Juan Pablo’s Incredible Sketches of the Holy Land

I was delighted to meet Juan Pablo Ruiz Morales a few months ago and I was equally happy to discover his sketches of Baha’i Holy places on Facebook under the name El Arte de Juampa! Better still, he agreed to tell me a bit about himself and his work, whose incredible details really transport me back to the Holy Land.

Here are a few of his words and a gallery of his work. I hope you enjoy them as much as I do! 

Baha’i Blog: Hi Juan Pablo! Could you please tell us a little bit about yourself and your amazing sketches?

Hola! My name is Juan Pablo and I am from Chile, I studied industrial design and a few years ago I also became a firefighter. Ever since I was a kid I liked to draw and paint; I was that child that was always painting on random papers, books, and, of course, on the walls of my room. I grew up seeing my mom making tablecloths and painting them with many different and colorful flowers. During the summer, I was at my uncle’s woodworking shop helping him to create old style furniture. I didn’t know that later on, those two types of art would one day become my lifestyle.

Many artists join an art school and others, like me, learn by ourselves. Our way of learning is going to museums, art galleries, reading art books and we are lucky that there are many artists showing and teaching different techniques and helpful habits on the internet now; all beautiful tools to help us to improve our art and to set goals.

Artist Juan Pablo at the House of Abdu’llah Pasha

Personally I enjoy drawing Holy Places and their ornaments. As my wife and I are currently serving in the Holy Land, I have such a beautiful opportunity to be surrounded by the gardens and derive daily inspiration from them. Artists have different purposes when they choose what they are going to draw. For me, everything is simplified in the connection I have with certain places, a special connection given either by the historical meaning, the beauty in the detail that each place has, or by the personal experience lived every time I have the opportunity to visit them.

Self portrait by Juan Pablo

Sometimes I want to draw on the spot so I always carry a small sketchbook with me so I can make a quick and simple drawing, but there are other times where I take a picture and then I draw it when I am calmer and not rushing, with a cup of tea in my little studio I have at home. There are some very simple drawings that take me two minutes to make and others, a good amount of hours, depending on the technique, amount of detail, and its intended purpose.

Making art is not complicated; what is complicated is to be constant in our learning so over time we can improve. Our mistake is that we compare ourselves with great artists so we say, “I will never reach that level of art,” but many started without knowing anything and it was dedication, perseverance and love for art that drove them to achieve their goals as artists.

Many of you are artists, you just may not know it yet. I invite you to practice, to find the beauty around you and to transfer it to a canvas or paper. I invite you to share what you are learning with your friends and inspire others to continue creating.

When you have the time, visit the Instagram account @strokes_united, a Baha’i-inspired initiative that seeks to connect/inspire friends to create art. The purpose is that people like you or me, from all over the world, share our advances in the visual arts, whether we are just beginning artists or have been practicing it for years and have made art a career.

The Mansion of Bahji

The monument marking the resting place of the Greatest Holy Leaf

The gate to the Ridvan Garden

The House of Abdu’llah Pasha

The prison citadel of Akka

A nine-pointed star

Inside the prison citadel of Akka, the room where Mirza Mihdi fell to his death

The Greatest Name

Garden ornament at Bahji

The Mansion of Mazraih

The tent of Baha’u’llah that was erected in the Holy Land in celebration of the bicentenary of His Birth

The House of Abbud

The Ridvan Garden

The Seat of the Universal House of Justice



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About the Author

Sonjel Vreeland

In her innermost heart, Sonjel is a mother, a wife and a bookworm but professionally she is a museologist and a library technician. She currently lives on Prince Edward Island, an isle in the shape of a smile on the eastern Canadian coast. Sonjel is a writer who loves to listen to jazz when she's driving at night.

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Discussion 14 Comments

  1. WHOAH Juan these are absolutely beautiful & incredibly detailed.
    You my friend seriously have some skills here .

  2. Dearest Juan Pablo, This is lovely, sensitive work. I am so happy to see these beautiful sketches out in the world to be appreciated. Hope all is well with you.

  3. Oh Naysan, I have to cry, cry over Mirza Mihdi death in Akka and the house of Baha’u’llah! Just crying very bad Naysan! How can people be so ceuel ????

  4. Dear Juan Pablo
    those beautiful made drawings have brought back to my mind those incredible places and objects in that incredible Holy Land where I also spent one year of service in the year 2000 organizing the visits of the public to terraces.
    Compliments, be sure they will stay in your heart and mind forever

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