If you had to come back as a monster machine, this one is about as badass as you can get. I can’t believe I just used the word ‘badass’ because I’m not twelve, but really there aren’t many other available words in our lexicon that can describe this thing quite as well (and it’s anatomically accurate too, the big chainsaw thing being at the rear). I saw this machine near Shields Library on the UC Davis campus, I believe its purpose is to open up the Earth’s core and tear out its soul; either way when you show up for work in the morning this is the machine you want to be playing with. Give this one a parking ticket, I dare you, I double-dare you. When you absolutely positively got to rip up every piece of sidewalk on the street, accept no substitute. It looks like something out of Robot Wars. I sketched this in the Seawhite of Brighton sketchbook, with a micro pen that has seen better days.
It’s all about the ninjas these days. This is a ‘Ninjago’ red ninja fire mech, oh yes it is. What exactly that is I’m not quite sure; the Ninjago world is something a little beyond me, though the boy is watching enough cartoons (“Masters of Spinjitsu”, I kid ye not) this week to give me an education. This is what all the kids are into now. You have to be careful not to plan too far ahead at Christmas time, not get too many things on the original list, because the list changes fast and there are all new things to add. All the endless ads and target catalogs don’t help, but mostly it’s guided by the trends in the kindergarten playground. Next week it’ll be something different. I remember being that age – it was all Star Wars, no Battlestar Galactica, no Mr Men, no Hammer House of Horror (honestly, we played that more than anything at our school).
Right now, Lego is the main thing, the super-hero sets mostly but now it’s Ninjago that fires the imagination. Kids love ninjas. I remember when the Turtles first appeared, a little bit after my time to be into them, but in England they weren’t called ‘Ninja’ Turtles. The were the “Teenage Mutant Hero Turtles”. Ninja was deemed too violent a word or concept. Eventually that changed. Ninjago is just Ninjago, but with added whole-point-is-to-sell-more-toy-sets commercialism which the kids lap up. So do the adults, they enjoy looking for and buying all these things every bit as much, don’t tell me they don’t. My son, he’s at the age where he really enjoys building the Lego sets from the instructions now, all those tiny little pieces. Lego is different from when I was a lad, smaller, more complicated, lose one miniscule piece and basically the whole thing may not work. I like to build them too, but mostly I like to draw them. This is another entry the sketchbook of in my son’s stuff, a Stillman & Birn Alpha book.
I’ve not been sketching much lately, so not posting much…but I realized, I still haven’t quite finished posting from Barcelona! My people sketches, for one thing. The view form my hotel room as well, which is above, sketched in purple. So anyway, here finally are my people sketches, mostly from the evening drink’n'draw sessions at the CCCB and dinners with old sketching friends afterwards. So many great sketchers from around the world, old friends to catch up with such as Gerard, Jason, Liz, Lapin, Omar (and many more!!!), so many that I was meeting for the first time such as Stuart Kerr (who is a great character, love to hang out with him more some day), the french urban sketchers (I’ve been following for a while so was great to meet them all), and the Spanish urban sketchers, many of whom I met in Lisbon but I bumped into many across Barcelona. Plus the sketchers who had travelled from Asia, quite a big Singapore contingent, including Tony Chua and Parka, whose work I recognized as soon as I saw their sketchbooks. I wasn’t part of the Symposium itself, and how well that worked out for me I’m not really sure about (I was a little disorganized), but it was great to catch up with so many old friends, though all at once was quite overwhelming. So here are my sketches!
Below is Sue Pownall, the excellent artist from Britain who travesl the world, currently living in Oman, and I had the great pleasure to meet her again in London. Kumi Matsukawa was there too, from Japan, we met in Portland in 2010, I love her work. Another sketcher I was meeting for the fiorst time was Debo Boddiford, who I know from Flickr, and who has a wonderful southern accent. It’s funny to hear people’s voices having only read their words online. People probably think that about me!
On the Friday evening I went for dinner with the French and Belgian sketchers. I’d only met my friend and sketching hero Gerard Michel and his nephew Fabien Denoel before, and had a great time meeting and chatting with them (though I kept forgetting to speak French, though I can understand it). Gerard is sketched above; below are some of the others there that evening.
On the Saturday there was an end-of-sketchcrawl meeting, at which I caught up with many others. There’s Marc Taro, urban sketcher from Montreal, Eduardo Bajzek from Brazil, Stuart Kerr form Scotland, Rita Sabler who I met in Portland in 2010, Parka from Singapore (wow what a sketchbook he has!!), Simone Rudyard from Manchester, Amber Sausen from Minnesota, and Julie Blaquie and Martine Kervagoret from France.
These final few were form the final gathering at CCCB (into which non-badged sketchers were initially barred from crossing the barrier, unlike previous symposia); Mark Leibovitz from New York, Daniel Green from Minnesota, and Matthew Brehm from Idaho, who I know from previous USk symposia, a great guy and a great teacher.
Below was at a nice meal on the Saturday evening, attended by Paul wang (Singapore), Omar Jaramillo (Germany, orig. Ecuador), Yara (Germany, orig. Brazil), Nina Johansson (Sweden), Liz Steel (Australia), Jason Das (USA), Suhita Shirodkar (USA, orig. India), Virginia Hein (USA) and me (USA, orig. UK). What a worldwide line-up!
And finally, my wife Angela, eating paella on the Sunday afternoon. I love Barcelona!
And another bar sketch for you, this one from a few weeks ago at the City Hall Tavern, into which I popped after sketching the Wealth of Nations band. Nice beer. Revolving bicycle wheels on the ceiling. Two and a Half Men was on the TV, for some reason (hence the blank TV screen, I simply cannot reproduce such unparalleled artistic genius on paper). Above the bar, a quote Benjamin Franklin once said to help bars sell more beer (“Beer is proof God loves us and wants us to be happy,” he said apparently, but I suspect he said that about a lot of things). Bars like random beer quotes. That one by George Best about spending most of his money on women and beer (and the rest he just squandered) is often decorated proudly on pub walls, unflinching in its sad irony. I had the ‘Hell or High Watermelon’ beer. Halfway through sketching, the bad TV went quiet (hooray!) and the tables were cleared from the centre of the room (booo!) to make way for some sort of space for people to move around to loud thumping music, so I had to relocate to the bar to draw the details there. As the more well-dressed-for-a-night-out people started coming in, I finished up and called it a day. Another bar sketch done.
Incidentally I still have a few first-run copies of my short self-made bar-zine on my Etsy store, “Davis Bar-By-Bar“. I plan to print more and make further volumes, and if I ever get time, put together a book. Ah, time gentlemen, please.
Another bar sketch. After a week of work, a Friday evening of footy followed by more of an evening of art and more art plus a little live music, I finished off the exhaustion with a session of sketching, comic reading and beers at De Vere’s Irish Pub, which was loud and busy. I squeezed into place at the bar to sketch in intricate detail, which is oddly relaxing after hectic days. A quite drunk guy from germany started talking to me after a while, telling me how he was going to single-handedly cure cancer. A guy in a Chile football shirt chatted to me about the World cup next year and was impressed I knew about Colo Colo winning the Libertadores Cup two decades ago (I remember their funny old kit). Others just said, oh nice drawing dude, which is always nice.
Here are a couple from my second visit to the monthly meet-up of local classic automobile enthusiasts in the parking lot of a shopping mall a couple of blocks from where I live in north Davis. This was the last meet of the year, and I managed to get there with enough daylight left to sketch more than one car this time. The yellow car on top is an actual racecar, which races locally for Team Tinyvette (they have a Facebook page) and races in something called 24 Hours of LeMons (this is a vehicular urban sketchers dream if ever there was). I understand the pun ‘LeMons’ because my son’s a big fan of Cars 2. Anyway the driver of this car is called Mike.
This beauty is an Austin Healey. The owner was very happy to find out that I was British, and talked about the history of Austin Healey and how the guy who made them refused the make any more after the powers that were decided in the 70s to make several safety features (such as shoulder seatbelts) mandatory. I don’t know much about any of that but this is a gorgeous car, classic old British style.
I must visit the California Automobile Museum in Sacramento again some time. I’m itching to sketch more old classic cars…
A couple of weeks ago, I went downtown on a Saturday evening (nursing an injured leg, having pulled my groin playing football) and saw a local band called Wealth of Nations playing in the E Street Plaza. An excuse for some night-time sketching, and to listen to some good music. I had sketched the singer David Hafter before at the Farmer’s Market a couple of years ago, he has a great voice. I had happened across the band earlier in October while passing Armadillo Music and recognised his voice as I was passing by, so popped in to listen and to sketch (see below; the whole band were playing but the drummer was hidden).