north hall

north hall, uc davis

The series of these old brown campus buildings continues with North Hall. I stood opposite on lunchtime of St. Patrick’s Day, wearing my green 1994 World Cup Ireland football shirt (the one Ray Houghton wore when scoring the winner against Italy) (not the actual one, you understand, but one that looks just like it). North Hall is another century-old building, just north of South Hall funnily enough. Hey, check out this timeline of when campus buildings were constructed – it’s very informative. I may yet draw them all, those that remain anyway. That has to be the ambition though doesn’t it? To draw all the buildings on campus? Can it be done? I’ll give it a good old go, let me tell you.

three years later

EOPI Office UC Davis
One thing about sketching UC Davis for such a long time now is that you get to see how buildings change, if not necessarily in appearance, certainly in name. The last time I sketched this building was in March 2011, three years ago if you do the math (sorry, I mean, do the maths), when there was also pink blossom on that tree. Back then, it was the Cross-Cultural Center. I seem to recall it was empty for a while, but used by some student groups in an unofficial capacity. These days it is known as the Educational Opportunity Program Information Office Building Type Thing Place, which admittedly is a long name. Spring in Davis, weather in the upper 70s and low 80s, last opportunities to draw those tree shadows on buildings.

While sketching this, I was listening to a podcast about Hadrian’s Wall. I have been listening to Melvynn Bragg’s “In Our Time” series of podcasts, which go back more than a decade and cover a wide range of topics from history to science to culture, and so on. Highly enjoyable listening while you sketch. I did however have to stop and finish this off at home, but I did about 90% of the penwork (added some of the detailing later) on site and coloured it in at home while watching, well, the final season of Star Wars: The Clone Wars on Netflix. From one Empire to another.

urban sketching: complete guide to techniques

Thorspecken book1I am pleased to tell you that some of my drawings are currently to be found in an excellent new book by fellow Urban Sketcher, Thomas Thorspecken, the USk correspondent in Florida. You should check out his website Analog Artist, Digital World. I have been a fan of Thomas (aka Thor) for a few years now, for his colorful and energetic sketches of performances and events, and have sought his advice in the past – you can learn a lot from him. Well, he came out with a book, which is very much a ‘how to do it’ book, right down to giving advice on scanning and correcting images in Photoshop (which is very familiar territory to a regular sketchblogger), as well as nuts and bolts such as perspective and composition, even giving step-by-steps by Thomas and other artists. I’m honoured to have been included; here is one of mine:

Thorspecken book2And another:

Thorspecken book3Thanks for including me Thomas! To everyone else: buy the book! Learn a lot!

south hall

south hall uc davis
This is South Hall, UC Davis. One of the oldest buildings on campus. There is another building next to it called, er, North Hall. There used to be a West Hall as well but they got rid of that one. There was no East Hall of course, that would be silly. South Hall is more than a hundred years old, and was originally a student dormitory, but now houses such things as Advising Services. Sketched over a lunchtime and coloured in later on.

and death shall have no dominion

covell blvd barn, davis CA
There is an old barn out on Covell Boulevard in Davis, on the edge of town in the flat wilds of Yolo County, weather-beaten and rusty, propped up defiantly like an old tramp. It is a popular icon, photographed and probably painted many times before as if it represents a little slice of “America Lost”, because as you know we don’t need barns any more, we just download all our hay these days. We’ve passed this barn so many times, and for the past couple of years my son has been insisting that I sketch it. I was waiting for the right moment. It’s kind of far away to draw too well, you can’t go an sit right up to it (well you can but you’d be trespassing, and I have this image of Yosemite Sam in farmer’s dungarees chasin’ after me shootin’ away at my heels). I sat across the street near the shops (yes there is a supermarket and a Rite-Aid and all sorts of other shops right opposite, sorry to spoil the image of rural idyll) while cars and trucks whizzed past. It was a nice overcast Sunday morning. And now the Barn is drawn. Can’t beat an old barn. I can’t imagine it is too long for this world, and there is a big housing development happening up in this area in the near future called The Cannery, so the times are a-changing; all things must pass, etc and so on.

don’t go breaking my hart

hart hall, uc davis
Hart Hall, UC Davis. That is George Hart, not the guy who invented Morph, was named after three different body parts and who regularly asked kids all over Britain to send him drawings they would never get back for a gallery they would see only briefly. I suppose there are a lot of Harts. Miranda Hart, Joe Hart, White Hart Lane, and my old drama teacher at Edgware School, Mr Hart. Actually I used to work for a Hart called Mike who owned a bookstore, a top bloke by the way. But this is Hart Hall, a nationally recognized historic building no less. Many years ago it was called ‘Animal Sciences’ (which would be a good name for a bad 80s film) and glows a nice colour in the sunshine, though you’ll have to take my word for it, as I didn’t really fancy painting it that day. Sketched in brown uni-ball signo um-151 pen in a stillman & birn alpha book.