Friday 1 June 2012

Lunchtime in Bollards, Kilkenny

Grand Canal dock, Dublin

Here are some sketches I did around Dublin's Grand Canal dock during the breaks at the Offset creative festival. It's a lovely part of town re-developed around one of the large canal docks that opens out into the river Liffey.

Monday 23 April 2012

T stands for Trouble

I've been intending to illustrate a comic for some time. I guess I've always used the excuse that I couldn't find a writer that produced work I found engaging. Having attended the Anglouleme comics festival this winter and met up with some independent artists and publishers, I've decided that I just have to knuckle down and write and illustrate something myself.
Two chapters into a story set in Berlin in the fifties, I was getting impatient to start, so instead I decided to illustrate a song I wrote some time ago. It's a noir tale about a guy who picks the wrong girl to chat up, called "T stands for Trouble".

First time out, I'm probably approaching the thing all wrong, but it's coming together bit by bit.

Here's a couple of the first page layouts. Type is just loosely dumped in for the moment. The story ends with a busker on a San Francisco pier, ultimately it seems it should start with him too, so the middle one seems to work best.
I'll post more as it develops.

Tuesday 13 March 2012

Feet of Clay

Today is my wife's birthday and in place of the usual perfume/ costume jewellery/ two week shopping trip to New York, she asked me to do something cartoony about the kids. I'd been meaning to get around to dabbling with clay, so this was the perfect opportunity. I put together the basic frames with pipe cleaners wrapped in masking tape and worked from a quick pencil sketch of the three vagabonds.
My eldest daughter likes the idea of being a skateboarder a lot - quite a bit more than the actuality of getting out on the thing and putting in some time to master it. Her sister likewise likes the idea of playing her pink guitar more than the tiresome chore of actually practising on it. Their little brother, however spends all his time working on his mastery of rail crashes and is bound to make his parents proud in his future career as a stunt train driver. The dog?. Well the dog thinks he's just perfect as he is.

I started with a quick pencil sketch and started getting the general shape of the figures together with pipe cleaners.
These I wrapped in masking tape to give something for the clay to get a grip on.
The heads were made using polystyrene or aeroboard spheres about the size of table tennis balls. These I scored with a breadknife, again to give some purchase for the clay. The clay I used was DAS air drying clay - inexpensive, fairly quick drying and crucially I don't have an oven in my studio.
The pink figures you see below are where I brushed PVA over the figures to seal them. I added a little pink so I could see what I had already covered. I finished them by painting the figures in acrylic. Guitar and skateboard were just cut from cardboard and capaboard and scraped over with wet clay.

Finally, I made the display case from some old Ikea drawers - they have grooves routed out for the hardboard base -perfect for slipping the glass and backing board into.

Thursday 1 March 2012

The Art of Urban Sketching

Hot off the Press.

"The art of Urban Sketching" is a new book put together by Urban Sketchers founder Gabi Campanario and published through Quarry Books.

It's a sizeable volume with more than 300 pages and over 500 sketches from over 50 cities around the globe. There's a nice 2 page spread on my drawings around Dublin and a couple of other sketches of mine scattered around in the book

What's great about this book is how different artists interpret their cities, and the range of sketching styles on display

The Art of Urban Sketching is available worldwide through local bookstores and Amazon.

Tuesday 14 February 2012

The two Roys

From time to time I contribute to Leif Peng's Today's Inspiration blog.
This week I look at the the box-art of Airfix and Matchbox model planes and vehicles, comparing two of the most dramatic illustrators the industry produced- The two Roys - Cross and Huxley.
For anyone growing up in Britain or Ireland in the 70's and 80's who had half an interest in building model airplanes, the artwork of the two Roys will be immediatly familiar.
Pop over to Today's Inspiration and have a look. For anyone interested in mid-century (20th) illustration the site is a must-see. Everything from Al Dorne to Bernie Fuchs, Charlie Allen to
Walter Wyles, it's an incredible resource of illustration from post-war to the present.

Monday 6 February 2012


Spent last weekend in Angoulême, France at the the bandes dessinees or comics festival. 250,000 people descend on a town of just over 40,000. It's quite a sight. There was an incredible variety of comics on display, virtually all European and excluding the small American stand, thankfully not a superhero in sight. Some of the artwork and creativity at the event is just mindblowing and in french comics there's always a good representation of thoughtful storytelling alongside the fantastic and the humerous.
The main exhibition was of Art Spiegelman and his work - Maus of course, but also some of his less well known comics. There was also a major exhibition in the permanant museum of bandes dessinees - of work that inspired and influenced him.
I spent most of the weekend checking out stalls and catching up with friends so had few opportunities to sit down and do lengthy sketches. Below are a few that I managed to fit into the pauses between browsing and carousing.

View across the ramparts at Angoulême - click to enlarge

At Rosaline's house with Ale, Dag and Artur at breakfast

Downtown Angoulême with the tower of the Hotel de Ville in the background.