jar challenge update 2

Another month, another jar check up :)  This month flew by. Despite doing a lot more drawings on the iPad, I managed to increase the level of pencil shavings a little bit, but not as much as the first month. Let's see what I can do about this for the month of March. Maybe my Power of 21 challenge should be to draw something using a pencil on a daily basis. 

TGIM sketchnote 5

This week's TGIM is all about the Power of 21: Challenge yourself in doing something new for 21 straight days... (or 30 days if you're more keen). The purpose of this is not only to become better at whatever you're pursuing, but also to create new good habits while getting rid of old bad habits. 

Since the beginning of the year, I've been doing a couple new things on a daily basis as well. It works. The first thing I did was apply one of Austin Kleon's tips from his book Steal Like and Artist.  I started a daily logbook. It's nothing too crazy. I limited myself to just one page per day. It made a real difference in the way I spend my day because I want to be able to write that I've actually accomplished something useful towards reaching my goals. After almost two months of doing this, I can say that it has become a habit. It's also great to be able to look back and see the progress in that period of time. I guess it's time to add a new task for March. Maybe some daily push-ups? I'm challenging myself to do it for all 31 days of that month. Better choose wisely :) 

loading... please wait

Another illustration for my Society6 shop. Ever feel like this when trying to solve a difficult problem or formulate something in your head instead of just blurting it out?  I do :)

I'm a star, how could I not shine

MJ ILLUSTRATES | I'm a star T-shirt - Society6
This quote from Kanye's song "I Wonder" inspired me to create this art piece. The line to me is genius and inspiring because I see two meaning in it: 
  1. The first and most obvious one is the celebrity status : "I'm a star, of course you'll see my name in bright shining light". 
  2. The second meaning is more profound : "I'm a star, because I am made of star dust, so of couse I'm meant to shine".   
It's been scientifically proven that we are all made of startdust, so essentially we're all stars. With that in mind, I created the image of the star and the quote in one piece. I think it's perfect for a t-shirt or an inspirational accent pillow. You can now get your on my Society6 store

ANIMAL CONNECTIONS 016 : Newton the little Iggy

This little guy will be coming home with me in a couple weeks. I can hardly wait! Italian Greyhounds are such fascinating dogs who run really fast and love to cuddle. This particular one seems to be the curious explorer kind, it'll be interesting to get to know him more soon. 

dream big

There's a lot to say about people who dream big. They always inspire me. I think I first saw this quote on someone's Tumblr a little while ago, and every so often it comes back to mind. 

life drawing workshop : lilly

Sandy Hill Life Drawing Workshop | Lilly
This week we had Lilly as a model and I was very impressed with the fact that she was able to keep the first pose above for nearly 20 minutes. It doesn't look comfortable at all, but it makes for a very col drawing. 

She also had a really cool huge dragon tattoo (one of the coolest tattoos I've seen in a while) and was very creative in the way she posed, notice the little heart shape made with her hand on the third picture. :) The last pose was relatively fast for me to do this time, so I turned my life drawing session into an urban sketching session by drawing some of the other artists as well. 
Sandy Hill Life Drawing Workshop | Lilly
Sandy Hill Life Drawing Workshop | Lilly

i don't believe in circumstances...

Hurray: One more page completed! Only 76 more pages to go.

Color pencils seems to be a good medium for this book. This time the inspiration comes from a George Bernard Shaw quote that comes in handy when I start thinking of excuses for things.

TGIM sketchnote 4

TGIM sketchnotes 4 Eric Thomas
This week's topic on TGIM comes from a question ET got from a student and that's probably on the mind of many people out there : 

"How do I become rich?" 

The formula is simple : 
  1. Figure out your own gift. What tools have been given to you at birth and make you as unique as your own finger prints? 
  2. Once you know what tools you're working with, sharpen them and make use of them to create things and become an expert at being your best self. 
  3. Enable others to benefit from your gift, share what you have to offer with people around you. This is not only a good way to generate good karma and but it helps improve yourself so that you can become phenomenal. 

This is ET's fail-safe formula to not only become rich but to also leave a legacy, like all the people who reached the phenomenal state before us. 

I really think that everyone who has the chance to live on earth has a mission to discover their unique gift (kinda like their own superpower ) and contribute to our evolution by making good use of their gift and sharing it with everyone around them. I also think that you discover what your gift is not only by questioning yourself, but also by taking action. Try different things and evaluate how you feel doing them. Another trick you can use to figure out what your gift is, is to go back and think of what you use to love to do as a kid for hours on end. In my case it's drawing. I used to draw all the time when I was a kid and was really good at it. I remember that one time in preschool, our homework was to draw a summary from a picture book we read. I must have been 5 or 6. I still remember spending the evening drawing a loch ness monster next to a boat on the kitchen table. I was very proud of it. The next day, when my teacher saw the drawing I handed in, she told me that I shouldn't have my parents draw for me and gave me a zero because she considered it cheating. I was crushed and went back home crying. Thankfully, my mom (furious) contacted the teacher the next day to get this corrected. The teacher sent my mom an apology letter and corrected my grade but I never trusted or liked her after that incident. I think I still have the drawing and the letter somewhere... Anyway, I'm glad my mom took care of this.

It's too bad the important act of discovering and nurturing your gift is not taught in school at an early age because I believe that you can easily figure it out very early on. If it was up to me, I'd completely change the school systems to focus on that first and then add the basics like maths, reading, and general sciences. Good things your gift never leaves you so it's never too late to start :) 

give a man a fish...

walls notebook
I really should doodle more often and on a regular basis. It's been a little while since the last one. The marker I used the last time was not ideal for this notebook so I switched to a simple Pilot Fineliner and an plain old color pencils. The first thing I wanted to draw was the fish typography. The quote came after. 

READ IT : Steal Like and Artist : 10 Things nobody told you about being creative

Title : Steal Like and Artist : 10 things nobody told you about being creative
Author : Austin Kleon
Format : Printed book
SummaryYou don’t need to be a genius, you just need to be yourself. That’s the message from Austin Kleon, a young writer and artist who knows that creativity is everywhere, creativity is for everyone. A manifesto for the digital age, Steal Like an Artist is a guide whose positive message, graphic look and illustrations, exercises, and examples will put readers directly in touch with their artistic side.

When Mr. Kleon was asked to address college students in upstate New York, he shaped his speech around the ten things he wished someone had told him when he was starting out. The talk went viral, and its author dug deeper into his own ideas to create Steal Like an Artist, the book. The result is inspiring, hip, original, practical, and entertaining. And filled with new truths about creativity: Nothing is original, so embrace influence, col- lect ideas, and remix and re-imagine to discover your own path. Follow your interests wherever they take you. Stay smart, stay out of debt, and risk being boring—the creative you will need to make room to be wild and daring in your imagination. (Source : Amazon.com)

Why this book ? : This was a bit of a fluke. I had read a blog post about it earlier last year and while visiting an independent bookstore in Toronto last summer, I recognized it. It looked interesting so I decided to buy it.

My Review : Great book. It didn't take me a long time to read it either. In fact, I finished it halfway through my train ride back home.  The book essentially describes a series of advices the author, Austin Kleon, who's also an artist, would have given his younger self about how to make art. The interesting thing about this book is that it's not just for artists. Then again, it depends on what your definition of an artist is. I'm one of those who believes that everyone is/can be an artist, we just have different and unique tool kits. 

There are all kinds of tips and tricks you can take from in each of the ten sections of Kleon's book and you can implement the ones that appeal the most to you right away. Since I read the book, I've implemented quite a few new habits in my evolving daily routine. I still have to work on my analog desk a little more but I can definitely see the benefits of it. Interestingly enough, I also found some similarities with the author's philosophy and that of Steven Pressfield when it comes to creativity.

At the end of the book there's a recommended books by the author, which is a nice little bonus. I might look into it at some point. Here's the list :

Favorite quotes and notes from the book:

  • " You are, in fact, a mashup of what you choose to let into your life. You are the sum of your influences"
  • "You are going to be as good as the stuff you surround yourself with"
  • "Don't ask questions before you Google it. You'll either find the answer or you'll come up with a better question"
  • "Ask anybody doing truly creative work, and they'll tell you the truth : They don't know where the good stuff comes from. They just show up to do their thing. Every day"
  • "You don't want to look like your heroes, you want to see like your heroes"
  • "Art that only comes from the head isn't any good"
  • "Practice productive procrastination"
  • "Don't worry about unity from piece to piece. What unifies all of your work is the fact that you made it"
  • "Travel makes the world look new, and when the world looks new, our brains work harder"
  • "If you ever find that you're the most talented person in the room, you need to find another room" 
  • "Get comfortable with being misunderstood, disparaged or ignored  - the trick is to be too busy doing your work to care"

just say know...

Just say know to drugs... because "no" is not enough: I've been toying with this drawing concept for a little while and finally decided upload it on Society6. I have a list of ideas I'd like to try out on this site. It will be interesting to see how it pans out. I like how this one turned out. If you'd like to get one, head over to my profile on http://society6.com/MJILLUSTRATES/prints.

ANIMAL CONNECTIONS 015 : General Tao chicken inception

I found this funny picture of a person wearing a chicken head costume and a chicken on his/her shoulder, so of course I had to draw it. Interesting fact: the dish known as General Tao Chicken is an American dish. According to Wikipedia, this dish was invented in New York by Chef Peng Jia who served it in his restaurant on East 44th street for the first time in the late 70s. 

podcasts : good for the soul - Part 3

The fourth podcast I like to listen to is the Bryan Callen Show (previously known as Men Thoughts). Bryan is a comedian and actor that I also discovered through the Joe Rogan Experience. He has a fascinating background, having lived and travelled in many countries and is being well read and a very positive person. Most of the time I keep a notebook and pen next to me while I listen to his podcast to record a lot of the information that is shared during the conversations like the name of a good book to read, a website to check out, historical facts, etc. 

Bryan has a nice range of guests and I find the mood of his podcasts varies according to the personality of the featured guest. They can be silly and funny like Kevin Hart, serious and insightful like the ones with his dad Michael Callen. His dad is another fascinating man who I find very inspiring because he still goes to school to learn new things just for the fun of it. It's definitely something I want do to when I get to his age. He also has various interesting authors like Tim Ferris or Hunter Maats who tend to expand your mind with all sort of new info. It's a really good podcast. 

TGIM sketchnote 3

TGIM 3 sketchnotes Eric Thomas
This week's TGIM sparked tons of images in my mind. The more you listen to it, the more you get out of it. It's definitely a video you need to listen to more than once to get it. It was challenging to narrow it down to one page but I managed. 

The three key principles this week are : 

1. Keep writing your dreams and goals to get a clear picture of what you really want. 
This is great, because I was wondering why I couldn't get a precise idea of what I want. I have a general idea, but it's not as precise as some of the successful people I look up to. I had been rewriting  my goals a couple times already before seeing this video. Glad to see I'm on the right track.

2. Keep your dreams to yourself. 
What I get from this is that there are no benefits in trying to convince people of your dreams, it's a waste of time that can potentially be detrimental to you if they convince you that you can't do it. In their eyes, your dream will seem impossible until you make it happen. This is what happened to ET before he started to live his dream. Also since others can't see your dream until you create it, they won't be able to give you the support you think you need. This reinforces what Steven Pressfield said in The War of Art: seeking support is a form of Resistance, a way to keep you from doing your work. 

3. Stop begging, stop whining and stop crying. Invest in yourself.
I had a lot of fun drawing this portion of the sketchnote which essentially says, don't expect people to do the dirty work for you. It's not their dream, it's yours. Nobody can do it as well as you, nobody will care as much as you, because it is unique to you and nobody's like you. So use your skills, perfect your craft, keep learning and improving to get where you want to be :  Invest in yourself. To me this also reinforces the importance of self reliance and reminds me of what 50 Cent said in Chapter 2 of The 50th Law

What the video and see how you can apply these principles in your own life. 


READ IT - The 50th Law

Title : The 50th Law
Author : 50 cent and Robert Greene
Format : Audiobook 
Summary : In The 50th Law, hip hop and pop culture icon 50 Cent (aka Curtis Jackson) joins forces with Robert Greene, best-selling author of The 48 Laws of Power, to write a "bible" for success in life and work, based on a single principle: fear nothing. With intimate stories from 50 Cent's life on the streets and in the boardroom as he rose to fame after the release of his album Get Rich or Die Tryin', as well as examples of others who have overcome adversity through understanding and practicing the 50th Law, this deeply inspirational book is perfect for entrepreneurs as well as anyone interested in the extraordinary life of Curtis Jackson.

Why this book ? : I've been a fan of Curtis Jackson for a while now. I keep picking up subtle personality traits that most don't see but that I really admire. So ever since I learned about his book with Robert Greene in the media, I put it on my must read list. 

My Review : 50 cent and Robert Greene delivered. I loved it! In fact, I'm going to have to buy a copy of the actual book and keep it as a reference. It's that good. I've been recommending it left and right and those who listened so far love it too. 

The main topic of the book is fearlessness, which Greene calls 50's "power center of gravity" or his gift. The book is divided in the following ten chapters, explaining and illustrating the concepts of fearlessness :  
  1. See Things For What They Are (Intense Realism) 
  2. Make Everything Your Own (Self-Reliance) 
  3. Turn Shit Into Sugar (Opportunism) 
  4. Keep Moving (Calculated Momentum) 
  5. Know When To Be Bad (Aggression) 
  6. Lead From The Front (Authority) 
  7. Know Your Environment From The Inside Out (Connection) 
  8. Respect The Process (Mastery) 
  9. Push Beyond Your Limits (Self-Belief) 
  10. Confront Your Mortality (The Sublime)
These concepts are brilliantly defined and illustrated through many personal stories from Curtis' life as well as the life of various important historical figures such as Napoleon Bonaparte, Malcom X, Miles Davis, James Baldwin, Montesquieu, and Amelia Mary Earhart . There are also great tips on how to utilise these concepts for yourself. 

I learned a lot of from this book, from understanding what fear is all about and where it comes from,  to learning about many great people I knew little to nothing about prior to reading this, as well as getting new valuable tools to improve myself and the way I react in various situations by better understanding my environment, myself, the people around me and what motivates people to act a certain way. Basically, it's given me the tools to also become fearless in my own way. If that was the intent of the book : mission accomplished. Now I just need to put in the work. 

Favorite paraphrases and notes from the book
The greatest fear of people have is being themselves. They are running away from the one thing the actually own. 
Being conservative can force you into a corner in which you are more likely to loose what you own in the long run because you also loose the capacity to adapt to change. 
"Realism is my drug. The more I have of it, the more power I get and the higher I feel" - 50 Cent
Judge people by results. See them as who they are and not what you think they should be. Focus on reality.   
"Most people can't stand boredom. That means that the can't stay on one thing until they get good at it and they wonder why they're unhappy" - 50 Cent
Things that come easy and fast will leave you just as fast.

life drawing workshop : laura

Laura was the model for this week's life drawing workshop. I kind of messed up her arm ... and hand (left drawing) and didn't have enough time to correct it, but I was able to recover with the last pose (right drawing). There are so many details that make a huge difference on the final result, I can see why taking life drawing classes is important. 

Foreshortening is something I'd like to improve as well as being able to better represent the human form. I think I'm getting better, but there's still a lot of things to work on technically. After that,  I might start to play with various mediums. It's inspiring to see what medium other artists use and the different results they get with watercolour, markers, color pencils, even ipads.

jar challenge update

Here's the first update from my jar challenge. I'm happy to see that I was way more creative the first month of 2013 than the first month of 2012. If I keep this up, I might fill more than two jars.

Speaking of the jar challenge, the original Sharpener Jar will soon be in production. The designer recently put his project on Kickstarter to raise $2500 in order to start producing and selling them. The project, called the Campaign for the Accurate Measurement of Creativity got an overwhelming response in a very short period of time. The amount raise is currently over $11,000 with 19 more days to go.  Below is the video that accompanied the campaign : simple and clever.