duel of the freights

2nd st freight train

I finally got around to drawing the freight trains. Ever since moving to Davis I have lived near the railroads, and every day and every night epically long trains of freight cars rumble away across the continent, where if they’re lucky travelling hobos and cats will stow away on board and tell stories through the night until they arrive in some dusty town in Georgia. Well that is how I imagine it. This is a really big place, America. The trains really can be more than a mile long and I got used to their ever-present rumbling a long time ago. These freight trains are moored on the railroads that run alongside 2nd Street. Sometimes we drive down there so that my freight-train-loving son can see them. And yes, if you look closely, some of the graffiti says ‘Feck’. I don’t know what the rest says, but it probably says ‘Drink’ and ‘Arse’. 

Drawn on strathmore hot press paper with a uniball vision micro, and watercolour. I drew it on sunday, the 9th, but wrote the date wrong. I did that in my drawings all weekend. Perhaps I’m ahead of my time? Or maybe I just need to check the calendar every now and then.

do backflow preventers dream of electric sheep?

E street backflow preventer

Last Friday after work, I took advantage of the still-daylight-hours of eary October to draw downtown, another larger drawing. I have drawn this scene before a couple of times, but it’s an interesting building on E Street with an even more interesting metal-pipe-thing in front of it. I sat outside the Natsoulas Gallery, and it was a gorgeous evening, with many people out and about. Occasionally people would come up to me and say, “ooh, that’s nice”, which is always nice. One guy loved that I was drawing the pipes. I told him I’ve drawn lots of them. They’re like art sculptures all over the town, he said, and I agree. I’ve always though they kind of look like robotic animals, this perhaps being some sort of camel. “Backflow Preventers,” I told him they are called, as I was told a while back by someone who works with them. Very technical beasts they are too. What do they do, he asked. Prevent backflows, I suppose, whatever that means. I don’t really know. I prefer to be ignorant of what they actually do, it’s like magic, it just has its function in the world. But I do love how they look.

drawing downtowndrawing downtown

redrum she wrote

redrum burger

The diner formerly known as Murder Burger. It had to change its name many years ago due to some out-of-towner complaining. Perhaps it should read ‘so good they’re to diet for’? Drew this place this week. I don’t go there often, but they do killer milkshakes.

Speaking of names, I heard that Arsenal FC are suing a lady who runs a hat shop in Seville of all places because its name apparently infringes their property rights. It’s called ‘Arsenale’, which as I’m sure you have spotted, is not the same word, it is spellt differently. It’s also an Italian word, likely referring to the Arsenale district of cities like Venice where ships were built (this hat shop is in Seville’s old ship building district). Is that absolutely mental or what? I mean seriously are they kidding? Is someone going to confuse a Sevillan hat shop with a poor underperforming team from Islington? Are they having a laugh? Apparently the Spanish judge is siding with Arsenal! Perhaps the hat-shop should call on a famous half-way line Gunners conqueror to represent them in court: Nayim. That’s a courtroom battle I’d like to see.

I wonder if a certain famous dead race horse is thinking, hmmm, maybe I should sue this diner in Davis for using my name? (“I know just the guy to represent me in court: Neigh-im“). No, that would be silly. But it could happen…

you saw the whole of the moon

davis community church sept2011

Davis Community Church, by Central Park in Davis. Drawn on a nice Sunday afternoon, while there was live music playing in the park behind me. The band were tecnhically very good, though I’m not sure about the choice of songs they played. They did play some cool stuff by Elvis Costello, but there was a fair bit of 80s rock, and when they played “You Saw the Whole of the Moon” all I could think of was that episode of Father Ted, when Father Noel (Graham Norton) was singing it dancing around that tiny caravan. Appropriately, I was drawing a church. I’ve drawn it before a couple of times, a couple of years apart each time.

thank you for the music

TB 195

This big old building on campus, right by the Music Building, has been set for redevelopment for some time now but doesn’t appear to be moving along. It is supposed to be knocked down and turned into something modern and fantastic. I like this building though. I have drawn the rusty pipes on the side before, and this view is the rear, drawn from the path that runs by the Arboretum (Cushing Way).

I just wanted to point out, because it needs pointing out, that Spurs beat Arsenal this past weekend. I just wanted to mention it. Nothing to do with the drawing.

This, as were many other in this ongoing series, was drawn on a piece of 8″x10″ hot press Strathmore watercolour paper, with a micron pigma pen and some watercolours.

riding along in my automobile

1955 ford fairline sunliner

More classic cars from the Antique Automobile Club of America, who were showing off their golden oldie vehicles at the Sonoma County Harvest Fair in Santa Rosa last weekend. I had some nice chat with some of the car owners, who were all very excited about these cars, as was I. I’ve said it before, you think of America, you think of cars like this, big and swanky, not the beige Toyotas that everyone here drives (including us). These aren’t simply ‘cars’, they are Automobiles. It’s worth saying all those extra syllables. I even recognize the sparkling whitewall tyres (thank you ‘Cars’, or rather thank you my three-year-old-son). The blue automobile above is a 1955 Ford Fairline Sunliner, ah 1955, I remember it well from Back to the Future. (Actually I saw an actual DeLorean a couple of months ago, on the Freeway, I’ve never seen a real one before! It was heavy) While sketching, someone did ask me why I chose to draw this one, and not, for example, the more interesting looking car next to it (a green Kaiser Dragon). This one, he said, was one of the less interesting of the cars on display. I told him, well it’s pretty interesting to me, but mostly it’s because I could see ll of it; the Dragon was partly hidden by a display board (and by this car). I tell you what I found interesting, there is only one wing mirror, on the driver’s side.  

1936 cord

This however was the car that everyone seemed to rave about, and it’s easy to see why. The big, powerful red 1936 Cord is like something out of a retro sci-fi fantasy, less of a car than a comic book come alive. Those metal pipes coming from the side make me suspect that this is in fact a Time Machine, what Doc Brown would have made if he had a better budget. How could I resist? I must admit, I’d never heard of Cord automobiles before. This looks like a Cord 812, though I may be wrong. As someone who usually can’t tell one car from the other (having been stuck in car parks full of beige Toyotas looking for a beige Toyota), I love the variety in design of the old cars. They don’t make ’em like they used to (but we probably get better mileage nowadays).

sketching old cars at the harvest fair

you better slow your mustang down

1967 ford mustang

We went to the Sonoma County Harvest Fair at the Santa Rosa Fairgrounds this weekend, to see the Grape Stomping (some people are very serious about that), the Pumpkin Tossing (actually I didn’t see that this time, but my son did some pumpkin bowling), make scarecrows, and of course draw old antique cars. I love drawing old cars, but don’t do it very often – last year’s Harvets Festival was in fact the first and last time. I chatted with some of the car owners, one of whom was an artist of cars and buildings himself. I started off drawing a red 1967 Ford Mustang. It reminded me of 1970s cops, on the edge. Even though this is so very American, I kept humming the theme tune to the Professionals. You really need to screech up a kerb and knock over some bins before sliding across the bonnet and taking out some crook with a couple of right hooks with a car like this, don’t you. You see all these SUVs and Hummers and trucks these days, but those are just compensating, macho nonsense; none of them say ‘tough guy’ like a car like this does. Anyway, it was fun to draw.

mustang 1967

the little house downtown

nice house on 3rd and E

I’ve wanted to draw this pretty house downtown, on the corner of 3rd and E, for some time now, and last week after work I finally did so. A few people spoke to me as I sketched, fellow admirers of this gorgeous building, and I told them that this is part of a series of Davis urban sketches I am doing for my upcoming show in December… It’s a lovely building, but I have to admit that the feature which excited me the most to draw was the TV antenna, you don’t see them too often nowadays.