After my talk last Friday, I signed my name in some books at the bookstore and then popped across the street to a local pizzeria/bar, Uncle Vito’s, for a couple of cold pints. It’s been a long time since I was last in there (and I sketched it then too). They have a fantastic mural outside, and I don’t know if ‘Uncle Vito’ is a Godfather reference, because as you know Vito had no nephews/nieces, only children and godchildren. Either way, I always call this place ‘DeVito’s’ by mistake. I remember back when this place used to be a Chinese eatery called Wok’n’Roll. They do good beer here, but I didn’t get food. Last time I did, I got the garlic fries, and it was like getting a mountain, there were just so many. Tasty, but far too many for me alone! It is funny, having sketched almost all of the Davis bar areas now, how different they all are. This one has a mirror sloped enough so you can see more of the bar behind it. It also has a leg-shaped lamp-shade. Some of the locals in the bar commented enthusiastically on my sketch, and took photos of it in progress, which is always nice. Part of my talk that evening had been how I am more comfortable with people watching and commenting while I sketch, much less shy about it. I can also hear all the other sounds going on around me, the sports on the TV, the sounds from the kitchen, the laughter of people enjoying their weekend; I did overhear one frat-boy student type at the bar to my right, who I didn’t speak to, say something to his girlfriend about people with red hair looking like Tintin, (“what’s with that?” he exasperated) – perhaps he did not see the red-haired person sat right next to him? There I am, by the way, reflected in the mirror there (and no, that is not Bud Light in my pint glass).
Last Saturday evening I was fortunate enough to give a talk at my local bookstore The Avid Reader about travel journals, urban sketching, and Danny Gregory’s latest book ‘An Illustrated Journey‘, in which I have a chapter. I gave a talk there last year about ‘The Art of Urban Sketching‘, and I have always liked that store – it was the place I first worked, years ago, when I came to Davis. I had a little office under the stairs.
Saturday was also the hottest day of the year so far, in fact probably the hottest ever recorded on that date in Davis – 109 degrees Fahrenheit at one point we saw, and that sort of heat will drive you bonkers. So big thanks to all who braved the heat and came out to hear me talk!
Ramble on more like. I had a plan, not a script exactly, but you know how it is, once you start talking about this subject you go off in all directions. That’s how I travel, funnily enough. We had a good turn out, I counted about twenty people. Here is store owner (and my old employer) Alzada Knickerbocker introducing me.
I prepared a big board of sketches to show people during the talk, so I wouldn’t have to keep scouring through sketchbooks to find the example of that one bridge I sketched that one time, and so on. I enjoyed making this, but I accidentally put one image on there twice (doh!).
For each of the attendees I also made something special – a micro-sketchbook, only 3″x4″ big and eight pages long. I cut up a load of different paper, mostly Strathmore drawing paper, but also some thinner Canson paper, some watercolour paper, some squared paper, even a few grey tinted sheets. I also cut up a whole bunch of those brown Chinese envelopes I like to draw on, the ones I get at work from all the graduate applications I deal with. I stapled them together, stuck a little ‘Pete’ sketch on the front and voila, micro-sketchbooks. I made a whole bunch, and I will probably give out the rest at the next sketchcrawl, or bring them to Barcelona.
I had a lot of very good questions at the end, most of which I was able to answer without going into too much of a tangent. I hope. I wanted to get across the message that sketching is for everyone, accessible and approachable and doable, and that the important thing is to use sketching as a tool to observe and build a relationship with the place in which you exist. Location sketching, especially when travelling, is much more rewarding as documentation of your travels than drawing from a photo later on. When you sketch on location, you are in effect having a conversation with a place. When you’re not together, it’s not really much of a conversation.
I enjoyed my conversations with everyone who came on Saturday and met some interesting folk! It was nice to have a few familiar faces there too for support (including my very supportive wife, and my young son who sat quietly to the side drawing the whole time, good lad). Thanks also to Alzada and the Avid Reader for inviting me to speak again.
Keep on sketching!
Exciting news! This Saturday, June 8th, I will be giving a talk at the Avid Reader bookstore about keeping travel sketchbooks, and presenting Danny Gregory’s excellent book “An Illustrated Journey”, which as you will recall I contributed a chapter. The book features drawings and writing from forty traveling artists from around the globe and I was honoured to be involved and am constantly inspired by seeing the work of others. Bring your own travel journals and sketchbooks to show!
WHEN: Saturday June 8th, 2013 @7:30pm
WHERE: The Avid Reader, 617 2nd St, Davis CA
Hope to see you there!
Just a selection of the various variants of Lightning McQueen, my son’s favourite toy character. And of course upon finishing this, he points out which ones I did not draw, cars which to me look identical but to him have one slight variation that makes the most immense difference. Minute details are everything to that five year old. Never, ever forget: young kids are not stupid, they notice EVERYTHING, way more than adults do. It keeps me on my toes, let me tell you. I was the same, as a five year old counting the vertebrae on the dinosaurs at the Natural History Museum, oh I was the same. This was drawn in the excellent Stillman and Birn ‘Alpha’ book I’ve reserved for pictures of the boy’s things. I like Lightning McQueen as well, “Cars” is fun.
Last week my son had his final t-ball game of the season. T-ball for those who don’t know (and I didn’t, until I was in this world) is baseball for four-five year olds, the lowest level of the Davis Little League system. Little League is played by just about all of the six hundred million kids in Davis, and the games of t-ball (so called because for the first few weeks they use a tee to hit the ball from, until they are used to live pitching) are played on the fields at Community Park. The bigger kids play at the Little League field across the street. Parents have to volunteer for a bunch of stuff, and I did a morning shift recently working at the Snack Shack, which was fun. Anyway, my son’s last game for the Diamondbacks was against the Reds, which means you might not be able to tell the teams apart in the sketch above (in the watercolour Moleskine), which doesn’t matter much since I sketched pretty randomly. Also, there is no scoring in t-ball – all the kids get to hit, and run, and field. Playing first base is the best thing because the kids always have something to do. See when a kid hits, it just gets thrown to first base, and then back to the pitcher. After the game, we had a pizza party for the kids, and they all got little trophies (there it si below sketched in the Stillman & Birn Alpha book). Next year he’ll move up to the next level (‘farm’) where they use a pitching machine. But first, the All-Star Game…