it was the fest of times…

weihenstephaner festbier

I haven’t been drawing much this week, but this is one from a couple of weeks back that I forgot to scan. My wife got me some Weihenstephaner beer, ‘Festbier’ (it is October after all), and to go with it she also got me one of the really big litre-sized beer glasses. I had to draw it! (My brown sketchbook as you may know is for beer and beer glasses now). Weihenstephaner is the oldest brewery in the world, and we visited it just outside Munich when we were in Bavaria in 2005. I really like their beer a lot. One of the reasons I went there is because at the time I was studying Germanic Philology, and had just written a paper about the competing influences of Old English and Old Gothic on the vocabulary of Old High German, specifically in the field of religion (they being the chief importers of Christianity in Germania), and one of the focuses was on the two words for ‘holy’, ‘heilig’ being the Anglo-Saxon inspired word (from ‘hálig‘), and ‘weihe’ being the Gothic preference (cf ‘weihs’). Ultimately the preferred English form gained most use, though some of the old Gothic-inspired words can still be seen in place names, such as ‘Pfaff’ and ‘Weihe’, as in ‘Weihenstephaner’. Interesting, I thought, so I went there and got a beer.

a city full of urban sketchers

Wow, it has been three months since Lisbon! It’s quite incredible. The second Urban Sketching Symposium was an overwhelming experience, and it was so much fun to spend good sketching time with so many other urban sketchers from around the world, many of whose work I have followed and been influenced by for years.

During the Symposium, Portuguese journalist Patrícia Pedrosa filmed some of the workshops, and has produced a couple of great videos which bring me right back to Portugal. The first documents Day One, the second Days Two and Three. You’ll spot me I’m sure, the one holding his pen in a funny way and crouching distorted on the ground. Here they are: I hope you enjoy them!

Urban Sketchers 1 from Patrícia Pedrosa on Vimeo.

Urban Sketchers 2 from Patrícia Pedrosa on Vimeo.

See this post over on Urban Sketchers. Thanks Patrícia for producing these!

i’ve been lost, i’ve been found, but i don’t feel down

tank house relocated

This is the old Tank House, the one that used to stand, minding its own business, in between the Hunt Boyer House and the Varsity Theatre downtown on 2nd Street, until one day when Mishka’s Cafe decided to move from one block away (didn’t like the neighbourhood) into a new purpose built building, right where the Tank House was taking up valuable commercial space. It was moved last year, to the other side of the Hunt-Boyer, cutting down an old ornage tree in the process (and I drew it too – see below). It was never a good location, and made that whole corner look clunky, but this was a beloved old historical piece of Davis. Then, recently, it just disappeared. I presumed it was gone.  So you can imagine my surprise when I came across it on our annual visit to the pumpkin patch on Saturday, at Impossible Acres Farm on the edge of the city.

Even more surprising was that it was cut in two. Accoridng to a little informational leaflet provided by the farm, this was due to the difficulty in moving it over the trees. I can’t blame them, it’s not exactly something you can stick on the roof of the car is it. The Tank House, along with the Mansion, was built in about 1871 by the first postmaster of Davisville, William Dresbach. The leaflet also tells us that “this is a fancy, urban tank house, not a common farm one,” (before adding, “Ritzy!”) and they plan to restore it to old glories, use it as a tank house again, and preserve it as a piece of working Davis history, even planting the odd orange tree around it. I look forward to it, and will go out and draw it once it’s done.

Below is the drawing I did of the Tank House last year, in its temporary spot. I never got around to drawing it in the old location (which wasn’t in fact the original spot, having been moved there in the 1970s  from its original spot slightly further from the Mansion).

hunt boyer mansion & tankhouse

to rest my eyes in shades of green

arboretum bridge

It may be the second half of October, but summer isn’t done. It’s been the mid-80s for the past few days, so on Friday I took a lunchtime walk through the shady arboretum, not intending to stop and sketch, but of course I couldn’t resist when I came across this bridge. I don’t come down this end very often, so had forgotten about this spot. I stood to sketch, and listened to a BBC History podcast. They were talking to Peter Ackroyd, who has started a multi-volume History of England because, he says, nobody gets taught the history of England any more (though he admitted having no knowledge about what schools do teach these days), and this first book is all about the Foundation of England. Wow, then this being an all-purpose tell-it-all history, it must really cover and shed light on the beginnings of England, Anglo-Saxon England, real in-depth, maybe up to the Norman conquest or even earlier, the Battle of Brunanburh or something. No – it stops at Henry VII. The whole ‘foundation’ volume must then cover about eight hundred years, which sounds a bit disappointing, as were his reasons. When asked why he’s stopping at Henry VII (and not, say, about six Henrys earlier), his answer was “well I dunno, I just did”, and that was pretty much his response for most other questions on his choices for this book. Hey, Ackroyd sells books and he knows his business, and I know he’s not taken that seriously as a historian by academic historians, I just find it a shame when popular writers of history effectively skim over the entire medieval period of England, when the country was truly founded (and reborn several times), not thinking it important enough to give at least two volumes in what’s meant to be a definitive history over six volumes (I’m sure the Tudor period alone will get a single volume), but then that’s the medievalist in me, and I’m probably being unfair, basing it on this interview. Anyway, lunchtime was up, the podcast finished, the drawing was done. Maybe on another lunchtime I’ll read the book.

let me put you in the picture, let me show you what i mean

the silo oct 2011

Yes, keen eyes will notice that I have drawn this thing before, the UC Davis Silo, place of many a lunchtime sketch. In fact I drew from this very angle just a few weeks ago, sat by the bins eating lunch, as you do. I thought, now that’s a nice angle, with some nice colours, I’ll draw that again, but bigger, on a standalone piece of paper that I can maybe frame and put in an upcoming exhibition. I spent a couple of lunchtimes on this, listening to a couple of podcasts (one being David Crystal’s talk about Evolving English at the British Library, the other being the Guardian’s Football Weekly. Footy and Language History, my two favourite subjects), finishing off at home. The big furry rocketship. One change in the past few eeeks since that last drawing, and it’s a colour change (that doesn’t involve turning leaves), the big yellow umbrellas are gone, replaced with skimpier green Starbucks-infused ones. Did it smell sitting by the bin? I would be lying if I said it didn’t, but only when the person who empties the bins took it out and sat it next to me. Man those things smell bad. If that’s what Artoo-Detoo smells like on the inside no wonder C-3PO is always mad at him. The big Recycle sign, well that complements the Silo’s tower of course, but it’s also very Davis, the city of the environmentally conscious.

je pense, je pense, je pense

pence gallery on D street

The Pence Gallery on the right and Antiques Plus on the left, a view of D Street drawn one lunchtime a couple of weeks ago. That man really was hunched up like that working on his laptop. It seemed wrong to leave him out. Seemed a strange place to study, but who am I to talk, I hunch over my sketchbook around town all the time.

So I don’t know if I have mentioned it before, but this December I will be having a show upstairs at the Pence Gallery, exhibiting many of my recent urban sketches. I’ll publicize it a little more widely as it draws near but I have been busy drawing away, still one or two sketches left to do but I’m getting there. They’re all sketches of Davis, places locals will recognize. Like this one. Stay tuned!

33rd worldwide sketchcrawl

mansion square, davis

Last Saturday was the 33rd Worldwide Sketchcrawl event, and here in Davis it was the latest in our ‘Let’s Draw Davis!’ sketchcrawls, that started exactly a year ago. I invited local sketchers down to sketch the ‘hidden’ spots of downtown, starting at Mansion Square on E Street.

mansion sq, davis

There were about ten of us at the start, expanding to twelve in total (I keep a sign-in sheet!), regular faces as well as some newer sketchers. We were joined by a reporter from the student-run local newspaper the California Aggie, Ramon, who I sketched above. He wrote a nice article about the Davis sketchcrawl in today’s Aggie (link to today’s edition at bottom of this post). Mansion Square is an interesting place, quiet and off-strip, behind the old Hunt-Boyer-Dresbach Mansion. When I first came to Davis, I went for an interview in the Kaplan center there (which doesn’t appear to be there any more), doing well in my presentation (what did I talk about, I don’t recall, interactive theatre or ghostly black dogs or something) but less well in the SAT and GRE practise tests (it was the math that did it for me, I aced the language bits).

mansion sq brick wellorange court

I don’t know what the brick thing above is, but it looks a bit like a slice of pork. Anyway, off across the street the sketchcrawl went to Orange Court, where I knocked out this very quick-looking sketch above right, and a few of us ate lunch at Sophia’s Thai Kitchen (one of the tastiest eateries in Davis). Below are Tiffany and Christine, two fellow sketchers.

at sophia's thai

Finally, some sketching in the alleys between E and D. There are some really interesting spots back there, hidden away, cool little tea sops and cute gift stores. This one, Creme de la Creme (which made me hungry for Creme Eggs, oddly enough, but then I’m always hungry for Creme Eggs)

creme de la creme

The next Let’s Draw Davis sketchcrawl will be on November 19th in Community Park. The next Worldwide sketchcrawl will be, well I’m not sure, probably in January – find out by checking out! (Can I just point out, for the 32nd ‘crawl I was in Lisbon? Thought I should remind you, because that was brilliant! And i still need to post some more stuff about Lisbon, if ever I gte the time…)

33rd Worldwide Sketchcrawl forum

Let’s Draw Davis Flickr group

California Aggie Oct 18, 2011

pole to pole

3rd and University

The corner of 3rd and University, sketched last week on a lovely sunny lunchtime. Those seven bollards seem to represent some sort of boundary between campus world and downtown world, though in reality there’s another block until UCD actually begins. That’s the Davis Copy Shop in the background. The trainers hanging from the telegraph pole, I don’t know what boundary that marks but I have heard that in other cities it marks street gang boundaries. That’s a chore, isn’t it, having to throw those things up there. I imagine the gangster’s roster system on a monday morning, “Ok you, you’re in charge of drive-bys today; you, you’re on popping-caps-in-asses; you, you can throw the shoes over the telegraph lines, no don’t complain, very important job. Don’t use Reebok.” I’ve seen it in a few places in Davis so it must be true. Maybe countries should adopt that system, but the bureaucrats will always be involved. “Well no look according to the Basel Convention we have to use shoes with laces, I’m sorry but wooden clogs just won’t do. And no you can’t use two ‘left’ shoes, article 13(b) clearly states that the shoes must be left and right.” And what if there are no telegraph lines? And they can’t be easy to get down, can they. Still, they add decoration, and if you fill them with nuts and seeds it gives the birds something to eat in the cold winters (it’s been in the mid-80s here this week, brrr).

putah creek crawdads

putah creek crawdads at the farmer's market

I’m taking advantage of the amazing October weather, and last Saturday after a nice breakfast downtown with my family (I gorged myself on cinnamon roll french toast, oh yeah) I went to the Farmer’s Market for some sketching. I don’t get there to sketch very often so it was a good opportunity. There was a band playing very old-style songs, they were called the Putah Creek Crawdads and it was lovely music to listen to while sketching. Some of the songs, old folk songs, I hadn’t heard since I was a kid (when they were sung by old Irish singers my mum used to listen to). I drew them from behind, facing the market itself, as it seemed to be an interesting angle (and I had somewhere to sit in the shade). I showed them afterwards, and though I didn’t have space to fit all of the musicians in (there were six) I think they quite liked it. They’re next playing at Ludy’s Main St BBQ in Woodland on Friday October 21, so if you’re in Woodland, check them out.

Putah Creek Crawdads

let’s draw hidden davis!

let's draw davis october 15, 2011
It’s nearly the FIRST ANNIVERSARY of LET’S DRAW DAVIS! Our first sketchcrawl meeting was held on October 16 2010, a year ago, and we’re still sketching Davis monthly.

Join us for the next sketchcrawl here in Davis, California, this coming Saturday October 15th. It is the 33rd Worldwide sketchcrawl, when sketchers from all over the planet will be out drawing their cities on the same day (see for more details!).

START: 10:30 Mansion Square (E St/2nd)
MIDWAY: 1:00 Orange Court (E St)
FINISH: 3:30 Cloud Forest Cafe (D St, between 2nd and 3rd)

We’ll meet at 10:30am at Mansion Square on E Street, and explore the ‘hidden’ spots and courtyards of downtown Davis. Starting at Mansion Square, behind the historic Hunt-Boyer-Dresbach House, we’ll move on across the street to the charming Orange Court, for more sketching and maybe some lunch, before moving on to the curious alleys, cafes and shops between E / D st, and 2nd/3rd Sts. We’ll finish up at the Cloud Forest Cafe, near the red phonebox, to check out each other’s sketchbooks.

Everyone is welcome! All ages/levels. Just bring something to draw with and something to draw on. Invite your sketching friends!

For more info, please leave a comment below or send me a message.