Continuing the theme of these similar looking buildings on the UC Davis campus, this is the Gunrock Pub, part of the Silo complex where I have had lunch so many times. It used to be called the Silo Cafe, or the Silo Pub, but now it takes its name from Gunrock, the equine UC Davis mascot. This, like the others, was furiously sketched over a lunchtime with the colour added in afterwards. I’m filling this S&B Alpha landscape sketchbook fast.
Haven’t drawn a two-page panorama since the end of January, and now trees have leaves, which means drawing a lot more foliage. Now here is a difficult building to sketch – “Third and A”, on the corner of 3rd and, surprisingly, A. Two imaginatively titled streets equal an imaginatively titled building, yes, but an imaginatively designed building it is. I have never in all my time in Davis been able to attempt it. You can’t really see it properly; the trees block its shape, it goes in and out bringing unusual shading, and you can’t really fit it comprehensively onto a page. What’s that Pete, a challenge did you say? So I did my first two-page spread in the Stillman & Birn Alpha landscape book, sat outside on a Sunday afternoon while the rest of the family went to a kids birthday party miles away. I had all afternoon to sketch, so I took all afternoon to sketch. Over three and a half hours! Actually it may have been more than that, all said. Sure it was a LOT of observation. There was a LOT of detail. I also added the colour on site. I was hurting afterwards. Still, I am very pleased with the result, and while it’s a lot of detail, it was what I was after. And now I have finally checked this building off of my Davis must-sketch list, and keeps the brown wooden buildings theme going in my current sketchbook. Here are some close-up views for those of you who don’t have a zoom feature in your non-mechanoid eyes:
I am always busy at this time of year, from January to early April, and yet every year I find I have a burst of sketching activity, which then tails off as the trees lose their leaflessness, and we move into the Spring Sneezing Season. I have a little time left, but those leaves are a-growing, that pollen is a-coming.
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.
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.
This is Tibet Nepal, on the corner of 3rd and G Streets, Davis. I wanted to sketch this building while I can, because it was scheduled to be demolished, forcing the businesses inside to relocate, including my own barbers, Razor’s Edge, just down the block. Not good news. (See the article in the Davis Enterprise). It was to be replaced with something more modern. more stories, So, I took my sketchbook down one lunchtime and recorded the building for posterity. And then… that very evening there was a meeting in the city chambers to discuss this building’s fate, and the building has been saved! Well, not saved, but it has received a stay of execution. Demolition is probably still coming, but it has for now been paused (Davis Enterprise article). Now I have often sketched buildings that subsequently I have learnt were closed or demolished, but in this case, maybe the opposite is true? I don’t know about that. Anyway, this is Tibet Nepal, and it’s not going anywhere just yet.
One from campus, a lunchtime sketch of Peter A. Rock Hall. This building used to be called 194 Chemistry (or ‘Chem 194′), a catchy name that sounds more like an indie dance combo with a middlebrow following. It was renamed about a year or so ago after the former Math & Physical Sciences Dean Peter A. Rock, a Chemistry professor who sadly died in 2006 (I was new to Davis then but I remember that). The front of the building has been recently revamped and so Chem 194 was renamed in Prof. Rock’s honour. This is a much better name, I think you’ll agree. Rock Hall. Now it has a name that means something. One thing I learned, in order for a building at UC Davis to be renamed after someone, that person must be dead for at least two years. Apparently so. I do love all of the touches made outside the building – an improved sidewalk, dotted with interesting little hand-made tiles depicting colourful interpretations of each of the elements, as well as details such as a brass periodic table. What was once just a big Chemistry lecture hall is now a pretty cool part of campus.
This is the Newman Center on C and 5th Streets, Davis. I have sketched it before, when it still had a sign outside calling it ‘Newman Chapel’. I guess they don’t hold mass there any more, having moved that sort of thing to the nearby St.James’s. I’m told it’s still used as a meeting center, and it’s still part of the Catholic community in Davis. I just like the brickwork, though in this sketch it was the last thing I did on site and I rushed it a bit, as my tummy was rumbling. What a gorgeous sunny Saturday afternoon though! Mid-70s weather, perfect for cycling about outside and then sitting down on the street with a sketchbook, listening to some music. Life is busy, so it’s nice to stop, and breathe, and create.
Springtime in Davis. Pink blossom on trees. Shoes on telegraph wires – huh? The last time I sketched this view (see below) you’ll notice there was just the one pair of shoes. I’d be more impressed if they managed to get a single solitary shoe up there. Eventually they’ll bring the line down, I imagine. What are they for, I wonder? One common explanation is that this marks the boundary between where gangs sell drugs, which is possible. Or maybe this signifies the territories of door-to-door preachers? They must be all the lost soles.
This was sketched over a couple of lunchtimes in the landscape-format Stillman and Birn ‘alpha’ sketchbook, which is a delight to draw in (and it takes a watercolour wash well), though I don’t imagine I’ll do many two-page panoramas, as that middle ridge doesn’t lay very flat, at least not in this part of the book. Still at least it is in my favoured landscape format. Many more sketches to come in this one.
Below is the same scene from October 2011…
And so on to the very last spread of the Panoramarathon, and of the Seawhite sketchbook. The Year of the Horse had just begun, so time to saddle up and gallop the last furlong. So, cue the joke about the horse and the bar and “why the long sketchbook?”. I never got that joke anyway. The barman shouldn’t be asking why a horse has a long face, but what exactly a horse expects to be served in a bar. Unless bars are serving sugar-lumps and brewing hay-beer (and they probably are, these days) I would say, “oi, Tonto, never mind your long face, you drink from the trough outside mate, or you can git the hell outta this town, and the man who rode in on you”, or words to that effect. This is technically the old wild west after all, or Back to the Future III country at least. Anyway, back to the drawing… I have sketched the Little Prague bar on several occasions over the past seven years or so, but not quite from this angle, so I decided that I would take up that challenge to finish out the project. After a very busy week I popped by on a quiet Friday evening and sketched away. After a while, a large crowd of people came in en masse (there they all are in the sketch, mingling away with their pitchers and their nametags). That chef bloke with the bleached hair and the goatee, Guy Fieri I think he is called, was on the telly. I didn’t really pay attention to anything much except finishing the sketch. This panoramarathon was going to be done by the end of January, dammit! February is just not long enough to keep saying such a complicated word. After a while, the DJs came in and the loud dance music started, and so after one quickly-sketched panorama and three slowly-drunk dark beers, I finished up and went home to bed.
So that was the Seawhite of Brighton sketchbook, started in August, finished in January. You can see all the images form that book in this handy set on my Flickr site.
Penultimate entry of “Panoramarathon”, and second to last spread of the sketchbook. It’s funny, this was only a couple of weeks ago now but Davis already looks quite different. Spring came; bright blossoms covering the so-inclined trees all over town before the end of January, and then finally last week we got the rain we have been waiting for. It has been a long dry spell. I took advantage of the bright clear January while I could though, and this panorama shows a building I have only drawn from the G St side before, one of the historic blocks of 2nd St. This took a long time to complete. I originally went down on a late Saturday afternoon and sketched until I ached all over. Standing there by the side of the road clutching my panoramic sketchbook got very uncomfortable after a while. It was so enjoyable, stood there in an awkward position cramping up, that I went back a couple of days later to add more details and do some of the colouring-in (adding the rest of the paint later at home). I could have sat on my stool, bu I hardly ever bring it with me any more. You get a better view standing. I like the outcome though, I captured a segment of downtown that I’ve not covered before. I think I, ahem, stood and delivered. At this point I should probably write something about the history of this big old building, but I’m afraid I don’t know enough about it. I do know that to the left of the building is an alleyway called Tim Spencer Alley, which was named after a UPS deliverer, the “nicest UPS delivery person who ever lived” according to Davis Wiki.