This is a true story about when I blew up the kettle (accidentally) when I was nine. Probably long forgotten by everyone else, but something I remember every time I plug the kettle in. I drew this, my kettle and tea-making equipment, here in my kitchen in Davis, and it is part of the Pence Gallery’s ‘Teapot’ show, being displayed until the end of December upstairs at the Pence (D st, Davis: visit www.pencegallery.org for details). I do love a good cuppa tea. I don’t use a teapot (no point unless there’s a few of you) and I don’t do none of your fancy nonsense, just a working class cup of tea, thank you, lovely. Fortunately I can get my normal teabags here in America, so I can have my typical four or five cups a day. I would not have lasted long here otherwise. I remember being nonplussed when my American mother-in-law first came to England and remarked at how cute our little ‘tea station’ was (it was the kettle and jar of teabags), now I live here I know it’s not actually typical to have an electric kettle in every single household- in Britain and Ireland it’s so essential, we get a kettle before we get a bed or a roof or anything. A cuppa tea back home is a language we all understand. I won’t drink anyone else’s tea here in California either, not even in cafes, I only drink my own tea, made at home, perfect and unbeatable in every way. And when I discovered you can get chocolate Hobnobs here in Davis, well my cuppa tea experience moved a little closer to perfection. Now I’m just waiting for my son to get old enough, and that’ll be his job, just as it was mine. Hopefully, of course, he won’t blow up the kettle.
Still more to scan and post from Portland, still more NaNoDrawMo pieces to post…but here is a sketch from this morning while watching the football. IT was the North London Derby, Spurs v Arsenal, a game we (Spurs) had to win, a game we lost last year 5-2. Never again. Er, except today, when we lost 5-2. Not a great way to start the weekend!
Drawn in Uniball Signo um-151 (brown) in Moleskine #11. Outside, a big storm rolls over Davis, inside I have a cold.
Still adjusting to the new house. This weekend gave us the hot weather test. Davis is a place where it gets hot, very hot, and I’m not joking. Just not usually this early! Mid-90s weather came out of nowhere, disguised in mid-80s forecasts, just in time for Picnic Day (and it always feels hotter in Picnic Day crowds). That’s mid-90s as in Fahrenheit, not as in Britpop. On Saturday we sweltered, but by Sunday, another scorcher, we’d figured it out. It’s starting to cool down again now, so this was just a dress rehearsal for the real stuff in July. Come on Davis Summer, do your worst.
I received my batch of amazing pens today from Jetpens, and am now the salivating owner of many new and different-coloured uni-ball signo um-151 wonder-pens. I cannot wait to use them, and draw lots of detailed drawings like that one I did of Crouch End last week. I also got another pen I had heard many good things about, the hard-to-find (in-non-Japanese-stores) Pilot Hi-Tec-C, which someone had shown me on a sketchcrawl three years ago and I had searched for ever since. I don’t usually buy new pens online as I like to try them first, and that explains why I bought (for some bizarre reason) a size 0.25, which believe me is ridiculously small. It’s a bit like drawing with a needle. It’s nice but probably more geared for those tiny tiny line drawings (so I know I will get use out of it!!). I tested it out with a sketch while sat on the couch in the small red moleskine cahier. Hi-Tec… nothing to do with the trainers. We used to laugh at them back in junior school. Hi-Tec were just one step up from Asda-Boppers.
It is REALLY hot in Davis. It hit a hundred again today. I read that a lot of people in south Davis lost power last night because of a transformer (yes I thought it was a big robot) blowing up in the heat, our lights were flickering all evening. It’s summertime…
Saturday afternoon at home, sketching at home while the young one naps. I enjoy the shadows of the wintery tree on the apartments opposite. Listening to the radio, the talk of Egypt and change in the middle east. Watched the football in the morning, Spurs beating Sunderland (quite how I’m not sure, but wins are wins). Finishing off reading ‘A Game of Thrones’ (whoah!). Watching the ‘X-Men: First Class’ trailer online. Another week until the next Let’s Draw Davis sketchcrawl (this Saturday, Feb 19th folks), wishing that the glorious sunny weather would stay for that. It won’t; the rain is already back in Davis. But I will still be out there sketching. I’ll just bring a raincoat.
Not a brilliant Sunday morning, sports fans. I was tired, after staying up far too late (and falling asleep on the couch) watching Andy Murray turn up and get humiliated in the Australian Open final (I’m not a tennis watcher, but as a Brit it’s my duty to tune in and get my hopes up before having them cruelly dashed by someone from the old Yugoslavia, and there’s still six months until Wimbledon!). Then I woke up to watch my beloved Tottenham (almost an anagram of Tim Henman…) get roundly turned over by Fulham, all over by half-time at four-nil. This hurt; it’s the FA Cup, the oldest football competition in the world, and this year ends in a ’1′ – Spurs are supposed to win it this year! Perhaps this was a ruse, to make AC Milan think we’ll be a pushover in the Champion’s League in a few weeks. If so it was a bloody convincing ruse, I must say. Anyway, enough disappointment, I got out my moleskine diary and started sketching the living room as I watched (I would have been hanging my head anyway). Soon my son and then my wife joined in, all drawing pictures together with my little paint set, which was fun. You can see the streamers are till up from my son’s birthday party, all around the room; our apartment currently resembles an airmail envelope. Back in the match, Spurs didn’t even score a consolation goal.
I thought I’d try something different. I was watching TV and getting utterly sick of every single advert being a doom-and-darkness political attack ad (please, please can these elections be over? I can’t take it any more! This isn’t politics it is mass brain destruction, spending as much money as possible to make sure the voting public is completely diverted from any real issue). I took my mind off it with art. I regretted that I never went on a sketching outing with the magnificent artist Tia Boon Sim from Singapore up at the Portland Symposium, but everyone that did spoke afterwards about her paint-splashing techniques. Like I say, I didn’t get to learn it, but nonetheless I was inspired to splash paint onto my big watercolour pad, not thinking about what I’d do with it, but very therapeutic after all the nonsense on telly. When it dried, I sat on the couch and sketched the view of the kitchen, adding some more wash when done. This was a fun exercise.
Leaving the apartment today consisted of taking out the trash.
It was very warm, and very sunny, but wind was blowing pollen all over the place, and the high pollen count is not my friend. April is the cruellest month. So I stayed in and made pancakes and washed up and watched Tractor Tom (“what would we do without you?“), then cooked a roast dinner. While chicken and potatoes were roasting I drew the view from the dining room table.
‘Taking out the trash’. I sound so American now. Or like a TV cop.
When massive storms are swirling outside, you need to stay in, and draw your home. This corner of the apartment is where we keep the music. Why is it that no matter how many CDs I have I only ever listen to the same few ones? I used to listen to a lot more music than I do now, years ago, or at least it feels like that. Maybe it’s because I don’t spend my weekends jumping about to the crackle of records as I did when I was a teenager, or fall asleep to the repeats of a CD, or commute for an hour plus to the hiss of a tape deck, as I did for too many years in London. I have an mp3 player now, everything on random shuffle. My two-year-old likes music. When we get up together on early weekend mornings we put on some top tunes and rock out with air guitar to our breakfast. He likes ‘Formed a Band’. And ‘Yellow Submarine’. He’s a budding little artist too – that’s one of his finger-paintings on the wall there.
When I was a teenager, it was all about the records, Never Mind The Bollocks, full blast. Not really any feeling quite like it. It’s what teenagers do. If I listen to it now, I swear I can still hear my mum or dad shouting my name up the stairs (not usually to turn it down, funny enough, more often just to come down and make a cup of tea). I guess I have all that to look forward to.