getting familiar with watercolors (part 7)

I'm really happy with this latest watercolor sketch of a Vivienne Westwood outfit from her 1989 collection. It's interesting how style come in and out of fashion. I think with a couple color variations and updated accessories and maybe a different hairstyle, this would still be relevant today. Maybe not on the streets, but perhaps in a music video on a cool movie. 

getting familiar with watercolors (part 6)

Here are the tree latest watercolor sketches I did over the past couple days. For the details I used a black pen for the two first drawings and a pencil for the one on the right. The pen is a little more harsh so I realize I have to be careful how I use it. It gave a "cartoony" effect to the drawing on the left and center while the pencil is more subtle and gave a more realistic effect to the drawing. The pen and pencil were very helpful for details such as the eyes and the texture of the guy's shirt, the girls hair, etc. I'm happy with how they turned out. 


Newton likes to be my drawing partner from time to time and insists on sitting on me. Of course I happily oblige. It's hard to say no to that face :)

Candies and pumpkins

I had a bit of time while waiting for our food at the local butcher shop to sketch the little display they had for halloween on their display tables. It was very simple but cute : a couple small pumpkins, dried corns and candies in an aluminum tray. It's interesting to see the color variation of pumpkins. I particularly like the one on the far left. It reminds me of the changing colors of tree leaves in the fall : from green to orange.

bits and pieces from the Toronto subway

I often don't have time to sketch people while in the subway as they move around and don't necessarily stay put or stay visible long enough to do a proper sketch. It was a little frustrating at first, then I started to do little vignettes of details, not really worrying about being able to draw everything. As long as I get to draw a piece of something : a shoe, a hat, a pair of glasses, a cup of coffee, etc. Put together, they strangely tell a story about the people who regularly take the subway and perhaps their fashion sense. 

It's interesting how some sketches still tell a story, or at least a hint of a story, like the guy on the top left who was reading with his sunglasses on. Was he really reading? Could he really see the words on the page or was he just faking it? 

getting familiar with watercolors (part 5)

More watercolor sketches. I'm almost done filling up my little sketchbook. Still figuring out details in watercolors. I like the nuance on the sunglasses from the model on the left and the reflection of the boots on the wet floor on the right. Little progress here and there are encouraging and makes me want to keep at it, despite the flaws I can also see .... I guess I'm fighting resistance. I won't become better if I don't practice and like Lil Wayne said "Repetition if the father of learning". So I'll keep repeating until I learn to do it right. 

getting familiar with watercolors (part 4)

Two more watercolor sketches done. I can see the benefit of using finer brushes for the details, as well as pens and pencils. Shading fabric is something I need to work on but I can see a bit of a difference from the first few sketches and the last one. I'm starting to like the subtle changes in color when using watercolor as it creates a more realistic representation. The leg of the model is a good example. 


Where's Newton? Camouflaged in the bedding, trying to stay warm as much as possible.


I completely forgot to post a Newton photo for week 41. Here's one of Newton looking dapper during one of our walks. It was a nice day, but we can't escape fall. The temperature is getting colder and he doesn't like it.

High Park

This weekend, a couple sketchers met at High Park to do a little bit of sketching. Luckily, the weather was nice and comfortable enough to draw and paint outside. It's was my first time visiting High Park, which is located on the west side of the city and walking distance from the subway. Toronto never ceases to amaze me with the amount of green spaces you can find right in the city. This park is huge! There were so many great scenes to sketch, I barely scratched the surface that day. I spent most of my time near the giant Grenadier Pond, watching people walking by with their family and friends. It was a very relaxing area. I will have to come back again at some point to explore the park a little more.

Getting familiar with watercolors (part 4)

Here are a couple more watercolor sketches I did a couple days ago from photo references. I'd like to get to that level of detail while urban sketching. I wonder if it's possible as I usually don't get a lot of time to sketch people in action, but it's a nice goal. Only time (with a lot of practice) will tell :) 

Sketchnote : Dale Carnergie - Stop Worrying and Start Living

I recently listened to an introduction of one of Dale Carnegie's book called How to Stop Worrying and Start Living. It's a book I intend to read (or listen to) at some point. The intro was very interesting and I created a quick sketchnote about it. It's a very no-non-sense approach to facing your fears and taking each daunting task, on step at a time. His quote about living each day in day tight compartment reminds me of a quote I heard Will Smith say about laying one break as perfectly as a brick can be laid every single day, and soon you have a wall. It also matches what ET said in a previous TGIM about beating a tree 1000 times in the exact sample spot and eventually the tree will fall. For some reason, it helps to hear the same idea presented in different ways to actually get it and eventually live it... "Repetition is the father of learning" (Lil Wayne)

There's also the concept of concerning yourself with the task at hand. Don't worry about the past, don't worry about the future, just do all that you can do today : "Our main business is not to see what lies dimly at a distance but to do what lies clearly at hand" 

TGIM Sketchnote Australia Edition

I can relate to this week's special edition of TGIM 100%. I don't know if I'm obsessed enough, but I'm definitely obsessed with improving myself. I think I've always been that way, but lately it's been more intense. I've been reading a lot more, trying new things, listening many motivational speakers, learning new things and I feel like a different person from a year ago. That's a good thing. By upgrading myself, I get to do things I never even dreamed about doing before and that, in turn, creates new dreams and new goals to reach. 

I love the "upgrade yourself just like you upgrade your phone" analogy. Personally, I do this by making a list of things I would like to accomplish for the year and reviewing the accomplishments from the previous year. I've been a little more diligent lately and checking my list more often, making adjustments and making sure I'm still on the right path. It's always fun to find old lists and see how far I've come and imaging how much further I can go. I think you constantly need to upgrade your dreams and realign your values to match in order to become the best version of yourself.  

Sketchnote : Steve Jobs' 3 stories

I recently came across Steve Jobs' commencement address to a graduating class from Stanford University. He had very interesting things to say about life in general and I felt compelled to note down a few key points that were insightful to me. The main thing was about connecting the dots... or rather the fact that it's impossible to connect the dots looking ahead. You can only connect them once you've done the deeds. This is something that has been "bothering" me for a while. But it makes sense. I guess I had a "Aha" moment, as Oprah likes to call them, when I heard him say that. As long as you trust your instinct, follow your heart/passion/interests in life, you're going in the right direction and it will make sense after.

The second "Aha moment" was when he talked about how sometime life gives you awful tasting medicine, but that what you need as a patient. I guess it's a different way to say turn lemons into lemonade, or better yet, understand that everything that happens in your life is there to serve as a lesson. If you get it, you can grow. In his case, getting fired from Apple was a blessing. It gave him a chance to not only build a family, but start two other very successful companies (Pixar and NeXt) and bring even more innovation to this world. I didn't know he had founded two other companies besides Apple. I can see why people like Kanye West really admire them. He was definitely an innovator. 

I also really like his quote where he says that "Your time is limited, don't waste it living someone else's life". Imagine how great the world would be if even just 50% of the population did this! It seems to me like Jobs definitely did not waste his time here. He did what he loved, he stayed foolish, he stayed hungry and he followed his heart. And because of that many people can benefit from the fact that he remained true to himself. By doing what he came here to do, he not only changed the course of history, he inspired and continue to inspired others to do the same for themselves with their own talent and their own dreams. I refer to this book a lot, but it's a perfect example of what Steven Pressfield was talking about in the War of Art:
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.

getting familiar with watercolors (part 3)

These are the latest sketches I did using watercolors and watercolor pencils. I'm using the sketchbook I made during the symposium and slowly getting the hang of mixing colors.  I did a quick pencil sketch before and then added the color on top. It's hard to be precise in a small format with a large brush pen, so it's forcing me to concentrate on color mixing rather then lines. I think they are getting better but there's still work to be done :) 

Toronto Urban Sketching Meetup

Yesterday, I had the pleasure of meeting some fellow sketchers in Toronto for our first meeting/ group sketching at a local pub. It was a great opportunity to get to know one another and share ideas on where we could take the Toronto chapter of Urban Sketchers and learn from one another. We also enjoyed checking each other's sketchbook. For my sketch, I focused mostly on drawing the booth in front of our table while it was empty. The pub had some interesting design features and artworks, like the collage of bear illustrations in the back wearing a black hat, next to top hat shaped light fixtures (not shown).  
It was great to see the portraits that were created by the others sketchers. Make sure to check out the Toronto Urban Sketchers Blog to see more sketches of this get together soon. If you're interested in joining the group, you can find us on Facebook under Toronto Urban Sketchers. 

ANIMAL CONNECTION 026 : A man an his elephant

Elephants are really fascinating animals. They are said to be able to live up to 70 years in the wild and able to communicate by touch, sight, smell and sound. They are very intelligent. Not only do they have a reputation for remembering people and being seemingly self aware, they also morn their death.

I used pebeo watercolours and staedler watercolour pencils for this drawing. For the little details like the eyes, I used a black pen (Micron).


Newton held this position for a little while the other night during our night walk. Something caught his attention, I didn't figure out what it was. Made for a cute picture though. 

Bata Shoe Museum

Toronto Urban Sketching Bata Shoe Museum
I went out with some fellow urban sketchers from Toronto and Kitchener to do some sketches at the Bata Shoe Museum. It was very interesting to see all the different shapes of shoes, read the history behind their design and visually get to walk in other people's shoes. I never realize how much shoes can tell a story before this. I managed to draw four shoes from various parts of the world and various time in history.
Toronto Urban Sketching Bata Shoe Museum
The Paduka from India looked very uncomfortable. I can't imaging having these large knobs between your toes and lighting all that weight with your toes. They were used by people in the upper-class.

Toronto Urban Sketching Bata Shoe Museum
Lotus feet, which are very small feet that have been prevented from growing through foot binding, used to be a coveted feature on women back in the days in China. The method used for foot binding was a little creepy. Grown adults essentially had baby feet with only one toe. As a results, they needed special shoes and the shoes that were made for these women were very small. It's quite something to see. The shoes were typically designed by the person who wore the shoes. This one was very intricate. 

Toronto Urban Sketching Bata Shoe Museum
I really like the Apache boots with all the symbols created with beads. They are really works of art. It must have taken quite a bit of time to put together because the beadwork was very intricate. All the colored parts are rows of beads arranged in a way to create various patterns and shapes. These boots look like the most comfortable.

Toronto Urban Sketching Bata Shoe Museum
I had 30 minutes left before closing so I decided to drawn something simple : clogs. I always wondered why would people want to wear heavy flat wooden shoes like clogs. I learned that they were created for gardeners for them to smooth the ground after they had sown seeds. The more pointy clogs, with the upturned toe, was used by fishermen. The pointed part was used to catch the net with the shoe to allow the fisherman to use both this hands to repair his fishnet while the show would hold the net. Neat, isn't it? 

Toronto Urban Sketching Bata Shoe Museum
At the end, we got together to check out each other's drawing. It's one of my favorite thing to do when going sketching with a group. I get to see things that I missed (it's fascinating to see what attract other people's eyes in the same environment), learn about new techniques, new materials, get inspired to try different things, etc. To me, it's one of the major benefit from sketching in group. There's always something to share and something to learn, no matter what your skill level is. This time, I learned about stone paper. I'd never heard of that before. It's paper made out of stone and a bonding agent. The surface is very smooth and the paper is heavier. I'll have to try it at some point. I also saw what kind of pen was good to use on colored paper, which is also something I'd like to play with in the future. All in all, it was a great session. 

jar challenge update 7

Time for another jar challenge check. I'm getting closer to the filling up jar no 1. The question is, will I fill jar no 2 before the end of the year. There's 3 months left. We shall see. :)

ANIMAL CONNECTION 025 : Usain Bolt and Lighting Bolt

Still playing with watercolors, this time I attempted to portray Usain Bolt and his cheetah, Lighting Bolt (clever name). I'm not insanely happy with the results on this one, but that's the point of practicing. Practice makes perfect and not the other way around ;)

TGIM sketchnote 26

And just like that, we're in the fourth quarter. Time to "kick it into heart" and go a little harder despite any apparent set back. This comes at a right time for me as I look into all the stuff that I want to accomplish for the year, how much is done and how much is left to do with three months left before the end of the year. It's still quite a bit of time to accomplish a lot of things. It just takes a bit more effort. It's easy to want to give up and think it's unrealistic or impossible but it's important to keep going and stay focused because it's usually toward the end that it get's harder. That's what I take from this video. With that said, I better get back to work :)