disneyland

Disneyland Castle Dec2016

Before Christmas we took a family trip to Disneyland, down in southern California. I managed to get a couple of sketches in, namely the Fantasyland castle, and Flo’s V8 Cafe in Cars Land, over in the California Adventure park. Christmastime in Disneyland is fun. Hey what is your favourite Disney movie? I’m not including all the ones owned by Disney like Star Wars and Marvel movies, but the cartoons, and some of the live-action ones like Mary Poppins and stuff. I suppose Pixar counts as well. Mine is probably Jungle Book, or maybe Aladdin.

Disneyland Cars Land Dec 2016

These were the first sketches in my new Stillman and Birn (Beta) softbound landscape sketchbook. That’s a mouthful, so we’ll just call it the Sm&B(B)SbLsSb for short.

a farewell to dippy

Dippy NHM London

Well the New Year is here and I am still posting sketches from November. I know you just can’t get enough of 2016. These are the sketches I did on our brief sojourn back to London over Thanksgiving. It was a week of family fun more than sketching outings (I did most of my UK sketching in the summer) but I managed a few. Above is a sketch from the Natural History Museum. My son really wanted to go there to see the geology exhibits (he loves rocks and minerals) and we wanted to see our beloved Dippy one last time before he is removed from the main hall and replaced with a whale skeleton. Dippy, for those who don’t know, is the giant Diplodocus skeleton in the Hintze Hall. Dippy’s been in the NHM for over a century and has been in that hall since I was a little kid, when I would go there all the time with school or my big sister; I do love the Natural History Museum. Well Dippy is leaving! This very week in fact. They are replacing Dippy with a large blue whale skeleton that will hang from the ceiling. Dippy will go on a tour of the UK (see here for details). My son and I found a seat in an alcove to sketch, but we couldn’t see the whole Dippy so sketched what we could see.

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We also visited the Harry Potter tour at the Warner Bros Studios, at Leavesden, just outside London. We are big Harry Potter fans, and my son read the books and saw the movies this year for the first time so it was an exciting visit to go and see the real sets where they were filmed. We only had time for one sketch (so much to see! We could have been there all day) so I sketched the entrance to Dumbledore’s office while he drew the big pendulum thing. I got a Gryffindor scarf. According to the Pottermore website, my son and I would both be in Gryffindor (my wife got sorted into Slytherin!). We went there with my mum, sister and nephew, and it was a really fun family day, I do recommend it.

Hogwarts Griffin Stairwell, WB Studios, England

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One other place I was eager to visit was the new Switch House at the Tate Modern, the new tall extension to the gallery on the South Bank. It only opened last summer. My son kinda enjoyed the gallery (we saw both my books in the shop! But he was more excited about the tiny Slinky he bought) but was nervous about going to the tenth floor observation deck. When we were up there though he loved it, and again we sat and sketched the view. This is now my favourite spot in London and I will definitely come back with a few hours on hand to do a big detailed panorama. It was amazing there. Here is what I did sketch, of the view across the Thames to St. Paul’s Cathedral:

St Pauls from Tate Modern

The scene below is of drinkers at the very intimate pub off Trafalgar Square, The Harp. I came here with my friend Roshan, as they do good beer; one day I’d like to sketch the whole bar. As it was, I sketched these happydrikers while Roshan popped to the loo. Less-than-five-minute people sketching!

People at Harp pub, London

And here is Burnt Oak tube station, in the area my family live (and I am from. Looking as it has ever done. I was going to finish this, but I wanted to get back and have a cup of tea, and never finished it at home.

Burnt Oak Station

One last sketch, which is of course the in-flight drawing on the Virgin flight coming home. It was one of the newer planes, and unlike in the summer, this time I didn’t get completely squashed up and have a bad back for several weeks afterwards. Which was handy. Farewell again then my London, until next time!

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a space full of moments

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Here’s another sketch from last month, a sketch of the space in the UC Davis Design Museum on the last day of my sketchbook show “Conversations with the City”. That was a fun show, I really enjoyed that. Now the books are all back home with me!

sweet christmas!

xmas 2016 gingerbread village

This is our gingerbread village. We all decorated the little houses, and now it sits in the middle of our dinner table. The house is decorated all festively, though we aren’t all-out like the Griswolds or anything. But since it is now Christmas Day, I just wanted to take this opportunity to say Merry Christmas to you, and Happy Holidays to all! And don’t forget to Jingle all the way. Not some of the way, all the way.

Harry Christmas!

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Each year, I make my son an advent calendar. They have been getting more elaborate each year, and always themed differently. Behind each window I put a selection of images of things that he has been interested in during that year – the one when he was three for example had Bob the Builder, Fireman Sam, Poppy Cat etc, while now it’s more Minecraft, Pokemon, Harry Potter etc. We read the Harry Potter books together this year, one after the other, followed by the movies, and he is a huge Potter fan now; we even visited the Warner Bros Studios “Harry Potter Tour” outside London last month, touring the sets where they filmed the movies, which was amazing. So it made sense then that this year I should make a Harry Potter themed advent calendar. And here it is!
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This one was bigger and more complicated than I have made before, drawn in pen and coloured with a mixture of watercolour. As you can see, it opens out into a larger scene with Hogwarts in the background. The first panel, when it’s all closed up, is the Hogwarts Express, opening up to then reveal Hogsmeade, opening up to reveal the Forbidden Forest, the Black Lake, and a magical view of the Great Hall. I started drawing this at the beginning of November, and had about four fifths of it drawn before taking a break for our Thanksgiving trip to London. I finished it when I got back, painting it physically, scanning it, colouring part of it digitally and stitching it together, before printing it, cutting the windows with a perforator, adding the images behind each window (oh, and it does have a window nine-and-three-quarters between windows 9 and 10), gluing it onto some left over mat board from another project, and managing somehow to get it all done for December 1st. Well, about 2am on December 2nd. Yeah, it took a while and was ultimately a day late but it was well worth it. My son loved it, and was totally surprised, having not seen it at all in progress. This is the sixth advent calendar I have made for him, and already I’m thinking about next year…

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it was overflowing gently, but it’s all elementary my friend

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And here once more, De Vere’s Irish Pub in Davis. This was sketched after the party at the Manetti Shrem Museum of Art. I was so full of electric artistic energy that I just had to come to the pub and sketch away, and I wanted to use colour differently again, this time adding purple and yellow washes to a dark blue pen. Oh plus a white gel pen. I enjoyed sketching this a lot, and had some fun conversations with people, many of whom had also been at the museum that evening. By the way, totally unrelated, but have you seen Rogue One yet? Totally awesome huh.

Opening Weekend at the Manetti Shrem

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And finally, the art museum is open! The Manetti Shrem Museum of Art is a pretty amazing piece of architecture, designed by SO-IL and Bohlin Cywinski Jackson and built by Whiting-Turner. As you recall I have been sketching the in-construction progress of the building (let’s do a recap in a different post) and so on Opening Weekend, I was invited to attend the Director’s Debut, a special event on the Saturday night for donors and artists. It was an incredibly cool event, and amazing to finally see all of the artwork inside.

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The Director, Rachel Teagle, gave a speech to the gathered attendees, including Jan and Maria Manetti Shrem, thanking them for their support and announcing that because of their patronage, entry to the museum will be free to all. Pretty awesome! I was introduced to Rachel by Prof. Tom Farver, an emeritus faculty member I know (who is one of the donors listed on the big wall, along with his wife), and they also introduced me to the wife of the late Robert Arneson, the ceramicist who made the Eggheads and many of the sculptures in the Manetti Shrem’s collection (lots of toilets!), as well as a few other artistic luminaries. As I sketched the scene above though, a couple came to check out my sketchbook, and introduced themselves to me as the Madonnas (no not that Madonna), Joen and Paul. I was pretty surprised, realizing this was the same Paul Madonna whose books I have, the San Francisco artist who does the All Over Coffee strip, which inspired me to keep drawing in the early days. I’d never met him before though I’d been to one of his exhibits, so it was a nice surprise, and I showed them my sketches from San Francisco the day before. I kept on sketching the evening away, met a few other interesting folks, probably also really well-known artists I’m less familiar with (I didn’t get to meet Wayne Thiebauld though, the local art legend), though I did know quite a few people from the local art world who were there, and one of my artist friends Dori Marshall was there with her art group presenting this colourful cycle-powered sculpture on display outside the main entrance. I drew it below, it was really fun. You could see the colourful circles projected onto the wall behind it when approaching the building, really added to the party.

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There were some interesting art performances as well. Above, a spoken word group called Sick Spits performed some of their pieces, very performative, especially when spoken in the pulpits of the sculptures I attempted to draw very loosely (this is “five minute people sketching”, Pete, you wrote a book about it…). I love that sort of thing, having a background in performance (well, my undergrad degree in drama) and spoke with the performers afterwards. I need to sketch more performance artists. The food was great too. Top fancy stuff, stuff I didn’t even completely understand. I did have a lovely ice cream, which was made by pouring liquid onto a slab of nitrogen, it was very swanky stuff. I felt clever just watching them make it.

Here are some photos. The big bunch of flowers, well that was from Prince Charles, who couldn’t make it to the event, but he knows the Manetti Shrems and wanted to send his best wishes. Would have been fun to meet Prince Charles, I’ve sketched his house before. after this, the wine and canapes were put away and replaced with cereal for the big student party, which would go on until 2am. Not being a student I didn’t stick around for a bowl of Cheerios, and headed down to the pub to sketch out some of my buzzing drawing energy with another De Vere’s bar sketch. But next morning I had to get up and go back to the Museum for the Grand Opening…

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There were a lot of people there awaiting the big event. That large colourful chain decorating the museum exterior was to be formally cut signifying the opening of the doors. Rachel Teagle gave another speech joined by many other UC Davis importants, and we sat on the little grassy knoll with all the other families and watched the proceedings. My son was very excited to sketch so he chose the spot he wanted and we both sketched away. My scene is above (pencil and watercolour), and I also drew him getting down to work. He’s really getting into sketching now (we did a bit more together in London the week after)…

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… and he drew the scene below. Great job mate!

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And so, we have a new centre for the arts on campus, a place that really puts UC Davis on the art map. (Speaking of art maps, I drew one recently too for the UC Davis magazine! Details soon). I will do a post like I did for the Pitzer showing all of the in-progress sketches of the Manetti Shrem in one go.

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http://manettishremmuseum.ucdavis.edu/