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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Some of you may recall that I enjoy drawing the in-progress construction (and deconstruction) of buildings on the UC Davis campus. For example, the construction of the Manetti Shrem (completed 2016), and the long removal of the Boiler Building and replacement with the Pitzer Center (also completed 2016 – see the sketches from that project in this Flickr album). So when I was told a few years ago or so that the empty Walker Hall, a historic E-shaped building in the middle of campus, was going to be completely reconverted to house the new Graduate Center, I was super excited. I’m a big advocate for graduate studies on campus so am pleased they will be getting a modern new space, while still reusing an existing building. I started sketching the renovation already back in May, and drew it quite a few times in its previous dormant state, but this summer the real work began, so when I got back from Portugal I took the sketchbook over and started sketching from the outside.
As you can see, the whole building is empty now, leaving the shell. It looks like the wings at the rear of the building will be slightly shorter than they originally were, but that is where the largest degree of change will happen, and will be completely modernized – the front however won’t look too different.
Above and below, sketched from the side closest to the Shields Library. The Graduate Center will be located in between the Shields Library and the Student Community Center.
The most recent sketch I did is below, stood across the street outside Everson. It’s hard to see a lot of the building because of the trees and trailers in the way, but it’s a hive of activity. I’m looking forward to sketching some more as the year goes on. It’s expected to be completed by Spring 2019. You can find out more about the Graduate Center at the Grad Studies website, and also at at the Design & Construction Management site.
A more recent sketch now, later in August, from Third Street in Davis. I have sketched this row a few times now, and the shed opposite has had that colourful pattern on it for a few years now. I’m sure I have sketched it pre-paint-job but I don’t recall when. The shop on the left is Boheme used clothing, I have sketched that colourful building two or three times now. This was sketched on a Saturday afternoon when I needed to go out and do some drawing, but it was so hot and I was feeling tired, so rather than a big panorama I just did this. I have big panoramas I want to draw but sometimes I forget they take so much longer and my tolerance for standing in the heat and drawing things I have, well, sketched a few times before (ie most things in Davis) is low sometimes. I can’t wait for October, which is one of my favourite sketching months in Davis, as it starts getting a bit cooler, the leaves start crisping up and glowing with colour, and Halloween is just around the corner. For now, still getting through the long dry summer.