laid out on a grid of alphabets and ordinal numbers…

heidi's davis song mural
I am a little behind posting this, sorry… A few weeks ago, a new addition to the Davis artistic scenery was unveiled, as local artist/ceramicist/singer/great personality Heidi Bekebrede presented her brand new installation in Central Park, the ‘Davis Song’ mural. You would be forgiven for thinking Davis is a city of murals these days, with so many new walls of art appearing in the past couple of years, well this is one with a difference, and one which is truly all about Davis. For one thing, it is ceramic, made up entirely of tiles created and painted by Heidi, who is well-known locally for her ‘Cuteware’ range.

heidi bekebrede singing the Davis song at the mural
On Sunday October 6th, the mural was unveiled to a crowd of locals, decorating the rear wall of the new toilet building in the park. This is a perfect location – right by the Farmer’s Market, it will be seen by everyone for years to come. Around the edges of the mural the tiles represent each of the Davis schools; all the kids were delighted to find their own schools on the mural. Heidi has worked for years in schools bringing art and performance to local children, and the Davis song has been learnt by many kids. Oh yes, the song! The mural is based on her song all about Davis, which was originally written in the 1980s but was updated in 2007, as our small city has grown. The lyrics of the song are all over the mural, and Heidi sang the song with the audience, going through each tile representing a different aspect if Davis.

red bus tile on davis song mural

Oh yeah, and I am on it! One of the tiles was of one of the red London buses that grace the Davis streets, and it was based on my drawing of the red bus. My name is on the license plate! What an honour, thank you Heidi!

This colourful mural needs a lot of looking at, and there is a bit of Davis everywhere you look. I just had to come back the next week for a more detailed sketch, below:

heidi's davis song mural detail

You can see the lyrics of the song on the City of Davis website. And here is a link to a video posted on YouTube (by Bev Sykes) of Heidi singing the song at the event.

Congratulations Heidi!

well on the way, head in a cloud

cloud forest cafe

Cloud Forest Cafe in Davis, on D Street. No, I have never eaten here, nor had a coffee here (don’t drink the stuff), nor juice or clouds or any of that. I am sure it’s very nice. I don’t know if it’s anything like the Rain Forest Cafe but I’ve only been to that once, and that was an experience let me tell you. It was the one at Disneyland, and my son did not appreciate the very realistic gorilla that came to life with a roar right above our table. He didn’t like that much. We had to move tables. “Oh don’t worry,” said the waiter, “this happens a lot, kids get scared.” Well even from the other side of the restaurant he spent the entire meal eyeing everything with suspicion, making sure no big animatronic gorilla could get him. There was no way he’d eat a thing after that. Fair play, I’d have been the same at his age. I remember being about five and freaking out wildly at Madame Tussauds on the way into (the admittedly scary) Chamber of Horrors, before we had even gotten there. The exhibit right before, if I recall rightly, was about Nelson and the Battle of Trafalgar, complete with sounds of thundering cannonballs and sinking ships. That was it for me, I was kicking and screaming and white with terror, and no force on Earth could get me into the Chamber of Horrors if I couldn’t even stand the creaking noise of HMS Victory. So naturally I understand my son’s suspicion of big robot apes with glowing eyes.

Not that any of this has anything to do with the Cloud Forest Cafe of course, but you can never be too careful so I stood across the street and sketched it on a calm late September afternoon.


Pennywise at the Pence Gallery

I have a piece currently on display at the Pence Gallery as part of their “Tiny” show. Each artist submitted a piece no bigger than 5″x7″ (about my usual drawing size!) and were given a piece of canvas board on which to create their masterpiece. I usually draw on paper, but wanted to give it a go on this different material, and it was fun. As you can see below in the step-by-step I actually put the paint on first, and then added the ink details. Normally I draw ink first (colouring-in is an afterthought) but the ink stayed wet on this canvas board so that wasn’t possible, but this way worked really nicely. The ink didn’t get glazed over by the wash, and really popped. Because of the rough nature of this canvas board, scanning was a bit difficult, so hopefully you can get a good idea from these photos.

pennywise step-by-step

Pennywise…that is – or was, I am now told – a shop in Burnt Oak (where I was born and grew up) that was there my entire life, unchanged. I didn’t exactly need to go there often (great place for plastic buckets and sponges) but it was just one of those shops, always there, with that funny little orange symbol. I’d always intended to draw it. I didn’t have time while in London so took a photo. I am glad I did – shortly after drawing this I learnt that Pennywise has now closed and become something else.  “The curse strikes again” I thought. Several things I have drawn have subsequently closed down. I’m not going to list them now but this is why it is important for the urban sketcher to record the world while it is here. This of course is not an on-location urban sketch, being drawn from a photo, but it’s for the same purpose. I wish I could go back and draw all the other landmark Burnt Oak places from my past.

the good life

RMI 092213
I’ve been busy…and not updating. Mostly not scanning. There has been some sketching. There’s mostly been drawing cartoon cut-out skeletons for Halloween, and a cardboard Iron Man suit. Don’t ask. Anyway, these are in fact my sketches from the last Davis sketchcrawl in September, starting at the Robert Mondavi Institute for Food and Wine and stuff, in the Good Life Garden. Yes, the Good Life Garden, named (I presume) after the TV show with Felicity Kendall and Richard Briers and Jerry and Margo. This place is pretty amazing, for a good life garden. At UC Davis we have world-class enologists, who presumably are experts in Brian Eno. Seriously, Enology is a real thing, and goes hand to hand here with Viticulture, with I believe is the science behind Jaffa Cakes and Digestives (the correct term is McVitieculture, but over here they drop the “Mc” just like they drop the “O” in Oenology, which as you know is to do with wine and is not to be confused with Onology, the science behind Yoko). Ok now all that has been cleared up, let’s get on with the sketches. At the top, the Good Life Garden, in which I got a little sun but savoured the lovely smells while humming that beloved theme tune. Hey, one thing I never knew is that in America, The Good Life was called “Good Neighbours”. Now I’m sorry but that is too close to another show we all know, and yet another theme tune stuck in my head. Apparently it was renamed due to an earlier unsuccessful show called The Good Life starring JR Ewing, I mean, Larry Hagman. I am trying to imagine Paul Eddington in a ten-gallon Stetson, with his middle-class commuter stiff upper lip, no that doesn’t look right.
RMI beer and wine center

This bit is the Beer Lab. That is, the “RMI Teaching and Research Winery and Busch Brewing and Food Science Lab”. Or just “Drink!” for short. This is the real University of Beer.

worldwide sketchcrawl 41: downtown davis

let's draw davis october 2013
It’s that time again…the 41st Worldwide Sketchcrawl, and so join us here in sunny Davis for an afternoon of walking around, stopping, looking and sketching. Let’s draw Davis!

DATE: Saturday October 19 2013
START: 12:00pm, Central Park, by the Carousel (near C and 4th)
FINISH: 4:00pm, outside City Hall Tavern (Old City Hall), F St *

As always the sketchcrawl is free and open to anyone with an interest in location sketching. All you need is something to draw with and something to draw on! There’s no requirement to stay for the whole thing, just come out and flex those sketching muscles. At the end we will get together to look at each others’ sketchbooks (always the most fun bit) and see how we have all interpreted our town. Then why not post them online at (here’s the link to the 41st sketchcrawl forum) to show the world! And then see what the rest of the global sketching community have been doing on the same day.

Hope to see you there!

*I just saw that I wrote “E St” on the poster – oops! It’s on F St. After all these years I still confuse the two…

2013 art auction at the pence

pence art auction 2013 patio
A couple of weeks ago I went to the Pence Gallery‘s annual Art Auction as one of the contributing artists. It was the third year in a row that I have been invited to take part, in the auction; this year I submitted my panoramic sketch of the Davis Art Center (and it sold – many thanks Erie!!). I also went along (after a busy and late day at work; lots of those lately, hence lack of energy to post my sketches on time) with my sketching materials, and drew what I could. Last year I had sketched the patio from down below, this year I took the opportunity to sketch from above. The band was playing as the September evening got darker, and on the far wall is a huge mural currently being painted by artist Anthony Padillo, whom I had the fortune to meet while I was actually sketching this very scene.
pence art auction 2013

Soon it was time for the Auction itself, and this year I brought some bigger paper to sketch on. It is a real education in art, going to an art auction. I know that sounds obvious, well it is really, but there were some amazing artists on display, local and otherwise, including work by the celebrated late local ceramicist (and UCD art professor) Bob Arneson, and even an original print by the father of Art Nouveau, Alphonse Mucha. I sketched in a large Canson pad, and had some nice conversations afterwards. Always fun sketching events at the Pence!

i love it when a lego bat-ship comes together

lego batman ship
I have been doing some sketching lately, but I’ve been very busy that I’ve not been scanning it all in. Here is something I drew recently though, another of my son’s toys, a Lego bat-vehicle. It’s all about the Lego now, and I mean the tiny little pieces sort of Lego, with lots of complicated instructions. Lego is great, but blocks are so much smaller than in my day! Especially when they are all over the carpet. Maybe I’m just bigger.

Drawn in a Stillman and Birn Alpha book in ink and watercolour.