After the Zine Fest in San Francisco I crossed over Lincoln Way and sketched a pub opposite Golden Gate Park, The Little Shamrock. I remember seeing this pub once ages ago when we drove past here, because it is pretty old – 119 years old in fact, according to the sign, though the date of founding means it’s probably 120 years by now. A hundred and twenty years ain’t bad! Not bad at all. So it was worth popping in to do some sketching of the interior. I must say that pretty much all of the interior was sketchworthy, a comfortable pub full of character. The people were friendly too, and the beer selection good. To my left were a group of people who from what I heard of their conversation (they were discussing performance art pieces at public galleries) they were curators at SFMOMA and probably somewhere else. Art is all around. I just hacked away at the sketchbook, and enjoyed my beer. I like the Inner Sunset.
This was sketched last week, while watching Spurs beating Swansea City. I am SO GLAD the football is back. Now, we lost today against the south London nomads Arsenal (grrrrr), fair result, at least we didn’t lose 5-2 like the past couple of seasons. Spurs then formally announced the sale of Gareth Bale for a hundred million Euro, a ridiculous world record (someone hasn’t told Real Madrid Spain are in recession). Good luck Gareth, six years at the Lane and a Spurs legend. This is our living room sketched on a Sunday morning in the Seawhite sketchbook, with a dark blue uni-ball signo um-151 pen. We then watched the Formula 1 Grand Prix. Boys club morning.
This is the UC Davis Silo. Why am I telling you, you already know that of course. It’s where I occasionally eat lunch. It also reminds me a great deal of the Everton FC badge. I sketched it on the first page of the new Seawhite of Brighton sketchbook to see how it would hold up. Holds up pretty well, though being thinner paper I can’t go as mad with the watercolours as I usually do. I am having a break from the watercolour moleys, having filled 12 of them, and trying something else out. Nice for the pen, this paper is smoother. It was cheap too, at £4.50 from Cass Arts in London. There’s the rub – if I end up loving them I have to get them from London. It is a nice panoramic format though, slightly bigger dimensions than what I’m used to in a sketchbook, at A5 page size. I wasn’t able to get it all done in a lunchtime (what with eating and all) so I added the colour at home. Jury’s out on this book but it will be fun filling it up.
I got a new camcorder, so I thought it would be fun to try it out by videoing a quick sketch in progress. Easier said than done of course! Here though is a quick demonstration on how I approach a sketch. I had to use the waterbrush (I prefer a regular brush and a little jar of water, but had forgotten it), and this being quite impromptu was rushed a little but, as Alan Partridge might say, you get the general idea. This is a bridge in the Arboretum. Once I’ve got the hang of this I’ll do a nicer video of me sketching a building or something. I can’t stand drawing foliage…
A quick ten-minute sketch from lunchtime at the Silo, UC Davis. Sometimes when you have little time its best to capture a scene as quickly as you can. Since its remodeling last year, the Silo has these nice comfy armchairs. I never use them myself as I like to eat at a table (I’m very messy otherwise), and prefer drawing from a table too if one exists, but for laptop users and book readers they are perfect and comfy. Sketched in red and black uniball signo um-151 pens.
Last week my son had his final t-ball game of the season. T-ball for those who don’t know (and I didn’t, until I was in this world) is baseball for four-five year olds, the lowest level of the Davis Little League system. Little League is played by just about all of the six hundred million kids in Davis, and the games of t-ball (so called because for the first few weeks they use a tee to hit the ball from, until they are used to live pitching) are played on the fields at Community Park. The bigger kids play at the Little League field across the street. Parents have to volunteer for a bunch of stuff, and I did a morning shift recently working at the Snack Shack, which was fun. Anyway, my son’s last game for the Diamondbacks was against the Reds, which means you might not be able to tell the teams apart in the sketch above (in the watercolour Moleskine), which doesn’t matter much since I sketched pretty randomly. Also, there is no scoring in t-ball – all the kids get to hit, and run, and field. Playing first base is the best thing because the kids always have something to do. See when a kid hits, it just gets thrown to first base, and then back to the pitcher. After the game, we had a pizza party for the kids, and they all got little trophies (there it si below sketched in the Stillman & Birn Alpha book). Next year he’ll move up to the next level (‘farm’) where they use a pitching machine. But first, the All-Star Game…
Last Sunday was Mother’s Day in America (two months later than England). We were over in Santa Rosa, and we all had doughnuts on Sunday morning (or ‘donuts’ as they insist on spelling them over here), after which my son and I watched the Formula One, for it was the Spanish Grand Prix, which was won by Spanish driver Fernando Alonso. I sketched the living room in my Moleskine, while family milled about. Sketched with brown uni-ball signo um-151, with a spot of red paint.
Hope you mothers all had a happy mother’s day!
At the end of 2012 I sketched a series about the final days of the old boiler building on the UC Davis campus, as it was being torn down.It has been an empty space ever since, though there are currently odd piles of dirt dotted around like giant molehills that weren’t there before. What will take this place is the Music Recital Hall. You can see if you look really closely something resembling a tiny puddle. Well, not much of one. Last night, for the first time in absolutely ages (three months maybe?), we had rain in Davis. Loud, epic, sweep away your shed rain. Any rain in Davis gets a weather warning it seems (water from the sky is just such a weird concept), this one got a flood warning too. It never rains, quite literally, but it pours. And then it is gone. And people are probably already saying, it rains so much here in spring. A couple of weeks ago with the onset of 90s weather looming I overheard someone say that “we’ve had a week of spring and then it’s summer!” as if it hadn’t been in the 60s and 70s and full of sunshine since January. I also heard someone say that we have had a really long winter this year. That was in mid-January. Seriously, dudes.
The first year I was here, though, we had some proper extreme weather. Rain like I haven’t seen since, for months, with massive floods on New Years Day. I just assumed that it was a permanent lake between here and Sacramento, it was a real surprise to me when I first saw the land part of those wetlands by the Causeway. The rains and snowmelt finally gave way to summer, and what a summer that was. We had two weeks where it didn’t fall below a hundred degrees, even at night, and while I’ve experienced hot summers since, there has been nothing quite like that summer of 2006. Here is a sketch from back then which illustrates it. This Londoner just doesn’t do such heat. Well, summer is coming.
De Vere’s Irish Pub, Davis. Click on the image to see it larger and in more detail. It was the end of the week (the weekend usually is), and an evening out at the comic shop followed by some beer and sketching was in order. This is a nice pub. I like drawing pub panoramas in my Moleskine, and this one took only two and a half beers (it’s always something-and-a-half; I like to spend that last half pint looking at the sketch, pencil case away). I have drawn curvilinearly in here before, but now it is time to pull back and see more of the room. I didn’t speak to anyone, just got on with the sketching. It wasn’t very busy on this particular Saturday evening, and it was warm outside. This is an exceptionally warm Spring. We have had some terrible winds, but warm winds, and the weather has been pushing the 90s (actually this week it’s been pushing the mid-90s, it’s like Britpop).
If you’re interested, this is how it looks in the sketchbook.
One from another Monday lunchtime at the Silo. I just stayed indoors, eating a burrito and listening to the new Art Brut album on my iPod. I didn’t want to be outside sketching, the weather is warm but very windy, and my nose is like a pressure cooker. This time of year is pretty bad for allergies here in Davis. This wasn’t a particularly interesting lunchtime, so I will tell you about the weekend. On Saturday it was the 99th annual Picnic Day. I pretty much never sketch at Picnic Day, mostly because of the crowds, but also because I am here on campus every single day, and drawing Picnic Day, when that same campus is ridiculously crowded, just seems a bit odd to me. Plus I always get too hot and tired, wandering from place to place with my son. We did see some nice cure kittens though. I missed the parade in the morning, the best thing about Picnic Day (no, the late night parties are not the best thing, not that I would actually know). I was volunteering for a couple of hours at the Little League’s Snack Shack, which was a great change of scene. I had to sell snow-cones and other strange candies I have never heard of to tiny children (who mostly shared my dislike of grape flavoured sweets). It is funny how different the candies are here to what I had as a kid in Burnt Oak though. I recall in the newsagents on Watling Avenue, and in Toni-Bells too, there was what seemed like thousands of different “penny sweets” (which actually ranged from half a penny to a whopping ten pence). I would spend hours in there with my friends just trying to choose what to buy. This wasn’t you pick’n'mix neither, this was serious sweets business. This was all brought back to me when a kid of about six or seven presented me with a dollar and just said, how many different things can I get for one dollar? Quite a few as it turned out. Back in my day though, that sort of money would have kept you in candy for a month. And I’m not that old.