Singaporean artist, Tan Khim Ser is noted for his contributions in developing artistic talent and promoting greater awareness in the local arts. Besides teaching Chinese ink painting for the past 50 years after he graduated from Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts in 1966, he founded Life Art Society in 1972. The society is involved in numerous art activities and exhibitions, including live art demonstrations by Tan. While he is trained in both Chinese and Western painting and techniques, most of Tan’s works are Chinese ink paintings and calligraphy.
Plein-air painting and sketching had been part of the Academy's Western painting programme where students experience drawing and painting outdoors. Upon graduation from the Academy in 1966, Tan continued to practice sketching outdoors. Sketching at the roadside was created during Tan's Western foundation training. Rendering the last standing squatters of Kampong Tiong Bahru before it underwent housing redevelopment, Tan documented a part of Singapore's housing history by capturing the everyday life of its settlers. Taking lessons from the infamous Bukit Ho Swee fire in 1961, the risk of house fire in these squatters made way for public housing flats. These high-rise apartments set against the backdrop of the squatters were early public flats built by the Singapore Improvement Trust where residents would be relocated.