28 February 2007

Oh My CloClo!

I particularily like the peepee snowball throwing dance.

For those of you wondering, who is this Claude guy and why does Kelly hate light bulbs, here's your answer!!

The son of an Italian mother and a French father, Claude François was born in Egypt, where his father, Aimé François, was working as a shipping traffic controller on the Suez Canal. In 1951 the job took the family to the city of Port Tawfik on the Red Sea. Claude François' mother was very musical and had her son take piano and violin lessons. On his own, the boy learned to play the drums. As a result of the 1956 Suez Crisis, the family returned to live in Monaco, where they struggled financially after Claude's father fell ill and could not work. A young Claude found a job as a bank clerk and at night earned extra money playing drums with an orchestra at the luxury hotels along the French Riviera. With a good but untested singing voice, he was offered a chance to sing at a hotel in the fashionable Mediterranean resort town of Juan-les-Pins. His show was well received and eventually he began to perform at the glamorous night-clubs along the Côte d'Azur. While working the clubs, he met Janet Woolcoot, an English dancer whom he married in 1960.

Ambitious, Claude François moved to Paris, where there were many more opportunities to pursue his career. At the time, American Rock and Roll was taking hold in France and he took a job as part of a singing group in order to make a living. With the goal of eventually making it as a solo act, he paid the cost to record a 45rpm. Trying to capitalize on the American dance craze "The Twist", Claude François recorded a song titled "Nabout Twist" that proved a resounding failure. Undaunted, in 1962 he recorded a cover version in French of an Everly Brothers song, "Made to Love" (aka Girls Girls Girls). Written by Phil Everly, it had been only a minor hit in America, but Claude François' rendition titled "Belles Belles Belles" rocked to the top of the French charts, selling close to two million copies and making him an overnight star.

A dedicated professional, Claude François worked hard to achieve success producing a string of massively popular hit songs and touring constantly. With the onslaught of Beatlemania, he covered their hits in French, adjusted the hair style a little and kept his success moving ahead. But his talent extended beyond copying the works others had made famous, and he wrote songs for himself and displayed a melodic voice doing romantic ballads.

In 1966, François created a complete new stage act using four female dancers as backup. Named "Les Clodettes," the sexy girls danced in the background while François did his own energetic work center stage. In a return to the Paris Olympia he added eight musicians and a full orchestra to his backup dancers, putting on a spectacular show that filled every seat in the large theater and left fans standing in the street for lack of tickets.

Divorced from his wife, in 1967 he began a relationship with France Gall, another famous French singer. Their affair was short lived and he soon met Isabelle Forêt, with whom he had two sons in two years. Flushed with enormous success and confidence, he established his own record company. In 1968, he and Jacques Revaux wrote a song in French called Comme d'habitude, which became a hit in francophone countries. Canadian singing star Paul Anka reworked it for the English-speaking public into the now legendary hit most famously sung by Elvis Presley and Frank Sinatra as "My Way". Although Claude François continued his successful formula of adapting English and American rock and roll hits for the French market, by the 1970s the market had changed and the disco craze that swept North America took root in France. For the versatile François, this was not a problem. He simply re-invented himself as the king of French disco, recording "La plus belle des choses," a French version of a Bee Gees hit record.

He worked non-stop, touring across Europe, Africa and at major venues in Quebec in Canada. However, his workload caught up with him in 1971 when he collapsed on stage from exhaustion. After a brief period off, he returned to the recording studios, releasing several best-selling hits throughout the early 1970s. He expanded from owning his own record company to acquiring a celebrity magazine and a modeling agency. Although driven to achieve financial success, in 1974 he organized a concert to raise funds for a charity for handicapped children and the following year he participated in a Paris concert to raise funds for medical research. By the mid-1970s he was single again, dating several well-known European stars. He continued to perform while overseeing his numerous business interests. In 1975, while in London, he narrowly escaped death when an IRA bomb exploded and two years later a fan tried to shoot him. In 1977 and 1978, more than 15 years after his first hit record, he was still topping the musical charts with multi-million sales from hits such as "Alexandrie Alexandra" and performing to large audiences.

After working in Switzerland, on Saturday, March 11, 1978 he returned to his Paris apartment in order to appear the next day on "Rendez-vous du Dimanche" with TV host Michel Drucker. His demise was caused by his obsession with cleanliness and order. He was accidentally electrocuted when he tried to fix a broken light bulb while standing in a filled bathtub. At only 39 years of age, his early death brought a wave of public sympathy for a national French star.

A Comedy of Errors

A new piece for Shakespeare On the Sound's 2007 production of A Comedy of Errors. Not too sure about this one either.

Illustration Friday: Communication

Another previous piece created because of the ever increasing wireless world. I love to look back and remember the rotary phones. Perhaps one day, the next generation will reminisce about actual wires!

23 February 2007

Who the Sh*t Drank All My Beer?


photo credit: Sal Darji

22 February 2007

20 February 2007

Attention à la Marche!!

Around noon everyday, I settle in to work and to watch my favorite game show. I do like Millionare, but Attention à la Marche is head to head. The reason? Les Potes (translates as "buddies")! They are these crazy CGI dancing blobs that are so rediculous, I can't stop laughing. Basically, it's a guessing game, kind of like Family Fued in the States, where they typically poll people and ask the four contestants what they think is the right percentage. Some of the questions are really easy, so a bit harder. Why I like it, is that they show the question written and then also say it and talk about it. Putting my visual learning skills to work. Oh ok, it's the blobby Potes! At the end, I quite haven't figured it out. The four contestant eventually lose deux potes, making them sit out for the rest of the game. The person who makes the closest guesses to the answers keeps their potes and head on to the final round, where they are asked a series of questions. The last question has four tv screens and they have to pick the correct number, where an amount of money they won lies behind the correct answer. The slow-motion shot of their reactions is just icing on the cake.

So Attention à la Marche, thank you... or should I say mercy buckets!
There are more beer reviews coming up, too, so stay tuned!

19 February 2007

More Sketching

This is a sketch that a friend had requested for a special little lady. now, it's a little mushy for my taste, but it's what was desired. Going off my theme of sad girls and water, this is a coquettish girl with frozen water... maybe it's similar? She should be sad and then it would make me happy. But don't listen to me.

After living here in Paris for a month, I'd like to say I am happily acclimated. The langauge is still tricky, but through watching gameshows and documentaries, I feel I am picking up on certain words faster than before. Speaking it... I am still worse than a 2 year old. It's mildly amusing! I've been working alot these last few weeks, which has forced me indoors. The weather being so nice today, I decided to give myself a bit of a break to go with Lily to discover my neighborhood. It's so nice. My favorite buildings are the older ones, with small windows and balconies, made with wood frame and stucco. So pretty. I want to start drawing them ALOT. The flowers are really coming out here now, with even the magnolia trees starting to bloom. Small daisies sprinkly the small grass greens as well.

Habits I really want to keep when it's time for me to head home:
-Using canvas bags when shopping instead of plastic
-no more drinking 2 liters of Diet Coke a day
-take time off on the weekends

Things I will enjoy when back home:
-Grossly long showers, where I can take 2 steps left and right and not be assaulted by a shower curtain
-My mum
-My Mama (the cat)

14 February 2007

Les Cimetières de Paris

13 February 2007

Slowly but Surely

So, the spray I got, made by Talens didn't quite have the result I was hoping for. I bought two types. One Picture Varnish Glossy for Oil Colour and the other Acrylic/Oil Colour. It works the same as Crystal Clear over watercolor, but when trying to use either over the oil layer, disaster!! So, my search continues for a Crystal Clear source, but I will have to continue with the watercolor techinique. I've had some very helpful people give some guidance on supplies here in Paris, but the spray remains elllllllusive.

The BHV proved to be a great source for art supplies... and everything else that I would like to buy! My new favorite store, thanks for the recommendation Maral et Antoine! I almost dropped 100 euro in the children's book department. I only wanted a lightbulb and those tempting books almost broke my budget. There is something substantially different about the illustrative look in european childrens market. I can't nail exactly what it is, but I like it... ALOT. Enough that it makes me want to bust the hump more and show some stuff to these publishers. I have some summer plans for a better portfolio though, so perhaps we'll wait.

I did some sketching this weekend after visiting some of the city's cimetries... but the scanner is misbehaving. I hope to have it up and running tomorrow. Sheesh! It might be time for me to bite the bullet and get myself my own laptop. We'll see.

In the meantime, here's my new setup. Still hunched over, but enjoying the bustling street below.