some things you only see upon reflection

Big mirrors behind the bar always make you think about the Bar at the Folies Bergeres (get to the Courtauld, man, or just listen to Mr Solo), but also maybe of the bar at the good mixer in camden, which doesn’t have a mirror but has two sides; it took me years to realise there was a second side and that was why my reflection was invisible. I’d always imagined it was a vampire thing; it is Camden after all. More like a beer thing.

g street pub

This however is the G Street pub in Davis. I don’t go there very often; I prefer little prague. But I stopped in on the way home for a beer primarily because i fancied sketching the long bar and mirror area. There was an ice hockey match on a big screen, reflected in said mirror, and it wasn’t busy (there was a guy who reminded me of kevin smith a little bit, or it might have been silent bob). To be honest I got a bit frustrated with it, I was trying something different, attacking the long page with microns 1 and 01, and decided to give it a wash, drink up, and go home. I was also frustrated with my eyesight trying to make out distant details, even though it wasn’t particularly dark it was still a strain. But when I scanned it in, I decided that  upon reflection I quite liked it after all, especially as a thumbnail.


a blue house by arboretumThe cycle path alongside the arboretum has a row of cool houses that look great for drawing, but I never found the time, until yesterday afternoon on the way home from work. You may well be wondering what that mound is. Yes, obviously it is the muddy middle of a cycle-roundabout. But it looks like it could be the top of a giant’s head, buried in the earth beneath Davis, waiting for his time to come again. I wouldn’t like a city to be built on my head. I was thinking about this while cycling home, noticing the new building being done further east (possibly where the contentious Target is being built?), taking over ‘waste’ land that is home to many hares and snakes and other wildlife. Snakes need somewhere to live too you know, you can’t just build and then evict them. The city thought about this of course when building a big road bridge right through an area where lots of toads (may have been frogs, some sort of amphibian) live. They decided that to help the toads get across the road (remember the game Frogger? Very influential in urban planning) they would build a tunnel under the road, the ‘toad tunnel’. Nice idea. But then all them snakes who now don’t have anywhere to live thought, hello, they built us a nice tunnel, that was nice of them, and it has a free constant supply of toads for us to eat too. So the city thought, ok we’ll put lights in the tunnel so the toads can see if there are any snakes lurking.  But the snakes just waited outside, grabbing them as they popped out. So the city decided to fool the snakes and build a little house – a post office, in fact – for the toads to go into the access the tunnel. Nice idea. Toads delighted. And then all the toads starting burning their backs on the lightbulbs in the tunnel, and the city just said, oh sod you then, we gave you a flipping post office, write and complain to your senator or something, we have better things to do than worry about a load of bloody frogs or whatever you are. Of course that lost them the amphibian vote (the tadpole-mom demographic), but, y’know, in local politics those are the risks you have to take.  

Maybe I’ll draw that toady post office some day, to prove I’m not making all this up. Except for the bit about the giant.

union rules


Moo. Sorry, I mean MU; cowtown is getting in my head. This the MU (Memorial Union), a kind of equivalent to our student unions in England, but notably without any naked drunk rugby players. I don’t know what it is memorising. And this is where I get my art materials, there in the UCD bookstore. All my microns, copics, what-not. I hang about in there looking at them, they must think I obsess (well I do). When I was a kid I would go into Tonibell’s (local burnt oak sweetshop, long gone) and stand there for about half an hour, trying to decide between a Mars or a Marathon. I haven’t changed, only now it’s between a purple Micron 005 or a cobalt Copic 03 (and sometimes between a Milky Way or a Snickers).

After drawing this (in high heat) I bumped into fellow cycling sketcher Pica, who had just bought art materials at this very store. I also bumped into a fellow Spurs fan from London, which was cool. Small world.

going nuclear

crocker nuclear lab

It’s comforting to know there is a high energy nuclear lab right next door to where I work. The Crocker Lab has been around for years, flinging protons and electromagnetic particles and stuff around. Apparently there was an old hog barn here before it moved in. I wonder if they’ve ever had any superhero-type accidents, like maybe a pig got left behind and became the Incredible Hog or Dr. Hamhattan, nobody would believe it anyway, they’d think you were telling porkies. Still, looks like the sort of place it could happen. Actually no, it looks like a school sports hall or something.

It was a hot day today, mid-90s, so I went out and sketched under the shade of a tree, and imagined porcine super-villains concocting some scheme to produce atomic bangers, or something.

that’s no moon

that's no moon

They call it the Death Star, but it’s too angular, and has no superlaser. It is home to some highly powerful people on campus however. I personally am not a fan of this building, Social Sciences & Humanities. Oh, it looks nice from afar, that huge angular, er, angle, which is supposed to represent the slope up to the Sierra Nevada mountains (yeah, hits it spot on, obvious really). But I have been lost many times in this gawd-forsaken labyrinth, up and down concrete passageways and open stairwells, and doors that no-through-doors. It is honestly like walking through an MC Escher painting. I find it an absolute Impossibility. Which, funny enough, is this week’s Illustration Friday topic, so this is my entry.

I sat outside at lunchtime (despite many sneezes, and the attack of lots of bugs – probably x-wing bugs) and drew this on the field in cobalt blue copic. The trees are still bright and spring-like.

never mind the bollards

on the borderline

Incredibly, I did an urban sketch today, after something like three weeks. I’ve been busy, preoccupied, but mostly afraid of the outside world – hay fever allergies, you see. Today they eased off so I braved it, and sat over on the borderline of campus and city – these bollards represent the boundary, crossable only by bike, between UC Davis World and the City State of Davis. They really are two entities, they feel so different to me. It might be imperceptible to many but I see it. This weekend, however, they all come together for the annual UC Davis Picnic Day, the showcase event of the year, and the largets open house of any university in America. It’s a big deal going back many decades, and it is ridiculously busy (so naturally I’m dreading it).

my fleeting mind

IF: fleeting

Illustration Friday this week is ‘Fleeting‘. This is Fleet Street. This could be Call My Bluff or it could be the Dictionary, Illustrated. Speaking of the Dictionary, Samuel Johnson, ol’ Sammy Johnno, me ol’ mucka, he used to live round the jack horner from ‘ere.

A sketchcrawl day today on which i could not sketchcrawl; i contemplated leaving the house for a bit but just couldn’t make it. I blame the hay fever. Big congestion. But I’m up and still drawing, somehow, inside and late in the evening, finishing off my Kwak that I’ve saved since Belgium, and tomorrowing Easter. No egg jokes. But I did manage a couple of golf jokes today while the Masters was on (I’m only allowed golf jokes once a year). One guy had two bogeys in a row; he probably has hay fever too, i said.

high tide, mid-afternoon

highgate high street

A second in a possible trilogy of Highgate drawings. This is the top of Highgate Hill, that’s the little village store there. Old brick is good. A world away from here, but only just, you know, over there.

I might not join the global sketchcrawl tomorrow. I need to; I haven’t been drawing much lately, and I might be out of the groove, or just taking a rest. Been busy. You always wonder if one day it’ll all just stop, that you’ll not pick up a pen and draw things, that the sketchbook will end up being a collection of blank, unfillable pages. If this habit is just that, a selfish frivolity. You always wonder, after some non-drawing days, if that’s actually today.

Mauer im Kopf.

frohe geblogstag

Today is one year since I set up this blog (and four years since I started the original blog). Over two hundred entries, or eight hundred in four years. Most of them with drawings (the past couple of years’ worth anyway).

a bridge to somewhere

To celebrate, a drawing of the golden gate bridge (which i drew for my sister, whose birthday it is today – happy birthday!) Thank you to all of you who have been following my sketches and drawings this past year and beyond.

name that toon

alan shearer

This week’s Illustration Friday theme is Talisman; my entry is football legend Alan Shearer, former talismanic striker for Newcastle Utd, and their new (temporary) manager. What a career he had: Southampton, Blackburn, Newcastle and of course England.  These days, his beloved home-toon club is in absolute turmoil; I thought being a Spurs fan was a hard ride. Now Shearer is in charge, can he keep them up? Will he be a talismanager?

For my American friends: Alan Shearer was an absolute goal machine in the nineties, but you might not know about him because he didn’t marry a pop-star or have a girl’s soccer film named after him (“Run Away After Scoring and Point in the Air Like Shearer” never made it off the storyboard). He was in that film ‘Goal’ though, which also featured cameos by both Beckham and Zidane. I know you’ve heard of them.