One of the buildings in Davis I have sketched a few times is the Dairy Queen, on 5th St. The DQ was very popular here, with its iconic sign, a place to take grandkids for an ice cream, and I even sold a couple of my sketches of it. Finally of course, it closed down, and the site has been bought by a developer. However, the developer has not torn the whole thing down, as you might expect, but has kept the shell of the building, specifically its iconic curving roof. I can’t wait to see how this ends up. When I heard about this recently I took myself back up to this spot on 5th St, which I never pass as much any more now I live in north Davis, and sketched from across the road. Goodbye Dairy Queen. I’ll probably sketch this site again before they’re done redeveloping.
And so, finally back to posting some sketches, if I can even vaguely remember what that feels like. The World Cup is over! Gone for another four years, what will we do? It’s not like there is any other football to watch in that entire time. Haha. I enjoyed going over the kits so much I may even torture you all with more, from the clubs, as many as I can possibly do. Mwahahaha. And football-puns? You ain’t, as they say, seen nothing yet. Oh, alright I’ll lay off the puns for a while, it is pre-season after all. I need to train for a few weeks to get my football-punning back up to match fitness for the new Premier League season starting in August. Expect to see me jogging around the green belts of Davis trying to make punchlines out of Pocchetino and find an angle on Van Gaal (you see? Much training needed). But in this time of world-cup-football-ness, amid all the dodgy haircuts and the acrobatic goalkeeping and the constant non-stop biting (it was only the one bite, wasn’t it?), I did manage to do some sketching. This was a panorama I did over two lunchtimes at the Wyatt Deck in the UC Davis Arboretum. Technically it was three lunchtimes but on one of them I didn’t do any sketching as I forgot my pen (doh!). I had intended to add paint to it as well but I decided I preferred it like this. I listened to a History podcast while sketching and it was a man who was a South American football historian talking (among other things) about the great Uruguay team of the 20s and 30s, the River Plate team of the 50s, and what football meant/means in terms of national identity among the nations in South America, how historically it was able to strengthen their differences while also presenting them with an opportunity to announce themselves globally (at the Olympics and later the World Cup). Very interesting. It’s funny how what you listen to when you sketch gets so involved with how you see the sketch from thereon – none of you will see any reference to Paraguay’s style of play or the founding of great Brazilian clubs by British immigrant workers in this drawing of some wooden buildings at the Arboretum, but I see those great south American football names in every line drawn. Except in the middle, which will always be about Batman, because I was listening to another podcast by that point which talked a lot about the Tim Burton Batman movie. Again, you can’t see that, but I do. Now I always wonder what was really going through artist’s minds when they were creating their work. I look at one of Mondrian’s compositions and I think, I wonder if he was thinking about getting a cat and in between colouring in those squares whether he went down to the pet shop to look at kittens, I don’t know. You don’t know. Or when Van Gogh painted that portrait of himself with no ear, maybe in fact he was listening to his annoying unemployed next door neighbour practicing their singing really badly day in, day out, and he just subconsciously painted himself with no ear without even thinking about it, you just don’t know do you. Or when Damien Hurst was putting that sheep into the formaldehyde, maybe at the same time he was listening to his favourite gardening show on the radio? And now every time he sees that sheep he keeps thinking, ooh I’d better water the petunias when I get home. You just don’t know.
By the way, click on the image above and you’ll see a bigger version. What you won’t see is any reference to Boca Juniors or Bruce Wayne.
Here’s one from about a month ago – time flies when you’re really busy, huh – and I never did add the colour, but I liked it’s pen-only form. This is the Sam Len Hillel house on A Street, Davis, a new building (I sketched the temporary Hillel House just up the road a couple of years ago while they were building this). It was a warm day, you get a lot of those here in Davis.
This is my barber shop, the Razor’s Edge on 3rd Street, downtown Davis. I have been getting the same haircut here since I moved to this town almost nine years ago, but I had never ever sketched the place. Well you know how it is, you sketch somewhere, then suddenly it closes down (it’s happened a lot to me), and to be honest I couldn’t afford to have my barber close. I have tried other barbers in town and you’d be surprised how different my hair looks each time, whereas here I know what I’m getting. You know how it is. So not wanting to ‘curse’ it, I never sketched it. Anyway, recently I heard that the building would be demolished to make way for, well a more modern building that can charge more rent, I suppose. So I decided I just had to sketch it, for posterity. Now the last time I did this was The Beat, a record shop in Sacramento, I sketched it last summer before it was to move to ‘another location’. It was definitely not closing for good. Well, sadly it never reopened. I’m glad I sketched it, but the curse had struck again. So before finally putting the Razor’s Edge into my sketchbook, I went in and asked if the barber, Sukh, had found another location yet, just to make sure. He certainly had, and he’d signed a new lease and will definitely be moving into a new spot about a block away in July. “Hooray!” I exclaimed, and here is my sketch.
(And yes even I, with my low standards for cheap gags, cringed before using that title for this post, but it just had to be done. It’s not every day your barbershop closes.)
Recently I went to the Davis Farmers Market on a Wednesday evening to do a bit of sketching. It was a warm evening, as you get around here, and a lot of people were buzzing around getting food from vendors and listening to live music. It’s always tricky figuring out what to sketch; in order to capture the vibrancy of the scene, you need to sketch a bunch of people moving around. I chose a spot near the food vendors and sketched the market information building, which sells t-shirts and baskets and other such stuff, while a queue of people lined up before me for tacos, finding themselves inevitably the foreground subjects of my sketch. I stood holding my big sketchbook (the larger size Stillman and Birn Alpha book rather than my smaller everyday sketchbook) at an unusual angle, I look kinda funny when I sketch like that. Someone came to look at my work, but they were at the wrong angle and probably thought I was holding it up so they couldn’t see, but that’s just how I hold it, close to my chin like a violin. I had time that evening so added the paint on site, sitting down on one of those benches by the tree to do that. I didn’t eat a Naanwich or any other of the market foods, I can’t really eat and sketch.
Anyway this particular sketch (and several others) will be on display and for sale this month at the ‘Art Is Davis’ Co-op on D Street, Davis, as part of the ‘Scene In Davis‘ show. We will be having an artist’s reception in the early evening of Friday June 13th, so if you are in Davis please do come by, look at some of my sketchbooks, and say hello!
The rain came down in San Francisco, but I took a bus up to the Haight. It has been years since I was in this part of San Francisco, and I had forgotten how many amazing old colourful buildings there are to sketch around here. And hippies too, can’t forget the hippies, there are still lots of hippies. I walked about looking for a good dry spot to sketch from, and settled on a spot across the street from the historic Red Victorian, an old hotel and arts cafe, and a mainstay of “Peace, Man” San Francisco. I’ve always liked this building. There is the Peaceful World Cafe, they hold Peaceful World Conversations, and there’s also a Living Peace Museum. I must say, stood sheltered form the rain as I was, I felt pretty peaceful sketching it too (apart from one odd ‘crunchy’ guy making incomprehensible comments every time he shuffled past, but you get that when you’re out and about). You can find out more about the Red Vic and its owner, founder and artist in residence Sami Sunchild here: http://www.redvic.com/. Oh and here’s the map from my sketchbook.
Here is one from a month ago…getting there slowly… This is the junction of 3rd and A streets in Davis, at the entrance to the UC Davis campus. Imagine all the cyclists that come through here every day! Running through that Stop sign, barely dodging pedestrians, this is what Davis is all about. There’s a big second-hand textbook store across the street. My oldest friend sells academic textbooks, funnily enough, but he lives in Korea now. Here is the map, in case you are just not sure where this could be.
This is Mrak Hall. That’s “MRAK”, my dear autocorrect, not “Mark”. It is a big solid looking building on the UC Davis campus, the place where the administration sit, and make all the rules and policies we have to follow. I have sketched it before but not in a long while. I come here often to drop off paperwork and turn up a day early for meetings (doh!). In front there, on those two little hillocks (“HILLOCKS”, dear auto-correct…) are two of Robert Arneson’s Eggheads. This is called “See No Evil, Hear No Evil”, which was obviously named after a hilarious movie with Richard Pryor and Gene Wilder. The last time I drew them, they were located in a slightly different place, in fact they were pretty much where I sat to draw this picture. I sat on the steps of King Hall, whose extension forced the eggheads to move to the middle of the roundabout in 2009. In fact my last sketch is below, from 2007. That long ago?
Back to the sketches from San Francisco last month (that long ago now? Still more to post! I’m so behind…). This is the intersection of Columbus and Broadway, a colourful and bustling part of the city. I stood here sketching early on a Friday evening, getting a lungful of car fumes from all the traffic, with a warm sunset behind me. That over there is the city’s red light district – I overheard a couple of people use the phrase “titty-bars” which probably aren’t some sort of candy (or maybe they are?), and also a popular area for clubs and music. It always makes me think of San Francisco’s legendary Barbary Coast, which during the gold-rush was centered a block away on Pacific Street, a haunt of vagabonds and prostitutes, drunken sailors and cut-throat gamblers, a wretched hive of scum and villainy. The big bawdy signage on Broadway is probably tame in comparison. The signs I like the most are the ones on the right though, “No Stopping Any Time”, that one telling you not to go left across the street, basically keep away from the sinful side. It’s an important intersection this, though, as around me Chinatown effectively turned into the Italian North Beach. One tourist who had just walked up Grant Avenue with his family asked me if I could tell him where the Italian pastry shops were, this now being the Italian town. He went on to ask me about other districts, in particular Nob Hill, which I told him was a very steep climb. “Which ethnicity lives up there?” he asked. Maybe I should have said something funny, like “the Swiss”, because they like climbing big mountains, but I didn’t think of it at the time, and it wasn’t all that funny anyway. So I just said “the rich,” and got a nonplussed look as if to say, that’s not an ethnicity. I meant to give my explanation as “the rich live on Nob Hill because they are used to climbing big mountains…of cash” but I didn’t think of it at the time, and it wasn’t all that funny anyway. I shrugged, they went off in search of pastry and I carried on sketching. The map below shows where I was.
There is more SF sketchage to come, by the way, so stay tuned crude-map-fans…
This is Fast Mart, on the corner of B and 2nd in Davis. I think it’s called that because you go there when you don’t want to be tempted to eat anything. Or maybe this is where Quicksilver shops. I’m not sure, all of these stores have similar names after all (like Kwik-e-Mart). In actual fact, if you look closely, the store is called “Fast and Easy Mart”. This is what happens when you get mergers, Easy Mart was probably bought out by Fast Mart like when Sky bought BSB (that’s pretty obscure reference for you, people not living in Britain twenty years ago), resulting in “BSkyB”, or as it’s more commonly known, “Sky”. I’ve never liked ‘mart’ as a shortening of ‘market’ either, as another word for ‘shop’ or ‘store’, though we don’t really use it in everyday conversation, “I’m just going down the mart, want a tin of pop?” Still, it’s a place to get a massive fountain soda on a hot day. I like what is above the store though, the sculptures of the musicians. “The Lamplighter Players”, they are called, sculpted by local artist Tony Natsoulas. This little shopping strip is sometimes called Lamplighter Square. The clock behind them must be wrong, because I sketched this during my lunchtime. Perhaps they are located three hours into the future? Either that or my eyesight is going (which it is, but thankfully my optometrist is just across the street). No map this time folks, just have to imagine it, or go there yourself.