“Through doodle art, I want to be the voice of nature.” - Dayang Norhidayah
Working on a wall mural.
Dayang incorporates a lot of floral elements in her works.
“DD in secret garden” by Dayang Norhidayah.
“Da Heart of Flowers” by Dayang Norhidayah.

When Dayang Norhidayah Ngah was diagnosed with a kidney problem, she put pen to paper and discovered an unexpected therapy. She shares with Ahmad Kushairi the story of her journey

A DOODLE is a drawing made while a person’s attention is otherwise occupied. Many of us idly doodle on notepads to pass the time, but one young woman has made doodling an artform in its own right.

Kidney patient Dayang Norhidayah Ngah, popularly known as Dayang Deno, developed a passion for doodling as a way to relieve pain and stress while undergoing treatment. She projects her love for nature through her drawings.

Dayang was born 28 years ago in Kuala Terengganu. She has been drawing since she was a child. While children her age spent most of their free time playing outdoors, Dayang preferred to read storybooks and draw.

“I love to observe my surroundings, especially the flora and fauna. I would spend long hours drawing these elements. It gave me inner peace and tranquility.”

When Dayang was 10, she received bad news. She was diagnosed with Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE), commonly known as lupus.

“Lupus is a chronic auto-immune disease, where the body produces blood protein (antibodies) in large doses. These antibodies can damage any part of the body (skin, joints, and/or organs). In my case, I am a Lupus Nephritis Class IV patient. Both my kidneys have completely malfunctioned.

“I have been undergoing dialysis treatment every day since I was 12. I need to also take a lot of medicines to help control the disease,” she says.

Having to undergo regular hospital treatments can be a huge burden on anyone, what more a young girl like Dayang.

To relieve the monotony and boredom, she would draw. “With my sketchbook and pen, I would let loose my imagination and draw just about anything I fancy,” says the baby-faced artist, adding that drawing was therapeutic in helping her get through a tough day at the hospital ward.

“Drawing, and later on, doodling, has helped me to control my fears and emotions. It also helps give me peace of mind and reduce stress.”

Dayang remembers her first drawing — a pair of green frogs — which she did while undergoing treatment at the Paediatric Ward of Hospital Besar Kuala Lumpur.

“The drawing was displayed on the wall’s ward in 2000. I am not sure if it is still there,” she says with a chuckle.

Dayang has to undergo Continuous Ambulatory Peritoneal Dialysis (CAPD) four times a day, every day. “It’s very tiring. When I don’t have the energy left to draw, I while away the time by reading books.”

Dayang wants to be remembered as a doodle artist and SLE fighter.

Despite her health problems, Dayang has done well in her studies. She graduated with a Diploma in Accountancy from Universiti Institut Teknologi Mara (UiTM) campus Kuala Terengganu in 2013.

“Those were hard times for me, juggling studies and treatments. However, I managed to complete my studies, even though I had to forgo plans to continue studying for a degree because of my health.”

Upon graduation, however, Dayang found it hard to secure a job.

“Moonlit Girl” by Dayang Norhidayah.

“Prospective employers were reluctant to offer me a place in their organisation. Without a full-time job and spending long hours at the hospital, I had a lot of time to kill. That’s when I started to dabble deeper into doodle art.

“I’ve received much encouragement from family and friends to pursue my passion. Even the doctors and hospital staff were supportive, which makes me determined to succeed in this field.”

Dayang says she started to develop an interest in doodle art while browsing social media. “I liked what I saw, the works of famous doodle artists from all over the world.

“In 2014, I joined the Doodle Malaysia group on Facebook, where many local doodlers gather and share their work. I received a lot of advice and encouragement from the experts to pursue the art. I would like to say a big thank you to them, especially Doodle Malaysia founder Faizzal Fah’d.

According to Dayang, most of her doodles are inspired by nature, and this is reflected in the floral elements in many of her sketches. “I really love the natural surroundings and the beauty inside it. We tend to forget that nature speaks. Through doodle art, I want to be the voice of nature.”

“MyFloria” by Dayang Norhidayah.

Apart from flora and fauna, she is also fond of cute doodle cartoon characters.

“So far, I have produced close to 1,000 works, including those that are ordered by customers.”

Dayang does not have a huge collection of drawing tools. “For pencilling/sketching, I use a pen. For inking, I use a Micron, Uni Pin, and Artline.”

Apart from traditional tools, she also draws using her tablet, a Samsung Galaxy Tab A. “I find drawing faster and smoother using the tablet. I also have less pain in my hand.”

How long does it take to finish a sketch? “It depends on the size, type and fineness,” she responds.

Despite her illness, Dayang remains bullish about the future. “Although SLE/Lupus has no cure yet, it’s not the end. I will battle on. Life is beautiful. Live it to the fullest.”

She hopes the Dayang Deno Art brand will continue to expand and flourish.

“I would like to see doodle art become more popular and mainstream in Malaysia.”

Dayang’s works can be viewed on Facebook (http://facebook.com/dayangdeno), Instagram (/thedayunk:/dayangdeno) and blog (www.dayangdeno.com).