Big rain storms rolled into California today. Late November can be a very colourful time of year, when the trees are bright yellow, fiery orange, deep reds, and leaves flutter down on every breeze. When the storms come it blows everything around, meaning what would otherwise be a grey and dismal day was in fact a beautiful, I mean really beautiful stormy morning. I walked to a meeting mid-morning, and could have walked on all day in the rain. The ground was covered in bright leaves, like a dusting of golden snow. I don’t have a window in my office so I can’t gaze dreamily out at the rain (I have to draw a picture of it on my whiteboard), but I can hear it on the skylight, tap-tap-tap, and by lunchtime it was pounding. I couldn’t wait to get back out, find a sheltered spot, and draw the colourful storm while it lasted. I listened to a history podcast about England’s medieval conquest of Wales and drew in the Moleskine. It’s funny, whenever it rains here people are often, oh no, rain, I don’t want to get my raincoat slightly wet in the brief dash from my car to Target, whereas I’m like, oh it’s just a bit of rain, grrr. So I scribbled down this cartoon in my notepad this afternoon. Thought you might like it.
Last Sunday was the November “Let’s Draw Davis” sketchcrawl, in the conveniently-located-across-the-street-from-me Community Park. Since it had been prophesied to be a cold day, only a few of us showed up, greeted by crisp autumn sunshine and blazing fall colours. after a very quick ‘people’ sketch or two I set to work on a panorama. The previous Friday evening I had attended a fun event at the Davis Art Center called the ‘Arty Party’, in which there was lots of drawing, some drinking and eating, and I even won a game of Pictionary, a game I’ve not played in a couple of decades, surprisingly. It was nice to get out and be social and talk to people about art, and in fact they will be selling some cards of my drawings in their annual Holiday Sale (Nov 30-Dec 2), including a recent one of the Art Center. I was talking about how I’d never drawn the building before, because it wasn’t an easy one to draw – trees in the way, lots of angles, it had always seemed very difficult. And then almost as soon as I had said it, I said to myself, difficult, huh? Really? So I determined to give it another go. I liked my first version – it says ‘Davis Art Center’ on it – but really wanted the panoramic version in my Moleskine sketchbook. I stood in the sunshine for just over two hours (my wife even came by and brought me a sandwich!) and sketched away. I started in the middle and worked my way outwards.
I didn’t end up doing any more sketches on the sketchcrawl (I popped back home to call my Mum in England and have a cup of tea), but met with the group at the library afterwards, where we all showed off our sketches. In the end I think about eight people came, which was pretty good for a cold day (though it wasn’t cold, really California, really..). Next one will be in mid-December, when it might really be cold…let’s keep drawing Davis!
Finally, here is the drawing of Davis Art Center I started on location before I went to Portland (and finished when I got back), showing the main entrance and part of a sculpture in the foreground. I love this place, they do a lot of good for our artistic community in Davis, and long may they do so.
Last week we held our November 2011 ‘Let’s Draw Davis!’ sketchcrawl, up at Community Park. It was a pleasant Fall day (and I had not yet heard about the previous day’s pepper spray incident), Turkey Trotters were out running across Davis, the park was full of autumnal colours and temperatures were not too cold, at least not for the first hour or so (after which it started to get chilly). The regular Davis sketchers were joined by several new faces, mostly from Davis, but also one, Portland Urban Sketcher Linda Daily, whom I had met up in Portland at last year’s Symposium.
We started off by drawing around the Davis Art Center and the amazing wooden playground Rainbow City. It’s a completely community-built playground, one of the greater examples of epic community work in Davis. One of the other sketchers, Landon, told me that he in fact had helped make it when he was a child. There I am below sketching with the little Scully.
I sketched some people; still practising my people sketches. Below are (top row, left to right): Allan Hollander from Davis (I’ve sketched Allan before a few times), Landon Christensen from Davis, Marlene Lee from Davis (another sketchcrawl regular). Bottom row, left to right, are: Salvador Castio from Stockton, Linda daily from Portland, and Jennica from Davis.
After some more park sketchng (I drew these old playground pieces; perhaps these used to be City and UCD fire hydrants in former lives, judging by their colours), we met up at the library, where we warmed up and chatted about sketching. I also showed off my library display. It’s so great to meet other sketchers, and see their books and their tools, and learn about their approach or reason for doing this. That’s the point of the sketchcrawls! And for me they’re always learning experiences.
This is Mrak Hall, the big powerful building at the heart of UC Davis. I have drawn this view a few times before, and in December too, because the leaves on these trees turn glorious colours at this time of year. This was a lunchtime sketch, a moment of much needed calm in the busy busy time of year.
He stands outside Chipotle and Peet’s Coffee n E Street, busking on his twelve-string at lunchtimes when I am there, sounding like Dylan, Nelson, Haggard; his music is very nice. He has one of those harmonicas you can play while guitaring; no cymbals at the knees though. Very distinctive with his long white hair, moustache, sunglasses; he has a long feather in his hat. One of the characters of Davis. He was singing a song about watercoloured wine while I was drawing this, munching on my burrito. It was cold outside; November is really kicking in. The Fall Colours have just exploded all around us, the trees have suddenly turned the colour of flames, and there’s no way I’ll keep up with them.
#28 of 30… the autumn of the series, “I hold my pen in an unusual way“. This is how it was last weekend. May be about a hundred today though. When it’s a hundred out that means it is still Summer, according to the Wikipeteia. One leaf does not an autumn make. Even so, the halloween candy is in the store. I love autumn, season of changes; but changes can sometimes be a pain, sometimes it is nice when yesterday is like today. I’m just looking forward to when I can wear nice warm jumpers again. I have so many, and yet I live in the scorching Central Valley.
The Belfry on A street (the street of the indefinite article). The colours of a blooming autumn (or whatever other expletive you wish to use). We are now foggy and grey so these enormous splashes of colour make a world of difference. I have drawn this building before of course, back in March, when the leaves that are now in the autumn or even winter of their lives were barely even buds. And look, I have drawn vehicles; I daresay there were probably vehicles parked here in the original, but I peteshopped them out. At least you can see the building in the original though.
I don’t know if there are any bats in this belfry. I remember when I first moved to Davis, and I read online about the bats of Yolo county, and how rabies was endemic in them. Yeah, that didn’t completely scare me. Funny things, bats. Their leathery wings always, for some reason, remind me of Lovejoy.
The afternoons are getting a little darker and a little cooler – I love this time of year, in any country. It makes me remember the various autumns in other years of my life – windy autumn days blowing up Highgate Hill, crisp October evenings waiting for a bus in High Barnet, massive purple skies and fireworks in Burnt Oak, mild golden mornings in Aix, pissing down grey afternoons in Belgium. And here in Davis, where until just last week summer was still going on, cool air starts coming into the Valley, rain begins to pour, my beloved jumpers/sweaters start to come out. I might even wear a scarf.
We’ve been living in Davis three years this week. This is the Fast Mart convenience store on the corner of B St and 2nd (sketched on the way to getting my haircut).
Until they think warm days will never cease
For Summer has o’er-brimm’d their clammy cells
(John Keats, To Autumn)
Drew this house – before the rains came, obviously – in Old North Davis, and it’s my first entry on the brand new Urban Sketchers website which officially launches today. Check it out! And, I am so honoured, the banner flag on the site for launch day is a photo of my own sketchbook, in SF.
Historic North Davis… a couple of blocks just north of 5th street, downtown, where the houses are old and the streets lined with trees and old america. It’s a historic area because it’s old, not because of any great historical event. Unless you count the 2000-01 tree stand-off against PG&E, where some residents, er, stood off against PG&E cutting down trees. Hey, fair play to them. PG&E don’t live there. Don’t mess with Davis. And if they cut down the trees, I’d have nothing to put in the foreground of my drawings, would I.
I think it was Ali G who said, “you may take our trees, but you will never take our freedom!”