over the creek

LaRue Bridge UC Davis

While I’m only going to campus once a week it’s still good to track the changes going on. This bridge near my office, where LaRue crosses Putah Creek, reopened recently after a long and necessary update. So on one of those very windy days we had recently I walked over and drew it. The Robert Mondavi Institute (RMI) of Food and Wine Sciences is in the background; they have a whole beer lab, and their own research vineyard. The wind was blowing so I drew as quickly as I could and painted it in later. It was so windy I didn’t even listen to a podcast. In my last post I mentioned about all the things about podcasts that make me turn off, but didn’t mentioned what I am listening to most these days. So here goes, my current podcast list, good for listening to while sketching. I like it when a podcast is roughly 50 minutes – 1 hour long as that’s a good time for a full sketch, unless it’s a bigger more complicated one or a double-page panorama. So in no order:

(1) Adam Buxton Podcast (very funny, he did a really fun one with Paul McCartney recently but I love his specials with old comedy mate Joe Cornish); (2) You’re Dead To Me (presented by Greg Jenner, historian from Horrible Histories, another one where I really love his enthusiasm and voice and his guests again always provide a good balance for the listener, he always has a historian and a comedian and they illuminate any subject colourfully, it’s definitely a highlight when this podcast comes out) (3) Guardian Football Weekly (I really like Max Rushden as a presenter, and he makes a good-natured balance to the dour but hilarious Barry Glendenning, the grumpy wit Barney Ronay and the scholarly Sunderlander Jonathan Wilson), the only thing is I think I actually enjoyed football podcasts more last year when there was no football, and they found more interesting ways to talk about the game in general rather than analyzing the endless mill of games we have now, and I can tell they want a break from this season; (4) Totally Football Show (with James Richardson, formerly of Football Weekly but best known for Football Italia on Channel 4 in the 90s, which us 90s lads all have fond memories of, and I really love the special Golazzo podcasts he does about the great characters and teams of Italian football); (5) Jay and Miles X-Plain the X-Men (I’ve been listening to this for several years now, as they walk us through X-Men comics history,  over 300 episodes in and they have reached the late 90s and even if I am completely unfamiliar with the stories or characters they are talking about, I can’t help but be drawn in by their enthusiasm and knowledge, and audibly they make a perfect conversational balance with each other, I could listen to them both talk all day); (6) The Infinite Monkey Cage (with Brian Cox and Robin Ince, science based and with a mix of science people and comedians saying funny things (or trying to) after the science people have said the science stuff; (7) History of the English Language (Followed since episode 1, this one is right up my alley as a fellow history-of-English enthusiast); (8) Travel with Rick Steves (I like Rick and his friendly nature, and there are always a lot of interesting stories from the guests about the various places or themes they focus on, but he did lose a bit of travel-cred when he kept referring to Windsor Castle as “Windsor Palace” in one episode); (9) Join Us In France (this is presented by a French woman who lived in the US for a long time and talks about all different areas of France and French culture, and I’ve discovered a lot of places I would like to explore by listening to this); (10) Checkered Flag Podcast (This one runs during the Formula 1 season and is really just a review of what happened that race weekend, but it’s always quite fun even if the hosts tend to sometimes wind each other up a bit much). I also listen to “History Extra Podcast”, “History of the 20th Century”, “Revolutions”, “Formula 1 Beyond the Grid”, “Nessun Dorma” (about 80s/90s football), “Zonal Marking”, “Talking Comics”, “Full of Sith” (Star Wars related but the voice of one of the hosts annoys me a bit so I don’t listen often, but I love that they love the prequels), “Dan Snow’s History Hit”, “Shakespeare Unlimited”, “Grounded with Louis Theroux”, “In Our Time” (with Melvyn Bragg), “Listen Up A-Holes” (Marvel Cinematic Universe reviews, though I tend to skip past some of the long-winded stuff), “Star Talk Radio” (though Neil DeGrasse Tyson isn’t as funny as he thinks he is, nor is his comic sidekick, he does know his physics), “The Curious Cases of Rutherford and Fry” (science), and quite a lot more that I listen to occasionally. But I also just listen to music, and we’re not getting into that here. I’m thinking of starting to listen to audiobooks more as well, I do like a good story. 

But then again, when out sketching, usually I prefer to listen to the sounds of the environment around me, particularly if I am in a big city or somewhere new. The sounds make their way into the sketch. In this one though, it was the sound of the wind telling me to leave it for now and finish it up later.

listen up

Davis house 7th and B

First page of a new Moleskine watercolour sketchbook, and this was an afternoon get-out-of-the-house bike ride down into Old North Davis, the edge of it anyway. I like the old historic houses in this part of the world, so many stories. At least I assume they have so many stories, to be honest none of them are any of our business. I do really like John Lofland’s book about Old North Davis, in which he goes street by street, building by building, and tells us when they were built, original owners, whether the house was located somewhere else before (around here, moving house sometimes means just that). This one is just outside the Old North Davis zone covered in his book but it’s still lovely. I’ve been running more in this area, south of my house. I like to run earlier in the morning, and listen to podcasts as I go. I’ve realized a few things about podcasts. I am very picky, like with a lot of things in life. I will almost never listen to a podcast recommended to me by anyone. If the voices of the people presenting it are too similar, I can’t listen. Similarly, if they are too different in terms of their pace or volume (particularly true in the current world where podcast guests are all over the place, zooming in on different microphone set-ups) I struggle to listen. If there is too much production – too much incidental music, I can’t listen. If there are ads, well if they’re about 30 seconds long I can skip them easily on my iPod, but if it’s one where the host actually stops mid-interview and starts reading out the ad themselves (and not in an obviously pre-recorded, different sound kind of way), which is far far more common on American radio than on British radio I note (as someone who can’t bare to listen to the radio), I can’t listen. If one of the hosts or guests has a tendency to pause before responding often, making it seem to the podcast listener that maybe their iPod has gone on the blink, and those pauses aren’t edited out, I can’t listen. If one of the hosts has a very whiny voice, I can’t listen. If a guest changes subject mid-sentence in a kind of – and I know I do this all the time, like right now for example – just like that fashion, I can’t listen. If the hosts swear, well if they are British I can get it, there’s a rhythm and context to it, but if it’s an American swearing it sounds all wrong, like they’re trying to be hard, and I can’t listen. If one of the speakers has the sort of voice that when you are in bed and listening to fall asleep to is totally fine, but when you are running and there is traffic but you can’t turn it up because the next speaker has a booming or whiny voice, well I can’t listen. If the guests on the show talk for too long before the next question by the presenter, I can’t listen. If the guest is speaking down an obviously tinny phone line like some Eurosport commentator in the CupWinners Cup in the early 90s, I can’t listen. If the speaker just spends ages listing things they don’t like, pet peeves, in a repetitive and predictable and self-aware way, even if they are being ironic, which let’s face it is worse, I can’t listen. If the speaker goes on about Arsenal too much, I can’t listen. If they always mispronounce French place names, I can’t listen. If they think Snickers is a better name than Marathon, I can’t listen. Etc and so on. I’m very picky. However I have discovered that if you listen to any podcast, any podcast at all , in 0.5x speed, it sounds infinitely better because suddenly you are listening to a bunch of people drunk in the pub slurring about medieval history or decreasing rates of XG in the Bundesliga, and who wouldn’t enjoy that? Alternatively listen at 1.5x speed, and you get them talking really fast, which then makes me run fast and I’m zippingaboutallovertheplacelikeMr.Rush, which helps my pace-per-mile. But never listen to anything on 2x speed, because that will hurt your head.   

the corner of 3rd and e

3rd and E Davis Feb 2021 sm

Been a little while since I wrote a post, though I have been drawing. It’s March again now, so we’ve come a year since last March. I suppose we always do, except last March hasn’t ended yet. That’s what we all say. So on this one day last month, the day before my birthday, I was downtown with the family getting new football boots for my son, and I decided to stay down there and draw a panorama. This is the corner of 3rd and E Streets, and I stood off to the side out of the way, six feet from any passer-by, and drew as much as I could. I finished it off later. I’m quite pleased with it. Click on it to see it in close-up. I last drew the house on that corner about a decade ago, when I had that show at the Pence. There it is below. It’s one of the cutest houses in downtown Davis. I draw 3rd Street quite a bit. 

nice house on 3rd and E eee

C-3PO has let himself go

020921 covell blvd, north davis

Here’s a quick sketch I did on a lunchtime from work (in the at-home office) on Covell Boulevard, north Davis. It’s Calvary Chapel on the corner of Oak Street, and I have drawn this building before, quite a long time ago now, back in 2012 when I first moved to north Davis (after six and a half years in south Davis). Back then, there was a funny looking periscope thing on the roof, one of those architectural details that bring light down into the building. That has gone now. Not gone entirely though, it’s been moved next to the building (on the other side of this, unseen; I should go and draw it really). The 2012 sketch is below. As you can see it’s a different colour now. Those trees behind the building didn’t just sprout up in that time, at least I don’t think they did, I probably just left them out. Not the Cypress trees in front, they were there. Of course what you are probably wondering about is the foreground object, a wonky electrical box on my side of Covell. It really was quite wonky, not much exaggeration there. It looks like a drunken robot, on the walk of shame in the early morning when the sun’s coming up. Come on, we’ve all been there. It looks like it’s just stumbled off the night bus having gone halfway across London in the wrong direction because it missed its stop. Several times. Like, London is massive and the night buses at Trafalgar Square when it’s freezing cold, sometimes you jsut jump on the first one that looks about right, just to get warm, and suddenly you’re in like Enfield or Chingford. Yeah I know this is really specific now, but we’ve all been there, we’ve all done it. One time it was like Queens Park or Harlesden, or somewhere pretty scary looking at 3am and you just jump on the next bus outta there, wherever it was going, and back to sleep. The 90s was an age of exploration, and sleep.

part of lutheran church, north davis

walker hall, nearly there

020321 Walker Hall Graduate Center sm

This is the almost-ready Graduate Center in the almost-refurbished historic Walker Hall, on the UC Davis campus. If you have been reading this site for a while you might have seen this building once or twice; see all the previous posts at petescully.com/tag/walker-hall. Well the little huts where all the construction workers go have been moved away, and so I had a pretty good view from across Hutchison, though the fence is still up. I did this fairly quick panorama while I was on campus earlier this month. Click on the image to see a close-up.  

And this is what it looked like back in January 2014! Ch-ch-ch-ch-ch-changes, as Bowie would say. If he were still alive. I wish Bowie were still alive.

panoramarathon: walker hall

run run run

Nike Renew

I have been running more and more for the past year and a half, just around the local area, usually on runs of between 2-3 miles (occasionally more), but it was only a couple of weeks ago that I actually went and got some actual running shoes. These are Nike Renew. They really made a difference, finally running with a bit more cushion beneath my sole makes things a lot more comfortable than my regular trainers. Anyway, I have drawn so many of my son’s shoes over the years that it was time to draw my own for once. The funny thing I learned about running shoes is you need to get a size up, at least, because of the way your feet expand when running. Lately though I’ve had trouble buying any new shoes because my feet always feel too big for my regular size. I’ll look at my shoes I’ve worn for years and be like, yep, definitely a 9, but when I buy new size 9s it’s like wearing kids shoes, and I don’t mean in that kind of ‘new shoe, not broken in yet’ way because I recognize that when getting shoes. Maybe my feet are getting bigger. Maybe shoes in general are getting smaller. I got my feet measured at REI while looking for new hiking boots (we are still hoping to go on the spring hiking trip to Utah we had to cancel last year) and they were like, get at least 10.5. I must admit, other than checking what size my last shoes were, I never actually measure my feet, because in general I don’t like buying shoes. I’ve never liked shoe shops, ever since I was a kid. My mum used to take me to shoe shops at Brent Cross or wherever and I hated them, the new-shoe smell of them, being forced to put things on my feet, but mostly waiting around. I would ask to wait outside the shop. I feel like much of my childhood was spent stood outside Dolcis or Freeman Hardy and Willis. I do like looking at shoes online though, “ooh they look cool,” and I quite liked these ones. I am going to track my mileage in them, so I know how long they last before wearing down (I actually do have spreadsheets…). Keep on running!

broken bones

fallen tree behind MSB 012721 sm

That big storm we had a couple of weeks ago felled a lot of trees. When I say ‘felled’ I mean ‘tore down violently’. The storm was loud, louder than I remember any storms here in Davis (and I’ve seen a few now, though very far between). Maybe it’s because I’m a homeowner now that I’m a bit more anxious about flying foliage and tumbling trunks but I didn’t get much sleep that night, listening to the deep booming howls and the intermittent crunching sounds from our neck of the woods. Next morning I went out to review the damage, while our internet was down, and power out for thousands (but not us, thankfully). Debris strewn everywhere, trees (or the tops of them) toppled, one large thick tree had fallen directly onto the roof of a house, another just missed the house but completely blocked the drive, other huge trunks blocked pathways on the Green Belt, but most concerning were the large branches in trees that had snapped but not quite fallen, hanging precariously, and it was still a bit windy. Falling branches can be deadly. So I proceeded with caution and went home. Still, I needed to do some work, so I went (carefully) down to campus, steering clear of dangling branches and passing many big old wounded oaks, and into the safety of our large solid stocky building. It always feels much safer watching the world from a window up there, but we’ve had our share of trees go down outside over the years, and this past storm was no different. I saw the tree above snapped like a broken doll at the back of the building, so I did a quick sketch of it. (I thought I’d keep a log of this event). Soon after it was cordoned off with yellow tape, and a couple of days later a man with a chainsaw had come to cut up what he could. It’s only now, a fortnight later, that many of the trees that went down are being removed, they had to deal with the most urgent ones first (like those plonked onto rooftops or blocking traffic, or the many that went down taking the powerlines with them). I wonder if any of them went down like Neymar, falling dramatically and rolling around a bit, maybe waving an imaginary yellow card. Poor old trees though.

but there’s too much history, too much biography between us

View from Math Sciences Building

I’ve gone to work on campus a few times lately, though hardly anyone is about. The Davis sky has been interesting lately, for a change (I have gone through more cerulean blue paint over the years than any other colour, so I get really excited when I see a cloud). We did have a massive storm that knocked out many peoples’ power, as well as our internet for almost a week, as well as so many trees, I’ve not ever seen so many get blown down before. Anyway my department being on the fourth floor the view from the window is pretty good. For a long time working here I had no window and I’m still not used to the novelty. The view above however is actually from the recently-vacated office next door to mine, as the view was slightly different. I say recently-vacated, it hadn’t been used since last March, hardly any of them have, but the person who hadn’t been using the office has recently left. It’s odd rattling around the department with hardly anybody there, one other staff member comes in to do IT stuff, occasionally one of the faculty might be there and maybe a grad student, otherwise it’s like a ghost town. I worked straight through lunch this one day, not taking a break until after 3, so I decided to draw a panorama of the view. I drew a lot before my next afternoon Zoom meeting, but I finished most of the colouring after work, when the sun had already set; the sunlight doesn’t hang about in late January. Click on the image for a better view. You can just about make out the new construction in the background, the Teaching Learning Complex, while the ochre-coloured building on the right is the Crocker Nuclear Lab. Yep, this sucker’s nuclear.  

view from MSB

This is another view, also not from my office. It’s looking west, rather than north, and this was while there was rain outside. Moments after finishing, there was a beautiful rainbow. I took photos but had already put my paints away. This was done from the corner office, which I was in trying to reorganize office assignments for next year. There is a stand-up desk in there, an I’ve been contemplating getting one, so decided to try it out by sketching the view from the window. I liked it, I think I need one. The sky was all sorts of dramas. It was like BBC2 at 9pm or whatever. This was actually Davis at 4pm on a Friday. The sort of dramas you got then in England were more children’s TV shows like The Little Silver Trumpet, the one I was in when I was 4 and thought it was all real. The best school-age drama, Grange Hill, that would have been on at 5:10. Zammo, Ro-land, Mrs McCluskey, Bronson, Gonch, Ziggy, all them. Just Say No, kids. Sometimes on Fridays though you got those strange ones from the 70s, or dubbed German shows like The Legend of Tim Tyler (Tim Thaler in the original). Those were great, I used to crack up at the misplaced dubbing. I did see it in the original when I was in Austria aged 15 and it seemed so much more serious. 

view from MSB with brush pen

This one was drawn from my office, and it was just simple blue sky outside, no cloud at all. Bit cold though, and windy. I had an hour between Zoom meetings so I ate lunch at my desk, the Spurs v Chelsea game was on my iPad beside me (that was… excruciating), and I had a grey marker from one of the urban sketching symposia that I had not used before, so I did a quick drawing of the view with it. I am still working from home, same as the rest of the family, but on the day or two I need to come by to campus to take care of some things (often stuff like putting up required notices that hardly anyone will read), I like being back. Also, I don’t have cats bugging me all day. Can’t wait for us all to be back, but it looks like we won’t have that until the Fall. In the meantime I will continue to run, draw, work, meet via Zoom, listen endlessly to Belle and Sebastian (yet another B&S lyric for the blog post title; I have a lot of history and biography in this building now), watch bad Spurs games, not see people, and think about all the places I want to go after the pandemic is done with. In other words, the same as I was doing before the pandemic. 

Dublin Part 3: pints make prizes

Dublin Phibsborough House sm

The final chapter in my recent (August and September…recent enough) virtual tour of Dublin, a series of drawings made on long and painstaking virtual walks around the city via Google Street View, reliant on the often unusual angles and above-head-height horizon lines, hoping traffic does not impede the view of something good. Thankfully I found some good views of several pubs, and in Dublin you are never very far from a good pub. I wish I could have gone inside, had a beer, sketched the interior, but I just had to imagine instead. This pub above is in Phibsborough, Clarke’s, aka the Phibsborough House. My next door neighbour Gregory here in Davis used to live opposite this pub, he said his cousin still frequents there. The large ‘BOHS’ sign above is a reference to the local football team (soccer that is, not Gaelic football, which is huge in Ireland) in Phibsborough, Bohemians. I have a Bohs shirt myself (courtesy of my neighbour, cheers) and the club’s supporters have a reputation for being very anti-fascist, pro-left issues, one of their recent kits had “Refugees Welcome” across the sponsor area. My kind of club. I did stay at a B&B in Phibsborough near the stadium on a visit back in the 90s. I liked this area a lot (I think one of my cousins lived there when I visited as a kid too) and would walk into downtown Dublin from Phibsborough every day. We never went to this pub, but my friend Simon who moved to Dublin in the summer has been here, and hopefully when all is Back To Normal and I can travel again, I’ll go there with him (and maybe say hi to Gregory’s cousin).

Dublin Bleeding Horse sm

Walking on, this is south of the Liffey, down on Camden Street Upper. It’s called the Bleeding Horse and goes back to the 17th century. I don’t know how the pub got its name but it might be from an incident in the Battle of Rathmines in 1649, when apparently a horse that was wounded fled the battle. and YES, he WENT INTO THE PUB, and OH YES, the barman, the first ever barman to utter these immortal words, said to the horse, “WHY THE LONG FACE?” Oh yes he did. Although in this case he probably said “Why the long bleedin’ face?” Anyway this pub is just around the corner from the crosswalk outside the chicken farm, and the polygonal shaped parrot cemetery. The pub was mentioned in Ulysses, although I don’t remember that as I haven’t watched that cartoon since the 1980s, but I still remember the theme tune. The Bleeding Horse is a great pub name, but really is best said in a London accent, “the bleedin’awse”. Another one on my list of places to go on this future Dublin trip. I imagine this trip being one where I hope it rains a lot so I can spend more time inside the pubs drawing. It won traditional pub of the year in 2017 and 2018. 

Dublin John Kehoes sm

Next up, this one is on Anne Street in central Dublin not far from St. Stephen’s Green, called John Kehoe’s, which is described on its website as “an award winning traditional Irish pub in the heart of Dublin’s south city centre”. Sure it looks like a place I would spend an afternoon with my sketchbook and a couple of pints. I must confess though, I don’t like Guinness. Never been my thing. I’ll have a pint, but I’ll take a Smithwicks after that. Being where it is, I expect this place gets a lot more tourists looking for the authentic heritage pub than the others in this post, but as a Londoner who never minded tourists I don’t mind that at all, people on their travels and stopping for a pint or two are always up for a friendly chat. I’m usually a tourist myself. So this is another one added to the list, though I’d need to make sure I get there when I can find a good spot to draw the bar area. However I know for a fact that I would constantly be making jokes about the classic TV show “Through the Keyhole” because the name sounds a bit like keyhole. If here with my now-Dublin-inhabiting friend Simon, we would undoubtedly be going from Loyd Grossman’s distinctive New England twang “WHO LIVES in a HOUSE like THIS? DAVID it’s OVER to YOU” followed by David Frost, “Lets see…whose house…this is.” And of course it would turn out to be Michael Caine’s house, of course, so we’d have to do a Michael Caine voice, “Oi, get OUT of my HOUSE”, and I’ve only had one pint at this point. If you are thinking, no you wouldn’t, you’d think all of this but not say it, you are wrong. My now-Dublin-inhabiting friend Simon and I spent an entire evening in McSorley’s in New York City one sub-freezing February night doing a variety of voices, and when I say ‘variety’ I mean 95% Michael Caine, saying a variety of Star Wars quotes, and when I say ‘variety’ I mean almost every line in all of the movies. Even Jar-Jar. The poor couples sat next to us trying to enjoy a Valentine’s Day drink. But just imagine Michael Caine saying Han Solo’s line “Don’t get cocky!” I want to do a remake of Star Wars where all of the voices are replaced with Michael Caine saying the lines. “Mesa day … starten … pretty okey day … with A BRISKY MORNIN MUNCHIN!” Ok I can see you’re not impressed, let’s move to another pub.

Dublin Gravediggers pub sm

Slightly quieter spot now, north of the river, we might keep the Michael Caine impressions to a minimum at this one. John Kavanagh’s, next to Glasnevin Cemetery, is called the “Gravediggers’ Pub”. Right, so this one has a bit of history, and is even mentioned in Atlas Obscura, that book that talks about loads of interesting and obscure places in the world. The cemetery was apparently the first one to be opened up to Irish citizens of all faiths, Protestant and Catholic, in 1833. Anyway, Kavanagh’s is called the gravediggers’ pub because, well this is where they came after digging the graves. The story is that there used to be a hole in the wall that the barman would pass drinks through to the graveyard shift workers on the other side. A ‘stiff drink’ indeed. Here’s one: a gravedigger walked into a pub, asked the barman for a Guinness and a hot Lemsip. “Why d’you want the Lemsip?” the barman asked predictably. “For me coffin,” replied the gravedigger, also predictably. Thing is, the gravedigger has been a staple of comic humour for centuries, just think of the gravediggers scene in Hamlet, the funniest part of the very long play. Especially in the Kenneth Branagh version where Yorrick’s skull is very obviously Ken Dodd, even before it’s revealed to be he. And that always reminds me of the tongue twister, “Ken Dodd’s Dad’s Dog’s Dead”. Try saying that after a few pints at the Gravediggers’.   

Dublin Rathmines sm

And finally, not a pub this time but the view from the middle of Rathmines Road, south of the centre of Dublin. This is the end of the book. There is a pub on the left called the Bowery, which seems to be built in the style of an old galleon, so very much somewhere I’d like to go. Except that I think it may have since closed, maybe eve pre-pandemic. Even before this past year, so many good pubs were closing down, and I really hope that they all can somehow survive this pandemic mess. I miss sketching in pubs, I miss the very idea of pubs, places of life, social history, and Michael Caine impressions. That clock tower kept making me think of the old song “Quare Things in Dublin” by the Wolfe Tones, there’s a clocktower in that song, and a pub of course. Rathmines I guess is an area of Dublin I’ve never been to but a lot of my great-grandparents and beyond lived around this neck of the woods, Harold’s Cross, Ranelagh, Portobello over the canal. Plenty of Higginses. The Scullys were from more north of the Liffey. These days I know what Dublin family I have is all over the place, I only met a few of them in my life when I was a kid, as well as many of the Higgins lot who’d gone down to Wicklow a long time before (I remember walking into my great-uncle Bernard’s house and it was like the hall of mirrors, so many red-headed Higgins who looked like me – this is where they were all hiding! None of my siblings or parents have red hair). It’s not like I’d be going on a family discovery tour if I went back to Dublin though, we’re not really like that; I remember when my nan died, end of 1988, when I was a kid in Burnt Oak, London, and her brother came to the funeral. I never knew about this brother before so that was a surprise great-uncle, I assumed he had come over from Dublin. No, he also lived in Burnt Oak, in the street next to my old school, but this was the first I’d ever heard of him. So I just assume that I’m probably related to loads of people I’ve never heard of, they just don’t necessarily all talk about each other. In fact I never even knew the names of my great grandparents until recently when my sister did some digging. Lots of people with the same names going back generations, it turns out, and mostly Dublin for at least a couple of centuries. Lots and lots of people called James Higgins, one (great-great grandfather) with an exceptional General Melchett moustache. One other thing we did discover, my grandfather William Scully, who died before I was born but who gave me my middle name William, well I found out his middle name was Edward, which completely coincidentally is my son’s middle name (which in this case was named after my older brother’s middle name, and he isn’t a Scully). I think my great-grandfather may have been Edward William Scully too. We like to re-use names.

So that was a brief jaunt around Dublin, in no order, on paper I probably would not choose to draw on again. I sent the finished book to my now-Dublin-inhabiting friend Simon (he actually got me the blank book in Dublin in the first place) and I hope he can explore all the historic story-filled pubs, once this bleedin’ pandemic is done with. My next virtual tour I have started already, a long tour of France, starting at Calais and finishing up in Paris, while circling around the country, 64 stops, much more detail. It’ll take a while, but I’m not going anywhere. 

drawing everyday every day

D St Davis

So far in 2021 I have drawn every single day. There was only one day that didn’t get a ‘dated’ drawing (Jan 17 I think it was) but I was probably finishing off another drawing, or I did two the next day or something. Either way I am in a bit of a productive patch with drawing. It makes it easier to do the next one, but it also means that I get worried about stopping, in case I fall into another period of non-drawing. I did got for periods in 2021 when I would only draw once a week or once a fortnight; in December I did only a handful of sketches all month. In the period of Jan 1st – February 3rd I have done 36 drawings, several of which are double-page spreads (in colour), and several more are very detailed drawings of places in northern France (I have started another Virtual Sketch Tour, this time De France, and the drawings are bigger than on my Great Britain one from 2020). At the same time, I have started running again. I was running a lot last year, and really improving my times b midsummer, but then the wildfires came, and the air was too dangerous to go outside in, and the running suffered. Since January started I am back running again, and I’ve run a total of 44.5 miles on 19 runs (should be a few more by the end of this morning, I am awake early again, and the pre-work schedule on early mornings is “write/draw/run/get ready for work”) (or more accurately, “get bugged by cats/write/get bugged by cats/give in and feed them early/draw/still get bugged by cats despite them being fed already/run/tell cats to bog off, they were fed already, but they’re like yeah we’re hungry again/get ready for work”). So yeah, trying to be more active in the exercises, both drawing and running, just hoping to stay fit both ways. You have to exercise your drawing muscles as much as any other. I do sometimes see sketches I’ve done after no sketching for a while and it’s obvious to me I was out of shape. 

Anyway, this sketch was one of those lunchtime sketches I needed to do to keep drawing, just a ride downtown to draw a building, I settled on this one I have drawn a couple of times in years long past, Smith funeral home. Not a great subject in this time probably, a funeral home (and I know people who have passed away in the past month or so, and that was probably heavy in my thoughts), but it is an interestingly shaped building. I first drew it in October 2010 in my ‘Davis Moleskine‘, a long accordion sketchbook (from the first USk Symposium) filled with Davis drawings. Wow, that was over a decade ago. I would do another of those but you know how much I hate actually standing there with the accordion book, they wind me up more than other people. Others can stand or sit there with either side of the accordion pages falling gently to their sides like cherubs on a renaissance ceiling (what?), whereas when I try to draw with one I look like Frank Spencer fighting with a library. Although in the sketch below (from 2010) you can see I carefully folded the pages back into the book and added little clips (this is why I drew the book on the page, actually, to make it look like I knew what I was doing when in reality I could never get the pages flat and was flailing about annoyed at ever starting this project, which I drew using a brown Pitt fineliner and grey marker, all of which seemed Fine At The Time but aren’t my usual tools; I hadn’t yet quite discovered the brown-black uniball signo UM-151, though I will say the Pitt fineliner did move more nicely on the waxy Moleskine paper than the Micron did). The funny thing about that project, I left those gaps at the top and bottom partly so I would not have to draw quite so much (these took longer than a usual similar-sized sketch in the watercolor sketchbooks, for some reason), but also because I was going to write stories about Davis in those areas like the Bayeux Tapestry or something. I was obsessed with the Bayeux Tapestry. I’m glad I didn’t. I did add in various foreground objects such as trees, lamp-posts, Stop-signs to use as markers of transition from one drawing to another. The whole project was inspired by Paul Heaston’s recent long-form drawing of Main Street in Bozeman Montana, but I abandoned the ‘whole street’ idea myself immediately (though I did do something like that of Hutchison Drive in 2016) (and I still might do one of either 5th or 2nd St sometime).

Funeral Home on D Street

Why draw so much? My excuse has always been that I am recording the world I am in so I remember it later, and now I’ve been in this particular world so long I am just recording the changes, performing some sort of public service maybe, but I think it’s really so that I can have something I have made (other than an untidy bedroom) to show for my time here. Books, CDs, even football shirts are all just stuff that someone else has to not care about when you are gone, but I suppose a collection of sketchbooks might be a more personal leave-behind. I don’t know, it’s a bit early in the morning for this sort of thought. Time to feed the cats (again? seriously lads) and go for my run, the sun is starting to come up. It’s a new day, baby.

davis moleskine: the entire spread