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.

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4 thoughts on “panoramas and poor air

  1. miatagrrl says:

    I empathize completely.. .the air over Wash. State was “hazardous” for several days and “poor” for a couple of weeks. Really awful. Worse than Beijing! So happy that it’s mostly gone now. I have a question: Why does it take you longer to do an ink/watercolor sketch compared to pencil/watercolor? Seems like it would be about the same.

    – Tina

    • pete scully says:

      Yeah, I heard about that, it sounded bloody awful. I was checking the air map up the whole west coast during that time (southern Oregon too was really dangerous). Hope the worst is over but these fire seasons last well into the late fall these days.
      It usually takes me less time to draw with pencil because I tend to draw less detail with pencil. The pencil moves a more quickly too. I much prefer using pen (uni-ball signo or pigma micron), but I do like a thin nib (0.38 size) over a thick nib, so to do a thick line I would have to draw several lines (an effect I prefer, over drawing one thick line with a different pen). With a pencil you can make thick or thin lines, so that saves time. But that said, it still takes time. It still really depends on what you are drawing, and the paper can make a difference too.

  2. miatagrrl says:

    Hmm, interesting process you describe re: pencil vs. pen! I’m curious because for several years I always drew first with pen, then colored. The past year I’ve been doing mainly colored pencil, so I draw and color at the same time. It’s not really faster, but a slightly different process.

    – Tina

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