moment of brief cool

cooper house, may 2013
Memorial Day was Monday, and for once we had some cooler weather. Yea, even a drop of rain. Not much though. I went out and drew a building that I have sketched before, in more leafless times, coincidentally on another public holiday. On US national holidays, the flags come out in downtown Davis. Cooper House on 4th St is a lovely historic building, and I stood sketching while listening to podcasts about football and about history and about language (right there are my main interests). Sketched in Micron Pigma 01 on Canson paper. I enjoyed this brief moment of cool air; this weekend we are back to the hot weather. We’ll be hitting the hundreds. Ouch, Davis.

“At the market. Corner of 3rd and C. Near the Hotdogger. By the basket shop…”

davis farmers market

Last weekend we had another Let’s Draw Davis sketchcrawl at the Davis Farmers Market. It’s always a good place to sketch. Located in Central Park, it’s the centre of our town’s life on a Saturday morning, a bustling colourful meeting place where the local people come together.

davis farmers market

As I was sketching the place above, which serves as the information centre for the market, as well as a great place to buy baskets, a woman behind me was on the phone giving very loud directions to a friend who was supposed to be meeting her there. “I’m at the Market. Corner of 3rd and C. Near the Hotdogger. By the Basket Shop. There are Musicians. Near the Indian Food Stall. At the Basket Shop. Yes Near the Entrance. By the Benches. Next to the Basket Shop.” etc. When finally she put the phone down, she had to repeat the entire exchange to her husband, who presumably had learned to zone it all out. “I told her, I said meet me at the Market. Corner of 3rd and C. Near the Hotdogger. By the Basket Shop. There are Musicians. The Basket Shop, I told her.” And so on. Finally her friend arrived, looking ever so lost despite the clear and well-drilled directions, but they were so excited to see each other, that the lady once again said, “Yes well I told you to meet me here, Corner of 3rd and C. Near the Hotdogger. By the Basket Shop. There are Musicians. And Baskets, and Indian Food,” etc etc. You see, it’s great to come to the market and take in all the sights and sounds of everyday folks’ conversation.

4th st, Davis

My last sketch was made on 4th St. It was much quieter there.

celebrate davis 2013

celebrate davis 2013: cochon volant
Last Thursday May 16 was the tenth annual “Celebrate Davis” event, held at Community Park, the big park near my house. There were food stands, live music, bouncy castles for kids, a petting zoo, a big zipline was set up, even a dunk tank where kids can throw balls at a button to send some poor volunteer splashing into a vat of water. Mostly there were stands from various different businesses from Davis, this event being organized by the Chamber of Commerce. I did a little bit of sketching: above is Cochon Volant BBQ (“Flying Pig”), which I sketched with the smell of grilled pork wafting all around. I don’t eat pork any more but I’m sure it was lovely. I also sketched an old police car which was parked nearby, the local police were letting kids get in to take photos. This looks very 70s TV cop show to me. I wonder if it ever drove through big piles of boxes on the sidewalk, like they did in the 70s, on cop shows, on TV.
celebrate davis 2013: old police car
Celebrate Davis 2013 ended with its usual spectacular firework display, which thnaks to out location we can see from the comfort of our bedroom window.

formula 1 on mother’s day

mothers' day
Last Sunday was Mother’s Day in America (two months later than England). We were over in Santa Rosa, and we all had doughnuts on Sunday morning (or ‘donuts’ as they insist on spelling them over here), after which my son and I watched the Formula One, for it was the Spanish Grand Prix, which was won by Spanish driver Fernando Alonso. I sketched the living room in my Moleskine, while family milled about. Sketched with brown uni-ball signo um-151, with a spot of red paint.

Hope you mothers all had a happy mother’s day!

let’s draw the market

let's draw davis may 2013

Join us for another sketchcrawl in Davis California! I’ve not had as much time lately to organize these as often as I would have liked, but the sun is out and the birds are singing, and so there’s no excuse not to do some urban sketching. This time we will meet at the Farmer’s Market (meet at the corner of 3rd and C) at 10:30am, and sketch the market and the are around before meeting up again at 3:00pm by the Carousel in Central Park to check out each others sketchbooks.

WHEN: Saturday May 18, 2013
START: 10:30am Farmer’s Market (3rd and C)
FINISH: 3:00pm Central Park, by Carousel

This event is free and open to anyone who likes sketching. It’s fun to meet other sketchers, and urban sketching is a great way to look at the town where we live.

Facebook Event page

some forever, not for better

former boiler building location
At the end of 2012 I sketched a series about the final days of the old boiler building on the UC Davis campus, as it was being torn down.It has been an empty space ever since, though there are currently odd piles of dirt dotted around like giant molehills that weren’t there before. What will take this place is the Music Recital Hall. You can see if you look really closely something resembling a tiny puddle. Well, not much of one. Last night, for the first time in absolutely ages (three months maybe?), we had rain in Davis. Loud, epic, sweep away your shed rain. Any rain in Davis gets a weather warning it seems (water from the sky is just such a weird concept), this one got a flood warning too. It never rains, quite literally, but it pours. And then it is gone. And people are probably already saying, it rains so much here in spring. A couple of weeks ago with the onset of 90s weather looming I overheard someone say that “we’ve had a week of spring and then it’s summer!” as if it hadn’t been in the 60s and 70s and full of sunshine since January. I also heard someone say that we have had a really long winter this year. That was in mid-January. Seriously, dudes.

The first year I was here, though, we had some proper extreme weather. Rain like I haven’t seen since, for months, with massive floods on New Years Day. I just assumed that it was a permanent lake between here and Sacramento, it was a real surprise to me when I first saw the land part of those wetlands by the Causeway. The rains and snowmelt finally gave way to summer, and what a summer that was. We had two weeks where it didn’t fall below a hundred degrees, even at night, and while I’ve experienced hot summers since, there has been nothing quite like that summer of 2006. Here is a sketch from back then which illustrates it. This Londoner just doesn’t do such heat. Well, summer is coming.

university of beer

university of beer, davis
After a Saturday morning of making pancakes, watching football, playing superheroes, Cars Monopoly and Play-doh, I went downtown to watch Iron Man 3. I have spent a lot of time lately drawing different Iron Man armours for my son to colour in, so was looking forward to watching the movie itself. So was everyone else in Davis it seems; the show I wanted to go to was already full, so I got a ticket for the next one and went off to do some sketching. It was too hot to sit outside (90s; I know, in a couple of months that will sound chilly) so I popped into the University of Beer, a newer bar in Davis devoted to all types of beer, and drew the bar. I should have drawn the wall on he right as well, which is covered in colourful beer signs, but this is all I had time for. I went off for a curry for dinner, and then off to the movie, which was fun, and long.

i look at the world and i notice it’s turning

de vere's davisDe Vere’s Irish Pub, Davis. Click on the image to see it larger and in more detail. It was the end of the week (the weekend usually is), and an evening out at the comic shop followed by some beer and sketching was in order. This is a nice pub. I like drawing pub panoramas in my Moleskine, and this one took only two and a half beers (it’s always something-and-a-half; I like to spend that last half pint looking at the sketch, pencil case away). I have drawn curvilinearly in here before, but now it is time to pull back and see more of the room. I didn’t speak to anyone, just got on with the sketching. It wasn’t very busy on this particular Saturday evening, and it was warm outside. This is an exceptionally warm Spring. We have had some terrible winds, but warm winds, and the weather has been pushing the 90s (actually this week it’s been pushing the mid-90s, it’s like Britpop).

PicxQ2103

If you’re interested, this is how it looks in the sketchbook.

milk snatcha

maggie

In case for some reason you don’t know who this is (and apparently there were a lot of young people on the internet who didn’t), this is Margaret Thatcher, aka Maggie Fatcha, former British prime minister who died recently, prompting some long-awaited celebrations across the UK. The most divisive PM in history, large areas of Britain are still reeling from the policies of her government. Even now, bingo callers all along the seaside refer to the number 10 as Maggie’s Den, I presume. But she was also a very popular Spitting Image puppet, lest people forget, and indeed our own dog Lady (aka ‘Soppydog’) had a squeeky toy Maggie which she carried everywhere with her. It was her Baby. “Where’s Maggie?” we’d ask her, and she’d go and get her from behind the sofa, wagging her tail, peeing on the carpet. Maggie would be all chewed up, and the squeak was gone out of her after a while, but Soppydog loved that little Maggie and would cry for hours if she couldn’t find her.

Given the spontaneous outpouring of non-grief, in a kind of reverse-Diana situation, it was quite funny to see the accompanying call of “don’t speak ill of the dead” and “show some respect” and “it’s too soon”. The not speaking ill of the dead thing amused me enormously, because it’s like, oh it’s fine if she’s not dead yet. That sort of thing may be true if you’re at her funeral among her family, or if this was just a neighbour who ran over your flowers once, but I think it’s ok to speak up about a national leader whose policies tore your community apart at a time when that person is being brought into the spotlight again, such as at the time when she dies and everyone is trying to re-evaluate her legacy. I think it’s absolutely essential to speak ill of the dead, lest the ills be overlooked. Do you think Maggie herself would have held back ill words? But after all the dust has settled, one outcome of all this is that I can no longer watch the Wizard of Oz without thinking, ooh those Munchkins, what heartless little bastards. Don’t they know it’s too soon? That Wicked Witch of the East is still there, under the house, and you’re coming up with whole song and dance numbers? Spontaneously? Think of how her poor family must feel! No wonder her green sister was so angry. And then Dorothy comes along and snatches her shoes. “Oh I didn’t mean to,” she says, but come on Dorothy. Too soon, too soon.

There’s one other thing I noticed. It’s well known that Maggie was not popular in the city of Liverpool, and with very good reason. However, Liverpool FC, once the undisputed kings of European football, have not won a single League Title since Thatcher went bawling out of Number 10. While she was in office, Liverpool were English champions a whopping EIGHT times. Manchester United didn’t win any Leagues, weren’t even close. Post-Mrs-Thatch, United have been champions thirteen times, Liverpool zero. Makes you think, doesn’t it. The curse of Maggie Thatcher, league title snatcher.