do the maths

MSB panorama pen full 2015 sm
This is my – oh hang on, wait a minute. Today is “International Talk Like A Pirate Day”. Right, I’ll start again.

Yarr, this be the ol’ Mathematical Sciences Buildin’, yaaarrr, this be where I be workin’ each day. Click on the ol’ picture to see it bigger, yarr, or be usin’ a telescope, me old shipmate. So aye, yarr, ye lily-livered-landlubbers, I be drawin’ this oh I can’t keep this up. Talking like a pirate is not easy you know. When I went to the Swashbuckler’s Ball a couple of yarrs ago (did you see what I did there? Did you see that?) someone said I did a really good pirate voice, but I wasn’t doing one, I be just talkin’ normally. Anyway, if for some reason you were unable to translate my piratespeak (and if you weren’t, shame on you. Like the old saying goes, “fail to translate my piratespeak once, shame on me. Fail to translate my piratespeak twice, er, er, I won’t get fooled again.”) Ok, where was I? Ok, so, this is the building where I work. It’s called the Mathematical Sciences Building, or “Math” Sciences Building, as some people call it. Or “Maths Sciences Building” as I sometimes call it. Ok so for those who don’t know, in America they say “Math” but in Britain we say “Maths”. We also say “Mathematics”, and so do Americans, and let me tell you they don’t like it when pretend to assume they say “Mathematic”. They definitely don’t say “Mathematic”. “Mathsematic” is right out, don’t ever say that. Anyway…this is where I work, it was built almost ten years ago and I’ve worked there for most of that time. It’s a nice building, though the elevators are very slow. I drew this to use for work (I like to have a few sketches of the building to use for various things) and I will do a colour version to, but I wanted to highlight our brand new sign which was installed a month or so ago. On either side is a different symbol, one for Mathematics and one for Statistics. It’s been years in the making so it’s very exciting. Many UC Davis buildings have been getting modern new signs, as part of the campus branding process, which has been (for me) very exciting to watch develop over the past decade. So anyway, I haven’t drawn the MSB (that’s what I really call it) for a few years so here we are.

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this is ink land

pens sept 2015 sm
These are my pens. These are not all of my pens. These are some of my pens. I like the Uni-Ball Signo UM-151 pen, and I order them from Jetpens. The one I use the most is on the left, the brown-black version. I go through a lot of these. They don’t run with a watercolour wash (unlike the black one, which does). The coloured ones are fun to have too. For thsoe who don’t know I colour in using watercolour paints. There are a couple of other pens in this picture, one is the Pigma Graphic (a thick-lined version of the Pigma Micron), the white gel Uni-ball Signo (this has a very prominent white gel that shows up on even very dark surfaces, unlike a lot of white gel pens), and the black one is the Pentel 04 which is not quite as nice as the Uni-Ball Signo UM-151 but is still pretty good. Oh, and there’s my trusty H2 pencil. Tools of the trade. Hey if you are interested in what materials I generally use when sketching, I have recently updated my long-in-need-of-updating Materials page. Hope you like it!

the plastic people of the universe

As you may have gathered I like to draw my son’s toys, especially his Lego, but many of his other things too. This is all in a book, a Stillman and Birn Alpha book, and is primarily as a keepsake for the future. When he’s grown up, he’ll be able to look through these and remember his toys, and he’ll probably say “Dad, can I borrow those back now please, Dad why do you have an entire basement full of Lego, Dad you’ve been drawing Lego continuously without sleep for twelve years ” and so on. Well, here are some more.

Lego figures again

ABOVE: Ok…we have Ka-Pow (I think), Ultron, Nevula, Morro, Wolverine, Jay the Blue Ninja, Lavel, Sensei Wu, Falcon, a Nindroid, Lloyd the Green Ninja, Wonder Woman, Star-Lord, the Flash, a Sormtrooper, Ant-Man (Scott Lang), Luke Skywalker, Captain america (right there two of my favourite heroes), Skylor the Orange Ninja (but she’s yellow, right? Mustard Yellow at least but my son insists she ‘s the Orange Ninja), Krusty the Klown (that’s mine!), Red Skull, Cyclops and the Emperor. Phew!

Lego figures still yet again

ABOVE: So…Kai the Red Ninja in his Airjitsu outfit, Scralet Witch, Han Solo, Taskmaster, Catwoman, Imperial Guard, Iron Man Mark 6, er…the king of the Lion tribe in Chima…Batman, one of the Chima Phoenix tribe, Cole the Black Ninja, Zane the White Ninja (actually maybe the Titanium Ninja by this point), Pepper Potts, Tony Stark, Lasha, Superman, Miles Morales Spider-Man, Master Chen, Wyldstyle, Deadpool, Clone pilot, Storm, Nova Officer.

Lego figures yet again

ABOVE: Finally…Yellowjacket, a Chima lion, a knight, a Sandtrooper, Aquaman, Lloyd (Ninjago Season 5), Kai (Ninjago Season 1), an Ogre, Magneto (white gloves era, probably when headmaster of the Xavier School), a Skeleton, Modok, a Battle Droid, Nya as the Water Ninja, an X-Wing pilot, a Season 5 Ninjago Ghost, Rocket Raccoon, Thor, Lex Luthor, a Knight, a Chitauri and…snow-suit Batman. Because what makes more sense than Batman wearing white and light grey.

Have you seen the Lego movie? It’s brilliant, it’s awesome, and I love that guy at the end, I presume he is the hero, the dad character who has that big Lego city. He’s living the dream. We do between us now have a lot of Lego, so when I say I am drawing his Lego, I really mean “and mine too”. But right now, Lego mini-figures are the number one play-thing. We get the big sets, but really it’s all about the figures that come with them more than the big vehicles. Right now, Ninjago and Chima rule the roost. Marvel, DC and Star Wars get in there but I don’t let him mix them up (just to wind me up, he puts Venom’s face into Taskmaster’s hood). Now I have drawn a bunch before, but I felt it was time to draw some more. And then some more, and then some more because I just can’t stop. I can’t Lego of the pen (really Pete, really???). Of course I should have drawn them as the majority really are, ie all taken apart and scattered across the floor, but I’m a puritanical President Business wannabe aren’t I, so I drew them as nature intended. Or at least as best I could gather them up. And there are loads more. Let me tell you something though – this took AGES. Absolutely ages. I’m not kidding. Half the time was spent looking through all the Lego for the right figures! Matching up the ones that were in pieces, trying to make sure there was a fair amount of female representation (not easy in Lego-world) (and I’ve noticed that female figures all have these little curves painted into their midfriffs). Finding the right weapons (I’m sure I got a few wrong, my son’ll be the first to tell me). Drawing them all one by one, and then colouring them in with watercolour, oh man that was a long process, I never want to do this again. I will of course, when there are more to add to the “draw-all-my-son’s-things” log. But it was hard work my friend, hard work.

chair today, gone tomorrow

frank's chair
One of our long-term and much beloved professors retired recently, and so has been relocating from his office. Professor Samaniego had a few really old and interesting chairs, sat on by many students over the decades, which I have been talking about sketching for years, and now they are finally leaving I had one last chance to draw this one, which is probably my favourite. It’s an old seat from a theatre, a very posh theatre too by the look of it. It has the letters “GR” cast in iron on the decoration, and beneath the seat is a rack specially for storing top hats. I wonder what performances this chair witnessed over the years. With the wooden slats beneath it, it looks like it is a chair on skis. I didn’t have room for it in my office, unfortunately, so it will be living with my boss. Au revoir, nice old chair!

on a street

A & Rice, DavisThis is on A Street, in Davis. Sorry, not ‘a street’, but “A” Street. It’s named after the letter “A”, in recognition of all the Amazing words A has given us, like “Aardvark”, “Apple”, “A”, “An”, “And”, “Abba”, all the A words. I sketched this at lunchtime today, the weather was ever so slightly cooler and more bearable, and I didn’t want to eat food. If I had been hungry this might have made me hungrier, for this is on the corner of A Street and Rice Lane. Rice Lane, of course, named after Rice, the food, in recognition of all the Amazing foods rice has given us, like “Rice Krispies”, “Rice Pudding”, “Rice”, “Things with Rice”, all the Rice foods. This is on the border of the UC Davis campus, where the smokers are banished now that the campus is 100% smoke-free. They come here and sit on the curb outside peoples’ houses. There’s one right across the street there. That curb was always red, it hasn’t been especially painted for the smokers, the ‘shame step’. You don’t see many smokers here in Davis, though, not like in London. Now I have sketched this very spot before back in March 2008; see below. Apart from the tree in the foreground (there’s a smoker hiding behind it), spot the difference.  

how i learned to stop worrying and love the A street