another day spent sketching uc davis

phonebox at MU, uc davisUCD hydrant at the quad

Another “Let’s Draw Davis!” sketchcrawl, this time on the UC Davis, an eerily quiet UC Davis, the calm before the very big storm of new students. We were a smaller group this time, but no less determined to sketch, and there was a lot to draw on campus. We met at the Memorial Union bus station, by the red phone box, and fanned out to sketch the campus.north hall UC Davis

Above is North Hall, a building I’ve attempted before, the one with the fun-to-draw staircase. Below, Alan and Alison, long-time Davis sketchers, sketching at the MU bus terminal. sketchcrawl sketchers

The next one will be on October 15th. Stay tuned for details!

saucony shoe

17, saucony shoe

After a gap, back to the series in which I am drawing every one of my son Luke’s shoes. I still have a way to go to catch up, but I will get there. They are all being drawn in a single small Moleskine cahier in the same black pen style. this one is number 17, I think (the 16th was number 18, while the 17th was number 16, so this is the 18th drawn, but 17 in chronological order in which they were worn…does not compute, does not compute… ah Luke won’t care in years to come). These trainers, made by Saucony (that’s what it says, don’t ask me), are cool, dark blue and silver with some orange trims, and they are special because they are the first shoes that he actually chose himself. The baby-shoe book is becoming the little-boy-shoe book. I think I’m gonna need a bigger book.

the o.c.

orange court, davis

I decided it was about time I drew this, the entranceway to Orange Court off E Street in Davis. It’s a little courtyard of restaurants and cafes and small businesses (I drew inside here once last year). I’m interested in these off-strip places in Davis, the interstitial spaces, the alleys and courtyard, and in fact the October sketchcrawl will largely focus on those places, I think. There are some interesting spaces behind the main buildings. Further up E Street, there are some cool little shops and cafes hidden away between the Pence Gallery and Bizarro Comics. For this drawing, which again is on slightly larger Strathmore hot press paper as part of my latest Davis series, I stood by my bike in a little bit of shade on Tuesday lunchtime and drew most of it, finishing off details and the colour when I got home.

shakespeare’s in the alley

4th st alley

This is actually on the other side of the funky looking ‘Secretariat’ building on G Street that I drew last week. I’ve wanted to draw this alley, just off 4th, for a long time but always forget about it. That balcony area is so unusual; hardly Romeo and Juliet, unless Romeo was an old tomcat or something. I kept in the graffiti. Never understood the whole tagging thing – unless the graffiti artists are old tomcats or something – why do they have to be so illegible? It’s a bit like when you first learn to do a signature, it makes you feel all grown-up, writing your name in a barely legible way.

Another bigger one on Strathmore hot-press paper, latest in the series. Yep, it’s a series, just not in a sketchbook.

if there’s a bright centre to the universe…

at&t park, san francisco

Last weekend, we went on a family trip to the ballgame. It was both mine and my son’s first San Francisco Giants game, though my wife and her mom (big Giants fans) had been earlier in the season, when things had been going a little better for the Giants. This game however was crucial – playing the Arizona Diamondbacks, who were leading in the division, and being several games behind we really needed to win. But that didn’t matter – it was Star Wars day, and the Force would be with us!

giants v diamondbacks

Which side of the force was less clear. Stormtroopers escorted the umpires out, mascot Lou Seal dressed as a jedi and waved about a lightsabre, and the opening crawl on the big screen set the scene, hoping that the Giants would beat Arizona and ‘restore freedom to the galaxy’. I love Star Wars, so I loved all this. And maxibig-da-force – the first pitch to the Giants resulted in a home run straight away from Cody Ross, and the ballpark went wild. AT&T Park is a great place. Set right by San Francisco Bay, it’s one of the great stadia of the world. Behind the seat, in the ‘breezeway’ (I think I have my terminology correct, my reference is a Curious George book) are rows and rows of beverage stands and souvenir shops and beer and garlic fries and t-shirts and TVs showing the action.

"imperial troops have entered the base! imperial troops have ---"

 My three year old son is a big baseball fan, though we’re on about the same page in our understanding of all the terms. It’s a simple enough game, someone throws the ball and you hit it and run, complicated by all the subtleties and statistics and terms. There’s a lot of standing around and not-much-happening, but to the baseball fan it’s tense stuff, and while there’s ample time to get up and walk around and get your garlic fries, you really don’t want to miss that three-run-homer or that spectacular catch. It’s typical to compare a big sport to the big sport you follow, but baseball is a completely different type of game to football (and I know little enough about cricket, though I kept calling the pitcher the ‘bowler’, and shouting ‘howzat!’ every time someone caught the ball). No comparison there may be to footy, but being a Giants fan is a lot like being a Spurs fan. Last year we were World Series champions/beating both Inter and AC Milan, this year we’re losing by baseball scores. It’s a frustrating life, made more so by success.

luke at the giants gamekris at giants game

There’s my son Luke above left, and my brother in law Kris on the right, the biggest Giants fan I know. He in fact took me to my only other baseball game, at the Oakland A’s, back in 2002, the first time I came to America and the first time I tasted garlic fries. I wore a Spurs shirt that day, but here I wore a Giants top. I did however spot a guy in an Arsenal shirt (he stood out a bit); after the previous week’s 8-2 drubbing by Man United, baseball scores probably felt a little light to him. Hey, you can’t let an 8-2 Arsenal defeat go without comment, can you? (And after Spurs lost 5-1 to Man City, it was pretty much the only thing that could cheer me up!) 

first page of moleskine #9 under way... top of the ninth, you might say

Decorating the breezeway walls were framed examples of old Giants kits. As a football kit fan I’m hugely excited by baseball jerseys, since they are so classic, and (usually) so unchanging. This one is from the early 60s, and the differences to today’s tops are very subtle. This aspect of the sport adds to its classic Americana feel. Baseball loves its heritage, and the Giants especially, with statues of its great players dotted around the area. Below is Willie McCovey, beside McCovey Cove, where many home runs do splash (it’s not like Henman Hill). I can’t pretend to know much about these guys, but I will say this – what an amazing view, with the Bay Bridge in the background, and baseball players really do look like lightsabre-wielding Jedi, don’t they?

giants jersey 1962willie mccovey statue

The Force alas was not with us. The Arizona D-Backs (seriously, the fans sing that?) won the game, and will probably win the division. As Vader might say, “NOOOOOO!!!!!” (and don’t EVEN get me started there…) But we had a great day out, and Luke ran the bases after the game, and I got some nice sketching in, and it was a great family day out, so in a way we did win, from a certain point of view.

delta skelter

delta of venus, davis

I have drawn this place before recently, the Delta of Venus in Davis, but this time I drew it bigger and with a fire hydrant in front of it. I sat behind said hydrant across the street in the shade. Another in my series of slightly larger Davis scenes on loose watercolour sheets.

let’s draw uc davis

let's draw davis! september 17

Next week, it’s time for another sketchcrawl in Davis! This time on the UC Davis campus, which will be starting to bustle with the incoming new students.

START: 10:30am, Memorial Union bus terminal (by the red phonebox)

FINISH: 3:00pm, at the Eggheads near the Art Building

As always, this is free and everyone is welcome, all ages/levels. All you need is something to draw with and something to draw on!

For more info leave a comment below or visit our Facebook event page.

See you there!

god save the queen

dairy queen davis

How long have I wanted to draw this building? How many times have I got off the bus outside over the years and said, must sketch that one day? I have drawn the sign, and a fire hydrant nearby, but never the building. I’ve even ended a sketchcrawl there. Last Saturday however I finally went and drew the place, Dairy Queen on 5th Street in Davis. It’s classic Americana. The sign isn’t a modern ‘DQ’, the building isn’t all late-2000s strip-mall fakery, and the food is just what you expect (at least I expect it is, I only had a slurpee type drink, and I don’t eat hamburgers). I learned a funny thing, apparently in other states the Dairy Queens close up in wintertime, because nobody eats ice-cream when it’s snowy, while in California they stay open, because we’re the sunshine state. No, hang on that’s Florida, we’re the golden state. I don’t know if it’s true or not. Either way, these are the sorts of places I like to draw, thought obviously it takes me years to actually do so.

DQ sketch

pence gallery art auction 2011

arboretum bridge at pence gallery auction

Tomorrow (Saturday September 10) is the date of the Pence Gallery’s 2011 Art Auction, in which the work of about 140 artists is on display for sale in the auction. the silent auction has been going for the past couple of weeks, and I was finally able to get over there myself yesterday to check it out. There is some amazing work there! The silent auction is still on until 5pm on saturday, and then in the evening the live auction and gala event will take place, with local food, drink and music, as well of course as the art. Tickets are available on the Pence Gallery website.

The piece I have is above, called “Arboretum Bridge” because it is a bridge in the Arboretum, imaginitively enough. A very Davis piece. If you fancy bidding for it, why not head to the Pence?

(Incidentally, I have an upcoming show at the Pence this December…)

once upon a time…

funny building on G St

It looks a bit like something you’d come across in a fairy-tale forest. This funny looking building is on G St in Davis, and it’s hard to believe I’ve never drawn it before, not from the front anyway. It could be straight out of Hansel and Gretel or something. I drew it one lunchtime last week, finishing off the colour at home. On the way home I left breadcrumbs so that I might find my way back. Always thought that was a bit silly, leaving a breadcrumb trail in a forest where 1) there are birds and mice and other animals who will eat the bread, 2) there are big bad wolves who colud follow the trail to find you, and 3) you’re in a forest with no food except bread, which you’re throwing all over the floor. Sure, there may be a cottage nearby made out of cadbury’s chocolate fingers or a family of bears who cook their porridge at three different temparatures and then decide to go for a walk (Goldilocks, it’s a sting, don’t fall for it girl!). Fairy tales are funny things. When I tell them to my son at bedtime, we always end with “and they all lived happily ever after,” followed by “except for the big bad wolf who had no head,” or “except for the poor giant who was fell from the falling beanstalk and couldn’t get back to his castle, and was left with nowhere to live.”

I think these are offices of some sort. There aren’t any wolves-in-granny’s-clothing here, nor amateur-architect-swine. Safely in the realm of the real world.