i love it when a plan comes together

A St Belfry Dec2017 sm

I never finished this one. Ah, I’ve sketched it before. It’s the Belfry an A Street, Davis. Not “a street”, it’s “A” Street. I feel like I have explained this before. I suppose if I had written, at the start of a sentence, A street, then you could be forgiven for thinking it was just a street, obviously you would say this is not a street, it’s part of a street but it’s clearly a building. Look when I was a kid I would get really confused by The A Team. Make your mind up, Hannibal! Definite or Indefinite article! I would imagine another show called “A The Team”. You had M.A. Baracas, who is smarter than the original, Murmuring Sane Murdock, Scipio Africanus Smith and of course, The Head. No, no I didn’t. I wasn’t that original. No, when I was a kid and first heard of the A Team, before I had seen the show, I misheard and thought it was called “The 18”. This is actually true. To this day I still wonder if my cousin was actually describing a show called “The 18” (it’s possible; I’m not sure he was allowed to watch the A Team, since he wasn’t allowed to play Star Wars) (well no, he was, but it was a frowned upon) (not much admittedly) (in fact we played it all the time) (I remember this one time we got in trouble in Brent Cross Shopping Centre for having a lightsabre duel with homemade cardboard lightsabres my sister made us) (reading stories about Armageddon and being turned to pillars of salt before bed was fine though, totally, no nightmares there) (but we did watch Superman 3 and that bit where the villainous sister gets turned into a mechanical killer probably gave me more nightmares, but was awesome) (age 7 was probably my most fun summer!). Where was I? A street. I drew this on A Street, a street which will now always make me think of the A Team theme. In Davis, B.A. is probably working on being Ph.D. Baracas by now. So this is the Belfry. I intended on colouring it in, but I got a little sidetracked.

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a day in the city

Amtrak Dec2017 sm

Just before Christmas I went down to the city (San Francisco) for some pre-Christmas sketching, and to spend money shopping for last-minute gifts. Well, one last-minute gift. And it was from Tiffany’s so it was less ‘last-minute’ and more just ‘minute’. Well, maybe not that small. I walk in there and I say, look, I am a man and utterly clueless, I don’t even know what a Tiffany’s is, I actually thought you sold cakes, and they are like, absolutely sir, don’t worry, you are not alone, let me help. And they were very helpful. But you don’t want to hear about my complete cluelessness when it comes to shopping for things that aren’t made by Nintendo or Lego (hey, I feel sophisticated when I buy myself a new jumper, like I’m a style guru or something). You’re here for the sketching, and that’s what I do. Actually it’s not all I do, I’m also really into history and language and writing, and I totally love football (soccer) and spend ridiculous amounts of time obsessively making spreadsheets of football stats you don’t need (for example, the most worn kit make since the Premier League began is Umbro, also the most successful in terms of games won and equal on titles won with Nike, but Nike has a goal difference of +1316 compared to Umbro’s +341 (compared to Adidas whose goal difference is +480 – you really don’t need to know all of this, but this is the sort of stuff I think a lot about) (I do work for the Statistics Department, it kind of rubs off on me). Anyway, the sketching. I used a new Palomino pencil that my friend Terry in Japan sent me (I thought palominos were horses) (I should tell people, this pencil was sent by a pal o’ mine) to draw the Amtrak train scene above, because you have to draw on the train.

SFMoma Dec2017 sm

Now I haven’t sketched around SoMa in about ten years, so I went to the Museum of Modern Art for a little inspiration. I was mostly inspired by the entrance fee to maybe go and do some sketching outside instead, but not after spending a lot of time in the gift shop. They have the best stuff. I sketched outside in Yerba Buena Gardens, which is always a nice place for people watching (I love that phrase, I never watch people, they’re not very interesting). Fun fact, Yerba Buena is the original name of San Francisco, being renamed after the local mission in 1847.

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Now this unusually shaped building is part of the Contemporary Jewish Museum, and I could tell before looking it up that it was designed by Daniel Libeskind, as those diagonally turned buildings are somewhat of a signature of his. It reminded me of the building he designed on Holloway Road in London, I used to go past on the bus. London Metropolitan University, that’s it. This one is much more dramatic. As I sketched, a rather shouty man, tailed by a police officer on a bike, wandered past yelling some angry gibberish at the world, with the cop shadowing him all the way. I didn’t add any paint, but moved on, as I only had an hour or two of daylight left.

SF Johns Grill Dec 2017 sm

I was near Union Square by now, and so I stood just off the Christmas shopping masses and sketched the signage of John’s Grill. I don’t know who John is or what his grill i all about but they appear to specialize in Jazz, cocktails, steaks and seafood, and have been around since 1908. Well done Pete, you have successfully read words, pat yourself on the back. I really liked that tall building in the background, on Market Street, and I used a grey pen to sketch it. San Francisco’s slightly damper air gives a muted, softer feel to its colours and lines.

SF Union Square Xmas Tree 2017 sm

Yes, I have posted it before but here it is again to round off the daytrip. It’s the big Christmas Tree in Union Square. It was busy, lost of people stopped to take pictures with the tree (a lady sitting nearby was asked many times by people to take their photos, she was very obliging; nobody asked me, I was sat above, my head buried in a sketchbook). I did draw a couple taking a selfie though because that’s the thing nowadays, actually people have always done it even with their old cameras but it didn’t seem to offend grumpy people as much. Seriously, people who get irritated by people taking selfies, get over it. I know the standard response to that is “seriously, people who get irritated by people who get irritated by people taking selfies, get over it” but if you start down that road you end up on a continuous looping paradox of nonsensical arguments (aka Twitter) (or aka everywhere these days). Anyway, after this sketch, the sunlight fading faster than fog in a funfair, I switched into hapless Christmas shopper mode and spent the rest of the day making the wallet a bit lighter. And then I caught the train back home to Davis.

west sac hydrant

West Sac Hydrant Dec2017 sm

I had an early morning appointment in West Sacramento to renew my permanent residency. I arrived very early, on the bus, and had a while to wait outside in the cold before the doors opened and my money could be spent on taking my fingerprints (which haven’t changed since the last time they took them a decade ago, I guess they don’t gain weight like the rest of me has). I took that time before my appointment to sketch one of the fire hydrants outside. It was really cold. Afterwards, I went and had breakfast at IHOP (which was delicious by the way), before catching the bus back to Davis.

show me the way to armadillo

LDD Dec17 Armadillo

One from just before Christmas, this was sketched downtown during the December ‘Le’s draw Davis’ sketchcrawl. I already posted the main sketch I did that day, of the Christmas Tree. This is Armadillo Music on F Street. It used to e further down F Street until a few years ago. The last times I sketched it was in the old location (2013 and 2011). I also had an exhibition of my artwork there in early 2011, which was actually the first exhibition I ever had here in Davis, so I’m always thankful for that. It was a fun evening, with renowned local singer Rita Hosking providing an in-store musical performance on the same evening. So finally I drew the new store location, a bigger store. I didn’t have time to add the colour because the sketchcrawl was over and I was feeling stiff from standing there in the cold. I just coloured in the Santa, which was for some reason lying on his side. Taking a rest before his trip around the world, no doubt. Ok, I am due to sketch Armadillo, which is one of those real proper Davis community shops, another time, with colour. Maybe on a warmer day!

Aulani

Aulani sm

We left the incredible views of Waikiki behind and drove to our main destination, the Disney vacation resort of Aulani. We’ve wanted to go here for a while, and it was just as fun as expected. We spent most of the time in the pools, or specifically, the lazy river. Above, the main lobby building as seen from the ponds near the pool area.

Olelo Room sm

Above, the ‘Ōlelo Room, which is an interesting bar at the resort. It is dedicated to the Hawaiian language. “‘Ōlelo” is the Hawaiian word for “word”. All of those little wooden boxes contains an object and several blocks that make up a word in Hawaiian, so you can learn your vocab. I did buy a book so I could learn a little, but I haven’t gotten very far I’m afraid. I did know already that Hawaiian has no consonants that touch each other, but I never learned how to pronounce humuhumunukunukuapua‘a. Drinks were nice there (but no lava flow!) and the music came in from the terrace outside. We also had a nice meal overlooking the ocean at a restaurant called ‘Ama-Ama’, and there had a delicious Blue Hawaiian. But the best drink I had in Hawaii (even better than the Lava Flow, which was amazing) was at a restaurant across the street from Aulani called MonkeyPod, the drink was the MonkeyPod Mai Tai, it was freshly made and just delicious, maybe the tastiest drink I’ve ever had. I didn’t sketch that, but here’s a photo:

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Just delicious. I did do some food sketching though, at a place near the North Shore called Teddy’s Bigger Burgers. I think it’s a local chain; the chicken burger was awesome. There were loads of surfers out at the North Shore that day. They even had a TV screen in the burger joint showing live footage of surfers out riding the waves.

Teddys Burgers sm

Yep, Hawaii was pretty stunning. I have a feeling we will be back.

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duke’s

Duke's Waikiki sm

Staying at the Outrigger in Waikiki, we just had to go to Duke’s. Duke’s is a restaurant on the beach, named after the fabled local hero, Duke Kahanamoku. Duke, or to give him his full name Duke Paoa Kahinu Mokoe Hulikohola Kahanamoku, was a native Hawaiian Olympic swimmer from the early 20th century, and is famous for helping popularize surfing. He grew up in Waikiki, and his presence is everywhere. There is a big statue of him right by the beach. He won several Olympic gold medals for swimming, competing in the games in Stockholm, Antwerp and Paris. He also carved out a career as an actor, and even worked as a military policeman during World War II. Duke’s is named for him, originally called “Duke’s Canoe Club & Barefoot Bar” but now one of a chain that includes other restaurants in California, Florida and Hawaii, and is itself a popular local hangout. One evening, with the music from Duke’s wafting up to my room, I decided to wander downstairs and sketch the bar while enjoying one of their famous Hula Pies and a delicious Lava Flow (my new favourite drink). Of course I had not actually seen a Hula Pie before ordering one. Those things are enormous! I could barely finish it. It was delicious, for sure, but if I had rolled down the beach afterwards I would be floating halfway to Bora Bora by now. I did sketch it, with my Lava Flow next to it. The evening atmosphere was nice, with the beachy music complementing the rolling sound of the ocean. Nicest was that when I was done, it was just a short elevator ride to my bed. Glad, because I was stuffed.

Hula Pie at Duke's sm

Aloha!

Waikiki view evening sm

Still playing catch-up with the older sketches, here are some I did while I was in Hawaii in November. What an incredible place. It was the first time I’d ever been to Hawaii, or to anywhere like that; it was, in the words of Samwise Gamgee, the furthest I’d ever been from home (home being Burnt Oak). For some reason it had never appealed, but for the life of me I cannot say what those reasons might have been because Hawaii is just so amazing.  I think living in California it’s easy to feel a bit blase about Hawaii because it’s like, just over there a bit, and I’m not one of those people who likes sitting on the beach, but no, Hawaii really does feel like somewhere very far away and different. And so beautiful. And it turns out I love the beach! Well, I always love being by the ocean. The call of the sea. I’m not going to go on about it. Hawaii is just great. So, we stayed on O’ahu, at the Outrigger resort in Waikiki. The most incredible view, ever. In fact after this, what is there, really? It’s only downhill from here. Nothing is really going to live up to that view. And earlier in 2017 we stayed in Rome and had the most incredible view over the city (see my earlier post, ‘A Rome With A View‘). I am never going to match those views in 2018, wherever we end up visiting this year.

Luke at Waikiki hotel sm

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Now it wasn’t all getting up at 7am and swimming in the ocean and then spending the day at the pool and drinking cocktails overlooking the sunset. Actually, no I’m kidding, that is what it all was, and that was the BEST. I did pop out and sketch a Waikiki fire hydrant once though.

Waikiki hydrant sm

Waikiki view morning sm

Oh I could not wait to Facetime family in England from that hotel room, with that ridiculously amazing view. The sketch above I never got around to colouring in.

Below is a sketch I did on the beach at Kailua, on the other side of the island. We had just spent much of the day at Koaloa Ranch, checking out where they filmed Lost and Jurassic World and stuff. We stopped in Kailua on the way back for some Shave Ice at Island Snow, which is where President Obama goes for Shave Ice when he is back in Hawaii. What is Shave Ice, you ask, and why is it not Shaved Ice? Aha, you will have to go to Hawaii to learn this secret!

Kailua beach sm

Ok, this (below) is Shave Ice. It was really good! Better than expected. Like a tropical slush puppy. Mahalo!

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I’ll post more sketches soon, but here is one last photo of the view from my hotel bedroom window. I must point out this was NOVEMBER. Aloha from Hawaii!

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