Tower of Comte

The Tower of Comte is one of the 9 remaining towers on the island of Ibiza. These 16th and 18th century structures were built to protect the island from pirates. Each tower was apparently built within viewing distance from one another so they could alert each other via fire, if a pirate ship was approaching the island. This particular one, also known as En Rovira Tower, is said to have be transformed into a home and the walls are 10 feet thick. I wonder how they designed the inside, especially considering the small number of windows. Mind you the view from the top must be phenomenal. 

Rich Artist Poor Artist

I recently started a new blog to accompany my book project : Making Sense of the Science of Getting Rich, and decided to add some quick simple sketches to go with my posts. Being very visual, I prefer to have an image with my article when I post something. The above sketch was for an article entitled Rich Artist Poor Artist. If you haven't guessed it, it's a play on the Rich Dad Poor Dad book. In the article I essentially touch on the "starving artist" belief system. To illustrate my thoughts on the matter, I drew two artists (one rich, one poor) with seemingly the same skill level but with two completely different attitude, which affect their body language and eventually their income. 

Es Vedrà

Es Vedrà still comes to my mind from time to time, so I decided to do another virtual plein air painting of the island, this time viewed from Cala d'Hort, a nearby beach. It's apparently a very popular beach in the summer, but the area is not super developed. There are a couple fisherman sheds on one side and an area for people to lounge and take in the view. Apparently a developer was planning to build a 420-room hotel and golf course in the area back in the 90s but the locals managed to put a stop to it. I can understand how silly it would be to add a golf course in that area, but it might be great to figure out a way to accommodate a certain amount of people while respecting the environment. 


Last night, I ventured in Iceland on Google map and discovered Svartifoss, which is a beautiful waterfall located at the Vatnajökull National Park in Iceland. The falls are surrounded by tall basal honeycomb shaped colums of dark lava. Their straight edges make them look like they were man-made. Apparently they tend to break off faster then it would take for the water to smooth out the edges. As a result, there also tends to be quite a few straight edge rock at the bottom. This is not the only site with this type of rock formation. There are a couple other falls in Iceland with the same type of rock formation around it and well as mountains in other locations such as the Giant Causeway in Northern Ireland, at the Devil's Tower in the United States, and at the island of Staffa in Scotland. 

Road to the Nor Yauyos-Cochas Landscape Reserve

MJ SKETCHBOOK Virtual Plein Air Peru Yauros District

I recently joined a fun facebook group called Virtual Plein Air, where the objective is to share painting from sketches made based on a random locations found using Google Map. What a great idea! It's a great way to keep practicing watercolors and to virtually travel at the same time. Of course I had to give it a try and found this beautiful place in the Yauyos Province of Peru. It interesting to see how much space is still to be revealed on Google map. This road leads to the Reserva Paisajística Nor Yauyos-Cochas (Nor Yauyos-Cochas Landscape Reserve) but the virtual tour stops here. Hopefully, they will continue to document this area all the way to the reserve at some point in the near future.


I was trying to think of something interesting to draw and played around with the hummingbird. I have yet to see one in real life but I find them fascinating. They're like a mix between a bug and a bird and come in a wide range of colour and style. Not sure where this is going, but the most important thing is that I drew something. Maybe I'll do a couple more at a certain point in the future. 

Book Cover Design : Chair Yoga

Book Cover Design Chair Yoga
Book Cover Design Chair Yoga

I'm currently working on a fun new yoga book with yoga therapist Adam Quang. We've been playing around with the look of the book covers and so far came up with a couple mock-ups including the two shown above. This book will encompass Adam's  20+ years of experience teaching yoga with a focus on back care. It will benefit people who spend a lot of time sitting at a desk and people with reduced mobility, as well as people who are curious about yoga therapy. Be sure to visit for more information on this upcoming book. 

Hotel Nelligan

Montreal Hotel Nelligan Verse Restaurant Urban Sketching Montreal Hotel Nelligan Verse Restaurant Urban Sketching Hotel Nelligan in Old Montreal has a great little porch area where you can have a drink and eat little side dishes while you watch the activities on St-Paul street. We spent a bit of time there, trying some of their cocktails and dishes, and I took this opportunity to sketch the other side of the porch. It's a nice little set up : one side opens to the hotel bar, while the other side opens to the street at a nice distance. 

Montreal Old Port

I met up with a fellow urban sketcher at the old port of Montreal to capture a couple interesting sights. Our first stop was on St-Paul E street at the corner of Bonsecours, looking at the back of the Notre-Dame-de-Bon-Secours (Our Lady of Good Help chapel, also known as the Sailor's Church).  One thing that caught my eyes was the back of the statues above the chapel. I really like the shape of the angels' wings, it was the detail that got me started on this sketch. 

This chapel is one of the oldest churches in Montreal. I overheard a tour guide say that the reason the Lady of the Harbour has her hand up towards the St-Laurent river was to protect the sailors during their long trip from or back to Europe. It was most likely a very difficult voyage at the time. 

We then headed over the the harbour and sketched some of the boats parked in the port. The site is quite different than what it used to be back in the 1600s.-1700s. All the boats in the harbour are very modern with many amenities that the colonizers back in the day would have greatly benefited from. I can't imagine how taxing it must have been to sail across the ocean in their little ships. I think something that would be a great addition to the harbour would be to have life-size replicas of some of the first ships that came into the harbour back in the days. 

Sketching History at Place d'Armes in Montreal

One of the places I knew I wanted to sketch while I was in Montreal was Place d'Armes, which is a square in Old Montreal surrounded by quite a few interesting buildings (the Notre-Dame Basilica, The New York Life Insurance Building, the Bank of Montreal head office and more). I came back a couple times to sketch various details.

The first building I sketched was the New York Life Insurance building, also known as the Quebec Bank building. I was intrigued by its red colour. I found out later that it was built using red sandstone imported from Scotland. A sculptor, named Henry Beaumont, carves several intricate details on the facade of the building, including several flowers above the main entrance door and grotesque style faces on the third floor.

I went back to the square a second time to draw some of the details of the Monument Maisonneuve, located right in the middle of the square. It was created by sculptor Louis-Philippe Hébert in memory of Paul Chomedy de Maisonneuve, founder of Montreal. The figure holding the flag at the top, looking toward the St-Laurent river, is Maisonneuve. He is symbolically supported by four other statues at the base : Charles Le Moyne, Raphaël Lambert Closse, Jeanne Mance and "Iroquois". It's unfortunate that the only statue who has no specific identity is the Iroquois warrior. Considering the fact that Closse also fought Iroquois people at the time, it would have been more sensitive in my opinion to also identify the one warrior who contributed the most to founding the city, thereby differentiating the friends from the foes. 

I came back to the square a third time to sketch two quirky sculptures near the 500 Place D'Armes Building. On one side of the building, a man stands looking away holding an English pug. On the other side, a woman stands looking away and holding a French poodle. Both dogs are looking at each other seemingly wishing they could play with one another, while the man and the woman are looking away from one another with their fake nose up in the air. I wonder what the artist Marc A J Fortier had in mind when he created this piece. There's so much that can be read into this and it's so appropriate in Montreal with the language issues popping up every so often. It was also fun to hear some of the comments from tourists as they walked by and noticed these sculptures. I recorded some of the conversations I heard on my sketch. 

Place d'Armes is also the place where tourist can hop on a horse carriage ride. I had time to sketch one of the horses waiting for their next passengers. I wish I had more time to sketch the elaborate carriages of various colours. There is so much more I could have sketched in this area, but there just wasn't enough time. Hopefully I'll get another chance to sketch there again in the future. If you're in the area and you're looking for interesting subjects to sketch in the city, I highly recommend Place d'Armes. 

Montreal's Lipstick Forest

I'm a big fan of the winter garden (Lipstick Forest) at the Palais des congrès in Montreal. I just love the touch of colour it adds to the space both from the inside and the outside of the building. Instead of using real trees, the designers from Claude Cormier + Associés decided to go for a low maintenance and highly visual forest made out of concrete trees painted pink. The goal was to represent the flourishing cosmetic industry and the city's joie de vivre.  There are 52 trees in total. I'm not sure if the number of trees has any significance, but it was nice to take a little break and sketch some of them while I was in the city. 

Sketches on the Train

Last week I had the opportunity to spend a couple of days in Montreal. Since we were going via train, I brought a couple sketchbooks with me to capture some interesting sights.  I didn't expect to get a lot of subject on the train, but there was an unfortunate casualty for the train right before ours and we ended up spending a lot of time immobile at a various locations while the authorities were taking care of the situation. From what I heard, someone decided to jump in front of a train. While we were waiting, got the opportunity to sketch a couple outdoor views. 

The way the train is set up makes it relatively easy to sketch and paint. I had my little watercolor kit, a mini sketchbook, pens and waterbrush. The first sketch was of the parking lot at one of the stops. It's nice to see all the greenery in the background.

Another stop gave me the opportunity to sketch some sort of grain processing facility.

There wasn't a lot of people in the train. Also I think the seats on this car were a little higher so all I was able to capture was the top of a man's balding head. It's not much but at the same time it gave me the opportunity to study the shadows for this sketch. Towards the end of the trip, people were getting a little more comfortable and this lady all the way in the front decided to take her shoes off and put them up on the seat in front of her (see first image). It was a little strange to me but to each their own. 

There are a lot of pretty wild flowers growing near the train track adding beautiful colour scheme to the tracks. This time there was a lot of purple and orange accents to the greenery. It made for a nice little scene.