Yesterday lunchtime I was looking for something inspiring to draw. Up by 3rd and University Streets, just off campus, workmen are doing some important work on the road, so there was a lot of machinery about. I was drawn to a big yellow truck, and this being lunchtime it was just parked there under a tree. I drew it for about fifteen or twenty minutes before the driver came back and drove it away (actually on a bit further up the street, but I had enough of a sketch to be happy with). Decided I preferred it unfinished anyway, and left it colourless too. Machinery is fun to draw. After this, I popped into Ali Baba’s on 3rd for a falafel gyro – nice, but not a fan of the peanut sauce.
Beneath the Covell overpass in north Davis, behind the Little League fields, train engines – diesel switchers, I believe though I’m no ‘spotter – lie in wait. They are very colourful. Freight trains pass this way going north to Oregon, Washington, Canada, the North Pole for all I know. The Eastbound trains travel on the other track, nearby our old apartment. The first night I spent in Davis, almost seven years ago now, I was kept awake by the mile-long freight train rumbling through at one in the morning. I got used to that pretty quickly. It wasn’t that loud, but even at a distance I could feel the ground shaking a little. We have our freeways and our bike paths and watch airplanes cruise overhead, but something about the railway makes us feel connected to the wider continent at large. I may never get the time to do a big train journey across America – to paraphrase Cars, these days travel is about making good time, not having a good time (I blame the shorter vacations you get here) – so it’s quicker and easier (and occasionally cheaper) to fly. I like sketching train engines though. Maybe that makes me a trainspotter? Anorak on standby.
At the end of a busy and interesting week, a Friday night trip downtown was in order. The hundred degree weather has cooled into low 90s and mid 80s, a sigh of relief from me for one. Davis is too hot in the summertime, you just don’t want to be outside doing anything. Summer makes for nice evenings though, so I biked downtown after dinner and walked about. Popped into Newsbeat, the Avid Reader, Bizarro Comics, and then went to De Vere’s Irish pub to spend the rest of the night drawing the bar and drinking the beer. It was as super-crowded as on previous visits, though it got busier later. I read the comic I bought (one of the new DC ‘Before Watchmen’ prequels, this one based on the Comedian; it really wasn’t all that, to be honest) and got out the sketchbook to draw this bar one more time. I have often thought about organizing a ‘Drink and Draw’ group in Davis, perhaps going to different Davis pubs each time; I think it’d be a good idea, though I have had little time to work on it. So I occasionally get out to draw the bars myself; it’s good practise, all those bottles and shapes and light, and you get to sample the local beers. I intended to do the whole thing in dark brown but I had picked up the purple instead, only realising after drawing the beer pumps. The light wasn’t bad, but it was hard to tell between brown and purple. Once I realised, I decided on a two-colour scheme which I really liked. Purple and brown reminds me of Cadbury’s Dairy Milk too. It took a while to draw this, about 3.5 beers (someone did ask me how long it had taken but I couldn’t remember what time I came in, I had been in Bizarro Comics next door for quite a while). You might be able to spot my reflection in there somewhere. The level of detail tails off a bit towards the end, on the right, because of the larger movement of people, the darker light, and the effects of the Sudwerk Aggie ale (not my favourite Sudwerk beer by quite a long shot, but it’s nice enough and only $4 a pint). I chatted to some people at the bar while I sketched, watched the Giants win at the baseball, and made the long walk home through dark Old North Davis (they don’t like streetlights there; apparently they want you to be able to see the stars. Be quite nice to see the street as well though, I would have thought). Passed the bats that live under the bridge at Covell too, squeaking and flapping about. Summer is nearly done, and Fall is coming in, but the warm weather and balmy nights will be with us for quite a bit of time yet, and it’s nice to get out every so often.
(Click on the image to go to a bigger version)
Some quick lunchtime sketches from downtown Davis recently. Above, by the way, is Froggie’s, on the corner of 2nd and G. My sketching was pretty sparse lately, with these being typical efforts. Felt uninspired, disinterested even. Sometimes we earthlings let the weight of the world get to us. Feel a bit better now and expect to sketch a bit more furiously from now! The summer is cooling down a bit, and drawing closer to its end. But there is still a bit more summer to come.
Sketching has been sporadic lately, but I have been doing a little. Above is a quick lunchtime sketch at the Silo, UC Davis, where I often eat my lunch. On this day I sketched; other days I just eat, read, listen to podcasts, or in the case of yesterday I spent my time writing hilarious captions against photos of hairy pretentious bands in a local free magazine. That was fun. But anyway, this got me thinking about how many times I’ve sketched at the Silo – a LOT, I’ve worked at UCD for six and a half years now, blimey. So here is a selection of sketches of the Silo area from over the years.
(Above Left: March 2008; Above Right: April 2008)
(Above Left: Feb 2007; Above Right: July 2009)
(Above Left: Feb 2010; Above Right: March 2012)
(Above Left: March 2008; Above Right: July 2009)
(Above: Feb 2012)
(Above Left: August 2007; Above Right: Jan 2008)
(Above Left: June 2011; Above Right: May 2011)
(Above Left: March 2009; Above Right: Sept 2007)
(Above Left: Sept 2011; Above Right: Oct 2011)
Thanks for sticking to the end! This isn’t even all of them, and doesn’t include all the South Silo, Bike Barn, Outdoor Adventures ones, the whole Silo Complex. This represents a helluva lot of Grill’d Stuff’d Burritos.
Hey remember a couple of weeks ago I went and drew a panorama in my Moleskine of that stretch of 2nd St with the Varsity Theatre? I intended to redraw it larger, in colour, and submit it to the Pence Gallery for their annual Art Auction next month. I got cracking on it this weekend past, and learned an important but obvious lesson – larger drawings take longer to do. But it means you get to spend more time enjoying it!
Which meant a couple of late nights, but I couldn’t sleep anyway. I drew on a large sheet of thick Strathmore watercolour paper, whose inherently rougher feel than my watercolour Moleskine made my micron pens cry a little bit, but the uniball signo dx um-151 super-accurate-fineliner-pen and the trusty laugh-in-the-face-of-watercolour-paper uniball vision micro came to the rescue (yes there should be a superhero comic about pens, and I might write it) when the microns were starting to feel the strain, like relief pitchers. I took photos for a step-by-step, in case you absolutely have to know whether I drew left to right or right to left or middle to out (it’s that one, though I painted it in reverse order).
And here is the final thing, framed and ready to go. Larger than I usually draw, at roughly 10″ x 20″. I hope it sells!
I wasn’t able to schedule an August sketchcrawl (and boy, was it hot this month!), but Let’s Draw Davis in September instead! This time we will meet on the very calm and quiet UC Davis campus – calm and quiet, before the thousnads of students return shortly afterwards! UC Davis was recently ranked ‘the coolest school in America’, and how much cooler would it be if we all sketched it? A lot cooler!
We will meet at the Silo, in the middle of campus. The Silo itself probably won’t be open for food, being the weekend, so you may want to bring a packed lunch. It’s an interesting area to draw, and we can meet at the tables bewteen the main building and the Bike Barn. From there we will sketch around campus, on your own or in groups, before reconvening outside the main doors of Shields Library (or just inside if it’s too hot) to check out each other’s sketchbooks.
START: 11:00am, @the UC Davis Silo (map)
FINISH: 3:00pm, outside Shields Library (map)
If you can’t find your way around campus, I recommend visiting the UC Davis website where they have an excellent online campus map: http://campusmap.ucdavis.edu/. Why not check out the UC Davis Virtual Tour as well?
As always, everyone is welcome to join in, regardless of sketching ability. All you need is something to draw with and something to draw on, and once you start looking you’ll be amazed at what you find.
Hope to see you there!
We went to see the San Francisco Giants play again yesterday, second time in a fortnight, and my third time ever. And this time they won! With bases loaded in the 8th inning and the Giants two runs down to the Colorado Rockies, new boy Hunter Pence hit a home run right into that crowd there in the middle of the drawing. The place went wild. Look at me, understanding what is going on, sort of. I am still learning. I am learning that garlic fries might be a good idea but they stick with you a bit. I am learning that when the pitcher is on deck to bat next and there are two outs already, the opposing team walks the current batter because the batting pitcher is less likely to make a hit, and so you have to boo them. Wow, I feel like the scarecrow at the end of Wizard of Oz. I also figured out, all on my own with no help or looking at the answers, that those big yellow poles, which I thought were cellphone towers or something (this is AT&T Park), are the boundaries within which a ball is ‘in’ or ‘out’. It makes sense. This was a good game, the Giants won, we were happy, a nice family day out. My young son got to hit the ball in the mini-version of AT-&T Park they have in the fun area (up near where the big Coke bottle is; that is actually a series of tunnel slides). He got a home run and was well pleased. After the game, all the kids under 14 got to run the bases on the real field. After hundreds of degrees in Davis, it was upper 60s – low 70s in the city, and I was actually freezing cold in the shade. This is a spectacular ballpark though, one of the great stadia in one of the great locations, and it’s just so much fun. Especially when the Giants win.
Right now at the Pence Gallery in Davis is a great show called ‘If The Shoe Fits’, which is all about Shoes. I was invited to display some of my shoe drawings, and as some of you may remember I have been drawing every one of my son’s shoes since he started wearing them, all in one book. So I redrew some, this time with colour, on Stillman and Birn Gamma paper. Above is the first shoe he ever wore, at age zero, the Robeez rocket shoe.
Next one, the blue Van’s shoe. I liked these ones. This is from age one. By then of course he was walking and running.
Finally, a shoe from age three, in fact the first shoes he ever chose himself. He has good taste. These got a lot of wear, before the feet outgrew them.
All were drawn on that S&B Gamma paper in either copic multiliner or micron pigma pen, with watercolour added. If you want to see (or buy) these, and a lot of other great shoe art from some amazing artists, go down to the Pence Gallery on D Street in Davis.
Those feet just keep getting bigger and bigger…
It is too hot. I’m sorry Davis, but you have to sort out these summers. Hundreds, and getting hotter, so KCRA3 Weather Plus Chief Meteorologist Mark Finan says (you have to use his full title or he makes it get even hotter). This lunchtime, I went down to Putah Creek and stood beneath the shade of a big bridge and drew it. There are all these little wooden barriers, dams even, up and down the Creek at the moment. A whole crowd of ducks pulled up at one point, stared at the wooden board quietly, looked around at each other, and then started quacking furiously. I could translate what they were saying as WTF?!?! (Or QQQ?!?! in duck-txtspk) It was like in Donald Duck, you know when he gets angry and goes red and steam comes out of his nostrils and he boils up into a rage, it was like that but with about twenty-five ducks. Actually it kind of reminded me of a bunch of commuters. Now they would have to get out of the Creek and walk, oh QQQ, it’s hundred quacking degrees and I have to quacking waddle? For duck’s drake. Actually, being the Olympics I’m wondering whether it’s not some sort of dressage or hurdles thing, perhaps they are expecting the ducks to jump over them. Not quacking likely.