my fair lady

I painted the ladies again. Well I drew them first. San Francisco’s famous old houses, sloping down Alamo Square, with the City in the background.

painted ladies again

The last drawing I did of the Painted Ladies was in sepia. I added colour this time. They are supposed to be colourful after all. This will very likely be for sale on my long-time-coming Etsy shop which is of course not yet ready. Keep your ears peeled.

I do love these buildings, but now when I see them I think of that awful Sleep Train Mattress Center commercial on TV (“a ticket to a better night’s sleep”), which uses them (or near approximations).  the thing about those commercials is they always do these special holiday greetings for events throughout the year. They use the standard American commercial ‘Happy Holidays’ line at Christmas, fair enough. For Easter, however, they used the over-generic “Happy Spring”, Easter being a bit religious for them (though I can go into how the word and the bunny and egg-hunting have absolutely nothing to do with Christian religion). And yet, throughout March, they constantly wish you a Happy St.Patrick’s Day. Which is wierd, because that is a religious, Christian event (or at least it is in Ireland); it’s named for a saint. Sure, it’s an event for the Irish – though as we know, everyone wants to be Irish on March 17, so they can pretend to be an Irish sterotype and pretend they like Guinness (I’m London Irish, and I can’t stand Guinness). It’s just funny how ‘Christmas’ and ‘Easter’ are seen to offend on religious grounds in the eyes of commercial-makers, yet the saint’s day of a very Catholic country is not. Just an interesting observation. Anyway that’s what crosses my mind when I think of those adverts, and now, by association, these buildings. But I still love them, whatever holiday it is.

who ate all the pi’s

I’ve mentioned the Davis frat houses before, and I will mention them again, because I drew another one (or rather, a different part of one I’ve drawn before). There are lots of them, lining the streets just outside campus. they are currently pretty quiet, but give it a month or two and these places will be rocking out to the new academic year. Rushes, hazing, all of that fun stuff that comes with these strange greek-lettered clubs. Some frats are old, really old, while others cater to certain fields, such as law, or ethnic groups. The one below, Theta Xi, is presumably the frat-house of apprentice cab-drivers.  However I still can’t find the house of the boating fraternity (Rho Rho Rho)…

If I had gone to university in America, I would not have been a frat boy. I would have gone to the parties though, for sure.  I can’t help wondering if those greek letters are just an old form of textspeak, like Omicron Mu Gamma, Beta Phi Phi, or, from the society of proctologist comedians, Lamda Mu Alpha Omicron.

who washes the washmen

19, baths

Number 19 of 30. This is the bathroom. I do only ever take showers, and showers are very nice. Especially when it is hot, there’s nothing like the energy of a shower. But I love baths. Or, rather, used to love them, when I could actually be bothered to take them. It’s probably because I grew up with a bath, and showers were something you only saw at swimming pools. Plus, when I was a kid, I hated washing my hair, because I hated water getting in my eyes. It was the absolute worst part of the day, for all involved. I could not bear it. They may as well have been pouring hydrochloric acid, rather than warm water and shampoo. And conditioner! Hah, I never understood why I needed conditioner, I kept my hair short. They did get me one of those things that go on your head to stop the water getting in your eyes, a foam circle that made me look like the planet Saturn. Hey, it worked. But even as I got older and washed my hair myself, I developed ways to avoid the shower head. I would fill the sink with water and dunk my head into it to wash my hair. Yes I’d bang my ears on the taps from time to time, and yes I’d have to refill the sink a couple of times, and yes I’d splash water onto the floor, but I got my hair clean, and on my terms. So it may be all of this that explains why, though I’m totally fine with the shower, I’ll always be a bath person. A bath person who only ever takes showers. So I’m a bit contrary, nothing new there.

czech out

little prague

I cycled downtown last night, while the air was cool, and looked for the latest World Soccer magazine (not to be found), looked through countless books written for year-and-a-half-year-olds (didn’t end up getting one; I’ll let the one-and-a-half-year-old choose for himself, he knows best), and stopped off for a beer in the Czech-style pub, Little Prague, always an excuse of course to do a drawing. Bar-sketching is tricky for me, as there are always a lot of bottles, plus the light is never that great, and my eyesight isn’t either (I think I need a new prescription on my glasses). But this pub has lots of interesting things to draw, at least. Up there, Fox 40 News, the mouthpiece of the dreaded Murdoch (but even so they were kind enough to show one of my drawings on TV a couple of months back).  I noticed that they had the closed captioning on, and that it was lagging a little behind, so they would talk about one story, eg Steven Tyler falling off stage, while the pictures would show an elderly woman and a shop fire; I did wonder at first, Tyler has really let himself go. I focused on the details. The pub’s music wasn’t very good. A couple were dancing.  There was a Russian wrestler sat to my left who complimented me on my drawing.

Ten years ago this month, my friend Tel and I took a trip to Prague, Big Prague, spending almost two weeks there. Oh, there are stories alright, memories, it was a fun trip but so long ago now. I’m less hectic now. I’d love to go back to Big Prague, but I imagine the beer is more expensive there now. In Little Prague, I drank Krusovice. It’s a nice beer. I’m pleased with how this turned out. It’s the height of summer, and it’s pretty cool.

have i got moos for you

They call us Cowtown. I don’t know who ‘they’ are, and I’m only presuming they mean cows of the bovine nature, but it is apparently a nickname for Davis. Yet in all the time I’ve been drawing here, I have never once drawn a cow. Until now.


These cows live in a field not far from where I work. I suppose they are research cows. I am told that some cows here have special windows in their stomachs so you can see what is going on. Again, no jokes about the windows having beef curtains, please. Anyway, I didn’t see any belly-windows. I imagine it would be a pane anyhow. I have been meaning to draw the cows for quite some time, but have avoided it because there’s never anywhere to site (remedied by bringing a chair this time), and there’s no shade so it’s always too hot and sunny (so I wore a hat and put on sunscreen). I didn’t mind the smell, though I don’t eat red meat, but the additional insect activity annoyed me, predictably. So a half-hour sit-down later, and I had drawn the cows. they kept moving about. Some tried to get on top of other cows (not like acrobats, though that would be fun to draw), and there was a lot of mooing, though they were kind of rubbish moos, more like squeals. I like a good proper moo, myself. something like Bully the dart-playing bull used to do on Jim Bowen’s Bullseye. Let’s have a look at what you could have won. Moooo….

big-toe shoe

The navy blue Stride-Rite (why don’t these companies spell properly? Makes it sound like a magic incantation for silly walks), next of my son’s shoes, and the first with a hard sole.

#5: big-toe shoe (side view)

And, as you can see, a very big toe. The sole is thick moulded rubber, useful for when baby takes long hikes on treacherous mountain trails, while the rest is squidgy and hard to draw. The toe is interesting because it’s so big. This shoe is the real deal, presented here in two views. I love the shape of the top drawing. You’d be forgiven for wondering what the drawing below actually is. It is the rear view; it is not Darth Vader’s ski-mask. They might be a giant spider’s fangs. When I started drawing it, I was in a well-lit room, but when I did the shading, the room was considerably darker. It’s useful sometimes to know when to stop.

#4: big-toe shoe (back/top view)

Drawn in Micron Pigma 02 and 01, in a small Moleskine cahier.

soccer shoe

3, soccer shoe

Third in the Luke’s Shoes set. Another slip-on Robeez shoe, this time with a football (or ‘soccer-ball’) on it. I drew it a bit darker than intended, perhaps due to not knowing when to stop, but I’m still pleased with the overall effect. This was a very difficult thing to draw. It barely stayed in any sort of shape. In real life it is red and black, and would often get comments of ‘cute shoes’ from passers-by. But all baby shoes are cute, aren’t they?

Speaking of football, I was sad to hear about the passing of the great Bobby Robson, one of the real old gents of football, who perhaps may not have won the glittering silverware at home that some managers have, and unappreciated as England manager (aren’t they all?) until he was on his way out, but what he did at Ipswich and at clubs around Europe, and as the mentor of Mourinho, stood him in the highest respect. RIP Sir Bobby.