Bye-bye 2014, Hello 2015. Where’s my hoverboard?

My 2014 sketches!

Happy New Year! I hope 2015 brings you everything you have always wanted. By which of course I mean hoverboards. I’m not even that worried about flying cars, holographic sharks and the abolition of lawyers, just hoverboards will do me fine. I do wonder if my early-teenage self would actually be quite unimpressed at the future we have ultimately ended up with, and yet if I think about it, the technological advances of the past twenty-five to thirty years are staggering. One look at my iPad and the instant access of the internet would blow my mind, until I use it to look up how many trophies Tottenham have won since the days of Gazza and Lineker and well, it was a stupid future anyway. Also, why do I have five remote controls, all which seem to do slightly different things in order just to watch TV? Why in general elections does electronic voting take longer to count than voting by hand? And why can’t I wind the window down if the car is not switched on? Tomorrow’s World has a lot to answer for. Nevertheless it is finally 2015, it is the future, and we’re stuck with it.

And so, posting a little later than I’d hoped, above is my run-down of all my sketches from 2014. More panorama-heavy than in previous years, with a lot of those wooden UC Davis buildings, and quite sparse once you get past August, after my trip back to London. It has been a busy year though, not all of it remembered in the medium of pen and ink.


Me as Hawkeye

2014 was a busy year. If I didn’t draw pictures the whole thing might be a bit of a blur to be honest. There was a fair bit of travel: we went back to London again, but also back to Dublin for the first time in 17 years. I got to visit Stratford-upon-Avon for the first time. We went to not one but two Legolands (California and Windsor), as well as a Christmas-time trip to Disneyland, where I met Captain America, my wife met both Mickey and Minnie Mouse, and my son got to fight Darth Vader with a lightsabre. I only made it down to San Francisco twice (I haven’t even posted the sketches from the second day-trip yet), but I did go on a nice sketchcrawl at UC Berkeley where I met some of the SF Bay Area sketchers.

I tried to draw more panoramas as you can see above, but that was due to what I called “Panoramathon” or “Januarama” or “Januaramarathon” (I never settled on a name), which was basically trying to draw as many two page panorama spreads in Davis as I could, in one month. Exhausted myself a bit after that but I did manage to do a panorama of the threatened Denmark Sketching Wren's City smStreet in London, which I’m proud of. My sketching highlight of the year though was organizing a really fun sketchcrawl in London based upon the theme of Christopher Wren, called “Sketching Wren’s City”. More art-wise, I had a sketch published in ‘Discover Art’ magazine in the UK, and several more in Thomas Thorspecken’s book on Urban Sketching. I was the official sketcher for the 2014 UC Academic Advising Conference, and was commissioned to sketch live musicians and skateboarders for a Yolo Arts event in Woodland. I also had two exhibits of my art and sketchbooks in Davis, most recently at First St Real Estate, and I also had the privilege of taking part in the Pence Gallery’s Art Auction and their Garden Tour.

It was a year of sports: there was the Brazil World Cup and all its biting action, the San Francisco Giants won the baseball World Series for the third time in three years, and Lredfox badge v4Aewis Hamilton won the Formula 1 championship. I took my son to his first Tottenham Hotspur match, in which Spurs beat Schalke in the grand old White Hart Lane. We both got several new football shirts. He played AYSO (the youth soccer organization) twice; in Spring I was the referee, but in Fall I was the coach, and our team (the Red Foxes) were amazing, winning all but the last game. I also designed the team’s badge (right). I bet Brian Clough never did that.

I also read a LOT of comics, most of them on my Marvel Unlimited app. I’d like to maybe do a post on my Year of Marvel, as I read over 700 comics in under twelve months which is probably excessive, but I am really starting to know my Namor from my Nova. The best thing I read though was the graphic novel about Brian Epstein, “The Fifth Beatle” by Vivek Tiwary and Andrew C. Robinson.

Do I have Resolutions for 2015? I always say ‘write more’ but I tend to burn myself out. I’ve already broke about twenty resolutions this year already and we’re barely a week in. Art Goals, well I don’t know, just blow with the wind I suppose. I discovered this year that I love making paper mosaics, and also paper decorations for the various holiday themes (I am still surrounded by so many snowflakes). Travel, I’d like to do that, time permitting. I’m really interested in the Urban Sketchers France meetup in Strasbourg, as it is 20 years since I first went to that city and I’d love to go back (I’m better at drawing now). I have all the eating and exercising and being nice to strangers and humans thing, but everyone has those, and they always have them in the worst possible month, January, when the world is by nature colder and depressing and more in need of cupcakes and milkshakes.

No, I have just one resolution for 2015. “HOVERBOARD”.

have yourself a merry little christmas

gingerbread house
Christmas is nearly here folks, how exciting! After all the present-wrapping-up snowflake-cutting-out and tree-decorating (I know ‘trimming’ is the word people prefer to sound proper, but I’m from Burnt Oak you see and trimming is what we used to do to our hedges, back when people in Burnt Oak used to have hedges), one thing remained. Well loads of things to be honest but we needed to make our Gingerbread House. I’ve never ever made one before, can you believe it? So this was a joint effort with my son, and I think you’ll agree it turned out nicely. So naturally I had to draw it. Ahem, next year’s Christmas card. My son did most of the actual decorating, while I worked on structural stuff and snow on the roof, writing on the wall, etc. I especially like the icicles. Well as a first effort it’s not bad, next year we’ll make a whole village…

My son and I listened to Christmas music while making it, and discussed that song The Twelve Days of Christmas. Because, seriously, really? Those are your gifts? So right, it’s the first day of Christmas, and you’re hoping for a nice pressie from your True Love, and he’s all, “um, er, yeah I got you a, er (quickly looks into the garden) a bird! In that pear tree out there look, it’s a partridge, just for you. Merry Christmas!” And it flies away. So next day you’re expecting something cool, an iPad or something, but he still hasn’t been to the shops you can tell, and you’re like, so… and he’s all “Ah, well, er, that partridge flew away so look out in the garden, there are two, what are they, pigeons? Doves? Turtles Doves! Just for you!” And you’re like, Turtle Doves? Bloody hell’s that? Do they have little shells on them? And then next day he pulls the same thing, more birds out in the garden, French Hens? Do they lay French Eggs? He must really think you like birds. Just because you watched that one documentary about birds and you said you liked birds, this always happens, it’s the only thing you get for Christmas, birthdays, anything, all bird-themed. Next day? Four more birds, “Calling Birds” he says they’re called, and you’re thinking “Can they call me a cab? To a luxury hotel?”, and he sees how disappointed you are with all the birds (“Are you avian a laugh?” he says to lighten the mood but one sharp look and he’s straight down the jewellers. Next day, that’s more like it, a golden ring, and it’s lovely. Oh, and then another, and another, and FIVE GOLDEN RINGS? Did they come in a set? When am I going to wear five golden rings, am I Mister T or something? Like, just get one really nice ring with a diamond. This guy has no clue. (At this point my son pipes in on the story, “those rings are probably really expensive too, could have gotten something a lot better with that money!” “What like Pokemon cards or Lego?” I ask. “Da-ddy!” he says) So next day it’s more birds, but this time it’s geese. Oh brilliant, a bunch of geese honking about pecking everyone, and what are they doing, ‘laying’? ‘Laying’ how exactly? Great thinking, do I live in a country park, do I look like I own a big pond? “Ah,” he says, thinking, “you probably won’t like what I got you for tomorrow then,” quickly getting on the blower to the customer service at “Swans-R-Us”. We determined that the rest of the song was probably just a reference to something else, maybe they went to see a Cirque du Soleil show, or perhaps watched a box set of Downton Abbey perhaps, but either way, next year perhaps Mr True Love should stick to the List and keep all the Gift Receipts.

Merry Christmas Everyone. Hope it’s a Good One.

tower of white

UC Davis watertower
Oh the sketching is back. I got out one lunchtime when it wasn’t rainy and walked along the UC Davis Arboretum, which runs by Putah Creek. I was on my way to eat from that little food truck outside the Mondavi. They do nice chicken-cheesesteak sandwiches. Anyway I realized it’s been a while since I last sketched the UC Davis watertower, so I stopped and drew it with the palm trees in the foreground. The bridge to the left was pretty hard to see behind the foliage so that got left out. Sketched in a Seawhite of Brighton sketchbook.

damp days

silo uc davis
The UC Davis Silo. We had a lot of rain this past couple of weeks. Last Monday it was raining, but I really wanted to sketch at lunchtime, so I did a quick one of the Silo’s tower while stood under some shelter. I wanted to colour it in a little so I did that too, but I had forgotten my water-jar. I crouched down and used water from a puddle. I must have looked a sight. I don’t care. Sketch done.

under dreaming spires

Disneyland Castle
The weekend of Thanksgiving was not spent gorging on leftover Turkey. Black Friday was not spent queuing up outside Best Buy at 4am to get $5 off an iphone or some other nonsense. No, the Scully Family went to the Happiest Place on Earth: Disneyland, California. We love Disneyland. Evidently a lot of other people do too because it was pretty busy, but fortunately my wife is an expert at strategizing Disneyland so we made full use of fast-passes, early entry, single-riders, and generally had a great time. Of course with the usual constant movement about, I only made time for a couple of sketches, and you can’t really sketch in line (no, you can’t, you really can’t. Those lines are long but they move). Above, Sleeping Beauty’s castle, all redecorated for Christmas. The Holiday Season at Disneyland is pretty mind-blowingly spectacular, the amount of decoration is incredible. In Cars Land for example the number of different types of cars-themed Christmas trees were staggering. I definitely recommend a visit. The Castle however is the centrepiece and was really pretty, especially at night. When the fireworks lit up the sky above, snow machines blew snowflakes over everyone. I drew it in the daytime as you can see. It was a warm day, t-shirt weather. My wife and son had gone back to the hotel for a nap (though actually they went and sat by the pool – late November folks, late November!) giving me some solo exploring time. I met them later to watch the parade, and we sat by the Disneyland Main St Station, where I did a quick sketch of Disneyland City Hall while waiting for the parade. No sketch of the parade though, you can’t really sketch parades, no you can’t, not really. Well, I can’t. Well I could, but I don’t want to.
Disneyland City Hall

I do love Disneyland, and would love to draw the whole thing. But you know how it is, you pay a lot of money to get in, you don’t want to sit in one place for two hours drawing a panorama when there’s so much to do! Like meeting Captain America. We did that. that was cool.

it’s chriiiiiiiistmaaaaaaaas

e st plaza xmas tree
Been lacking in postage lately, and sketches too, but I have been cutting out lots of paper snowflakes. I’ve been a bit sketch-lazy lately, or rather uninspired; my lunchtimes feel too short to sketch what I really want to sketch, my weekends too busy. I know, a weak excuse. I want to draw big panoramas, maybe I will do what I did last year at around this time and just explode into life. In the meantime, I sketched this a couple of weekends ago, on a cool Sunday afternoon (I say cool, some really annoying music was blasting over the loudspeaker outside Baskin-Robbins) which is actually why I didn’t draw/colour the whole thing. Rubbish music overpowering my own headphones is reason enough to move along. But enough bah-humbuggery! It’s Christmas! This is the Christmas tree standing in the E St Plaza, downtown Davis. I missed the official tree-lighting (not a downtown event I particularly warm to) so sketched the tree a few days afterwards. I presume those barriers are to hide the presents? We put our own tree up the day before. I love a Christmas Tree.

the changing of the guard

Mrak Hall, UC Davis
Well it is the Thanksgiving Holiday, and by this time of year in Davis the autumnal colours have really exploded into bloom. It happens that bit later than in most parts of America, it seems, and the transition between November and December is when it hits its peak. This is Mrak Hall, above, where the main administration for UC Davis sits. I sat on a bench one lunchtime this week (a more pleasant experience now that the campus is smoke-free) to sketch this view, and I remembered that I’ve sketched it in Falls gone by on a couple of other occasion. Below, December 2010, a couple of weeks or so later in the season. You can see how the red-tinged tree has turned more orange, while the yellow tree has started to thin out on top.

mrak hall in december

Let’s go further back in time to 2007. The same date, December 10th, and a similar rate of autumnalisation (not a word people use, but I just did) though with more leaflessness on the top of the trees (I neglected to draw the leaves on the ground, obviously too difficult for me back in 2007).

back in mrak

That top sketch of Mrak was the final sketch in watercolour Moleskine #13, which was the ‘Art-Plus’ version (and slightly inferior to all the other versions, paper-wise). This bottom sketch was from watercolour Moleskine #2, and the middle one from #6. Time for a new sketchbook!