Big rain storms rolled into California today. Late November can be a very colourful time of year, when the trees are bright yellow, fiery orange, deep reds, and leaves flutter down on every breeze. When the storms come it blows everything around, meaning what would otherwise be a grey and dismal day was in fact a beautiful, I mean really beautiful stormy morning. I walked to a meeting mid-morning, and could have walked on all day in the rain. The ground was covered in bright leaves, like a dusting of golden snow. I don’t have a window in my office so I can’t gaze dreamily out at the rain (I have to draw a picture of it on my whiteboard), but I can hear it on the skylight, tap-tap-tap, and by lunchtime it was pounding. I couldn’t wait to get back out, find a sheltered spot, and draw the colourful storm while it lasted. I listened to a history podcast about England’s medieval conquest of Wales and drew in the Moleskine. It’s funny, whenever it rains here people are often, oh no, rain, I don’t want to get my raincoat slightly wet in the brief dash from my car to Target, whereas I’m like, oh it’s just a bit of rain, grrr. So I scribbled down this cartoon in my notepad this afternoon. Thought you might like it.
The final sketches of the Arboretum sketchcrawl, this is the Redwood Grove. These redwoods are only about fifty years old, tiny little things really, I barely noticed them. It’s quite a peaceful place, the redwood grove,, running along the creek. Redwoods grow naturally in the coastal ranges, not in the Central Valley. Ewoks are nowhere to be seen. You may notice, hidden somewhere in the above picture, that there was a photoshoot going on, with a young woman dressed like Alice (of Wonderland fame).
It was nice to see the Arboretum with so many sketchers dotted around, people stopping and watching us, seeing what we were drawing. Personally, when I see others out drawing, I want to draw things myself, so hopefully it had that same effect on people. Hopefully, someone saw us and decided, I like drawing, I’m going to get a sketchbook and go and draw some of my town myself, maybe even go on the next sketchcrawl? Well, the next Worldwide Sketchcrawl is in just over a week – April 16th. I’ll not be organizing a Davis one on that day (I’ll be joining the San Francisco crawl, in the Mission) but that day is also Picnic Day, so a great excuse for you to bring a sketchbook and sketch Davis’s big annual celebration.
Below, the sketchers who remained till the end: Dick, Tom, Jenny and Marlene. They all produced some great work! We had about thirteen sketchers in total that day, and it was a really nice afternoon. thanks to all those who came along – the next Let’s Draw Davis sketchcrawl will be in May (likely the 14th), at the Farmers Market. See you next time!
Though this was technically done last month (it was last week; February is a short month) this is how Davis looks right now. There is pink blossom appearing on many trees, and Spring in the air. I love it when the blossom arrives, it reminds me of Springs when I was a kid. Burnt Oak may be known for graffiti, litter and the odd burnt-out car, but there are lots of trees that blossom in the Springtime, making the world look nice and pretty, if only for a short while. Davis has such trees too. This was outside the bike barn, over at the Silo, during lunchtime when the sun was out.
Outside the Math Sciences Building. This February weather is nice – cold in the mornings, brisk at lunchtimes, but with lots of sun and long shadows and bare trees to sketch. This pretty much sums up the kind of light we are having, though I wish I could sketch in the early morning, or late afternoon, when the light is a rich golden syrup. This was a lunchtime sketch.
It can get pretty foggy in Davis. After long months of summer, then the odd massive rainstorm, and some cold bright winter days, fog is not exactly the most frequent of visitors, but when it comes it comes. It collects on my top as I cycle down the bike path. It soaks the ground like a rainshower. It hangs around all day, sometimes vanishing in the aftenoon like it never existed, other times – like today – lingering like an army of ghosts. Ok, maybe that’s overdoing it. But it was cold today – I know, it’s freezing brass monkey weather in Britain right now, we can’t complain – and I didn’t much fancy drawing. But I decided to go outside and sketch a tree, my first outside sketch in what feels like ages (the last one was in fact this one, just over a month ago in Burnt Oak), and I’m glad I did, I got some fresh air. Or fresh fog, at least.
November in Davis means warm and cool sunny afternoons, with turning leaves and long, lazy shadows. Alright, what I’m saying is we have nicer weather than back home in London, where it rains and is cold. But now the clocks have gone back, it also gets dark earlier, so less time for sketching. I don’t really have the time anyway, so here is another one scrambled in during lunchtime yesterday. A building (I think it’s owned by Allstate) on the corner of 4th and D, with a tree outside it.
Oh, was it Guy Fawkes Night back in England? I had forgotten to remember.
The afternoons are getting a little darker and a little cooler – I love this time of year, in any country. It makes me remember the various autumns in other years of my life – windy autumn days blowing up Highgate Hill, crisp October evenings waiting for a bus in High Barnet, massive purple skies and fireworks in Burnt Oak, mild golden mornings in Aix, pissing down grey afternoons in Belgium. And here in Davis, where until just last week summer was still going on, cool air starts coming into the Valley, rain begins to pour, my beloved jumpers/sweaters start to come out. I might even wear a scarf.
We’ve been living in Davis three years this week. This is the Fast Mart convenience store on the corner of B St and 2nd (sketched on the way to getting my haircut).
Until they think warm days will never cease
For Summer has o’er-brimm’d their clammy cells
(John Keats, To Autumn)
Drew this house – before the rains came, obviously – in Old North Davis, and it’s my first entry on the brand new Urban Sketchers website which officially launches today. Check it out! And, I am so honoured, the banner flag on the site for launch day is a photo of my own sketchbook, in SF.
Historic North Davis… a couple of blocks just north of 5th street, downtown, where the houses are old and the streets lined with trees and old america. It’s a historic area because it’s old, not because of any great historical event. Unless you count the 2000-01 tree stand-off against PG&E, where some residents, er, stood off against PG&E cutting down trees. Hey, fair play to them. PG&E don’t live there. Don’t mess with Davis. And if they cut down the trees, I’d have nothing to put in the foreground of my drawings, would I.
I think it was Ali G who said, “you may take our trees, but you will never take our freedom!”
It was very hot again today, and I sketched this in the shade in Central Park, Davis (not the one in New York), looking over to where they hold the farmer’s market. But man, I got pissed off while doing it.
I had just finished the ink part and was working on the watercolour wash, headphones on and listening to pavement; i was getting a little irritated by the rising heat, and starting to get the uncomfortable impression that the bench I’d chosen had been previously slept in by someone very smelly, when a woman approached across the green and called out, “What are you drawing?”
“Eh?” I said as I looked up, thinking that was a pretty rude way of being nosey. “What are you drawing?” she repeated. I always hate that question because it’s usually obvious, I’m drawing what’s right in front of me. “That,” I replied, pointing ahead of me.
“Are you drawing the children?” she then demanded. This wasn’t the usual ‘I’m interested in art’ nosiness. She had apparently come from a group of mothers and babies sat across the park, and was referring to the young kids playing further across the park, about fifty yards from me. “Are you drawing the children?” she repeated. “No,” I replied, showing her my sketchbook (which I didn’t have to do). The only person in the picture was the back of some woman’s head, who’d happened to sit there for a bit while I was drawing, and I’d quickly included because of the great bike: very ‘Davis’.
“So you’re not drawing the children? What are you drawing?” I was a bit stunned, confused why I had to justify this to a complete stranger. “I’m drawing the park. I’m not drawing children, I don’t tend to draw moving things.”
“Are you drawing the play-structure?” she then said. “I’m drawing this” I repeated, showing her the picture. “So you’re not drawing the play structure?” I really didn’t like what she was getting at one little bit. And then she said: “It’s just you are making the mothers a bit nervous.”
And then she walked off, back to her group. I didn’t know what to say. I wanted to go up to this group and tell them just how offended I was, that they should think about the implications of what they are saying before making that sort of accusatory confrontation, and that they owe me an apology (because she did not apologize before). I decided there was no point. It did affect the rest of the wash to be honest, I could have done a better job of it. I mean, a sketcher sketching in the park, with his little paint set, who is not even sat anywhere near their children? Plus the fact that I was there first! I was sketching before they even got there! I felt victimized to be honest, and angry. It is one thing to be protective of your children; I have a six month old baby myself, I know. My wife meets with similar groups in this very park. It is something else entirely to go about confronting innocent strangers the way that woman did. The “you can’t be too careful” argument does not fit with this sort of “everyone’s a danger, I don’t care who I offend” attitude. If it was someone taking photos of a group of kids, yes, I’d say that’s justified. But a sketching artist in a park at lunchtime, minding his own business and sitting nowhere near them? If I’d been writing into a notebook, or had nothing there at all, would they have bothered me?
As someone who draws every day (not to mention someone who normally avoids adding people to my drawings), I’m pretty upset about this. It’s the sort of thing that makes you not want to draw at all.