Ahead of the Amsterdam Urban Sketching Symposium, I decided I needed to deal with my paintbox. I rearranged the colours, took some out, added some in, refreshed them all, and this is my paletter this summer. These are all Winsor and Newton watercolour paints, mostly Cotman but with one or two Artist’s ones in there too. I like using this, the deluxe sketchers box, it fits into my hand or attached to the other page of the sketchbook with a rubber band pretty well. I needed to make a guide to the colours in case I forget, so that’s what this is. This could be a new advent calendar, 24 colours, actually that is not a bad idea. I have some new brushes I just bought as well, bigger than I usually use, so that I can paint on bigger paper for some of the workshops I am taking. I got some 11×14 Fabriano paper, which is not I must say really urban sketching material, being really big an not able to fit into a small bag. However I’m keen try something new, and the big pad of paper just about fits into my gym bag (but it only barely fits into my new suitcase, which is small). This paint set however is very small and compact, and fits a lot of stuff in there, the way I like it.
I was in San Francisco a couple of times recently, one with the family (to watch Hamilton) and one by myself (to sketch loads of stuff). On the first one, we stayed over in Fisherman’s Wharf (not always my favourite part of town, but there is lots to see). I only managed one sketch, as I spent a lot of my time playing X-Men vs Street Fighter at the Musee Mecanique. I love that place. Also, it was cold! We were escaping the heat of Davis, but the city was pretty chilly. I drew this one sketch of a very elaborate looking motorcycle parked near Ghirardelli Square. “Indian Motorcycles” is the manafacturer. I was going to colour ir in, but it was cold and I was getting tired standing there. I try to be more conscious of my body saying “time to rest Pete!” these days. Yet I am still keeping up being more active, with the gym and exercising thing. We did go to Ghirardelli’s that evening, and I had this enormous chocolatey sundae thing called a ‘treasure island’ which amazingly did not derail my diet. See, you can diet and still eat massive chocolate indulgences every now and then. This was after I had pizza and beer for dinner. The pizza-beer-chocolate sundae and arcade-games diet – hey, it’s working. Now, the only other sketch I did that weekend was while waiting for ages at SFO for my Global Entry interview. Global Entry is like a fast-pass when I come back into the country. However I had to wait quite a while for my turn, so we missed out on going to Alcatraz. At least Hamilton was really good, very entertaining.
This is a nice spot in the UC Davis Arboretum, it is the Native American Contemplative Garden. This garden honors the Patwin people. Davis and the surrounding areas are part of the original Patwin land. The garden was designed by Bill Wright, a Patwin Elder, along with his family and students in the UC Davis Native American Studies department, among others. At the end of the winding stonework and path is a small column of rock inscribed with the names of Patwin people who lived on this land and were removed the missions between 1817 and 1836. Around the garden are stones with some Patwin words inscribed on them, such as “Ye’te we” (“Dream”) and “Mi muho” (“You sing”). “P’atwin means people”, as it says on one of the stones. I had never sketched here before, so I came along to sit in the shade and try to imagine California’s past, before the Europeans came along.
A couple of weekends ago, at the end of the month of June, the Davis Graduate – known popularly as ‘The Grad’ – closed its doors for the last time. The Grad had been a Davis staple for decades. I mean, actual decades – it opened in 1972, meaning it is older than me. It’s a popular night-out dancing spot, and lots of people came here to watch sports in the daytime on one of the 467 TV screens (ok not that many but as you can see above, they have them all over the place, big and small). I remember coming here years ago early on a Saturday morning, before we had the Premier League in our cable package, and watching Spurs lose against Sunderland back in the bad old days when that would happen a lot, and you would get a little portable speaker to put on your table and just look toward whichever screen had your game on, while others watched Hockey, Golf, Curling or something even more obscure like West Ham. I have to be honest, I never really liked coming to the Grad, partly because every time I’d come to watch Spurs we would lose to some terrible team, but also because I could never feel that comfortable with those big wooden tables and benches and the screens all around, the food orders being called out over the microphone, the long line for the bar, and the lack of windows – when you walk back outside into the hot Davis brightness it’s a jarring feeling. On the few occasions we came here to watch World Cup or Euro matches, there was usually a big and noisy crowd, and the space always just felt awkward. So I never really came here that much, and I never came in the evenings when they would have their dance nights, because if I felt awkward when there was just sports and drink, adding dancing into the mix was never going to make it more appealing to me. However, I knew how much people loved the place, and when I first came to Davis people would always tell me I should go to the Grad, even people at other bars would say the same. I know someone who DJed there who has many fond memories, and I dare say that students over the years have as many great memories of the Grad as my old QMW cohort has of the Drapers Arms on the Queen Mary campus in Mile End (who am I kidding, we don’t remember anything…). I did sketch here a couple of times over the years, the last time being on a Sunday afternoon in 2013, when I draw a 1.3 page spread of the bar, while Marseille played Monaco on a screen next to Judge Judy. So on the very last Saturday of the Grad I came back, and sketched the scene above. My feelings about the Grad had not changed much, I still felt a bit awkward and closed-in, I had only the one drink because the line at the bar seemed really long (I didn’t mind that, I’m still on a diet), but there were lots of people there of all ages enjoying themselves and conversing. Lots of baseball caps. People playing pool away to my right, people eating burgers and fries, people drinking cold beer. I did sketch the outside one lunchtime a couple of weeks before, after I had heard that the Grad would be closing down. I stood in the shade of a tree on a very hot day, and this place was awkward to sketch even from the outside. Although I never went there very often, I am sad that the Grad is closing. This whole University Mall area will be redeveloped, a little bit of the old character of Davis will be lost, another drinking spot confined to the history books.
Here’s a good article in the UC Davis magazine with some old photos and memories from former students: https://magazine.ucdavis.edu/the-graduate-closes/
I have a lot of sketches to scan, but I’ve been a bit scanning-shy lately. I did a load of sketches in one evening at the Mondavi Center, which will take me ages to scan. But, I’m back. Anyway, this is the ARC, the main activities and recreation center at UC Davis. I was never an ARC member (gym? what is that?) until just recently, when I decided I needed to lose some weight so that I could fit into some of my less baggy football shirts. I set myself a target, 20 pounds in three months, with today being the target date. I had a plan to make changes to my diet, not overdoing it but keeping more track of it, drinking more water, not snacking during the day, not skipping meals. I also decided to walk more, which has been amazing. I used to walk loads, back when I lived in England, I loved walking. I ride my bike here in Davis, but because of the heat I usually say, ah no walking for me, too hot. The past few months I have been walking to work (and back) and now I think nothing of it. I’ve been going on long evening walks around the North Davis Green Belt, seeing all the other walkers and joggers, tut-tutting at the dog owners who don’t understand the Davis Leash Laws and think they don’t apply to them, listening to podcasts about 1990s football and formula 1, taking photos of the sky. I also started going to the gym, which was never ever a thing for me. The first time I went in I didn’t want to appear like a total newbie so I’m like, ah yes, the elliptical, yes, oh I know this, yep, definitely, yes I know it’s not working properly thanks, I’m actually just testing it for a minute before getting on this exercise bike, yes thanks I know the seat is too high I like it like that, I do know how to change it I just don’t want to. I’m more used to it now. I use the same three or four exercise machines, I haven’t touched the weights or anything like that yet, I might need to go to one of those beginner’s orientations. I like to listen to podcasts or even watch stuff on Netflix, I’m feeling quite comfortable about it now. I have my new gym bag. I even got, which was a very fancy step for me, an Apple Watch. Normally I use a Lego Watch so this is quite an upgrade. The Apple Watch tracks all my walks and runs and everything. It even tells me off if I have been sitting down too long or if it thinks I need to breathe. I actually love it. I’ve been hitting all my steps targets, and tracking my weight and calories, which has been fun, as I like to keep stats. Anyway today, July 4, I hit the target I was aiming for, right on time. I even had to buy new shorts. Happy birthday USA!