shorts, shorts, socks – part 2

Right, part two of the Premier League kit round up, and without further ado, let’s get going…

PREMIER LEAGUE PART TWO: THE MIDDLING MID-TABLE

LIVERPOOL:

Liverpool 1617

When I was a kid Liverpool were pretty much the best team in the world. Not to me of course, I supported the even greater Spurs, but that Liverpool team of Rush, Dalglish, Hansen, then Beardsley, Barnes, Aldridge, the Grobelaar years basically, they were spellbindingly good. They are less so these days, no league titles since 1990 (yeah, more than Spurs) but with Klopp at the helm, maybe they can claw it back into the top four again. They opened with a 4-3 win at Arsenal which sounds good, but 4-3 games don’t mean championship form. Their kit is pretty slick and basic, gold trim, nothing fancy. The away kit has a few little flashes here and there, but the third kit is an odd lime green of the sort that these days, we look at and say, whatever. If it isn’t a broccoli kit or a ham kit or a human interior anatomy kit I’m not even interested. Prediction? Fifth or sixth I suppose.

STOKE CITY:

Stoke 1617

“But could he do it on a rainy Tuesday night in Stoke?” Is the oft-mentioned cliche when speaking of fancy foreign football fops frolicking about the field. Hardly anyone ever says it about the man who washes cars and waters gardens mid-week in the evenings in Stoke. Stoke were the team of Stanley Matthews (them and Blackpool), one of the greatest ever footballers ever to come out of England. But enough reminiscing about the wizard of dribble; stoke’s kits are made by Macron this year and are smart, quite nice, bit boring perhaps that is ok. How will Stoke do this year? Well if they can do it on rainy Tuesday nights in other places than Stoke they will stay up. Next…

CHELSEA:

Chelsea 1617

Well well well, Chelsea, fancy seeing you down here rubbing shoulders with the common folk, the Stokes and the Watfords. Weren’t you reigning champions a year ago? Mourinho got sacked, your rich guy players farted around, and then you celebrated a 2-2 draw with Spurs like you had won the league again. Well with a top new manager in Conte they might find their form again, but I can’t see them getting back to top spot so quickly. The kits are nice though, I’ll say that. Even the second one. Prediction? Fourth. I dunno.

EVERTON:

Everton 1617

Ronald Koeman is now the manager of the Toffeemen. I loved him when he scored that rocket for Barcelona in the 1992 European Cup final against Sampdoria (I liked both those teams). I hated him when he helped knock England out of the World Cup qualifiers in 1993. I hope he does well at Everton. They will finish mid-table again. I don’t know, 8th. The kits are nice, home kit is simple, Umbro doing a decent job, though the sponsor having a picture of two elephants standing under a fountain, what is that supposed to be exactly? Maybe it’s fireworks? Two elephants playing with fireworks. Or is it spaghetti, and explosion of spaghetti? I don’t know. The second kit is nice, dark. I like the third kit, yellow. Hard to muster up much enthusiasm for these though when you have two elephants standing under a massive exploding spaghetti fountain.

SWANSEA CITY: Swansea 1617

Swansea have done away with flashy Adidas detailing and switched to the classy Joma for 16-17, going for a pure clean white look. The sponsor has a dash of blue which then turns into the away kit, a gradient affair that has an overall calming effect on anyone who sees it, like a peaceful lake or a waterfall. this is scientifically proven to reduce instances of hooliganism in football grounds, so effectively they are bringing a message of peace over from the southern Welsh coast. they will need a third kit. how about an angry fiery red? Fun fact. Swans, did you know they are all owned by the Queen, swans? Where will Swansea finish this year? I don’t know. 11th maybe. 200th. I don’t know. They’ll be fine, they’ll stay up.

WATFORD:

Watford 1617

How are Watford still in the Premier League? Well midtable last time so I suppose they weren’t too bad. I just thought they would go down. Oh right, Villa, Norwich and Newcastle were completely pants. This year the Hornets have ditched Puma for ‘Dryworld’. Dryworld? Who the bloody hell are they? The kits are fairly ho-hum, none of the buzzing horizontal stripes from last year, and why does the away kit have black socks in an all white kit when the home kit has black socks? Answer me that Dryworld, whoever the hell you are. Where will Watford finish? I think this year they go down. Sorry Watford fans. You’re still better than Luton.

WEST BROMWICH ALBION:

West Brom 1617

“West Brom” or “WBA”? Nobody calls them “WBA” any more. Well I don’t think so anyway. For all I know they do it all the time, I don’t know, I don’t live in England. West Brom, the great survivors. How do they stay up every year when it looks like they should just go down? I think it’s Horcruxes. I think that is their secret. I think Saido Berhaino found out and that is why they won’t let him leave. I do like their kit this year, one of the nicest. The light blue trim makes a nice addition and goes well with the Baggies blue. The away shirt is black with pinstripes. It looks nice. West Brom will stay up again. They will not win the league like Leicester did. Unless they use the Imperiatus curse of course.

Ok that was the middle, stay tuned for the bottom six.

d street in davis

D St Pano Aug 2016 sm

Here is a panorama I sketched of D Street, Davis, last Sunday afternoon. It was a desperately hot day, and uncomfortable standing there for two hours sketching on loose sheets. I drew this over two sheets of Stillman and Birn ‘Alpha’ paper and joined them together to make the panorama – this isn’t in my sketchbook, it is to be framed for the Pence Gallery’s annual Art Auction. That is the Pence there on the right. The Art Auction will run from September 2-17, with a Gala event on the 17th itself. The building on the left was, for a while, “Art Is Davis” (I took part in a joint show there a couple of years ago), and before that was a shop called “Antiques Plus”, but now the building is home to “Land Home Financial”. Things do change. Last time I sketched this scene, the building on the far right of the drawing did not exist, but was put up last year (I did a sketch of the construction but haven’t yet drawn the finished product on the street, except here). On the far left, the Mustard Seed restaurant still going strong, but I’ve not eaten there in a few years (it was quite fancy, I must go back some time with my wife). This is a classic Davis view, and always fun to draw. This is my eleventh summer in Davis. Summers here are long, and dry.

the all-new all-different MU…

MU Aug 2016
Okay, we’re at the halfway mark for Manchester sketches so I thought we’d bring it back to Davis for a bit before resuming the symposium story. This is the current state of the Memorial Union at UC Davis – the shiny new bookstore is now open, but the rest is still under a lot of reconstruction. The UCD Bookstore by the way does stock my book, if you’re interested! the renovated and revamped MU is expected to reopen in December, I can’t wait to see how it finally looks. My son for one is eagerly anticipating the reopening of the bowling alley; he had his birthday there last year and has missed it terribly. Once it’s all done, I will sketch the end result. More change at UC Davis!

The Art and Habit of Travel Sketching (with Rita Sabler)

Rita Sabler's Talk sm

There were many interesting and varied talks that you could attend at #uskmanchester2016. Yes, I just used a hashtag in a sentence. Now if were saying that out loud I wouldn’t say the word “hashtag” but then that is why the written medium is capable of things that the spoken medium just isn’t, and vice-versa, and then there is the drawn medium. One thing I like about sketching at talks and presentations is that you can use it not only to document the visual of the event, but also take notes on the text. There is the issue of course that you must be careful what you write down, as that then potentially defines the speaker’s points in possibly unintended ways – take a sentence out of context, written down in a hurry, and sure they did say that, but it may not be what their talk was about. So whenever I have drawn presenters, I have been aware of this and tried to write down the thoughts and phrases that seem most to encapsulate it, though it’s impossible to catch it all.

I only managed to attend one talk in Manchester, having been off sketching the streets all the other times, taking advantage of the non-rain, but I wasn’t going to miss this one, “The Art and Habit of Travel Sketching“, by my friend from Portland, Rita Sabler. I first met Rita at the first symposium in Portland, learning that she was a UC Davis alumna, and have followed her sketching work ever since. She has a really cool and vibrant style, with a lot of travelling under her belt as well. In this talk she showed us some of her amazing travel sketches and shared her experiences around the world, both the good and the sometimes scary. She offered tips and advice on travel sketching, and spoke in general about the act of keeping a sketchbook, and the unexpected interactions it can bring. I wrote down some of what she was saying – click on the image above to get a better view – and some of my favourite takeaways were:

  • Sketching your surroundings, you become “at once the observer and the participant”
  • If sketching people in bars, pick the people who have the fullest glass – they will stay there longest!
  • If people notice you sketching them, smile!

I really enjoyed the talk, and everybody else that was there enjoyed it as well – and it was a full house. I was surprised that more people were not sketching though! I did spot a few others with sketchbooks out. Here was Rita afterwards, holding my book:

Rita Sabler

You can see more of Rita’s work on her website www.portlandsketcher.com, or on her Flickr page. You can also see three awesome chapters written by Rita in my book, Creative Sketching Workshop!

a peek at the Peveril

Peveril of the Peak pub sm
“It is these little passages of secret history, which leave a tinge of romance in every bosom, scarce permitting us, even in the most busy or advanced period of life, to listen with total indifference to a tale of true love.”
That was from Sir Walter Scott’s classic novel, Peveril of the Peak, which up until visiting this pub in Manchester, I had of course never heard of. I thought Sir Walter Scotts were something you drank beer out of. It turns out that is kind of right. Peveril of the Peak was the colourful and yet old-fashioned pub was the nightly location of the Drink and Draw, set upon by scores of sketchers inside and out during the few days of Symposium. I sketched it outside (see above) alongside many other sketchers, several seated, others lined up across the street. Take a look at 13 other takes on the pub, collected  by Suhita Shirodkar on the Urban Sketchers blog. I’ve seen many more online, each as outstanding as the next. I do love to sketch a pub, as you might have noticed if you have followed my blog at all. I think it’s the classic air of social interaction. I just can’t get that in a restaurant, and hardly ever in cafes either (most cafes I ever go into these days, people are just buried in their laptops). I sketched people as well; at an urban sketching symposium I am much more inclined to do that than at other times, and so I practiced as much as I could. Below, two of my long-time sketchblogging heroes, back from the early days of Flickr, before Urban Sketchers: Andrea Joseph and Jason Das. Now Jason I have known since meeting him in Portland in 2010, and he is an especially cool bloke and an inspirational artist; check out  his site jasondas.com. Andrea Joseph I had never until now actually ever met in person – I have her zines and have followed her amazing drawings for years on her blog, so it was wicked to finally meet her in person. Here they are chatting away about music outside the Peveril…

Andrea and Jason sm
Now I did sketch other people, not all on the same night. Here are a bunch of people who were actually non-sketchers (I know, I was surprised to meet non-sketchers as well, after hanging around five hundred people tooled-up with Micron pens and Leuchturms I had forgotten that other people could even be non-sketchers). I did chat with them and gave the statutory “would you mind if…?” before sketching, and I think they really liked them. For all they knew they were probably drawn about 50 times by others in the pub that evening.
Peveril of the Peak people
Actually I think the bottom right lady was either a sketcher or with a sketcher; I forget now. California, I believe. The others were locals. On that evening in the Pev, as people would call it, two Portuguese sketchers Vicente Sardinha and Nelson Paciencia, hosted a special Drink and Draw in which they actually made very cool handouts, which gave tips on sketching in a pub (“Sketching while Sober” I think it was called). Then those that took part in the activity all gathered and did a show-and-tell, it was pretty nice. My personal tip for sketching in bars is this – if you draw the bar-staff, draw them busy!
Peveril of the Peak people sm
This group of sketchers from around the world was sat in a little ante-room inside the Peveril. They are Tine Klein from Switzerland, Suma CM and (sorry, I forgot to write down your name!) from California, and Mark Leibowitz from New York; unseen is Daniel Nies from Germany, sat to my right, but that is his hat. I sketched them and chatted; I had met Mark in Barcelona in 2013, a lovely guy; I unfortunately missed his presentation on the final day due to getting lost in a sketch (that happens), but I hope to sketch with him again in NYC some day. Suma lives in san Jose so hopefully we’ll sketch together in SF some day; she did come along to the London sketchcrawl as well. After this, I moved into the main bar, and had barely an hour to try and sketch an interior panoramic – as you know, that ain’t long enough, but I dashed through it!

Peveril of the Peak panorama sm

Click on the image to see it in more details.There is Arno Hartmann in the middle there, excellent architect from Germany who was at the Symposium teaching a workshop on 360 degree sketching, really nice to meet him. At the end of the bar, two fellows who were drinking and dancing along to the music on the jukebox – here I must say that I was singing along too, for the music was pretty wicked. I live in America now, I don’t hear the Small Faces, the Jam, the Pistols, Pulp, all those being played at the pub. This was like going back to the great Soho pubs back in the 90s, just all my faves being pumped out all night. I got conversing to the people sat around me; a couple attending the symposium from Austin, Texas (well one sketcher and her non-sketcher hubby, who also loved his music, but was more a fan of Death Metal than David Bowie), plus another couple who were up from Luton. There were local art students there telling us about Simone Ridyard’s books, and the beer was tasty (and a lot cheaper than London). And all around people still sketched away, every single night. On the Saturday evening we ended up there again. I gifted a man we sat next to a quick sketch of his building’s front door (he lived in an apartment opposite the pub), while I unashamedly wore my Captain America hoody with the hood up (just for photos though…), because much of Manchester was dressed up in costumes for that weekend was the city’s Comic Con. I saw an absolutely perfect Squirrel Girl earlier that day and really wish I had sketched her, but I was busy drawing a building. I was one of many Caps. Here I am below with Jason; dear oh dear. Months ago, I had pledged to Simone on the USk Manchester Facebook group page that if I somehow managed to get tickets and time off to attend, I would come dressed as Captain America. Well, I kept my word…

with Jason Das

And on that silly note we conclude our trip to the Peveril of the Peak. Stay tuned for more Manchester sketches and stories…

Capturing the Crowd (with James Richards)

Capturing the Crowd - Albert Square sm

The second workshop I attended at the 7th Urban Sketching Sympo – er,”USKManchester2016″, let’s just call it (that’s the official hashtag by the way, #uskmanchester2016, if you happen to be on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, MySpace, well maybe not MySpace, anyway all those so-called media sites (that is the term right?), just use that hashtag and you will find everyone else’s Symposium stuff. It’s pretty damn wicked.) Sorry, just interrupted a sentence to shorten it with a longer sentence. Ok. The second workshop I took in Manchester was called “Capturing the Crowd“, taught by James Richards, assisted by his wife Patti, and held up at Albert Square (no, not that Albert Square, a real and much better one). Jim Richards sm

Jim is an excellent teacher who went through everything step by step, how to construct a scene with a crowd of people in it, tips on detail and colour, tricks for poses and perspective. I’d not met him in person before so it was a real treat to learn from this master, especially as I have been trying more and more to add crowds of people into my location drawings. The only thing we didn’t really have was a crowd – that afternoon was pretty rainy (hello Manchester!) – but that wasn’t a problem. People were always walking past, and if you draw enough of them, then voila – you have a crowd!

There is Jim on the right there, I managed a very quick sketch while he was going over the mechanics, as it were. He was extremely well prepared. Now I won’t go over every aspect of what he taught us, but if you pop over to Jim’s website, he has put together a thorough step-by-step demo.

Here are the first quick sketches I did in the workshop, just rapid sketches of people as they passed by, working on poses and using people to create perspective. The final drawing I did is at the top – I stuck around the finish it after the workshop had ended. The rain didn’t last all afternoon, though I stood beneath an arch. I did bump into former USk London sketcher and animator Nathan Brenville, who was visiting family in the north (he now lives in Madrid). He has a colouring-in book coming out soon which is all about Maggie Thatcher!

Capturing the crowd sketches sm

Key points I took away:

  • Go with the basic eye-level as the point to draw the heads in your crowd – the bodies will shorten as they get further away
  • Only the front ‘row’ of people need to have details – beyond that, simple people shapes – and bring some people right up close in your sketch, to add to the depth
  • Legs overlap a lot so many figures walking towards or away from you will appear to have one long ‘upside-down-triangular’ leg
  • Add a few different colours to peoples’ clothes – even if all the ‘real’ people seem to be wearing shades of grey, a few bolder colours will make all the difference
  • Yeah Manchester really does like to rain
  • I should look at a map and not just use the force*

Cheers Jim! Check out more of his lovely work at www.jamesrichardssketchbook.com/

IMG_7237

*Ahem. After this I was supposed to meet up with other sketchers at the Peveril of the Peak pub, but I totally got lost TWICE. Even after being given directions. I made it eventually…

Cars in the City (with Lapin and Gerard Michel)

rainy Manchester

 

USk Symposium Morning 1
The 7th International Urban Sketching Symposium kicked off on the Wednesday evening with a big gathering at Manchester Town Hall in a huge, wonderful room that was not unlike the Great Hall at Hogwarts, but more ornate and elaborate. I didn’t however take any photos or do any sketching, busy as I was meeting with old friends and chatting away. I did got for dinner afterwards and sketched there but I will post all the ‘dinnertime’ sketches separately I think. I’d like now to dive into the Symposium itself – above is a quick sketch I did of the first morning introduction session, with Simone Ridyard, Elizabeth Alley and Omar Jaramillo there. It was time to go and sketch, and my first workshop was one I was really looking forward to: “Cars in the City“, with Lapin and Gerard Michel.

Lapin and Gerard
Yes indeed. I’ve known Lapin and Gerard since the first Symposium (though have followed their work since the start of Urban Sketchers), both have very different approaches but have a big love of drawing cars, especially classic vehicles. This workshop of course was originally to be co-taught with Florian Afflerbach, the great sketcher of cars who sadly passed away earlier this year. I took a workshop Gerard and Florian co-taught in Lisbon, teaching me a lot about perspective. While this workshop was not necessarily about large scenes and mastering vanishing points, the workshop did focus very much on how the eye perceives the world based on our distance from what we are sketching, and Lapin and Gerard did a good job of showing us what they mean.

Cars in the city A

Our first assignment was to sketch a car from a distance of about a metre or so, maybe a little more. The view of the car would be more typical, and they gave us an example of how to work out the shape using simple boxes. My first car happened to be a Mercedes, and I drew in pencil (thinking again of Florian), keeping a little way back from the car, crouched, as it looked very much like it might rain. Oh and by the way it certainly did rain.

Cars in the city B

So we found a car-park not too far away which was sheltered beneath an overpass, and sketched in there. Lapin asked us to sit very close to the car we wanted to sketch – the closer you sit, the more warped the perspective would start to look. This is a good rule for perspective – you position matters enormously, and even slight changes to your position can alter the perspective of what you are drawing immensely. I found a blue Ford Focus – hardly a beautiful car but still attractive for the sketch’s purpose. I drew my reflection in it and also changed the number plate to something more fitting the Symposium. Lapin came and said, sit even closer! I was pretty close, but still two feet or so out – he suggested going right up to the car, and seeing what happened. His suggestion to the class was that we don’t think about perspective rules, rather, just see what is in front of you as a series of shapes, and draw the shapes, letting the picture unfold itself. For my next car then I chose a Rover 400 (below), a more classic British brand, and sat right up to the headlight.

Cars in the city C

Well I think you can see the difference! Immediately everything bends that bit more, yet the sketch really starts to pop out. This is something I would like to try a bit more. We ran out of time before I could add colour, and we had a little gathering to discuss what we had learned, but the parking attendant in charge of the car-park came along and booted us out; I guess the car park is private property, but it was good shelter from the rain. We moved along to a spot around the corner for the final part of the workshop, drawing cars with the city around them. This was very much Gerard’s part of the class and he showed us some examples; including the cars in the foreground of the sketches helped to add depth but also some foreground anchor to help understand the perspective of the scene. there was a nice spot away from the rain next to an office block, showing a clear view of Manchester’s skyline (thanks to a building having been demolished, I believe it was something to do with the BBC). We did go into the building and ask permission to sit beneath it and sketch, and they were fine with it. It was a very interesting view, with the Palace Hotel there, but oh so rainy.

Cars in the city

Key points I took away:

  • Your perspective of an object curves dramatically as you get closer to it
  • Use box shapes often helps figure out the car’s overall shape
  • Draw the scene as the shapes you see and the perspective often figures itself out
  • Manchester really is quite rainy

LapinGerard Michel

Many thanks to Lapin and to Gerard! Awesome instructors!

de vere’s from left to right

De Veres Aug 2016 sm
Actually, before we get back to Manchester, here is a sketch I did last weekend right here in Davis. Click on it for a closer view. This is De Vere’s Irish Pub on E Street, which eagle eyed observers will have noticed I have sketched before. I did some thinking about the old curvilinear perspective recently, and how I need to really get it into the sketches more. I do anyway, of course, but I haven’t been doing many where I get both the left and right vanishing point into the picture, so that’s what I did here. I needed to practice it again somewhere familiar, so it was back to the very middle of the bar, similar to the first time, back in 2011. I coloured the page first in a red and orange wash, for some reason, meaning I ended up with a peach coloured background. This took about two and a half hours, or three pints of Smithwicks. It was strange not to be sketching at a bar where every single other person was also sketching (like the Peveril of the Peak!). I had just been to see Suicide Squad, which was, well it was better than Batman v Superman, for sure. A terrible plotline with a lot of problems, but overall not an unwatchable movie, and both Will Smith as Deadshot and Margot Robbie as Harley Quinn were good. Jay Leno as the Joker was very different from the other Jokers, not awful but the jury is out for many, though I am well impressed at how different Jay Leno looks from his cuddly talk show persona. I do like the post-movie pub-sketch, with all the sketching ideas bubbling around my head from Manchester sometimes you just need to unwind and get them out. The first few days back my sketching was a bit of a choke but with this and others since I have kicked back into gear, and now I’m heading towards my sketchbook show at UC Davis this Fall, “Conversations with the City”. Details to come soon!

shirts, shorts, socks…

In a few hours, finally, the football is back. I know you are thinking that only five minutes ago we had Euro 2016 and yes, sure, and of course the Olympics is going on, and right, ok if you can get past all the swimming and gymnastics, sure there is technically some football going on, but tomorrow the Premier League starts a new seson, Spurs will be back, and all will be well again. Last season was so fun. Leicester winning the league, Spurs having a blast, Mourinho getting sacked, Villa finally going down, it was a Rollercoaster within a Helter Skelter within a, er, Ghost Train? Waltzers? This season the Big Boys are hoping to be back – United have Mourinho (didn’t he, last season, er..), City have Guardiola, Chelsea have Conte, there’s Zlatan, Pogba, and of course Arsenal have bought…er… This whole silly soap opera of the Premier League is back and I love it. I’m so cynical about everything else in the world (seriously, how many swimming events are there at the Olympics, does Phelps get extra gold medals just for taking a shower afterwards?) but for this I am as excited as I was when I was ten, and of course what I love the most are all the new kits. And so as is now becoming tradition here is the first of three posts going over the new outfits for the season, along with, I dunno, a prediction based on nothing whatsoever. For those of you who enjoy reading about football kits / soccer uniforms, read on! For those who don’t… I’ll be back posting my sketches from Manchester tomorrow. All of these kits were drawn by me in old-school MS Paint, and are presented in the order they came in last year’s Premier League. I’ll try to keep it brief.

PREMIER LEAGUE PART ONE: THE TRULY MAGNIFICENT SEVEN

LEICESTER CITY: Leicester 1617Last season I predicted that Leicester would be champions. No, no I didn’t. I said they’d either go down (sad Lineker face) or stay up (happy Lineker face). Lineker himself promised to present Match of the Day in his underpants if the Foxes won the League. They only went and did it. Everyone loves Ranieri. Vardy couldn’t stop scoring. Mahrez tore teams apart.  They surely can’t do it again, can they, but…you can’t rule out Vardy and the Foxes. Their kits this year are in Leicester’s typically straightforward, nothing silly fashion. The subtle pattern on the shirt is similar to Slovakia’s in the Euros, but otherwise is smart and classy. They ARE the champions.

ARSENAL:Arsenal 1617 In case you were not aware, Arsenal came second last year. Nobody is quite sure how that happened, but it did, and Spurs came third. I was annoyed because Spurs haven’t come above Arsenal for about twenty years, and it came at the end of a season when Spurs were generally mercurial and Arsenal were generally stale, but the table doesn’t lie. I think the impression I got from the players is, 2nd and 3rd, who cares – it’s not 1st, and both go straight into the Champions League, so it’s practically  the same – let’s get ready for the Euros. Anyway Arsenal’s kit – the home kit’s collar is a throwback to the team of 92-93, remember Tony Adams dropping Steve Morrow? They won a couple of cups that season, and looking at the table that year, oh, they came two places below Spurs. Away kits are pretty nice. Prediction: Wenger’s final year, but they won’t win it. Maybe.

TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR: Tottenham 1617 If you have ever followed me on Twitter, you will be well aware this is my team. Last season was epic, albeit ending on a down note, but a year ago if anyone said “Spurs will come third” I would have bitten their hand off and thrown away the key. Kane, Alli, Lloris, Alderweireld, Dier, we were so much fun to watch. Spurs will be in the Champions League this year but playing at Wembley, as part of White Hart Lane is already gone, with the rest being demolished at the end of the season. We move into the new ground, being built over part of the current one, in 18-19. This year’s prediction…third would be a very big achievement again, to be fair – we have enough to go all the way, we have a pretty sharp and solid team, bolstered with new boy Jansson, but those billionaire Big Boys want their cake back. Our kits are absolutely lovely. I have so enjoyed the Under Armour years. The home kit is superb, but the away kits are classics. I have the third kit, my son has the second kit. We kick off tomorrow away at Everton. Come on you Spurs!

MANCHESTER CITY: Man City 1617City have a new manager in Pep Guardiola, who has long been coveted by England and finally graces us with his tiki-taka. Being at a club funded by billionaires should make the transition from the biggest club in Germany and one of the two biggest in Spain that bit easier for him, though England is slightly more competitive, and he won’t necessarily walk it. City have a very strong squad though, which probably just needs a bit of managerial know-how. So their kit is ok, the shirt is stylish in that Vapor template Nike really loves, but there go Nike with those different colour socks gimmick they are beating the hell out of this year. The away kit takes that catchphrase even further with unusually wild yellow socks. Verdict? They will get better than fourth, but might not win it.

MANCHESTER UNITED: UMan Utd 1617nited sacked Van Gaal, and brought in Jose Mourinho. Not content with one massive ego they bought Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who makes sure he is at a club that will win titles every year (I’m surprised Zlatan didn’t sign for Michael Phelps). Then they spent just under a hundred million quid on Paul Pogba, who they let go a few years before. They really really want to win the league again, and sure, they might be in a position to now…but do you remember Chelsea sacking Jose last year? So their kits. The home shirt is bizarre, having two halves of different reds, with a honeycomb border down the middle (I now know that this is because the bee is the symbol of Manchester, hence the honeycombs). The pattern comes up again on the sleeves of their third kit. The second kit is nice; my image doesn’t do the blue pattern much justice, but it’s a nice shade, and I like a United away kit in that sort of blue. Will they win the league? Probably, or maybe not – they have the Europa League to worry about first…

SOUTHAMPTON: Southampton 1617Ronald Koeman has left, but the Saints have been a decent team the past few years so I expect that to continue. Actually I don’t know. I do know that I love their kit. Under Armour have taken over and this home kit is an unusual design, but it feels like the sort of thing Southampton would do. Even the sponsor works well. Their away kit of grey and dark grey is a little less inspired but looks alright. I bet you anything they get a third kit before the year is out. Where will they finish up this year? Top ten, I reckon. I don’t know. I think when you get to this part of the table you kind of stop caring. They might make Europa League, or they might not. I’m not making for a good pundit, am I.

WEST HAM UNITED: West Ham 1617The Hammers left the Boleyn Ground last season as you probably heard, and have moved into the Olympic Stadium in Stratford. That will be an interesting change for them. Their kit is standard claret top with blue arms stuff, nothing fancy. The special commemorative third kit, which is not an all black kit but very very very dark blue, refers to their founding as Thames Ironworks FC (TIWFC), who wore dark blue and one time had a British flag on their chest. West Ham have simplified their badge to just show the crossed hammers once more. Also they have added the word “London” to the badge in case people don’t know which city West Ham is in. Other London clubs have yet to catch on to this, causing massive confusion among the tourists. I doubt it will be a classic first season at Stratford, but a healthy mid-table should do it.

Okay then! If you got this far and found it vaguely interesting then you are in luck, part two will come in the next couple of weeks with part three following after that. In the meantime, back to the urban sketches…

Mancunian Street Sketchers

Palace Hotel, Manchester
Two weeks ago, I attended the 7th Urban Sketching Symposium in Manchester, in the north of England. I went as a “Workshop Pass Holder”, which is the full access pass, though of course there are so many workshops and activities there is really only time to do a few, but I certainly packed a lot in. I had never been to Manchester before, and had no idea what to expect. It was pretty awesome actually, lots of sketchable buildings, lots of old pubs, and yes, it rained almost every day. Well you’re not doing Manchester properly if you don’t get rained on a bit.

When I first arrived, I checked into my apartment at the Atrium on Princess Street, did a bit of shopping at Sainsburys Local,and then sketched the magnificent Palace Hotel, above. I had intended on colouring it in but when I was finally done, I preferred it like this. Also, I needed to go and check in at the Symposium venue, the Manchester School of Art. I enjoyed sketching this; I stood beside a group of Jehovah’s Witnesses and I chatted to one of them, a nice chap who told me about his passion for photography, but that he hadn’t done any drawing in quite a while. I told him that Manchester was about to be flooded with hundreds of people out drawing the streets, sketchers from all over the world. As yet I had not seen a single one, but as I thought about that, I bumped into Vincent Desplanche, a prolific French sketcher who I met last year in Strasbourg. I stood with him and sketched the Oxford Road station and this curving picture house on the corner of the street. I was moved by the words on the sign which read, “Thanks for 30 years…see you at home.” To see old cinemas closing down like this, beloved old buildings falling into disuse by the swift steely march of modern times, and with that big crane in the background, and the touching, sad sentiment of “see you at home” obviously being some reference to the fact people don’t go and watch films any more, they stream them all nowadays, sitting on their armchairs and microwaving popcorn, where is the community, where is the shared cultural experience, oh then someone pointed out to me that “home” meant “HOME”, not “home”. “HOME” is a big new arts, theatre and film complex just down the street, and I guess the cinema was just moving there. Well. Now I know. So much for my poignant image, people streaming by on their way “home”.

Oxford Road Station

Here is a map I added to my sketchbook. I will be documenting my time at the Symposium in a less ‘chronological’ and more ‘themed’ type of way, with a post for each of the workshops I attended, including what I learnt and a bit about the instructor, as well as the social gatherings, sketches of pubs, and other miscellany. I will probably post these all over the next week or so, but will also be posting current sketches as well. Oh, and the football season is about to begin so expect some new football kit posts too. I’ll also do a couple of posts about the exciting upcoming projects coming from me this Fall. I will also ramble on about some nonsense you don’t care about, make a few terrible puns, and explain why proper north-of-England chips in gravy is the best food ever.

Manchester map from my sketchbook

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