green shields

shields ave uc davis
This was sketched in the middle of UC Davis (not the geographic middle because it doesn’t half stretch out west, “beyond the cows”, but I’m not counting that part of campus) that is to say, between Shields Library and Mrak Hall. It’s on Shields Avenue. That’s officially the UC Davis address, “One Shields Avenue”. I know, “1, Shields Avenue” probably makes more sense but more often than not we write “One Shields Avenue”. (Yes I know “Shields” is plural but only if you mean the thing, the shield) (For all you know “shields” is a verb in the third person) (Well this actually refers to a surname, Peter J Shields) (Look just leave it). Mail doesn’t even go there, it goes to Mail Division out in the far west of campus near the airport. Oh does UC Davis have its own airport? Well yes it does thank you very much. The address does remind me of “Number One, London”, the actual address of Apsley House, by Hyde Park Corner. Yes if you wrote a postcard to “Number 1, London” it would go there. That is the former house of the Duke of Wellington, he of Waterloo fame (the battle not the Eurovision-winning song) (Waterloo did reach Number 1 in the UK though, funny enough, but not in the US) (Hey, Abba were Number 1 in the UK when I was born but I’m not telling you the song) (Because I can’t remember) (Look just leave it). The Duke of Wellington, or Arthur Wellesley as he was known to his mum, was also called “The Iron Duke”. Ah, because he was a famously firm and strong-willed commander. Or perhaps because he kept a whole bunch of special arc-reactor-powered flight and combat suits in his basement. Well neither of those in fact. When he was Prime Minister he was not particularly popular and people often came to Number 1, London to throw things at his windows, so he put iron shutters on them to stop them from breaking, hence “Iron Duke”. I know, it doesn’t make any sense. Perhaps Iron Man should have done that when those helicopters came knocking on his window in Iron Man 3. Speaking of Marvel and of Shields, I’ve really been enjoying Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. lately, that’s been quite a fun show, very comic-book. But anyway back to the sketch, this (as I said) is of Shields Avenue, and I actually sketched it in pencil rather than pen, then adding the paint as usual. This was late April, sketched in the latest Seawhite of Brighton sketchbook (#6 I believe, though I may embark on a complete sketchbook renumbering project, my sketchbook show last Fall has kind of prompted that).

reflections of the way life used to be

king hall from uc davis arboretum sm
This is in the UC Davis Arboretum, that view of King Hall from Putah Creek, with Mrak Hall in the background, that I have sketched before. Look at that Creek! Regular listeners will recall how the Creek has so often at this time of year turned into a pea green soup, but the Arboretum people have been doing an amazing job renovating the Creek (is ‘renovating’ the right word? I’m not a Creek Scientist so I’m not sure how it works). Now the water is clear and reflective, and what a reflection. It was that that drew me to sketch this scene yet again. For years I sketched this every summer, usually around June, to track its changes. King Hall is home to the Law School, named after Martin Luther King Jr, while Mrak is where the University administration resides, named after Emil MRak, the first UC Davis Chancellor. This is the extension to King Hall built within the past decade, but the original King Hall was dedicated to Dr. King in April 1969, a year after his assassination.

Ok, I always do this when I sketch this scene, but here are a bunch of previous years’ sketches.
2015:
mrak & king from the arboretum
2012:
mrak & king halls
2011:
mrak & king halls
2010:
mrak & king halls
2009:
mrak hall... with the law school ruining the view
2008:
mrak hall
2007:
mrak, seen from the creek

I sometimes talk about being a ‘sketchbook historian’, and this is the thing, if you live somewhere, draw it. And then draw it again, and again, and you will have a record of how it changes, a record that goes beyond mere memory, and one that photographs don’t always capture in the same way. On top of that, you can see how your own sketching style evolves, improves, changes, sometimes be design, sometimes naturally and unexpectedly.

almost ready at the south silo

south silo uc davis
This is the latest at the South Silo, UC Davis. Much of the new expanse with the food trucks and covered area is open now, it looks very nice and I’ll sketch it when it’s done. This however is The Market (I think it’s called) and it’s almost ready, so I took the chance to sketch it in its almost-complete state. Those particular triangles are very popular on this campus.

back home on the couch

living room
So the Spurs finale at the Lane was pretty epic. The victory against United, which of course I never doubted for a second would happen, and then all the old legends came out onto the field in pouring rain, and Kenneth Branagh’s video, and the rousing rendition of Glory Glory Tottenham Hotspur (“Pride of northern London and the KINGS of WHITE HART LANE…” yeah, I got a bit salty-discharge-eyed) and the clouds broke and sunshine poured in mid-chorus, and That Rainbow which was an unbelievably Hollywood moment of perfect timing (and did you see Glenn Hoddle? Raising his eyebrows and pointing his brolly up to show his fellow 80s legends, who were all thinking, Glenn, don’t get too excited mate, it’s just weather!). Yep, in my living room which we had decorated with Tottenham shirts from through the years (happy mother’s day, by the way), we watched and felt very moment. And all those years that I have been singing “Spurs are on their way to Wembley,” and now I really don’t want them to. And today, the bulldozers are already in digging the old place up.

But enough of all of that. This is a completely unrelated sketch, except that it is of the couch where my exiled-from-north-London bottom was sat watching it all from 5000 miles away. This sketch however is from April, on a day when I was home from work sick, and lying on the sofa. Sofa away, you might say.

audere est facere

THFC tickets
I’m so sad. My beloved team, Tottenham Hotspur, are playing at their home White Hart Lane for the very last time. Kick-off against Manchester Untied is in about an hour, a selection of my many Spurs shirts are hanging around the living room, and my head is in all the memories from down the years. Tottenham have played at White Hart Lane since 1899, but we need a big upgrade, so we are moving to Wembley Stadium for a year (“Spurs are on their way to Wembley…”, Ossie’s Dream is one of my favourite songs), while the new stadium is being finished. The new stadium is actually on the site of White Hart Lane so we’re not really moving permanent location, but the ground is just next door, currently being built, about the swallow the old ground within like a giant Pac-Man. The old Paxton Road North Stand is where the new South Stand will be in the new stadium; I wonder if we’ll still refer to it as the Paxton end?

I love being a Spurs fan right now. We’ve had a lot of lean years since the 1990s, but the past decade we have been building a much better consistency and this year in particular we’ve been better than any time in my life. It’s just, Chelsea were a bit better, so they won the title on Friday. We have thus far gone the entire season unbeaten at The Lane (first time since the mid-sixties), and I really hope that record continues today against Manchester United. I don’t think it will, I think the occasion and the fact we are mathematically unable to catch Chelsea will have an effect on the players but that’s just me being an experienced Spurs fan. We have been incredible this year (and finally came above Arsenal, confirmed with a 2-0 victory in the last North London Derby at The Lane – I wish that had been the stadium’s Finale!).

I drew these tickets that I have lying around at home. The newest was from a game I went to with my older brother John, nephew Leo, and son Luke; my final game. the one above was from a game against Everton that I went to with my mate Terry in 2000. The other two aren’t mine, I think they were my brother’s. It’s through my big brother that I became a Spurs fan. The early 80s had Ossie Ardiles, Glenn Hoddle, Steve Archibald, Garth Crooks, Ricky Villa, my heroes. “When I grow up, I want to be Ossie Ardiles” I wrote once at school. My brother took me to my first game at the Lane in 1983, a 2-1 defeat to Everton (Mark Falco scored for us, Johnny missed it because he went to the toilet). I will never ever forget the first time, approaching the ground, the long walk up Tottenham High Road from Seven Sisters tube station, hearing the crowd roar as the Lane comes into view, but its emerging from the tunnel, seeing the green of the pitch, the sound of the thousands of fans (the swearing, the songs about Arsenal…), the players I’d only seen on TV or in football magazines actually there moving about in front of me; it was like magic. It never really stopped being like that either, every time I would go. I do love a football stadium, but none more than The Lane. My brother used to go to every game (ever-present in 80-81 and 81-82)  and started taking me, but we couldn’t afford to go too often; I do remember one game, an evening cup match against Birmingham, we turned up late to see if we could just be let in, but the only places left were in the member’s area, so Johnny spent his last few quid getting us memberships so we could get in (Spurs beat Birmingham 5-0). Because we got membership that year (I was a Junior Member, got all the fun stuff in the post), we were able to go to the FA Cup Final at Wembley (my first Wembley experience; we lost 3-2 to Coventry, I was devastated). We went a few times that year though, 86-87, watching Clive Allen score a bunch of goals. The years of Lineker and Gascoigne came, followed by the Sheringham, Anderton, Barmby, Klinsmann years, followed by some truly pants seasons with the likes of Ramon Vega and Sergiy Rebrov turning out for us. I would only go once every couple of years, tickets being pricey for my meagre budget and always selling out. The stadium changed a lot though – while I’m sad about the departure, the stadium looks totally different from when I was a kid (the North and South stands used to be much smaller, and back then we had standing on the Shelf and big barriers; I spent a lot of time on the shoulders of taller fans!). Since we moved out here to America I’ve been to a couple of games on trips back, to make sure my son got to experience The Lane, seeing Harry Kane, Dele Alli, Hugo Lloris, before we inevitably moved into a 21st Century ground. That will come, we hope, in 2018. It’s still “at” White Hart Lane, you still go to exactly the same place to get there, but it will be different. One corner has already been taken down; the rest starts coming down tomorrow. We will always be Tottenham, Super Tottenham, We are Tottenham, FROM THE LANE.

DSC01781DSC01775

Goodbye White Hart Lane! Thanks for all the memories! COME ON YOU SPURS!

lodge by the creek

putah creek lodge uc davis
This is Putah Creek Lodge, in the UC Davis Arboretum, sketched one lunchtime. It’s a short walk from the office. People don’t really lodge there, it’s just a good place for meetings or staff retreats, dinner events and so on. It feels out of the way enough though that you’re not in the bustling heart of campus, it’s a little more peaceful. I sketched in the shade while listening to a football podcast.

upstreet downstreet san francisco

SF filbert st
Here then are the final few sketches from last month’s San Francisco overnighter. These were drawn on the Sunday, after getting up and walking down to Mara’s Italian Pastries on Columbus for a delicious (but messy!) Cannoli and a huge pastry that looked like a chocolate croissant but was much denser, took me all day to finish. It was so good. So here I am in North Beach, and by the way on June 3rd I am holding a workshop in this very place all about perspective, called “Perspectives of San Francisco”. Check out the Urban Sketchers site for details of other workshops in the 10×10 series in the SF Bay Area. I wanted a bit of practice, because sketching cities with hills is not a simple task when it comes to perspective. I stood on Filbert Street next to Washington Square Park and sketched past the Church of Saints Peter and Paul, looking up Telegraph Hill to Coit Tower.
SF Columbus Cafe
Here were are now on Green Street, across the road from where I sketched in November. I like this set of signs leading up the hill, and I had intedned to colour them in but in the end could not muster the energy. I love this old Columbus Cafe sign. the greens and reds around the edges are mostly faded in the sun. Next door is a place called “Pete’s” which of course I just had to eat lunch in. I had lovely eggs benedict there, I definitely recommend.
SF salesforce tower
If you go down to San Francisco these days you are sure for a big surprise. The newest addition to the skyline is a massive skyscraper visible from what feels like everywhere being constructed down in the SoMa district, South of Market. It dwarfs the TransAmerica Pyramid. It will ultimately be crowned with thousands of LED lights to display images, created by artist Jim Campbell. This impressive (and thin) new building is called (wait for it) “Salesforce Tower”. Yes, “Salesforce”. Sales, force. Sales. Force. Not exactly “Empire State” or even “Transamerica Pyramid”. I get that buildings must be names after corporations but do the corporations have to have dull names? Salesforce Tower sounds like a grey block located on an industrial estate on the outskirts of Slough, not the leading light over one of the most iconic cities in the world. If this was London it would have a hilarious nickname by now too, like the Erotic Gherkin or the Cheesegrater or the Vampire’s Collar. I’m sure the fun-loving fellows of Frisco (I know, don’t use that name, but alliteration here trumps acceptable usage) will think up a more interesting name. I sketched this from Market Street looking up, the perspective of drawing tall buildings is one I’d like to work on a bit more. Hey there is a great chapter by Japanese artist Kumi Matsukawa in my book ‘Creative Sketching Workshops’ all about drawing tall buildings. I’d recommend that highly (all puns always intended on petescully.com).
SF hydrant

But let’s get back down to earth. I love a hydrant, well here are two. One is near, the other is far away. This is a good example of perspective. Near, far away. I love rusty hydrants. Gives them character. It makes it feel like a Used Universe. This little guy dates back to 1909 if the date on its side is to be believed. He is found in the heart of the financial district.

And then, I boarded a train back to Davis. It was a tiring couple of days hanging out in the City, and while I always enjoy the change of scenery, I’m really starting to get a “done-this-all-before” feeling. A new challenge is needed…