Here is another lunchtime sketch with my lovely brown pen. This is Hart Hall, UC Davis, one of the more historic buildings on campus. Many years ago it was the Animal Sciences Building. To me, it looks very Mediterranean, and with its cypress trees lining the entrance it reminds me of Rome, which was appropriate as I listened to an episode of the History of Rome podcast while sketching it (this sketch took about 20-25 minutes). I am getting very close to the end of that podcast series now, and I can heartily recommend it. Which one did I listen to while sketching this? The one about the Sack of Rome by Alaric and his Visigoths. There is a name for a classic album and a long-haired metal band if ever I heard one. Learning about Rome this past month or so has been very enlightening. When I first started working at UC Davis my former department chair told me that the organization of UC was modeled on the Roman Empire, and I can certainly understand what he meant. Now though, my desire to see Rome is greater than ever. You see, like Barcelona, it’s one city in Europe I have always yearned for but never actually went to, and now we live in the US it is, you know, quite a bit further away. Now though I would certainly sketch Rome a lot more than in the past, and when I think of sketching Rome I think of fellow Urban Sketcher Matthew Brehm, who travels to Rome each summer to teach location drawing to his students, check out his excellent work. As for the Rome podcast, at the time of writing Alaric is long dead, Rome has been sacked again, Attila and his Huns have come and gone, but Rome’s Western Empire still limps on, like a massive rock band (Augustus and his Caesars) that has long had its day but still plays in the odd pub and makes embarrassing appearances on “I’m a Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here”, while the guitarist who left on creative differences (Constantinople and his Byzantines) continues to sell album after hit album for another thousand years. Rome, the city itself long irrelevant to the Empire, is nearly done with. Sure, one day the Pope will hold an audition for a new tribute band, eventually crowning Charlemagne (of ‘Charlemagne and his Franks’ fame) as lead singer. For me though, there are just a few podcasts left until the end, and I’ll miss it. So check out the History of Rome podcast, by Mike Duncan, available for free download on iTunes.
Some quick lunchtime sketches from downtown Davis recently. Above, by the way, is Froggie’s, on the corner of 2nd and G. My sketching was pretty sparse lately, with these being typical efforts. Felt uninspired, disinterested even. Sometimes we earthlings let the weight of the world get to us. Feel a bit better now and expect to sketch a bit more furiously from now! The summer is cooling down a bit, and drawing closer to its end. But there is still a bit more summer to come.
Continuing with cars, after a period of non-sketching after London I finally got out and drew something, this little mini parked near Mansion Square on E Street. This was a quickie alright. Across the street is Uncle Vito’s, a pizza place and bar (I always want to called it De Vito’s, because De Vere’s is just up the road). Of course, this is a ‘new’ Mini, not a proper one like the really small Minis. That would look funny in America. I always feel these ones are really just regular sized cars trying to bend down.
Last night’s talk at the Avid Reader went very well, a lot of people came (many thanks to all who came!). I spoke for, I’m not sure, an hour and a half, maybe two hours? It was nigh on half past nine when I left anyway. I introduced the new Urban Sketchers book, ‘The Art of Urban Sketching’, spoke about Urban sketchers as a group, as a philosophy, how it all started, and I think I may have made some sense occasionally, stringing my planned talk together like I string my sketchcrawls together, if you know what I mean. I talked a bit about my own sketching, how and why I do it, and passed around some images of Davis that I’ve drawn. Quite a few familiar faces were there, for which I was very thankful! I even signed some books; nice to see so many people with the Urban Sketchers book, I hope they’ll be as inspired by all the other sketchers as I am! I read from the book, the manifesto, the profiles of certain artists, showed some of my favourite images in the book (several of them were by Luis Ruiz, including his one of Malaga’s now-closed oldest bookstore, Libreria Cervantes, which was very relevant being talked about in an independent bookstore, although the Avid Reader is doing pretty well these days and is in fact expanding into the former space of the recently closed toystore, Alphabet Moon, three doors down the street). I tried to talk a lot about urban sketching to Davis and cities like it, how we as urban sketchers are recording a place’s history in personal ways; I was pleased to meet another artist who had also painted the Davis Lock and Safe building, for example. My throat was getting pretty dry by the end of it.
So after the talk, I popped over to De Vere’s for a cold beer. All of this talk about drawing meant I was just itching to pick up a pen again, so I went straight to the bar and started sketching, and sketching, and sketching. I lay down a wash of browny-yellowy-orange first, to represent the bar’s light, then draw over that in my black uni-ball signo pen. I couldn’t represent the bar’s noise though – where last week’s Little Prague outing was defined by very loud music, this was deifned by very loud talking. It got packed quickly, and you couldn’t hear any music, but quite often people were yelling over each other at the bar. I however kept inside my bubble, and didn’t really mind; I had done all the talking I could that night, and now was my quiet time, in a barful of noise (that’s livin’ alright).
After a gap, back to the series in which I am drawing every one of my son Luke’s shoes. I still have a way to go to catch up, but I will get there. They are all being drawn in a single small Moleskine cahier in the same black pen style. this one is number 17, I think (the 16th was number 18, while the 17th was number 16, so this is the 18th drawn, but 17 in chronological order in which they were worn…does not compute, does not compute… ah Luke won’t care in years to come). These trainers, made by Saucony (that’s what it says, don’t ask me), are cool, dark blue and silver with some orange trims, and they are special because they are the first shoes that he actually chose himself. The baby-shoe book is becoming the little-boy-shoe book. I think I’m gonna need a bigger book.
I hadn’t been to Sudwerk in a long time, so last Friday night, after spending the very warm evening sketching downtown and eating a curry, I popped by for some beer, baseball and more sketching. The Giants actually won; they’ve been doing rather less than stellar lately. Sudwerk is a local brewery-restaurant, with really nice German style beers (I particularly like the Marzen), and these great big boiler things behind the bar. One day I’ll draw in colour, but I liked the black and white pen drawing effect, so kept the watercolours in my bag. It’s funny, Sudwerk was the place we came to for dinner the first time we ever visited Davis, when we drove over once back in 2005. I liked their beer then too, and we decided to stay. I don’t think I expected to be still here in Davis in 2011, but here we are!
After this, I wandered home and watched Porco Rosso (Miyazaki, never seen it, it was ok).
The Captain Kidd pub in Wapping. My friend and fellow sketcher Simon has been telling me about it for a long time, but we’d never been because it’s, you know, in Wapping. Still, with Wapping and it’s less salubrious denizens Murdoch and pals being very much in the news that week it seemed like a good idea to pop down there. We took the London Overground (the old orange East London line, now revamped and extended with swanky new trains and a new name) and went down by the river. The old pub literally backs onto the thames, and we grabbed a pint each and sat on a bench looking across the water. The rain would eventually force us inside, but not after a quick sketch of the scenery, and another attempt at sketching my friend (who really should be very easy to capture, but I always get him just wrong, it’s almost become a running theme; next time, I promise, I’ll practise more!). After some catching up and quite a bit of laughing, we sketched inside and I drew the scene above, before I had to head back home. Such a brief trip to London this time, not long enough with my good friends!