the grand ol’ canyon

Grand Canyon - Grand Viewpoint

After leaving Flagstaff, we drove north through Arizona, watching the landscape continue to change. We passed through the Navajo Nation – our clocks automatically went forward an hour from the rest of Arizona time. It was interesting as we stopped off for a bit to eat as well, the indoor mask enforcement was a much more in place on Navajo land than in the rest of Arizona, it was more like California. The Navajo Nation covers a pretty vast area, the largest Native American reservation in the US. After driving through for a while, there was a pinkish glow to the landscape ahead of us, and it was clear we were approaching canyon country. As the road turned we would start seeing gorges open up, wow that’s quite deep, and they would start getting deeper and you could see that ahead of us was something big that we couldn’t see. We arrived at the Grand Canyon National Park by the entrance furthest to the eats, whcih was a pretty great idea. I was expecting something like we experienced at Yosemite – long lines of cars, massive overcrowding, a couple of hours sat in traffic, but there was none of that at all. In fact I was incredibly impressed at how uncrowded the Grand Canyon NP was. When we first arrived and caught our first real view of the Canyon itself, the scenery just blows your breath away, it takes your mind, it’s like nothing you could really believe. We were here before, 20 years ago, long before our son came along, so this was his first time. We started out at Desert View Point, taking lots of photos, getting the National PArk stamps in my sketchbook, and I did a sketch of the Desert View Watchtower (below), built by the architect Mary Colter back in 1932, inspired by the ancestral Puebloan people of the Colorado Plateau. We also sat for a while outside by the rim and just looked, while I sat on a ledge and drew the scene above. I could only paint the shadows – the colours of the Canyon are a bit overwhelming for a predominantly urban urban sketcher like me, but I wanted to try a bit of Canyon painting. There was actually some snow on the rim, and the weather was bright and sunny but a little cold still, and I still wore my nice warm scarf.

GC-Desert View Watchtower

We drove further along the rim of Canyon to the Grand Canyon Village, where we were staying at a lodge right by the rim. Incredible location, we were lucky to get that. I caught the bus back down towards the South Kaibab trailhead. I was eager to do some hiking into the Canyon, and that was a pretty good trail to be taking on. The shuttle bus services at the Grand Canyon are amazing, all free, very regular, often with entertaining and knowledgeable drivers. I was going to be hiking alone down the South Kaibob trail as my family were resting up a bit, and I went about a mile or so down the narrow zigzagging paths until I reached Ooh-Aah Point. The temperature rose considerably as I descended – apparently the base of Canyon it is as warm as Phoenix, even if there is frost on the rim. I sketched at Ooh-Aah Point, making Eric Cantona jokes to myself  (“Ooh-Aah Canyona”). I got a lot of spectacular photos down there, but you only get to see my sketches, because I’m not organized enough to find and post those too. The Grand Canyon is so deep, man. Looking down at the hikers below who continued down the trail was like looking at ants. It’s nearly 5000 feet to the bottom, where the Colorado river keeps on carving and curving, and a good ten miles across to the north side. While my plan was just to hike to Ooh-Aah Point (about a mile or so) before climbing back up again to meet up with the family, I did start walking down the path a bit further, as I was making good time on foot. Then I realized just how steep it was, and how hot it was in the sun, so I headed skywards again. The climb back out was considerably more strenuous – I can see how hiking the Grand Canyon is like mountaineering in reverse, where the hard part is the bit when you are tired. You have to be careful, and drink lots of water, and there is no water on the trail itself, you have to bring a lot with you. I was pleased to get back to the more shaded zig-zagging paths near to the top, but there were people who were just knackered all along the way. I got to the top again and it felt like an achievement. I do like a hike. As I neared the rim, I saw some people throwing rocks into the Canyon. Not just the youths, but their parents too. Someone else told them not to do so as it was dangerous, but they just glared and kept on doing it anyway. I had seen people down on the trail, hikers with kids, and if a stone thrown down had hit them it could have been serious. I was right above them so I shouted down in my clearest Burnt Oak, “OI! STOP THROWING THEM BLOODY STONES! THERE’S PEOPLE DOWN THERE!” I like to think it echoed around the valleys like the Supreme Being in Time Bandits or something, but they did stop. Fools are gonna fool.

GC-Ooh Aah Point

We stayed in a nice little room at the Bright Angel Lodge, just footsteps from the edge of the Canyon. At night there were so many stars out my poor stretched eyes were popping out of their sockets. I love a bit of star-gazing. We slept ok, except for the noisy heating unit in the room, and I woke up super early before the sun came up and went outside to watch the day break, and of course do some early-morning sketching. It was pretty cold. I drew the small building near our lodge, the Lookout, which dates back to 1914. The Canyon was being filed with deep purple shadows and creamy orange light, but the sky was crisp. Hikers were already out, tenacious groups starting the Bright Angel Trail (that’s a hike I would like to do some day). I do get excited by all the hikers, it’s something I would like to do more of. The only thing is I like to sketch, so I probably need to hike with people that need to take lots of breaks.

GC-The Lookout sm

After drawing this, I was starting to feel quite cold but it was still early, the family was still sleeping and I had another sketch in me. There was a fire hydrant perfectly placed not too far away. Rather than go on a little solo morning hike, I sat and drew this instead. And then…my paints froze. They were acting unusual, beading up in places, not acting how my watercolours would normally act in warm dry Davis. I tried paint more but there was frost in my paint tray. This has never happened to me, but I’d got about halfway through (I had painted the whole previous one no problem) before I had to go back inside to warm the paints up. I was quite pleased with that background though, but Grand Canyon painting is a whole ‘nother ballgame. Fire hydrants however, I know those.

GC-Hydrant

On that second day we did do a lot of exploring, taking the shuttle bus out to the Hermits Rest, on the western end of the park, and did a mixture of hiking and shuttle-bussing back along the rim, taking photos along the way. I did start a couple of sketches, but just quick pencil outlines I never finished off.  The one below was one from the sunset the evening before, by the Grand Canyon Village, I drew all the pencil and then added in the colour after.

GC-Village view

This was an amazing trip and I’m so grateful to my amazing wife for arranging the whole thing and taking us everywhere, she has all the best ideas. We left the Grand Canyon and spent a couple of nights at a hotel resort in Scottsdale (next to Phoenix) where the weather was much hotter, I did no sketching, and we spent a lot of time going around the lazy river. I even saw a real life rattlesnake and a real life gila monster (not to worry, both were in glass cases in the hotel!). It was a nice trip to Arizona.

jungerman and bainer

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Before we get to the Grand Canyon, a couple more UC Davis sketches to tide us over, sketched just a few yards from each other (albeit facing in a different direction). Above is Jungerman Hall, which houses the Crocker Nuclear Lab. They do lots of stuff with their Cyclotron. I can’t pretend I know what the Cyclotron does but I imagine it’s what the Autobots would have turned into if they had landed on Earth before cars were invented, and they just transformed into bikes. Still, I bet it would be cool to draw, hint hint. Below, the side of Bainer Hall, which is where lots of Engineering types can be found. From above, it kind of looks like a chunky Y-Wing fighter. Not everything is about Star Wars, of course. That strange rocket shaped tower protruding from the roof looks nothing like anything in Star Wars, because as we know vehicles in Star Wars don’t rely on rocket propulsion to leave their respective atmospheres. I’m not an engineer, nor a science fantasy writer, so don’t quote me on that. “Jungerman and Bainer” sounds a bit like it could be the name of a cop show, neurotic perfectionist Jungerman partnering with brash no-nonsense Bainer, the pair not getting along at all when the chief puts them together to investigate some serious crime, having a hunch they’ll make a good team to crack the case, but they end up getting caught by the main villain and tied up, where they form a bond and use engineering know-how mixed with blunt force to escape and – let’s face it the pilot of this show is totally getting cancelled, isn’t it. Still more interesting than Jurassic World Dominion. Maybe the TV execs are cancelling it because there’s not enough dinosaurs. Anyway, enough of that tangent. I’m done scanning all the sketches from my recent European trip, so hopefully those will all be posted here soon, probably over the course of the next few months at my rate.

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route sixty-six

Flagstaff AZ Back in March we took a Spring Break trip to Arizona. The last time I was in Arizona was 20 years ago, on my first trip to America when my future wife drove me out to the Grand Canyon. On this trip, we would be seeing the Grand Canyon again but also some other parts of the state, some places we’d always wanted to see. We started off our trip by flying into Phoenix, and spending about an hour and a half in line for a rental car with loads of other people. Eventually we made it out with a vehicle, and drove through a landscape studded with thousands of the iconic cactus-shaped cacti, the exact ones you see in cartoons, the symbol of the Wild West. Honestly it was exciting just to see that. We drove past all of that country until the landscape changed, and ended up in Flagstaff, on the old Route 66. We were staying a couple of nights here, and it has an interesting old downtown (see the above sketch) and a dramatic backdrop, with snow speckling the nearby peaks. In fact we got snowed on ourselves while walking down to the Mother Road Brewing Company for dinner (and tasty beer). No escaping that Route 66 feel here, this town was mentioned in the old Chuck Berry song you have probably heard.

Meteor Crater AZ

We motored east down the modern Interstate, but we could see signs of old towns long gone from the original route. We were headed for the Meteor Crater, sketched above. I have wanted to visit this since I was a kid. Growing up I had this book, the Atlas of Natural Wonders. It was one of those glossy books you get from those book companies years ago, remember when you would get adverts to sign up for a free trial and get a bunch of books, which then turns into some sort of monthly subscription? I think it was probably something like that, we had loads of those sort of books, because my dad would sign up for them for the free books and then cancel, probably. I always had a lot of interesting hardback books on my shelf, maybe about Mammals, or The West, or this one book on The Atlas of Natural Wonder. Or maybe it was given to me for Christmas? Lost on the memory of time, and I have no idea where the book is now, but I must have read that book to death. The Delicate Arch in Utah was on the cover. I remember clearly telling myself that my ambition would be to go to every place in that book. I have slowly been checking those off; I visited three places from the book on this trip alone. The first was Meteor Crater, a massive mile-wide impact crater out in the high northern Arizona desert. For years they didn’t know exactly what had caused it (um, lads, it’s called ‘meteor crater’, hello like). Cost a bomb to go in, astronomical entry fee, but it was worth it to me to finally see this massive hole in the ground. I couldn’t really sketch it too well, so I did a quick one, while my family sheltered from the wind. It was a special moment though, and I’m really glad we went.

Wigwam Motel

We journeyed on, heading towards another place from the book, but this is Route 66 country, and that will always be exciting to us because when my son was little, he was obsessed with the movie Cars, and so by extension we were obsessed with it too. Cars is a brilliant film, and really gets creative with the mythos of the old Route 66, and what happened to all those old towns along it when the freeways were built. One town that reminded us more than any other of Radiator Springs (except maybe Moab in Utah, which really has the look of it down, although much much busier) was Holbrook. It felt like time had left it behind a little, to get old and rusty. We were looking specifically for the Wigwam Motel, not the only one of its kind left, but pretty iconic. In the movie Cars, this corresponds with the Cozy Cones motel run by Sally. “Gettin’ cozy at the cones, is we?” as Mater tells Lightning McQueen. At the Wigwam, all of the rooms really are these large teepee-shaped cones, outside of which is parked an ancient rusting classic car. It’s no exaggeration that if I could have spent sunrise to sundown there sketching I would have. As it happened, we were a bit pressed for time so I had to do the quick outline sketches and draw the details in later from the pictures I took. This place was heaven. There’s nothing I like more than something metal and rusty, probably because I myself am a bit metal and rusty. Look at that old Ford below though, with its headlights knocked out, what a beauty. It would have been interesting to explore Holbrook a little more, we just drove through it to find here, but that was definitely a town I could sketch a lot of.

WigwamMotelAZ-old car

But we were on a schedule to reach another National Park for our collection – Petrified Forest. This was in The Book, a diverse and unusual place full of strange unearthly landscapes, like the Painted Desert, the Blue Mesa, and the Rainbow Forest, and scattered everywhere are so many broken logs, hundreds of millions of years old, that time has turned into stone, or ‘agate’. Many of them look like normal tree logs from the outside, although the bark has turned stony since the late Triassic, but inside might be the most colourful crystal colours, due to the process of fossilization. It was fascinating. We wandered about the strange landscapes, trying to imagine the forests millions of years ago that eventually left us with these, as the face of the planet shifted up and down. These trees were probably on Pangaea. When 200 billion years old you reach, look as good you will not.

Petrified Forest AZ

I know ‘Petrified Forest’ sounds like something from a Halloween movie, but there are no scary monsters here. There are a few dinosaurs though, and not just dinosaurs but other prehistoric beasts, which we discovered at the Visitor Center. Many date from the Triassic Period, which as you will know comes before both the Jurassic and the Cretaceous. The Triassic was the period in which we saw the rise of the dinosaurs, the New Hope following the cataclysmic Permian-Triassic Extinction event, while the Jurassic was more like Empire Strikes Back I guess, Diplodocus being like the AT-ATs, and the Cretaceous very much the Return of the Jedi of prehistoric periods, with T-Rex being like the Emperor, and the Ewoks being that big asteroid. I’ve not thought this through, but I think Han Solo being frozen in carbonite is significant. Anyway I drew the skeleton below which is of Placerias Hesternus, a herbivorous “not-quite-a-mammal” from the late Triassic, which look a bit like the creature that Anakin Skywalker rides in the Geonosian arena in Attack of the Clones, because everything is about Star Wars.

Petrified Forest Skeleton

Side note, I went to see the new Jurassic Park movie this weekend, “Jurassic World Dominion”. Now I love Jurassic Park, the original film, it’s perfect. Jurassic World Dominion on the other hand…phew, glad that is over. Those newer movies should now go extinct, please, never dig them up. It’s like they never took their own advice from the first film, they never stopped to think about whether they should. Jurassic Park had its shot, and nature selected it for extinction. Now what I am doing there is making references to the brilliant original film, which is what the new film does constantly, and badly. I only went to see it to see the original trio of Alan, Ellie and Ian (the Han, Luke and Leia of the Jurassic films, if you will) back together again, which was nice. Every scene though it seemed like, hmm there’s no dinosaur in this room, let’s put dinosaurs here! And here! And here! Too many dinosaurs, not enough story. They really wanted to explore the idea of dinosaurs in the snow though, for some reason, it was like Barney on Ice. And oh look! T-Rex v Giganotosaurus! Who wins? Who cares. Not relevant. Next time, just make a Street Fighter style game but with dinosaurs. It was a pretty terrible movie. At one point Jeff Goldblum even says, “Jurassic World? Yeah, not a fan…” and like everyone on set stares at the audience for about ten minutes (I might have imagined that last bit) until we all died inside, got buried beneath rock for millions of years, then were cloned again using amphibian DNA for the grand finale, which was basically “so nothing’s changed then”. Jurassic World Dumb-inion more like. Two Iguanadon thumbs down.

Anyway back to our Arizona trip! That was our day along Route 66. We ended it with some local pizza in Flagstaff, getting ready for the next part of the trip – the Grand Canyon…

SHEEP

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I may post the next batch of sketches out of order, which is either bang out of order, or just what the doctor ordered, depending on what cliche you prefer. I wanted to post this now because who doesn’t love drawings of sheep? What’s more I am going to attempt to write a post about sheep without making a single ovine-based pun, even in the title. I’m telling you, it’s really difficult for someone like me, who loves a pun no matter how weak, but I’m trying Ringo, I’m trying real hard. (Pulp Fiction references to shepherds are allowed). Anyway back in Spring quarter we had some sheep in the middle of campus, out on a little enclosed piece of greenery outside Bainer, very close to where I work. These are the UC Davis Sheepmowers (see https://arboretum.ucdavis.edu/sheep-mowers), and they are invited to a lawn to graze, to “eat weeds and grass, fertilize and control pests as well as or better than using conventional landscaping methods”. Also, I think people just like seeing sheep, it’s good for them. We are an agricultural school – our nickname is the Aggies, which took me a couple of years to figure out, I used to think it was a reference to that Scottish woman who cleans houses on TV, I never watched that show – so farm animals are not uncommon to us, but mostly they are in fields and stables on the outskirts of campus, rather than right in the middle. Always nice to see the sheep.

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Anyway as part of the Sheepmowers project, they had this great idea of getting UC Davis people down to draw the sheep, providing art materials and watercolours (and shade, very important), and inviting people to sit around the edge and draw the sheep. Well I couldn’t pass that opportunity up, so I enthusiastically drew the little sheep fellows, daydreaming about that episode of Father Ted with the sheep, the one with the ‘Beast of Craggy Island’, and other sheep based TV shows like Larry the Lamb, Shawn the Sheep, er, Roger Ramjet? There are probably more famous TV sheep I’m not thinking of, and I’m still trying so, so hard not to do a sheep-based pun. This is an act of sheer wool-power (aaargh!!!!!!!!! one slipped out. Two technically).

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Right, definitely no more sheep puns. Hey do you remember counting sheep when you were a kid, to go to sleep? No, that never worked for me either. I always thought that was really weird, like how is that a thing, counting sheep? So basically you imagine the sheep, and then count them? How many do you imagine? If you imagined them you wouldn’t need to count them. “I imagine 500 sheep”. So you start counting them but your brain says, look you know there are 500, you don’t need to check. I always had a hard time going to sleep when I was a kid, for one thing I kept imagining my room being full of sheep. These days I tend to listen to a history podcast, preferably someone with a boring voice, to get me to sleep. “Hello, and welcome to the history of sheep.” Anyway, I really enjoyed coming down and drawing the sheep. Below you can see the scene in full, with many others drawing and painting all the little sheep.

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To find out where the Sheepmowers will be this Fall check out https://arboretum.ucdavis.edu/sheep-mowers.

Face to Face with Chancellor May

Mrak and moped, UC Davis

Here’s something exciting – recently I was interviewed by the UC Davis Chancellor, Gary May, as part of his ‘Face To Face’ interview series with UC Davis people. The video was just posted yesterday on his channel, and features a chat with me about sketching, Davis, and other things too. It was recorded back in March (around the time when I drew the picture above, of a scooter outside Mrak Hall, the building where we filmed it) and was great fun, a great honour to be invited over to chat. I always get nervous hearing myself speak, but hopefully you will like it. Many thanks to Chancellor May and his team for speaking with me and putting this together! You can see the whole video here:

UC Davis News article: https://www.ucdavis.edu/news/podcasts-and-shows/face-to-face/pete-scully-sketches-surroundings?utm_source=datelinehtml&utm_medium=datelinenewsletter&utm_campaign=dateline_20220628

shake it up baby

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Time for some more Beatles story. This is an old EP (“extended play” for you modern kids, not an album or “LP” – long play – and not a single, but it’s the size of a single, and it has four songs on it instead of two. A bit like you would get on a CD single in the 90s) from 1963, “Twist and Shout”. It’s an original copy, with the yellow-lettered Parlophone, and I’ve had it since about 1989, when I would go around second-hand shops and car-boot sales looking for old Beatles records to add to the collection that my uncle Billy started me off with. As you can see it still has the little two quid sticker on it. I forgot I still had this, sitting in my cupboard, so when I came across it again I thought that would be a good opening page for my new Moleskine sketchbook. A sketchbook that I have now closed, and started a new one (I’m very far behind posting). Still, with the rekindling of my life long Beatles obsession with the release of both the “Get Back” film and Paul McCartney’s “The Lyrics” book at the end of 2021, now’s a good time to post this. Macca just turned 80 over a week ago, so I’ve been gorging on Paul’s songs lately, but Twist and Shout – perhaps the Beatles’ most famous cover song, recorded in a single take and an absolute belter musically – is very much about John and his ripped-to-shreds voice. I bloody love it, I love the “aaaah….aaaah…aaaah” harmonies, the call and response with George and Paul, I love the leather-jacketed guitar riff which feels it has bounced straight off the sweaty walls of the Top Ten Club in Hamburg, I love Ringo’s excited drumming, I love that this is the sound of a band that absolutely loved playing music and gave it their all. It’s also got “A Taste of Honey”, “Do You Want To Know A Secret” (I quite like that one) and “There’s A Place” on it, but after the raw energy of Twist and Shout, these are like cups of tea to help you calm down.

I still have most of my old Beatles records, the ones I either got my uncle when I was 12 or 13, or ones I picked up in second hand shops and car boot sales around the same time, a mixture of originals, imports or old reissues, or new (new for 1988) reissues given to me as Christmas presents, like my beloved and much-played copy of the White Album. I never had a big record collection, but it was decent and full of personal memories. I don’t even play records any more; I have a small record player here now that my wife got me ages ago, but it plays records a bit too fast, and the sound comes out of a little built-in speaker on the back, not out of two big speakers in wooden boxes perched on top of my wardrobe like in the olden days. The sound of records couldn’t be beaten, that crackle of the vinyl, the realness of it. Sure CDs came along and suddenly we could hear it all, but the vinyl experience was something special. In Beatles albums especially there was usually a distinct side 1 and side 2 feel that is lost in modern albums which are – or were? – one-side constructions for CDs, now for download albums. There was a reason the ‘Ringo song’ was sometimes track 1 of side 2, it made it easier to skip it when you flipped the disc over, now it’s in the middle of the album and catches you out. Ah, I’ve learned not to mind “What Goes On”.

I’ve got a million things to say about the Beatles and they’ll always be my comfort blanket to escape back into, same as for many people, but right now I’m just enjoying the post-Get Back world and spending time with the guitar again, which I’d not done in years, even messing around on the keyboard, and of course the ukulele. I recently bought my first new guitar in 16 years, and last week got my son his first ever guitar, so there’s a bit more music back in the Scully household again.

been away so long i hardly knew the place

3rd st panorama, Davis CA

Yes, it’s been a couple of months without a post on this sketchblog, but in my defense I’ve been lazy. Well, I’ve also not bought a new computer yet and my current one that I use for all my scanning is making a noise like Evel Knievel, so I’ve been reluctant to turn it on and catch up with the scanning. I have sketches from Arizona, Nevada, London, France, Belgium, and even Davis. Finally the other day I braved the loud slow machine and got it working enough to scan about half of those sketches. I need to work up the courage to turn it back on again and scan the rest. With everything going on in the world right now, I don’t have headspace for a noisy belligerent computer and a mountain of scanning, but at least some of it has been done. Now for the storytelling. This sketch goes back all the way to St. Patrick’s Day, and was drawn on 3rd Street, Davis. It was going to be all coloured in, but you know, one purple flag and a green tree was all it needed in the end (also, lazy). It’s hard to believe that it is nearly July now. I did do a race back in March though called the Lucky Run, it took place around north Davis where I live, and was St. Patrick’s Day themed. I wore my 1994 Republic of Ireland shirt, the one they wore at World Cup USA 94 when Ray Houghton scored that great goal as we beat Italy 1-0. I still have a t-shirt my mum got me a couple of days later at an Irish music festival that says “We kicked Italian Ass on American Grass”. Probably wouldn’t wear that now; probably wouldn’t fit anyway. I have another shirt my mum got me when Ireland beat England in 1988 at the Euros, “these boys made history” with a photo of the team. There were probably ruder ones available given the immensity of the occasion and the feeling between the two nations at the time but I was only 12 during Euro 88. I was 18 during USA 94 but the Republic’s huge baggy 90s-style shirt still feels massive on me even now. That made it nice to run in though. I’ve decided that for all future races I will wear a different classic football shirt. For the Davis Stampede in February, I wore the Hearts of Oak (from Accra, Ghana) shirt from a few years ago, that got a comment of “cool jersey!” from the race commentator as I crossed the line. I have another race in a couple of weeks, the Davis MOOnlight run, which is an evening race so I should wear something light coloured, I have a snazzy Ghana shirt, or maybe one of my Spurs shirts, another baggy 90s one maybe. Yes, something baggy, because I’ve not been exercising and practicing quite as much as usual lately so I feel a bit out of shape. I need to get back into routine, back to running several times a week, back to the gym, back to early starts; but you know, lazy. Hopefully this race will inspire me back to get out there.

Anyway I will also get back to posting my sketches and stories here again, some interesting travels to talk about, and some more travels yet to come. I’ve finally crossed the Atlantic again after three years and intend to keep doing it, make up for lost time.

TLC, all finished

Teaching Learning Complex UC Davis

Sure I’m a couple of months behind, but it’s good to get sketch-blog active again. The sketch-blog is a nice place after all, unlike the popular social media spaces that have dominated our lives and re-shaped global politics since the days when just a bit of regular blogging was the thing. It feels like a little allotment escape, a place to come away from the busy shouty high street tumble-dryer of Twitter, the shopping mall of Instagram, the awkward friends-of-family wedding of Facebook, although I do miss the music-store-noticeboard of MySpace. I prefer it in here, just me and my sketchbook, and some rambly stuff that doesn’t make a lot of sense but isn’t setting out to enrage and inflame. Now this drawing is a couple of month’s old already but it is the Teaching and Learning Complex at UC Davis, which I have been drawing as it has been built, and is now complete, save for some work on the top floor. It’s lovely inside and outside, some nice spaces for student learning. The construction people who built it actually gifted me a very nice surprise upon completion of the project, a nice sweater with their logo and  one of my construction drawings stitched into the arm! It looks great. The sweater is quality (Patagonia) but quite warm, so I’ll probably need to wait until after the Davis summer to wear it (or just bring it with me to the London for the British summer). A pretty cool honor though. I’ve enjoyed drawing this building over the past couple of years, and here are some of the other sketches, from various angles and times of day…

Silo and Teaching Learning Complex, UC Davis TLC Feb 2022 sm 052421 TLC UCD Latest at the Teaching Learning Complex, UC Davis TLC UCD teaching learning complex Teaching and Learning Complex UC Davis silo smoky sky teaching learning complex sept 2020 Teaching Learning Complex UCD July 2020 Silo and Teaching Learning Complex (under construction...)

Phew! I drew a lot. I should draw the interior some time. Now on to the next project…

on the wall at walker hall

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After several years of redevelopment, the new Graduate Center at Walker Hall had its formal grand opening a few weeks ago. Part of the grand opening included a special exhibition of several of my in-progress sketches, which I’ve shared here over the past few years, of the construction and redevelopment period. They blew them up into large colorful prints and have them displayed right now in the lobby area of the building, along with a touch screen where you can flick through all those sketches, along with a variety of historical photos from the past century. What an honour! I’m gobsmacked at what a nice display it was, and I got a lot of very nice comments from the people touring the building on that day. One of my personal favourites was of the building pre-reconstruction, the big panorama I did in 2014 when it was still in its old Walker Hall form, and that was nice to see big on the wall. There was another one – the ‘sneezy one’ – a sketch I started but abandoned after 10 minutes due to a massive attack of the April sneezing. I wrote “Atchoo!” all over the page and left it. Well they even made a print of that one! And that one is the one people mentioned to me the most. I think we all have those allergy experiences in Davis in the spring… There were several from that time when I was able to go inside and sketch the mid-construction shell, drawing bits of the interior in a hard hat just before dark, but most of the sketches were done peering over the fence or standing on a bench next to the bins. I’m pleased to have documented this project like this.

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I did draw some of the ceremony outside that was given by the Chancellor Gary May, Vice Chancellor for Finance Kelly Ratliff (not in the sketch, I arrived during her speech), Graduate Dean JP Delplanque, and several others also not sketched here. I used to be a graduate coordinator for years on campus and always liked working with the Grad Studies team, so I am really pleased to see them get this amazing new space. Especially for the graduate students on campus, as this is the first dedicated Graduate Center of its kind in the UC system, which is great.

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You can see all of my Walker Hall sketches in this album on Flickr: https://www.flickr.com/photos/petescully/albums/72157678149480548

Now on to the next campus drawing project! It’s a while now since I drew the Manetti Shrem going up, the old Boiler Building going down and replaced with the Pitzer Center; more recently I drew the Teaching and Learning Complex, which just opened recently. I like to draw things as they are being built because  they are moments in time that are not repeated, they will never look like that again, and spaces have meaning to people. Drawing them is a way of connecting with them myself and sharing a personal perspective.

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Yep, it’s been over a month since I posted; my home computer has been down, I don’t like typing on the iPad, and I’ve been sitting on a pile of scanning. I need a new computer but have been lagging behind a bit there. I’ve done a bit of drawing, a lot of sneezing, a lot of soccer coaching, and I got a new guitar which has been taking up some of my spare time. Still hopefully I can start posting my sketches and stories more regularly again soon. Summer planning is afoot and there will finally be some travelling across the Atlantic. Check back soon!

towering over our heads

UC Davis arboretum Here’s another sketch of the UC Davis Water Tower (one of them anyway) in the Arboretum, this time with a very spring-like feel with the redbuds glowing. The first day of March 2022, which means we are nearly two years on from that day in March 2020 when we all stopped, and then carried on in a different way.