, energy, and the excitement of sketching has made me feel right at home. As one of the administrators for Urban Sketchers Twin Cities, I have enjoyed organizing sketch outings and meeting sketchers who share the same passion in drawing and painting as me.