Davis residents all know Rainbow City, beloved playground made of wood and built by the community in Community Park years ago. I remember when I first came here, thinking that if I were a kid in Davis, this would have been my favourite playground, and I know for my own son, it pretty much was. And then, a couple of years ago, they closed it down – several reasons were bandied about at the time: safety, the aging wood, termites, chemicals, hiss-boo-modern-world. I was worried that this would end up as another horrible plastic nothing playground, or even one of those weird playgrounds you get now with the odd shaped climbing bars and make-no-sense seats. Or maybe it would never come back. And then, just recently, the City and the local community started the new building project, which is ongoing, and here it is. I sketched it on Sunday morning, sat on the little grassy mound by the Davis Arts Center. It’s coming along nicely, and while it isn’t exactly the same, it has a lot of similar features to the old Rainbow City, but is just newer, updated. I’m excited for it to open, which should be fairly soon. Not that I can exactly run around on it myself, mind, and even my son is going to start getting past the age of playgrounds soon, but it does look like a fun place for local kids to explore. It’s a nice spot in my neighbourhood. I’m looking forward to the bike path next to it reopening too.
Now look at this. Another UC Davis construction project I have been following since last year, now almost finished. The Manetti Shrem Museum of Art formally opens on November 13, but look! It’s got a much more finished look about it than before, with that landscaping around it. You will recall that the last time I sketched it was actually from the inside – it was almost finished, the first day in fact that wearing a hard hat was not required. It won’t be long before this place is filled with art, and then with visitors. UC Davis really needs this space, and the Vanderhoef Quad is squared off nicely. I drew this while standing in the shade of the huge Mondavi Center across the street.
Check out my other sketches made during this construction by going to the tag manetti-shrem-museum… Bound to be one more post by the time it opens?
Well, what else has been going on on the UC Davis campus this summer? Building work, hot days, Delta breezes, summer sessions classes, and lunchtime drawings in a post-Manchester-symposium sketching-energy spike. Actually more of a pre-UC Davis-Design-Museum-Sketchbook-Exhibition sketching sketching-energy spike. Yes, my sketchbook exhibit is opening next month, it will be called “Conversations with the City” and will run at the Design Museum in Cruess Hall from September 19 to November 13. So exciting! See http://arts.ucdavis.edu/exhibition/conversations-city-pete-scully-urban-sketcher for more details. I will be displaying sketchbooks ranging from 2006 to 2016. The exhibit is Curated by James Housefield and Tim McNeil of the UC Davis Design Department, and I will also be giving a talk about my urban sketching work (and why you should keep a sketchbook) on Thursday October 6th, from 6-8pm. I will place an announcement in the sidebar on my website, but if you are in Davis then do come by!
In the meantime…here are some recent sketches of UC Davis. Above, the South Silo, undergoing a major refurbishment and upgrade of that whole area. New eateries will be going in, the paths will be widened to create a new vista, already we have seen some big improvements (despite the removal of an old funny-shaped tree, which was kind of in the way – it’s easier to cycle around Bainer now). You can see the oft-sketched Bike Barn there too on the right. It will be fun to see how different it all looks here. Below, part of the same building, still functioning despite the big renovations next door, the UC Davis Craft Center. I drew it one lunchtime before taking a Diversity training class in the building opposite. I added the paint later on.Not a lot of shaded spots to sketch this view from but I stood beneath a small tree.
Below is Nelson Hall, which is home to the Della Davidson Performance Studio. It’s on Old Davis Road, next to the Arboretum, and this used to be called the University Club. Last time I was in here was during the UC Davis Centenary celebrations (2008-09); in fact I took my new staff orientation here a decade ago. I’ve been on campus a long time now. I always felt like these little snapshots of Davis were my ‘postcards’ being sent back to those I left in England, so they can see where I live now. After almost eleven years in California there have been a lot of these postcards…
This building below has been on campus a lot longer: TB9, aka Temporary Building #9. It’s long been an arts studio and home to decades of ceramicists such as Robert Arneson. Fun story, first ever sketchcrawl I did in Davis (Dec 2005) I ended up outside here, sketching sculptures in the back yard area. Recently, TB9 was placed on the National Register of Historic Places – see the news announcement – due to its importance in art history. About time I sketched it properly then huh! It is right next to the Pitzer Center so has cropped up in the background a few times. With the Pitzer Center no longer being a big closed off construction site I was able to get stand off the road and get a better view without being run over by trucks.
Even older still is Wyatt Pavilion Theatre, below, a decent-sized performance hall built in 1907 (that’s right, 1907! Here is some history and info). I came and saw a play here a few years ago, Richard III; I really should go and see more theatre. I do have a degree in Drama you know. Ah that explains a lot I hear you say. Well it was French and Drama if you must know. I actually did a fair bit of foreign language acting when I was at college, though usually in German. Acting in German is way more fun; you get to do Brecht!
See that blue poster on the wall of the Wyatt? That is actually advertising my exhibition! Among other things, my that is at the top, which is exciting. So anyway, come and see my “Conversations with the City” when it opens, and take a peak at my sketchbooks. I hope you like it.
This is the Chemistry Building, well behind those trees there. I wanted to sketch this now, at the height of the Davis summer (well, now kids are back in school and AYSO practices start soon, summer is really kinda going away…temperatures aren’t though!). I have sketched it twice before in the past year, once in Fall and once in Spring. Spot the difference. I will sketch it once more, in about five months when those trees are leafless. A year in Davis. See, we have seasons too…
I probably have one more final post about this building, the Ann E. Pitzer Center, to come, but look! It’s nearly done! After all this time, the new music recital hall at UC Davis is set for its big opening. That sign on the building that says “Ann E. Pitzer Center” was only unveiled a couple of hours before I sketched this, at lunchtime earlier this week. It’s all very exciting. The grand opening events start on September 23 with jazz ensembles in the courtyard, followed by the Anderson-Roe Piano Duo in the Recital Hall, a concert by faculty and students of UC Davis on Sept 24, and a film screening of Koyaanisqatsi by composer Philip Glass on Sept 25, which will include a discussion betwen Philip Glass and music professor Pablo Ortiz. Here’s an article on the UC Davis website all about the Pitzer Center’s upcoming openings. I hope to go, I am eager to see the inside!
And here, for a bit more history, are the posts about the old Boiler Building, the previous tenant of this spot, showing its whole demolition back in 2012. The changing campus…
And now for the final post about #Uksmnachsrte2106 (sorry, been typing it so many times I have forgotten how to type) (that looks like a joke but I corrected about half the words typed in this sentence just now so it isn’t) (my autocorrect has just given up on me and gone home). The final official day was on Saturday July 30th, we had a Closing Ceremony, and they announced that CHICAGO will host the next one! Hooray! I do hope I can go. Anyway here are a few more sketches of people that I did over the days of the Symposium, in no particular order, but starting with Simone Ridyard, above, Manchester resident and one of the main organizers of this whole awesome successful symposium. Here she is announcing day three, with some of the main stage backdrop behind her. Well done Simone and all the Symposium team! I have Simone’s book Archisketcher, by the way, it is very good.
Next up is Bridget March, a lovely lady I met in the first workshop, who is from Harrogate (I had a friend at school from Harrogate, sounds nice there) but lives and works in Saigon in Vietnam. We ate with some others at a great little street-food type snack bar on Oxford Road, while rain drizzled down outside.
Here I did my only digital sketch of the Symposium, made on the iPad with the Paper app. this is Danni Hoedemakers, from Belgium (Hasselt), who I met talking with Corinne Raes at the Peveril of the Peak. She was telling me about these really interesting tours of Hasselt that she gives, “Happiness Tours” I think they were called, which I really liked the sound of, though I struggle to explain them. This gave me a few ideas of doing similar things but including sketching or writing. Anyway, it sounded like fun. There were quite a lot of Belgians at the Symposium, always a good thing, allez les Belges!
Now here we meet Mateusz Hajnsz from Poland, who I remember from the USk Manchester facebook page, nice to meet him. He actually had a copy of my book to be signed! So I sketched him as well. I sketched him later during dinner as well as part of the group at the Indian Tiffin Room.
Speaking of signing books, this is Stephanie Bower from Seattle. I really like Stephanie’s artwork, very architectural and full of light, and she is a delight. Her book “Understanding Perspective“, the latest in the Urban Sketching Series, just came out, so she was signing copies at the Symposium (I bought my copy in the US) when I sketched her.
And here is the book-signing event several of us who have books were asked to come and sign them at. these two fine people are from Quarto books, Ben and Emma, with a selection of publications such as the Urban Sketching Series books (of which Stephanie’s is one), Gabi Campanario’s “The Art of Urban Sketching”, Katherine Tyrell’s “Sketching 365”, Simone Ridyard’s “Archisketcher”, and James Hobbs’s “Sketch Your World”. Ok then…where was Creative Sketching Workshop? When I got there they had none. They had some the day before, apparently, but none now. So I stuck around anyway and sketched Ben and Emma, and then after a while they found at the bottom of a box a few remaining copies and put them out, so I added those in! I didn’t sign any though. I never know what to write when signing books anyhow, I always think I should write “Happy Birthday”!
At the final Closing Ceremony party at the School of Art, I was already feeling tired, but I did spend time talking to people and sketching, saying my goodbyes and see-you-in-Chicagos, and I’m very glad to have rubbed shoulders with so many international sketchers, old and new friends. The funny thing about urban sketching symposia is that you might only say a few things to someone, see them in a few workshops, raise a drink and say “great job on all the sketching, here’s my Moo card” but then over the next couple of years you make a point of Liking their FB pages, commenting on their sketches, checking out their websites, being inspired by their prodigious output, and then next time you see them in another country you feel you know each other a lot more, and it all begins to feel like a big global sketching family. Above, on the right is Vincent Desplanche, from France, who I met briefly last year in Strasbourg and was blown away by his sketchbooks, and who I have followed with great interest over the past year, it was great to see him again in Manchester, and hopefully we’ll sketch together in the future. He is talking to Daniel Nies, from Germany, who I met for the first time in Manchester but I recognize from the Urban Sketcher group on Facebook. He told me that he is a beekeper, and was very interested in the bee symbol of Manchester (though it’s an inaccurate bee, he said!), and made a really cool lino-print of that same bee emblem. Incidentally the bee represents the worker element of Manchester, the home of the Industrial Revolution. On the right is Kalina Wilson from Portland (aka Geminica), who I’ve known since the first symposium (uskpdx2010) and feels like an old sketching buddy. Also a fellow pirate. Here she is disbelieving me when I tell her that I used to teach Cockney Rhyming Slang in classes at a university in Belgium, but this fact is absolutely true (it even came up in their exam). So glad she was able to make it to the UK this summer, and she even came to the Wren crawl the weekend before in London.
Here are a couple of sketchers from Yorkshire (I do like a Yorkshire accent!), on the left is none other than Matthew Midgley from Huddersfield, who I have wanted to meet for years, I love his artwork. Super nice guy, who likes to draw food. On the right is Alec Turner, who I did not know, but was also friendly and a nice subject to draw.
Next up was Ed Harker from Bristol/Bath, who I had spoken to earlier in the day, and whom I saw sketching me in his long accordion notebook. Well, I couldn’t resist sketching him back! You will notice that I am sketching most of these people in pencil, which is quicker and a bit more expressive – I’m doing this more, and it’s fun. Little dab of paint, lovely. Ed was a lovely bloke, and his sketches are lively and fun.
Above, two well-known urban sketchers, Lynne Chapman and Liz Steel. Lynne from Sheffield (though originally from the south of England), a much-published children’s illustrator who also recently brought out a book about Sketching People, which I haven’t yet got but I certainly will do. It came out in March, just a little bit too late for me to read while writing my own book about sketching people – shame, as I am hugely inspired by how Lynne draws people, she does such a fantastic (and often very colourful) job. Speaking of books, Liz Steel (from Sydney, Australia) (there was a big contingent from Australia this year!) But Liz has been to every single symposium, since Portland 2010) also has a book coming out this Fall – it is the ‘other half’ of the one I wrote! “Five Minute Sketching Architecture” will be published in the US on October 1, same date as my “Five Minute Sketching People”
Ok now these were sketchers dancing at the closing ceremony party. The pen scribble is an aborted attempt at sketching Marina Grechanik that just didn’t work. The other sketches on the page however are obviously super accurate and obviously detailed likenesses. Maybe not, but sketching dancers isn’t easy – it is fun though.Two of them I do recognize, the others I don’t know who they are. There was a lot of dancing; they even did the Conga. Pete doesn’t do the Conga.
Pete does dress up as Captain America and pose heroically though. Here I am with Marc van Liefferinge from Belgium (a photographer whom I met in Strasbourg last summer, this time he was photographing the big symposium!), and Vincent Desplanche from France.
And finally, Liz Steel once more, and Paul Wang from Singapore. More old Urban Sketching friends! I remember nice evenings at dinner with Paul and Liz in Lisbon and Barcelona. Hopefully again in Chicago!
There were about 500 people sketching Manchester this symposium, and I’m pretty glad I was one of them. Too many however to meet them all, though I gave it a good try, but not ever overwhelming. I think that was Manchester itself, which despite being the first time I was there, had a real familiarity about it. I didn’t even mind the rain. I think it was the Chips in Gravy. A huge thanks to all the Symposium organizers for showing us Manchester, and who knows, see you in Chicago…
And now for a post showing many of the other buildings and views I sketched in Manchester during the 7th Urban Sketching Symposium. Usually sketched between workshops or activities (or while skipping activities because sketch-sketch-sketch). I would love to explore Manchester – the north of England in general – in more depth and at unbound pace, but here are some street scenes and buildings that I managed to fit in. Above, the Grosvenor Picture Palace, a building I feel sure was sketched a few hundred times that week, being right opposite the Manchester School of Art on Oxford Road.Buses whizzed by as they do, and while it was damp it managed not to rain while I sketched, stood on the corner of All-Saints Park.
This pub, the Lass O’Gowrie, was on the way back to my apartment and I just had to sketch it. however the time I chose to sketch was probably the wrong one – I got the time of the final big group photo wrong (6pm), thinking it was 6:30pm (doh!), and so I missed it because I was sketching this. Second time I have missed the final group photo at a Symposium! It’s becoming my Thing. Still I am not too downhearted about that, as I probably would not have had the chance to sketch this pub, and I’m happy I did, a traditional looking Mancunian ale-house, next to a small canal-way. I went for a half-coloured-in look because I only half-coloured it in before dashing back to All-Saints Park for the final group photo, like an idiot. At least I got into the American group photo (I am after 11 years in California an honorary American now after all (at least where urban sketching is concerned!), a nice group to be in.
This was sketched earlier in the afternoon, right opposite All-Saints Park. It only took twenty minutes or so, Johnny Roadhouse Music, but that was because I considered doing a big panorama (decided against it!). You can see my ‘working-out’ on the sides there.
After sketching Johnny Roadhouse Music I walked back over to the School, on my way to one of the presentations I’d signed up for, however I got side-tracked talking to Paul Heaston and Marc Taro, who were sketching the Ormond Building, another that was surely sketched several hundred times (and then some) over those few days. Sketchers were starting to dot around the area as part of the Final Sketchwalk (all waiting for the Final Group Photo; yeah, that was a good idea). What with chatting to fellow sketchers and working on the perspective this building took about an hour and a half, compared to the quicker music shop sketched before it. I always worry I’m not going to come back from somewhere with enough sketches to ‘justify’ the long journey out there, and I still had a few things left on my list. Still I enjoyed the experience sketching this building, and it was nice to talk to people, and learn from how they approached it.
The Hotspur Press! I had to sketch it. I drew it on the way back from Veronica Lawlor’s workshop, drawing quickly in pencil beneath a railway arch to shelter from the rain, but I had to add colour afterwards as I needed to get back to the School; I had been told I was to be signing copies of my book (though I got there, and they didn’t even have any copies of it). The rain-soaked old brick and industry, that’s the North isn’t it. Hotspur by the way would be a reference to the Percy’s; Harry Hotspur was a medieval knight and member of the Percy family, Henry Percy, son of the Earl of Northumberland. This is why Tottenham Hotspur are so named, too – they were originally Hotspur FC, and the Percy family owned land in the Tottenham area (think Northumberland Park).
For the Silent Auction many of us were asked to donate a sketch, and so because my other Thing (apart from Missing the Final Group Photo like a late idiot) is of course Fire Hydrants. Now in England they are underground, so I drew one of those, with an explanation as to how to find British hydrants. Here it is! And it sold as well!
Here is a group of sketchers sketching the streets around the School of Art. Speaking of which, there will be one more post before I have exhausted all #UskManchester2016 news, and it will be long and full of quick people sketches. and then, back to the present month…
Dinnertime at the Symposium is naturally a time for taking a break from sketching, putting that pen or pencil down, breaking bread and drinking wine and naaaaah, KEEP ON SKETCHING! It’s just what we do, and here we have permission, justification, obligation, compulsion. We can never really stop. Of the four evenings spent in Manchester I went out for meals with fellows sketchers on two of them (the other two, I ate at the apartment, or at the closing reception). It’s a good time to flex those people-sketching skills. I remarked more than once that I don’t often like sketching people, because I’m quite self-conscious about it in public, but at the symposia (and this one especially) I let loose and sketch away. It’s quite liberating. I had never sketched an entire table of people in one sketch before though (I don’t think I have anyway), always running out of space, and on my first night in Manchester I joined some of the French-speaking sketchers for dinner at Thomas’s Chop House. Actually it turned out to not just be the Franco-Belgian sketchers, but from all over the world, the Symposium in a nutshell. There was Spanish, German, Portuguese, French and English spoken, and it was a really nice evening. It was cold too so many of us, sat outside, were given blankets by the restaurant to keep warm. I shared a blanket with Arnaud De Meyer, a sketcher from Luxembourg who was sat next to me. The long sketch is above – click on it for a closer view. It’s actually over two double-page spreads.
The third night in Manchester I went with a group for a late dinner at the Indian Tiffin Room, which was obviously a popular choice for the urban sketchers as the place was full of them! Our group was mostly Portuguese (Vicente, Luis, Nelson and Pedro) but also Rita from Portland, Mateusz from Poland and Silvio from Argentina, a great bunch of people. There was a lot of Spanish spoken though, I couldn’t keep up with that! (I never did learn Spanish, I must remedy that) The food was great and the company friendly, and I sketched the scene above, managing to just about fit everyone in, though I had to place Nelson into an inset window. Pedro Loureiro did do a sketch of me on one of the paper menu-placemats, but it got curry spilled on it (I didn’t mind that, seemed appropriate! I love a curry, as my cheeks will attest…)
Stay tuned for more #UskManchester2016 sketches…
The final #UskManchester2016 sketching workshop I attended was on the Saturday morning: “The Big Picture“, taught by Paul Heaston. Paul is an absolute master at the curving wide-angle perspective, and that approach to composition and getting everything into the area of your drawing was the focus of this workshop. Paul has a great way at explaining this often difficult concept, and gave out very useful and informative handouts that explained his concept well. This is a look at the five-point perspective – straight ahead, left, right, up above, down below, you’re too slow. Sorry, couldn’t resist. My own sketch is above; while this isn’t something I am unfamiliar with, I do wish I had expanded the scene a bit more, and shown the left-right vanishing points in the frame itself. Still, I had a lot of fun, and while we did stop for some mid-workshop tips, we did have time to flesh out the details. In his handout, Paul gave some great tips on how to draw details in a large sketch like this, noting that the human eye is vastly more capable of perceiving detail than any drawing instrument that we possess, so some economization and simplification is useful. Paul talked a lot about relative scale, and asked us to try to include ourselves in the sketch – within our frame of view of course, meaning our hands and sketchbook. Spatial relationships are also important in determining relative scale. I thought about Father Ted and the cows: “Small…far away…”.
Here is the show-and-tell at the end, with the sketchbooks all over the floor; thankfully this workshop was not rainy! I sketched Paul below, adding some notes from what he told us.
While we sketched, by the way, we were treated to scores of people dressed up as super heroes – Manchester Comic Con was happening nearby at the same time. We saw Deadpools, Pikachus, Winter Soldiers, Flashes, Reys, Scarlet Witches and one absolutely amazing Squirrel-Girl I totally wish I had time to sketch. Oh, and there was one incredibly realistic Captain America, look (hey, Cap was a sketcher too)…
Key points I took away:
- Understand spatial relationships; even if the perspective isn’t quite right you can still describe the space between objects
- Don’t be afraid to draw those huge buildings small, if that’s how they are in the overall sketch, as it shows their distance relative to the objects in the foreground
- Draw loads of details! Why not? But simplify where you can, and note that the further back things are, the simpler the details
- It doesn’t rain every single day in Manchester! It really doesn’t! (Spoiler alert, it rained that evening on the way home)
I very much had fun on this workshop, the last structured part of the Symposium for me (plenty more sketches and posts to come though…). Massive thanks to Paul Heaston – do check out his Flickr and his Facebook pages.
And so we return our attentions to Manchester, and the third of the workshops I attended: “Puzzling out the Picture“, taught by Veronica Lawlor, from New York. This was focused on composing your sketches using directions to move us into and out of the image, to see the picture as “a dimensional space in your mind”, that has six sides. We went down to Catslefield, an area of Manchester I didn’t know much about, but was truly an urban sketchers dream – bridges and canals going in every direction, the perfect space for this sort of exercise. Veronica asked us to move about the space and draw quick thumbnails of the different views we encountered, encouraging us to identify how the eye moves into and around the space. Mine are above; this was a really enjoyable exercise.
Above, Veronica explains the idea. We were then asked to choose a scene from our thumbnails and draw it larger and in more detail. The rain was not heavy, but constant and drizzly – hello Manchester, hi English summer, how I’ve missed thee – and also kind of moving sideways making any cover a bit useless, but we all persisted. I stood beneath a big archway beneath a bridge and drew the scene below. Notice the little iron castle turrets on the railway bridge, a nice touch! Manchester was where the Industrial Revolution was really born, the city is a child of that booming period, and Castlefield really takes you back into that history. It was here that the world’s first industrial canal, the Bridgewater Canal (1764), terminated, and here was also the terminus of the world’s very first passenger railway line, at Liverpool Road station, in 1830. History doesn’t begin with the Industrial Revolution however – nearby was the Roman fort of Mamucium, or Mancunium, which gave Manchester its name (English town and cities with the suffix -chester or -caster generally have origins as Roman forts). I sketched in the usual brown-black pen, but used some grey markers to add a bit of tone, as well as a touch of red.
Now I probably would have done a bit more detail or added a bit more colour, but, well, Chips in Gravy. I remembered that there was a chip shop around the corner from here (I passed it while lost the previous evening, looking for the Peveril) and just had a huge craving for chips in gravy. This is more common in the north of England than in the south, and I absolutely love it. Now it’s not quite the same as poutine – there is no cheese – this is just what you can get at any chippy up north and it drives me mad to even think about it, it’s so good. I used to eat it in Scarborough when I’d go up there years ago. Now, it rained a lot during this workshop, so it was good to take a break from the sketch and go and grab some chips in gravy, and sit in the drizzle, with an orange Tango. Totally a “back in England” moment for me. Then, it was back to the sketching.
Despite the rain (which nobody really minded much), this was an extremely enjoyable workshop. Veronica teaches with a lot of enthusiasm and has a very encouraging manner, and her own work is so alive that it was a real pleasure to learn from her. She joked that it would be nice to come back and sketch Castlefield in the summertime!
Key points I took away:
- Think of your pictures as representing a three dimensional space and try see and depict the lines of movement through the scene
- Make quick thumbnails from different points of view to physically explore the dimensions of the space before your final sketch
- Let shapes extend and move out of your physical boundary
- When hungry, eat chips in gravy
- Manchester = rain again!
Many thanks to Veronica for a fun workshop! Check out her work at www.veronicalawlor.com, and also her books, particularly “One Drawing A Day“, and “Reportage and Documentary Drawing“, part of the Urban Sketching Handbook series.