I still have a lot of Star Wars Lego sketches to show you, but here is one of my favourites so far, of the beloved Lego AT-AT. My son used to call these the “Garbage Trucks” when he was smaller, which makes sense given the sounds they make. It’s a remarkably solid construction (except the head, that tends to fall apart more easily than I’d like, I may have to reinforce it a bit) and filled with snowtroopers, who are probably my favourite stormtroopers. I’ve actually framed this and put it on the wall, in case it’s not clear I like Star Wars and Lego. Drawing objects like this are a good lesson in perspective. Drawn on Stillman and Birn ‘Alpha’ paper with brown-black uni-ball signo um-151 pen and coloured with watercolour paint.
Here is a building from downtown Davis called Phoenix House. It’s called that because of the Irish word for ‘water’, Uisce (see also whisky), or clear water to be precise, ‘fionn uisce’, anglicized as ‘phoenix’. Actually, no it doesn’t. I’m thinking of Phoenix Park in Dublin. There is a Phoenix Park in Sacramento as well but that isn’t a real park let alone have anything to do with phoenixes or water, clear or otherwise. Ok it might be a real park, I don’t know. Quit with all the sidetracking, this isn’t a Twitter comments thread. Phoenix House in Davis is named after the Order of the Phoenix. No, it’s not that either. Perhaps, and this is the most likely and believable story (with zero evidence, but when does that matter any more eh), it was a house that burned down and was rebuilt, hence Phoenix reborn from the ashes. A bit like La Fenice, the grand opera house in Venice. You know I could look this up and do some actual research, but alternative facts are the order of the day. Reality has become so quantum, we will have to start naming the different Earths soon, like in the Marvel Universe. Perhaps this was named for the famous but under-reported Phoenix Green Massacre. Or it was named after the classical Mesopotamian King Phoen the 9th. Or maybe seven guys whose initials spelled out PHOENIX, Paul, Horace, Oswald, Elliot, Norman, Isaac and Xavier, and they ran an independent pony express (or ‘Pon-ex’ as they sometimes called it) firm from that very spot. You don’t know. I could make it all up. I could have invented the whole building. That car might have been red, those windows might have been triangular. Sad! Anyway none of that is the case, and this is Phoenix House on F Street (or “Ph Street” as I call it), and one day I promise I will learn about its history, but whether I believe it or not is something I cannot tell.
It’s February, the birthday month. I don’t really do a lot to celebrate, I don’t have parties or anything, don’t really have enough of a social circle for the sort of nights out I used to have when I was younger, now it’s more a quiet meal with the family, a pint of beer and some cheesecake. Now this sketch, done on the first day of the month at the UCD Arboretum about a minute from my office, was not meant to be metaphorical of birthdays but in that great way you can retrospectively attach meaning to anything, this is a bridge, signifying crossing from one time to another. Weak I know. On the far side though is the Robert Mondavi Institute of Food and Wine Sciences, which includes the Beer lab, so I supposed that signifies celebratory tipples in some way. There is a STOP sign, which must mean I need to stop and assess myself, and there is a yellow sign for a roundabout, which of course as we all know signifies the Circle of Life, obviously, that one’s obvious. The path, well part of it falls into shadow which of course means the path is not always clear, and then of course there is the Creek, and that one is easy, it signifies my creaking body as I get older each day. I had no idea there was so much semiotic depth to my sketches! I wonder what all the fire hydrants mean? Actually don’t answer that.
This greenhouse behind Robbins Hall at UC Davis is one I have wanted to draw for ages. I walk past it some days when coming from the bus stop, and in the mornings it’s got that great glow from the inside. The ground was very wet from all the rain we had recently. As a top agricultural university, UC Davis has a thriving Plant Sciences department, within the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences. In fact UC Davis is ranked #1 in the world in Plant and Animal Sciences. We really know our stuff. We’re also one of the leading universities studying the effects and causes of climate change (see http://climatechange.ucdavis.edu/), which given the current, ahem, climate, is something to be very proud of. Science, scientific expertise and continued scientific research are of the utmost importance, and worth standing up for.