Another panorama from downtown Davis, this is Ali Baba, near the UC campus, on 3rd Street. I was doing that thing where I go out to draw, cycle about, not sure what I want to draw and then stop and see a building that I’ve not really draw, and the light is right. So here it is. While I drew, a man cycled up and parked his bike and his bike cart (full of random junk) right behind me and went off to eat at one of the tables across the street, not paying me any notice, so why mention it, well he parked his bike right behind me, and turned on his radio or music player very loud, so I had to try to listen to my podcasts while also hearing this very loud pop music from behind me. He wasn’t even nearby, he went off to eat. It was a bit odd, but well, I wasn’t going to say anything, and the music wasn’t terrible, it wasn’t like he was playing the Cheeky Girls. Remember them? The music was actually alright. I felt a bit uncomfortable drawing this though, because being April, that means sneezy season. And being Covid times, that means wearing a mask. Now I can’t wear the mask outside at all time – when I’m running for example, and that exemption is covered by our rules, and even when cycling – but if I’m sketching in the street I do my best to wear one, if I can’t be six feet away like on the sidewalk. However I find that my glasses steam up a lot more because I’m looking up and down from my sketchbook and the mask moves it around. Some masks work better than others, and the temperature makes a difference. So sketching masked up can be uncomfortable. I normally like wearing the mask because it hides my expression. But in sneezy season…well, it can be uncomfortable, even if I’m not sneezing as much, my eyes are itching. So there was that, making me uncomfortable. I had to concentrate harder on the perspective. Thankfully other than Music Man there weren’t many people around. Saturday afternoon, near the university, in a global pandemic, not a super busy time. Nevertheless some guy commented on this picture on Instagram saying, “Are you thinking that your drawings would be better if they had people in them?” which of course didn’t annoy me in the slightest, having published an actual book about drawing people. I had to point out “there ARE people in this drawing”. They might be small but they are there. But look, other than the Cycling DJ there weren’t many people around, and I like my drawings to reflect that. I do put people in my drawings, especially in scenes where they help to break up the repetitive scenery or provide context for perspective, but if I choose to leave people out or not include those that weren’t there, that is my prerogative, my choice. All drawings are a series of choices. People. I remember once about seven or eight years ago I was drawing on a street in downtown Davis, when this violin-player came and plonked himself into the view. He had his back to me, and again I was trying to listen to a podcast about I don’t know, the history of the alphabet or something, while his strings screeched and scratched, making me turn the sound up on my headphones. I’d already drawn the thing he was in front of, but I decided he made an interesting shape, and quickly added him in. There’s no way he could know that of course, and I was in the middle of drawing some brickwork a few minutes later when he appeared in front of me like a tall skinny praying mantis; I couldn’t tell what he was saying. I popped out my earphone, the history of the alphabet would have to wait, and was met with accusations of “why are you drawing me, you are not allowed to draw me, show me what you are drawing!” I showed him my page, though I didn’t have to. He went into a rage that I was not allowed to draw him and that his identity is protected, and I’m like whoah whoah, I was here drawing before you got here, and I’m not here drawing you. The bit where I had included him did not even show his face, and frankly looked nothing like him (I may have written a book about drawing people, I didn’t say I was any good at it). To say it even looked like someone playing a violin would have been generous. He was apoplectic, yelling at me in the street to the point where people stopped to watch, and would not accept it, claiming loudly for anyone that would hear that he was in the witness protection scheme, that gangs from LA were after him, that if his face is seen they would come after him, despite the fact he regularly goes out and performs music in public. I said that if it makes him feel happy I will draw a face with a beard on the figure to show it was not him, and so I did, but he would not calm down, yelling that he would be discovered, they know he plays the violin, because of course he is the only person who does. And then he gets out his phone! He was threatening to call the police, though I was on a public street and not breaking the law, so he said he was going to call his lawyer and take me to court “my lawyer knows more about law than you!” he said. Ok, well you do that. So he stood there having a ‘conversation’ on his phone trying to get his ‘lawyer’ to call the ‘police’ on me, when I could tell there was nobody on the other end of the phone. Seriously, I think he was making a pretend phone call. Eventually my lunchtime was up and I had to get back to work so I just left, annoyed, and never finished the sketch. This was years ago. So, why do I sometimes not want to add people into my sketches if I don’t have to? Because People.
Anyway, once I was done drawing this, generally undisturbed except by some loud pop music, I cycled home for dinner. I realized I have not eaten at this place in well over ten years, it’s not on my usual way from campus to downtown so I never stop in. I remember eating something with falafel here once. Anyway, another panorama from downtown Davis. I have it in my head that I would compile my Davis panoramas into a book that would be nice to look through and think of Davis and all its people, but I am too busy.