let’s draw the davis world cup!

LDD May 2018s

It is time for another ‘Let’s Draw Davis!’ sketchcrawl, and where better than to sketch at the Davis World Cup. The youth soccer tournament will feature 104 teams from across northern California, each assigned a different country, and so will be a colourful sporting spectacle. Also a great opportunity to practice some quick people sketching!

The sketchcrawl will begin this Saturday (May 26) at 10:00am outside the Davis Arts Center (the corner of F St and Covell; we will meet by the entrance) where I will give a quick demo of fast people sketching. I won’t however get much sketching done after that, as I myself have to go and coach one of the teams playing (Serbia), one of the co-organizers Ann will be available. The group will meet up at 1:30pm at the Davis Library to look at each others’ sketchbooks, and of course you can keep on sketching after that! (Check out the ‘Keeper Wars’ in the evening, it’s really fun!).

As always, this sketchcrawl is free and open to anyone who likes to draw. All you need is something to draw with and something to draw on. Oh and maybe bring snacks and a drink. And cheer on the Davis teams! (We all wear white or blue).

Let’s Draw Davis is a monthly sketchcrawl in Davis California, organized by myself, Alison Kent and Ann Filmer. It was started in 2010 as a way to encourage local sketchers to get outside and draw our city, and meet other people who like to do the same. We hold sketchcrawls each month in different locations with a different focus each time, they are open to all ages and levels and a great opportunity to learn from each other. Check out the Facebook page at: https://www.facebook.com/LetsDrawDavis/

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Endeavour

Space Shuttle Endeavour Feb2018 sm
In early March we went to LA, and saw the Space Shuttle Endeavour. It was quite an experience. I loved the Space Shuttle as a kid. It was so exciting. That massive fuel tank that falls away, the spacewalks, the landing back on Earth, as far as I was concerned, it was something we would all be riding on in The Future. I loved reading about the space program. I remember clearly the Challenger disaster, when I was 10, that shocking image, that double headed explosion. I read every article about that I could find. I put the newspaper on my bedroom wall, along with the photos of all the astronauts. It was a scary moment for me, when the realities of space travel broke my fantasy of becoming an astronaut; except I never really wanted to become an astronaut, I just wanted to go to space, float around a bit, maybe meet some aliens. Now the Space Shuttles are all retired. I did see this one before, from a good distance. When Endeavour was retired, it was flown to LA on the back of a large airplane, and passed over Sacramento – and Davis – on the way to a Bay Area flyover, before heading down to its resting place in Los Angeles. Now it is at the California Science Center in LA’s Exposition Park. Up close, it looks different than I expected. It is not some shiny sci-fi spaceship, it is very functional feeling, made up of a series of tough looking squares, each one numbered, looking almost like it was cobbled together on the job. Endeavour was in fact built as a replacement to Challenger, and between 1992 and 2011 she flew 25 missions into the earth’s orbit. I enjoyed sketching Endeavour, rekindling all my boyhood space travel dreams.

Barnstaple, Devon

barnstaple museum feb2018 sm
On my brief trip back to England I went to Barnstaple in north Devon, with my mum and sister to see my uncle Billy and his family. It had been a long time since I was in Devon; my 16 year old cousin Jade was still a newborn, which gives you an idea how long ago it was. I did go for a little walk on the Saturday afternoon to do a couple of sketches (also to have some amazing chips in gravy, so tasty). I stood at the busy intersection near the bridge over the wide river Taw and drew the scene above, the Barnstaple Museum, with the clock tower outside. Barnstaple is quite a busy town, and has a pretty bustling town centre on a Saturday afternoon. I have to say, coming from California, and coming from a suburb in north London, it was nice being in a town which has all the shops. Our hotel was right opposite a great toy shop too, they had a lot of Lego, as well as loads of model railways. As I say, it has been a long time since I was in Devon, and one of the things I love about the southwest are the hills in the background. I remember going camping in Devon when I was 16, and the scenery just brings me back. The English countryside really is beautiful. I’ve never really spent a lot of time in the country and the smaller towns and cities, always being in London; I’d love to tour the UK with a sketchbook like that Richard Bell book my cousin Dawn got me a few years ago), but living our here I’ll never get time. You can see the hilly backdrop behind the building below as well, I forget the name of that building (if only there was a way I could instantly look that up on the device I am typing this), but also visible is the Long Bridge over the Taw. I got up very early in the mornings to walk around town and along the river, cold damp February mornings. In those early mornings, you still had a few local lads out from the night before, singing, slurring, bit of scrapping. It was actually raining when I drew the one below, and I had to stop when it started getting heavy. I like the colour of the stone they use for these old buildings down here. Barnstaple itself goes back to Anglo-Saxon times and there is an interesting mosaic near where I drew this, at Queen Anne’s Walk,  showing the whole history of the place, vikings, pirates, traders and raiders.
barnstaple feb2018 sm

the bones of the blue whale

NHM blue whale 2018 sm

Back in February, I went back to London for a very short (unexpected) visit. I was down in Devon for a few days, and then back home in London for a day before heading back. For my one day in London, there was only one place I wanted to go – probably my favourite place, the Natural History Museum. It really is the best. I want to spend all day there some day, just drawing, drawing and drawing a lot more. I got a late start on this day, partly because, hey, nice to get a lie in after a lot of busy busy, but also because I’d spent the previous night with friends in Camden Town, after a long journey back from the South West of England. So I made it to the Natural History Museum by almost lunchtime. It was the first time I have been there since Dippy moved out. Dippy was (sorry, is) (if you call being a skeleton of an extinct animal present tense) (I say skeleton, it’s only a model) moved out last year to go on tour around the country, and make room on the ground in the Hintze Hall for more fancy events. Dippy was a Diplodocus, by the way. I realize I’m making Dippy sound like a House Elf. I sketched Dippy’s rear end back at the end of 2016, shortly before Dippy’s departure. Dippy was replaced by the large skeleton of a Blue Whale which now hangs majestically from the ceiling, the largest mammal in the world. I really wanted to sketch it. I don’t know if the Blue Whale has an inventive nickname yet, Bluey or Whaley, but I look at it and imagine I am one of the Avengers, facing down against a Chitauri space vessel. Well, in my head obviously. I’m not standing there doing Hulk impressions. I sketched from above, from one of the staircases in this most magnificent of London buildings, the sort of building that makes me really wish I had never left, that makes me so proud to be a native of a city that has such a place just right there where anyone can go and learn every single day. Sorry Davis, your bike museum is fine, but my heart is in Albertopolis. So, I drew Bluey the Whale from above and always intended on adding the colour, the browns and golds with purple tinted shadows of the museum, contrasted with the pale luminescent blue of the skeletal whale, but my friend Simon arrived and I didn’t want to keep him waiting about while I faffed about with the paints, so I left it as it is. We went around and looked at all the dinosaur skeletons and stuffed animals, and he expressed his grief at the removal of the much loved national treasure Dippy, which made me laugh as he’d just told me he hadn’t stepped foot inside the museum in well over twenty years.

NHM mantellisaurus 2018 sm

I did draw one dinosaur though, the one above. “Dinosaur” the sign called it. Thanks, but isn’t this, you know, Iguanadon? I know it is. They have moved everything around in there since my last visit (just over a year before) but I know my NHM dinos. When I was four or five I went there with school and was the resident dino expert in my class, counting vertebrae, knowing all sorts of things I cannot remember now (though I still have a couple of my old childhood dinosaur books, themselves relics of a past scientific age). It turns out this is The Dinosaur Formerly Known As Iguanadon, now renamed Mantellisaurus after its discoverer, Gideon Mantell. I wish I had discovered a dinosaur, maybe I could have one named after me. Scullysaurus has a nice ring to it. I don’t know what I’d be doing to discover a dinosaur, I don’t exactly go out digging in the rocks, but I might find one in a park or an art shop. It wouldn’t need to be a ‘saurus’ either, I would take a ‘dactyl’ or a ‘docus’, even a simple ‘don’ like my old big thumbed friend Iguanadon here. Maybe Pteranodon was named after a Pete but they mis-typed his named, we all do it, I’m always typing Ptee or Pere, to the point my autocorrect has given up and says I can be called whatever I want.

South Kensington Books 2018 sm

We were done with the museum, and it was dark outside already. I could have spent hours longer in there, but I had to get back to Burnt Oak as my family wanted to take me out for a curry (I was flying home next day), so Simon and I walked down to South Kensington and into the little shops there, and I did one last sketch, of South Kensington Books. Small independent bookshops are among the best things in the world, because I am the sort of person who says so, having worked for a couple over the years. I want to draw all of the old bookshops in London, while they are still there. Actually not a day goes by when I don’t miss London, this London, not the crowded working rainy expensive irritated London, but my London, the one I spent my teenage days looking for on Saturday afternoons with a travelcard. I am glad to have had an unexpected afternoon there, a last minute very short trip, but it reminds me how much I really miss it.

building california hall

california hall feb2018 sm

Ok here is another post. This is California Hall, currently under construction at the UC Davis campus. It has come along since this was sketched, in February, but it won’t be ready for Fall. No, I wish it would be but it won’t. At least that is what I’m told. Perhaps Darth Vader needs to come along and say that the Emperor is coming. I have sketched the earlier stages of this construction before. I like sketching the building work on campus, watching this place change gradually over the years. Another panorama, stood in the shade over the course of a couple of days while people biked past. There is Kerr Hall on the right there. Storer Hall is to the left. Those trees will have leaves now.

Here is what this spot looked like just three years ago: https://petescully.com/2015/03/21/asmundsen-kerr/

among the redbuds

Redbuds Arboretum Mar 2018 sm

And all of a sudden, two months passed and I didn’t post a thing. Perhaps I just really liked that sketch of the Manetti Shrem; whenever I would give out my little Moo card recently, I always thought, oh the past is old now but yeah, great sketch, I liked that one. I have sketched a lot since my last post (which was dated March but in sketching time zone it was still only January). My computer broke, so I took that as an opportunity to be really lazy about scanning my sketches regularly. Now I have a new machine the time has finally come to sketch the backlog. I’m going to break chronological order though, even sketchbook order, and post for my return to the sketchblogosphere this opening illustration of the latest Seawhite of Brighton sketchbook, the bright pink redbuds in the UC Davis Arboretum, with the Water Tower behind the tree. Those redbuds are gone now, but that colour is a powerful opening line to this book.

Now, in the middle of May, my seasonal allergies are going haywire at the mere sight of foliage. Seasonal allergies are the most boring thing ever. For me, very little really works, other than staying insulated in my office. However since I do have to coach soccer, and I also have to get out and draw from time to time, and also cycle from home to work, exposure to the outside world is, regrettably, necessary. It is boring though, having allergies. Boring, because everyone has a solution you haven’t tried. “Mm, yes, thanks, yes,” I nod, trying to find the facial emoji for “I am pretty sure I didn’t ask you for a cure”. Boring, because there is so much sneezing and never enough Kleenex. It’s funny how sneezing is automatically asking for a tissue. Sneezing is not however asking for a blessing, so come on world, let’s stop doing that. “Bless you.” says random person after sneez one. “Bless you!” they say again after sneeze two. “Oh, bless you,” they say after sneeze three, the concern creeping into their voice. They no more want to continue the blessing than I want to receive it. They have now locked themselves into a trap of politeness, like someone holding the door open for you when you are that bit too far away, they stand there expecting you to walk faster because they are holding the door for you, and even though you weren’t actually going to go through that door but turn and go another direction you feel you have to go through the door and pretend to be doing something in that building, you stand there looking at your phone like you are trying to remember the place you are pretending to look for, and you have to wait for them to leave the vicinity before creeping back outside the door and going the other way (that’s never happened to you?) “Bless you again!” they say on sneeze four, as if to say look, you’ve had your fun, nobody sneezes this much on purpose, and I’m not made of blessings. “Wow, hahaha!” they say on sneeze five and you want to vanish into a portal as you fumble for the dry half of the tissue in your back pocket. On sneeze six they raise their eyebrows, as if saying an internal prayer for forgiveness because they are refusing to bless this clearly sick individual who cannot stop sneezing. On sneeze seven they are ready to fight you. On sneeze eight you are obviously dangerous and they get their phone out, either to tweet about you or to call the police. On sneeze nine they dial, but this time they dial the Guinness Book of Records. On sneeze ten you’ve gone viral, the world’s media shows up and talk shows are discussing whether you are just a crisis sneezer, sneezing for attention, or whether you are the first victim of a new epidemic that will soon sweep the nation if we don’t vote for tax cuts for pharmaceutical companies (oo-er, little bit of politics, mrs thatch, mrs thatch). On sneeze eleven you’ve sold the advertising rights to the space between sneezes, mostly to those same pharmaceutical companies who offer allergy products with names like Zqxywfyl or Snotadrine. On sneeze twelve you’ve received so many blessings that you can officially be listed as a religion on the Census form. On sneeze thirteen – seriously thirteen sneezes? – you’re already appearing in sponsored ads at the bottom of websites with titles like “whatever happened to sneezing guy”. On sneeze fourteen, nothing happens. Everyone is calm and has just accepted you have allergies and will sneeze a lot. Everything is quiet. And then someone says, “I take local honey, that always works for me.” Which is code for “if you ever sneeze again, I swear I will end you.”

So yeah, no more bless-yous, no more “my sister-takes-this” cures, please just ignore my sneezing. By mid-June I should be ok. At least when I am sneezing, I am not making loads of dad-joke puns (oh right, except for the “a tissue!” one).

“You can’t handle the roof!”

Manetti Shrem panorama Jan2018 sm
This is the courtyard of the Manetti Shrem Museum of Art at the UC Davis campus. In January we had our monthly sketchcrawl here in Davis (we missed February; the next one will be on March 17, details to be posted later today at facebook.com/letsdrawdavis), and it was held at the Manetti Shrem. Regular viewers will recall that I drew this building from its first days of construction right through to the grand opening, and I was even invited to the big fancy party for artists and donors on the night before the opening, which was amazingly fun (the ice cream lollipops made on slabs of nitrogen were incredible). It’s a complicated piece of architecture, and I have not drawn it very often since, so I was overdue a sketch. After a morning of coaching a game of under-10 soccer (we lost 9-2 that morning, ouch) I needed to spend some time on a complicated panorama. This is a complicated panorama. Fun though, and it was nice having chats with people passing by, either other sketchers, or local Davis people I knew who happened to be visiting the museum, or students who were interested in art. One young bloke asked me about perspective and how I approach it. Well, get me on that subject! I told him about the multiple vanishing points, both up and down, and the horizon, and the sphere, curvilinear perspective, but said that with a building like this you just have to throw caution to the wind and say, ah just draw it all and see how it comes out. Don’t worry about it. Also another trick, on a two-page spread when the big valley is in the middle of the page, I used the large yellow pole that was in the foreground as a good place for a middle. Saved all those lines getting screwed up in the centre, falling down the gap. On the right, across Vanderhoef Quad, is the Mondavi Center. We’ll be going to see John Cleese there later this month. I’m sure he will be all grumpy

You can click on the sketch for a closer view if you like. Or maybe if you are in Davis, for an even more close view of the museum why not visit? It’s really cool there: https://manettishremmuseum.ucdavis.edu/

Also, try to draw that roof. Honestly, it is fun, like a puzzle. And if drawing that roof gets too much just put on a Jack Nicholson voice and say …