AVB – or Andre Villas-Boas as he prefers to be called – is the manager of Tottenham Hotspur. He is also Manager of the Month for December, following Spurs’ fantastic run lately. He is young too, and the first Spurs manager ever who is younger than me. He doesn’t like shaving (I can relate, though I can’t do stubble for very long without getting grumpy about it). I drew him yesterday lunchtime, when I was too tired to leave the office for lunch, and stayed in to draw on one of many envelopes I get at this time of year (this one is from Shandong University in China). It has been a very busy week, with an even busier one to come. In fact I was so tired yesterday that when I got home I fell asleep almost straight away, and when I woke up at half past five this morning this man was on the TV, leading Spurs in a 0-0 draw against his predecessor, Harry Redknapp, now boss of bottom-placed QPR. I like AVB. “A valuable boss.”
It is very cold in Davis these days. Yeah yeah, it’s not cold like other places where it’s really cold. It’s cold enough though. But bright, sunny, and still good weather for sketching, though my Micron pens disagree a little. After eating a fairly unsatisfying Taco Bell lunch (they had the shortest line at the very busy Silo, and I wanted to spend my lunchtime sketching, not queuing for something tastier) I walked over to the Student Community Center. This is a new building, opened last year, bright and colourful, a lot nicer than the dull short buildings it replaced. I continued listening to that History of Rome podcast series (I am now up to the crisis in the 3rd Century, the Year of the Six Emperors, all of that – it’s very interesting, but imperial Rome is rather starting to remind me of a daytime TV soap) (“Rome and Away”…I may be onto something there).
On a side-note, in interesting sketching-related news, now available for pre-order (with previews of many pages) on Amazon is Danny Gregory’s sequel to An Illustrated Life, “An Illustrated Journey“. Check it out! I am in it! So are many other amazing artists whose work I love. I can’t wait!
Been a busy, busy week, with barely a moment to think. Januarys are hectic, and I’ve not had time to do any urban sketching this week. Here though is part of something I have been doing, a panel of a comic. This – not drawn from life – is a scene familiar to so many, waiting for the night bus. To those who don’t know, the night buses in London generally start at Trafalgar Square and then go all across the city, to the ends of the earth, ferrying late-night Londoners in varying states of tiredness or drunkenness or both back home when the tube has stopped running. The N5 was my bus. Back in the olden days, before the north side of Trafalgar Square was pedestrianized, I waited there for the N5, waited and waited until sometimes it was light, in the rain or the cold, with crowds of people or just a few stragglers (but usually with crowds, London at 4am on a Sunday morning is a busy bloody place). More often that waiting would be around the corner, one stop from the beginning, where the fried chicken shop was on Charing Cross Road. Some nights, the N5 just would not come. This was the old days, before Mayor Ken put lots more buses on the street, when you could wait two or three hours for a night bus that should have come hourly. Sometimes there would be one or two other buses, different routes, at your stop when your N5 finally came, only for the N5 to not bother stopping because nobody hailed it down (due to not actually being able to see it coming) – oh those were frustrating days. When I used to go to the Hellfire Club in Oxford Street, it was taking a chance getting on the N5 at Tottenham Court Road because it was usually full up by that point. Going out in Camden was worse, because that bloody N5 would always be absolutely jam packed by the time it reached Camden Town, and you just had to wait for the next one, that was all there was to it. The bus stop was outside the Black Cap, and opposite a 24 hour store where they sold cans of Pepsi Max and really bad sandwiches. Sometimes the N5 would decide inexplicably to stop in Golders Green, about halfway home, meaning another hour long wait and more time spent browsing bags of crisps in a 24-hour store, if it was even open. The most common habit though, and I know that all of you late-night Londoners out there have done this at some point, is the classic fall-asleep-and-wake-up-at-the-end-of-the-line move. Hey, it’s a long journey, and I can fall asleep on a five minute bus trip. My end of the line thankfully was only a mile or so from where I needed to get off, admittedly involving a walk through deserted car-park and dark alley and a walk up the Deansbrook in the cold. That was the N5 – when I was studying in east London and would get the N25 from Mile End to Trafalgar Square, well let’s say when I fell asleep the bus would just turn around and go the other way – one time I ended up in Essex (that’s nothing, once I fell asleep on the wrong train out of Brussels and ended up going into Holland). Those days are long gone – though that night a couple of months ago when I got stuck waiting for the Yolobus in Woodland after the Art Farm event certainly brought all of these adventures back to me (except in London, we do have streetlights).
The night bus, aah, we’ve all been there. Except if you aren’t from London or a big city which has them, in which case you probably haven’t.
The Dresbach Hunt-Boyer House in downtown Davis, on 2nd St, is one of the most historic buildings in Davis. I had to pop by on Friday lunchtime to pick up some brochures about Davis and Yolo County for work, and took the opportunity to sketch the building, something I have rarely done (though I sketched its former tank house a couple of times, it is now located at a farm on the edge of town, in two pieces). The building dates from the 1870s, and its triple-barreled name reflects different owners of the mansion, the grounds of which spanned a larger area in days gone by. The Yolo County Visitors Bureau is located in there now. I sketched this while listening to an excellent podcast about Roman timekeeping, from the History of the English Language podcast series (though I am listening to the History of Rome series avidly also).
After a very busy first few days of 2013 (with busier days to come), I decided to pop downtown to check out some comics at Bizarro World and pop into De Vere’s on E Street for a couple of beers. It was a busy night as usual, but I settled into a comfy couch in the little area with all the books and games and read Frank Miller’s ‘Batman: Year One’, which I had heard was good (and it really is). We’re very Batman in our family right now, my living room floor is a scattered mess of Batman toys. Inspired, I did a bit of pub sketching too – I have previously only sketched the bar area so wanted to catch a bit more of this pub. Going for some depth in this one, tricky angle but I like how it turned out. It was pretty busy – there was a group of about ten young folks sat around a tiny table to my left playing some sort of game with what looked like tarot cards. Other similarly-sized groups were playing Jenga or other pub games. I did try a bit of people sketching, before getting back to my Batman.
First urban sketch of 2013. This is the old Boy Scout Cabin on 1st Street in Davis, now home to the Log Cabin Gallery (we like a gallery in Davis, we like a bit of art). I sketched it today while stood at Davis Commons at lunchtime, listening to a podcast about the great Roman Emperor Trajan. I am enjoying these History of Rome podcasts, you should check them out (search for them on iTunes). Optimus Trajan, wow he was quite the guy. I really must get to Rome one of these days (not exactly a cheap day return though, is it). This old log cabin is an interesting and overlooked building which is in a pretty prominent downtown yet feels-a-bit-cut-off-by-traffic location in Davis. It was built in 1927 by the Boy Scouts Association and the Rotary Club. They aren’t there any more however, due to their lease not being renewed about a decade ago after a dispute about whether it was appropriate for the city to lease land to an organization that discriminates against gay people (according to Davis Wiki). It’s a more interesting scout hut than my old one back in Burnt Oak. I have fond memories of being in the scouts when I was a kid in England, the 8th Edgware, with the blue scarf, first in the cubs, then in the scouts, getting my camping badges, my reading badge, my art badge; I remember getting my chess badge, and the scout leader making a big deal about when my older brother got his chess badge years before and my brother, less than ten years old, had actually taught him many of the chess moves he was now testing me on. I lived off of his reputation (but I got the art badge all on my own, thank you). We’d go camping a lot, so many adventurous summers camped by some wood or other with cubs from all over the south east, places like Gilwell Park, learning how to boil potatoes and pitch an ancient tent in the pouring rain and tell ghost stories by the light of a cheap torch from Woolworths. The scout leaders were a couple, Pat and Pete, and their sister Ruth, though Pat was the ‘Akela’ (as in “A-ek-la, we will do our best” I recall us all having to repeat), and I remember some old friends such as Racey, Duggan, various Marks, Goodman, but have forgotten so many more. I was ‘sixer’ of the yellows at one point, which was kind of the leader of my group, then I became sixer of the blues, and got my gold arrow badge, though I can barely recall what any of that means now. We didn’t have a log cabin – our old hut was cold and draughty, with a goat tethered outside for some unknown reason, located behind the main shops on the Watling, reached by going down some piss-stained steps in a dark passageway next to the off-license which came out above where the Silkstream entered the Burnt Oak sewage system. That is the scout hut I should draw someday, though to be honest I am not sure it’s even there.
Happy New Year! 2013 is so far all about sitting around at home watching movies, but the busy days begin again tomorrow. 2012 was pretty busy too, travels to London, Paris, Portland, Santa Cruz etc, the publication of The Art of Urban Sketching, appearances on the cover of the Davis Enterprise, many public showings (and sales!) at the Pence Gallery, a talk at the Avid Reader, a feature on WordPress’s Freshly Pressed, many sketchcrawls in Davis and a huge sketchcrawl in London. I would do a run-down of the year, but that takes a long time and I still have other drawing projects to work on, so I must get back to them. In the meantime, above is a selection of my drawings from the start to the end of 2012, and I must give a massive thank you to all who have followed this year’s progress on my sketchblog and elsewhere. Happy New Year! Here is a new year’s resolution – get out and draw. Cold, hot, wet, I drew in all sorts of weather this year (mostly hot) and all practice is worth it.
Have a sketchtastic 2013!
UPDATE: Here are all of the fire hydrants I drew in 2012 too. Not a bad little collection!