On assignment for AWARE trust

We are settled in our thatched room lodges. The drive to our destination has been great. I sat in the back of one of the pick up trucks and enjoyed the views. Our wildlife vets and head of the team is Dr Keith Dutlow (I'm sure he's my long lost brother) and Dr Lisa Marabini. Instructions have been given and everyone has been given a responsibility and task. I would be the one painting on this operation :) We are told of the dangers we will face and the efficiency of teamwork. The vets will be in the air and three trucks will be the ground team. Rangers are there for protection and to help track. On this particular day we would be tracking and locating white rhinos. Rhinos are being poached at an incredible rate for their horns. Horns which consist of keratin. The same material found in hair and fingernails. In fact the rhino horn isn't even attached to the skull, it is pretty much made of a clump of super compressed hair. Not medicinal, not magical, just keratin. Those seeking the medicinal properties should in fact eat their own fingernails and hair! It'll match their own DNA much better. Leave the rhinos alone.
The group that I am working with is called the AWARE trust. The team of several vets lead by Keith and Lisa do incredible work throughout the country. We are accompanied by Anthony Newall who helps them and runs a lion park nearby. I'm a bit too excited to sleep. My brother and I want to wander into the bush with a flashlight but our gut says no. Probably a good thing. We lay down and enjoy the unfamiliar sounds of the night. I really wish I knew what I was listening too. 

Morning is up breakfast and ready to roll. Equipment is checked, teams depart and the tracking and location begins. Keith, Lisa and and incredible bush chopper pilot take the air. The truck convoy will carry the ground team and rangers.  The first rhino is spotted quickly and the operation begins. 

The care everyone shows is incredible. It's a horrible thing we have to do this to an animal that does not deserve this but it may be the only way. Every detail taken by every vet is keen. From oxygen to cooling the animal it must all be quick and precise. It reminded me of the crew at a formula race car pit. Quick and efficient. Horns are removed and blood samples taken. I think the painting of those numbers on the actual rhinos back is probably the most important painting I have ever done in my entire life. I hope one day my actual paint on a canvas or board will one day do the same for me of the feeling of importance. The entire crew picks up as the vet reverses the animals sedative. Dr Keith always remains behind making sure the animal is back on his feet and walking away. The rhino horn is microchipped and handed over to authorities. That's one rhino. We have quite a number to do. I'll report back soon. 


Finally sailing

I may have been silent over the last few weeks, but I truly wanted to put my sailing foot where my mouth was.... so to speak. Few weeks ago, I finally decided it was time for me to act on my intense trimaran passion. As I was scouring the internet at night for trimaran news as I do daily (yes it is an addiction) I encountered a used ad for one of the smallest trimaran available on the market. The WETA.
But don't be fooled. That little thing has almost 20 m2 of sail total, in short, it is a sailing rocket. The plus, it is also very easy to sail in low winds, making it perfect in easy conditions to take my wife with me :)  (and my daughter, when she is old enough!)
This was not a decision I took lightly, as I had already done in depth research on that thing. For the novice out there, New Zealand, has one of the most amazing and passionate sailing community, so it is without surprise, that they would come up with such a nifty design. If you look at the Americas Cup crews, a big part of the sailors where from down under. They breathe and love sailing, a little bit the same goes where I grew up, in France, where sailing is truly considered as one of the most exciting sport, especially multihull sailing (more than one hull).
Designing a sailboat, whatever the size, is not small feat. That is probably why there are so few "classics" on the water. I call a classic, a boat that has a great following for very specific reasons, whether it is it's "sportiness" like the Laser, or it's ease of setup and use, like the Optimist. The weta, arrives in a market, where the economy is harsh in 2010, and people want easy setups and tons of speed (but safe!). The boat is not cheap (but still very affordable for a multihull), but used (like the one I found) you can find great deals too.
Since I can not really windsurf in L.A (winds are too low), and I now have a family, I thought this was probably the best way for me to fulfill my passion. Not enough wind for windsurf? Ok, let's get more sail area!
When I saw the price of Hull#352 online, I had a mixed feeling of excitement and uneasiness. Great price, but can it still sail? I knew that the picture would not be pretty, but after discussing with my wife, we thought it was worth the trip down the coast to go look at it. 

My uneasiness was partly proven... 
My wife, Amy checking that the hull is still sound....

That poor Hull#352 had been left rotting in the sun, partly protected, and mostly covered with a serious layer of guano (bird poop). Nevertheless, despite the superficial disastrous situation, the hull was sound and the deck fitting too, just a tad rusty, and the carbon coating gone. A neglected beauty, that Amy and I were not going to abandon there. Even the rudder which had been left in the water by mistake (or abandon) had grown a beautiful family of seashells which was reproducing at a "rabbit under viagra and redbull" rate.
Now the other scary part was the sails, the bag was there, laying outside, and my hart was beating as I reluctantly opened the quiver and unrolled them. To my surprise and joy, the sails were almost mint! Not much outing it seemed. I have owned many many sails over the year during my windsurfing times, and I have seen my fair share of used sails (and created a lot of them too!), but this was not it, these sails had been out maybe 10 times at most! Just a little bit of aging on the main sail luff, and knowing gaastra well, I knew that such a brand would not disappoint.
After a few discussions with the Yacht broker, we agreed on a price, and after a week of back and forth and a very nice broker who built the trailer to carry it (Paul Leake) at Breakwater Yachts in Oceanside, off I went with my friend Tim Noyes to go pick it up! Tim almost lost a foot as we were latching the hull on the trailer, but ended up with just a scratch, thanks for helping! 
 The boat waiting for us at the dock, and as we are dismantling it.

 I had a few minute of sailing it to bring it to the ramp. It was short, but already amazing, and the jib was not even up :) 
The road back home to Marina went great (despite the amazing 405 traffic being even more nightmarish than usual). I left the hull at the Boat Yard in Marina after a night spent at local multihull guru Mike Leneman (thanks for giving #352 a place to sleep!). Going for waxing and carbon recoating. 

Will keep you posted next on naming the boat, and hopefully, some more sailing!!


While in Africa

Hi all. I'm not sure how to begin this post.  I'm writing this from the bush in Africa and it's been a long day. A day that I am happy to partake in but also a day that makes me a bit confused and sad. I had my first on hands experience with an incredible group of wildlife vetenarians. On this assignment we are working with rhinos. Taking blood samples, DNA and dehorning. Its incredibly sad to me that we have to go to these extremes. These incredible animals are poached for their horns. These horns supposedly have medicinal properties. Not true. They're pretty much made out of the same thing our fingernails are made out of.  The experience has been incredible and eye opening. These animals do not deserve what is happening to them. They are just one of many species that are struggling. I always have hope.
Riding in the back of the truck enjoying the view. 
A very early art explorer. Hope we can follow in their footsteps. This is at a wonderful lion and cheetah park ran by a friend. One of the best things about trips like this is the bond and family that is formed. Great people who I will introduce to you all with time. My camera is filled with pictures and footage that I will share as soon as I can upload them. At the moment these are just phone pics. 
This is Erik. One of the last rhinos of that day. We had a hard time finding him in fact it was almost all day. It turned out he was near our camp all along.  After the vets were done with him he wandered closer our camp as he grazed.  I took advantage and grabbed my sketchbook. It was like he knew he was modeling. He came about 5 meters from me ate and then left. I ended up high on a rock as he got closer.  I drew the horn and felt sad that it's come to this so that they can live. I will report again soon. Internet is usually not available and warthogs are FAST! :)


Hi everyone! MANu here blogging from Zimbabwe. I have seen so much in preparation for our assignment.  I thought I would share a visit to a beautiful sanctuary that hold a very special little guy. Like many sanctuaries it is home to lions, cheetahs, giraffes and several of Africa's well known species, but this private sanctuary is home to a little preemie elephant named Moyo. He was found out in the bush alone. This little elephant has quite the survival story and is now in good hands. He was the last animal that we visited on the private sanctuary tour. He now is actually the weight and size that he normally would be as a newborn so I can't imagine how much smaller he was! He steals peoples hearts immediately. He is very inquisitive, playful and very handsome. I did get to manage to do some sketches and thought I would share them here. We leave out on assignment tommorrow. I will try and post if I can. Get out and draw! You will appreciate it! 
This is Pickle. He was hand reared and imprinted. Acts very much like a dog, loves his belly scratched. 
My ballpoint pen sketch of Moyo. He is really learning how to use that trunk more and more each day. 
quick sketch of a young male lion
Can anyone guess what this animal is? I will post videos of it when I can.
Here, this big boy is staring at Pickle the warthog. So close yet so far away.
I took this pic after he snatched my iPhone. He luckily couldn't get it thru the fence. Quick hands :)

Field Sketching

Hello and welcome!
I hope everyone has enjoyed the direction of our Art Explorers Blog. I am about to go on a pretty amazing trek and was resupplying my art bag and thought I would share what I carry as far as art supplies. These supplies are what I take with me to zoos, out on a hike, travel and it's always usually in my vehicle.

All of the things pictured above are packed inside an Oakley laptop bag that I've been using for years. I'm actually looking into a new bag that seems like it will work, but for now its the same bag.                                                              

The art supplies I carry are the following:
China Marker black and white. I used these years ago when I was animating traditionally and have been since. The big size of the lead stops the drawing of detail and one can focus on shape and mass. The white china marker I also use to highlight drawing on the brown paper I like to draw on.

Copic Markers:
I like to carry the earth tones and a grey marker to do quick gestures and layouts. I like to draw using just markers as well. The drawing of the cowgirl was from a horse clinic and was drawn using a marker. I can afterwards tighten my rough using a darker marker or a brush pen. I carry a couple of marker refills in my bag as well. Usually a grey and a sand color.
Caran d'Ache supra color soft water color pencil. I love these pencils. I usually use the white pencil to highlight on my marker drawings when I'm done.   

Faber Castell brush pens. Any brush pen will do, I just like the variety of colors they carry. I actually do an alteration to the tips on most of them. I get my leatherman scissors and actually cut the brush tip to fray it. I like the variety I get in the line work. I like  to turn the pen as I draw and get a variety of lines or a repetitive pattern. I'll do a video tutorial soon and explain. The horse is an example of the lines one can get with this frayed tip. I do carry unfrayed ones as well :)

Bic Ballpoint Pen. Old reliable. Its waterproof, its very inexpensive, its fun and I've been doodling with these since high school.

Pentel Brush Pen. A great pen that I recommend playing with. Its brush tip is great for sketching and the variety of brush lines it can make is beautiful. The only downside is its not waterproof. I have refilled and experimented using different waterproof inks. The Rapidiograph ink seems to work the best and hasn't clogged yet. Unclogging these brushes can be a task so be careful if trying other inks in the tube. The lioness was drawn with the Pentel brush pen, the thick Copic marker and the handy correction fluid pen.
Correction fluid pens are great. My studio mate David Levy was responsible for the influence. I actually call the brand I use "the Levy White."

Pentel Waterbrush. This is great to carry and use with watercolor pencils and portable watercolor kits. I have also used them with a drop of ink in them and they're great. Just be aware and dont let the brush sit too long or it will clog and again not fun.

The water color kit I use is this Koi Kit by Sakura. A good variety of colors and Sakura is a reputable company. The colors are nice and bright. The kit opens up and has a thumb ring which helps one keep the watercolor palette easy to hold and handle.

Pencils of course. I try a variety and have been happy with Derwent so far. I found a company that makes "Cedar" natural pencils and Like them as well. ( They smell great ran thru an electric  sharpener.) Blackwing pencils of course are great. I also use Col Erase pencils, usually blue and crimson red.  Speaking of sharpeners heres what I recommend.

I found this KUM long point sharpener and like it a lot. Im weird that I love the lead to be out quite a bit, just my preference. That's the main reason my main sharpener is a knife. (The whittling technique can't be beaten) But this sharpener does do a good job.

And there's the Leatherman. Everybody should have one of these. I use the knife and file on it to help sharpen in the field all the time. The file is two sided and the rough file works great. This tool has helped me out millions of times but that's a different post. If your going to buy a multi tool spend the money on a good quality one, it is well worth it believe me. 

The Sign Pen. One of my favorite pens ever! If you have never drawn with one go get one!!! Pentel Sign Pen. My fellow Art Explorer, Thierry Doizon introduced it to me when we shared a studio together years ago. The feel of it on paper is great!  There is also a flexible tip one as well. Super flexible and can give you those great thick and thin lines. I prefer the original tip, looks a bit like rice soaked in black ink. The Rhino is drawn with the sign pen and brush pen shadows. Only downside. Not waterproof :( sigh!

The animal below is the reason for my upcoming journey. They are suffering in numbers due to them being slaughtered for their horns. Going on quite the "Art Explorers Adventure". I will keep all you posted on the journey and hope to post while there.  Thank you Cabelas and Kuhl for your awesome sponsorship!

Now its your turn! Tell us what you have in your Art packs!!! Any certain bag you like? Certain supplies? Any art packing secrets? Please share them with us! We are always looking for the perfect art bag between all of us we will find it!!!
Best to you all