Thursday, December 17, 2009

American Odyssey pt.1 Los Angeles

Demonstration on Hollywood Blvd-sketch made on location below.

I've recently returned from an epic 3 week trip around the west coast of the States. The first week I was in LA to speak at the CTN-X animation conference about Ronald Searle. Then I went on a week long road trip to San Francisco via Portland & Las Vegas! I went with 2 colleagues from Aardman-Kris & Jess. Together we drove over 2000 miles, ingesting 65 burgers, 1600 gallons of fuel, 12 packs of Camel cigarettes, three yard long margheritas & killing one pigeon!

Uli Meyer came to the expo too. He knows LA very well & was a perfect tour guide. First stop- Bob's Big Boy Diner!

Uli, Harald & I toured the Warner Bros. lot where we saw the soundstages & a fake town.

My old pal Leo Sanchez gave me a tour of his workplace-Disney Feature Animation where we ate Thanksgiving lunch, saw 'Princess & the Frog' & met Glen Keane.

The expo was a roaring success & my presentation on Ronald Searle went down well. Later that week we went to a special screening of Don Hahn's documentary on Disney animation during the 90s 'Waking Sleeping Beauty'-a riveting exposé of the 'golden' decade preceding the Lion King.

Colour pics by Uli Meyer. B&W by Jamie Bolio.

I tried not to be a fanboy at the expo but I couldn't resist asking some of my favourite artists to draw in my book

I spent an afternoon at Disney Consumer Products with Stef Kardos. That evening I was honorary guest artist at the French Society of Animation Artists-LA chapter, chez Guenoden.

On our last day in the city Kris took us down to the beautiful beaches of LA. After a relaxing afternoon we hit the road to Vegas . . .

Sunday, November 08, 2009


I just got back from a trip to revisit my old haunts in the south of France. I stayed with my good friend Uli who's living in Nice while working on various projects. He has a great pad above the port-here's the view from the balcony.

We toured around the Riviera sketching along the way. Here are two views of the great walled village St Paul de Vence.

I spent a day in Cannes-outside the high season & the film festival it's quite a quiet, relaxing town.

The Palais des Festivals and the Old Town from the Croisette

A blustery day in St. Tropez

I showed Uli as many of the places that I'd discovered while living in the south as possible. At St.Paul de Vence we visited the Miro exhibition at the Fondation Maeght. In Provence we hot-footed around the citadelle of Les Baux before a whistle-stop tour of the Luberon taking in Gordes, Roussillon & Bonnieux. Off the Vallee du Var we stopped at Gilette, Roquesteron, Sigale, LaPenne and Entrevaux.

Uli only draws at 'magic hour' when the rays of the setting sun flood his apartment, glancing off his spectacles & burning wonderful drawings onto the paper.

In normal daylight he just doesn't know what to do!

Saturday, November 07, 2009

Cathedrale d'Images

Whilst motoring around Provence Uli & I visited the impressive Cathedrale d'Images close to Les Baux. The old limestone quarries are these days used as a unique location for special projected 'art shows'. This year's spectacle is based on Picasso's work. It was quite thrilling to see the paintings blown up & projected at such a huge scale. The images were cleverly matched to the facets of the rock face so the cubist work took on a further dimension.

Classical music plays while the images whirl around & dissolve on & off the stone. The Guernica section is nightmarish as elements of the painting:-hands, tormented faces, the horse in agony- surround one 'in' the painting as it all builds to a cacophonous climax.

It's a fascinating location and was used by Cocteau to shoot 'Le Testament d'Orphee' in which Picasso took part.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Atelier Louis

Uli's found the best life drawing class I've ever been to! Local Nice artist Louis Dolle runs regular classes in his tiny studio near to the Russian Cathedral. It's a typically French affair-music is played in the background, the models chat with Louis & the other artists as they pose and wine is served up during the break!



The model made really interesting poses



Rapid warm-up poses between 10-20 seconds.





'Top of the cranium' angles are a challenge to draw.

Again, tricky perspective here-organizing the overlap of the forms was paramount.

This was fun-we attended a sculpture class just to do more drawing. The model was posed on a turntable so after 2 hours we had a whole 'turnaround' series of studies.

Saturday, October 31, 2009


Released in France this week is Jean-Pierre Jeunet's latest visual feast 'Micmacs a Tire-Larigot'. Typically it's an eccentric French comedy choc-full of inventive set-pieces with sublime photography by D.P. Tetsuo Nagata. France's favourite funny-man, Dany Boon, stars as Basil, a video store clerk whose father was killed by a land-mine & is himself inadvertently the victim of a drive by shooting. He survives a bullet lodged in his brain & despite falling homeless and jobless as a result of his injury sets out on a mission to ruin those who manufactered the weapons.

The picture features several animated sequences & wonderful 'live' automatons made from objects found in the junk-yard where Basil finds himself adopted by the eccentric 'family' living underneath. Within Jeunet's ouvre I'd say Micmacs lies somewhere between Delicatessan and Amelie. It's good to see him back with a new film after several years struggling to realise the film version of Yann Martel's Life of Pi.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009


Last weekend I visited a part of Europe that I'd never thought I'd see- Slovakia! It was all down to my Canadian colleague, Mr. Kris Pearn, and his insatiable desire to drink beer in every European capital before he moves back to the U.S. Of course I needed little convincing to tag along on the expedition into the lower Carpathian region!

We visited the impressive Devin Castle, outside Bratislava. Twice unsuccessfully beseiged by the Turks but blown apart by Napoleon's soldiers-it's still an imposing fortress. We dropped water down the central well & listened until 5 seconds later it plopped into the Danube hundreds of feet below.

Bratislava is right on the border with Austria so we hopped on a train for a day out in Vienna. Majestic city-we tried to see as many of the great galleries as possible and had our fill of Klimt and Schiele at the Belvedere and Leopold museums.

The highlight for me was visiting the Secession building to finally view Klimt's Beethoven Frieze which I'd admired since art school days.
Love that monkey!

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Term 2 Week 4

Rapid drawing here-poses between 5 and 10 mins. Relatively short poses like this forces one to simplify the forms and avoid extraneous detail.