have yourself a merry little christmas

gingerbread house
Christmas is nearly here folks, how exciting! After all the present-wrapping-up snowflake-cutting-out and tree-decorating (I know ‘trimming’ is the word people prefer to sound proper, but I’m from Burnt Oak you see and trimming is what we used to do to our hedges, back when people in Burnt Oak used to have hedges), one thing remained. Well loads of things to be honest but we needed to make our Gingerbread House. I’ve never ever made one before, can you believe it? So this was a joint effort with my son, and I think you’ll agree it turned out nicely. So naturally I had to draw it. Ahem, next year’s Christmas card. My son did most of the actual decorating, while I worked on structural stuff and snow on the roof, writing on the wall, etc. I especially like the icicles. Well as a first effort it’s not bad, next year we’ll make a whole village…

My son and I listened to Christmas music while making it, and discussed that song The Twelve Days of Christmas. Because, seriously, really? Those are your gifts? So right, it’s the first day of Christmas, and you’re hoping for a nice pressie from your True Love, and he’s all, “um, er, yeah I got you a, er (quickly looks into the garden) a bird! In that pear tree out there look, it’s a partridge, just for you. Merry Christmas!” And it flies away. So next day you’re expecting something cool, an iPad or something, but he still hasn’t been to the shops you can tell, and you’re like, so… and he’s all “Ah, well, er, that partridge flew away so look out in the garden, there are two, what are they, pigeons? Doves? Turtles Doves! Just for you!” And you’re like, Turtle Doves? Bloody hell’s that? Do they have little shells on them? And then next day he pulls the same thing, more birds out in the garden, French Hens? Do they lay French Eggs? He must really think you like birds. Just because you watched that one documentary about birds and you said you liked birds, this always happens, it’s the only thing you get for Christmas, birthdays, anything, all bird-themed. Next day? Four more birds, “Calling Birds” he says they’re called, and you’re thinking “Can they call me a cab? To a luxury hotel?”, and he sees how disappointed you are with all the birds (“Are you avian a laugh?” he says to lighten the mood but one sharp look and he’s straight down the jewellers. Next day, that’s more like it, a golden ring, and it’s lovely. Oh, and then another, and another, and FIVE GOLDEN RINGS? Did they come in a set? When am I going to wear five golden rings, am I Mister T or something? Like, just get one really nice ring with a diamond. This guy has no clue. (At this point my son pipes in on the story, “those rings are probably really expensive too, could have gotten something a lot better with that money!” “What like Pokemon cards or Lego?” I ask. “Da-ddy!” he says) So next day it’s more birds, but this time it’s geese. Oh brilliant, a bunch of geese honking about pecking everyone, and what are they doing, ‘laying’? ‘Laying’ how exactly? Great thinking, do I live in a country park, do I look like I own a big pond? “Ah,” he says, thinking, “you probably won’t like what I got you for tomorrow then,” quickly getting on the blower to the customer service at “Swans-R-Us”. We determined that the rest of the song was probably just a reference to something else, maybe they went to see a Cirque du Soleil show, or perhaps watched a box set of Downton Abbey perhaps, but either way, next year perhaps Mr True Love should stick to the List and keep all the Gift Receipts.

Merry Christmas Everyone. Hope it’s a Good One.

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tower of white

UC Davis watertower
Oh the sketching is back. I got out one lunchtime when it wasn’t rainy and walked along the UC Davis Arboretum, which runs by Putah Creek. I was on my way to eat from that little food truck outside the Mondavi. They do nice chicken-cheesesteak sandwiches. Anyway I realized it’s been a while since I last sketched the UC Davis watertower, so I stopped and drew it with the palm trees in the foreground. The bridge to the left was pretty hard to see behind the foliage so that got left out. Sketched in a Seawhite of Brighton sketchbook.

damp days

silo uc davis
The UC Davis Silo. We had a lot of rain this past couple of weeks. Last Monday it was raining, but I really wanted to sketch at lunchtime, so I did a quick one of the Silo’s tower while stood under some shelter. I wanted to colour it in a little so I did that too, but I had forgotten my water-jar. I crouched down and used water from a puddle. I must have looked a sight. I don’t care. Sketch done.

under dreaming spires

Disneyland Castle
The weekend of Thanksgiving was not spent gorging on leftover Turkey. Black Friday was not spent queuing up outside Best Buy at 4am to get $5 off an iphone or some other nonsense. No, the Scully Family went to the Happiest Place on Earth: Disneyland, California. We love Disneyland. Evidently a lot of other people do too because it was pretty busy, but fortunately my wife is an expert at strategizing Disneyland so we made full use of fast-passes, early entry, single-riders, and generally had a great time. Of course with the usual constant movement about, I only made time for a couple of sketches, and you can’t really sketch in line (no, you can’t, you really can’t. Those lines are long but they move). Above, Sleeping Beauty’s castle, all redecorated for Christmas. The Holiday Season at Disneyland is pretty mind-blowingly spectacular, the amount of decoration is incredible. In Cars Land for example the number of different types of cars-themed Christmas trees were staggering. I definitely recommend a visit. The Castle however is the centrepiece and was really pretty, especially at night. When the fireworks lit up the sky above, snow machines blew snowflakes over everyone. I drew it in the daytime as you can see. It was a warm day, t-shirt weather. My wife and son had gone back to the hotel for a nap (though actually they went and sat by the pool – late November folks, late November!) giving me some solo exploring time. I met them later to watch the parade, and we sat by the Disneyland Main St Station, where I did a quick sketch of Disneyland City Hall while waiting for the parade. No sketch of the parade though, you can’t really sketch parades, no you can’t, not really. Well, I can’t. Well I could, but I don’t want to.
Disneyland City Hall

I do love Disneyland, and would love to draw the whole thing. But you know how it is, you pay a lot of money to get in, you don’t want to sit in one place for two hours drawing a panorama when there’s so much to do! Like meeting Captain America. We did that. that was cool.

it’s chriiiiiiiistmaaaaaaaas

e st plaza xmas tree
Been lacking in postage lately, and sketches too, but I have been cutting out lots of paper snowflakes. I’ve been a bit sketch-lazy lately, or rather uninspired; my lunchtimes feel too short to sketch what I really want to sketch, my weekends too busy. I know, a weak excuse. I want to draw big panoramas, maybe I will do what I did last year at around this time and just explode into life. In the meantime, I sketched this a couple of weekends ago, on a cool Sunday afternoon (I say cool, some really annoying music was blasting over the loudspeaker outside Baskin-Robbins) which is actually why I didn’t draw/colour the whole thing. Rubbish music overpowering my own headphones is reason enough to move along. But enough bah-humbuggery! It’s Christmas! This is the Christmas tree standing in the E St Plaza, downtown Davis. I missed the official tree-lighting (not a downtown event I particularly warm to) so sketched the tree a few days afterwards. I presume those barriers are to hide the presents? We put our own tree up the day before. I love a Christmas Tree.