I hope you all had a very nice Thanksgiving. Well, those of you in America, anyway. To the rest of you, well I hope it was a pleasing run-of-the-mill normal Thursday. Mine was very nice, thank you. So, this sketch was done in Davis a few days before Thanksgiving, in downtown Davis, on 3rd St. That’s it, really. The weather has been nice, sunny, not really cold. A boring tale I know but boring is good. And another sketch that looks like so many others from downtown Davis, but again that was the point, to have a unifying look about them. That leafless time of year is here which will hopefully bring me many more buildings to sketch, unobstructed by those damn pesky leaves.
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.
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).
I am a little behind posting this, sorry… A few weeks ago, a new addition to the Davis artistic scenery was unveiled, as local artist/ceramicist/singer/great personality Heidi Bekebrede presented her brand new installation in Central Park, the ‘Davis Song’ mural. You would be forgiven for thinking Davis is a city of murals these days, with so many new walls of art appearing in the past couple of years, well this is one with a difference, and one which is truly all about Davis. For one thing, it is ceramic, made up entirely of tiles created and painted by Heidi, who is well-known locally for her ‘Cuteware’ range.
On Sunday October 6th, the mural was unveiled to a crowd of locals, decorating the rear wall of the new toilet building in the park. This is a perfect location – right by the Farmer’s Market, it will be seen by everyone for years to come. Around the edges of the mural the tiles represent each of the Davis schools; all the kids were delighted to find their own schools on the mural. Heidi has worked for years in schools bringing art and performance to local children, and the Davis song has been learnt by many kids. Oh yes, the song! The mural is based on her song all about Davis, which was originally written in the 1980s but was updated in 2007, as our small city has grown. The lyrics of the song are all over the mural, and Heidi sang the song with the audience, going through each tile representing a different aspect if Davis.
Oh yeah, and I am on it! One of the tiles was of one of the red London buses that grace the Davis streets, and it was based on my drawing of the red bus. My name is on the license plate! What an honour, thank you Heidi!
This colourful mural needs a lot of looking at, and there is a bit of Davis everywhere you look. I just had to come back the next week for a more detailed sketch, below:
Cloud Forest Cafe in Davis, on D Street. No, I have never eaten here, nor had a coffee here (don’t drink the stuff), nor juice or clouds or any of that. I am sure it’s very nice. I don’t know if it’s anything like the Rain Forest Cafe but I’ve only been to that once, and that was an experience let me tell you. It was the one at Disneyland, and my son did not appreciate the very realistic gorilla that came to life with a roar right above our table. He didn’t like that much. We had to move tables. “Oh don’t worry,” said the waiter, “this happens a lot, kids get scared.” Well even from the other side of the restaurant he spent the entire meal eyeing everything with suspicion, making sure no big animatronic gorilla could get him. There was no way he’d eat a thing after that. Fair play, I’d have been the same at his age. I remember being about five and freaking out wildly at Madame Tussauds on the way into (the admittedly scary) Chamber of Horrors, before we had even gotten there. The exhibit right before, if I recall rightly, was about Nelson and the Battle of Trafalgar, complete with sounds of thundering cannonballs and sinking ships. That was it for me, I was kicking and screaming and white with terror, and no force on Earth could get me into the Chamber of Horrors if I couldn’t even stand the creaking noise of HMS Victory. So naturally I understand my son’s suspicion of big robot apes with glowing eyes.
Not that any of this has anything to do with the Cloud Forest Cafe of course, but you can never be too careful so I stood across the street and sketched it on a calm late September afternoon.
I’ve been busy…and not updating. Mostly not scanning. There has been some sketching. There’s mostly been drawing cartoon cut-out skeletons for Halloween, and a cardboard Iron Man suit. Don’t ask. Anyway, these are in fact my sketches from the last Davis sketchcrawl in September, starting at the Robert Mondavi Institute for Food and Wine and stuff, in the Good Life Garden. Yes, the Good Life Garden, named (I presume) after the TV show with Felicity Kendall and Richard Briers and Jerry and Margo. This place is pretty amazing, for a good life garden. At UC Davis we have world-class enologists, who presumably are experts in Brian Eno. Seriously, Enology is a real thing, and goes hand to hand here with Viticulture, with I believe is the science behind Jaffa Cakes and Digestives (the correct term is McVitieculture, but over here they drop the “Mc” just like they drop the “O” in Oenology, which as you know is to do with wine and is not to be confused with Onology, the science behind Yoko). Ok now all that has been cleared up, let’s get on with the sketches. At the top, the Good Life Garden, in which I got a little sun but savoured the lovely smells while humming that beloved theme tune. Hey, one thing I never knew is that in America, The Good Life was called “Good Neighbours”. Now I’m sorry but that is too close to another show we all know, and yet another theme tune stuck in my head. Apparently it was renamed due to an earlier unsuccessful show called The Good Life starring JR Ewing, I mean, Larry Hagman. I am trying to imagine Paul Eddington in a ten-gallon Stetson, with his middle-class commuter stiff upper lip, no that doesn’t look right.
This bit is the Beer Lab. That is, the “RMI Teaching and Research Winery and Busch Brewing and Food Science Lab”. Or just “Drink!” for short. This is the real University of Beer.
DATE: Saturday October 19 2013
START: 12:00pm, Central Park, by the Carousel (near C and 4th)
FINISH: 4:00pm, outside City Hall Tavern (Old City Hall), F St *
As always the sketchcrawl is free and open to anyone with an interest in location sketching. All you need is something to draw with and something to draw on! There’s no requirement to stay for the whole thing, just come out and flex those sketching muscles. At the end we will get together to look at each others’ sketchbooks (always the most fun bit) and see how we have all interpreted our town. Then why not post them online at www.sketchcrawl.com (here’s the link to the 41st sketchcrawl forum) to show the world! And then see what the rest of the global sketching community have been doing on the same day.
Hope to see you there!
*I just saw that I wrote “E St” on the poster – oops! It’s on F St. After all these years I still confuse the two…
A couple of weeks ago I went to the Pence Gallery‘s annual Art Auction as one of the contributing artists. It was the third year in a row that I have been invited to take part, in the auction; this year I submitted my panoramic sketch of the Davis Art Center (and it sold – many thanks Erie!!). I also went along (after a busy and late day at work; lots of those lately, hence lack of energy to post my sketches on time) with my sketching materials, and drew what I could. Last year I had sketched the patio from down below, this year I took the opportunity to sketch from above. The band was playing as the September evening got darker, and on the far wall is a huge mural currently being painted by artist Anthony Padillo, whom I had the fortune to meet while I was actually sketching this very scene.
Soon it was time for the Auction itself, and this year I brought some bigger paper to sketch on. It is a real education in art, going to an art auction. I know that sounds obvious, well it is really, but there were some amazing artists on display, local and otherwise, including work by the celebrated late local ceramicist (and UCD art professor) Bob Arneson, and even an original print by the father of Art Nouveau, Alphonse Mucha. I sketched in a large Canson pad, and had some nice conversations afterwards. Always fun sketching events at the Pence!
The other evening, after dinner, I cycled down to the Marketplace parking lot in north Davis (that cultural hotbed) where there was a meeting of classic automobile enthusiasts. By that I mean that the automobiles were classic, not that the enthusiasts were classic, though they probably were, I don’t know about how to judge an enthusiast’s classic status. The ones I met were very nice. Anyway the sun was already going down and so I didn’t have a great deal of time to choose a car to sketch, but this beauty stood out above all the others. Now some of the cars were spectacular beasts, and some were, to be fair, verging on the old banger. This fine automobile however was bright and shiny and oozing in fifties Americana. Its yellow trimmings reminded me of California sunshine (that, and the fact I was in California and it was sunny, for a few more minutes anyway). So I sketched it, and you can see my reflection in it, and the owner liked it; it was his first car, in his family since 1977, and it is a 1956 Mercury Montclair. Now this says ‘America’ to me, not your beige Toyotas. Three people sat in the front, like in the movies, cruisin’ low and slow, all of that. I do like to sketch a classic automobile. They’re having one more this year, next month, same place. I might get there earlier this time, and sketch some more.