side 1, track 1 of sketchbook 38

E St davis 102520 I started a new sketchbook. It’s a watercolour Moleskine, and I’ve used quite a few of those in the past, but looking at my list of sketchbooks it is actually the first one in almost five years. Five years? Wow. These were my go-to books, but then I started using more of the Seawhite of Brighton books (pretty cheap, picked up at Cass Arts in London) and the Stillman & Birn Alpha landscape books (really nice, I usually save those for when I’m making big trips to Europe). The watercolor Moley is thicker watercolour paper, less smooth, and slightly smaller, but I think I forgot just how much I love drawing in them. The first one I ever used was back in 2007, and  even though I had a couple of other ones before that here in the US that I used a lot, I call this one “Sketchbook #1“. That one in 2007 was the first landscape book and that has generally been my format since, so under my new numbering scheme, the latest one is “Sketchbook #38“, and my fifteenth watercolour Moleskine. I know, it feels like there should be more, but I do draw a lot. The last watercolour Moleskine (the fourteenth) was in fact “Sketchbook #19“. One reason I go through the Seawhites more quickly is that I usually don’t draw on both sides of the paper, as it’s a good bit thinner and I really lay on that paint (it’s not really meant for that), whereas in the Moley I’ll usually draw on both sides, no problem. Except that with the Micron Pigma pens I used to use all the time, the ink would rub off on the other side and make the other picture dirty, so I try to avoid that. I use the brown-black Uni-ball Signo UM-151 now and that does it a little less. 

Ok, that is a lot of words. Sorry, I’ve been listening to the election coverage pretty much 24/7 over the past 48 hours. I know that makes no sense, 24/2 makes more sense, but there are so many words flying around, people on TV really like to talk a lot and leave absolutely no gaps while they go over all sorts of numbers and counties and ohmygodwillthiseverfinish… in a way I’m almost glad it’s taking a long time, it’s a little bit funny, like a really long Stewart Lee joke. You know the ones, you’ve seen them, the Stewart Lee jokes we have these days, they go on for ages and repeat themselves a lot, the Stewart Lee jokes, you’ve seen them, the Stewart Lee jokes. Etc and so on. It still feels like watching Jose’s Tottenham, but at least there the crowd noises are fake. It’s like that one Wimbledon final that one time which never wanted to end, but at least there nobody’s allowed to speak or they get shushed by the umpire. I wish a certain orange rage-tweeting rich prat would shush, no chance of that though, whatever happens. Let’s wrap this post up. 

This sketch is of a building downtown on E Street that I have drawn before. This time I stood on the stairwell of a building opposite, socially distanced from any people going up the stairs. It was nice having a slightly elevated view, to see over the vehicles parked on this side of the road. It was a Sunday afternoon, and there were quite a few people out and about downtown. 

a long, long tuesday night

election night 2020 Election night 2020, it’s been a long year, it’s been a long night, I think it could be a long week. Been a long few years to be honest. The TV has words spewing out of it, the “Road to 270” is still very tight. It feels like watching a Spurs match where we’re holding on to a narrow lead but we keep giving away free kicks on the edge of the box. What a year this has been, and it ain’t over yet. Here’s another living room sketch, done in the new watercolour Moleskine (“sketchbook #38”). Fingers still crossed, but I’m not the optimist in the room.

any way the wind blows

3rd and A 102320 sm

The last page of this sketchbook, the last of the Seawhite of Brighton books I picked up in London last year, so on to a new book. This one was “Sketchbook 37” under the new numbering system I started last year. I need to actually put the numbers on the spines of the books and put them on a shelf sometime (right now I keep them in a box). This view is at the entrance to the UC Davis campus on 3rd Street, along A Street. The large interestingly shaped building is called the Death Star. Actually it isn’t called that officially but everyone calls it that. It’s the Social Sciences and Humanities Building. Imagine if the Galactic Empire called their Death Star something like that. The ‘Planetary Geological Redistribution Department’. On the right you can see a marquee set up, this is actually an outside classroom, set up to deal with the very few in-person classes during the pandemic. There are a few, but most classes are taught remotely. All of ours are, in our department. It was a windy day, we had some very high and dry winds that week, thankfully no fires were sparked in our area this time. I enjoyed drawing this one, I like how it turned out. I’ve drawn so many scenes in Davis but this is a slightly different angle and I like the noticeboard pillar to the left, those were installed when 3rd Street was completely revamped over the last couple of years. This drawing is another gateway, not just the end of a sketchbook, or the entrance to campus. While drawing this I got the phonecall that our house purchase was finally closed, so I started this drawing as a renter and ended it as a homeowner, which feels like a life milestone for me. I like the neighbourhood I live in up in north Davis, and am glad to stay there (plus I hate moving). So a chapter closes, a new chapter begins, and I’ll keep on drawing the same stuff, watching it slowly evolve as the years pass by. It’s important to remember that, on historic days like today, nothing really stays the same. (Actually some things do stay the same, nice sentiment though). For the record, I hope there is a big change today in the government. I’ve spent too long stressing about this election, but I’m not getting my hopes up. This has been a bloody stressful enough year as it is, time to open a new sketchbook. I’ve drawn this town for fifteen years, and I’ll keep on drawing Davis, and all its small changes.

stop dreaming of the quiet life

A St Panorama Oct2020 sm

This is A Street, which is a street in between the university and the downtown. I needed to draw a panorama, so I drew this over the course of two days. Things are starting to feel autumnal. This should be an interesting week. Interesting as in “may you live in interesting times” interesting. I can’t even think about it. So drawing is the release. They take time, but I really like a two-page panorama. I want to publish a whole book just of Davis panoramas, I think that would be a good read. I mean, you wouldn’t be reading the pictures, just looking at them. By the way, you should be able to see this one in more details by either (a) clicking on it, or (b) moving closer to the screen. If I were to publish a book just of Davis panoramas – and when I say panoramas I just mean two-page landscapes, not the long panoramic sketches – there would be no text to accompany the drawing, which would be a good thing. It wouldn’t be like this blog where the text is there but completely optional and not very enlightening. In fact in my last published book, in which I was extra concise (and took out most of the jokes about fire hydrants), one hard-to-please one-star reviewer on Amazon said that my explanations are “so long-winded that by the time he has finished explaining it, you’ve forgotten what he was talking about.” To which I would reply, (a) so you’ve met me then, and (b) if you think that’s bad you should read my blog posts, but also (c) what was your long-winded review about again, I’ve forgotten. They also said I should have talked about ‘gesture’ when talking about drawing people, to which I would reply I know lots of gestures actually and I’m making them at the screen right now while reading this review. So a book of drawings with no explanation might be right up their alley. Or it might be right in their dustbin, I don’t know. But as you can see, in this socially distant age there are no people in my drawings these days.

If you do want to see more of my panoramas, without accompanying text, there’s a whole album of them on Flickr: Or wait for the book, but it’s probably going to be a long wait.

The Flying Carousel of the Delta Breeze

carousel central park 101820 sm At the end of the last sketchcrawl we met up at the Carousel in the middle of Central Park, Davis, to look at each others’ sketchbooks. Some people drew the carousel, but I revealed that I had chickened out, because it’s pretty complicated. Of course whenever I say that it’s a sure-fire sign that I will be back to try and draw it as soon as I can, so I cycled down to Central Park the next day and stood there drawing as much as I could. The carousel is called “The Flying Carousel of the Delta Breeze”, which is a bit of a mouthful, and I’ve never heard anyone actually call it that. Honestly I thought that was an album by a psychedelic late-sixties California hippy band that still play local events across the region at farmer’s markets and brewfests (I am making that up but it might be true, sounds like it would be true). It’s not in use at the moment clearly, because of COVID-19, but when it was it was a fun thing for the local little kids to ride on, and helps fund the Davis Schools Foundation. It is human-powered, that is, there’ll be a high-school kid who sits and cycles to make it go. Kids can ride on the hand-carved animals such as the Frederick frog, Seymour the seal, Pickles the pig, and Terri the Tomato. I know a tomato isn’t an animal, and don’t get started on the fruit/vegetable debate. The tomato fruit/vegetable debate is so contentious now that they have to mute the microphones when the other is speaking, and the vegetable side just refuses to take part and goes off and has a big rally with lots of other vegetables so they can chant about locking up the apples. Anyway back to the carousel. It was opened in 1995. That was the same year I went strawberry picking in Denmark; strawberries are definitely a fruit, but I don’t eat them any more after that summer (yet I still love strawberry flavour things, like milkshakes). I’ve never been on it (it’s not really meant for me) but I think my son rode it when he was very small. It’s a nice thing to have in the middle of Davis.