in between the storms

amtrak sketch feb2019

This is a bit different. I drew this from the window of the Amtrak and didn’t use pen, just paint and a bit of pencil, speeding away from Davis across the delta to Richmond. I haven’t got my scanner so I took a photo, hence the ‘no-scanner’ look to this. We had huge storms in California, really heavy downpours and strong winds, causing flooding in a lot of areas. The lands around the Delta were pretty bepuddled, and the dramatic skies in between the two rounds of the storm were something to paint. It was a stress-reliever to to this, it always is.

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sketching the same scene twelve years apart

silo feb 2019
Today is my fourteenth birthday. Sorry, I mean today is the fourteenth birthday I am having since I moved to America. Fourteen birthdays in California. I counted them, and it’s fourteen of them in total. In terms of my life it’s a bit like, was there really football before the Premier League? And of course there was, but we only quote records since the Premier League started these days. It was a good reboot point, a good place for newcomers to jump on board the story without knowing years of character history, like a new issue #1 in Marvel Comics terms (they do that a lot). And I have just realized, the top flight of English football has been called the Premier League for nearly two thirds my life now. You start measuring your life in halves and thirds and quarters, and wow those quarters become thirds pretty quickly. Fourteen birthdays in America is a third of all the birthdays I’ve ever had. I don’t like doing anything for my birthday any more, it’s just one more day of aging, same as yesterday and tomorrow, but with cake. I do get anxious leading up to it though, thinking about all the years, all the different phases of existence, who I was, who I will be, all that stuff. Some people look through photo albums at their old selves, but of course I look through the old sketchbooks. I have an album on my computer (also a Flickr album) of all my Davis sketches and it takes me through a journey of staying in one place. Interesting to see how my drawing has developed, gone one way, back another, but not quick obvious changes. A sketch is a series of decisions based on decisions I’ve made before. Above, yesterday’s lunchtime sketch. It’s the view of the Silo from Rock Hall, UC Davis. Below, the same view from the same spot on the same date February 6, but twelve years earlier (and Rock Hall was the Chemistry lecture hall back then). Above, sketched in a Seawhite of Brighton sketchbook, below sketched in a WH Smith sketchbook. Some things have changed. That grass is gone. The general view is not all that different though, unlike some of the recent sketches I’ve posted with more dramatic changes. Will I sketch this again on February 6th 2031?
silo um mittag

the delta of venus on B street

delta of venus
This is the Delta of Venus on B Street, Davis. I sketched it over lunchtime while the weather was taking a quick break from the winter storms. It’s been rainy, it’s been windy. In fact I had to stop this sketch before I could colour it because the rain started up again, along with very small hailstones. I added the paint later on while my son practiced soccer. Delta of Venus is not a place I go very often – actually I don’t go anywhere very often, but it’s been a few years since I last popped in for a sandwich – but I have sketched it once before. Not much has changed. I’ve been spending a lot of time lately looking over my massive file of Davis sketches. I have done a lot of drawing since I moved here at the end of 2005. It’s almost annoying looking over it. Here is another like so many others, a building, across the street, something in the foreground. There will be more just like it. However this summer I will be going somewhere very different – Amsterdam! I was able to secure registration for the 10th annual International Urban Sketching Symposium. I’m pretty excited – I’ve not been to Amsterdam in twenty years, and never ever sketched the place. For sure, there will be some time in Belgium as well (I’ve not been there in a decade). It’ll be great sketching Amsterdam, it’s so different from Davis. Amsterdam is flat and full of bikes whereas Davis is… more drink! That’s a Father Ted reference for those who need footnotes. There will be more just like it.

california hall

california hall uc davis
The new lecture hall on California Avenue at UC Davis is now finished, except for a few bits outside. Classes are now being held there (hooray!). So, time for me to sketch it, since I have sketched this spot for the past few years.
california hall uc davis

Below, sketches from the past few years, to show the changes from a nice green spot to a brand new building…

asmundsen hall, uc davislecture hall ucd march 2016
Lecture Hall UC Davis
lecture hall UCDlecture hall construction UC Davis
california hall feb2018 sm

you say jump i say how high

Jump Bike at Playfields
These red bikes are everywhere right now. “Jump” Bikes they are called. I don’t know much about them except they are apparently rentable and work with some sort of app. Oh and you don’t have to bother parking them in proper bike racks, you can just leave them wherever you want, like on the sidewalk or by the doors of any building, like you’ve not noticed the bike racks that are like right there. Certainly seems that way. Do they go faster than a normal bike? Seems like it. I wouldn’t know, I’ve never ridden a Jump bike, for all I know they are smooth as martinis (I wouldn’t know that either, I’ve never drunk a Martini, for all I know they are smooth as Dr. Pepper) (I’ve never drunk Dr Pepper either, I could go on all day with other things I’ve never done, it’s a long list). I don’t think these Jump bikes actually jump either, I would have assumed they bounce down the street like Tigger, but they don’t. They aren’t particularly pretty, being bright red with those rigid shapes and fixed on basket (why can’t it bounce around uncontrollably like my wire frame one, coming off its hinges every time I go over a bump?). Haha, here’s me talking about these Jump bikes, I’ve never ridden them, I can’t even really draw them (seriously why do I even bother drawing wheels, I can’t draw circles while standing holding a sketchbook) and I know nothing at all about how they work. This is how people do it now though isn’t it, just say ill-informed stuff online when it would take 10 seconds to find that information out, if only we had instant access to like the entire world’s information in our pockets on little electronic devices or something, that would be a great idea. (Like British Tory MPs who tweet incorrect information about the Marshall Plan which is so easy to call out, almost like he knew that already and was trying to get attention for himself) (errrr…no, I’m not doing that. /Shudder!/) Alright fine, let’s look up these Jump bikes. /Googles Jump Bikes/ Ok, so they are, wait let me get this right, ride-shares? Owned by Uber apparently. They were introduced to Davis and UC Davis in May 2018. Here’s an article about them which explains them more.  Unlike those bikes they have in London they are dockless which means you just leave them anywhere (apparently you get fined $25 for not locking them up in a proper rack). They do have an electric assist which is probably what the ‘Jump’ means. I don’t fully understand the fee structure but $1 for the first 15 minutes then 7c a minute after that seems to be the thing. So, you leave the bike. Ok, does that mean if someone else wants it they just take it?  Do you have to look for another one? That’s great, when you wanted to ride home and oh man, they are all gone – better call an Uber…oh I understand now, they’re owned by Uber. Now you are probably reading this thinking, you dinosaur, I love these, my life is so much easier thanks to Jump bikes, get back to 1985 Marty McFly. To which I say, these don’t hover, they don’t even jump. I’m sure these work for a lot of people but I think I prefer just having my bike, I think I’d feel a bit stressed out by these modern contraptions with their fee structures. Of course when I get a flat tyre and these Jump bikes go whizzing by me, I’ll be like, noooo!!!!! Curse you Jump bikers!! Now I’ll have to walk!!

so long january

shields library uc davis
Another quick one from campus, this is the rear/side of Shields Library, a very big library full of academic books. January was very long this year wasn’t it, don’t you think? I know it has the same number of days as every other month with 31 days, and there are even a couple of holidays, but it just really dragged on. Like looking at your watch and seeing that it’s still 2:41. Nope, still 2:41. I’ll check again now, at least ten minutes have pa- still 2:41? What’s going on? January is like waiting for your food at the restaurant only to be told they lost your order. January is like those endless commercial breaks during any primetime American TV show. January is like those but actually it’s election season so the ads are all repetitive and political nonsense (actually no, January is nothing near as bad as that). January is like when you get stuck on a delayed Eurostar and they have to make announcements every ten minutes in English, French and Dutch. January is like a meeting where it feels rude to be the only one getting up to leave at the end but someone always has an extra question to bring up and they take a really long time bringing it up even though it has nothing to do with anyone else but them but you still have to sit there and pretend to listen out of politeness, and then you start piling up your notebook and pens and then they go into an all-new topic and nobody seems to want to wrap it up. January is like being stuck on the freeway in traffic for hours after time spent away from your home and all your stuff but your phone and iPod batteries are dead and the only thing on the radio is Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me. I could go on but January would be like one of my blog posts where I just say whatever comes into my head, like this. January goes on forever. And then February is like, ok now it’s March.