I am catching up, slowly. This is another one from UC Davis, Valley Oak Cottage, over at the Arboretum’s Headquarters. It’s a stones-throw from where I work (admittedly quite a big stones-throw, and no, campus health-and-safety officials, I don’t throw stones around to determine distance). Another one where I stood and drew all the ink on site but added the colour in later. I’ve had to do this a lot lately, rather than paint on site, because of three very important reasons. First, lunchtimes are limited and my level of detail is increasing. I do love drawing so much that the colouring in is just an afterthought. An important one but not as important to me as drawing on site, getting all the perspective in there, etc. I do prefer to add the colour from real life but I’m not all that with paint anyway. So basically, if I have a short amount of time I have to prioritize, then my priority is inkwork first. Also my sketchbook, the Stillman and Birn Alpha landscape, is bigger than I used to use and bigger sketches take longer. Second, lately I have actually been enjoying doing big complicated sketches in the daytime, and then having something to colour in at night while watching television. It’s like I’m drawing myself a colouring-in book. You have no idea how satisfying it feels. Actually its better when I draw superheroes rather than trees and buildings, but it’s still fun. Third, I actually lost my favourite little waterjar, then one I used for years, and then a couple of weeks ago I broke my only other favourite small waterjar, the back-up one, sketching at Picnic Day. It smashed all over the kerb, just before the marching band arrived, scattering broken glass all over where we were sitting, good job there Pete. So I need to get a new little jar, and then I can paint on site again. My previous experiments with waterbrushes didn’t really pay off for me. So there you have it. I must say though, it’s Spring and all the leaves are back, and, meh, I don’t like drawing foliage.
This is a quick lunchtime sketch of a new piece of public art in Davis (and there is so much new public art in Davis), located near the entrance to the Arboretum behind Davis Commons, on the bike path (yes, there are so many bike paths in Davis). A few months ago I recall the Arboretum was asking for donations of shovels (or spades as I call them), and this ultimately was the result: the Shovel Gateway. It was commissioned by the Davis Arts Council and the UC Davis Arboretum as part of the renovation of that whole area (it’s now the ‘Arboretum and Public Garden’) and was designed and built by sculptor Chris Fennell. More than 400 shovels make up the sculpture. It almost resembles a laurel wreath, and is an interesting and welcome addition to Davis’s scenery, and an opportunity for thousands of people in the coming decades to make bad jokes when they see it like, “I really dig that”. We can handle that.
I got a new camcorder, so I thought it would be fun to try it out by videoing a quick sketch in progress. Easier said than done of course! Here though is a quick demonstration on how I approach a sketch. I had to use the waterbrush (I prefer a regular brush and a little jar of water, but had forgotten it), and this being quite impromptu was rushed a little but, as Alan Partridge might say, you get the general idea. This is a bridge in the Arboretum. Once I’ve got the hang of this I’ll do a nicer video of me sketching a building or something. I can’t stand drawing foliage…
Last Saturday the sketchers of Davis got together for another sketchcrawl at the lovely Arboretum. Eight of us there were, and some lovely sketches were made. I didn’t do a great deal, just a couple of pages, but it was a pleasant afternoon. I wanted to draw pages of foliage, but didn’t get very far. Above is fellow sketcher Carrie, sketching at the Arboretum Terrace. In the bottom left corner, a turtle sat basking in the sunshine by the creek. Below, sketchcrawl regulars Marlene and Cynthia draw bridges, and so do I. Nice place, the Arboretum. Peaceful.
Join us for another sketchcrawl in Davis, California! It’s Spring, the blossom is out, and it’s time to head back to the UC Davis Arboretum (http://arboretum.ucdavis.edu/). We’ll meet at 11:00am at the Arboretum Terrace, which is a little garden area next to Whole Foods, at Davis Commons (the corner of 1st st and Richards). From there we will go to the Arboretum proper, either in a group or individually as you prefer, and sketch all afternoon, meeting up again at 3:00pm at the Wyatt Deck, on the south side of Lake Spafford.
This sketchcrawl is free and open to anyone with an interest in sketching. Feel free to spread the word! All you need is something to draw with and something to draw on.
Hope to see you there!
Tottenham Hotspur beat Arsenal today, 2-1. To those of you who don’t know what I’m talking about, don’t worry, this isn’t a post about the footy/soccer, but I just wanted to say that. AVB very much In. Anyway… this is a desert agave, sketched at the UC Davis Arboretum last week when, in my busy days of program reviews and mountainous inboxes, I really needed to go and draw something organic at lunchtime. The Arboretum has such an abundance of interesting foliage that I really am blessed it is mere steps from my office. In fact, the next Let’s Draw Davis sketchcrawl (I wasn’t able to organize one in February) will be at the Arboretum, I think. Saturday March 16th, from 11-3, starting at the Arboretum Terrace and ending at the Wyatt Deck. Details to be posted soon. In the meantime, I’m off to celebrate our victory in the North London Derby.
Sketched at lunchtime today, a path in the UC Davis Arboretum. I had wanted my first sketch of the day to be of the space shuttle Endeavour piggybacking a jumbo jet on its way across the Californian sky. But I missed it. IT flew over the State Capitol in Sacramento, and then headed towards the Bay Area, before flying to LA forever. From Davis, you could make it out but it was pretty far. I had a meeting, and when it was over I rushed up to the stairwell of my building to see if I could spot it. I didn’t stay there very long, I heard it was already flying over Stockton, so I left it be. Still, nice to know it was out there, making its final journey. The space shuttle, dudes, gone forever. Still it’s not like it was the Millennium Falcon or anything, it didn’t exactly fly back and forth to Saturn or warp to Alpha Centauri, being more of a bus into the upper atmosphere. But what a ship! It fired my imagination as a kid, and I still remember vividly the day Challenger blew up in 1986, with that awful two-headed explosion. I had cut a picture of it from the paper and put it on my wall, along with a group portrait of all the astronauts, back when being an astronaut was pretty much the pinnacle of human existence as far as I was concerned. I don’t know if I ever wanted to be an astronaut (the space suits and the food put me off) but I loved the Shuttle, loved space. (By the way, UC Davis has produced at least two NASA astronauts, Tracey Caldwell and Stephen Robinson) Alas, today was not the day for me to see it.
So I sketched at lunchtime in the Arboretum and listened to a podcast about Proto-Indo-European instead. All about Grimm’s Law! With a little bit of Verner’s Law! Philology, comparative linguistics, consonant shifts – now that’s my real space shuttle. Been a while since I studied that but listening to the podcast, it all came back, and I had the old urge to start grabbing some foreign dictionaries and making lists. Instead, I just finished my sketch, and went back to work.
It is too hot. I’m sorry Davis, but you have to sort out these summers. Hundreds, and getting hotter, so KCRA3 Weather Plus Chief Meteorologist Mark Finan says (you have to use his full title or he makes it get even hotter). This lunchtime, I went down to Putah Creek and stood beneath the shade of a big bridge and drew it. There are all these little wooden barriers, dams even, up and down the Creek at the moment. A whole crowd of ducks pulled up at one point, stared at the wooden board quietly, looked around at each other, and then started quacking furiously. I could translate what they were saying as WTF?!?! (Or QQQ?!?! in duck-txtspk) It was like in Donald Duck, you know when he gets angry and goes red and steam comes out of his nostrils and he boils up into a rage, it was like that but with about twenty-five ducks. Actually it kind of reminded me of a bunch of commuters. Now they would have to get out of the Creek and walk, oh QQQ, it’s hundred quacking degrees and I have to quacking waddle? For duck’s drake. Actually, being the Olympics I’m wondering whether it’s not some sort of dressage or hurdles thing, perhaps they are expecting the ducks to jump over them. Not quacking likely.
Lake Spafford, in the Arboretum area of UC Davis, sketched on a lunchtime, a not very interesting lunchtime, one in which I head out on my bike and go, so what am I going to draw? There’s nothing I want to draw today. No, not that, done that, no not that, too much greenery. Actually, no, I will sketch that, I know I ‘only just sketched’ that but that was actually 2007; god I feel like I’ve been in Davis a long time, and these long hot summers are really getting to me. Seriously – you go to San Francisco, less than an hour and a half away, and pass through some sort of invisible force field where it suddenly gets thirty to forty degrees cooler. They should make it illegal, this heat. Oh, it’s just the Sun exercising his right to free speech, the Sun is people too, the Sun has a right to bear UV Rays. Where I’m from we only let the Sun out three or four times a year and even then it has to behave itself. Actually where I am from the Sun listens in on your phone conversations and goes through your bins. So anyway, I sat in the shade, like this fellow here, and sketched away. I’m freckly, I have red hair. I am not anti-Sun, I just believe in traditional weather…
Since coming back from London (and I still have a few more sketches to post) I have done very little sketching. Next to none, in fact, bar the odd thing here or there. I realised however that it was high time to get back out there, now that the weather is not in the ‘phew-what-a-scorcher’s, and went out at lunchtime yesterday to sketch a familiar scene. I sketch this view every summer at around this time, since 2007, and the view changes every year. When I first sketched it in 2007 the building at the front, King Hall, was not even there, and you could see all of Mrak Hall in the distance without interuption. Preparation for the law school extension began a year later, followed by slow construction, and I charted its progress until last year’s sketch showed completion. Now there is no change from last year to this, so this may be the last time I sketch the view. Still, it’s a peaceful little spot, right beside Putah Creek, which is increasingly green at this time of year.