haute again

haute again, e street
I hope you have all had a very nice Christmas. It still is Christmas of course, one more mince pie to eat, lots more cheese left in the fridge, Christmas gifts yet to be played with (I have an X-Men lego helicopter complete with Magneto still to put together, but I’m full into my Barcelona guidebook now and my new slippers are getting well used in this cold). Yesterday though I went back to work, locking myself away while it is quiet to plough through the mountain of work on my desk. I got away at lucnhtime for some Thai food, and with to the History of Rome podcast on my iPod I stood across the street from Haute Again (a consignment store on E street) to sketch the Orange Court complex while it is visible. Now the trees are leafless the architecture of Davis can be seen, and sketched. I didn’t give myself much time though so didn’t draw the whole thing, and left that half-done too, but I plan to come back and finish it off. I didn’t get much sketching in over the Christmas, and at home I’m working on a drawing project in my brief spare moments, but 2013 is coming, and I plan to sketch even more. The next sketchcrawl is on January 19th by the way. This year is nearly over…

’twas the night before christmas

merry chirstmas everybody!
It’s Christmas Eve! And for some of you back home in the UK, Father Christmas will be arriving soon so still time to be good. A while to go here in California, but the mince pie is at the ready for Santa, and a nice turkey dinner awaits us. Oh, and a trifle, I made a very nice trifle this year. Above is our tree. We cut it down ourselves from a local Christmas tree farm (in the rain and mud), a bit bigger than last year, and heavier too. Most of the presents beneath the tree are for that smallest member of our family, who has been getting up excitedly at 4:00am every morning to open the latest window on his spectacularly successful daddy-drawn advent calendar (it was a xmas-tree-shaped race-track).
watching charlie brown at 4:30am
I draw a christmas tree every year, so I thought you might like to see every tree I have drawn since 2006. I neglected to sketch the first tree after we moved to cA, 2005, but since it is the same fake tree we used to get every year you can just imagine what it looks like. I’m including a couple of my mum’s trees from visits back to north London as well.
sapin de xmasat about 5am on boxing day
2006: Davis (left), Burnt Oak (right)
at home, january 2008
2007 (well, Jan 2008, but the tree was from Xmas 2007): Davis. Not-yet-President Obama was on the telly!
zweichristmas back home
2008: Davis (left, though in the background), and Burnt Oak (right)
last view of the tree, till next yearMerry Christmas!
2009: Davis (left); 2010: Davis (right)
our christmas tree
2011, last year, Davis CA.

Happy Christmas to all, and have a very merry 2013.

red box

phone booth on D St

This phone box is on D Street in Davis. I drew it last year as part of the show I had at the Pence (and it was the first to sell) and also again recently in my sketchbook. This version was done as a commission, so drawn using those sketches and some photos as reference. I thought I would show you how it looked only partially coloured too, since I like that look.
For those of you from previous centuries, a phone box is where people would sometimes go to make phone calls when they didn’t actually want the entire street to hear their loud and dull phone conversation. Such conventions seem very outdated these days. While this doesn’t have an actual telephone in it any more (and of course was imported from Britain), perhaps people should still be made to go inside such phone booths to use their cellphones, I’d be in favour of that by-law.

phone booth on D St

Merry Christmas folks!

christmas at the cathedral

2012 Christmas Concert at Grace Cathedral
As mentioned in the previous post, I drew the cover for Grace Cathedral’s 2012 Christmas Concert brochure. Last Saturday my wife and I went down to San Francisco, and up up up Nob Hill, to see the wonderful show itself, courtesy of the cathedral. Naturally I took my sketchbook. While last year I drew the impressive vaulted ceiling all the way down to the singing choir, this year I took a panoramic approach; you’ll have to click on the image for a larger view, I’m afraid. I did all the penwork during the concert, and added the colour when I got home (from my detailed notes – shirt=yellow, hair=brown etc). I have drawn in here a few times now so i am getting used to this impressive space. It is always nice to draw with a cathedral full of singing all around you. The Christmas Concert at Grace Cathedral is a San Francisco tradition, and I’m very honoured to have illustrated their flier and brochure two years in a row. Here they are…
grace xmas programs 2012
The concert was majestic. I love all the old Christmas songs, Hark the Herald Angels Sing and all that; though I’m not a religious person myself, they make me nostalgic, somehow reminding me more of England than America, Christmas Carols, mince pies, junior school concerts, Harry Secombe on the telly, Shepherds washing their socks by night. There was, almost inevitably, one deeply sad moment: a verse of Silent Night, added to the set following the terrible event that happened the day before in Connecticut. It was a well attended concert, one of several that have taken place this month at Grace; this weekend there are performances of Handel’s Messiah performed by American Bach Soloists. Many thanks once again to Abby and Bruce for giving me this opportunity again. As I have said before, I do love drawing a cathedral!


cathedral steps

Last year I illustrated the cover of the program for the 2011 Christmas Concert at Grace Cathedral in San Francisco’s Nob Hill. This year I had the honour to be asked once again, for the 2012 shows. This time I was asked to provide an illustration of the magnificent building from a different angle, that of the impressive choir on the western side. Last weekend, my wife and I went to see the Christmas Concert, a beautiful show, and I will show you the panoramic sketch I made in the next post. For now though I thought you might like to see a step-by-step of how I drew the cathedral, along with some detailed and highly useful lecture notes. Cathedrals are fantastic to draw. If I could spend my life just drawing cathedrals I would be one happy little (well, medium-sized) Scully.

grace cathedral steps 1-4
Step One: draw some of the cathedral.
grace cathedral steps 5-8
Step two: draw the rest of the cathedral
Grace Cathedral
Here it is before adding the colour. It’s a good idea to scan it before you add the colour, because you might want to use it for a colouring-in-book, and you may get the colour completely wrong and accidentally paint it green or something.
Grace Cathedral (part colour)
Step Three: add some colour. Colour a little bit at a time. Then colour some other bits. Always paint the sky last, for no reason whatsoever. Scan it halfway through so you can say, I like it like that.
Grace Cathedral at Christmas
And…voilà! You have your cathedral. I am very pleased with it, and I think they were too. I was asked to make it evening time so you can see some of the colourful stained glass. I gave the evening sky a purple tint, to reflect the colours worn by the both the priests and the Men and Boys Choir. I must say, they are a really nice bunch of people at Grace, it’s one of my favourite spots in the city. Please visit them at http://www.gracecathedral.org/. In the next post, I’ll show you what I sketched there at the weekend…

cargo coffee

cargo coffee UCD
It was a cold, cold day, and I really had to sketch something this lunchtime, so I chose Cargo Coffee by the School of Education. I don’t drink coffee but have meant to sketch this place in a long time. I listened to a podcast about the history of Rome, to try somehow to think about other things. Today was a really horrible day in America.

that’s what i’m trying to tell you kid, it’s been totally blown away

boiler building 121112 one
These lunchtime sketches are the last drawings ever of the old UC Davis Boiler Building. I made a point of getting there today to see what was left, and met a wide open space and a sad, defiant little corner. I just had to sketch straight away. As I sketched, big machines heaved and huffed and knocked away segments. Large cracks appeared accompanied by deep thunderous booms. It’s nothing personal, they said, we just want a place for the music to happen. The old external boilers, which originally drew me to the building (I sketched those back in 2010 as part of my hydrants and pipes NaNoDrawMo series), were holding out. I moved to the other side, to excitedly grab another sketch from a different angle. Such a thirst for the creative powers of destruction! When I came back a couple of hours later, all that remained were the boilers and a small section of wall. Oh, and a lot of rubble.
boiler building 121112 two

I am not done, of course. I’ll chart the new building as it grows, the new Recital Hall. I don’t know what it will look like yet (I don’t want to see any of the plans, I want the surprise).

Fare thee well, old Boiler Building! Rest in Pieces!

but i need a friend and i choose you

26th & K, Sacramento

We happened to be in Midtown Sacramento today, buying art supplies and stocking stuffers at the University Art Store on J Street. I decided to stick around and sketch a building I last sketched back in early 2007, the Parish Church of St.Francis of Assisi. It was a cool day in Midtown, and I had a long walk to the bus afterwards, but it was a good walk. I always forget how much I do enjoy Midtown Sac, how many great sketching opportunities and interesting little stores there are. I remember when I first discovered the area, my wife had dropped me off to check out that record shop The Beat one day and I was hooked, it became my favourite place to escape to from Davis (other than the Bay Area of course). I was amazed I had never been there before; I generally avoided Sacramento in those early days, having only seen its rougher edges, but Midtown was cool. On those long Sundays when my wife wanted me out of the apartment, I’d be there somewhere between J or K or L, sketching. This building was in fact the first thing I ever drew in Midtown, so when I stopped there today it felt like I was sketching an old, old friend. I don’t go to this area very often now, maybe a couple of times a year, but it’s an interesting area, and has well-stocked art stores, comic shops, record shops and a British pub – what more do you need?

Incidentally, here is the version I drew nearly six years ago… different angle, different light, different pens, very different days.

st francis church & friary, midtown sacramento

it’s party time

stats holiday party 2013

Yesterday was our department’s (Statistics, UC Davis) annual holiday party. In all my years there I’ve never sketched any of our department events, but this time I felt the need to. I usually decorate the whiteboard for the party in dodgy dry-erase markers (and did so again, with snowmen – easy to draw – and a leafless tree – took a bit more time), but I don’t have a decent photo of that so you’ll just have to imagine it. Technically it’s my largest piece of public art. I had meant to bring a trifle too, and I went to the store and got all the ingredients, and quickly cycled home eager to put together my favourite favourite dessert, and realised I had forgotten one important thing. No sponge cakes. Back home I’d use either Jaffa Cakes or basic trifle sponges, but here, among other things, I’ve taken to using Twinkies. Well you all know Twinkies are now consigned to the big bin-bag in the sky, but I had cleanly forgotten to look for an alternative (Ladyfingers I’m told are good, but I can’t ask for them without thinking of Alan Partridge gyrating around a pole), and so it slipped my mind. I won’t make a trifle without this aspect of it, so the trifle did not get made. I considered burning the other ingredients ceremoniously, but I decided to keep them and make a trifle on a different day. I will probably use Pims (a near-equivalent to Jaffa Cakes, not the stuff you drink on a hot day in Surrey). Still, the food at this potluck was amazing as always, and I particularly enjoyed the vegetable biryani. Very festive!

bring it on down

boiler building, coming down

Back to the old Boiler Building, and the machines are really tearing it down now. The whole east side has been turned to rubble, leaving a sad, draughty, haunted shell. A small crowd of people with young, construction-machine-loving-aged children (you know the age, parents!) to see the mighty mechanical dinosaurs at work, and to wave goodbye to a historic part of UC Davis. Back at work, I spoke about this sad demise of a much-loved campus sight to some of the professors who have taught there for the past few decades. “Where’s this, then?” they said. “Boiler Building? Is that downtown somewhere? Don’t know that one.” Well, I’ll miss it. Even if I too had no idea what it was for until recently.