ANIMAL CONNECTIONS 005 : the cat made me do it

I'm finally starting to get over that annoying flu that's been seriously cramping my style over the past few days. So I decided to keep it simple and draw a portrait using only a pencil on a sketchpad. I just love the face expression on that cat.

Here's to a new year, full of new ventures, fun projects and creative outlets. Happy new year!

ANIMAL CONNECTIONS 004 : the magic of the holidays

I was recently wondering about the origins of Santa Claus and the stories of flying reindeers, Rudolph with the red nose, the fact that Santa came from the north pole and used to go to people's houses through the chimney to leave gifts. Where does that come from?  Well I did a little research and it seems that the link might be magic mushrooms (Amanita muscaria). 

These mushrooms, which typically grow under coniferous trees, are apparently sought after by reindeers who love to eat them. Also, Shamans in Siberia used to collect them, dry them on trees and give them as gifts during the winter solstice. The more I looked into it, the more links there seemed to be.  Quite a fascinating find, and what inspired this drawing. 

Happy holidays!

blood, sweat and tears

I've come to the realization that any widely successful person, no matter the field they're in, got there through blood, sweat and tears. So in order to be successful, you most likely have to go through it as well. Recently, I got this idea of representing this idiom with three drops made out of the words "blood", "sweat" and "tears" and came up with the rough drawing above. 

I always thought it would be neat to have my drawing on various products but never really went past the idea phase until now. I recently decided to join Cafe Press and test out some of my ideas. I'm still waiting for the legal approval for the items to be available online, they should be available for sale very soon. Hopefully it will inspire and encourage people who are looking to achieve difficult tasks in their lives : be it loosing weight, becoming a chef, graduating, making a sports team, starting a new business, building a new life or recovering from an addiction.

ANIMAL CONNECTIONS 003 : kiss from a seal

All I could think about while drawing this was the song "Kiss from a rose" by Seal, which inspired the title for this post and most likely the background that looks like a soundwave. 

ANIMAL CONNECTIONS 002 : an eagle on his arm

I'm fascinated with eagles, especially bald eagles. They are such majestic animals. I came across this domesticated one, name Challenger. Who fell off his nest when he was a baby and raised by humans who found him and who thinks he's a person too. After too unsuccessful attempts to release him to the wild, he became the ambassador to his species and now belongs to the American Eagle Foundation.  

I love the idea of animal ambassadors protecting and speaking for their own species. Imagine if we found ways to truly communicate with them so they would be part of the United Nation... 

ANIMAL CONNECTIONS 001 : a rat on her shoulder

I'm challenging myself to start a new series of portraits on the topic of people and their pet. I even came up with a title : Animal Connections. The goal is to produce 100 of them (OMG... sounds scary) and this is the first one. I'm using a Bleedproof Market Pad from Letraset that has been sitting on my shelves for years. I'm glad I'm finally making use of them. 

READ IT - The War of Art: Winning the Inner Creative Battle

Title : The War of Art: Winning the Inner Creative Battle 
Format : Audiobook 
Summary : What keeps so many of us from doing what we long to do? Why is there a naysayer within? How can we avoid the roadblocks of any creative endeavor—be it starting up a dream business venture, writing a novel, or painting a masterpiece? The War of Art identifies the enemy that every one of us must face, outlines a battle plan to conquer this internal foe, then pinpoints just how to achieve the greatest success. The War of Art emphasizes the resolve needed to recognize and overcome the obstacles of ambition and then effectively shows how to reach the highest level of creative discipline. Think of it as tough love . . . for yourself

Why this book ? : This book came highly recommended by Joe Rogan during one of his podcasts. I forget what they were talking about, but he was raving about this book and how all artists should read it because it helps you to actually get over things like writers block. He mentioned it more than once, so I had to check it out. 

My Review : I absolutely loved it! I listened to it two times and probably will listen to it again and take some notes. Not only did I relate to the stuff that he was saying about resistance, but from my observations of various successful and unsuccessful people, I could see the pattern that he was talking about. The talk about muses and angels might make some people uncomfortable, but if you're open minded the information you'll get from it is in my opinion very valuable. 

Favorite quotes and notes from the book

Most of us have two lives. The life we life we live, and the unlived life within us. Between the two stands Resistance. 
It was easier for Hitler to start World War II than it was for him to face a blank square canvas.
The artist is grounded in freedom. 
Fundamentalism is the philosophy of the powerless, the conquered, the displaced and the dispossessed. 
The professional loves it so much he dedicates his life to it. He commits full-time. 
The Ego hates artists because they are the pathfinders and bearers of the future.
Creative work is not a selfish act or a bid for attention on the part of the actor. It's a gift to the world and every being in it. Don't cheat us of your contribution. Give us what you've got.

life drawing workshop : adam

This week's model had really good 90 second gestures (shown above). I decided to use a marker instead of a pencil for this portion. I find it changes the way I draw, perhaps because I know in the back of my head that I can't erase it, I'm more thoughtful of where I draw.  

For the longer poses, my best rendering this time for me was the third one. Mind you I can see areas where I can improve, but I like the shading, hair, proportions, etc. 

The best pose from the model for me was the last one : The most difficult one. It's crazy to think he held that pose for almost half an hour. It's too bad I didn't have time to draw the face properly...

the guitar player

This redditor wanted an album cover illustration. This is what I came up with. 

life drawing workshop : natasha & louis

Last class we had two models instead of one. It was quite a challenge two have two people instead of one.

and then there were 50

A couple months ago, I gave myself the challenge to complete 50 Reddit Get Drawn portraits in order to get back into drawing and work on my skills, and I recently completed that challenge. It's fun to see the evolution. The more I drew the more I realized that I like to use markers. After posting them on reddit, I also completed two bonus request, shown below :

a tie and a hat

This request had a couple photo choices but the one with hat and that face expression was the winning on for me. 

dr who fan

This redditor's request was a little more involved. He wanted to be portrayed as The Doctor with a Tardis, a sonic screwdriver and Rose Tyler. I'm glad a managed to add everything in :) 


This was an interesting request, especially because of the hand on the foreground. 

life drawing workshop : laura

I finally made it back to a life drawing class. My schedule didn't allow me to spend the time to go for the pass couple weeks, but I'm back!  It's crazy how a couple weeks off actually set you back a little. My 90 seconds gestures weren't the greatest so they are not here. Fortunately, I caught up with the longer poses. 

photobomb attempt

For my RGD #47 I decided to photobomb this request with a random dog . 

making faces

I really like drawing extreme face expressions it seems. This request was a no brainer for me. I had to draw all three. 

adorable annoyed dog

This RDG request (No 44) got my attention right away. I love the expression on the dog's face and the entire composition. I just had to draw it. Above is the process from start to finish. I made a mistake with the color of the eyes of the dog. They were supposed to be blue and I used a brown marker. Fortunately I was able to correct it with a watercolor pencil. I just dipped the tip of the pencil in water to soften it and basically turned the colored pencil into fine tip "paint pen". Good thing the area to correct was small :) Below is the final result. 

short hair cut

For this request, I decided to try a different technique and avoid the black pen for the outline. 

a happy time

This was a request from a redditor who recently lost a friend and wanted to commemorate a good moment in their lives. 

valentine's rock poster

This was a request for a movie made by a redditor: a 40's style short movie featuring a puppet.

birthday girl

RGD No 40! Only 10 more to go to complete my personal challenge. This was a request from a redditor  to celebrate his girlfriend's birthday. 

feather eye

Here's another RGD portrait I did a couple days ago. I like the placement of the feather. I thought it was a great idea. 

leaving vegas

This concludes my Vegas Urban Sketching Series. I had a lot of fun touring Vegas with my little sketchbook. It's definitely something I'd love to do again. On our way out, I also had the opportunity to do a couple more sketches during our trip back home ...

... waiting in line at the airport while United was trying to figure out how to organize the increasing people  while their computer system was down ....

... waiting at our terminal for the plane to come ...

... waiting on the plane to get to Chicago ...

... waiting at the Chicago airport for the crew to show up (?) so that we can finally get on our next flight. At least we got a chance to try some food from Argo Tea. I wish they had a shop near my home. The Mango Black Bean & Brown Rice salad was excellent!

seahorse fountain at the caesars palace

MJ SKETCHBOOK | Urban Sketching - Las Vegas Caesars Palace water fountain seahorse

This is another fountain you'll see outside the Caesars Palace. It's actually just a portion of it facing the main strip. It's nice to see so many sculptures and fountains as you walk on the street. I wish more cities would do this. I think it makes for a better living environment. 
MJ SKETCHBOOK | Urban Sketching - Las Vegas Caesars Palace water fountain seahorse


MJ SKETCHBOOK | Urban Sketching - Las Vegas Caesars Palace Forum Shop David Statue
If you walk in the Caesars Palace to get the the Forum Shop you'll find a giant statue of David. A lot of people stopped by to take a picture with him while I was drawing.

caesars pool (part 2)

MJ SKETCHBOOK | Urban sketching - Las Vegas Caesars Palace pools

I decided to give the pools another go but by concentrating on a small area of the site instead. This is just a portion of the VIP section. It was a great opportunity to work on shadows. I was standing on a covered balcony in the conference area of the Caesars Palace. This place is huge. 

caesars pool (part 1)

MJ SKETCHBOOK | Urban Sketching - Las Vegas - Caesars Palace pools

The pools at the Caesars Palace are truly spectacular. There is so much details, it was getting exhausting to draw everything. I've never seen anything like this before.
MJ SKETCHBOOK | Urban Sketching - Las Vegas - Caesars Palace pools

catching love bubbles

MJ SKETCHBOOK | Reddit Gets Drawn Portrait
Here's my latest submission on Reddit Gets Drawn. This redditor had a lot of great photos to choose from, which is always a good thing for inspiration. They look like such an adorable couple. I decided to coupled two pictures together joined by a bubble heart.  

vdara view (part 2)

MJ SKETCHBOOK | Urban Sketching - Las Vegas Vdara room view
This is the second part of the view from our hotel room where you can see a portion of the Aria Hotel. I like the curves on this building. But apparently because it's made of glass curving toward the hotel pool, you have to be careful not to get seriously burned by the "Vdara death Ray" as explained on a  blog post by Gnarly Architecture
MJ SKETCHBOOK | Urban Sketching - Las Vegas Vdara room view
With so much solar power, I wonder why they didn't figure out of way to  actually make use of all that free energy. In fact that's something that I don't get about Las Vegas, how come there isn't more solar panels in Vegas? 

forum shop fountain

MJ SKETCHBOOK | Urban Sketching - Las Vegas water fountain Forum shop

This is one of the many water fountains around Caesars Palace. This particular one is right in front of the entrance to the Forum Shop. 

MJ SKETCHBOOK | Urban Sketching - Las Vegas water fountain Forum shop