see you on the other side

Having just drawn Mrak from the other side of Putah Creek, and noted over the past few years its vanishing appearance, I chose to draw from the front side (or it may be the back; like Buckingham Palace, the front is really the back and vice versa).

mrak from the other side

back in mrakAnd naturally, I have drawn it before, and therefore you get to see how the view is slowly vanishing even on this side, as a forest grows at its very toes. Well, not exactly, more that the last time I drew it was late Fall or early Winter (whichever it is called here), and the trees did not have many leaves. But it illustrates the recurring theme. That drawing was way back at the start of Moleskine #2; I am now more than halfway through Moleskine #4.

sensible shoe

#2: sensible shoe

Second in the series of Luke’s Shoes, these were in fact the first ones he ever wore, sensible little blue and brown shoes he often liked to take off and eat. Before babies can walk their feet are chubby with more rounded soles, and so the shoes are more flexible. Now he walks, his shoes have sturdier soles. I’ve learnt a lot about baby shoes. Well, not that much. He on the other hand is learning (or teaching himself) how to put shoes on, any shoe, big or small, and is frustrated that he can’t get these ones on his feet any more. Kids are funny. But then again, I’m the one drawing shoes. “My dad’s wierd, he draws shoes” will probably be what he tells people when he’s older, but that’s ok. I kind of made it one of my art goals to learn to draw shoes, which I don’t really draw often, so it’s a good place to start.

rocket shoe

luke's shoe #1: rocket shoe

I’m starting a new series; this is #1. I am drawing my son’s shoes; as he gets bigger, so do they. The series will take a long time to finish. He doesn’t wear these ones any more, but he wore them before he was one, before he could walk. They are elasticated at the ankle so it’s hard for babies to take them off and throw them from the stroller. Plus they look really cool, with the little rockets on them. Everyone – well, women – always commented on his lovely shoes. He doesn’t wear them now, instead he runs all over the place with his rocket-powered feet. 

Drawn in micron 02 in a moleskine cahier, if you’re interested. I’m going to fill the whole little book with Luke’s shoes.

the slowly vanishing mrak hall

I’ve drawn this view three summers in a row now. Each year, the creek has been a green pea soup, the tree on the left has been an orangey brown, and the weather has been a hot hundred degrees. Well, near enough. It was certainly over a hundred today.

mrak hall... with the law school ruining the view

mrak hallMrak Hall, the university powerhouse, stays ever the same in the background. In 2007, however, there were two grassy hillocks, with two of Robert Arneson’s Eggheads on them. Probably the highest ground in Davis? They were razed to the ground, for the new law school extension. When I drew it again in 2008, the hillocks were gone, replaced with some wire-fencing, a load of mud and a construction truck. Now in 2009, the shell of the law school is now there, King Hall, blocking the view. I’m glad I drew it. I’ll draw it again next year, with the finished law school, if they finish it.

mrak, seen from the creek

god only nose

18, crayon up nose

Number 18 of 30. What was I thinking? Well, can you remember how rational your thoughts were at age six? It was pretty silly, even for me.  I don’t recall exactly but I think I told me friend Hartman, or it might have been Mark, that I could put the crayon in my nose, but then it got stuck. The crayon was fairly small, and yes it was green. I remember that I tried to get it out, but ended up pushing it further in. I didn’t want to tell the teacher at first, Miss Welsh I think it was. When I did, they took me to the little medical room, which consisted of a hammock type bed and a strong smell of Dettol, where Mrs Lyons I think it was said I’d need to go to the hospital, so the headmaster himself, Mr Grist, drove me there. The doctors got it out with tweezers; I think about this incident every time I see a pair of tweezers now. Mr Grist drove me back to school in time for hometime, and my worried looking older brother was there to collect me from the main office. Silly boy. But I never did it again.

medieval on your ass

17, medieval english

I enjoyed doing my MA. It was at King’s College London, so I got to spend hours every day in the incredible Maughan library in Chancery Lane, as well as the indispensable Senate House. Among other things (such as an excellent course in the literature of Medieval London), I studied Germanic Philology: specifically Old Saxon, Old High German and Gothic, as well as Old English. I travelled to Switzerland, where I actually held in my hands the oldest surviving text in the German language, the twelve-hundred year old ‘Abrogans‘ manuscript. In terms of ‘which medieval’ I studied – Anglo-Saxon or Middle English, early medieval or late, I preferred to look at the middle ground, at the supposed boundary areas where one period becomes another. How language was affected by the way its speakers chose to convert to Christianity, in Germany at least, and in England, the way French imposed itself upon English in its transition to what we call Middle English. I argued against the supposition that cross-Channel antagonism in the Hundred Year’s War led to the downfall of spoken French in England. It was all very interesting, and I learnt a massive amount, mostly about how to conduct academic research; however, I have not done quite as much research since, just bits here and there. I moved to America a week after handing in my dissertation and have lived here ever since.

out to lunch

silo lunchers

A couple of sketches, a week apart, both lunchtime scenes from the Silo at UC Davis. I’ve sketched there once or twice before. I don’t know who the couple are. I drew this a couple of years ago with a caption about how overheard conversations are not very interesting. However, I did overhear one conversation, two young students talking, one girl impressing the other girl with her knowledge of ancient Greek tales, particularly the fall of Troy. The other had not seen the film, she said. Well the first went into minute detail about the events of the war, right up to the Trojan horse (which was the point of the conversation, as she was explaining the meaning behind the phrase), which according to her was filled with Trojans, not Greeks, Trojans who were invading Troy. I smiled. It made a change from all the talk of budget cuts and furloughs.


D street Davis

That’s an antiques shop across the road there, on D Street in Davis. I don’t really do antiques; I’m sure they’re very nice, but I was put off them as a kid when forced to trawl through enormous car-boot sales and watch Antiques Roadshow on those long grey Sundays (that was presented by another Scully, though unrelated). Give me another fifteen or twenty years, I say, then I might be interested. Still, I’m sure there’s a lot of cool stuff to draw in there. But going into such a store and whipping out the moleskine isn’t my thing. There’s never enough space, people always want to look at the thing you’re standing right in front of, and I’m so shy I could never ever ask the shopkeeper if it were ok; no, it’s easier to just sit across the road and sketch from a safe distance.

the delta breeze cometh

a cooler evening in davis

After six days of 100-plus weather, it finally felt a bit cooler tonight (though it was mid-90s today). I cycled down to the edge of Davis, to that spot by the levee I sketched a couple of Mondays back (it’s always when the Bachelorette is on TV that I head down here). That sketch is here. The sunset, if you’re wondering, is in the other direction, this mass of colour in the sky is likely from the terrible hazy air we have here in the Valley, it just hangs there above Sacramento, especially in heatwaves. The Delta Breeze is in tonight though, cooling everything down.
There’s my bike again. It’s standing up now, because I had a kickstand added to it. In the distance, West Sacramento. I heard on the news yesterday that a mountain lion had been spotted in West Sac. The mountains are behind that haze in the distance; perhaps it is just lost. I kept my eyes open.

it’s a bit early in the midnight hour for me

16, i stay up too late

And so back to the as yet unnamed series! We’re in the second half now, 16 of 30. This is me looking up at my shelf. The middle part of the words have been expressed before. Oh, I have always stayed up late. I seem unable to let go of the day, for some reason. It’s not simply, “I can’t sleep”, not that at all, it’s just I don’t get tired until late. I get a burst of energy, my mind starts thinking of all these things, I draw pictures, I don’t know. Whenever I have tried to go to bed earlier, I do lie in bed awake, unable to sleep, or I wake up at all sorts of funny hours. When I was younger though, I used to be able to stay up all night, no problem; nowadays if I do that I’m suffering for days. That’s age, I guess. I’m not descended from early-to-bedders, either.

Prisoner Cell Block H…now that was my favourite show. I watched it for years; it was the first run in the UK, but it was many years behind Australia. Bea Smith, the Freak, Vinegar Tits Vera Bennett, Frankie Doyle, all classic characters. Now of course I’m going to get google search engines sending fellow Prisoner fans this way. The search engines have been sending some funny things here lately. On WordPress they tell you which searches have led people to your blog. I wish I’d documented them all, some have been hilarious. “Pissing at bus-stop” for some bizarre reason sends people here; why are so many people googling that though? “Arsenal Sketchbook” sent someone here once. But today I noticed that someone googled “Peter Scully my tour guide was useless”, and came to my blog (was that you? if so, what’s that all about?). That made me crack up laughing. Is it someone telling me about their useless tour guide, or are they saying that I was their guide and was useless (which I would contest, since I’ve not been a tourguide myself for many years so nobody who took my tour would remember my name, and anyway, I was bloody good…). Either way, I won’t lose any sleep over it. If I ever go to bed, that is.