free as a firebird

blue pontiac firebird

This blue Pontiac Firebird, with furry dice in the window, was parked on 2nd Street last week when I was on my way downtown. I had to stand and sketch it. There’s a real primary colours feel to the classic cars I’m finding to sketch lately (ie, they’re usually red, yellow or blue). Speaking of primaries, big ones today in America. Michigan and Arizona. Mitt vs Rick, with Newt and Ron sitting it out. They should just merge them all into one candidate, “Mittrick Newtron” and have done with it. I must say, I’m dreading this marathon-of-marathons election season reaching California, all those horrible endless pointless soul-destroying attack ads, paid for by super-pacs and other nefarious organizations, which unfortunately really do have an effect on the outcome of elections, regardless of a candidate’s actual worth. And these torrential ads are called free speech… free to the highest bidder. I’m almost glad I can’t vote for any of them.

don’t start me talking, i could talk all night

de vere's, davis

Last night’s talk at the Avid Reader went very well, a lot of people came (many thanks to all who came!). I spoke for, I’m not sure, an hour and a half, maybe two hours? It was nigh on half past nine when I left anyway. I introduced the new Urban Sketchers book, ‘The Art of Urban Sketching’, spoke about Urban sketchers as a group, as a philosophy, how it all started, and I think I may have made some sense occasionally, stringing my planned talk together like I string my sketchcrawls together, if you know what I mean. I talked a bit about my own sketching, how and why I do it, and passed around some images of Davis that I’ve drawn. Quite a few familiar faces were there, for which I was very thankful! I even signed some books; nice to see  so many people with the Urban Sketchers book, I hope they’ll be as inspired by all the other sketchers as I am! I read from the book, the manifesto, the profiles of certain artists, showed some of my favourite images in the book (several of them were by Luis Ruiz, including his one of Malaga’s now-closed oldest bookstore, Libreria Cervantes, which was very relevant being talked about in an independent bookstore, although the Avid Reader is doing pretty well these days and is in fact expanding into the former space of the recently closed toystore, Alphabet Moon, three doors down the street). I tried to talk a lot about urban sketching to Davis and cities like it, how we as urban sketchers are recording  a place’s history in personal ways; I was pleased to meet another artist who had also painted the Davis Lock and Safe building, for example. My throat was getting pretty dry by the end of it.

So after the talk, I popped over to De Vere’s for a cold beer. All of this talk about drawing meant I was just itching to pick up a pen again, so I went straight to the bar and started sketching, and sketching, and sketching. I lay down a wash of browny-yellowy-orange first, to represent the bar’s light, then draw over that in my black uni-ball signo pen. I couldn’t represent the bar’s noise though – where last week’s Little Prague outing was defined by very loud music, this was deifned by very loud talking. It got packed quickly, and you couldn’t hear any music, but quite often people were yelling over each other at the bar. I however kept inside my bubble, and didn’t really mind; I had done all the talking I could that night, and now was my quiet time, in a barful of noise (that’s livin’ alright).

a look at the book of the art of urban sketching

The Art of Urban Sketching

I am really enjoying The Art of Urban Sketching. It’s also fun seeing people from all around the world enjoying it as much as I am, and hopefully being inspired to get out and draw by every page. I like it so much, that I will be at the Avid Reader bookstore on 2nd St, Davis this Friday, Feb 24th at 7:30pm, talking about the book, about Urban Sketchers, and about urban sketching in general. If you fancy coming along to hear me yap on and on and maybe pick up a copy of the book (and support one of your local independent stores), pop by the Avid Reader at half seven this Friday evening!

PS: here is an excellent video of Gabi Campanario, the book’s author and founder of Urban Sketchers, talking about the book on local Seattle TV this week along with Gail Wong of the Seattle Urban Sketchers group. Enjoy!

The Avid Reader, Davis

The Art of Urban Sketching (Facebook page)

Urban Sketchers

wait a minute, mister postman

silo on an envelope

Another envelope sketch, though this one was on an airmail envelope from India. The Silo, where I yet again had lunch today. You can sketch anywhere, you don’t even need a sketchbook (though sketchbooks are nicer and more organized).

now you see it… now you don’t

davis locksmiths, now gone
There’s a Davis building which has been around forever, and which I have drawn a couple of times now, Davis Lock and Safe on 4th St. Since drawing it I have had many local people (and non-locals too) how much they like that building; sure it’s empty, downtrodden, ramshackle, but it’s comforting, been there since they were a kid, cycle past it every day. Well, as of just a few weeks ago, it is gone!

former site of davis lock and safe

It was demolished, and now the land stands empty. I have no idea what will go in there. I went down to sketch on Sunday. It’s useful for urban sketchers to document their environments, because once they change, they are changed for good.

Below, this is the first sketch of the building I did in 2010. Bye bye, Lock and Safe!

davis lock and safe co.

she’s a nice girl

red fiat in davis

Bloody lovely weather yesterday in Davis, so I went and sketched for a bit in the afternoon. I spotted this beauty parked on 3rd Street, so I parked myself on the sidewalk and whipped out the moleskine sketchbook. There were quite a lot of very sketchable cars out yesterday, for some reason, but I didn’t have time for them all. One thing that drew me to this car was its shadow – basically, it is Batman. Who knew?! There’s this advert on the telly these days for Fiats where this guy is confronted by a tall young Italian woman who slaps him in the face and then acts all seductively, before the guy realises she is just a car. My four-year-old saw that commercial, and he said dryly, “she’s a nice girl”, which had me in hysterics. He does like cool cars though, so this one’s for you matey.

i’ll be sitting when the evening comes

sf ferry building

Last weekend, my wife and I stayed in San Francisco, at the Hyatt Regency by the Embarcadero. Can’t get enough San Francisco! The views from the Hyatt are exceptional. After a day walking around the Mission, we took a break at the hotel before dinner and I drew the view from the hallway window: the Ferry Building, with the Bay Bridge spanning eastwards. The Sun was going down, so the light was constantly changing. Below, a quick sketch of the room. Both drawn in the Stillman and Birn sketchbook.

san francisco hyatt regency