nice one, centurion, like it


Illustration Friday this week, well, “packed” – considering we still aren’t completely unpacked it was appropriate. Two weeks in the new place and it’s still hard to remove some objects from their very temporary homes. We only moved a hundred yards, for heaven’s sake, I can see my old apartment from my new one (it’s a bit like seeing Russia from Sarah Palin’s house). The books are all on the shelf (permanent positions undecided), CDs, records, glasses, knives and forks; it’s the stuff marked “misc” (or “pete misc”, to be precise) that is having a hard time settling.

Speaking of new homes: this is my 100th post on my new website (hence the title). That’s 700 posts in all if you include the old blog. Wow. At this rate, I should hit 1000 posts in around… April 2010.

three years across the pond

Tomorrow, I will have been living in America for exactly three years. Just wanted to note. It was, I won’t pretend, a shock of a move at first, leaving behind family and friends (and match of the day), but I think I’ve kept busy. I wrote a weekly column on my old blog called “from the us of eh”, describing my initial thoughts about this new place I lived in. I draw those thoughts now, mostly, non-verbally.

You can read them all here: “from the US of eh”.

Here’s to more years (depending on the outcome of Nov 4, of course).

sold down the river

Under the toun of newe Troye,
Which tok of Brut his ferste joye,
In Temse whan it was flowende
As I be bote cam rowende

(John Gower, Confessio Amantis)

a ship on the thames

Another boat? Yes, this one was on the Thames last year, and so today I drew it into my small wh smith sketchbook. There’s the City in the background. I always seem to draw London in black and white these days; is it becoming like an old film to me already?

In this time of incredible financial turmoil, a picture of something actually staying afloat in the financial heart of the City.

bic to school


It’s that time of year again. Things start getting busy in the academic world. I invigilated (or ‘proctored’ as they say here) an exam today, during the air-conditioned silence of which I drew part of my bag (“draw what is in front of you”) in my rhodia notebook, in ball-point pen. I like drawing in biro, though I don’t do anything other than scribble endlessly and mindlessly in it (this accounts for at least 70% of all the drawing I do, mostly scowling faces and figures with lightsabres or football shirt designs, which you never see). Squared rhodia paper seems so appropriate (and I love it, it reminds me of France). Behind the bag, some of the extremely hard stats stuff, none of which I could make head nor tail of, but which I’m sure looked like elegant poetry to the trained eye.

chez nous

chez nous

First drawing in the new apartment. Unpacked boxes not in view. Wish I hadn’t done the shsding lines on the walls, but they have a ‘sod it, just finish and go to bed’ feel to them. This apartemtn is in reverse to the old one, it’s wierd, like bizarro world or something.

say your prayers

An attempt at Barack Obama (but looks a little like Les Ferdinand). Funny, Tony Blair was on John Stewart’s show this week because he’s now teaching at Yale on faith and globalization and he mentioned about how it’s not quite proper for British PMs to talk about their religion, how in the UK it’s a much more personal thing, and yet out here the Pres has to be seen to be worshipping God on every corner (well, let’s face it, it’s to win votes in the Bible Belt).

barry o'bama

That said, Blair could only convert to Catholicism after leaving office, because to do so while in Downing Street would have been a huge political no-no (even now they are still quite sceptical of Catholics in the UK, oh how things have changed since 1688).  Here, however, for all their ‘separation of church and state’ affectations, and for all their ‘freedom of religion’ founding ideals, it is pretty much a given that an atheist will never be President (unless, perhaps, someone chose a ‘token’ atheist as their running-mate to win the God Less America vote). Barack Obama is a Christian – yet it seems people are not convinced that he isn’t a Muslim: just the other day, on NPR, a woman said that she thought he was a secret Muslim, giving her justification as she “just didn’t trust him”. Opinion polls equal democracy here, by the way (to quote Dan Bern). But, what if he were, would it matter? He’d still believe fervently in God after all, same as you Governor Palin. If his faith is the issue, that would clearly not be in question, and if the system the US has is designed such that religion is kept separate from political issues, then again it wouldn’t matter if he worshipped Papa Smurf or Gargamel, it wouldn’t affect his foreign policy. Unless, of course, you actually believe it should. Unfortunately it appears so many do.

Incidentally, came across this blog entry just now, a guy in Alaska who staged a one-man protest against Sarah Palin by simply sitting outside the Alaska governor’s mansion with the sign “Palin Lies” (which, it is becoming increasingly apparent, she certainly does, especially with regards to earmarks). Fair play to the man; unless he means Michael Palin? “No, the parrot’s not dead, he’s just stunned”.

Anyway, that’s my religio-political blogging for the month (and I write this wearing a Celtic shirt). If you want me, I’ll be putting lipstick on pigs to see if they really are still pigs. I don’t know what it means but apparently it’s popular.

if you wanna be my cover

covered by chemists

I was not a great chemist at school. I hated Bunsen Burners, you see, and those little gas-taps on each desk were just trouble waiting to happen (then again everything was at my old school). I used to like drawing on the desks, and in the textbooks, but that’s it. However, I was happy to lend my one of my lunchtime drawings to the UC Davis Chemistry department for their new graduate handbook (which made me want to completely redesign our own graduate program handbooks). I remember, it was a really cold December day when I drew this, I was proving my tenacity to myself (like I do when it’s hot in the Summer). I hope the chemists like it. Just don’t get me near those Bunsen Burners.

KMnO4, Potassium Permangenate. I knew at the time that t might be the only thing I would ever retain in Chemistry. I was much better at Biology. But only really interested in German and Art.


nice with tea

nice with tea

Last week I was lucky enough to receive a package in the mail containing Cadbury’s chocolate buttons, sent from England by the fenland artist Anita Davies (check out her artblog). I had commented on one of her drawings (of a cake covered in chocolate buttons, it looked perfect to have with tea) that I had been moaning to myself that I can’t get Cadbury’s Buttons here in the US, and so she offered to send me some in exchange for a drawn postcard.

Cadbury’s Buttons for a drawing, well how could I refuse, and so I draw the picture below and popped it in the mail. It’s a picture of the Silo, which I’ve drawn on many a lunchtime (but a place which completely fails to sell Cadbury’s Buttons). It went from one flat land (Davis) to another (the Fens). I soon received my choccies (various different size Buttons, plus two ‘Freddo’s which were dunked in tea and eaten almost as soon as I saw them). Cheers Anita! Much appreciated.

So, folks, I draw for buttons.

but not for zips

but not for zips

Tell you what, I do love Cadbury’s Tiffin too…

and now i’m mrak, from outer space

mrak hall

We moved apartments this week, hence lack of activity in the pete sketchbook front; however I had to get lunchtime sketching at some point, and yesterday took my little stool down to an old chestnut of a sketching spot, the view of mrak hall from putah creek (drew it last year too). The creek is actually made of green pea soup; it’s always St.Patrick’s Day in the arboretum. You may notice that the two very small hills formerly in this view with the eggheads on top have now vanished, to be replaced with mud and construction, the groundwork for the extension to the law school, because apparently what this country needs is more lawyers. This means this view will not last much longer.

The weather is cooling off here, at last – yesterday I wore a jumper for the first time in absolutely ages (that’s a sweater to you). And a couple of days ago I even got – if it can be believed – several spots of rain on me!! That’s literally all there were. From the cloud that had obviously gotten lost. It’s the first rain since about February I think. Or since the 1890s, or I don’t know, it feels like such a long time. Most of my son’s life. His Irish genes must be confused (though he was born in a torrential central valley rainstorm). Still, he has his own room now so is as happy as larry. Anyway, those seven or eight spots of rain were probably just a teaser trailer for the winter. “Winter”. That’s a misnomer. California’s winters are like our British summers.

Here are some more views of Mrak.

100 degrees in davismrak, seen from the creeksee no evil back in mrak

and when it’s cloudy we say nothing at all

two bins and a bench

Yes; lunchtimes are getting a bit uninspired. Did this at the silo today during lunch. I’ve not drawn this week, until this. I just had to get the sketchbook out and draw the first thing I saw: in this case, a bench and two bins. Moving very soon to a new apartment in exactly the same complex, and moving means mind occupied. Especially since AT&T (named after the galactic empire’s battle-transport du choix) tell us that, even though we’re moving less than a hundred yards across the parking lot, same address, our internet speed will only be a third what it is now. That is, as they say here, bullshit man. I wonder if it will take a third as long to look at my website? I hope not.

At least the weather has gotten a little cooler. It’s so much nicer here when it’s not so hot. Really nice, I mean. I know you have had shitty rain in England almost all summer; sorry about that. We’ve not had rain since I don’t know when. Clouds? What are they? I forget.

Moving, though. I hate moving. Ever.