Workshop, June 3: “Perspectives of San Francisco”

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Exciting Announcement! I’m going to be teaching a workshop in San Francisco on Saturday June 3rd called “Perspectives of San Francisco“. It is part of the Urban Sketchers “10×10” series of workshops, being held to commemorate ten years of Urban Sketchers. Yes, Urban Sketchers has been around for ten years. Well, the Flickr group, started in 2007 (I remember well, it was called “Urban Sketches” (no ‘r’), and I joined another group at the same time called “Rural Sketches” wonder what happened to them) (hey for all I know they are still around, I’m just in my Urban bubble obviously). So, let’s explain what this is all about. Cities around the world, from Seattle to Sydney, from Johannesburg to Jakarta, from Ramallah to Rome, will be holding ten workshops each over the course of the year. Workshops are limited and you have to pay for them, but will be taught by Urban Sketchers members on a variety of different subjects. Here you can find the in-progress list: http://www.urbansketchers.org/p/10-years-x-10-classes.html.

In San Francisco, the workshops kick off on March 11 (with a launch party at Arch Art & Drafting Supply on February 11)  and continue through June 10. The instructors teaching workshops are Srivani Narra Ward, Laurie Wigham, Nina Khashchina, Richard Sheppard, Uma Kelkar, Rhoda Draws, Oliver Hoeller, Suma CM, Susan Cornelis and myself. The full list of workshops can be found at: http://www.urbansketchers.org/2017/01/10-years-x-10-classes-in-san-francisco.html. In fact there is a pdf with more details including cost ($45 per workshop) to be found here.

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So, my own workshop will be called “Perspectives of San Francisco”, starting at 1:00pm in San Francisco’s North Beach neighborhood. As you can probably tell, the focus of this workshop is ‘perspective’, but specifically perspective in a busy city built on hills with steep streets and steep history.  The level will be intermediate, but I will make the approach to perspective as digestible as possible. Spaces are limited to fifteen participants, and you’ll need to bring drawing materials and sketchbooks (preferably panoramic – big enough to fit long perspective sketches on!). North Beach is my favourite part of the city and a great place to practice urban perspective sketching so I do hope you can sign up!

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You can register by contacting Suhita Shirodkar, the lead instructor of the San Francisco Bay Area 10×10 program by emailing suhita@gmail.com. Or why not check the Urban Sketchers website for a workshop taking place in a city near you!

 

 

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and now the year of the fire rooster

UCD LunarNewYear 2017
The Year of the Rooster has arrived, and we had a celebration of the new lunar year in our department at UC Davis. We have a lot of students from China, as well as from Korea, and so we have a big party to mark the festive occasion. This year we had a fun karaoke game – the songs were in Chinese, but our non-Chinese students were invited to sing them, in Chinese (written in pinyin on the screen). They were then given marks out of ten by judges like in the Olympics. It was great fun. I sketched the whole room as people ate and chatted. Now apparently it’s the Fire Rooster this year (the last Fire Rooster was in 1957). So, to all my friends from China and other countries that celebrate lunar new year, I wish you a Happy Year of the Rooster. Or is it the Cockerel (as we’d say in Britain)?

froggies of an evening

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More two-page-spread bar-sketching. I popped into Froggies in downtown Davis one evening, had a couple of beers, and behind me people sang karaoke. I didn’t. I might have if they had the Frog Song by Paul McCartney and the Frog Chorus, “We All Stand Together”. I saw Macca in Sacramento recently but he didn’t sing that one. I was a big fan of Rupert the Bear when I was a kid. I planned to make this full colour, watercolour-shaded, surround-sound (well maybe not surround-sound, not with the karaoke and all), but I was tired so left it at this. Another in the many illustrations of Davis.

lazy monday afternoon

De Veres, Davis
I needed to draw something in black and white for submission to an upcoming group show, and so I decided to draw something familiarly Davis. And then I abandoned my sketch of the Hunt-Boyer-Dresbach Mansion (always struggle with that one) and popped into De Vere’s Irish Pub on a President’s Day afternoon (back when we had a president I really liked) and sketched that familiar view instead. I finished off all the hatching and shading at home (just the one quick pint for me). there was Africa Cup of Nations football on the TV. Outside it was sunny, a break from the series of big winter storms we’ve been getting. I haven’t sketched in just black and white for a while (even the ones I draw in pen only are usually, well, very very very dark brown) and it was tempting to add just a tiny little bit of colour, maybe just a little bit of red on the Exit sign or a couple of green bottles, but I stuck to the straight monochrome. The show it’ll be in, “Black and White”, is at the Pence Gallery on D Street, Davis, for the whole of next month with a reception for the ArtAbout on Friday February 10th. This pub is a good place to hang out. I think I’ll go back again sometime.

“Don’t let these dogs scare you!”

ARC Clone fighter micro-fighter

The X-wing is a legendary fighter, it’s the Spitfire of the Galactic Civil War. Before that, though, there was the great Clone War, when Jedi and Clone fought Droid and shadowy Sith. There were apparently heroes on both sides, and evil everywhere, according to the opening crawl of Revenge of the Sith, which is a classic case of unreliable narrator, or at the very least unhelpful internet commenter reporting galactic crises. “The Sith Lords are evil, murder children, and employ millions of armed robots while plotting to overthrow the government of the universe” “Yeah, but both sides are just as bad, so.” Turns out Evil Actually was All Around, as the Chancellor ended up being the Sith Lord (spoiler alert) and those lovely friendly Clones turned out to have secret brainwashing that turned them against their Jedi chums whenever someone mentioned Order 66. Imagine going to a Taco Bell or somewhere with one! “66! Your order is ready. Order 66? Order -noooo!! Don’t shoot the Jedi!! Noooooooo!!!!” I did like their fighters though, the two-man ARC Fighter, seen in the opening battle of Sith. It’s like they said, let’s have a bit of everything. It’s not an X-Wing, but meant to be a clear predecessor. “Lock S-Foils in Attack Position.”

XWing

Which brings us to the classic. THIS is the X-Wing. Four engines, astromech, four big cannons, proton torpedoes, shaky cockpit, good ol’ pilot. These small one-man fighters took on the first Death Star. This is another micro-fighter which is about the right size for a speedy run down a narrow trench to find an exhaust port. Hah, stupid Empire not noticing that obvious design flaw, who designed that thing, what was he thinking, it’s almost like he did it deliberately. Of course it was originally thought up well before the Clone War by the Geonosians who didn’t have X-Wings in mind but, well, a lot of stuff went on after that, lot of cooks spoiling the broth (if the broth could destroy planets). Luke had the X-Wing. Red Five. I’ve already established Luke is the best, and for this reason, his X-Wing is the best one. Though I do love Porkins.

Resistance XWing

Which brings us on to the Resistance/First Order era. the X0-wings of the resistance had those engines that split down the middle for some reason, being based on original designs for the X-Wing from before Star Wars was made. these are the original originals. Otherwise they are the same design, except the wings overlap differently. Poe Dameron was the best pilot, but ol’ Nien Numb, Lando’s buddy, flew one as well. That scene in The Force Awakens when the Resistance X-Wings skim across the lake on Takodana, causing the First Order to wet their white-armored pants, is one of my favourite moments in the movie. Those magnificent men in their flying machines, they went up-diddly-up-up and they went down-diddly-own-down. Now I love the prequels and all, but it’s only really Star Wars if there are X-wings vs Tie-Fighters.

SW Lego Vulture Droid

However I don’t just want to show off my obvious Good Guy bias here, so here is something else from the prequel era. The Vulture Droid, or “Variable Geometry Self-Propelled Battle Droid, Mark I” as nobody calls it, wasn’t a starship but a flying battle droid that could actually walk and move its head around. The Lego toy though has a battle droid that you put inside it. This first appeared in The Phantom Menace as the main bad-guy fighter facing off against the Naboo Fighter, and wasn’t called a Vulture Droid until Revenge of the Sith. I was never a big fan of this fighter, but I appreciate what the Trade Federation were trying to do. The Bad Guys in the prequels really loved their evil droids, which explains some of the anti-droid sentiment you see in the original trilogy. Now it wasn’t just evil robots who supported Count Dooku, not at all. It’s just that his was the side that had all the evil robots, and everyone else was just ok with that. It sends a bad message, Dooku, arming yourself with evil robots. Clones that turn evil later was clearly the way to go.

“Jabba, this is your last chance. Free us, or die”

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That is my favourite scene from Return of the Jedi, possibly all of Star Wars. Possibly all of everything. I compare everything to that scene. That was a fun conversation, I think whenever I meet someone new. But did R2-D2 throw me a green lightsabre that I start swinging around against a bunch of space pirates that tried to feed me to a giant toothy pit in the desert? No, I didn’t think so. Ok maybe that one time. Yes, more Star Wars Lego sketching, and it’s a great way to pass the time, and keep the old mind off of current affairs, or “raisins liaisons” as I call them. There’s Luke above facing off against Boba Fett on the sand skiff, I remember so clearly watching that aged 7 at the cinema with my big brother and just gasping at the brilliant green of the lightsabre, which I had never seen before (I had no idea they could be green! Big revelation). I had a toy lightsabre, it was a cheap plastic one that glowed white, but I loved it. Prior to that, my big sister used to make me lightsabres out of cardboard, old toilet rolls really, with coloured paper on them. I remember getting in trouble with the security guards at Brent Cross Shopping Centre for duelling with my cousin Daniel with our cardboard sabres, I was only six or seven at the time. I mention that, like as if I wouldn’t do the same now. Anyway that one that lit up, it stopped working after I decided that it needed to be green. I painted the bulb green with poster paint, you know the little coloured tubs you used to get, and that did it in basically, stopped working. I’m still sad about that now. Everyone says how when they were in the playground, they always wanted to be Han Solo, Han was the coolest, he always got the girl. Well I remember being seven and Luke Skywalker was so the coolest, because he had the LIGHTSABRE, and what’s so good about ‘getting the girl’? I was seven, dude. Luke’s always been my favourite. And Vader of course, but one of my other friends liked to be Vader. sw-lego-lukespeeder-sm

More Luke, much earlier Luke. This is his landspeeder from Star Wars (that’s “A New Hope” to you). I guess those stormtroopers bought those droids then. There’s Ben KEnobi, now here’s the thing. I love Ben Kenobi, Obi-Wan is probably my second favourite character after Luke (solo movie PLEASE), but come on. In the scene where he mind-tricks the troopers, he does also ask if they want to buy the droids. Ok, mind-tricks are one thing, but seriously. You get pulled over by a cop, they’re like, this a stolen car bro? Kinda looks like a stolen car bro. And you’re like, nah is cool, had this for three or four seasons, but like, you wanna buy it off me? That is some mind-trick, Ben, because that is some seriously shady dealing. And then later, in the cantina, after chopping a guy’s arm off (fair play, dangerous town), he ‘negotiates’ with Han Solo. He says, “Just myself, the boy, two droids…and no questions asked.” Again, trying not to sound shady. So then Han Solo does just that and asks a question. Does Ben raise his eyebrows and say, “Dude, I just said no questions asked, do you need me to write it down?” No, he answers the question, with an even more shady answer, to which Han increases the price. Ben however has played this weird game of Go For Broke before (remember that board game?) and says, 10k? Nah man, I give you 17k. Remember a couple of decades before when Grievous calls him “The Negotiator”? Yeah that. This is Ben playing with other people’s cash. Good job Luke was able to sell his out-of-demand speeder for that 2k. If he hadn’t, well perhaps they should have gone back to those troopers and tried to sell them C-3PO. Threepio wasn’t carrying any Death Star plans after all, and he doesn’t exactly walk very fast.

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“You’re all clear kid now let’s blow this thing and go home!”

Now I’m not saying Han isn’t cool. He definitely is, because he flies the Millennium Falcon. The one above is of course the micro-fighter version. I do have the bigger one but that takes a longer time to draw. I love the Falcon. What a piece of junk. She may not look like much but she’s got it where it counts kid. Now, I know it’s just a saying, I know it comes at the coolest bit of the movie (Seriously, get a chance to watch Star Wars on the big screen again some day and the moment where the Falcon flies back in, Vader goes “what?” and Han cheers “yahoo!” well I defy you not to fist-bump the air and cheer in the movie theatre). However, “and go home”? Really? He knows Luke’s home got burned down and his family killed like just a couple of days before? Leia would have been listening too, “all go home”? He knows her home planet was blown up? And as for Han himself, where does he live? He lives on the Falcon right? I don’t care. Even thinking about that moment in the film brings shivers down my spine.

I have more Lego sketches to share, but it’s late and I’m going to bed, thinking about Star Wars, because thinking about Star Wars is a helluva lot better than not thinking about Star Wars. As Ben Kenobi once said, “who’s the more foolish, the fool or the fool who follows him?”

“Right now I feel I could take on the whole Empire myself”

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Since the year turned into 2017 I have done a lot of drawing, but most of it has been of Star Wars Lego. I love Star Wars, I love Lego. We have a lot of it around the house. Now you saw my aT-AT recently, well above is the Snowspeeder. I love the AT-AT, I love the Falcon, but I always had a very special for the Snowspeeder. It’s the shape; I remember holding it as a kid, flying it around the legs of the Imperial Walker in the snow. More even than the X-Wing, it’s my favourite small flying fighter.
SW Lego stardestroyer
Tie Interceptor

I can draw Lego that faces in a different direction, you know. The two above though are “micro-fighters”, a very very small Star Destroyer and a TIE-Interceptor. The Lego micro-fighters are fun little mini-versions of starships and vehicles, easy to build and easy to play with. The TIE-Interceptor was a version of the TIE-Fighter that appeared in Return of the JEdi. There usually has to be a new type of TIE in every Star wars film (except the prequels, which were set in the pre-TIE-era). Here though are a couple of bigger Lego ships which in their way were predecessors of the TIEs (the window specifically, and the little wings, plus the pilot of the yellow one was a famous TIE-Fighter pilot in his own right. I give you Anakin Skywalker, who would (spoiler alert) become Darth Vader, flying in his favourite yellow, and his mentor and friend, Obi-Wan Kenobi in the red. These were seen in the opening to Revenge of the Sith, that long single shot through the battle above Coruscant.

Anakin Skywalker Jedi-fighter
ObiWan Jedi-fighter
I love the Jedi starfighters from ‘Sith’, better than the triangular paper-airplane ships from ‘Clones’. The cockpits actually look like a hybrid of the B-Wing and the Tie-Fighter. I think though that the shape is slightly reminiscent of the Snowspeeder, when you are holding it, flying it around. I was gutted when these got trashed (spoiler alert) in the hold of Grievous’s ship (though Obi-Wan did get another one in blue and Anakin/Vader flew a green one to Mustafar, for some reason. I guess he didn’t have time to paint it Imperial Grey what with murdering all the Jedi and the Younglings, spoiler alert. Think about that though, Anakin/Vader’s gone down to the part of the Jedi Temple where all the starships are kept, and he chooses a green one? He’s killed all the Jedi, nobody is going to be hogging all the other colours, and of all the ones left he chooses green? Is Anakin/Vader trying to tell us something with that choice? Note how the Emperor left that one on on Mustafar; maybe Vader still has it in his, spoiler alert, Mustafar castle). Yes, I think about Star Wars a lot more than you do.

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And finally here is another Snowspeeder, the baby brother of the first one, the micro-fighter version. And look, it’s flying in a different direction. The micro-fighter version is only single-pilot but just as much fun, and with a bit more orange. I love the Rebels, they were great. Listen, I’ve got more of these. I’ve been sketching like crazy lately, but I’ll post them over two or three blog posts, to spread them out.