i’m sure you’ve heard it all before but you never really had a doubt

g street wunderbar

Last Thursday, after a four-day-yet-particularly-busy-and-stressful week, I needed to go out and draw something complicated, and have a couple of beers too. I hadn’t really sketched at the G Street Wunderbar since it ceased to be simply the G Street Pub a while ago now, so this place deserved a nice barside panoramic. There it is above (click on the image to see it bigger). There are a LOT of bottles behind that bar. I had to sketch them very quickly. Here is a detail:

wunderbar 032813 detail

It wasn’t that busy when I got there, but more people filed in as the evening wore on. Several bands were on the bill that night, so I had a bit of music to accompany the sketching work. I didn’t draw the barstaff or drinkers though, as they all moved abut too quickly for a sketch like this.

And here is how it looks in the Moleskine, if you’re interested. The pen is dark brown, uni-ball signo um-151. The whole thing took about three hours (or four beers). Next time I’ll do it in colour…

sketching at wunderbar

Here are my previous sketches of the bar when it used to be the old G Street Pub, when it had Camden Town-esque toilets which are thankfully no longer there. I’m slowly checking off all the bars in Davis. If you want to see them all, along with others from around the world, see my Flickr set ‘Pubs, Cafes, etc‘.

g st pub, davisg street pub

it’s party time, yeah

davis city offices
I’ve drawn the old City Hall, but have never drawn the current one. Davis City Offices, from where Davis is governed by the City Council, are housed in an old brick high school building on Russell, a lovely building to draw you might think, if it weren’t for those trees in the way. I’ve never really found a good view which isn’t mainly foliage, but this one from across the street is as good as I could get. I’ve been in here once, to sketch an arts council meeting. There is a plaque inside apparently which lists the name of every “Davis Citizen of the Year” since 1945 (hint hint, you know).

Sketched in Watercolour Moleskine #12 with a brown uni-ball signo um-151, coloured in when I got home. There are a lot of buildings along this street I’ve meant to sketch for a while but haven’t gotten around to, time to start checking off that list.


you know that i gotta say time’s slippin’ away

varsity davis
Another view of the Varsity, but this time from the side. It’s a bigger one than usual at 8″x10″ (on Canson illustration board – lovely for the pen, bit too smooth for a nice wash) sketched while sat on one of the benches outside. I’ve not drawn from this angle before, and yeah it was a fun angle, but I also realized that the bit of the Varsity that I like drawing the least – the underside of the roof – takes up most of the drawing. I’ve always hated that bit, with it’s peculiar angles, uneven shading and lights I can never quite line up. You don’t want these buildings to be easy now do you. Oh Varsity, I’ve been sketching you for years now, I feel like I am doomed to draw you forever, but you’re a great building, and in many ways I’ve only started. I did take a pretty long time drawing this though, longer than I’d have liked (funny how bigger drawings take longer). Hard to tire of this iconic structure. All it needs though is a holographic shark to come out and try to swallow me up.

littlest league

t-ball at the park
My son is playing t-ball again this year, for the second time. T-ball is little league baseball for the very young. They don’t keep score, play two or three innings, everyone gets a chance to learn. I sketched a little at his second game of the season – he plays for the Diamondbacks. He’s an old hand now of course! Sketched on a sunny early evening at Community Park, Davis, in my Moleskine diary. Not easy to sketch these types of things, especially the bit where he was about to bat, but fun trying to capture it quickly. Fun memories!

international bright young things

university house
“Hmmm, not sure; maybe ask SISS.” This is a common response of mine when international students come to me with a question I can’t answer. SISS (Services for International Students and Scholars) is a central department on campus for dealing with international student issues, and as a very international-oriented campus many departments rely on them. A lot. They generally have the answers. They live in University House, which is, I’ll have you know, one of the oldest buildings on campus. It is also known as Temporary Building 8, which is a little rich since it is 105 years old, so not all that temporary. It’s older than the old Wembley Stadium. When it was built, the Habsburgs were still a big hit in central Europe, Britain had an Empire that stretched from the Hebrides to the Pleiades, and Ryan Giggs had just made his debut for Manchester United. It was part of the original University Farm. This building has a lot of history, and given its current use, it has a lot of geography too.

I sketched this in my Moleskine at lunchtime on one of the less sunny days this week (occasionally this happens in Davis, it’s rare I know), but had to finish the colours later.

(By the way I always hated that song, “international bright young things”, but the title seems appropriate here – though not all the students and scholars are young, most are pretty bright, probably brighter than me).

never hung poison on a fouler toad!

richard III, wyatt auditorium
Last Saturday, I went to see a free production of Shakespeare’s classic play Richard III at the Wyatt Auditorium on the UC Davis campus. I’d never been to this venue before, but since I do enjoy this play and have a particular interest in the historical character of King Richard III, this gave me a great chance to sketch this old building from the inside, and watch some great drama too. This was produced by undergraduates in the UC Davis Theater & Dance department, a company called ‘Shakespeare on a Shoestring’ (‘SOS’), directed by acting professor Bella Merlin, formerly with the National Theatre in London, and Kevin Adamski. When I was a student of drama back in my own university days, I participated in a large production of Richard III, not as an actor but as the props and art assistant. I helped design this vast stage floor composed of newspaper cuttings, I drew maps of battlefields, and I remember having to go to my local Territorial Army center to borrow some militaristic gear from the quartermaster, which included a massive and very heavy wooden table, which – me being without a car or van – I carried by myself for nearly a mile. I had actually intended on bringing it across London on the tube; that never happened. I’m not so daft these days, I hope. This production, however, was a little more spartan – and that is how I like it. The direction was excellent, so even in the rare moments when the acting was less consistent a beat was never lost, and the scenes were almost always compelling. Richard (aka the Duke of Gloucester) himself was excellently played by Ryan Geraghty, every bit the villain Shakespeare’s text intended him to be. The most striking element was the music, inventive percussion provided at dramatic moments by the beating of simple objects, wooden blocks, plastic drums, metal pipes. The play was performed in its entirety, from what I could tell, clocking in at two and a half hours (with a brief interval). Naturally, I sketched.

I hadn’t intended on sketching on the program itself, but it just seemed like the appropriate thing to do, though it wasn’t suited for watercolour, obviously. One problem with sketching a performance, even of a play you know, is that you are never quite sure how long the scene will remain in the position you decide to sketch. Therefore I concentrated most of my time on the theatre itself, with its half-round seating broken by large wooden posts that often obstructed what I could see (there is no getting around that, for almost any spectator). So the scene I chose was the corpse scene between Richard and the widow of the late King, though Richard was actually hidden behind one of those posts for much of it. Therefore when I sketched him, I waited until a later scene when he was giving a more prominent speech to the audience. I drew him again, later in the play, on grey paper – though halfway through this sketch the lights went dark (having been unchanged the entire play) for the ‘ghosts’ scene, so I finished it in the battle scene (adding in his metal fighting stick, and those famous lines). It was a fun finale, with high-tempo percussion over a slow-motion duel between King Richard and Richmond, the future King Henry IV, founder of the Tudor dynasty (I must admit I was rooting for Richard). I can’t wait for the next one, Richard IV!
richard III

Of course, King Rick has been in the news of late, as you may have heard, in quite amazing circumstances. His body was lost for centuries, his true character – of which we mostly know Tudor accounts – lost to myth and dramaturgy, his demise known to us only that he was the last English king to die on the battlefield. That battlefield – Bosworth – was also lost to history, until just a couple of years ago, and last year a skeleton was dug up in an archaeological dig beneath a car park in Leicester, part of a medieval church long since buried. Once it was realised this was the church where the defeated king had been buried, it was an exciting coincidence when a skeleton was found which had the fabled curvature of the spine which Richard was alleged to have (but many believed this to be simply an imagination of the Tudors). This ‘deformity’, as Shakespeare would have us believe, destined him to be the pantomime villain, who would go on the murder his nephews in the Tower. When it was announced recently that, after extensive DNA study, these remains were of the lost King, it proved he did have scoliosis of the spine, making one shoulder appear higher than the other. We were also able to learn more about the manner in which he was killed, where each blow hit his body, and how his face was spared so that they could identify the body to prove that Richard III was dead. They didn’t have DNA mapping or CSI teams back in 1485. After all these centuries however, this enigmatic and controversial figure of English history is really and truly back, and still being talked about. Though Shakespeare’s play is undoubtedly a Tudor fantasy, its contribution to Richard’s legend and legacy is unavoidable,

“And therefore, since I cannot prove a lover,
To entertain these fair well-spoken days,
I am determined to prove a villain
And hate the idle pleasures of these days…” (Richard III, Act 1, Scene 1)

another sketchcrawl in the arboretum

Let's Draw Davis March 2013
Last Saturday the sketchers of Davis got together for another sketchcrawl at the lovely Arboretum. Eight of us there were, and some lovely sketches were made. I didn’t do a great deal, just a couple of pages, but it was a pleasant afternoon. I wanted to draw pages of foliage, but didn’t get very far. Above is fellow sketcher Carrie, sketching at the Arboretum Terrace. In the bottom left corner, a turtle sat basking in the sunshine by the creek. Below, sketchcrawl regulars Marlene and Cynthia draw bridges, and so do I. Nice place, the Arboretum. Peaceful.
sketching the arboretum

track 1, side 1 of album 12

Page 1 of Moleskine 12

Page 1 of Moleskine 12. I wanted it to look impactful, and so I wrote ‘Davis CA on the page and the next day I went downtown at lunchtime to sketch a typical street, maybe 2nd St. It’s so sunny these days though and the shade was too great so I moved into F st and drew Armadillo Music. I drew the whole thing, except for some detailing on the tree, in my lunchtime, and added the colour at home. Armadillo is an independent record store in downtown Davis, I exhibited there a couple of years ago at the Art About, famous local singer Rita Hosking performed, lots of people came and it was a great experience. Always nice to have independent stores like this, but especially records stores. So, first page of a new sketchbook, let’s see where this particular illustrated journey takes us!

little piece of prague

little prague, davis
Little Prague Czech restaurant and bar on G St, Davis. I like this pub. They have nice Czech beer. I’ve drawn the inside of this bar many times over the years (it’s rather sketchworthy). You can see a couple of my Little Prague sketches in An Illustrated Journey (or of course here on my blog). The outside is nice to sketch as well. I spent the morning watching Oz, The Great and Powerful (lots of fun!) and spent the rest of the afternoon looking for a downtown spot to sketch. I have drawn this exterior view before but these lovely pre-Spring trees are too irresistible. I most of it stood out on the street, but had to get home for dinner, so finished off the colour later on.

eleven’s end

end of moleskine 11

This is the last drawing inside the sketchbook I call “Moleskine #11“. It is in the back inside cover, and shows some of the physical souvenirs from this particular grapho-temporal voyage. I took to numbering my Moleskines early on, though to be fair this isn’t really #11, if you include all the other types of Moleskine sketchbook, diary, notebook etc I have. This is my eleventh Watercolour Moleskine. Well, of this 8×5 size. What I’m saying is, this is the eleventh in a series of same-size sketchbooks. These sketchbooks tend to be my ‘alpha’ books – all of the others are for certain things, side projects, or when I want to try something else for a while. For a good chronology though (and I want my biographical record to be chronologically correct), the trip from Moley #1 is one worth exploring. I’ve definitely improved a lot, and developed my way of drawing, my type of urban sketching. Choices are different, preferences evolved, but still it’s all a learning process. What I like most is that I don’t really know what it will look like by Moleskine 15. What will I be into then? Along the same lines of course, but it will be different, sometimes subtly, sometimes massively. Or will there even be one? I considered stopping at nine, a nice round Nazgul-like number. Therefore stopping at 11 is not a good idea, no no no that would never do. So I am on #12. Twelve is perfect. Twelve is the best number we have. In English it’s the last number before we start saying ‘teen’. Sesame Street’s best numerical songs were about the number twelve (come on, you know they were). The European Union loved being at twelve so much that it kept twelve stars on the flag, even though the number of members increased. Eleven is pretty cool too though. I grew up in a number 11 house. Alors, Moleskine #12 has already begun, but you won’t get to see that just yet.

Here are the first eleven though, from 2007-2013. An illustrated journey indeed…

Moleskines 1 - 11

And in this Flickr set, you can see the whole of Watercolour Moleskine #11.