who let the hogs out

heitman center, uc davis
This is the Heitman Center, UC Davis. Well, it’s the Hog Barn really. I’ll always know it as the Hog Barn. See the pig on the weathervane? Well these days it doesn’t house sows or lodge hogs, nor is it digs for pigs. It is modern and clean and used for staff development classes, with flip-charts and coloured markers and overhead projectors. I went to a class there recently, though I left halfway through, it was a bit of a boar.

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you don’t need a weatherman

silo uc davis
Don’t be fooled by the colourless demeanour of this image – it was very sunny, and warm, mid-70s. The rains have come in the couple of days since this sketch though. this blog is fast becoming a Davis weather report. Spoiler alert – there’s very little to report. The storms last night were fun though, but it was just a bit of rain, not like the deluges you’ve been getting back in England. The rain, of course, first item on the local news, with shots of reporters in their yellow raincoats offering such insights as “people struggled to stay dry” while showing locals strolling about calmly without umbrellas, unperturbed. (The news here does make me laugh; second item on the bill was a story about some hay that been stolen. Yes, stolen hay.) Anyway, to sketch this I sat in the shade of Rock Hall (the building from the previous post) to stay out of the warm sun and listened to a podcast about Merlin of all subjects. I haven’t sketched this scene from this angle in about seven years, amazingly. The big tower is the UC Davis Silo, which of course I have sketched many times. This was done in brown uniball signo pen in the Stillman & Birn alpha sketchbook.

rock on

rock hall uc davis
One from campus, a lunchtime sketch of Peter A. Rock Hall. This building used to be called 194 Chemistry (or ‘Chem 194’), a catchy name that sounds more like an indie dance combo with a middlebrow following. It was renamed about a year or so ago after the former Math & Physical Sciences Dean Peter A. Rock, a Chemistry professor who sadly died in 2006 (I was new to Davis then but I remember that). The front of the building has been recently revamped and so Chem 194 was renamed in Prof. Rock’s honour. This is a much better name, I think you’ll agree. Rock Hall. Now it has a name that means something. One thing I learned, in order for a building at UC Davis to be renamed after someone, that person must be dead for at least two years. Apparently so. I do love all of the touches made outside the building – an improved sidewalk, dotted with interesting little hand-made tiles depicting colourful interpretations of each of the elements, as well as details such as a brass periodic table. What was once just a big Chemistry lecture hall is now a pretty cool part of campus.

when you find that things are getting wild don’t ya need days like these?

(the former) newman chapel, davis
This is the Newman Center on C and 5th Streets, Davis. I have sketched it before, when it still had a sign outside calling it ‘Newman Chapel’. I guess they don’t hold mass there any more, having moved that sort of thing to the nearby St.James’s. I’m told it’s still used as a meeting center, and it’s still part of the Catholic community in Davis. I just like the brickwork, though in this sketch it was the last thing I did on site and I rushed it a bit, as my tummy was rumbling. What a gorgeous sunny Saturday afternoon though! Mid-70s weather, perfect for cycling about outside and then sitting down on the street with a sketchbook, listening to some music. Life is busy, so it’s nice to stop, and breathe, and create.

shoes in the sky

3rd and University, Davis
Springtime in Davis. Pink blossom on trees. Shoes on telegraph wires – huh? The last time I sketched this view (see below) you’ll notice there was just the one pair of shoes. I’d be more impressed if they managed to get a single solitary shoe up there. Eventually they’ll bring the line down, I imagine. What are they for, I wonder? One common explanation is that this marks the boundary between where gangs sell drugs, which is possible. Or maybe this signifies the territories of door-to-door preachers? They must be all the lost soles.

This was sketched over a couple of lunchtimes in the landscape-format Stillman and Birn ‘alpha’ sketchbook, which is a delight to draw in (and it takes a watercolour wash well), though I don’t imagine I’ll do many two-page panoramas, as that middle ridge doesn’t lay very flat, at least not in this part of the book. Still at least it is in my favoured landscape format. Many more sketches to come in this one.

Below is the same scene from October 2011…

3rd and University

plastic people

lego figures

Lego. Everything is awesome. We very much live in a Lego Universe right now. Kipling couldn’t have put it better. “If you can keep your head when all around you are losing theirs…” I’ve been spending a fair bit of time drawing much of my son’s Lego (and some of it is mine – see Boba Fett and Magneto, naturally) which is nearly as much fun as building the stuff. Here are a load of the figures, which as any parent knows are way more important than the vehicles or dragons or giant robots they come with (except for the giant robots). There is a mixture of super-heroes and super-villains (both Marvel and DC, though Superman and Wonder-Woman have since been added to this collection), plus several of the Ninjago ninjas, plus a few other characters including Emmet from the Lego Movie you may have seen recently (it’s awesome, yes, if a little visually crazy, and it looks like my living room floor). I’ve included some of the accessories in this picture, Ninja swords and so on, and you may notice a little Wolverine-claws piece near the bottom. Sadly Wolverine himself was lost, we don’t know where (you know how Logan likes to just skip town), but his claws were left behind. I hope we find him. Big robots don’t just rip themselves apart, you know. Incidentally, did you see the last Wolverine movie? I really enjoyed it, Logan’s adventures in Japan. My wife pointed out though that despite his famous catchphrase, he definitely isn’t the best there is at what he does, because he’s actually not all that as a fighter: always getting shot or stabbed or cut, relying on his mutant healing factor and his adamantium-coated skeleton to get him out of trouble. It’s like saying, yeah I’m brilliant at chess, as long as every time you take one of my pieces I can just go back and do that move again. No, that ain’t how you learn. Still, all said and done, you’d still want Wolverine on your side, bub.

where are you going, with your fetlocks blowing

little prague panoramarathon
And so on to the very last spread of the Panoramarathon, and of the Seawhite sketchbook. The Year of the Horse had just begun, so time to saddle up and gallop the last furlong. So, cue the joke about the horse and the bar and “why the long sketchbook?”. I never got that joke anyway. The barman shouldn’t be asking why a horse has a long face, but what exactly a horse expects to be served in a bar. Unless bars are serving sugar-lumps and brewing hay-beer (and they probably are, these days) I would say, “oi, Tonto, never mind your long face, you drink from the trough outside mate, or you can git the hell outta this town, and the man who rode in on you”, or words to that effect. This is technically the old wild west after all, or Back to the Future III country at least. Anyway, back to the drawing… I have sketched the Little Prague bar on several occasions over the past seven years or so, but not quite from this angle, so I decided that I would take up that challenge to finish out the project. After a very busy week I popped by on a quiet Friday evening and sketched away. After a while, a large crowd of people came in en masse (there they all are in the sketch, mingling away with their pitchers and their nametags). That chef bloke with the bleached hair and the goatee, Guy Fieri I think he is called, was on the telly. I didn’t really pay attention to anything much except finishing the sketch. This panoramarathon was going to be done by the end of January, dammit! February is just not long enough to keep saying such a complicated word. After a while, the DJs came in and the loud dance music started, and so after one quickly-sketched panorama and three slowly-drunk dark beers, I finished up and went home to bed.

Here are the close-ups, for you to marvel at the intricate details.
little prague bar, davis
little prague bar, davis

So that was the Seawhite of Brighton sketchbook, started in August, finished in January. You can see all the images form that book in this handy set on my Flickr site.