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All Posts in Fun

23rd August 2020

Majestic meander

During the course of lockdown, I've been a little up and down. Some weeks more head mashed than others which got me loathing about some holiday. There was nowhere in particular I had my heart set on, as long as I could have some time to myself, I'd be happy. Also I was growing tired of doing client work and wanted to focus on some personal work again.

Overview

The log cabin at the end of my mum and dads garden became my basecamp. This was a little awkward. Awkward in that, your parents think you only come home to see them and spend loads of time with them - when really I had other plans! That said, the first couple of days with them I managed to do both and not come across as too rude. (I hope)

From the Wednesday onwards, I stayed for 2 nights in Donnington, Chichester. It was the perfect escape: camping, late night paddles, walks, drawing and fires.

1st night camping

The campsite recommended a walk to the marina using the Chichester canal to help you get there. The canal was overgrown but alive with interesting wildlife. Shortly arriving at the marina with hundreds of fancy boats moored - it was very impressive. The temperature was still very warm which inspired me to go for a swim. Luckily, just over the marina lock, there was a small stoney shoreline where a couple kayakers could be seen launching from.

Seaweed toes

So before grabbing dinner, I made my way over there for a paddle. Now I'm not usually one to jump in when there's tons of seaweed to navigate. The idea is quite off-putting. So as soon as it got to knee height, I fell flat and floated about, avoiding anymore squidgy-ness under foot. It was so special and peaceful that I spent the majority of it on my back like an Otter - looking out to sea or up at the sky. However there were a lot of slimey incidents with seaweed which I wish could of been avoided but hey ho.

2nd night camping

The second night was a worry for me, after hearing there may be lightning. Luckily the British weather lived up to its usual unpredictability and remained clear all night. Instead, displaying bursts of lighting in the distance. The whole experience was a really beautiful time to pause and recharge.

28th April 2020

Desk mate

Plywood model of a character called I made to accompany me whilst I work from home

Ever since I first started sketching Peblo, I had this idea of how he might look in 3D. Rather than a round and soft shape, I always imagined him being faceted. That way he had a very distinct silhouette and could allow me to sit him on different sides when it came to animation.

A physical version could be made from all sorts of materials. A block of wood sanded down in an assortment of angles to make a faceted shape or cast in concrete. I never liked the idea of creating a cgi version of him. Yet, the biggest issue I had was tooling up. Sanding a block of wood would look great but getting access to a standup sander was tricky. Sadly I wouldn’t be able to achieve the same effect doing it by hand.

Early sketches and inspiration

So to keep things simple, I toyed with the idea of making him out of concrete or resin. In order to do that, I’d need a mould which meant making a model of him first out of Balsa wood. Balsa wood because it’s cheap to buy and easy to cut with a fine saw.

It was actually quite difficult to sculpt because I didn’t realise how brittle balsa is. So achieving clean lines proved pretty challenging. After a couple iterations, I’m happy with the texture but might try sculpting a potato (yep I said potato) to achieve sharper lines. Then I can cover it in silicone to make a reusable mould.

Sculpting a block of balsa wood

The many incarnations of Peblo!

How he looks nowadays

I love these types of projects because you just need to get stuck in to find your way. Often you make mistakes, but that’s all part of it! Just playing it by ear is so much fun. It’s refreshing and such a contrast to my day job where you only have so much time. Deadline-free, I thought: as long as there was a similar texture and charm to the illustrated version then I’m happy. Otherwise it’s not a Peblo.

So when I had set aside some leftover plywood for my van, thinking I’d make a table out of it....I thought how often am I really going to use it?! Instead let’s make 2x huge versions of Peblo. That way I could experiment a bit, choose the best and maybe sell/gift the other one. Who wouldn’t want to be greeted by that face every day - especially during lockdown!

Getting started

I did some loose sketches by hand. I’d not drawn Peblo this big before and wasn’t too precious about him looking exactly like the illustration. So did some rough planning in pencil before cutting.

Cut once. Measure twice.

I don’t own a work bench so I have to make do with this ledge in the garden. I’ve cut everything this way. It can a bit laborious! So maybe I’ll indulge in a proper work bench later down the line. I’m sure the neighbours would appreciate something less echoey!

Coarse Sand. Fine sand.

After some sought after advice from a chippy, I used a coarse grit sand first then finished in a finer grit. I’d never really paid much attention to grit level before - but it makes a hell of a difference when you’re painting wood.

White wash

I was keen to find a way to paint the wood but not fully cover the grain because there was some really nice texture coming through. A white wash was the answer. You just water down the paint your using, and use a cloth to rub into the wood. Also it doesn’t have to be white paint, it can be any colour you like. I used some scraps to test the paint colours I bought along with ways to apply it such as a cloth, toothbrush, wire wool and brushes.

The real deal

Then it was time to get stuck in. I masked off shapes so I could make it look faceted. You couldn’t keep the tape on there for too long - otherwise you created quite strange borders. I took my time to build up the layers of colours. Switching between the light and darker colours to add depth and mimic the illustration. I added texture with a toothbrush - either flicking it to make specks or dragging it across the surface.

Painted edges

The edges looked a little odd left natural, so I finished them in the dark paint.

Finishing touch

Equally the most important aspect was Peblo’s face. I used a couple penny’s to map out where the eyes should go. 1p size so I could paint circles larger and not leave any pencil marks behind. Painting his smile and eyes was absolutely nerve racking. I haven’t got a steady hand! But I’m quite happy with how one of them turned out. It’s the circles that are a struggle, with a paint brush you ended up making so many mistakes you have keep going back over what you’ve done.

Sure enough since making him, I’ve had my photograph taken with Peblo - a neighbour is taking portraits of self isolators in Southville as part of a photography project. Interested to see how that turns out!

19th April 2020

Meribel Pre lock-in

Now that we're well and truly in the thick of a global lockdown, it's given me some time to think 'how the heck did we manage to sneak in a snowboarding holiday a month ago?'. I think we've all felt it's been a wake up call from how quickly things have had to shift in response to the pandemic.

I flew to Geneva on the 7th March to spend a week in Meribel (part of the three valleys ski resort) with my good friend Matt. It was one of those last minute deals that we bagged just in time. Both of us had been snowboarding before, and of a similar ability which helped. But this was the first trip we had done together and the most we had hung out for in years since working together.

White waves and selfies

The trip

I think we rode 5 out of those 7 days we were there. It was a great mix of downtime, adventure and childplay. I won't go into detail about each day we spent there as I won't do it justice. That said, Matt did create several youtube videos to impress his daughters. I think they capture the non stop goofing around and pure excitement throwing ourselves down the mountain perfectly. So take a look if you're interested.

The apartment. Note: the chair drying rack - a godsend!

I mention 'downtime' because whilst the trip was exhausting: gearing up, hiking, riding etc - it had relaxing moments too. Luckily we're both quite similar, we like our own space, don't always need to talk and are happy to do our own thing sometimes. For instance, most evenings we were in the front room, Matt video editing whilst I spent time drawing and writing.

In general, France was pretty casual about the whole coronavirus thing. I was really surprised but then again, we were also part of the problem! We flew back on 14th March - the same day France announced all resorts will close. Literally sneaked it in!

All freehand using a BIC pen. Fuelled with wheat beer!

9th February 2020

New year, new 35mm prints

Sat out the back of the van, eating some porridge with my best friend Josh in rainy Pembrokeshire.

Back in November, me and Josh went on a little road trip around South Wales. This was our breakfast in the car park.

A narrow view of the Tenby coastline in Wales

Wandering around Tenby, we spotted this little slither of paradise.

Punk Goats

These little fella's were so funny! Kept getting in our way wherever we walked. Plus they look like punk rockers.

Coastal path walk in Pembrokeshire

The best dogs can be found on coastal paths. Shame about some of the walkers.

A brief stop off in Rossilli, The Gower

Before the storm, we tucked into this tidy little place in Rossilli, The Gower.

An unusual up close photo of my dad. He's going to hate this one!

Dad's going to hate this one. But I took a unusually up close shot of him on the train from Corfe Castle to Swanage. I love the amount of detail that came through on this shot.

A break from all the walking. Me and dad watch the sunset.

Sweaty, damp and tired. We had a little light left to guide us to Kimmeridge Bay. It was a beautiful view though.

Josh caught contemplating life

Sometimes you don't have to talk.

Victoria Rooms, Bristol

I feel incredibly lucky that is part of my commute to work. The light always shines real good here.

28th January 2020

Blue Monday

In light of Blue Monday last week - considered the most depressing day of the year by those heads of consumerism - I thought I'd inject a little fun into my day. I've been obsessed with watching tutorials on how to dance the Lindyhop recently (a late 20's swing type dance that was huge in America). It's such a joyful thing to watch and listen to. Wish me luck with the dancing!

Illustration_LindyHop

It was refreshing to draw people like this. I'd usually stay clear of anything that involves people. I found some great imagery online to use as reference - otherwise the people would have looked a little more blob like.