coronado, old town and the zoo

San Diego Coronado Beach
More from San Diego. So one of the nicest places there is Coronado, an island city with an absolutely stunning beach. It might be the best beach in the United States. We had a lovely time playing on the beach in the sunshine, and I did a sketch of the historic Hotel del Coronado, “the Del” as my wife kept calling it (nothing to do with Southampton’s old ground, the Dell). It was built in 1888! Back then Jack the Ripper was doing his ripping, the Football League just started leaguing football, the lawn tennis association was founded on a lawn, and Katz’s deli opened in New York, not serving cats. Yes, it’s been around a long time. I sketched it with my feet in the actual Pacific Ocean. I would love to some day sketch the bar area, spend a bit of time doing that, but we had places to go. I did however see a bird flying around inside which flew directly into a window with a thud, cartoon like. I didn’t see it recovering, but I imagined it was on the floor all dazed with little tiny people running around its head. Poor little bird.
San Diego, Angela at Coronado Brewing

We visited the Coronado Brewing Company, who had lovely beer and food. I drank a Belgian Impaler (while Belgium lost to Italy on the TV nearby) and sketched my wife (above). I ate a lovely mac and cheese dish.

IMG_0810

A few days later we visited Old Town San Diego. I didn’t do much sketching, other than at lunch. We went to a very colourful cantina restaurant and were serenaded by a couple of Mexican guitarists while we ate. I drew the scene opposite. Mexico is really close by to San Diego, in fact it backs right up to it, conurbating into Tijuana across the border.
San Diego Old Town
Here are some other sketches I did. We of course went to the Zoo, and it really is a lovely zoo. My favourite animals were the pandas, and the elephants. My son loved the Komodo Dragon. I did a few quick sketches in pencil with a little bit of colour.
San Diego ZooSan Diego Zoo

I have a few more sketches from our trip, from Legoland, but on the whole I mostly relaxed, swam in the pool, had the odd cocktail and didn’t check my email all week. Wicked.

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how to leave europe

Euro 2016 ICE-ENG

It has been a week, hasn’t it. Hell, it’s been a year. Did nobody realize that 2016 is only ‘advisory’ and ‘non-binding’? We’ve only had less than half of the year so far too; instead of celebrity deaths, terrorist attacks and Brexits, the rest of the year might be all, well, no, there’s an election coming up in America and probably the UK so no, 2016, please just go away and think about what you have done. At least the footy has been good. Oh, except for England. They slipped up against Iceland (I don’t get it either) in one of the biggest shocks that day, culminating in the manager Roy Hodgson resigning at the end of the match because everyone else is doing in. Iceland were pretty great though and they are refreshing to see at this tournament, and while I am sad to see so many of my Spurs players get knocked out with England, I’m happy for Iceland. England winning the Euros might have been good for the country, in its current state, but Iceland will now go on to play the host team, France. Iceland might end up as the Leicester of international football.

Euro 2016 CRO-POR

Croatia lost to Portugal. Portugal have Cristiano Ronaldo. Oh ok you say, that’s that. No, Croatian were in my view much the better team, and Portugal only had one shot, late in extra time, from a Ronaldo cross, that won them the tie. But Portugal wore the odd teal green thing, while Croatia finally got to show off the famous home kit. I had to sketch that game, especially the guy with the read and white checkers on his hair. I will miss Croatia, I actually thought they’d go all the way after watching them beat Spain. As it is, they have to fly home while Portugal moves on to play Poland.

Euro 2016 WAL-NIR

And finally, the UK smaller-two clash, Wales vs Northern Ireland. It’s like Ringo vs George Harrison, with Wales being George because they have Gareth Bale. My heart is in Ireland, and my Grandad was from Belfast so I supported the boys in green and white, but they could not hold on against the red dragons of Wales. The Welsh go through to the quarter finals to face Belgium as the only British team still in Europe. Another week and a half until the football distraction is over again. Please start soon, Premier League! 2016 needs you back!

vacation time in san diego

SD quivira basin view

We needed a vacation, away from it all, so we went to San Diego for a week of pool, beach, Legoland, zoo, and cooler weather than we’ve been getting in bloody sweltering Davis. We’ve been to San Diego one time before, seven years ago, when I went for a conference in La Jolla and we stayed to visit my wife’s uncle. This time we saw different areas, and it was lovely. I’m not done scanning the sketches, but here are a couple of ones I did at our hotel. We stayed at the Hyatt Mission Bay resort which overlooked a lovely harbour from our balcony. I sketched from the balcony one early evening, the sound of a sea-lion perched on a buoy honking away in the distance.

SD Mission Bay Hyatt

Waking up early was the usual thing to do in the mornings, because the football was on the TV, but it was also nice to go for a stroll around the marina, and I sketched the view of the Hyatt complex, joined by my urban sketching son. A pretty nice place.

making a song and dance about things

dancers in davis june 2016

A couple of weeks ago I went to the downtown Davis “2nd Friday Art About”, as I had a couple of pieces on display at the Pence Gallery following the Garden Tour (both sold, by the way – hooray!) and so while there was sunlight I stuck around downtown to do a bit of sketching. Inspired by the watercolour sketches of dancers by Kumi Matsukawa from Japan (who wrote chapters in my book Creative Sketching Workshop) I sketched a couple of women dressed in bright Spanish style dresses who were moving from spot to spot, performing a dance to some flamenco style music, and moving on. I also caught them in quick pencil gestures, below. This sort of loose style sketching is useful for people moving quickly, focusing on the gesture and movement rather than going for accurate details. That’s usually how your eye registers things, and your hand works slower than your eye so let it dance with the dancers.

dancers in davis june 2016
I also sketched a band that was playing in the courtyard of the Pence. They moved around a lot less, but my eyesight sketching from a distance made it hard to pick out too many details, but the red of the middle guitarist’s dress really stood out.
musicians in davis june 2016

how to stay in europe

Euro 2016 IRL-ITA

I love this Euro 2016 football tournament. I love Europe in general, let me be clear about that – I was born European, and will remain European. The EU referendum news is fresh, new and bitter – and Cameron just resigned a few minutes ago – so to cheer you up again, I’ll bring it back to the football. I’ve often been frustrated by the European Football Championships, the less fun little brother of the World Cup. Perhaps it was the Years of Hurt – as a fan of both Ireland and, yeah, England disappointment went hand in hand. I still have a celebratory t-shirt from the famous Ireland victory over England back in 1988 (“These boys made history” it read, my mum got it for me from the Irish festival in Willesden Green). Despite some World Cup fun times since, the Republic of Ireland have either not qualified or just been rubbish at the Euros. England, well, Euro 96 was a fun ride, with a depressing end. These Euros have seen Wales, England, Northern Ireland and now the Republic of Ireland qualify for the knockout stages in dramatic fashion. Kind of pales into insignificance now with the political earthquake of “Brexit”, but while the two final group matches played yesterday lunchtime I sketched them both simultaneously (I do love split-screen). Ireland beat Italy 1-0 with a late winner, and I leapt off my seat, fist pumping. Even the Italians celebrated with the Irish. Both Ireland teams in the next round! Wales and England too! And Iceland, who are close enough to Scotland! Another of the teams I like, Belgium (I lived there for a year, during Euro 2000 funnily enough, I lived opposite the stadium where England beat Germany) beat Sweden, and I sketched some of them to, Belgium in their cool away kit. The outcome was finely balanced, but Belgium scored about 20 seconds before the Irish did, and suddenly Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s international career was over. There he is there, looking rather like a comic villain, Dick Dastardly but without the evil smirk. At least he wasn’t throwing on-pitch tantrums like Ronaldo was (though at least Ronaldo looked more like he cared, and scored a couple of goals out of it – not free kicks, of course). Zlatan has left the building – “Zlexit”, as I’m calling it.

Euro 2016 BEL-SWE

I sketched these partly for practice. I just finished writing a book about sketching people in five minutes (coming out in the Fall!) and one section is about sketching people playing sports, live, so these are my efforts. There’s no football tomorrow, either. Well it’s already tomorrow now. But two days without football, just as all these teams celebrate staying in Europe, and what goes and happens? It all starts up again on Saturday – Wales v Northern Ireland! – and then the big one for Ireland against France on Sunday (6am wake-up for me), with England v Iceland on Monday. Allez les Euros.

hibbert lumber

hibbert lumber, davis
One Saturday afternoon recently I went into downtown Davis to do some sketching because there’s a bit I missed when I spent a decade sketching every inch of this town. I’ve never sketched Hibbert Lumber – I used to catch the bus across the street from here most days, the P bus back to South Davis. I live in North Davis now, it’s like a different country. There are no buses to where I live on a weekend, you have to walk or ride a bike (or drive if you are that way inclined). Well there is the P but it takes ages and totally goes around the houses and stops a couple of blocks away. Sorry, you don’t care about the Davis bus system. By the way that is run by Unitrans, on the UC Davsi campus, and they do a good job, even having some old London buses (pre-Routemaster even) which, yeah, sorry they are actually very uncomfortable to ride. I prefer the newer buses. At least they aren’t Boris buses. Perhaps one day the Boris buses will also end up out here in Davis. I wish we had gotten the Bendy buses, I actually loved those. Remember those, Londoners with short memories? Even though cities across the world (including San Francisco) have used them for decades in narrow city streets, London decided that after a few years of having Bendy buses that they just couldn’t have them any more, because the Evening Standard and Boris Johnson said they were the most pressing important thing for London to deal with. Boris Johnson yes, he has a tendency towards such political tactics to get himself what he wants (by the way, try not to give him what he wants today, Britain, or you’ll end up on a course which ends with him as Prime Monster. #VoteRemain). Yes I loved the Bendy bus, with its greater accessibility than double-deckers, so if there are any going spare and Davis can have them, let’s do it. I did spend a fun afternoon on one once though at New Oxford Street, the bus wasn’t even trying to navigate a corner, just get around some traffic, and it got totally stuck, like a boy with his head in the railings. The driver just got completely stuck in a Gordian knot of traffic and bus. I think in the end they got someone from Bletchley Park to come and unscramble the mess, it was quite the kerfuffle.

Hibbert Lumber is an old established Davis business, family run, located on the corner of 5th Street and G Street. They were founded in 1947 down on 3rd Street and in addition to the lumber yard they are a hardware store. I stood on a hot afternoon sketching from across the street. I went for the simplified colouring option, because I had to go home and pack my bag for a week-long vacation in San Diego – much needed, let me tell you. So Hibberts Lumber, another Davis spot sketched. Next!

the kits of euro 2016: groups e and f

The third and final kit review of the Euros. I should have done one for the Copa America too (Columbia’s home kit is now white?) but it took me a little by surprise. We are at the end of the Group Stages now and the worst teams are starting to pack up and go home, while the teams coming third in their groups are waiting to see whether they will be one of the four best-placed third-placed teams out of six, causing heads to implode trying to figure out the permutations and arrangements. Albania for example might yet go home if other teams are deemed to have done better. In the case of teams having identical records, it goes down to goals scored, goals against, coefficient, length of beards, number of supporters arrested (outside the ground against inside the ground), and if they are still tied after all of that then Cristiano Ronaldo gets to judge how much of a “big country” or “small country” mentality a team has. It’s a complicated system. I still think it should all come down to kit design. On that note, let’s crack on with the final two groups: E and F.

GROUP E

REPUBLIC OF IRELAND

Republic of Ireland-Euro2016My team. Well, them and Northern Ireland. And England I suppose, though I’ve a soft spot for Wales, etc. Gone are the days however when I knew the names of all the players – Tony Cascarino, John Aldridge, Pat Bonner, Ray Houghton, you know, Phil Babb, all those guys. Now, I know Robbie Keane, and all the other guys. The same to be honest can be said of any team, international or club, except of course for Spurs, even though I watch football all the time, read football magazines and collect football sticker albums. “I Am Forty”. I do have a lot of Ireland shirts though, dating back to the USA 94 kit (the special jersey my mum got me commemorating Ireland beating England in 1988 doesn’t really count, I doesn’t fit any more too). My favourite is the last one, more of an old rugby shirt style, and this new one does something similar, but is a little less to my liking, although the orange trim is quite tastefully minimal. It’s still a much nicer shirt than, for example, the Northern Ireland home shirt. The away is alright, the little stripes on the arm look like something someone suggested and then looked at it afterwards and said, “meh, but who cares”. Now the Irish started well, being unlucky to only get a draw out of the Sweden game, but they got utterly tonked by Belgium. Yeah, we may not beat Italy in the last game but you never know. I still have a t-shirt celebrating “beating Italian ass on American grass” in 1994. Come on Ireland!

ITALY

Italy-Euro2016Italy have started well, couple of decent wins. They defend well, have a good manager in Conte (Chelsea-bound), and the best national anthem of all, probably. The kit is decent as well, simple effort, unfussy (they like the word ‘fussy’ these football kit describers, “it’s a bit of a fussy design” they say, to make themselves sound like real fashion and design afficionados) (I like “unfussy” because it’s not really a word; well it wasn’t, but I suppose it is now). Italy don’t have the superstars of old (well, they still do, like Buffon, but they are actually old) (Buffon by the way, the legendary goalkeeper, is my man-crush, he’s a handsome chap is Gigi). I like Italy but I need to explore a bit more of it, I’ve been to Venice three times but that’s really it. On the third time in Venice, I got engaged to my wife. Happy memories! Italy – the Azzurri – wear blue because that was the colour of the royal house of Savoy, and boy do they wear it well. The traditional white away kit has the Italian flag running down the middle.

SWEDEN

Sweden-Euro2016Sweden is all about Zlatan. It shouldn’t be, but it is. He rolls around the pitch being a genius looking frustrated that the rest of his team aren’t all Zlatans, but if the were all Zlatans then he would not be Zlatan. Zlatan has what you might describe as a rather large ego. In fact it’s better to just zlatan the way Zlatan does. This zlatan is the latest zlatan to come from Zlatidas and features three zlatans down the zlatan and a slightly more zlatan shade of zlatan. The away zlatan is zlataning, with its zlatanesque zlatans. In the first zlatan, Zlatan were zlatan to get a zlatan against the Republic of Zlatan who I felt zlataned the whole zlatan, though Zlatan did zlatan the zlatan the zlataned the Zlat defender to zlatan an own-zlatan. Ok Zlat’s enough of Zlat. I do like an Adidas Sweden kit, thinking back to the great Swedish side of the early 90s (or “BZ” as Zlatstorians prefer to number those years), Tomas Brolin and co. This one is lovely. Shame you won’t see much more of it this summer.

BELGIUM

Belgium-Euro2016Ladies and gentlemen, we have a winner. This is my favourite kit of the Euros. I have a soft spot for Belgium having lived there for a year back in 1999-2000 (I lived right across the street from the stadium in Charleroi where England played Germany, remember that one, fans of chair-throwing and water-cannons? I’ve wanted a Belgian shirt for a long time and they have had so many duffers (those Burrda ones for example) but I think I will stump for this one. The yellow is a more day-glo shade and the black on the chest really offsets that red. I can imagine wearing this while wandering the streets of Brussels with a sketchbook. The away shirt is nice too, reminds me of a cycling jersey, since the sport of cycling is very popular in Belgium. That year I spent there was very formative in many ways for me, though I could have been more creative with my time, I felt I didn’t get a lot done. I had a guitar and wrote some songs, I did a lot of personal writing but very little concrete stuff of substance, I drew a little bit but not that much, and I didn’t know many people so would just go to the chip shop and then to the local pub with the other locals, but looking back I think all of this was a life-long inspiration of as-yet-unformed ideas. Maybe I was just lazy. I would go up to Brussels and spend the whole day going around the city on the streetcar reading novels, then go to see a movie, go for a beer, and get lost on the Belgian train system trying to get home. And then there is the rain, the endless, constant rain. I think of all of this when I see that Belgian football badge, and I’m glad I got to know the place for that one year. As for the football team, I like them because they have a few of the best Spurs players on the team, though I’m not a fan of their goalie Thibault Courtois, because he a) plays for Chelsea and b) looks like the Republican speaker Paul Ryan.

GROUP F

AUSTRIA

Austria-Euro2016Okay, I am drifting in these reviews a little, lets get back to the kits. Austria have a standard enough Puma kit, which is red because a few years ago when they co-hosted the Euros with Switzerland, who also wear red Puma kits. Austria used to wear white withblack shorts, so when they turned up to the party wearing EXACTLY THE SAME BLOODY CLOTHES AS SWITZERLAND, the Swiss just facepalmed at their neighbours, oh you are so embarrassing. Oh right, next you are going to copy the whole mountains, watches and cuckoo clocks thing too aren’t you. Well this time, they still wear red but their away kit looks decidedly more like traditional Austria (which was itself, er, very similar to Germany). I first went to Austria in 1991 with my German class from school, spending two weeks with a family in Vorarlberg. When I was a kid I had a pen-pal from Vienna, and was always so impressed at Austrian handwriting. European handwriting is generally much nicer looking than messy English handwriting; French might be the best, but I like German too. Here I go again, talking about handwriting, completely unrelated to the football shirts. Let’s hope these Puma kits don’t rip easily like the Swiss ones in that game against France – four of the shirts had massive holes torn into them, prompting hilarious jokes about Swiss Cheese. Austria had been quietly fancied before these Euros, but it looks like they will be dropping out very soon.

HUNGARY

Hungary-Euro2016Right, so Austria vs Hungary conjured up images of the old Habsburg Empire, and it was all, oh yeah. Back in the 1920s Austria had the ‘Wunderteam’ (which roughly means “wonder team”), but in the 1950s, Hungary truly were the wonder team. How they managed to not win the World Cup in 1954 is a mystery matched by Holland not winning it in 1974 or 1978. The team of Puskas, the Mighty Magyars, famously destroyed England at Wembley in 1953, dubbed the Match of the Century. They will always have a legendary history. In modern times Hungary have been decidedly more shit. Come on, they have. Which is why it’s so exciting that they are back in the big time now, and they’ve done alright so far, beating Austria, and managing a draw with, er, Iceland. The kit, classic colour combo, and an Adidas template which is two years old (tsk, living in the past). I had some great Hungarian friends when I was younger, back in London. Another friend of mine (who is English and an actor) goes to Budapest several times a year, as it’s a common place for TV and film production.

ICELAND

Iceland-Euro2016Now this really is a surprise. Iceland? The land of actual ice? They qualified ahead of the Netherlands. Holland! The Dutch! Iceland are I suppose our substitute for not having Scotland there, it’s kind of close enough. They have a fairly recent history of football, and some famed Icelanders have become Premier League stars (Eidur Gudjohnson, Gylfi Sigurdsson). Everyone loves Iceland (except Cristiano Ronaldo). Of course, I’ve liked them since they were called Bejam. Alright you won’t get that one if you’re not British. Basically there is a chain of food stores, predominantly frozen food, and they also sell fridges and freezers, and they are called Iceland; well they used to be called Bejam before changing their name. It was a bit like Snickers used to be Marathon. I actually spent a day delivering fridge-freezers for Iceland with my brother-in-law around Hampshire a couple of decades ago. None of this is relevant of course. The kit here is made by Italian company Errea, I always like their designs though this one is kind of okay. In years to come it will be an Icelandic classic. Will Iceland go through to round two? Probably. I hope so. Their away kit is very similar to the one worn by the Allied POW team from Escape to Victory. I hope their goalkeeper is better than Sylvester Stallone.

PORTUGAL

Portugal-Euro2016This is the age of the one-superstar-dominating-the-team. When I say that I don’t mean the 2010s, I mean the past century or so. For Sweden it is now Zlatan. For Portugal, who have always had a lot of great players, the main man is, well you know who it is. He has a great freekick record at major tournaments – 36 taken, none scored.He added to this in the recent 0-0 against Austria, even missing a penalty to boot. I imagine he is the sort of person to invite his friends over to watch him play video games, declining to let them actually play because it wouldn’t be fair, he’d just win against them. But whenever Messi calls and asks for a quick round of MarioKart he always pretends to be washing his hair (haha, “pretends”). Portugal won’t win it; maybe after he retires.The kit is alright, another Nike Vapor template, with the different colour socks thing Nike are playing with like they bloody invented it. The away kit is a garishly ugly greeny-teal colour I just can’t understand. Ok fine it’s “interesting”. It was probably his idea, you-know-who. No not Voldemort. I went to Portugal in 2011 for the urban sketching symposium and had a lovely time in Lisbon, eating sardines and drawing fire hydrants.

And that is all you get. This was possibly the most rambly post I have ever done so if you have made it this far, thanks for just scrolling to the end, now go back and actually read it properly please. There will be a test later. Anyway, back to the actual footy.