in the city there’s a thousand things

north beach, in colour

I added colour and some more pen to the drawing that I started the other day. I’m pleased with the result. This is a really cool and colourful corner of a cool and colourful city; the view from City Lights, in San Francisco’s North Beach, down Columbus, towards the Sentinel Building, the Trans-Am Pyramid, and the Financial District. I love it down there. This was drawn partly from a photo and partly from a similar drawing (so you wont see this on urban sketchers), both from a trip made last March, when it rained a little. I had just had a doughnut for breakfast. It was very good. I might give this away. Not to you, unfortunately; sorry. To someone else. I am however likely to be making prints at some point (my famous words, ‘at some point’). But I think with this picture I will, because I want one. Know any good print makers?

This was drawn with Copic pen on Canson watercolour paper.

power of vito

Second and final drawing of my short sketchcrawl yesterday, which was interspersed with getting hair cut, shopping for Christmas cards, and generally cycling round thinking, ‘oh I’ve drawn everything in Davis, I’m so uninspired’. So I stopped for lunch. A beer (New Belgium 2 Below, if you’re ordering), and a mountain of garlic fries.

uncle vito's

I made it a little over halfway through the mountain of garlic fries – I’m still suffering, next day – before going home. A big trough of garlic fries, it’s so unlike me. But I came in here – Uncle Vito’s, on the corner of E and 2nd – to draw the bar, so draw it I did. You can see me in the mirror there. There’s a bit of beermat philosophy that was going through my head as I made my way through the garlic fries surplus.

This place is fairly new, and occupies the space formerly tken by the Davis Driving School, and a little (cheap and not particularly good) chinese place called, I kid you not, Wok and Roll. They didn’t do garlic fries, but I can’t say they didn’t do stomachaches.

away from the numbers

courtyard behind davis church

Today was the day of the 25th Worldwide Sketchcrawl – in fact it was also the fifth anniversary of the first one. I was pretty busy today, getting my hair cut and other important stuff, so wasn’t able to really take part, but I brought my sketching stuff with me (as always) downtown and managed to knock out a couple (by that I mean, draw two pictures, not actually knock out some poor unsuspecting couple). The second one was done while having a beer and some garlic fries (some! it was a mountain, I barely ate half). The fries made me feel sick, but they were tasty. I haven’t added colour to that one yet so you’ll not see it here just yet. I didn’t manage to meet with the main Davis sketchcrawl (I forgot to check the forum before I left). It was cold today, cold and bright. My micron pens were feeling it. I managed to draw this one (very typical pete, tree coming out of the top of the frame) in a quiet courtyard on C street, behind the Davis Community Church and away from the throng of the Davis Farmer’s Market. What a wimp, I thought to myself. How can I be cold? People all over the world are sketching in colder and probably wetter places than me. But I made sure my next sketch was indoors. Am I becoming a Californian?

the e street strummer

12-string guitarist, E st

He stands outside Chipotle and Peet’s Coffee n E Street, busking on his twelve-string at lunchtimes when I am there, sounding like Dylan, Nelson, Haggard; his music is very nice. He has one of those harmonicas you can play while guitaring; no cymbals at the knees though. Very distinctive with his long white hair, moustache, sunglasses; he has a long feather in his hat. One of the characters of Davis.  He was singing a song about watercoloured wine while I was drawing this, munching on my burrito. It was cold outside; November is really kicking in. The Fall Colours have just exploded all around us, the trees have suddenly turned the colour of flames, and there’s no way I’ll keep up with them.

life’s a beach

north beach (pen), in progress

A few more details to add, plus a colour wash, and this will be done. I have drawn this before, in cobalt blue; this one is entirely from the photos, rather than started on site and abandoned due to rain, to be finished at home. It is North Beach in San Francisco (but where’s the beach, I ask you?), the view down Columbus from City Lights. I like that Vesuvio place, I want to go back there some time. Those lines in the distance are the lights from an alien spacecraft that is beaming its little green people down upon the foggy city, where they will probably ride the cable-car and see the sea-lions at Pier 39.

between a rock and a hard place

central bar, hard rock Las Vegas

The Central Bar at the Hard Rock Hotel, Las Vegas. Stopped there first on my overnight trip to Sin City. Not much sinning going on, but lots of beer and some great Bavarian food at the Hofbrauhaus afterwards, and excellent company too. My idea to come here first, but then I remembered I’m actually off guitars at the moment. This bar kinda looks like the inside of the TARDIS. That pink light turned yellow from time to time, and then blue, sometimes green as well, though that may have just been through the bottom of the beer bottle. Those people there, playing video blackjack or whatever it was, at the bar. This was the only sketch I did in Vegas, I wasn’t there for long enough. Came back 24 hours later, much the wiser.

plane sailing

SMFI took an overnighter to Vegas, to see my Best Man; last time we’d been there together was for my wedding. He plays poker there now, so I flew down for some chat and some beer. Having seen so many other urban sketchers drawing in the airport, on their various trips around the globe, I thought I’d finally get a sketch in (on this one occasion when I’m not chasing my nearly-two-year old son around the departure lounge; oh that will be fun on our trip to London). This is a Southwest plane at Sacramento airport (SMF).


it’s a bit complicated

i couldn't sleep

#1 in a series of 1. Most likely. Might be a story idea, or just random thoughts. This is the living room. By the way, if you do ride your bike around town at 4am, please remember your bike-light. I always do. It’s the law. It’s also annoying when a fellow cyclist comes hurtling towards you the wrong direction of the bike lane with no light on. You feel obliged to make some sort of self-righteous grunt or comment as you pass. But then, you don’t want to be That Cyclist, either.


stop, look, listen

Think of a big STOP sign, and you will stop thinking about what you were thinking; if you need to, that is. Well I was listening to The Jam and sitting outisde Uncle Vito’s Pizza (not very good pizza, btw) in downtown Davis on a sunny Sunday afternoon in downtown Davis, at the corner of 2nd and E streets.

stop sign on 2nd & E

I was thinking about perspective. Incidentally this is just the other end of the block from this one I did about a month ago.

shoe business

Having been drawing all of my son’s shoes, I felt it necessary to include all our family’s shoes. (All together now: “Once upon a time there were three shoes: Daddy shoe, Mommy Shoe and Baby Shoe…”) This is in fact the first page of moleskine #5 but I’ve been drawing it slowly. 

a family of shoes

In fact it’s not yet finished, as I intend to add a wash of colour to the shoes. I’ll post it when it’s complete, but I kinda liked it like this too.

I’m really getting into drawing shoes. What’s that proverb about walking a mile in another man’s shoes? Isn’t it something like, make sure they fit, and make sure he isn’t chasing you? 

Mine is the adidas trainer, in case you were wondering.