Some drawings of Wimbledon (done from TV unfortunately...)


The English National Ballet...and a bit about sketchbooks

Last November I had the chance to draw the ENB during their morning warm up when they were on tour in Bristol.

It was a 45 minute session. You're led into the auditorium (very weird when it's empty - definitely a space designed to have people in it) and then you quietly sketch whilst the ballerina's go through the motions of getting limber for rehearsals (they're very powerful for such small people). The pace, relentless; the music, bizarre; and it's all over far to quick. I managed to squeeze out 102 sketches (that's about 1 drawing every 26.5 seconds assuming my pen was moving the entire 45 minutes...)

And these would be (some) of them...straight from the sketchbook all dirty and raw. I know they're not much to look at but my view on sketchbooks is that they are a visual diary, a place where you can make mistakes, try new things and generally never have to show anyone, because if the world saw all the bad stuff then there is no way I'd get a job again...

Anyway, these "notes" come in as handy reference, if I ever feel like working them up into something...


Sketching out and about in Bristol town with fellow Aardman storyman, Dirk Van Dulmen - People...and also some people drawing people.

and (much like Game of Thrones) some nakedness...


Lunch sessions at Aardman. Clothed models, occasional dancing and sandwich eating.


Bits and bobs from the streets...

(and another figure drawing...for good measure)


Some more from sessions at the Bristol Grammar School...


So I've been going through my sketchbooks and scanning work, collating it etc. May as well make use of the old blog!

- Some figure drawing from a class in Bristol -


Dr Sketchy's One Year Bash

Dr Sketchy (the burlesque figure drawing class) has been back in town. I missed a few sessions but it was their one year (in Bristol) Birthday extravaganza...couldn't miss that. Cake, beer and drawing.


My Movember story

Movember. I like to fly the flag high. Everybody who knows me, knows I go nuts for it. Most people think it's probably a bit of a laugh and doing a bit for charity. Me...I have never lost anyone to prostate cancer and none of my friends (touch wood) have ever suffered from testicular cancer, the two main beneficiaries of funds that Movember raises. However, in October 2010 I lost my cousin. I attended the funeral, complete with moustache...it was Movember after all...carried his coffin and laid him to rest. Something I planned on doing? No. Something I wanted to do? Definitely not. One of the hardest things I've done in my life? Without a shadow of a doubt. He was 22, young, fit, healthy, tee-total, played rugby, studying for his PhD...enjoying life. He was also a diabetic.

In the last 8 years I've watched the charity go from strength to strength and develop into the powerhouse movement the covers the globe in moustaches every November. In that time, I've watched as they branched out into new areas, highlighting things that you don't really think about...or don't really want to think about...but that really we ought to think about. Things about male health in general and not just the cancers that affect men. The awareness that it can go wrong and it could affect you. A lot of us live under the auspices of, "It'll never happen to me", and that may turn out to be true but blissful ignorance isn't the cure. It doesn't have to be you. It could be your mate, or your brother...or your cousin. 

"Mate, you look like crap. You checked your levels?"

And that's kind of where the MoBro's began - "How's your health?" - Just that little nudge to make you think, "Actually I'm not alright"...and also so you know you mates are there looking out for you.

That's why I do Movember now...and The MoBro's? The internet is doing it's thing with them...be nice. They're not there asking you to donate. They're asking you to look out for you mates.


So this is it...ladies and gents, sit back and enjoy the MoBro's as they show you that sometimes small talk can lead to big things...

www.mobro.co/mobroshlee - you know...in case you want to donate at all.


It's that time of year again...


Say "Hello" to the MoBros

I'll leave it at that.

Now you're either curious or frustrated.

They also have their own blog - http://themobrothers.blogspot.co.uk - go take a look. And if you feel like they are worth a bit of your hard earned cash then you can donate here - www.mobro.co/mobroshlee


Cider and Burlesque...

Dr Sketchy's, the infamous drawing school, finally found it's way to the west country! A fun little drawing session which focusses a bit less on the academics and a bit more on the fun.


Thoroughly "Modern Types"

So...many of you are probably here as a result of clicking a link on the "Ronald Searle in America" blog. If that is the case "Hello!" and welcome to this woeful example of a blog!

Anyway, as you may be aware, Matt Jones obviously has far too much time on his hands and has decided that, instead of video games or movies or any of the plethora of distractions we have in modern life, he would focus on something that someone at a university somewhere should probably award him a doctorate in...although that would make him Dr. Jones...and by extension his name would cease to be Matt and become Indiana.

I'm talking about Ronald Searle.

After enlisting the high and mighty ranks of the animation world's elite to prepare artwork for an auction to raise funds for the first Searle exhibition on the west coast of America, he resorted to scraping the barrel (thoroughly) and decided the it was worth the gamble of asking if I'd contribute something. Of course I was happy to...but will the gamble pay off?

And here is what I decided to put forward, inspired by leafing through "Modern Types" whilst sitting on the John. Each one is an ORIGINAL ink drawing accompanied by a character description in an attempt to recreate the wit and humour of what made those visits to the loo so enjoyable.

Please will someone buy them? If not to stop me looking like a Eurovision song contest fool (Nil points), then do it for Indiana.


One Day...yesterday

Once upon a time there was a boy. A boy with a dream. A dream which came to fruit. A fruit that was eaten by a boy (with a dream...fruit, blah, blah)...and that boy became a man.

That man calls himself "L" (don't get me started on the lack of teaching of proper spelling and grammar in schools nowadays...) but his true name is Laurent "Carbon Footprint" Rossi.

And this was his dream...which came to fruit...and was eaten by him...and he became a man.

Over on L "Carbon Footprint" Rossi's blog you can see the journey he went on, also known as a "making of"...not "making out"...there are many other sites on the internet for that, but Carbon Footprint's is not one of them.

How's that L? Epic enough? Do I win now?

All joking aside, I've known Laurent for a number of years now (we both studied animation under the greatness that is known simply as "PARR") and he's been aching to study at L'Ecole Gobelins for most of that time...and now he has done it, so congrats to him! Go show him some love!



So I touched on this briefly last post...the fabled trip to Bodie 2.0. After the failure of last year, intrepid explorer Matt and myself headed out into the high sierras to find the historic ghost town of Bodie.

After putting the Mustang through its paces (that car has POWER) and spending the night in a hotel with a lady who seemed to be permanently high...

...we made it to the end of the road. However Bodie was still about 6 miles away. Separating us from the goal was possibly the worlds bumpiest dirt track. I can only assume it was kept in the same state of arrested decay as the town. Every really slow vehicle we had sped past on the way now caught up and over took us. Note to travellers: Sports cars are not the cars to travel to Bodie in.

After a short while of bone shaking, we finally saw what we had come for...a town described by all the tourist guides as "in a state of arrested decay"...basically no one has lived there since the forties and all the buildings are still the same, with most of them dating to the 1880's.

And it's true! In the old saloon there are still chips on the table from the last game of poker played there. It's like everyone just got up and left. In the morning before I started sketching I waited by the church for the ranger to give his daily speech about the history of Bodie. Turns out that the man whom the town is named after is W.S Bodey...which is an alternate spelling of my surname (Boddy) and both derive from the same, although the former is pronounced Boe-dee not Body, which is why they changed the spelling of the town so that people didn't mis-pronounce it...much like many do with my last name. Unfortunately for him, he was never able to see the town that bears his namesake. Legend has it (actually this is pretty accurate...it just sounds better starting "Legend has it") that he decided to brave the winter on his claim but upon returning from collecting supplies in the nearby town of Mono, one days walk that way, Bodey and his partner found themselves lost on the way back to the cabin. A storm set in and conditions became blinding. The pair wandered aimlessly (in a kind of "Hmmm. I recognise this tree...WE'RE GOING IN CIRCLES" way) for hours until Bodey, his energy sapped, fell to the snow. His partner wrapped him in a blanket and vowed to come back for him once he found the cabin. After more fruitless searching (it's the same bloody tree!) he decided to go back to Mono. Bodey was claimed by the storm. They found his body in the spring after the snow had melted...300 yards from the cabin. Then they began digging and found millions of dollars of gold.

But that's not all they found. Nope. They also found...

...an awesome place for sketching.

I spent a good few hours wandering around. A particular highlight was the stroll down Maiden Lane and Virgin Alley in the old wild end of town. Except it all burned down in a fire so, essentially, I was wandering through a field of grass where many people once had sex.
If you are interested in seeing more sketches of Bodie, you should probably head over to the blog of Mr. Jones. He made some enjoyable observations of the other history tourists.

Right before we started the drive back to San Francisco, a lightning storm kicked off. It was at this point in the day that we witnessed an event...nay...a miracle. I call it "THE MOSES MOMENT"

Now this wasn't the only event of what was to prove an epic return leg. One especially memorable moment happened when we were driving the Tioga trail through Yosemite...

I wish I could draw the next one but it involved one horse doing something to another horse and the line "look at the size of that thing". I think it's best left to people imaginations.

And I'd also prefer to never be stuck in a car with 17 miles to go until the next Carl's Jr...only to miss it and have to drive another 6 miles. I didn't know what Carl's Jr was. It was the person in the passenger seat doing the "I can't believe you missed it! Your GPS is crap. I'm using my iPhone to find it...go left here". I didn't miss the next one and was rewarded with the biggest cup (bucket) of Coca-Cola ever.

Anyway, I'm starting to natter on a bit so I'll wrap in up. In conclusion - Bodie = cool, Trees = fire, Mountain Lions = Danger and Carl's Jr = Heart attack in five years.


Back to the Bay

Hello blog.

It's been a topsy turvy few months recently which has seen me go home to Hong Kong and also back in the US...exciting stuff and a welcome break after 15 months with no time off...except 3 days at Christmas...and the the odd bank hol. As a result my Xbox live gamerscore has remained static.

Top Left: The Village Gates
Top Right: Queens Road, Central
Left: The Bank of China
Middle Right: The HSBC through the Botanical Gdns
Bottom Right: Small Bamboo, Big Bamboo

Anyway...the US. I made a return journey to the west coast, determined to conquer the Pacific Coast Highway (Damn you Cruickshank Trail landslide of 2011!) and not only conquer it but do so in style. So I hired a Ford Mustang convertible and set the road straight. Ash = 1, PCH...also = 1.


This time around I used San Francisco as my base of operations and toured around from there. Napa was interesting...nice drive but you can't sample the wine. However, I did find a rather entertaining hen party at the Hess Gallery and vineyard. That kind of made up for a spectacular breakdown in communications. Warning to travellers to the US. You will be able to text people but no one will be able to text you back...or even call you.

After failing to make the trip to Bodie last time due to 8ft snowdrifts, (Damn you summer snows!) I attempted the journey again. WIth fellow expat Matt Jones in tow we managed to avoid any miraculously unseasonal snowfall...although there were some other miracles on said journey...but that's another story. Anyway...Ash = 1, Bodie...again, also = 1.

I also did a whistle stop trip to LA to catchup with people down there. I noticed some particularly interesting human behaviour around Hollywood Blvd (Highly recommend driving down it with the roof down and music on LOUD...SoaD "Lost in Hollywood" was an apt choice) where it appears a number of the populous take photographs of their feet and also kneel down to place their hands on the concrete whilst friends take pictures of them in said prostrate position.

Various Folk

The phrase "Only in America" springs to mind. On a serious note, the Getty has a Klimt exhibition on at the moment. Excellent and if anyone finds themselves out that way, definitely worth a visit. Oh...I also stayed at a lovely Hotel located near Third and Alvarado. Only after I checked in did I figure out I was in the middle of "The Rampart"...a lovely neighbourhood that amongst other achievements, was once able to boast a higher murder rate per 100,000 than Johannesburg or Sao Paulo! And I survived! Ash = 1, Rampart = 0! I win! And the view of downtown was excellent as were the complimentary donuts for breakfast.

Top Left: View of downtown from "Rampart"
Bottom Left: Grauman's Chinese Theatre
Right: The Roosevelt on Hollywood Blvd

After LA it was back to San Francisco and the delights that the city has to offer including (but not limited to) Breakfast at a diner; Dinner at a diner; Lunch at a Diner; Lobster where the Rat Pack used to eat lobster; Drinks in an old colonial french indochina setting; Drinks at a historical hotel bar on Nob hill; Drinks at Dave's flat up a really, really steep hill; Batman in IMAX; A really winding street; the realisation that Fisherman's Wharf is a lot further from where I had parked than I initially thought; Freezing up the top of Twin Peaks and still not being able to see the eye of Sauron...but I did get to see the famous San Francisco fog; Drinking in a cage; Mitchell's - The best Ice Cream in the city; Drinking in a Troll bar...uh...seeing a movie at the Castro theatre...and a host of other things. Now all I have to do is find a way to score a job out there...any American females fancy a Brit for a husband?
Top: Haight Ashbury
Middle: Fisherman's Wharf
Bottom: A lovely view of the Golden Gate bridge from Buena Vista Park...obscured
by tourists. Did you know "Facebook like" is the same in every language?