Saturday, October 22, 2016

Think Different

"Think different" - Steve Jobs

What does it mean to think different? To me, it means to think for yourself, with your own unique perspective, even though it may not follow popular beliefs. People who think different tend to be the ones who accomplish great things because they don't compete to be the fastest or cheapest at doing the same as everyone else. They don't compete, they create something new, something that has never been done before and many benefit from it. They create in a new category all to themselves, they innovate and they push boundaries.  When I think of people who think different I think of people like Elon Musk, Steve Jobs, Seth Godin, Gary Vaynerchuk, Michael Jackson, Missy Elliot, Eminem, Lady Gaga, Kim Kardashian, Kanye West, Oprah, Karim Rashid, Leonardo DaVinci, Sir Isaac Newton, Einstein, Picasso, Salvador Dali, Martin Luther King, Gandhi, and many more. They don't follow the norm, they follow their own intuition and bring significant changes around them. They are the ones others try to emulate years after the originators have moved on to something else . 

It takes courage to think different because it also implies dissociating yourself from your tribe, your family, your coworkers, your community, your peers, etc. By doing so, you risk being cast aside for essentially threatening the status quo of that particular group. For example, think of the many scientists and doctors who ignore certain data because they fall outside of the established boundaries. They won't even talk about it because it would upset their peers and they could be ridiculed for thinking different. Thinking for yourself is a rebellious act that might get you expelled. Yet, it's the only way to move forward and innovate.

Where do you tend to think differently then your peers?

Cloud 02 

Cloud 02
Acrylic on panel

Cloud 02 is the second of my series of intuitive cloud painting. In this one I see a funny cartoon character with a long round nose and bushy eyebrows and prominent chin. It wasn't planned, it just appear and that's they main image I see whenever I look at this painting.

What do you see? 


If you like this design, you might like some of the following items in this collection on Society6 

Sunday, October 16, 2016

MJ Sketchbook Tour 03

I've been meaning to create another sketchbook tour video for a little while and finally took some time to create this one. I always enjoy looking through other artists' sketchbooks and I think it's only fair to let others see mine as well.

Unlike the previous two sketchbook tour videos I made in the past (1, 2) this one is longer and I added some context with a voice over done by yours truly in order to give you a bit of background regarding where the sketches were made and why.  It's an interesting way to learn more about the city of Toronto as most of the artwork are urban sketches from Toronto. That's the fascinating thing about urban sketching. I get to show Toronto through my eyes.

I'll probably do more sketchbook tour in the future, it's really a question of taking the time to do it. I have a few sketchbooks that I can share online. This process also made me realize how much time I take to complete a sketchbook and that I need to spend more time sketching.

I hope you enjoy this format. If you have any particular questions, feel free to add them in the comments below.

Friday, October 14, 2016

Ideation without execution is delusion

"Ideation without execution is delusion" Robin Sharma

I believe I first heard this quote while listening to a presentation by Robin Sharma. It's something that I need to constantly remind myself because I'm really good a dreaming up ideas, get lost in the planning and visioning phases, heads in the clouds, and forget all about actually doing the work to turn these dreams into reality. It's important to dream, but it's also important to turn these dreams into reality, otherwise they don't serve their purpose. Whenever I get a piece of artwork done, good or not, I get closer to turning my dream of being a successful artist into reality. I'm also finding out that there are various layers to this reality. Creating the art is only the first step. Next is to bring the art in front of the people who are looking for it and will benefit from it. I'm also realizing that with the technology available today, art is becoming more accessible to a wide range of people with a wide range of budget. It's a great thing because it makes art more accessible as it should be. 

Clouds 01 (Original painting)

Clouds 01
Acrylic on panel

Clouds 01 is the first of a series of intuitive paintings of clouds I started in 2014. I just started to paint clouds without planing any particular shapes. Once the painting was complete, I started to look for shapes just for fun. It's become a bit of a game for me, like Where's Waldo : the cloud edition. In this one I see a flower, a donut, a contact lense case , a profile, a bowl, and blood cells. I'll probably keep finding new objects the more I look into it. 

What do you see ? 


If you like this design, you might like some of the following items in this collection. I'm quite fond of the way the clouds look on  the pillow. Should I do one without the quote? Let me know. 

Thursday, September 15, 2016


Capturing symbols in the sky in Washington DC (2014)
Have you ever looked up at the sky and seen a sign or shape in the clouds that felt like a personal message just for you? Moments later, it's gone. Fortunately, back in 2014, while I was visiting Washington DC, I had my iPhone in hand and captured this unusual cloud formation in the shape of a question mark. At the time I was taking pictures of everything in sight, wondering about the meaning of everything around me :  the monuments, the sculptures, the architectural details, etc. And when I looked up I saw these clouds.

Perhaps this is what started fuel my interest in painting clouds. I painted a few back in 2014 and stopped there. Recently I got back into painting more often, and the clouds are coming back. And as I was uploading the latest cloud painting on my online art store, I stumbled across the word Nephelomantia which, according to, stems from the greek words nephele which means a cloud and manteia which means divination. So nephelomantia is the practice of seeking knowledge of the future or the unknown by supernatural means with the aid of clouds. How cool is that?  #LearnedSomethingNew

So since, I recently decided to continue my series of artwork around the topic of clouds, I thought it would be fitting to create a blog (  around that particular art series. The intent of this particular series of painting (I renamed it "Nephelomantia") is to capture some of these ephemeral moments intuitively. Each paintings are unique and the clouds are created without any particular shape in mind. It is only after they are completed that one can see a shape, message or meaning. And the fun part is that the viewer gives it meaning. Different people will have different interpretation and will probably see different thing.

When I looked at these clouds, I saw a question mark. What do you see? 

Saturday, April 16, 2016

How a financial corporation supports local artists by connecting them to a wider audience

Toronto Urban Sketchers TD Gallery of Inuit Art Toronto Dominium
Toronto Urban Sketchers at the TD Gallery of Inuit Art

Do you know about the TD Gallery of Inuit Art? 

I certainly didn’t until a receptionist from the Museum of Inuit Art in the Harbourfront told me about it. Of course, I had to check it out. So I decided to organize an urban sketching session at the TD Gallery, located right in the heart of the city in the Financial District. 

Turns out this great little gallery is the result of a vision from Allen Lambert, TD's former chairman and president in the 60s, who recognized the potential for art to make a personal connection and start conversations. After working as a branch manager in Yellowknife in the late 40s, Lambert developed an interest and deep respect for natives and their artwork. He believed that displaying art in the workplace would not only enhance the corporate environment, but would also enhance the lives of the staff and customers as the art would provide a way to forge relationships. 
“I feel that the value of a Corporate Collection is not just a matter of dollars or decoration. It is the commitment by the corporation of its concern for a fuller quality to life; an extra dimension is added to the normal business day by providing a stimulating and sometimes challenging environment for our staff, customers, and visitors.”
He also hoped that this would enable Inuits to inform others about their culture and tradition. I would say that’s exactly what he did for the Toronto Urban Sketchers. By providing free public access to the gallery, the bank is helping more people better understand and connect to Inuit art. On April 9, 2016 about twenty urban sketchers made their way to the gallery to sketch some of the sculptures beautifully displayed in the mezzanine of a Mies Van Der Rohe building located at 79 Wellington St. Sketching the artwork enable them to spend some time with the artwork and develop an new appreciation and understanding if Inuit art and culture. 

It’s very encouraging and inspiring to see corporations like TD take it upon itself to purchase local artworks and to share them with the general public. Toronto is not yet at the point where museums are free like in London, UK and Washington, DC which restrict access to some members of the population. So it’s great to see some corporations taking the lead on enabling more people from the general public to connect with the artwork of local artists. In this case, they’re contributing to raising the awareness of Inuit art and its significance in the history of the country which for some reason have been lacking in the classrooms (at least at the time when I was a student).

So how does TD's project support local artists? 
1. TD Bank buys local artwork
To date, the TD Bank Canadian Art Collection, comprising Contemporary Canadian and Inuit art, includes over 5000 works. The bank originally acquired 1000 inuit artworks. While 200 of them are displayed in the gallery, the rest, including inuit prints and drawings, are located in offices throughout the bank’s global operation. Most of the larger domestic and international offices own at least one inuit sculpture.

2. TD Bank familiarizes its staff to local art
As a result of the bank's corporate art collection, many employees have been able to develop a greater appreciation of Inuit art without having to make a special trip to a museum or gallery. For some individuals, having ready access to works of art has sparked their own personal collecting activities or helped stimulate creative thinking in their day-to-day work. 

3. TD Bank showcases local artwork as part of its marketing process
Through the years, TD's marketing efforts reinforced their association with Inuit art.  An Inuit carving is often presented as a gift to important clients, visitors, retiring board members, or dignitaries. Also, for several years, an annual corporate Christmas card highlighting a sculpture from the collection was produced.

Toronto Urban Sketchers TD Gallery of Inuit Art Toronto Dominium
Toronto Urban Sketchers at the TD Gallery of Inuit Art
Toronto Urban Sketchers TD Gallery of Inuit Art Toronto Dominium
Toronto Urban Sketchers at the TD Gallery of Inuit Art
Toronto Urban Sketchers TD Gallery of Inuit Art Toronto Dominium
Toronto Urban Sketchers at the TD Gallery of Inuit Art

Getting acquainted with Inuit Art 
I was particularly attracted to a carving by Osuitok Ipeelee from Nunavut called Mythical Owl. The way the wings are positioned above its head and its twisted tentacle-legs were intriguing and inspired me to sketch it. I wish there was a bit more information about the actual artwork. It's great to know the name of the artist and the title of the work but I have so many questions like : Why the owl? What does it represent? Why do its legs look like tentacles? Why are the wings placed above its head? Does the position of the owl mean anything? Etc. It did however start a conversation with fellow sketchers about how the carvings are typically created and how the artists typically start by sitting with the stone to visualize what’s "hidden" in the stone before they proceed to remove the unwanted pieces of stone and reveal the hidden gem within it. What a fascinating concept! That could also explain why the figures are not an accurate replica of a particular animal or person, and can have unusual characteristics like the Mythical Owl.

Toronto Urban Sketchers TD Gallery of Inuit Art Toronto Dominium
My rendition of the Mythical Owl by Osuitok Ipeelee at the TD Gallery of Inuit Art
You can see a quick timelapse of my sketch here

Toronto Urban Sketchers TD Gallery of Inuit Art Toronto Dominium
Some of the sketches from the Toronto Urban Sketchers at the TD Gallery of Inuit Art

The sketchers created quite a nice range of artwork including sketches of the sculpture, the space and other sketchers. Everyone looked like they had a great time interacting with Inuit Art. I highly recommend you checking out the TD Gallery of Inuit Art next time you’re in the area. It is open 7 days a week and admission is free. Since the gallery opened to the public in 1986, the bank has maintain its commitment to do the collection justice and share it with the community. I hope this inspired other corporation to do the same as it’s a great example of how large corporation an artists can work together to enhance the lives of the community as a whole. Artwork should be shared with everyone. While not everyone can afford to own an original artwork, they should be able to see and appreciate them in public spaces like this and it's great to see companies doing something about it. 

Thursday, March 31, 2016


Color Your Stress Away (Small): Geometrical Patterns and Quotes
Coloring Book for Adults - Pocket Size Edition
March 31, 2015 | Paperback


COLOR YOUR STRESS AWAY! Color to reconnect with yourself! Color to ease your mind. With each minute enjoyed coloring this coloring book, the abstract geometrical patterns can help reduce anxiety the easy way. While it's well known and documented that meditation is an effective tool to improve mental health and well being, it can be difficult to get into. Coloring is a great and easier alternative to give similar benefits anytime and anywhere. If you're feeling anxious, stressed out, overwhelmed or even bored, you may benefit from coloring. The pocket size edition of Color Your Stress Away : Geometrical Patterns is easy to use at home, on vacation or on the go during a lunch break. It also features inspiring art quotes to spark your creativity and help brighten your day with a little bit of color. Get the benefits of meditation the easy way with a couple minutes of mindless coloring to keep your stress at bay and have a little fun.


Format : Paperback 208 pages
Dimension : 5 x 0.5 x 8 in
Published : March 31, 2016
Publisher : CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform
Language : English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:
ISBN-10: 1530120985 
ISBN-13: 978-1530120987

Friday, March 04, 2016

Toronto Urban Sketchers Celebrating Toronto

A couple months ago I got a chance to meet Micayla who's the founder of Celebrate Toronto : A growing event celebrating the birthday of the city. Toronto's turning 182 years old this year and for the past 3 years she's been honouring the official birth of the city by throwing it a party. As part of the festivities, artists are invited to submit their artwork to showcase and sell the night of the show and throughout the entire month of March. This year, 10 Toronto Urban Sketchers, including myself, will be participating to the artshow. Above are the three artwork that I submitted for the show, two of which are also in our recent publication : Urban Sketching Disappearing Landmarks in Toronto

The celebrations will take place tomorrow, Saturday March 6, 2016. Here's a sneak peek of the installations :

I also got a chance to interview Micayla for my podcast a couple weeks ago. Below is a highlight regarding the event. 

You can still get you tickets for the show on the main site or at the door. 

Friday, February 26, 2016

Missed Opportunity at the Roy Thomson Hall

Roy Thomson Hall Toronto Urban Sketchers Watercolor Sketch
I've been fascinated by the Roy Thomson Hall for a while. Located on the corner of King St. W and Simcoe St, it is hard to miss this unique building in the shape of a cone with its top cut off : a conical frustum (I just learned that word). Mostly composed of glass windows arranged in a beautiful geometrical pattern, the hall opened its doors in 1982, thanks to the Roy Thomson's family who generously donated $4.5 million to help with the the fundraising efforts to complete its construction.

Roy Thomson Hall is connected to the Toronto PATH, which is an underground pedestrian walkway connecting several buildings and subway stations in the downtown core. This feature is particularly useful in the winter months when it's too cold to sketch outside. Along the PATH, there's a nice view of the Hall from across a pond. The pond is drained in the winter. Apparently, the original plan of the architect Arthur Erickson, was for the pond to be an ice skating rink in the winter. But I don't think it's ever been used for that, which is a shame and a missed opportunity. Having people skating there would bring the space to life and make better use of it. Instead, it lies empty for a couple months every year. Still it's a great sight for sketchers in the winter and most of us set up camp in the hall facing the ponds to sketch the view from indoors. I will have to come back there in the summer as suggested by a passerby who told me that"it's much nicer in the summer."   

Roy Thomson Hall Toronto Urban Sketchers Watercolor Sketch

Friday, February 19, 2016

A New Coffee Kiosk at Union Station

Toronto Urban Sketchers Union Station Pilot coffee watercolor art

The Toronto Urban Sketchers recently gathered at Union Station for a sketching session. What caught my attention was a new coffee shop kiosk called pilot, right in the middle of the space. The booth has a unique shape is reminiscent of a paper airplane. I wonder if the name was the inspiration behind the design of the space. Not that coffee has much to do with a plane, other than perhaps the fact that it's imported and may have travelled by plane. I couldn't find any information about the story behind the name on their website. Maybe the concept of the plane was the idea of the architect, Williamson Chong, or maybe it's pure coincidence. But the shape of the booth definitely got my attention, so I sketched it. There is not a lot of space for the baristas so efficiency is key. There were only 1-2 of them working behind the counter on rotation while we were sketching. Speaking of baristas, I've been wondering why this "new" term is being used for the staff working behind the counter in coffee shops. Turns out it's an Italian word for bartender. Now you know :) 

Thursday, February 11, 2016

A Random Act of Kindness

Random Act of Kindness Coloring book donation Red Door Family Shelter Toronto

I've always like the concept of the random act of kindness, the kind that pushes you out of your comfort zone. A couple years ago I created mini artwork pieces and left them on the bulletin board for people to have.  Recently I decided to donate coloring books to a women shelter and then extended that offer to a local family shelter by creating a Go Fund Me Campaign. It was a little nerve racking because I'm not the kind of person who asks for help, let alone donations, but I figured it would enable me to give a little more. So I ran the campaign and was able to raise $210 to go towards more coloring books, a little handwritten note from me as well as colored pencils and sharpeners. I just sent the first packaged to the shelter in Toronto and will be sending the second one on its way to Ottawa shortly. I really hope this brings whoever receives them some joy and positive energy, but it's out of my hands now. I did my part and I'm glad I didn't listen to that voice that always tries to dissuade me from doing something different, even though it's a nice thing to do. How silly is that?