Amtrak Station Pano Sept 2018 sm

Saturday afternoon and I needed to sketch more. Yes yes I have drawn everything in town and want a new perspective on the same things, I am not feeling super creative right now though, and finding little comfort in the usual sketching, i suppose I am just in need of another long journey somewhere far away with lots of interesting streets and angles, somewhere like Porto for example (but maybe without the tired legs). There are still views to discover here though. I have drawn the Amtrak station before, of course I have but never while stood behind that circular fountain feature outside of Tres Hermanas on 2nd St. So that is what I stood and drew, while listening to a History podcast (two guys talking about the extraordinary history of ordinary things, such as the ‘history of the lean’, or the ‘history of clouds’, a really fresh perspective not only on history but on observing the world and universe itself – the sort of thing I should really be thinking about more, in fact you might say it has inspired me to think more  like that, or rather, it’s inspired me to do that tomorrow. Next week). I needed a panorama. I must say I am using the softcover Stillman and Birn ‘Alpha’ landscape sketchbook and, while I do love the paper, I can’t wait to be done with this book. The softcover is starting to bug me. I need the hardback again. My next cued-up book is another Seawhite of Brighton book, then I’ll likely use the hardcover Alpha again. The softcover is fine if I’m sat at a table, and its slightly smaller scale means I can draw a panorama more quickly than in the slightly bigger hardcover. The way I stand though, it becomes awkward keeping it open, especially as I get further into the book. So, I’m looking forward to finishing it, which means I need to draw a lot more.

I’d really like to publish a book of Davis panoramas, that’s my intention. I’ve not worked that out yet, but I do have quite a few already. To see this one more closely, either move your face really close to the screen, or click on it and a larger version will pop up.

bike barn victoire

Bike Barn UC Davis

More from campus. See, what I do is I work, I go out some lunchtimes and sketch, and then I work, then I go home and eat dinner with my family and look at things online and read and chase cats and sleep. I’ve been in Davis for a quarter of my whole life, so naturally I will draw things again that I have drawn before. Many times. Many, many times. Fecking loads of bleedin’ times. I lived in Aix-en-Provence years ago, before I was drawing as regularly as I am now, and I used to joke about Cezanne getting up every day thinking, right, what shall I paint today then? And he wanders about Cours Mirabeau and Rue des Cordeliers and sits himself down with a poulet-frites and an Orangina and goes, oh ok I’ll paint Mont St Victoire again. I’ve only painted it like 500 times already. And sometimes on weekends he will be like, maybe I’ll pop down to Marseille on the bus and paint the Vieux Port, and then he’s like, nah I can’t be bothered, I hate that walk from the bus station down La Canabiere. This is why we have so many St. Victoire paintings; I know the feeling, Paul, I feel ya. I was pretty much always busy when I lived in Aix, well nowhere near as busy as now and I wish that I had drawn more. I did start drawing again there, my flat-mate Mike from Canada and I started a ‘Wall Of Art’ in our kitchen, silly really but it was a fun place of expression. It started when I bought some oil pastels and sketched him having a drink at a cafe. I should find that and post it here, it might be a bit more interesting than my current crop of Davis sketches. Anyway, this is the Bike Barn. I have drawn this building so many times now (see many of them in this tag: /bikebarn). I suppose it’s my St.Victoire, it’s about the same shape (though I have never climbed on the roof, I have climbed to the top of Mont St.Victoire, twice).

You know what I just realized? I’ve never drawn Mont. St.Victoire from life. Maybe I should go back and do that sometime. But ONLY if Paul Cezanne comes here and paints the Bike Barn. It’s only fair.

at the 2018 pence art auction

pence art auction 2018
This year I had two pieces in the Pence Gallery Art Auction, a drawing of St.James Church, Davis, and another of the Turtle House on 2nd St. They didn’t sell this time, but I did get to attend the Gala event. They always have nice food and drink there, and you get to talk to local art people you may or may not have met before, so I went along for  an hour and a half and looked at all the nice artwork, and then did a sketch. It had been a busy day. In the morning our under-12 AYSO team, playing with fewer players than our opponents (who were a really good team), came from behind three times to win, which was exciting and especially nice after I had woken up at 4:30am to watch Tottenham lose to Liverpool. Then I spent the afternoon watching other AYSO games, scouting teams and watching players I used to coach, before we headed to Sacramento for a party thrown by my father-in-law. After that I went to the Pence (see above) and then back home for some rest. I was totally exhausted by this point.

feeding ducks in the park and wishing you were far away

silo, UC Davis
I eat lunch almost every single day. Sometimes that lunch is eaten at the UC Davis Silo. If you’ve followed this sketchblog foir some time you will alreayd know this and you are probably as bored of the fact as I am, but it is close to the office. The food has changed over the years. Gone is Taco Bell, gone is Carl’s Junior, in are the food trucks, in is the home-brand bicycle-part-themed ‘Spokes’ which serves burgers. The Crepes place is still here but has moved into Taco Bell’s old spot. I never eat there though. Once years ago I got a crepe from their stall at Picnic Day to share with my young son who was about five or six at the time, and I asked for a second plastic fork for him, and they refused, saying I had to buy a whole second crepe to get a second fork. Really dude? They have a Peet’s Coffee in there now instead of the Starbucks, so that people who like standing in long lines for coffee can still do so. There’s a bit more seating now. On these two lunchtimes I was listening to some podcast or other and just needed to sketch away what was left of the lunchtime. These represent a need to sketch more than anything.
silo interior

pneumatic drill and ripped up concrete

MU UC Davis
Construction work continues on campus. Well, this is not so much building anything as improving the courtyard at the MU in front of Freeborn Hall. I don’t really know what needed improving as they had done it all up just last year and it was fine, but they have had this dug up for the whole summer now blocking entrance into the front of the recently refurbished MU.

45 degrees at the university of beer

univ of beer, davis

This is another view of the University of Beer in Davis, California. I was there at the end of August, as I needed to go downtown to spend some time in the Avid Reader bookshop. I haven’t been in there in a while, and was in the mood where I just wanted to look through all the literature on the shelves. I bought a copy of ‘War of the Worlds‘; I’ve never read ‘War of the Worlds’, and when I opened the book the first word I saw was ‘Edgware’ so it was a sign I needed to read it. I actually worked in the Avid Reader years ago, when I first came to Davis. I still love the smell of the books. I thought about sketching in there, I haven’t done that in a very long time, but it was getting late so I went and sketched this bar a block away. I had wanted to add more colour, but was taking so long drawing. I had a couple of very nice beers there though. This was a test of perspective, with vanishing points at 45 degrees, and some curvilinear lines. Wonky in places (nothing to do with the tasty beverage, more to do with the tedium of drawing long lines. There seemed to be a fair bit of 1990s music being played. Including that utterly tedious Two Princes song that was on the radio constantly in 1993. This bar is pretty typical of Davis – busy at some points, almost empty at others, then a bit busy again, then very few again, so I drew whoever was standing or sitting when I looked in that particular part of the space; I suppose I drew the average number of players.  University of Beer; see also the ‘College of Cider’, the ‘School of Shandy’, the ‘Polytechnic of Porter’, the ‘Institute of Inebriation’, the ‘Academy of Ale’, etc and so on.

and so, september

farmers market, davis
The first day of the AYSO Fall soccer season, and my son’s game was being played later in the afternoon on this hot Saturday. Also, the Nations League – the new competitive international competition – had just started and England were going to play Spain. So before this feast of football I took myself down to the Farmers Market to do a little morning sketching. I drew in black, and added the colour with a little bit of coloured pencil. It’s been a while since I sketched here, and said hello to a few locals I know, and ate a nice pain-au-chocolat. Speaking of football, I have not yet done my annual MS Paint inspired run-down of the Premier League kits. I’ve been busy this summer, still trying to catch up. So it’s nice to come down and do a bit of sketching.

the trouble with teleportation

UCD People Aug 2018
Some people at UC Davis. I was sat at the Silo eating lunch and sketched some of the people passing by. I painted in a few lines behind for no other reason than I felt like it (it’s not for any perspective reason, though you could retcon it to say it was a guide, but it wasn’t). Totally unrelated but someone said in conversation the other day about the super power everyone wants to have is to teleport, and it got me thinking. I would love to be able to teleport, it would save me so much hassle with airports and jetlag (well, I presume, nobody knows the physical jetlag effects of intercontinental teleportation). It would save a lot if time and money as well. But then there’s the fact you would still have to go through customs, if you want to do it legally, and fill out that landing form they give you on the plane, and it’s not like you could prove where you teleported from. Then there’s the issue of your baggage, does that teleport with you, can you teleport anything you are carrying (like Nightcrawler from the X-Men), or even touching, such as other people whose hand you might be holding? And if it is anything you are touching, does that include the ground? Would you have to jump into the air to teleport? I mean it would make sense. That means everyone else you are teleporting, along with all of tour baggage, would also have to jump into the air as well. Imagine holding three people’s hands, with all of their heavy suitcases and hand-luggage and snacks and iPads, jumping into the air all at once? I suppose you could come back one at a time, assuming teleportation is instantaneous. Then there is the problem of where you land. You would really need to know exactly where you are teleporting, and that is nigh impossible. Nightcrawler of the X-Men for example usually needs to be able to see where he is going. Safety first. You could end up teleporting into a brick wall or fifty foot above a lake, if you aren’t absolutely exact. Even getting the height wrong by a few feet could result in broken bones in a distant country where you don’t have health insurance. And speaking of travel insurance, who is going to insure you for teleportation-related injuries? No, it’s a nice idea, teleportation, but not really well thought through. I have similar feelings about a lot of super powers. Flying – great, but carrying your bags as well? Also what if you could fly but it turns out only really really slowly. Healing factor – awesome, but you’d get really sloppy (Wolverine is not actually the best at what he does he gets cut and tabbed all the time, he just heals, it’s called cheating). Telekinesis? Moving things with your mind you’d never want to get off the sofa, you’d get so lazy. Control of metal? I have that now, I just use my hands, controlling it with my magnetic mind doesn’t mean I’ll be able to lift it. Climbing walls, that would get old. Still easier going inside the building and using the elevator. Weather control would be nice, but you would have no idea the effects your small change to your local weather system will have on a more global scale – you make it a bit sunnier here, a bit rainier there, you get the butterfly effect. Walking through walls though, the ability to phase, I would like that, because then I’d never have to remember my keys. Unbreakable skin, useful in combat but in every day situations not all that helpful; oh my cat can’t scratch me? Wow. Good luck getting your flu shots. Super speed would be great, but like Quicksilver everything would seem too slow after a while. Look how impatient we all are these days when our browser takes an extra second or two to load. No I think the best super power would really be the one that Batman has, intelligence, determination and vast humungous wads of inherited cash. Anyway, this is what I think about when sketching sometimes.

downtown in paint and pencil

1st st Davis
The next series of panoramas I did in the first part of August, when the sky was dull and dire and the air was a soupy paste, were outside campus in downtown Davis. The one above includes that white house on First Street, the Dutch-gabled building I have sketched before (I even sold a drawing of this house at the Pence Gallery once).
E Street Davis
Above, E Street, looking out at the heavily treed E Street Plaza, with Baskin Robbins on the left. This is a small pedestrianized part of the plaza, with a clock fountain, and a small area at the back where bands will sometimes play (such as the Wealth of Nations, a local band I have sketched there before). It is also popular with homeless people. The rest of it is a parking lot. I have heard there are proposals to do something with E Street Plaza, just early proposals, whereby the whole Plaza would be pedestrianized and become a new town square for Davis, which is something I would definitely support (if we can find alternative parking solutions downtown for those who drive, such as a new parking garage, who knows where though). I think E St Plaza does need a facelift.
Bistro 33, Davis CA

And finally, Bistro 33 on Third Street. Third Street itself has seen many changes over the past few years and further along it is undergoing even more, as it becomes a new interesting corridor for Davis between downtown and campus. This building though is part of the old building that was City Hall, as well as the police station and also a firehouse, as you can imagine with those big arched doorways. It’s a restaurant now. I stood outside on a Saturday afternoon and sketched in the heat until I was very tired, and then finished off the paint in the nearby Three Mile Brewing with a cold beer. The sky was a bit bluer this day, as the wind was blowing the smoke in a different direction.
5th street Davis CA
Finally, this one was drawn on 5th Street, the view of Newman Chapel, I have drawn this view several times before. The air was a bad on this day too. So, lots of panoramas this August! I’ve stopped now. Actually there’s one more interior panorama to come.

panoramas and poor air

hart hall panorama UC Davis
At the start of last month I opened a new sketchbook and had a burst of post-symposium “gotta-sketch-it-all”. What I wanted to do were more panoramas, however they take a long time and I wanted to go more quickly. Having been a big fan of Vincent Desplanche‘s work since meeting him at the USk France Rencontre in Strasbourg in 2015, I’ve wanted to try more pencil and watercolour panoramas. I had a bunch of new Palomino pencils my friend Terry sent me from Japan, which I wanted to try out as they are darker and softer than the usual H pencils I use occasionally. So I drew a bunch of panoramas over lunchtimes or after work or weekends, adding the paint on site, and I have to say that it was a quicker than the long pen ones but still felt time-consuming. For one thing, the pencil smudges a bit more, even after being coated with watercolour wash. That said, I really like the pencil and watercolour and it was fun to draw these. Here are three from campus. Above, Hart Hall, one of the more interesting looking buildings on campus. I have drawn it a few times before.

UC Davis MU terminal

One of the other details about this summer is the terrible air in California, brought about by all the huge wild fires. California is hot and dry and the fires have been really bad the past couple of years. This summer the fires made the air thick and smoky for weeks on end, as you can see with the two sketches above and below. The one above was sketched at the Memorial Union Bus Terminal on campus. I had walked across campus to drop something off at the International Center late one afternoon, and was going to catch the bus to go home, so I sketched this at the bus terminal while waiting. The air made me feel so physically sick that I had a huge headache and a nasty sore throat. This was one of the worst air days I’ve experienced here. One thing that often happens here in summer is on the very hot days we have ‘Spare The Air’ days, when riding on buses are free. I think this year we had eighteen spare-the-air days in a row. In the sketch above there is an ironic sign – we are a smoking-free campus (good), and the sign reminds us we are 100% smoke and tobacco free. Well, not so much on this day.

UC Davis Silo food trucks

The one above was sketched on the next day at the Silo. The air was still bad, but felt significantly better. Why go out and sketch in it? I still needed to sketch, and this is where I come to eat. This one was an easier and quicker sketch, not really too much detail, just a fun piece of perspective. The food trucks and the large sloping shade thing were added last year to the redeveloped Silo area. I have a few more of these panoramas to post, sketched in downtown Davis.