Urban Sketching at the Toronto Indie Art Market

The organizers for the TIAM arranged to have a violinist, Isaac Daniel Eng,  play on a stage in front of the room while guests were visiting each table. It added a great ambience to the event and gave me an opportunity to practice live sketching. (The colours were added later at home since I had forgotten my watercolour kit)

I also did a couple sketches of what was in front of me. Olivia Chow passed by for a couple minutes to speak on the stage which gave me  enough time to do a quick sketch of her as well. I think I got her hair shape pretty good :)

Toronto Indie Art Market

Last thursday, I participated to the Toronto Indie Art Market for the first time. Ever since I had helped a friend at a similar art market earlier this year, I've been wanting to try it out and see what it would be like to be a vendor for a couple hours. The event took place at the Gladstone Hotel and there were a good number of vendors offering various items such as jewelry, clothing, beauty products and artworks. 

After several trials to come up with different artworks, I finally decided to showcase some watercolours and another series for my 4x4 project. Amongst the watercolour artworks were some quotes accompanying pantings of Newton that made people smile. One woman even bursted out laughing as she was reading them. It was great to see. 

I learned a couple things during the event, the main one being that it's important to add height to the table and find a way to display the artwork upright, and bring more business cards. Also, I forgot to bring bags for purchasers to carry their artwork. 

It was also great to meet the vendors and see what they had to offer and their level of creativity. Two who particularly stood out for me were artist Josée Duranleau who's a mixed media artist. Her work looked like so much fun. It's definitely something I'd like to try at some point in the future. The other one was a jewelry maker and owner of Zippan. She had nice minimalistic modern pieces that really appealed to my taste. 

First exhibited artwork

I officially have my first works of art exhibited in a public location in the city. A couple weeks ago, I was given the opportunity with a couple friends to showcase and sell our work at a local cafe, Sage Cafe & Catering, in Toronto. I use this opportunity to showcase my recent humming birds. They are located right behind the cash counter. It feels nice to "break the ice" and make positive steps toward one of my many goals. More to come soon :) 

First World Dog Problem #33

First World Dog Problem #32

Hummingbird Duo

Here's a sneak peek of another little project of mine. I felt like my previous hummingbird needed a friend so I made another one last night. I'm planning to have these two hummingbirds showcased at a local restaurant soon and perhaps make a couple prints as well. I really like how they turned out. 

4 BY 4 FOR 44 Project

I recently came up with an idea to get me to start painting a little more often : I call it 4 BY 4 FOR 44. The goal is to paint a series of small and affordable original paintings around random themes. All the painting will have the same dimensions (4 by 4 inches), all will be sold for $44 and for each sold piece of artwork, $4 will be donated to the Art Gallery of Ontario, as a way for me to pay it forward and support the arts in the city. 

My first series of paintings will soon be on display at  Bampot Tea. I was fortunate to meet the owners of the venue who were interested in displaying them in their shop. How awesome is that!? So if you're curious, go check them out. They make really good Chai Tea and have great little dishes. Last time I had Halvas. It's a dessert using ground sesame seeds, quite delicious. 

The teapot paintings pieces were made on wood panel using acrylics. I plan to produce a lot more mini artworks on various themes. To see more of the artworks from this series as they are being produced, just click on the 4X4FOR44 tab and come back often. 

If you're interested in purchasing a piece or a series, just sent me and email at
m j @ m 2 j l s t u d i o . c o m.  

My First Digital Ensō

I forget where I was, but a couple months ago I was compelled to asked a waiter about his tattoo. It was a simple black circle that looked like it had been brushed on his arm. I was surprised to find out that it had a lot of meaning including oneness, void, the beginning and end of all things. 

I later found out that is it a sacred symbol in the Zen school of Buddhism and can have different meanings to different people. Interestingly I find myself drawing one digitally for one of the books I'm working on (Secret Journal of a Yogi). Even though it was not done with a single brush stroke, as the symbol is meant to be drawn, I still managed to be somewhat spontaneous and used very little corrections. I'm quite happy with the result.

I like the idea that the symbol can also represent a moment in time in the life of the artist when the mind is free to simply let the spirit create through the physical body. Apparently the symbol drawn by the artist reveals the movement and character of the artist and the ones who draw the circle with an opening suggests an openness to things. Some artists even start their day by first drawing the symbol almost as a meditative exercise before starting their work, sometimes with a quote next to it. Maybe I should incorporate that in my daily routine. 

Testing a New Sketchbook at the Distillery District

The Toronto Urban Sketchers group went to the Distillery District last weekend to sketch the scenery and I decided to bring along my new Molestkine Watercolour Notebook to test it out. I've seen so many great sketches using the proper kind of paper for watercolour that I had to try it. It's always a bit nerve racking to start using new mediums but I really want to explore the various possibilities with watercolours. Since it's a small sketchbook I had time to make three quick sketches. They are not the most accurate but it was fun to play with colours a little more. The paper takes the water very well so I'll be able to practice wet on wet watercolour techniques in the future. Now it's just a question of getting familiar with it and hopefully see significant improvements by the end of this sketchbook. 


I found an island called Nihoa near Hawaii. The name "Nihoa" apparently means "tooth" in Hawaiian language and was chosen to depict the jagged outline of the island. Also, the pointy part of the island does look like a shark tooth. 

Nihoa is one of the tallest of ten island in the area. It's uninhabited  so the scenery from Google Map photos are breathtaking. I had a lot of great options for my virtual plein air painting butI chose a picture that was taken from the sea because I really liked the lighting and the colour scheme of the photograph. It was not easy to depict with watercolours but it was fun to work on. 

Illustrating the Evolution of Money

For the article entitle What is Money? I came up with the idea of the evolution of man and money to illustrate the text. Just like humans, the concept of money has evolved and is still evolving. We went from shells, to cattle, to coins, to paper billd and plastic cardd, and are now just starting with online systems like Dogecoins. It's interesting to see how we're moving away from tangible money into the virtual world. Perhaps we're slowly moving into the utopian concept of a moneyless society from Star Trek. Gene Roddenberry was right about many ideas, perhaps this will be another one to add to the list of Start Trek concepts that are no longer fiction.