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.
Latest of my son’s shoes. I have some more to scan from the black and white pen-drawing book which details them all in chronological order (and I will scan and post those soon), but I enjoy drawing them in colour in the “book of his things”. This is his Spider-man shoe. Well, Ultimate Spider-man – have you seen that cartoon? I just watched it the other day for the first time, it’s pretty good. As with many of his other themed shoes, this is made by Stride-Rite. Those feet they are growing…
The Lego is very far from being done with yet. Plenty more the draw…it’s addicting, to make, to draw, all of it. We’ve even decided to go to Legoland – the one in California, not the original one in Billund which I always wanted go to. I know there’s one outside London now at Windsor, where the old Windsor Safari Park used to be, presumably the Lego monkeys don’t climb all over your car and nick your windscreen wipers. This excquisite piece of action Lego is the Avengers Quinjet, which you’ll recognize if you’re a fan of Marvel comic book movies. This was a big set, and took a few hours to build. Highl;y enjoyable as well. That’s the deadly Black Widow flying the plane there, and to the right is the villainous trickster Loki, riding on an alien chariot driven by a ‘sorry Chitauri’ – you’ll understand that phrase if you, as we have done, have watched the Lego Marvel ‘Maximum Overload’ cartoon. The great thing about fathering a six year old boy is you get total justification to do and buy all of this stuff (“oh, it’s for my son…”). Who am I kidding, I was like it before, I’m just…more so now. And all this Lego is the best.
This is the Heitman Center, UC Davis. Well, it’s the Hog Barn really. I’ll always know it as the Hog Barn. See the pig on the weathervane? Well these days it doesn’t house sows or lodge hogs, nor is it digs for pigs. It is modern and clean and used for staff development classes, with flip-charts and coloured markers and overhead projectors. I went to a class there recently, though I left halfway through, it was a bit of a boar.
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.
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…
Lego. Everything is awesome. We very much live in a Lego Universe right now. Kipling couldn’t have put it better. “If you can keep your head when all around you are losing theirs…” I’ve been spending a fair bit of time drawing much of my son’s Lego (and some of it is mine – see Boba Fett and Magneto, naturally) which is nearly as much fun as building the stuff. Here are a load of the figures, which as any parent knows are way more important than the vehicles or dragons or giant robots they come with (except for the giant robots). There is a mixture of super-heroes and super-villains (both Marvel and DC, though Superman and Wonder-Woman have since been added to this collection), plus several of the Ninjago ninjas, plus a few other characters including Emmet from the Lego Movie you may have seen recently (it’s awesome, yes, if a little visually crazy, and it looks like my living room floor). I’ve included some of the accessories in this picture, Ninja swords and so on, and you may notice a little Wolverine-claws piece near the bottom. Sadly Wolverine himself was lost, we don’t know where (you know how Logan likes to just skip town), but his claws were left behind. I hope we find him. Big robots don’t just rip themselves apart, you know. Incidentally, did you see the last Wolverine movie? I really enjoyed it, Logan’s adventures in Japan. My wife pointed out though that despite his famous catchphrase, he definitely isn’t the best there is at what he does, because he’s actually not all that as a fighter: always getting shot or stabbed or cut, relying on his mutant healing factor and his adamantium-coated skeleton to get him out of trouble. It’s like saying, yeah I’m brilliant at chess, as long as every time you take one of my pieces I can just go back and do that move again. No, that ain’t how you learn. Still, all said and done, you’d still want Wolverine on your side, bub.
More toys documented. These scary plastic looking things all have something to do with Power Rangers. Above are the Power Rangers Samurai swords; the top one makes noises and the weird golden head thing spins around. The one below it has a detachable plastic sword blade that is all bent out of shape from defeating bad guys and monsters. Have you ever seen Power Rangers? In all of its many iterations it is completely barmy. I remember when my nephews back in the mid-90s would watch it, and it made zero sense to me then with its hammy delivery and terrible rubbery bad-guy costumes (and as for the cheap-looking pound-shop toy design of the big robot things, zords or zoids or whatever they are). And as for the dialogue, its either all “Go Go Mega Blast! Blah Blah Zap Power Robo Blast Batteries Not Included!” or its the cheesy teenagers sitting around with concerned faces saying “we’re here for you if you want to talk about your feelings,” nonsense. Yeah, with Netflix and Xfinity on-demand we have many different seasons on our TV each day. And then there are the storybooks, which make as much sense as the shows. Give me the Ninjago any day.
But the boy loves it, and that’s the main thing. The creepy plastic face below is a Gosei Power Morpher (of course it is, you couldn’t guess?) into which you place various cards that make it say specific Power-Ranger phrases; in the show they ‘morph’ the heroes into the Power Rangers.
That confusing sounding title comes from the theme tune of Lego Ninjago: Masters of Spinjitsu, a show that my six-year-old son absolutely loves. Which means of course I have to love as well, and I’m fine with that. Admittedly I couldn’t figure out those lyrics on my own; I had to actually google them, to get it right and not look the inevitable fool. That’s how it is when you’re a dad, you get to be immersed in the culture of being a six-year-old (as opposed to the rest of my time, spent reading comics, watching football and Star Wars and drawing pictures of Iron Man and Magneto). The best bit is all the Lego though, and this Christmas just gone (and his recent birthday) was very Legocentric. I have built a great many highly complicated Lego sets, many of which I have also been drawing pictures of afterwards in the sketchbook devoted to my son’s things; you’ll have seen some already.
The top one is the Golden Dragon, piloted by none other than the Gold Ninja. That was a satisfying one to build, and I built it really quickly on Christmas Day. The gold doesn’t stop there. Next up is the Gold Ninja Mech, which came with the Temple of Light set. I sketched this one because who doesn’t love drawing big robots, and I showed it to my son who, while he did like the robot, basically highlighted my ignorance of the Ninjago genre by having Sensei Wu (the bearded fellow with the stick, a kind of Lego Mr. Miyagi) piloting the thing. Oh no, it should have been the Gold Ninja, he said, Sensei Wu doesn’t have a Mech. But, but the Gold Ninja’s already flying the Golden Dragon, I protested. I’m not drawing it again.
So for the last one I drew the Red Ninja Kai-Fighter, and I left it pilotless. I do know the Red Ninja (known as Kai) flies this and I have even seen the cartoon, but knowing me I will probably get the version of his uniform wrong or something. Listen, if you think young kids don’t pick up on tiny tiny details you’re wrong. I still remember years ago when my son pointed out a slight difference between the Lightning McQueen on his diaper to the one on his night-light, a detail so small only a highly trained supreme intellect would notice. I was the same. At age four I was counting vertebrae on dinosaur skeletons at the Natural History Museum and pointing out errors to the scientist tour-guides, nowadays I can barely remember the dinosaur’s names. Diplocerataurus Rex, right? Tell you what though, I’m good at this Lego lark now though. More has been built since, and there’s more to draw.