still climbing the mountain

The Barn UC Davis

This is ‘The Barn’, a building on the UC Davis campus, I have drawn it before, I have commented on its simple name before, I’ve done it all before. I like the regularity of it all. At the same time…well, you know. I just like to draw. It’s ok to draw the same thing over and over. Look back at Cézanne’s sketchblog from his years in Aix-en-Provence, another city I have spent time in. “Got up, had a little walk down to Cours Sextius, walked past the Dog People, got a Pepsi Max from the Petit Casino, and then drew Mont St. Victoire YET AGAIN. But I’ve never drawn in on a Tuesday before, so. Be nice if they built some more mountains near here that I could draw TBH. Time for a Poulet-Frites. Hope I don’t step in Dog Poo again.” I’m sure he said all that. I was in Aix from 2001 to 2002, I met my wife there. I loved a Poulet-Frites. Stepping in Dog Poo was a common occurrence. ‘Stepping in Dog Poo’ was my ‘Mont St. Victoire’. What if we had decided to stay there, instead of moving to Davis? Instead of The Barn, you’d see a lot of drawings of that fountain with all the dolphins on it. I would speak better French though, probably. I have never picked up a Californian accent. One thing about The Barn, it does resemble the shape of Mont St. Victoire, a little bit. Well, it’s triangular.

I climbed Mont St. Victoire once. Twice actually, if you count the second time I did it. The first time I got all the way to the very top, where it is very windy, and climbed it alone. The second time I got the the almost-top, but let my friend Simon do the last few meters, while I just waited at a pretty nice overlook. It’s pretty high up. It’s a good achievement, climbing a mountain, especially a famous one that a famous artist has painted loads of times. I wouldn’t mind doing it again some time. 

This Saturday I’m going to run the Davis Turkey Trot – not quite climbing a mountain, but it feels like an achievement. I always look forward to the pancakes afterwards. And the shower, and the rest, and the day at home relaxing. When I relax, I do big projects. I’m currently making this year’s Advent Calendar, it’s going to be different from previous years. I’m painting Studio Ghibli characters onto plastic baubles using acrylic, which I’ve never done before, but I’m already done with that part of it. Next I need to decide how I’m going to assemble them, what goes inside each one, where I will put it in the house, and how it will go with all the previous years’ calendars. I always say, this year will be the last one I make. I was feeling pretty down yesterday afternoon. I’m not sure why, just that time of existence. Maybe I was thinking about London, I’ve been thinking about London a lot lately; I know someone who is going there for Christmas and he asked me for some London tips, so I basically wrote a two-sheet guidebook with illustrations, I can’t help myself. So, I’m missing London. Feeling a bit overwhelmed with work and soccer coaching and just getting up and down sometimes too, like I need a sketching trip. Tired of the pandemic, tired of worry, tired of my glasses steaming up over my mask more on these cold mornings when I go inside, just for the first few minutes but enough for me to feel a bit lost momentarily. When I was outside yesterday lunchtime I saw an older woman down the street take a call on her phone, sit down, and start bawling her eyes out on the phone, it must have been some bad news. That affected me too, whatever it was I felt so bad for her, but just made me think we’re all that phone call away from the same. You start thinking about everyone in your world, all over the world, and how far away you put yourself. I couldn’t wait for the day to be over so I could get home, and get painting again, and just sitting down and focusing on painting very small details onto a little plastic ball while listening to a talk by Brian Cox about the Universe or something, well it made me feel alright again, for a bit. I’m looking forward to the run this weekend though. It wasn’t that long ago that I couldn’t run at all, so it feels good to run a 5k race, especially since I’ve not done an organized race since before the pandemic. But mostly I’m looking forward to the pancakes afterwards. 

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