this is not america

I’ve always wanted to draw this building, the Cooper House, on the corner of 4th and F in Davis, so today I finally did. Now I don’t have to ever again.

cooper house

In that article this week I was quoted saying that Davis looked like America and that I was drawing it to show people back home; I said something about it being all picket fences. I think to date I’ve drawn one picket fence, two years ago. Well, there was a mini one here, and I guess this ragged collection of sticks is a technical picket fence (and I drew it a second time to be sure), but they are still notable in their absence. There are actually fewer pickets than, um, er, help me out here, something about strikes. The point I’m making is, um, Davis really isn’t a picket fence type of town. Actually there are more two-level apartment complexes than anything else, housing students and scholars and all the other folk. Perhaps they don’t like pickets here. Perhaps they cause a fence (oh please, come on). Anyway, I think even without the fence, this drawing says ‘America’ to some degree. Don’t ask me, I’m British.

maybe it’s because i’m a londoner

Earlier this month I officially became a published illustrator, and this week I finally received my copy of London Walks – London Stories! I was excited to receive it, and it’s quite the book; a shame I’m not in London, to walk around with it and learn a few new things. As a devout though exiled London Walks - London StoriesLondoner, and a former tour guide and London historian myself, to be asked to illustrate a book about my home city written by the guides to whom I always revered (the blue-badge London Walks folk), well an absolute honour to say the least.

One of the funny things, my name appears on the inside title page just above Rick Steves, the celebrated PBS travel guy, who wrote the foreword. Surreal! The book will be out here in the US on April 28 (I found out on amazon). The drawings have already been appearing on the London Walks leaflets you get in all the tourist places in London, in minute form, but here is how they look now:

london walks page

 I haven’t read it all yet, so I’m off to do so.

under the brown fog of a winter dawn

Bit of a misnomer that title, this being actually a sunny lunchtime sketch (and being about Davis and not London), but it’s from the Waste Land and it’s therefore cool, and sprang to mind when I was finished.
holding water

And it is winter, or at least what they call winter here. This is the tall UC Davis Water Tower (and environs).

Speaking of which, today is Pancake Day, but this year I didn’t make any pancakes. My little plastic lemon squeezer thing (yes, just like the old jif lemons but not called as such here) is out of date, by a month (bit stupid, I bought it for last year’s pancakes and then it goes and expires in less than a year, it’s like when you buy mince pies that end up expiring on December 24th, yes you know what I’m talking about, marks and spencer). It put me off.

Also posted at urban sketchers. That extraordinary site is growing and growing…

paper view

That’s me there, on the front page of the local paper. That’s my double-jointed thumb, too.davis-enterprise-sun-feb22-09-smaller

The Davis Enterprise published a feature about me and my local sketches today in their new online edition (you probably won’t be able to read that after today, unless you subscribe to the paper), saying that i ‘save the world every day’ (referring to that ‘how to save the world’ thing I did). Quite funny, really. I’ve no idea what I was going on about; I said Davis was flat as a pancake (well, it is). There’s something about Levi Leipheimer and Lance Armstrong to the left there. And look beneath: rain! It really does rain in Davis!

yer blues

yer blues

blue siloLooking down at the interior of the Silo (the place where I most often eat and sketch at lunchtimes) yesterday, with a micron 05 blue/black pen. It’s the other side of a drawing I did well over a year ago from the same spot, also in blue, but that time was cobalt copic 0.1; see it on the right there. That was back in Moleskine #1! Wow. I’m on #4 now.

I gotta say, you overhear some boring conversations at lunchtime. Not that I listen, but sometimes you can’t miss them. So-and-so did this, so-and-so did that, blah blah blah. Must remember my bigger headphones.

frat luck

frat house

A frat house downtown. I’ve mentioned before about the frat houses in Davis, all running along the edge of campus. They are so sketchable, yet I rarely get around to drawing them.

Did I mention the Amgen Tour of California, kind of like the Tour de France of California (like, dur), started here in Davis (amid a massive rainstorm) on Sunday? Well I missed it, sadly (hey, I stayed warm and dry, don’t feel too bad). Huge event. Lance Armstrong. Serious stuff. Davis is the bike capital of America and didn’t want anything to go wrong, this is a showcase. Now Davis did do really well, however… Lance Armstrong’s bike got nicked. No, not in Davis, and not while he was riding in the race; it was his one-of-a-kind time trial bike which he’d used the day before in Sacramento. Someone actually half-inched it. The most famous cyclist in the world. 

I hope he didn’t chain it to a bollard, like David Cameron.

clock wise

clocking in

The grandfather clock at the Avid Reader in Davis. You may recall I used to work there a while back, at a little desk under the stairs at the back there behind the language books. I drew that desk once.

ain’t no sunshine

ain't no sunshine

Hey, it can’t be sunny all the time in Davis.

Storms have been rolling in, and I’ve watched them roll away again. More storms to come. While the rain stopped I was outside during lunch today capturing part of the Silo complex, but then drips and drops started falling from the sky. I ducked beneath a shelter to finish the pen and write some notes on the colours (‘cos you know, not like I’ve sketched here before or anything), and did the wash at home. This is page 1 of moleskine 4, it’s so nice starting a new book.

all’s well that ends well

If we shadows have offended,
Think but this, and all is mended,
That you have but slumber’d here
While these visions did appear.
(William Shakespeare, A Midsummer Nights Dream, V-I)


The back cover of the watercolour moleskine number 3, drawn in cobalt copic. I’ve enjoyed this sketchbook in particular; it has covered a lot of ground. You can see all of the pictures in this particular moley right here. I hope I learn as much in my next ‘moley’, which is waiting patiently to be started.

Speaking of moleskines, I got a very nice mention on the ‘moleskinerie’ site the other day. An honour!