and a happy new year

humpty dumpty

humpty dumpty

This is what I looked like on my first ever New Year’s Eve. Rather the lump I was. This New Year’s Eve, 32 years later, I look a bit more rough around the edges, but that is because we just arrived back from London, and a long and tiring journey it was. Gets more difficult every time. It is my son’s first New Year also, but he is thankfully fast asleep. I should be able to post a bit more regularly now I’m back in the US, after I’ve scanned the rest of my drawings from London and Belgium, but in the meantime enjoy your parties and your fireworks, I hope you all had an excellent Christmas, and I wish you a happy 2009. I’m off to bed.

jingle all the way

in the globe at moorgate

Twas two nights before Christmas, and all over the City, nobody about, not even a mouse…

Well there were a few post-work revellers lingering in the Globe pub in Moorgate where I met my friend Simon for a bit of late-night nocturnal urban sketching. I did this quickly in the pub before he got there (so that I was one sketch ahead, you see; we’re very competitive). We wandered off through the deserted streets,guildhall at night far from the madding crowd, and sketched in front of Guildhall, which remarkably I had never been to before. It was fun. It was dark, but the buildings were lit and there was a soft mist in the air. Do you know, it has’t rained once since I have been here? Considering my last rain-soaked trip in the summer, it is remarkable (while in California right now, rain rain and rain; “ha-ha” as nelson would say). We then wandered off in search of a pub that was actually open, and found one that was old and did Fuller’s beer, and we chatted and chatted away. I do miss chatting with my best mates.

(By the way, he ended up sketching more than I did)

But I have plenty more sketches I have been doing on this trip which I haven’t yet scanned…

charing cross road


Merry Christmas!

Okay so here’s what I want, a black rickenbacker guitar (12 string would be nice), and you can get it from this shop, Macari’s. Ok, fair enough, a nice pair of socks will do. Anyway, I was out in Central London having a wander and I stopped on Charing Cross Road to draw the shop itself. It was here that I bought my acoustic gitar, the one I still play, 12 years ago.  

So, Christmas. How many mince pies have I eaten this week? I’m eating one right now actually. As Santa’s representative on earth I get one on christmas eve. What’s going on in the UK? Woolworths, now that was sad, going in there today to look at empty cleared shelves, people rummaging through nothingness while the former best place to buy christmas gifts rolls over and dies, and as of today it takes zavvi (formerly virgin megastore) with it, which is an utter disaster for me. That big store on the corner of Oxford Street was a home away from home for me growing up. This downturn is just hitting so hard here you don’t know what will collapse next.

On that cheery note (what am I, the new Eastenders?), from a country where although you might hear the names Jordan and Peter Andre too often, you never hear the name Sarah Palin (and that is such a good thing), I wish you all a Happy Christmas.

(incientally, i drew this with a new pen I’d not discovered before now, a uni-pin fineliner 0.1, bought from paperchase – bloody god it was too)

while we were getting high

I’ve been back in London almost a week now, and done a fair bit of sketching; but not much scanning or getting online. I did post this picture on the urban sketchers site though – it’s the Gatehouse pub in Highgate, an area I used to live in, and one which I  love. The Gatehouse is right on top of the hill, and while the wetaher has been really mild and bright since we arrived, it was a little nippy while I sat drawing this.

the gatehouse in highgate

I hadn’t intended on going to Highgate that day. I was on my way in to the City to go to an exhibition (This Tiny World, by my cousin, and it was very good) but the tube stopped in Golders Green (typical; welcome back to London). So I detoured to Highgate and had a little mooch around my old stomping ground: Highgate Village, Waterlow Park, Hornsey Lane, Archway. I used to go to this pub sometimes, but I didn’t on this day – I finished the wash in the warmth of the nearby Angel Inn. I miss this part of the world a lot.

did yer mama always tell ya that the old ones are the best?

christmas back home

It’s Christmas, here in Burnt Oak, back where i grew up, and here’s the big tree at my mum’s house, drawn this morning after the baby went down for a nap. It looks so Christmassy here! I haven’t been outside yet; it’s been sunny, and cold, and cloudy, and I just know it will rain when I do go out. Urban sketching! I turned on the TV last night, couldn’t sleep, and on came “Merry Cliffmas”. Yes, he is still around (I won’t write his name because the search engines will bring a load of people here looking for him), but I suppose he is at least someone I’ve heard of. The longer I’ve been gone, the fewer ‘celebs’ I’ve heard of here.

My son however discovered the Tweenies this morning.

down all the years, down all the days

blue posts in soho

I’m re-posting an old one today: the heart of Soho, London. I used to tell people it was called Soho because it was South of Hoxford Street. It’s really an old hunting cry (like tally-ho), because it used to be a hunting ground (well, it still is really). The grounds used to be marked with blue posts, and that is where the name of this old pub comes from. This is from over a year and a half ago. I sat on the very dusty street and started a new sketchbook as people stepped over me, as Londoners do. I went off for a pint afterwards, as Londoners do, in the nearby Ship (an old fave of mine).

I’m posting this because tomorrow I’m flying back to London for Christmas, and I am going to go on a sketch crawl around Soho (and environs) this Saturday. I’ll start at Soho Square and follow my nose. If any London-based sketchers want to come along, I’ll be starting about 10:30am by that funny little shed in the middle of the square (even if it rains).  So if you fancy it, do come along! I’m the guy with red hair and a scarf crouched over a moleskine holding his pen funny.

And if it rains, well there’s always the pub.

at my dear land of story books

Some of my baby son’s toys and books and things. He particularly likes “Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What do You See?” The large toy at the top is the French one, but his current favourite toy is not pictured: a colourful guitar toy from the backyardigans, whoever they are (apparently they sing a song about the “movers of arabia”, whatever that is).
toys, and things

Drew this in his journal. And this is my entry for Illustration Friday this week, theme “Rambunctious“. I had to ask my wife what that meant, as I think it’s more common a word over here than where I’m from. Full of energy. Babies who are on the verge of walking are certainly that, we are finding.

and the dead tree gives no shelter

how i spent my lunchtime

We’ve been here before, once or twice. The Silo, UC Davis. A cold December day, in fact turned too hot by the bright winter sunshine, my shade being muscled out until my ears were hot and red. The sunlight was too warm. It was uncomfortable. I even knocked my water pot into my paint set; I didn’t like that much. I thought of all the urban sketchers out there freezing their fingertips off in colder and wetter climes, and there’s me complaining about the heat. Hey, I’m British, that is what we do.  

I posted this on Urban Sketchers, so I did. Incidentally this is post number 150 since I started this blog in April. that’s 750 since April 05, including my old blog. I’m still managing an average of 50 posts every three months. Statto.