take me down to the station

Davis Amtrak Station

The eleventh spread of the Davis moley, only 1.5 spreads left! It was a bright and sunny Halloween day, warm to boot, and so I went down to the historic Davis Amtrak Station and sat in the sunlight (wearing my Giants cap – hey, no bandwagon-jumping here, I’ve had that for over eight years) (when they were last in the World Series). I sat beside a yellow fire hydrant, which just had to get in there somewhere. And spiderwebs! It’s that time of year here in Davis, when long strands of spiderweb float annoyingly from every tree, lamp-post, fire-hydrant; they just float around in the air, sometimes carrying little spiders with them. I had a few little spiders crawl over my page while drawing this. Well, it is Halloween.

and gathering swallows twitter in the skies

Funeral Home on D Street

Spread 10 of the Davis Moleskine… this is a funeral home on D Street, sketched from outside the Cafe Mediterranee opposite. I’m struggling to get these sketches in at the moment, splitting them over lunchtimes on different days (they seem to take me longer than usual, I’m still getting used to drawing larger and using these Pitt pens and this paper). I only have two and a half spreads left though! And I think I know what I’m going to draw.

The weather has changed here though. It’s now cold, there is rain, the long-awaited jumpers are out and at last it feels like autumn. Amazing to think that just a couple of weeks ago, it was pushing a hundred degrees.

A funeral home…reminds me of Six Feet Under, that was an enjoyable show to watch, back when we watched it. Never did see the last ones though. We watch Dexter now, that is a great show.

giant steps

Fear the Beard

There’s a funny old game over here that people quite like, called ‘baseball’. The thing about baseball that I like, apart from the fact that its name doesn’t get confused with that of another more globally popular sport, is the uniforms they wear. They are so classic looking, untroubled by sponsors or the need to change designs every few months. Usually, teams will play in white with their opponents in grey, although soemtimes they will use their other colours – the San Francisco Giants for example sometimes play in black, and even orange, being their colours. Usually (but not always) the home team will wear their nickname (“Giants”, “Yankees”, etc) across their jersey, while the away team would have the name of their city. This classic look reinforces the classic feel of the game – that iconic ballpark design, the apparently simple yet completely complicated (or vice-versa, depending on where you’re from) rule system, the fact that its not about being macho or aggressive, but hitting a ball and running, or catching a ball (with a really big glove). Simple really.

I was never a bat and ball kid. Cricket confused me (it still does) – while they may have light, bright, colourful playing kits now, I never understood growing up why they would play this sport in the middle of summer wearing thick woolly jumpers and long trousers. Rounders? Oh I hated rounders. I couldn’t throw the ball (pitch? bowl?) and was terrible at catching it, and if you missed an easy catch in the playground it was worse than, I don’t know, being Wayne Rooney at the World Cup. And you could get easily bored, with nothing to do but stand there and hope the ball doesn’t get hit in your direction. And then there was ‘softball’, which was just like rounders but with a ball that definitely wasn’t soft. I always wanted them to call it baseball so that we’d sound American and exotic, but I think you had to wear baseball caps if you wanted to call it baseball, and we couldn’t afford them at our school.

Now I live in America, and while I have always liked baseball, I’ve been a little slow in following it. My brother-in-law is a huge Giants fan, and my wife and son too, so naturally I am as well, and have been learning a lot more lately since the Giants won their division, then fought through the play-offs to win the National League, and are now two games into the World Series against the Texas Rangers – two games which they won quite emphatically (11-7 and 9-0 are veritable cricket scores even in baseball). We’ve been glued to the set (cynics can make a sentence out of the following words: “bandwagon, on, jumping, the”), it is pretty exciting. So I had to honour the Giants before they threw it all away (now who’s cynical? hey, that’s my long years as a Tottenham fan, plus a few years as a Giants fan) with a sketch of one of their players, Brian Wilson, “Fear the Beard”. He has this odd and fake-looking black beard, and Giants fans all wear their real-looking fake beards when he comes out to close (he is a ‘closer’, which means he’s a pitcher that pitches at the end of the match – look at me learning all new words!). I was going to draw Tim Lincecum (he looks like a young Severus Snape) but The Beard was too tempting (plus it reminds me a bit of Ricky Villa). 

Go Giants! Fear the Beard! Get me some Garlic Fries!

here’s to the end of the world

la fin du monde

More brown paper bottle sketches. This is a nice beer I found recently, La Fin du Monde. It’s Canadian – Québecois in fact – and is a ‘triple’ beer. Triples are pretty potent, very tasty, but you gotta watch out. I used to drink Triple type beers when I lived in Belgium (Westmalle Triple to be precise) and ooh, you have fun nights with those. I really like the label on this bottle as well.


on the buses

double decker bus

Here in Davis we have a little bit of London. Unitrans has several old vintage London double-deckers which still ride around town, letting passengers hop off the rear deck into the middle of the road, keeping the ‘charming’ London place-names, exotic faraway locales such as Golders Green, Shepherds Bush and Finchley Road. UC Davis brought the buses over in the late 1960s to start a bus service, and these buses are not in fact Routemasters, but the models which came before. Presumably if Boris gets his new modern (ugly, unnecessary, expensive) Routemasters on the streets, Davis will be able to buy some of the bendy-buses.

There are four such buses left in Davis, dating from the late 40s and early 50s. One, the 1950 model, will retire at the end of the year. Maybe they’ll put it out to stud.

Altogether now… “I ‘ate you, Butler!”

bayern some time

bavarian band at little prague, davis

I had to draw this Bavarian band that has been playing occasionally at Little Prague in Davis during this past month or so for Oktoberfest  – I finally went there to sketch them. They played interesting German-style music, sometimes donning a sombrero to add some Mexican into it. I sketched alongside fellow Davis sketcher Steve, and after the band finished our photos were taken by the singer’s wife with our sketches and the band.

The band wasn’t called ‘Bayern’ by the way, I just felt the need to write that up there. I like Bavaria – my wife and I spent a couple of weeks there back in 2005, partly in Munich, partly driving around the Alpenstrasse, to small towns and lakes, popping into Switzerland (where I spent an afternoon studying the Abrogans, a 1200-year-old manuscript and the oldest thing in German language), and then back into Bayern and up the Romantische Strasse. I loved that each town had its own beer, and we ate only local food (I had the most amazaing roast duck in Schliersee), and castles and timber-framed chalets and the odd hilarious name (there was a mountain called ‘Wank’). And it was truly ‘Bavaria’, not just another part of Germany, it felt like its own country, with that blue and white flag everywhere and the Bavarian dialect everywhere. I wouldn’t mind going back some day.

that is you can’t you know tune in but it’s alright

little prague tonight

I went out last night to my local pub Little Prague (I’ve sketched there once or twice before) with fellow Davis sketcher Steve Wright, to draw a German band who were playing (I’ll scan that in later) and do some more bar drawing. I decided to do some more paint-splattering on the paper first, since that effect would look good on a theme such as this. I splattered fairly subtle tones, and this made it feel like I was drawing on craft paper rather than in the moleskine, which was a nice feeling. Steve drew into his regular moleskine, and produced some amazing work using both micron pen and watercolours, both of which I had never been able to use in the regular moley – but he made it work really well! Pleasure to sketch with him. I stuck to a sepia wash, still trying to draw bottles (I seem to have some problem with sketching bottles, hence my recent practising). This is a particularly interesting bar area to sketch though, and the bar staff were very friendly and checked up on our sketching progress from time to time.

That beer in the foreground is a Krusovice dark, a very nice beer. You can spot me in the background there.

the places behind the streets

Sophia's Thai Kitchen

Spread 9 of the Davis moleskine, and this one is an interesting little courtyard off E Street, where you can find Sophia’s Thai Kitchen. That’s a great little restaurant, their Jungle Curry is particularly tasty. The smell was pretty irresistable, I must say! This took a couple of lunchtimes, on neither of which did I have time to eat there – some other time!

Only a few spreads left in this book… I intend to do at least one interior…

and if you hear vague traces of skippin’ reels of rhyme

chez nous

I thought I’d try something different. I was watching TV and getting utterly sick of every single advert being a doom-and-darkness political attack ad (please, please can these elections be over? I can’t take it any more! This isn’t politics it is mass brain destruction, spending as much money as possible to make sure the voting public is completely diverted from any real issue). I took my mind off it with art. I regretted that I never went on a sketching outing with the magnificent artist Tia Boon Sim from Singapore up at the Portland Symposium, but everyone that did spoke afterwards about her paint-splashing techniques. Like I say, I didn’t get to learn it, but nonetheless I was inspired to splash paint onto my big watercolour pad, not thinking about what I’d do with it, but very therapeutic after all the nonsense on telly. When it dried, I sat on the couch and sketched the view of the kitchen, adding some more wash when done. This was a fun exercise.

we drew davis!

davis sketchcrawlers

Some images from Saturday’s “Let’s Draw Davis!” sketchcrawl. There were ten of us in total, and much was drawn. Above, sketchers Sandra, Mary, Cynthia and Steve busy drawing Cafe Mediterranee. Below left, eating and sketching inside the same place. Below right, Rahman skethcing the carousel in Central Park.

sketchers at lunchrahman sketching in the park
at the end of the dayend of the day also

The day ended around 4pm, with lots of tired Davis sketchers. Above left: Anne, Laurel, Clara and Laura show off their work. Above right: Steve and Cynthia with their sketches of Davis Community Church.  


And here am I, with my sketchbook. So that was a fun day! I plan to do it again, maybe even next month. If you’re interested in sketchcrawling here in Davis, let me know!