on a street

A & Rice, DavisThis is on A Street, in Davis. Sorry, not ‘a street’, but “A” Street. It’s named after the letter “A”, in recognition of all the Amazing words A has given us, like “Aardvark”, “Apple”, “A”, “An”, “And”, “Abba”, all the A words. I sketched this at lunchtime today, the weather was ever so slightly cooler and more bearable, and I didn’t want to eat food. If I had been hungry this might have made me hungrier, for this is on the corner of A Street and Rice Lane. Rice Lane, of course, named after Rice, the food, in recognition of all the Amazing foods rice has given us, like “Rice Krispies”, “Rice Pudding”, “Rice”, “Things with Rice”, all the Rice foods. This is on the border of the UC Davis campus, where the smokers are banished now that the campus is 100% smoke-free. They come here and sit on the curb outside peoples’ houses. There’s one right across the street there. That curb was always red, it hasn’t been especially painted for the smokers, the ‘shame step’. You don’t see many smokers here in Davis, though, not like in London. Now I have sketched this very spot before back in March 2008; see below. Apart from the tree in the foreground (there’s a smoker hiding behind it), spot the difference.  

how i learned to stop worrying and love the A street

kits from the bottom

A few weeks into the footy season now (I will go back and add the new third kits to parts one and two…), cynicism and apathy are creeping back in, but we continue our look at the 2015-16 Premier League with the last teams in the division.



Newcastle have been very unloved lately, even by their own fans. It’s the owner. The past couple of seasons it has seemed they were trying to create the most apathetic team in history (though overpaid apathy is all too common in modern football). This un-Newcastle-ness has been spreading into the kits, with the much-hated Wonga sponsorship, and this season’s home kit, which features far too much blue. The famous black stripes actually turn blue as they move south, and the reverse of the short is plain white with blue accents, no magpie black at all. I don’t mind a blue trim on Newcastle (think the blue star, or their Asics kits from 1993) but this feels like too much. I’d love for Newcastle to get a different owner and come back with a massive roar, but it isn’t going to happen in this kit. The white away kit is handy if they face any teams who play at home in black (which is exactly none) while the third kit features half a salmon pink sash.


Both Tyne/Wear teams are in the Premier League, what a joyous time to support a club in the northeast oh never mind. Sunderland were pretty pitiful last year (how on earth did they and Newcastle both stay up?) and so far this season have looked deeply uninterested to the point where the manager Dick Advocaat said all the players are for sale. I have to say though, their home kit is pretty snappy this season. Wider stripes look good on Sunderland (though I’d love a return to the super-thin 80s stripes), and it is a smart cut. The away kit is green, green and green. Green is very popular for an change colour this year. By the way, I think both Newcastle and Sunderland will stay up again, because no matter how little they try, there’s always someone a bit more rubbish.


Which brings us on to Aston Villa, who are always a bit more rubbish. Yet paradoxically, no matter how awful they are, they never seem to get relegated, ever. Sherwood arrived to fire them up last season and they stayed alive, but already this year they look like they will run out of ideas fast (they’re above Spurs at the time of writing though…). Their kit supplier, however, will not. I like Macron kits, they’re always a bit more original, and Villa’s kit is sweet, with a collar reminiscent of the 1970s. The away kit is clean, and I’m always a fan of Villa’s yellow away kits (I like most yellow away kits, in fact) (did you know, for example, that Tottenham’s yellow change kit tradition stems from the fact that they had to ditch their usual navy kits when the it was deemed too close to the black shirts of referees? It’s why black kits were so rare until the Premier League era, when refs started wearing green, followed by other colours; Man United started the modern black kit trend in the English top flight in 1993-94, and many, many others followed, while yellow kits have been seen more rarely, only once every few years now at Spurs). Villa’s traditional away colour, incidentally, is white.


Oh sorry, I was doing Premier League clubs, I’ll get rid of this one.

What? Bournemouth are in the Premier League? BOURNEMOUTH? How did this happen? Well, they damn well earned it, that’s how. Eddie Howe, in fact, their brilliant young manager, created a free-scoring team that topped what was a very difficult Championship (what a season last year was! More interesting than the Premier League by a long way). I hope they do well, and hope they stay up. We’ve had some teams that joined the Premier League over the years that were pretty gobsmacking additions but did reasonably well for a while (Fulham, Barnsley, Wigan, Reading, Swansea) (by the way, how good are Swansea this year?!) but none have suprised me as much as Bournemouth. Ok, enough gushing, their residents have to be in bed early. The kits are nice, black and red stripes being the Cherries’ modern tradition since the 90s (though they had them for a while in the 70s), and there’s the Mansion sponsor again. The blue away kit is alright, while the pink will really stand out – less Cherry, more Strawberry Milkshake.


I remember when John Barnes was young, Graham and Elton having so much fun, playing cup finals and wearing red shorts…I can only go so far with this. I’m so glad Watford are back in the Premier League. I grew up roughly halfway between Watford and Tottenham, so have always had an affinity for the Hornets not as a second team exactly, but because I’ve known a few Watford fans, and they are a lot nicer than Arsenal, Chelsea and QPR fans. So, they’re back, and yeah, it isn’t going to last, and they may go through a few managers, but they have a very nominative-deterministic home kit. They are the Hornets, you see. Oh and they have a red stag as their badge. Black shorts is the tradition, but I like red shorts on them, because it reminds me of the glory days of the 80s. The away kit is all black. They are also sponsored by a betting company  – do you notice that more teams in the ‘lower half’ as it were have sponsorship by betting companies? I’m sure there’s no correlation, and betting companies don’t hold the game in its sway or anything. Newcastle are sponsored by loan sharks, while Villa are sponsored by accounting software, and Norwich by an insurance company. Money money money.


I love Norwich, because I have family up there. but I also like their kits when they are made by Errea. Errea make smart designs in the Italian fashion, and this year’s Norwich kit is interesting, bringing more green in to make halves. IT uses up all the green and yellow at the cliub though surely…oh no, the away kit is green with yellow pinstripes. Ok, maybe the home kit feels more yellow, so this is sensible, you know, it will look good against Watford, or Sweden, but in the unlikely event of playing the Nantes team of 1995, they must have a third kit that is blue or white or OH WOW. Ok, um, the third kit is yellow and green. And gold? With black shorts. Right. Er…it does actually look fantastic. No seriously, I LOVE this kit. Norwich and Errea have done it again. This kit reminds me of the style worn in the 1870s by those early teams  such as Wanderers or Royal Engineers, or later teams like Bradford Park Avenue.

…and an honourable mention for:


Oxford aren’t in the Premier League, don’t worry. That would be as ridiculous as saying Bournemouth were in the Premier League! (Hang on…) But their kit this season gets an honourable mention because it harkens back to the mid 1980s, when Oxford were not only in the old First Division (hey kids, that’s what we used to call the Premier League) but were actually a pretty decent team, even winning the Milk Cup (hey kids, that’s what we used to call the, um, er, what is the League Cup called nowadays?) John Aldridge played for them, so did Ray Houghton, in fact you might say the Oxford of 1986 beat the Italy of 1994. Dean Saunders played for Oxford in the 80s too, and Malcolm Shotton, er, Trevor Hebbard, you know, the list goes on. This season’s home shirt is made in-house and resembles that 1985-86 kit, which was made by Umbro. They’ve been promoting it with an 80s-style Subbuteo theme. The red and black away kit is a throwback to an away kit worn in the mid 1990s when they got promoted from the old Division Two to the old Division One. Yeah, those past glories.

There will be another kit-related post soon, looking at some of the teams from around Europe. But fear not! Drawings of Legos and streets and buildings will be back soon…

every. thing. awesome.

Legoland entrance, California

If you’ve been following any of my posts lately you may have seen that we like a bit of Lego, chez Scully. Last weekend we wet to Legoland, where everything actually is awesome. It was our second trip to Legoland California (and we went to Legoland Windsor last year too), and you might think that, well Pete loves sketching, he loves Lego, he loves sketching Lego, perfect yes? Well this was the only sketch I did, I was having too much Lego fun! It’s a great place for a seven year old (I’m not seven by the way, I’m pushing forty). We stayed a night at the Legoland Hotel, in a knight-themed room, and spent a lot of money in the Big Shop. What was nice about this trip was we spent the afternoons either at the hotel pool or at the really fun Chima water-park. Legoland is small enough that you can fit a lot in all in the morning, and it wasn’t particularly crowded, which was a surprise for the summertime. Last year at Windsor we waited almost an hour and a half just to get in! Here in Carlsbad there were very few long lines for rides (unlike at Disneyland), and we could just go back to the hotel for a rest if we wanted. The Star Wars section is better this year, with a huge Death Star and a bit where my son and I built little spaceships. Yes, everything was awesome. We will be back.

those magnificent lego men and their flying machines

ninjago ronin rex

I hope you like Lego, because you’re just going to keep seeing more of it on this sketchblog. Denmark’s Greatest Invention. Occasional bane of my bare feet on the carpet. I’ve been busy Lego-sketching, especially mini-figures, so many mini-figures. You’ll get to see those once I’ve coloured them in. That won’t take too long. In the past week I have also been to Legoland, where you might imagine I did a lot of sketching. You might imagine it would be the perfect sketch-paradise for someone like me. Well in fact I only managed one sketch because Legoland is so much fun! More on that another time. This was done before the trip, and is one of my son’s newer Lego sets, the Ninjago Season 5 ‘Ronin REX’. You have no idea the anxious wait for the season 5 Ninjago stuff to come out (my son’s anxious wait, not mine, but yes mine too). It was agonizing, and all the more so because when I had been in England in June I had seen all of these and didn’t buy any to bring home, figuring they would probably be out in the US already (same reason I am still new-Tottenham-shirt-less). Two months he waited, saving his money (I say his money, I gave it to him). In the meantime the show came out, and then finally the toys were in the shops. He really wanted this particular set, which has one of those Airjitzu things actually built into it, and he even entered a competition to win it, just in case (I told him that if he does win, we’ll keep the second one in its box and sell it in a few years time for three times the original price). This is the flying vehicle of the Han-Solo-esque scoundrel character Ronin, introduced in season 5, and I must say that the shape of the ship (and the colour scheme of Ronin) really reminds me of Slave 1, Boba Fett’s ship. I drew this in the book of my son’s things, which is becoming ever more Lego-heavy. As it should!

you terrestrial gastropod molluscs and your guns

slugterra blaster

This is another of my son’s toys. It is called a Slug-Terra Blaster, or something like that. It is what they use in the TV show “Slug-Terra”, which he really likes. It’s actually not a bad cartoon, but the premise of it is that they are in some sort of underground world where slugs are not only intrinsic to the society somehow but are used as weapons. Well, they fight on behalf of their owners, a bit like Pokemon I suppose, I don’t know. All the slugs have different abilities, some get really close to their owners, and then they get blasted out of these things, and then it’s all zap, pow and ka-blam. Oh there are evil slugs too. Now these slugs are all different colours and have names, but this isn’t a society of slugs, the people are all either humans (I think), trolls (maybe), or weird mole-folk (I really have no idea). One of those has a comedy Mediterranean accent. Or are the evil slugs zombies? Or wraiths? I don’t actually pay much attention. So you can imagine my son’s excitement when we spotted these at Toys R Us (I always wonder how that store got its name, did they got through a lot of other stupid combinations before settling on that one, “Toys Am We” “Us Is Toys”, “Toys Er America”, “Help”) (I used to call it “Toys Ya Us” because that backwards R looks like a Russian “Ya” (я). This was during the Cold War as well so I’m surprised people didn’t think it was some sort of Russian spy agency, I mean it all fits in the name…Cold War conspiracy theory at slightly higher prices than other stores, I like it!). So, this doesn’t works like a toy gun with a trigger (we’re not really into the toy gun thing, all the Nerf rubbish. Fingers and saying “pew! pew! pew! is fine though). Instead, it has a spring mechanism inside, you pull back the handle, let go and the little slug comes out. He has another blue one which looks cooler than this but I didn’t draw it, so you’ll have to imagine how cool it is (or watch the show! If you watch the show maybe you can help explain it to me).

where the streets have a slightly different name

Streets pub Sacramento
This is the midtown Sacramento pub called ‘Streets’. Click on the image to see it in closer detail. This pub was formerly known as the ‘Streets of London’, but they decided to drop the ‘of London’ part presumably in an effort to appear more inclusive to the other metropolitan centers of the UK and indeed the more rural counties. They could have gone further and called it ‘Lanes’ or ‘Highways and Byways’. They have an actual National Express Coach-stop sign outside the pub, and still have a number of British-themed (specifically London-themed) objects in the pub, but not as much as they used to. When I first came here back in 2006 or whenever it was, they had football shirts and scarves hanging from the ceiling. Those are sadly long gone (and you know how much I love football shirts). Otherwise though the pub really hasn’t changed a lot. One TV ahead of me was showing the Giants baseball, another was showing French football (which these days just means ‘PSG and someone else’, you know how much I don’t like seeing PSG). It’s been a long time since I was in here last, but I have wanted to do a panorama sketch of its brick walls and cozy layout for ages. I hadn’t planned on it; we spent the morning in Arden Fair mall, mostly at the Lego store (and you know how much we love Lego). I then took the opportunity to go to midtown Sacramento, to look at all the goodies in the University Art store on J Street. I picked up a ‘Cathedrals of the World’ colouring-in book (and you know how much I love drawings of the Cathedrals of the World). I then wandered about looking for something new to sketch, but by now it was hot, very hot. Very very hot. I considered sketching the historic Governor’s Mansion (which I last drew in, um, 2007) but could not find the right angle, what with all the big trees in the way (stupid trees, providing shade from the oppressively hot sun and the air we breathe). Maybe I will come back in winter.

By this point, the searing heat was giving me a headache, and I had to cool off urgently. So I went back over to Big Brother Comics on J Street, bought the latest issue of ‘Thors’ (one of the very fun and inventive books from Marvel’s ongoing ‘Secret Wars’ event; the ‘Thors’ are like the cops of Battleworld, and this plays like a classic cop drama, but, you know, with more hammers and lightning), and popped into the Streets of London pub to cool off and read. Sorry, ‘Streets’. No more humming Ralph McTell. After finishing ‘Thors’, I thought, ah what the hell (sorry, what the ‘hel’, Thor joke) and started to sketch a panorama. I sketched quickly and drank my two beers slowly (one after the other, not slowly at the same time). It wasn’t particularly busy, but the staff were friendly and the atmosphere nice. At one point a large party of Sunday pubcrawlers came in, had a pint, and left. I remember this being a thing the last few times I have been at this pub. There are a bevvy of boozers in midtown now, and I imagine an afternoon pub-crawl with all your friends on a hot Sunday in mid-August would be quite a lot of fun, but you don’t get to spend long enough in any place to enjoy it before the fastest drinker in your crowd claps his hand loudly and orders you to move on (that’s what happened here). They do have these pedal-powered contraptions now that groups of people ride on, all pedaling, drinking water, being directed from pub to pub, while yelling ‘wooh’ and ‘yeah’. The pub returned to quiet Sunday afternoon peace very quickly, but I had to get the bus home to Davis. I finished off adding all the paint the next day. Another pub sketch checked off the list!

building the pitzer, part three

pitzer center uc davisContinuing my series of sketches showing the Ann E Pitzer Center going up on the site of the old Boiler Building. Two different angles a week apart, you can see that the front frames have gone up now, rising like a musical crescendo (is that the word? I don’t do musical terms). Exciting work this summer…pitzer center uc davis