Saturday, December 20, 2008

Joyeux Noel!

Or 'S Rozhdestvom!' as they say in Russia. I thought this sketch of the exquisite Russian Church in Nice would be appropriate for the season. Merry Christmas to you all, see you in 2009!

Sunday, December 07, 2008


I live close to the chateau Henry Clewes at La Napoule. Orta is a smaller lake close to Lago Maggiore, Northern Italy.

La Turbie is a Roman ruin on top of the cliffs high above Monaco, it has terrific views of the Italian riviera.

The gothic fountain is next door to the musée Maillol, Paris

Lac St. Cassien, recommended to me by the all wise Limbolo.

Monday, December 01, 2008

Coral concerto

This was a fun pitch I did recently for Uli Meyer Studios. It was a childrens' educational film warning them of the consequences of polluting the ocean. Ironically it was commissioned by an oil company!

I developed the look of the Saudi family that would feature in the film & a talking fish who would educate the boy. Early on there was a piece of paper character who got upset at not being recycled!

Midway through working on the characters however the client changed the brief. They asked for a design for an under-water concert hall where all the marine creatures of the reef are playing instruments! At that point I had to kiss goodbye to my weekend . . .

Rough thumbnails of the scene & the working drawing.

Final colour, a tad gaudy & somewhat rushed but cheerful enough to inspire the children of the middle east to keep their beaches clean right? Wrong, the job never came off!

Friday, November 14, 2008

Zoo 3

Earlier in the year I went sketching at the zoo in Cap Ferrat. It's small & overpriced & the lions gave me dirty looks! I found a much better safari park in Fréjus, further inland towards Provence. It's a lot bigger & one can drive around at leisure. This time of year it's free of squawking parents & their monkey- like children who so often behave like the real zoo animals in these places.
At Fréjus zoo animal & artist alike remain un-hassled, bliss!

All these drawings were made over two visits in October.

See more of my zoo sketches here & here.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Anrick at Unit 9 in London commissioned me last month to help design characters for Toshiba's new 'Leading Innovation' website.
It was a dream gig -I was asked to spend a couple of days sketching characters with good old pencil & paper while Anrick's crack squad of boffins & digital artists handled the rest! An enjoyable collaboration & the results look great-look at those gorgeous backgrounds.

Check out the website & draw squiggles on the characters to discover what they do-

The site is already generating media buzz here and here.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

The old man mad about drawing

This past weekend I had the great privilege of spending an afternoon with one of my artistic heroes Ronald Searle.
It took 2 years, several letters (Mr Searle possesses no phone) & all my fingers crossed to arrange this meeting. I approached the somewhat reclusive artist with great respect for his privacy & he agreed to welcome me into his home for an hour last Saturday.
He's 88 years old but was in fine form talking for almost 2 hours in the end before he concluded our chat. I could have listened to him all day but he had to rest.

However within those 2 hours we discussed much; drawing of course, he looked at my work & gave me his opinion (looks like no human hand has touched it, was it created by pressing a button?!). We leafed through several books of his art that I had taken along & told me the stories behind many with impressive recall. Meeting Churchill, going to Poland with Topolski to see Picasso, seeing the construction of the Berlin wall, posted to Cyprus as part of a top secret mission to wage psychological war during the Suez crisis, jetting around the world for HOLIDAY magazine & LIFE magazine as an illustration journalist. We touched on the subject of his time as a prisoner of war but skirted around the painful memories (although he couldn't help but chuckle at the irony of his book of POW sketches being printed in Singapore!) I asked him about visiting Walt Disney who he didn't care for, preferring the company of the artists specifically Ken Anderson & others whose names he'd forgotten. (He's well aware that Anderson aped his style in the production of 101 Dalmations). He also revealed that he enjoyed working for a while in New York with Bill Tytla at his commercial house there.

We discussed the technicalities of drawing & after a demonstration of pens that he uses he gave me a dip pen! Unremarkable in itself but I'll treasure it!
Concerned by current affairs he discussed politics & the financial situation in the U.S. He lamented the state of modern political caricature in the States, believing it's been crippled by syndication. Asked who he rates these days he said Steve Bell & Martin Rowson (who made the 2006 documentary on Searle). But it still puzzles him why no-one came along as good as André François, Sempé or Topor, nobody followed in their footsteps. He has fond memories of friendships with all those contemporaries whose great talent he said made him realize his shortcomings. His eyes twinkled when recalling the fire in his belly after seeing a Picasso exhibition that really made him want to draw. He felt 'Picasso may never have finished anything but he opened all the doors for us to go forward.'

I enquired about his work ethic & he told me he still works from 9am to 6pm everyday with a short break for cheese along the way. He said he's 'still excited to get to his drawing desk each morning & see what will come out of his pen.'

I feel extremely fortunate to have met with a true master & hope to catch up with him again soon to ask him yet more questions about his career & art. He was mystified at reaching his age & quite tickled to think that in only 12 years he'll be 100!! I'm sure he'll still be drawing too. I'll be putting further details of our chat over on my Ronald Searle Tribute Blog once I've transcribed everything he said.

"From the time I was six, I was in the habit of sketching things I saw around me, and around the age of fifty, I began to work in earnest, producing numerous designs. It was not until after my seventieth year, however, that I produced anything of significance. At the age of seventy-three, I began to grasp the underlying structure of birds and animals, insects and fish, and the way trees and plants grow. Thus, if I keep up my efforts, I will have an even better understanding when I am eighty, and by ninety will have penetrated to the heart of things. At one hundred, I may reach a level of divine understanding, and if I live a decade beyond that, everything I paint-every dot and line-will be alive. I ask the god of longevity to grant me a life long enough to prove this true."

-Hokusai, postscript to One Hundred Views of Mount Fuji

Here I am en route to the village in the clouds where Mr Searle lives!

Friday, September 12, 2008


Back in late 2006, before I came to Nice to work on 'A Monster In Paris', I storyboarded an episode of ROBOTBOY for Alphanim in Paris. I blogged about it here & now said episode has turned up on Youtube. I worked from an outline as opposed to a finished script & Bob, Heath & I basically made it up as we went along. The resulting episode is one of the more surreal-it's the 'Alice In Wonderland' of season 3. If you can stand the fat kid's voice check it out below:

Part 1

Part 2

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Picture Book Project

Rachel and Margaret at Dreamworks have invited artists to contribute to their Picture Book Project with the theme 'funny monsters'. I had a great time coming up with a creature that kids would like to colour in-here are some of the roughs:

My final design & the colour version can be seen at the project's blog along with all the other artists' monsters. The project will help orphaned children in Ghana & Tijuana.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Lost & Found

I was always taught not to be precious about drawing, that it's the knowledge that counts & the drawing is merely a by-product of learning. That said it's heart-breaking to lose a sketchbook! I recently lost mine while on a day trip drawing in Monaco. I wouldn't mind so much if it was a book full of gesture drawings but this one was dear to me because it's full of the special places I've discovered while living in France . . .

I re-traced my steps the following day to no avail-it could've been anywhere between Nice & Monaco by way of the self-employment office, tram, car-park, art museum, tropical gardens. I phoned up the places I'd visited that day too but no-one had found a 'carnet de croquis'.

I tried not to let it get me down, forget about it but it totally knocked my motivation to get out & draw. I figured what's the point of making drawings or paintings if I'm going to lose them! Worse thing was I couldn't for the life of me recall where I last had it. . .

Eventually Raja called the 'objets trouvés' office in Monaco for me & they had it! They didn't say where it was found but I figure I left it on a bench at the port while waiting for an exhibition to open. The book was intact but looked a bit rougher around the edges, weathered, a bit salty! It had been on an adventure of its own & now we were reunited!

The lesson learnt is always put my name & number in my sketchbooks. It must be the nightmare of all artists & I was lucky to get it back. Full marks to the decent citizens of Monaco!

These are all drawings from the book that I haven't posted before & I hope to fill it with more like these. (Previous sketches here ,here & here.)