I took a little break in posting there; I’ve been busy, lot going on, plus my computer was making a noise like a tractor, so I wasn’t scanning any sketches, and I can’t write a blog post without a sketch, it’s like a crutch. I like writing though, it’s an important thing to do. I don’t do enough of it these days. November is coming up; I remember trying to do NaNoWriMo a couple of times, that didn’t last long. I don’t know if I have a novel in me. I just like to draw fire hydrants, I’m not that interesting. If I were a novelist, basically I would write the same story with the same characters over and over, but in each one you would see one or two small changes from the last time I wrote the novel, until eventually the thirtieth novel is completely different from the first. Wow, when you pitch it like that it sounds like a good novelist career plan. This view is a bit like that though. I have been drawing this view, from the steps of Bainer Hall looking towards the Silo and the Bike Barn (the most sketchable places within short walking/eating distance from my office) since 2007 and it has changed a bit each time, as has my style of drawing. This was drawn nearly a month ago, about a week into the new quarter of the academic year at UC Davis. Things are going well though, all these big classes in-person, everyone doing their bit to stay healthy, fully vaccinated and masked, no new spikes, at least not yet. Many staff still work at least partially remote. Students and bikes are everywhere, as they were in years past, though still feels a little quieter in other places. I like going in every day, though in addition to computer issues I’ve been having bike issue, so I’ve not been riding as much. I’ve been walking a lot though, totally smashing the ten thousand steps a day challenge. I’ve been coaching soccer in what spare time I have, that has been very battery-draining; our team has been winning though so that’s good, and we have a Halloween themed tournament next weekend which will be fun (our team costume is Spider-Man, and I love Spidey and the Marvel stuff as you know). I have been wanting to find some time to make another animation with the various Marvel Legos I’ve been collecting over the years, the last one I did was a couple of Halloweens ago, Dr Strange themed. I’ve been reading a lot of old comics on Marvel Unlimited – I love all the old X-Men stuff in particular – but I still love that old Fraction/Aja Hawkeye series, so I’m well excited about the new Hawkeye series coming on Disney+, seriously bro. I have been breaking out the guitar again for the first time in years, I’m still not any good at it but I don’t care, I like playing chords and remembering songs. I started getting back to the ukulele when we were in Hawaii in August, I forget how much playing music to myself is soothing on the soul, even if not on other peoples’ ears. But I have been drawing, still drawing, when I can. It’s never enough; I would like to be out drawing today, though I’ve decided to stay home and rest while rain finally starts to come down outside; after all these long months, we are at last getting some rain. I walked to work in the rain the other day, and it felt like home, felt like being back in London. By which I mean I was all romantically gazing at the grey sodden skies and taking in the breeze for the first ten minutes, and by the time I got to my office I was wet despite the umbrella, sweaty and grumpy, and wishing London was California. I am missing London right now though. It’s nearly two years since I was last home; this pandemic has kept me away too long. All I hear in the news and from friends is how depressing it is there right now, but I miss it, still. I am nervous about travelling international right now, in case I get a positive test and can’t fly back on time; things are just too busy. But do I want to stand on the embankments of the Thames and get depressing grey London rain down my face? Yeah, I do. Do I want to get on a packed tube train? Not really, no. Isn’t that the same London story as ever for me, just a few details changing over the years? Pretty much. So for now I draw Davis, and I’ve finally caught up on the scanning so I’ll post my newer drawings here soon, maybe with more interesting stories. Or maybe just the same stories again.
Many of my favourite things to do got sidelined during the pandemic. Going to the cinema – I loved doing that. The last thing I’d watched at a cinema was Sonic The Hedgehog; I was determined not to have that be the last thing I saw at a cinema before the cinemas all closed down and replaced with streaming. I love travelling to other countries, not exactly an easy thing to do even now. My last trip to the UK was November 2019. And I love to sketch in pubs. I love to sit at the bar, nice slow pint, sketchbook out, putting the atmosphere of the pub on the paper. Historic old pubs, all the better. I’ve missed that. So, down in the city for the third time in less than three months, I found myself in the Inner Sunset neighbourhood, on my way for an afternoon wandering about Golden Gate Park, because I’ve not really spent much time doing that. I had some new green paints and fancied drawing a bit of foliage. I am usually bored by foliage but I thought, different park innit. However, I needed a wee. I didn’t think I could wait to go looking for the public toilets in the park, so I stopped by the Little Shamrock pub on Lincoln, which dates back to 1893. As I approached, I could see through their open window that they still have a sketch of the pub that I drew in 2013 hung proudly on the wall, next to all the historic photos and articles about the old place. That was a nice surprise, and a sign that maybe I didn’t need to go to the park just yet. so I decided to stop here; you still have to show the vaccination card to get a drink, but it wasn’t very busy and I found a lovely table by that open window for the breeze (and I was sat beneath my old sketch). And over a couple of beers, I drew the scene above, which is my first pub interior since 2019. I was pretty pleased with it. It surely ate into my foliage sketching time, but pah, I prefer sketching a pub. The couple seated at the bar were, I guess, on their way to the baseball to see the Giants, the man was in a Buster Posey jersey. That brings me back to 2012, 2013 myself, when we were watching the Giants a lot ourselves. Back when they were winning stuff. Posey was the young buck; he’s still there. I haven’t watched baseball in about eight years. I think the game I was watching might still be going on. Anyway there is a lot to sketch, all the flags, all the colourful lamps, all the ornately shaped chairs. The dark areas, the light areas, oh I have missed this. I spent a good hour and a half or so in there. Here’s my old exterior sketch on the wall, I love the red frame. Makes me feel like part of the story.
And here is my other sketch from 2013, for a bit of ‘Throwback Thursday’ on a Saturday. This was done sat at the bar. I remember listening to a couple next to me talking about the art world, I think they worked in galleries, so I knew I was in good art company. I usually am, in the city. I had just attended the annual ZineFest, and was armed with some of my own zines, that short bar-zine I produced back then, Davis Bar-By-Bar. The guy who worked there even bought one, and really liked my sketches of the day, and not too long after that they must have bought that print of the exterior sketch, because next time I came here with my wife we saw it in there. It’s a great old pub this, maybe my favourite in the city (well top two, I do love Specs down on Columbus) it would be nice to come back in the evening some day. I’m not quite ready for busy bars right now though, but this was a fun way to spend the afternoon, and involved very little foliage sketching.
I did go to Golden Gate Park though, eventually, wandered about. But there were a lot of people, a lot of cars, and not really enough things I wanted to draw. There was a long line to go into the Japanese Gardens, and it was a bit expensive for the amount of time I’d have been in there, so I gave it a miss. I wandered without sketching, and headed back to the Inner Sunset.
I used a bit of the green paint. After stopping for a cookie at a counter, I crouched down on the corner of Judah and 5th and sketched this hydrant with a nobbly top. There’s always a fire hydrant. These ones with the little metal bobbles on their hat are very specific to San Francisco. I was told years ago that it was for the horses, the fire horses would be tied to the big ball on top of the hydrant. That’s true, I’m going to say. It has been a while since I drew a hydrant like this too, I think.
I had wanted to go across the park to the area along Clement, to finally find Green Apple Books, to explore a part of town I’d not been to. Alas I never made it. But there is another branch of Green Apple Books right here, “By The Park”, so I went in for a browse and picked up a little postcard book of artwork from My Neighbour Totoro. I had a little bit of time before I had to jump on the Muni back downtown, so I stood in the street and drew as much as a I could of the shop and the view up 9th. The fog had rolled in by this point, but it had been a really nice day. I had to finish it off later, but I was tiring and needed to get back to Davis. Another well-worth-it day out in the city, I can’t wait for the next one. I’m already studying the map for more exploring. ‘Sketchploring’. I am a sketchplorer. Or maybe a sketchsplorer?
A few weekends ago, I went down to the city for the day. It was my third trip to San Francisco since June, that is, my third trip to San Francisco since months before the pandemic even began. Making up for lost time, making the most of an opportunity to get out of Davis, catching up on the sketching for this year. Lately I have found it harder to fit the sketching in, what with the heat, the soccer coaching (I have been tending to spend lunchtimes desperately trying to plan practices), and also the thing about having drawn everything in Davis and the need to go and draw something new. So, I went to San Francisco, and drew some things I have drawn before. It was a Sunday, and I arrived in the middle of the city right by the Westfield on Market, where I made a beeline for the Lego store. So much great stuff. It was also lunchtime by this point, so I went to the Food court. Now on the way down, my wife had mentioned to me, oh by the way I think San Francisco requires you to show your vaccination card to get into anywhere to eat. Um what? I didn’t bring it, I had no idea. Thankfully I remembered that I had a scan of it uploaded into my UC Davis profile, which I was able to access because, for sure, they checked them before entering the food court, where I had a delicious chicken philly sub. That saved me from a day of eating Snickers bars from train station vending machines. Anyway, well fed and ready to sketch, I headed out into Market Street and looked for a building I last drew about nine years ago. It is the big one with the dome, no not that one, the smaller one with the green dome and a big sign saying ‘The Hibernia Bank’. I’ve always just called this the ‘Hibernia Bank Building’, meaning I assume it’s actually called something else obscure like the ‘Howlett-Summers-Grey Building’ or ‘Number 1 Jones’ something. But no, it’s called the Hibernia Bank Building, and it dates back to 1892. Yes, before the Earthquake in 1906, which it totally survived, probably giving it all “call that a quake?”. Well it had a bit of damage in the fire but not too badly. The architect was a man called Albert Pissis, but I’m not going to make fun of his name, that would be taking the p-, er, that would be taking the mick. It’s a great looking building though, placed at an angle against Market which cuts diagonally through the edge of the grid. Below, that’s the sketch I did back in 2012, obviously from a few steps further along the street,
Okay, back from 2012 to 2021. Did I ever imagine nine years later I’d be sketching the same thing, but this time on the other end of a pandemic which has done what it’s done? No of course not. But drawing the same thing again over a period of many years does provide a kind of constant to anchor yourself to in time. Yes, I rewatched Lost recently, I love that oddball Faraday. When I was done with this sketch I decided I’d take the Muni up to the Inner Sunset, sketch around the Park. I had to stop though to take a look at the San Francisco City Hall. There was a market going on at UN Plaza, so I stood in the middle of the sunlight for a few quick minutes and sketched the big dome, which is the other big dome I referred to earlier. That was foreshadowing. Actually its not really foreshadowing if it’s not really a big event is it? It’s more like a callback. A small reference made earlier to a small reference I would be making later. I don’t think there will be any more of those, so don’t worry if you weren’t paying attention. So City Hall – this was where my friends James and Lauren, visiting from England, got married back in 2015, with me as the only witness. A beautiful day in the city that was, one I will always remember. The interior is pretty breathtaking, beneath that big dome. Now though, Civic Center Plaza is home to a huge homeless encampment, which is mostly fenced off.
I’ve drawn this here big dome before, but I’m not going that far back. It’s further back than 2012. Ok, you’ve twisted my arm. Here are a couple – the first was done in, gulp, 2007, while the second was in a much more recent feeling 2009. Oh mate. I have been sketching San Francisco since 2006, and it turns out that’s a long time ago. Like, when I first sketched San Francisco, it was as far away in time from now as it was from when I was a gangly fifteen year old at school playing guitar and obsessing about Spurs and spending my Saturdays wandering about London or in libraries reading books about languages and drawing big fantasy buildings and writing silly stories. Haha, ok when you put it like that, maybe I’m not too different. Anyway here they are.
I did go to Inner Sunset but I will leave that for another post, because I can tell you need a sit down after this hike down memory lane. I think when you decide to head off on that trail, the memory lane, you need a guide to tell you if it will be ‘easy’, ‘moderate’, ‘difficult’ or just ‘bloody painful to think about’. I look at pictures from the olden days, the long long ago, and it gets me a bit sad. You can’t pause time, can you, it just won’t let you. (Admittedly we did try to back in March 2020, and we would have gotten away with it, but the months since just slid by like a shot of whiskey on a long saloon bar. Speaking of which, my next post will feature My First Interior Bar Sketch Since 2019, which is quite a milestone. You’ll have to wait for that though.
Speaking of waiting – nice callback there* – when I first arrived at Richmond station for the BART train into the city, I had to wait for 29 minutes for a train, 29 minutes that felt a lot longer than 29 minutes (just like years, the first 29 last forever, then after that you’re on a speeding train that ain’t stopping till it stops), so I got the sketchbook out, and drew. The sketch took about 15 minutes, because I needed time to fiddle about with my iPod deciding whether to listen to an audiobook or a podcast, and also there was an odd man loudly muttering nearby. Plus ça change…
(*Sorry not a callback, that was a segue)
I drew this quick one while waiting for my lunch outside Crepeville, downtown Davis, on one of those very very hot days we have. Crepeville always makes me think of that Radiohead song, Crepe, you know the one, the one that goes “I’m a crepe, I’m a weirdo, what the hell am I doing here, I don’t have long hair.” Of course in America they substitute the word ‘hell’ with ‘heck’. They don’t like the word ‘hell’ as much as we do. Mind you they don’t say “flippin’eck” as much as we do, so it all evens out. My crepe was good. Of course if I in my London accent tell people that for lunch I had a crepe, they assume I spent my lunch hour in the toilet (or the bathroom, as they prefer to say here). Many people have assumed I am Australian. I learned years ago that it’s sometimes difficult for some Americans to tell the difference between a Cockney and an Aussie, but in my case it’s the tinnie of Fosters, the boomerang and the hat with all the corks in that I wear, they just assume I’m Australian. Seriously though, the last time it happened, this one guy in another department at work called me up and was asking me l these questions about Australia. His daughter was going to be spending some time there. I had to break it to him, I know you’ve known me for years, but I’m from London, never been Down Under. Furthest Down Under I’ve been is the Walkabout bar in Shepherds Bush. Another time in a shop that sold books and DVDs that isn’t here any more, the guy at the counter asked if I missed Australia much now I’m in California, and I was like, I’ve barely spoken how did he make that assumption? I nearly called him a “flamin’ galah”, whatever that is (Alf Stewart on Home and Away used to say that a lot). I was buying a DVD of “Prisoner: Cell Block H” at the time, that may have been why. Incidentally that is one of my favourite shows of all time, I bloody loved that programme. Bea Smith, Vera Bennett, Lizzie Berdworth, Joan “the Freak” Ferguson, Marie Winter, Franky Doyle, Meg Morris, Fletch the Letch, all of them. Anyway. I didn’t have time for a big sketch. I didn’t stay long while eating to draw too much more either, because the sun was starting to get to me through the gaps in the trees. The heat makes me uncomfortable. I can’t take the heat. That bench in the background, behind the stop sign, I’ve never drawn it before but I realize it looks a bit like Jabba the Hutt from this angle. This is on Third Street, Davis, corner of C Street.
Here’s a building I have drawn before, more than once I think too. It’s an easy one to draw, on 2nd Street on that route back to campus, easy to see without too many trees in front, and a big load of white wood that often gets a nice shadow across it. And it’s triangular. And there’s a flag. And a small car. I think it’s a real estate business. I always wondered why it’s called ‘real’ estate, presumably there are theoretical estate agents as well. “Hello sir, can we interest you in buying some land on Pluto?” Enough of that. This was the second day of September, and September is over half done already. The students have arrived en masse, thousands and thousands of them being toured around campus today, with thousands more being show the downtown on Monday. There are way more cars on the streets than usual, and by next week when classes begin the bikes will be everywhere again. For the first time in a year and a half Davis is filling up with students, as we jump back into in-person teaching, like a real college town again. But on the second day of September, all was still calm.
The sky was bad in this one. We’ve had smoke events again this year, not anything quite like last year thankfully, but enough to cancel one of our soccer games and also a tournament up in the Tahoe area. They have had terrible fires up there. Thankfully the air here in Davis right now is pretty good, let’s hope it stays that way. This is on D Street, I think this place is called Pomegranate. By the look of it they look like stylists, or something, I don’t know. Have I drawn this building before in a previous iteration? Probably. I’m starting to forget what I’ve drawn, hard to believe though that is. I go to my Flickr album “Davis CA” and see there are 1,281 items there, and it seems like, wow that’s a lot but I thought there’d be more. That includes UC Davis; in that separate folder there are 599 items. Again, thought there’d be more, given how much time I’ve spent drawing there over the past decade and a half. What am I saying, I’m not drawing enough? I probably am not. But I am busy, and I don’t always have time to get a drawing that I want. Davis isn’t actually that big. I say to myself, if I lived in a bigger city, in London or San Francisco or New York, I’d draw even more. Truth is, I probably wouldn’t. I’d spend so much time on the bus, or the subway or tube, and I’d get bored drawing all the taller buildings. Then again, when I want to go to a different area with a completely different look or feel, it is easier in a big city. But you make the big small, don’t you; in London I loved how massive it was but it also felt like I could fit it in the palm of my hand. Mentally you fit it all into a small box, and you sometimes don’t go too far outside of the village if you know what I mean. There are parts of London I have never been to. I’ve never been to Richmond; watching Ted Lasso reminded me of that. (Kind of bit bored with that show to be honest. We don’t swear like that in London! We swear a lot, but in a different way than that, more in a ‘filler’ kind of way; you have to hear it to know. Not just blaring it out at anyone. Also we say “wanker” but it sounds more like “wangkah”) (That reminds me, when I was pretty new to Davis a woman at the checkout in the grocery store asked if I was from England, I said yes London, and then she asked me to say “bloody”. “You what?” I replied. “Ohmygod I love it when British people say “bloody” can you say “bloody”?” I was like , eh? “Nah bollocks, buggeroff I ain’t f*ckin’ sayin’ bloody, flippin’ avin’ a larf? Bleedin’ cheek, f*ckin’.” I think that made her day.) (I do say “bloody” a lot though.) Anyway enough of the swearing. So yes, just like you make the big small, at the same time you make the small bit. You look more closely at the small place at all the details, tracking all the changes over the years, and that’s why the sketchbook (and the sketchblog, come to that) is a great tool for recording that. But did I draw this before? I had a look, it looks like I drew it in the background of the building next door (see here) but that’s not really the same thing. No, I haven’t drawn it before, I’d remember. I always remember, I think.
And so, September started and wow, it’s already dragged us into the middle of the month like an angry bouncer, knocking over all the drinks and startling the cats in the alley. The times move quickly. Right now at the UC Davis campus we are preparing for the Big Return of All The Students. We are going back in In-Person Teaching next week – next week! – after being totally remote since March 2020. The staff are returning – partially working from home for the most part – as are the faculty, although there have been people working on campus the whole time (including myself, going in a couple of days a week or so) but now the campus is about to start Getting Busy again. The bikes will be back everywhere, and yeah, it’ll be different. Not sure what to expect. Not sure how everyone will feel being around lots of people again. For many, it will be fine, for many it will be uncomfortable. We’ll see what happens. This is the building where I work, the Mathematical Sciences Building, I have drawn it a few times before. One Saturday morning I had left my iPod in my office the day before, so I cycled down to get it and decided to take advantage of the direction of the light and start drawing the building again. And then it got a bit hot and I thought, actually let’s do the rest later. So I drew as much of the middle bit, and outlined the rest, and added colour to the sign, and went home, where I added in all the foliage and the colours. There’s not a lot of shade on the other side of the street so when that hot sun comes out it gets pretty uncomfy. I like it inside though, nice and cool in my office. I have been spending a lot of time this summer trying to rearrange office spaces getting them ready for new people, an ongoing task this week even. I’ve been trying to personalize my office a bit more, added in a couple of colourful classic World Cup posters, nice for a bit of Zoom background (we will still have many remote meetings), getting rid of some bulky storage, and shredding a whole bunch of old papers. I could probably use a new chair, I’ve had my current one for over 15 years now, but not a priority until the wheels fall off of it. This week is the last one to get all those things done I wanted out of the way before Summer ended, but Fall is already crashing into us and it will be Christmas before we know it. Lots to do! I’ve been putting up all the signage reminding people to wear the masks inside, getting the hand sanitizer and wipes in the offices. But here is the building, before all the people come back, nice and peaceful. The big Turkeys are still coming by in the mornings, pooing all over the benches, digging up the plants and menacing those who dare pass by. They’ve ruled this part of campus for a while, but the Humans and their Bikes are coming back.
A couple more from our trip to Oahu. On this one morning we drove across the island to the Byodo-In Temple, in the Valley of the Temples Memorial Park. It is a buddhist temple that is a replica of the centuries-old one in Kyoto, Japan. It was a peaceful place, despite the tourists, with the only sound being the heavy ‘bonnnggg’ of the big Peace Bell that people can ring. We walked about a little, and then I got to do a sketch of the building and all its details. I coloured it in later. We had to go to the beach again. This was another of the locations we recognized from the show Lost, when it stood in for a place in South Korea where Sun and Jin were married. It’s very pretty there.
The next day we drove up the Windward side of the island again, stopping at the botanical gardens first (didn’t sketch there, just walked about a bit) before more beach time (didn’t sketch there, just splashed about a bit) before driving up to the Polynesian Cultural Center, to eat some lunch at the Hokilau Market Place. There were some great food and drinks there. I fancied some garlic shrimp, so I got some of that from the food truck on the left, and opted for the spicy version, which was very very spicy. Like, I was in a bit of pain for a couple of days, maybe it was too spicy. I washed it down with some interesting and refreshing soda from ‘Soda Bomb’, on the right of the panorama above. One of the girls who served me noticed my UC Davis facemask, and told me her grandpa lived in Davis. We sat there for a while and I drew what I could, outlines and some details, but we wanted to get some more important beach time in so I did the rest later. I love that big mural on the side, “Hawaii is my Happy Place”. Totally is. Anyway we decided that rather than spend some time on the beach we would sit in the car in miles of traffic instead, that was fun. We had wanted to get off at Waimea and hang out at the beach there, but so did a lot of other people, and they just wanted it more, I guess. We had been to the Waimea Valley last time we were here, swam beneath the waterfall, but this time we just looked at the ocean from the car. Eventually though we did stop at one beach that we heard was popular with sea turtles, and parked along the busy road to go and see for ourselves. Wow, there were so many, and not just lying about, they were swimming over the waves, every big wave that crashed in you could see their huge silhouettes, and the giants would come into shore and lay on the flat wet rocks. Sea turtles here are called ‘honu’, and we have seen them before, but not quite like this, it was some amazing honu action. There were people at the beach helping protect them by giving out information about them, and stopping curious travellers from getting too close to them or bothering them, which I was glad to see. When we waved ‘aloha’ to the honu, we got back in the car and drove back to Waikiki. We only spent a short while in Oahu and loved it, and can’t wait to go back some day.
You come to Hawaii to spend time on the beach and in the ocean, and we did a lot of that. The sea is warm here and we swam only there, not in the pool which had too many people. I did a little beach sketching, but mostly played in the ocean or strummed on my ukulele. Above, that’s the view from the beach at Waikiki looking out towards Diamond Head, that big mountain in the distance. We hiked to the top of that, a fun morning, along with thousands of other people. The views were amazing from up there, when people moved their heads. I didn’t sketch on that hike, there wasn’t the room. There was room at the beach; I drew this one on the final morning there, stood in the shade of a palm tree. I did more of those clouds with the white gouache paint.
There were lots of those clouds in the distance at Waimanalo Beach, on the Windward side of the island. We loved that beach, it wasn’t too busy and the views across Waimanalo bay were, well, the reason we came to Hawaii. The colours of the ocean were so bright, a brilliant turquoise, probably caused by the sand being kicked up so much by the ocean current. I splashed about in the waves, which were a bit stronger than in Waikiki, and when I went underwater to look around in my goggles you couldn’t see much ahead of you. I sat in the shade to paint the scene when I got out, really just trying to record the colours on paper. Those clouds in the distance, they rolled in and burned off before arriving at the shore. Somewhere out there beyond view is Molokai. I’ve not been there though my urban sketcher friend Rita Sabler was invited there to do reportage sketching at Kalaupapa couple of years ago. The clouds were pretty dark back over there, but not the sort to threaten a lovely day.
After this we went to Kailua, to get some of our favourite shave ice at the Island Snow store. We were looking forward to that for months, and it didn’t disappoint.
In Hawaii we stayed at the Hilton Hawaiian Village in Waikiki. It’s a historic older resort, Elvis used to go there, so did Michael Jackson, and so did about 15% of the population of the United States at the same time as we were there, I think. Since Hawaii reopened up, everyone wants to go, and they all told us it’s packed. Impossible to hire a car, reservations needed at all restaurants, and a surge waiting to happen. For the most part we did pretty well avoiding particularly crowded areas, although being on the 24th floor, the elevators were a bit of a stress. The ‘four person max’ rule was never enforced (at one point I saw fifteen people get out) and despite the signs that masks had to worn under state law, many people assumed that meant “everyone but me, brah”. On the whole though it was ok, and we loved spending time in our room with the views of the ocean, and the skyline of Waikiki and downtown Honolulu. Above, I drew the view inland, from where many moist clouds would roll out, evaporating before reaching the ocean. I like drawing from high up, but these clouds were the main focus, and I used the white gouache paint on top of the regular watercolour. That’s not something I have done much before, but I saw someone doing it online in a painting video and thought, that looks good. Just poking the brush into the tube itself rather than squeezing the paint onto my already dirty watercolour-box-lid palette. You have to let it dry a bit, but it didn’t take too long. Drawing the windows was a bit tedious so I left that until a couple of days later, you get the general idea. The wind off these hills on this balcony was pretty strong (we had two balconies, as it was a corner room) so I didn’t sit on the balcony to draw, just looked through the big windows, while sat on a comfy chair inside. With a big cocktail, probably. I do like a Blue Hawaiian.
We tended to sit out on the other balcony )called a ‘lanai’ here) which face the view of Honolulu, and the ocean. I would sometimes sit out on the lanai and play my ukulele gently, above the sounds of the city below, or listen to the luau that would take place on the big green next to the lagoon. On the second morning, I woke up and sat out there looking at the view, while what appeared to be a big fire in Honolulu harbor brought a dramatic pillar of black smoke into the sky. Before coming out to Hawaii we had rewatched the series ‘Lost’, which was filmed here, so of course we said it must be the smoke monster. I painted the scene , and eventually the smoke dissipated. I never found out what it was; I suppose I prefer the mystery. Speaking of Lost, wherever you go on Oahu there are places where the show filmed scenes, and the marina in the foreground, very close to the Hilton Hawaiian Village, is one that was used several times. It’s called the Ala Wai Harbor. It’s the backdrop of Desmond and Penny’s photo, and where Desmond got shot by Ben before then punching Ben’s lights out and throwing him into the water, also where the some of the Oceanic Six meet up at night to say “we have to go back tot he island” “no we don’t” “yes we do” etc, and also where Charlie and Desmond (him again) drive a car into the water in the flash-sideways. Spoiler alert if you haven’t seen it, none of that makes any sense, even if you have. Immediately below, not appearing in this sketch, is the lagoon at the Hilton Hawaiian Village. I totally went paddle boarding there, twice. It was the first time I had tried stand-up paddle-boarding, and loved it. I haven’t done it in the ocean yet, next time maybe. I was pretty good at it, I didn’t be falling in or nothing. I should try surfing. When I was a kid I thought I might do lots of surfing when I got older at some point, go to Australia or somewhere far away (not exactly a lot of surfing culture in Burnt Oak), but when I get there the ocean always looks so big and scary, with those waves grabbing you like gigantic wet hands. Still, the paddle-boarding on a shallow lagoon with no current was thrilling enough for me dudes.
Back down on the ground, this was in the ‘village’ of shops and restaurants at the resort. There was a very Japanese feel to the architecture, but that was far from unusual in Honolulu. I stood in the nice shade and drew while people wandered into expensive watch shops or places selling Hawaiian tea towels or something. I really liked the Asian style architecture. It seemed like there was a lot of Japanese and Korean shops and restaurants in Honolulu. We went to one supermarket called Don Quijote which really felt like being in a Japanese store, with lots of colourful Japanese signage and products everywhere. I had to text my friend Tel who lives in Japan to ask what some things were. I had seen a lot of signs for ‘Mochi’ and it looked like it was popular, my friend Tel said it was very very very gooey. So I decided to get some, and I think he undersold how gooey it was. It wasn’t for me. I ended up getting some delicious poke instead, I do like that, it’s more Hawaiian and is made of uncooked sliced tuna, I got a couple of different kinds. One other day, we went to a nearby donut shop called ‘K-Pop Donuts’, which as the name suggests is Korean. That was a really interesting place, covered in sharpie graffiti from people who’d been there, and it sold a few varieties of these small round balls of pastry, which I believe were Korean donuts. I texted my friend Tel in Japan about them (he spent several years living in Korea before Japan) but he didn’t seem very familiar with them, and just commented on the K-Pop bit, which is some sort of Korean pop music. My son knows what that is. Anyway they were ok, pretty expensive for what they were, but not really somewhere I wanted to go to again. The donut things I did like in Waikiki were of course the ‘malasadas’ you get at Leonard’s, a famous place we went to on our first trip there. This time we picked some up hot and fresh from the Leonard’s truck in Hawaii Kai, south of Honolulu, those were delicious. One other famed local food place we went to for dinner was the Rainbow Drive-In. My wife was very excited to come here, and we grabbed some food and sat outside, although I wasn’t really impressed with my chicken sandwich, the gravy that came with the fries was pretty good. I did see a bloke wearing the new Nigeria football kit though so that was cool. I did however really enjoy both lunchtime visits to the lovely Hula Grill, above Duke’s restaurant at the Outrigger hotel. That’s where we stayed the first time we came to Hawaii and that’s where I discovered the magic of Hula Pie, the best dessert item in the world. It’s like a massive wave made out of ice cream with thick chocolate covering and cookie base and nuts and hot chocolate sauce, and takes about three people to eat it. Here’s a sketch I did of one back in 2017 (with a huge Lava Flow drink to go with it):
Pretty tasty. I bought one of those Hula Pie plates as a souvenir, as well as a t-shirt which only fits when I don’t eat hula pie. We did have lots of other food in Hawaii this time as well, and I’ll mention the extremely spicy shrimp on a future post, as well as some delicious cocktails, but I’m getting hungry for dinner now so I’ll leave the rest of the Hawaii sketches until next time.