Sunday, September 26, 2010


Illustration for BBC Wales website article.
Welsh version here.

Over 20 years ago I saw John Lasseter on TV talking about KNICK KNACK and how he studied Chuck Jones cartoons professionally & felt he had never truly worked a day in his life because he got paid to do what he loves!  This sounded like the job for me!

I started animation school just as TOY STORY was released and of course Pixar became the studio to work for. 15 years and thousands of drawings later it's with great pleasure that I accepted Pixar's invitation to join their story dept.
It's been a long wait with the interview process & visa issues but I'll finally be moving to San Francisco this week to start work the beginning of October on a top secret project that I know nothing about-so don't ask!

I've tried to see as much of Europe as possible over the past year drawing along the way.  I'm looking forward to exploring San Francisco and northern California as much as I can.  But I feel that I'm going to be really busy on the film for the next couple years . . .

My local newspaper ran a story on me with a pic of me climbing out of a Norwegian fjord!

The Daily Post picked up on the Norway trip too here.

New promo posters have been released for the last 2 films I worked on.  They will be released in 2011

Monday, September 20, 2010

Spain pt.3

Here's the final part of my Spanish odyssey. From Zaragoza we went back north to SanSebastian via Pamplona.  Then a long drive south east through stunning scenery.  We stopped half way in Huesca before pushing on towards the coast.

Sitges is a very pleasant town on the Med where the guys wear tighter shorts than the girls. It's a resort town but once again we were unimpressed by Spanish campsites- this one was right next to the main road.

Next morning we took the coastal road north to Barcelona where a friend had arranged a nice room in a hostel for us.  After 2 weeks in tents we were happy to lie in beds again!  We spent a couple of days in the city taking in the Parc Guell, Picasso Museum, the Sagrada Familia and the Fondacion Joan Miro.

In the evenings we dined in the lively Born district close to the gothic quarter-fantastic tapas!

Leaving Barcelona proved tricky without sat nav-we spent an hour going up and down the wrong highway twice before finding the right route north.  We were looking to make Figueres our next stop-Salvador Dali country!

Dali was born in Figueres later settling in Port Lligat on the north east coast close to Cadaques.  We toured the suitably bizarre & surreal egg-turreted museum in Figueres.  This place is astounding- packed with Dali's art & possessions.

Cadaques & Port Lligat are quite secluded-a winding drive from Figueres up over the mountain down to the coast.  Port Ligat is still unspoilt -its shallow harbour occupied only by fishing boats. The natural bay recognizable from the landscapes in Dali's paintings.

He lived here in a huge white villa adorned with giant eggs like the museum in Figueres.

After over 2 weeks on the road & camping we were ready to head home.  We crossed the border at Perpignan and burned through France via Carcassone, Orleans, Fontainebleau and Paris. In the French capital we caught up with Bibo and crew who are continuing work on 'A Monster In Paris' -the film I worked on between 2006 and 2008.

Next day re-energized we completed the last leg of the trip back to Calais then London.  After 3 weeks, over a dozen different camp-sites, several world-class museums & countless warm cans of beer I had accomplised my Quixotic goal -to see Picasso's Guernica.  Along the way we made some new friends, caiught up with old ones and took in more amazing scenery than I can remember.  We drove thousands of kilometres yet only covered the top right-hand quarter of the country.  Some day I'll return to see the rest . . .

You can read part 1 here and part 2 here. My map 'journal' of the entire trip is here.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

En plein air

LIFE just posted a great pictorial on artists & their models.  Seems like in the US they like to draw the nude outside.   I'm moving to northern California in a couple of weeks so I'm looking forward to partaking in some of these al fresco life drawing classes.

Wonder what the view was like from the back ? (I mean the other back)

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Summer Exhibitions

This year I saw three major Picasso exhibitions.  Even better than the London Gagosian show was the Peace & Freedom exhibition at Tate Liverpool.  Focusing on Picasso's often little noted role as a political activist, peace campaigner, supporter of women's causes and feminist.

The highlight is the Charnel House (1945) but I was particularly struck by Lobster vs. Cat!

Sargent and the Sea at the Royal Academy, London was a smallish exhibition in the 1st floor gallery space but packed with goodies from Sargent's early career. Travels around the Med and across the Atlantic bred a fascination with the sea and those who live around and work on it.  There were dynamic sketches of life on deck during trans-atlantic crossings.  The paintings of Mediterranean folk are a masterclass in expressive loose painting techniques.

Recently opened at Tate Britain, London is a fascinating look at the life and career of pioneer photographer Eadweard Muybridge.  Of course as an animation artist I'm familiar with his locomotion studies but I wasn't aware of his parallel career photographing northern California.  He made stunning landscape shots of Yosemite, lighthouses along the Pacific Coast, the Farallon Islands and giant Redwoods.  He had settled in San Francisco and it was railroad tycoon John Stanford who first commissioned Muybridge to settle the 'flying horse' debate.  Muybridge made an impressive panoramic study of San Francisco from the roof of Mark Hopkins'mansion on Nob Hill.  More intimate studies of the interiors of these mansions gave an insight into the world of the 'railway rich' around the turn of the last century before it was decimated by the earthquake and fire of 1906.

Muybridge really led an extraordinary life-a self made man born in England who made a name for himself in California.  He pioneered early photographic techniques, reinvented himself as Helios and made a fortune flogging postcards.  He later shot his wife's lover in the face and literally got away with murder!   He's influenced everyone from Francis Bacon and David Hockney to animators and film-makers.  Someday a biopic film will be made of Muybridge and his luxuriant beard. (Apparently Philip Glass based his 1982 opera The Photographer on Muybridge's life).
This is Muybridge in the shot above contemplating his next career move.

Thursday, September 02, 2010


Before I went to Norway I went to Ireland!  2 weeks driving around the republic drawing and drinking Guinness!  First stop Dublin-

The Hugh Lane gallery in Dublin has Dublin born Francis Bacon's London studio.  It was meticulously photographed and recorded  then rebuilt in the museum!

~across the country to Galway & Connemara. . .

~south through Ballyvaughan & the Burren. . .

The ancient stone 'portal' Poulnabrone . . .

~On the way to the cliffs of Moher . . .

~a detour  through Tipperary and Cashel . . .

my goal was to see Dingle where David Lean filmed Ryan's Daughter.  The journey across the mountain pass and down to the town is spectacular but it's no longer the sleepy little fishing village of Lean's time.

We kissed the Blarney Stone at Blarney castle.  It's supposed to endow the gift of the gab- specifically sophisticated 'blarney'  as opposed to 'baloney' which is bullshit!  Maybe it'll help me pitch in story sessions?

I think my favourite place in Ireland must be Cobh-close to Cork.  It has one of Europe's deepest natural harbours and the Titanic sailed out of there to its doom!

Back to Dublin for the ferry through Waterford and Kilkenny. . .

The 'Emerald Isle' really is that colour-I was blown away by the variety of green hues in the landscape-it made for an unforgettable journey.