Tag Archives: drawing

ninja tech

ninjago thunder raider
“Jump up. Kick Back. Whip Around. And…Spin.” No, these aren’t lines from a popular book-turned-movie that is in cinemas these days (“Shifty Grades of Hay”, or whatever it’s called), but is in fact the theme tune to the rather more interesting and well written kids cartoon, “Lego Ninjago: Masters of Spinjitsu”, based on the popular Lego toy line. Regular listeners will remember that I have drawn some of these toys before (my son has rather a big collection, and you need acrobatic Ninja skills to just get across the floor without stepping on one). Despite being an elaborate (and effective) toy commercial (hah, not like in my day! My favourite shows were Transformers and He-Man which, er never mind), it is actually remarkably good fun and a lot better than much of the nonsense on kids TV these days. At the end of the season three for example, when (spoiler alert) Zane (who is – spoiler alert if you don’t know this yet – a “nindroid”, ie a ninja who is also an android – hey it makes perfect sense, ok?) sacrifices himself to save his friends from the Overlord (who at the time was known as “The Golden Master” after retrieving the Golden Weapons from their hiding place on a comet and had rebuilt himself into a large robotic spider – look just go with it, alright), I was almost in tears. It was (spoiler alert) Ninjago’s “We are Groot” moment. It’s ok though because (spoiler alert) he’s not really dead because (spoiler alert) well, he is a robot after all, and becomes (spoiler alert) the Titanium Ninja. Look I promise you, this is a really good show. It’s not like that Kung Fu Panda show which was on every single bloody morning, where basically nothing happens at all, and they just talk about their feelings. Or the Amazing World of Gumball, or heaven forbid, Uncle Grandpa. God there is some annoying nonsense on kids TV these days. Not like in my day (my favourite shows were Wackaday and Grotbags which, er never mind). Anyway…these items which I have drawn here are tow of my son’s toys he got for Christmas, it’s actually all from one set, the “Thunder Raider” set. This is the name of the vehicle driven by Jay, the Blue Ninja, and is accompanied by the Earth Mech of Cole, the Black Ninja. A “Mech” is a kind of exoskeletal robotic suit. Come on look at it, you want one too. It can actually hook onto the back of Jay’s Thunder Raider. Of course as soon as I showed this to my son, he pointed out straight away that I have the wrong version of Cole riding on the Mech. A slight variation in the costume. Of course, always the perfectionist.

Drawn in a Stillman & Birn “Alpha” book in which I’m documenting a lot of my son’s stuff.

davis, barn by barn

the barn UC Davis
The Barn, UC Davis. I’ve sketched this a couple of times before, The Barn. The word “Barn” comes from Old English, “bereærn“, which literally meant “barley house”. A lot of buildings on campus look like this as you well know. I needed to sketch something familiar. I feel like I’ve sketched a lot of barns (and former barns) in Davis. Barns and bars. I must confess there was more blossom on that tree now than my sketch lets on. Spring is truly sprung in Davis. Can you believe it’s March already? Of course you can. The days march on as they have always done, but as we get older, each day is relatively shorter than the previous one. Albert Einstein said that, or at least it sounds a bit like the sort of thing he might have said. Lunchtimes feel shorter, at least. Once again I did the colour when I got home.

constructing the shrem, part one

shrem museum under construction
More construction on the UC Davis campus, but this one, ladies and gentlemen, is long awaited and very significant. This is the south side of the Vanderhoef Quad, a square on the side of campus I call “Trans-arboretum”, which includes the Buehler Alumni Centre, the Graduate School of Management, the UC Davis Welcome Center and Conference Center, and of course the massive Mondavi Center for the Performing Arts. Hey, I’m going there in April to see Belle and Sebastian. This is the gateway to campus and has been gradually sculpted since I first arrived in Davis. So what are they building, well this will soon be the Shrem Museum of Art. That is the Jan Shrem and Maria Manetti Shrem Museum of Art, to give it the full name. When the museum was announced it was very exciting news and the designs for the new building were modern and innovative. The final design, by Brooklyn-based architects “SO-IL” along with San Francisco based Bohlin Cywinski Jackson, was announced in 2013 and the ground-breaking ceremony took place last spring. You can read about the design here. I’m not joking – I am seriously excited about this museum. Davis is an artist’s city and UC Davis an artist’s campus (I should know eh, drawn it enough times) and this is going to be an amazing addition. I will be sketching its progress as the building goes up, but this is the first. I stood in the shade of the Mondavi Center (it is very sunny here in California right now, apologies to those buried in the snow everywhere else in America).

Visit their website at: http://shremmuseum.ucdavis.edu/index.html

“The beginning is the most important part of the work.” – Plato

here be dragons

ninjago four-headed dragon
It had been a while since I drew in my son’s toys-and-other-things book, so I decided to get back to it with more Lego. This is his four-headed Ninjago dragon, part of a big Lego set he got for Christmas. Really big and a little unwieldy to actually play with (all the other Ninjago stuff is semi-permanently all over the floor, it’s a boy’s favourite) but was immense fun to build (I did all the hard work). The wing span is impressive when flying but I needed to fit it all on the page so it is in standing mode. Imagine having four heads. Well I suppose we all have foreheads. Some people (my dad for example) pronounce forehead as “forrid”, whereas I pronounce it like fore-head, which may lead to fork handles style confusion. So, the four-headed dragon from the Ninjago series. I have drawn erroneously with the golden ninja as the rider, but it should in fact be ridden by the green ninja, though they are in fact the same person a.k.a. Lloyd Garmadon, son of Lord Garmadon who used to be the main bad guy (having in his youth been bitten by the Great Devourer, a giant snake creature who lives underground until he was resurrected by snake people and who devoured the ninja’s flying pirate ship, until being defeated by Lord Garmadon himself after a battle with the Ninja and the four-headed dragon) oh and who also had four arms (not fore-arms) so that he could use the four golden weapons, resurrect an ancient being called the Overlord to destroy and rebuild Ninjago City in his image, until that went awry and Lloyd became the Golden Ninja to defeat the Overlord (though he would later return first as a computer virus and then as head of an army of cyborg ninjas before turning himself into a giant spider) and turn his father back to the good side where he became Sensei Garmadon and went back to having two arms and no longer wearing a bone in his hat. Oh and the dragon’s four heads represent the four elements of earth, fire, um, lightning and, er, ice.

Lego is waaaay more complicated than it was in my day.

to live your days in the sunshine

Davis Community Church sketched from Central Park. Click to make big.

Davis Community Church sketched from Central Park. Click to make big.

Last Monday was Presidents Day here in the U.S. It is also the celebration of George Washington’s birthday, which is actually a week earlier than his actual birthday presumably because everywhere was booked on the 22nd so it was easier to have it on the three-day weekend before. Of course while we’re pondering over the first president’s birth certificate you’ll notice he was born in a different country. News pundits didn’t really care so much about that back then. But anyway it was Presidents Day which meant a day off, which meant an afternoon sketching. Well, a couple of hours anyway. My son was playing with his friend in the new playground in nearby central park and I stood in the shade and sketched a panorama of Davis Community Church, from the side. It’s only this time of year you can really see this view because those trees will soon be getting their leaves. I sketched in the Seawhite of Brighton book, and I coloured it in a few days later at home. The weather is gorgeous here in Davis right now, t-shirt weather, low 70s, sunny. In the rest of America however, the picture is very different, unbelievably cold, so I’m sending you a little bit of our Davis sunshine.

Now, I have sketched this scene before, but a long time ago. August 2006 to be precise, as shown below, sketched from a little further up the road with my first Davis bike in the foreground. In those days I preferred to sketch just with the paint, which I don’t do any more, but I like the effect. This is one of my earliest Davis sketches, sketched in a WH Smith cartridge paper sketchbook.

The same building sketched in 2006

The same building sketched in 2006

take the time to make some sense

De Vere's Irish Pub, Davis. Click to see bigger.

De Vere’s Irish Pub, Davis. Click to see bigger.

On the last day of January (this is how long it’s taking me to find a few minutes to scan sketches in these days…) I decided I needed to add to my bar panorama sketch series, and went down to De Vere’s Irish Pub in downtown Davis to practice from a different angle. I sat in that corner at the end of the bar, nicely tucked out of the way, and sketched the evening away. Andy Murray was on the TV above me, losing in the Australian Open final, and the place was pretty busy. I started on the left with the close angle of behind the bar itself, making sure I sketched the ‘Late Night Eats’ menu before it got moved. It’s good to have something like that if you are sketching a bar, as it places you in both time and space. There’s a little tip. For the budding bar-sketcher, here are some in-progress photos; I used a brown-black uni-ball signo um-151 pen size 0.38 (the best), in a Seawhite of Brighton sketchbook (not the best, but not bad).

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Next I sketched the bar itself. I used a few pencil lines to try and figure out the perspective lines, but it’s not scientifically exact, more of an ‘as good as’. The thing about perspective is that your direct moves about a lot and so you usually have several perspectives going at once. I added a couple of the barstaff; whenever I sketch bars I often leave them out because, to be fair, they move around a lot. It helps to include them however, to break up the repetition of a long stretch. Plus it’s always good when sketching people working to show them hard at work. I sketched the behind-bar are and the taps next, and those little black straw things that appear in almost every bar sketch in the history of the world, for some reason. You can see how the bar angles towards me at the far right corner, but I didn’t have room to show my part of the bar.

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And here’s the finished sketch. By this point I had had about four pints ($3 pints of Sudwerk Dry Hop Lager if you must know), and had included the throngs of people at the bar. People are generally generic, but look kinda like the real people that were there. There was a man wearing one of those triangular/conical hats, looking as though he worked in a paddy field (no jokes about paddy fields and Irish pubs please), so I drew him twice. Although I left drawing the people to last, this actually opens up into being the focus of the bar, with the elongated triangular space in which they are positioned becoming wider and more interesting as the eye is drawn rightwards. There, see if you can talk about panoramic composition after four pints of beer. To be fair if someone had asked me (and I think they may have done) my answers would have been nonsense; to be fair, they are nonsense even before four pints of beer. I’m happy with the results though, and I decided not to add paint, so you can feel it in all its hastily scratched-in glory. De Vere’s is a good pub to draw panoramas of.  Cheers!

IMG_3106

get yourself together and you’ll be alright

2nd & D new building 2015 v2 sm
It’s been a long time since I last posted…I haven’t done a lot of sketching lately, and have had little time (excuses…), but I’ve done some (I was out today doing a panorama of the Community Church down on C Street) but have not scanned anything until now. So here are a couple that I did recently of a new building going up down on D Street, next to the Pence Gallery. I believe it is an extension of the Coldwell Banker building on 2nd. That’s the blue building seen below. The new building is just a shell right now, but is coming along quickly, another addition to the Davis skyline, well, not skyline exactly but you get the idea. Streetline. It’s closed off some of the view of the Pence unfortunately. I’ll sketch it again when it is finished.
2nd & D new building 2015 v1 sm