TLC, all finished

Teaching Learning Complex UC Davis

Sure I’m a couple of months behind, but it’s good to get sketch-blog active again. The sketch-blog is a nice place after all, unlike the popular social media spaces that have dominated our lives and re-shaped global politics since the days when just a bit of regular blogging was the thing. It feels like a little allotment escape, a place to come away from the busy shouty high street tumble-dryer of Twitter, the shopping mall of Instagram, the awkward friends-of-family wedding of Facebook, although I do miss the music-store-noticeboard of MySpace. I prefer it in here, just me and my sketchbook, and some rambly stuff that doesn’t make a lot of sense but isn’t setting out to enrage and inflame. Now this drawing is a couple of month’s old already but it is the Teaching and Learning Complex at UC Davis, which I have been drawing as it has been built, and is now complete, save for some work on the top floor. It’s lovely inside and outside, some nice spaces for student learning. The construction people who built it actually gifted me a very nice surprise upon completion of the project, a nice sweater with their logo and  one of my construction drawings stitched into the arm! It looks great. The sweater is quality (Patagonia) but quite warm, so I’ll probably need to wait until after the Davis summer to wear it (or just bring it with me to the London for the British summer). A pretty cool honor though. I’ve enjoyed drawing this building over the past couple of years, and here are some of the other sketches, from various angles and times of day…

Silo and Teaching Learning Complex, UC Davis TLC Feb 2022 sm 052421 TLC UCD Latest at the Teaching Learning Complex, UC Davis TLC UCD teaching learning complex Teaching and Learning Complex UC Davis silo smoky sky teaching learning complex sept 2020 Teaching Learning Complex UCD July 2020 Silo and Teaching Learning Complex (under construction...)

Phew! I drew a lot. I should draw the interior some time. Now on to the next project…

on the wall at walker hall

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After several years of redevelopment, the new Graduate Center at Walker Hall had its formal grand opening a few weeks ago. Part of the grand opening included a special exhibition of several of my in-progress sketches, which I’ve shared here over the past few years, of the construction and redevelopment period. They blew them up into large colorful prints and have them displayed right now in the lobby area of the building, along with a touch screen where you can flick through all those sketches, along with a variety of historical photos from the past century. What an honour! I’m gobsmacked at what a nice display it was, and I got a lot of very nice comments from the people touring the building on that day. One of my personal favourites was of the building pre-reconstruction, the big panorama I did in 2014 when it was still in its old Walker Hall form, and that was nice to see big on the wall. There was another one – the ‘sneezy one’ – a sketch I started but abandoned after 10 minutes due to a massive attack of the April sneezing. I wrote “Atchoo!” all over the page and left it. Well they even made a print of that one! And that one is the one people mentioned to me the most. I think we all have those allergy experiences in Davis in the spring… There were several from that time when I was able to go inside and sketch the mid-construction shell, drawing bits of the interior in a hard hat just before dark, but most of the sketches were done peering over the fence or standing on a bench next to the bins. I’m pleased to have documented this project like this.

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I did draw some of the ceremony outside that was given by the Chancellor Gary May, Vice Chancellor for Finance Kelly Ratliff (not in the sketch, I arrived during her speech), Graduate Dean JP Delplanque, and several others also not sketched here. I used to be a graduate coordinator for years on campus and always liked working with the Grad Studies team, so I am really pleased to see them get this amazing new space. Especially for the graduate students on campus, as this is the first dedicated Graduate Center of its kind in the UC system, which is great.

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You can see all of my Walker Hall sketches in this album on Flickr: https://www.flickr.com/photos/petescully/albums/72157678149480548

Now on to the next campus drawing project! It’s a while now since I drew the Manetti Shrem going up, the old Boiler Building going down and replaced with the Pitzer Center; more recently I drew the Teaching and Learning Complex, which just opened recently. I like to draw things as they are being built because  they are moments in time that are not repeated, they will never look like that again, and spaces have meaning to people. Drawing them is a way of connecting with them myself and sharing a personal perspective.

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Yep, it’s been over a month since I posted; my home computer has been down, I don’t like typing on the iPad, and I’ve been sitting on a pile of scanning. I need a new computer but have been lagging behind a bit there. I’ve done a bit of drawing, a lot of sneezing, a lot of soccer coaching, and I got a new guitar which has been taking up some of my spare time. Still hopefully I can start posting my sketches and stories more regularly again soon. Summer planning is afoot and there will finally be some travelling across the Atlantic. Check back soon!

towering over our heads

UC Davis arboretum Here’s another sketch of the UC Davis Water Tower (one of them anyway) in the Arboretum, this time with a very spring-like feel with the redbuds glowing. The first day of March 2022, which means we are nearly two years on from that day in March 2020 when we all stopped, and then carried on in a different way.

a complex world

TLC Feb 2022 sm

The world is a mess, but we keep on keeping on. This is the new Teaching Learning Complex, a building that has been under construction this past couple of years and is now open (I went and walked around inside last week, it’s nice) but there’s still work going on at the exterior and I think the upper floors are nearly ready as well. I drew at lunchtime, but added in details on a different lunchtime, and then decided not to colour it, but then decided to put colour on it, and splashed on a bit of paint so that it dripped down. It’s nice to have this new building around, I can even see it from my office. But, as I am sure will be said many times over the years by clever people giving talks here, “teaching and learning doesn’t need to be complex.”  I don’t know where you go next from that phrase but it sounds like the sort of thing that you might say when speaking to a group of, I don’t know, undergrads learning to be teachers maybe. I might use it some day myself. In fact I just did, just then. Oh, the world is a mess. I wish the war would stop in Ukraine and Russia would leave them alone, that isn’t going to happen, what an awful situation. I’ve not felt this much dread at a world event since, I don’t know, the cold war? Or maybe since Covid started. I wish Covid would go away, though on that front campus is relaxing things soon, and masks will no longer be required after March 18, though I’ll still wear mine because I like to feel like a ninja. At least I have plans ahead, I finally booked a flight to London this summer, the first time back in two and a half years, and I’ll believe it when I see it. We just keep on keeping on.

ickle bit of pink

UC Davis arboretum

The Redbuds are out. This is in the Arboretum at UC Davis, the section closest to where I work is the Warren G. Roberts Redbud Collection, which blasts into life at this time of year. Here’s a little bit of info about it: https://arboretum.ucdavis.edu/warren-g-roberts-redbud-collection. The Redbud is a native Californian plant, which grows in the foothills. I sketched quickly. A lot of people in the Arboretum that day, seemed to see many people I know, or who knew me without me knowing (or recognizing) them. I do sometimes get a “hello!” from people who I’ve obviously met before but don’t recognize (either due to the masks, my legendarily bad eyesight, or just that I never recognize anyone), so I always just say “y’alright, how ya doin’?” back, and let my slow mind catch up with who it might have been afterwards. This happened just last night on the way out to the soccer practice field, I got a “hey Pete, been a while!” from someone but for the life of me I don’t know who it was, I just waved a “yeah man, good to see you!” although I couldn’t actually see them. My phenomenal lack of being able to recognize people goes back a long way. Back in the 90s, I was up in Yorkshire visiting a friend who happened to work in a nightclub, so after arriving on the late bus from London I went by there to wait for them to finish and I spotted one of their friends, who I had met the previous time I’d been up there, Bertie I think he was called, drinking with a couple of other lads. So I went up and started chatting, “how’s it going, good to see you, yeah I had a long journey up here, six and a half hours on the bus, not very comfy, bit cream-crackered now,” the music was loud so it wasn’t easy to hear each other, I anyway after about ten minutes he says to me, “who are you though? I don’t actually know you.” Because it wasn’t Bertie, he had no idea who Bertie was, or who I was, or why I was talking to him about the state of the seats on the National Express. I just went, “oh, you’re not Bertie, sorry!” and went off to hide forever. I might have done that thing where I take off my glasses and rubbed my eyes like in a cartoon. To be honest I probably wouldn’t have known Bertie if he’d jumped out of a big cake. I don’t even remember if he was really called Bertie, he was probably called Bobby or Barry. Anyway, I’m not great at recognizing faces, so if you do see me and I look a bit nonplussed and give the random “hey, how’s it goin” response, that’s just my terrible eyesight and memory, nothing to worry about. I’m too busy focusing on the pink trees anyway.

UC Davis arboretum

Auf wiedersehen, Konditorei

konditorei, davis

This is – was – Konditorei, an Austrian bakery on 5th Street in Davis. Konditorei closed a week or so ago after 32 years in business following the retirement of the owners Albert and Gloria Kutternig. Wow, 32 years…exactly twice as long as I have been in Davis. I cycled over to draw it, although it wasn’t open. I used to pass by here on my way home from work or downtown when I lived on the other side of Davis, and it would usually be closed by the time I came by, being typically open earlier in the day, so I didn’t get a chance to come in here often. But I really loved their birthday cakes. I would always ask for a Konditorei cake for my birthday, and I had my final one a few weeks before they closed up, a delicious and elaborate white chocolate cake whose name I can’t remember. It didn’t last long. I was first introduced to Konditorei’s cakes about twelve or thirteen years ago when our department chair (who was from Germany) brought one in to share with the staff on the occasion of his birthday. I loved it so much I asked for the same one for my birthday a week or so later, it was a work of art. I’ve enjoyed them ever since. It will be sad not to have one next year! I wish the Kutternigs a very well deserved retirement.

I do love a pastry, and enjoy Austrian food. When I was 15, I went to Austria for the first time as part of a school exchange trip. Our German class wasn’t very big so it was combined with one of the younger years from our school. Our teacher Mrs Kellock was from Austria, so it made sense we would come there. We went to a little town called Lauterach, in the Vorarlberg region which is squeezed in the gap between Switzerland and Germany on the shore of the Bodensee (Lake Constance), with high mountains all around, and little Liechtenstein not far down the road. While I did spend time at the local school, my main reason for being there was for work experience, or “Schnupperlehre” as it was known. German was my favourite subject at school and I think I imagined that I might live in a German-speaking country when I grew up. In my early teens had a pen-pal in Vienna, Michaela, though we never met in person. The work experience I did was at a tiny advertising agency (with only two employees, the owner and a woman who was never there) in a small building near the top of a mountain on the edge of a town called Dornbirn. The family I stayed with in Lauterach were nice, and what I remember most is that I enjoyed the Austrian breakfast, especially the big slices of bread and all that Nutella, along with some of the freshets and tastiest milk I’d ever had. I should like to visit Austria again some day. Grüß Gott!

february, catch me if you can

E Street, old norh davis

February moves fast doesn’t it, it’s like the speediest month. Blink and you miss it. January and March on the other hand, well we all know how long a March can be (the 2020 edition went on for years), but that zippy little February, you try to catch it but “meep meep!” and it’s off. It’ll be back. Anyway the pink blossoms are out (they will pop up a few times in sketches yet to come) and I drew this one on Super Bowl Sunday while out and about in old north Davis. Speaking of fast, I did another 5k race in February, the Davis Stampede. Not that I’m saying I was all that fast, I was about a minute slower than the Turkey Trot (I blame the massive amounts of food and drink consumed over the Christmas and beyond period, still getting through it all to be fair), but still a couple of minutes faster than I was two years ago (and I got 6th place in my age bracket). I like running, though I have been a bit lazy in my preparations lately. I have another 5k later this month, the ‘Lucky Run’, I’ll be lucky if I get a good time in that one. We’ll see. I like to listen to music while I run, for the tempo. Every time I do a run though, I’m like “I can’t wait for the next one! Let’s look up all the races in northern California and sign up for them! Run across the Golden Gate Bridge!” And then the next morning that I should be out training, my legs are like, “ooh not today, you went to bed late last night, you need more sleep. Plus you ate some Weetabix at 11pm last night so you’re too full still to go running.” And I listen and am like, yeah I guess I’ll run tomorrow. Or maybe the day after. Roadrunner never has that problem.

you see UCUC, you see

UCUC UCD

Every two weeks I get my Covid test at the ARC, on the UC Davis campus, which all employees have to do. It’s a bit of a long walk back to the office on those days when I don’t bring my bike (my back wheel is acting a bit odd these days and I need to fix it, I just haven’t gotten around to it). On this day I took the long walk past the old ARC Pavilion on LaRue, now the University Credit Union Center (UCUC, which sounds like someone emphatically making a point) (maybe it should be called the UCUCUCD). I was listening to an audiobook about the Beatles (“Tune In” by Mark Lewisohn, chapter one of a planned three part epic called “All These Years”, detailing their entire childhood and early adulthood right up to their last Hamburg trip at the end of 1962 – it was a 45 hour audiobook, which seemed like a lot for an audiobook until I remembered I’ve probably listened to over 100 hours of Beatles podcasts in the past couple of months since the Get Back inspired return to Fab Four obsessiveness. Honestly I’m like Murray the K. Anyway, I was listening to stories of young Ritchie Starkey playing Butlins with Rory Storm, I realized I’d never drawn this building before. It makes interesting shapes when the sun casts its shadows. It put me in mind of the Southbank Center and Royal Festival Hall (where Macca gave a talk about his book The Lyrics not too long ago), and that made me miss London, which is my default setting these days, missing London and obsessing about the Beatles. I used to like going down to the South Bank when I was in my teens, when I was doing A-Levels I would go to art exhibits there on the weekends, back before the South Bank was as busy as it is now, before the London Eye, before the Tate Modern, before the nicely paved walkways down to City Hall which also wasn’t there; I’d say ‘before the South Bank was cool’ but in the early 90s the South Bank was as cool as it was ever going to be, though I do love all the new things. I also had this thought, UCD standing for “UC in the sky with Davis” which I think would be a good name for a book, or maybe just a zine. Or maybe just a blog post, and not even this one, save it for a better one.

corona heights

corona heights SF

There’s a lot to explore in San Francisco, and I like a bit of urban hiking. The problem is that whenever I go to the city I usually only have a limited amount of time, most of which is spent stood on a pavement clutching a sketchbook in an awkward-looking but comfortable manner, drawing some building, and that takes up time. If I wander too far, I might miss the Amtrak bus back to Emeryville. A bit of urban hiking is fun though, although in this city it’s more like urban mountaineering, the hills are so steep. I had seen a few interesting city-scape views online that I’d not seen before, ones that would make good sketches, so I looked up the path to Corona Heights, a large hill between the Castro and the Haight, and filled with energy from a little sugary bag of Turkish Delight I’d bought at the Ferry Building I scaled the steep streets and found my way to the orange rocky promontory at the top, with a near 360 degree panoramic view of San Francisco. There were a few people up there, people with their little dogs, people just sat chilling and taking in the view, and the sun had come right out and was giving it all that. I always love to draw this city from above, so I found a spot in the shade of a rock and drew furiously. It was a lot of observation, although didn’t take too long. Drawing a scene like this you have to match things up like a puzzle, but also be careful not to put too much detail, and this pretty much reflects how my eyes were able to see things. Having the big rock formation in the foreground helped give it some perspective but also helped to make the job of drawing the landscape much easier, breaking it up so the view is more manageable. I remember drawing a similarly-sized panorama overlooking the city from Telegraph Hill years ago and it took ages, but was way less detailed, and I think it was because it overwhelmed me a bit. I take any opportunity I can to draw a cityscape but some are easier than others. This one for me represents a nice day, more than anything, exploring an area I’d not been to before. I got a text from my son while I was at the top, my new Casio keyboard had arrived, so I could play some tunes when I got home. I bought myself a keyboard to mess around with, not an expensive one, just one so that if I feel the need I can start playing a little music. I haven’t played a keyboard since I was at school, when I learned a bunch of chords from a teach-yourself-easy-keyboard book I got with my Christmas present keyboard in 1988. It’s nice having one again, and I’m already figuring out a few tunes. Anyway I think of that now when I look at this sketch.

masonic ave SF

Afterwards I headed towards the Haight, so it was downhill, uphill, downhill, repeat. The streets curved and I might have gotten very lost were it not for that smartphone that keeps us all where we are meant to be, doesn’t it. I have been lost in some great cities. Paris, Porto, Portland. Even London, where those late night buses would take me to parts of the world I’d only heard rumours of, after I’d fallen asleep and the driver said it was the last stop. One time in Edinburgh back in the late 90s, I was leading my group of festival-flatmates back to our shared digs from the theatre, and we were so lost that they decided to go their own way, while I continued on my route. After about 30 minutes of being even more lost, I actually bumped into them again, coming in the opposite direction. They laughed at me for being even more lost, but they were lost too weren’t they? Still they ended up following me and we found the house, but I never heard the end of it. Thing of the past now, with our modern world. So I didn’t get lost, but I wandered about and saw some amazing houses. One of them I saw from below as I climbed Masonic Avenue, the rear looking like something from a Ghibli film, and I thought about drawing it then. However when I reached the top of the hill, I was blown away by the front, a picturesque brick house adorned with hearts for Valentines Day, with pink blossoms lined the street. The garden was very pretty and there was a sign calling it ‘le Petit Chateau des Cavaliers’ above a picture of two dogs. It wasn’t ‘petit’, but there were cavaliers; a man came out walking two cavalier King Charles spaniels, who I’m assuming are the masters of the house. I used to have a dog like that when I was a kid, she was called ‘Lady’ but I just knew her as ‘Soppydog’. I told him that this house was really beautiful and had brightened up my day hugely, as I was juts wandering around the city. He said it was a hundred years old. I stood on the corner opposite and did a very cursory outline sketch, but didn’t want to stand here too long and decided it was a ‘do later’. So I ‘did later’, drawing it on the train and back at home around the outline I had started. I went down to the Haight, and didn’t do any more drawing there because, well, I always forget I don’t like the Haight that much. So I went for a bit more urban hiking, and climbed Buena Vista Park, before making my way down again to catch the N-Judah down at Duboce. Day in the city, done. Though I did stop into the Lego store on the way home.

castro-nomy

the castro, san francisco

A few weeks ago I took the train down to San Francisco for a day of wandering and sketching. It was just before my birthday, and I needed a day out with the sketchbook. You can only draw so much Davis. I didn’t have a plan as to where I would go, but I thought I would like to try climbing one of the big hills for a big vantagepoint view over the city. I knew the weather was supposed to be nice, though it started off foggy as you’d expect with the city. I took the super early train down from Davis, walked over to the Ferry Building to get the little bombolini from the lady that sells them there, I have my habits. This is what I do, I don’t mind being predictable. When I am long gone what will be remembered is that I would get the early train into the city for a sketching day and start off eating little bombolini, one filled with nutella, the other with lemon cream. In the book of my life that will be one of the scenes they film, over a soundtrack of a nice song I like, something by Belle and Sebastian. I decided to go sketching up in the Castro. It’s been quite a few years since I was sketching up there, and I wanted to draw something colourful. The last panorama I did in the Castro, back in 2013 before a sketchcrawl, I’d left uncoloured apart from the red sign of the Castro Theatre. The panorama above, which I sketched in the shade on the corner of 18th and Castro, was a lot of detail. So, I drew as much as possible in the almost-hour I stood there, added in a few spots of red and a few rainbows, and coloured in the rest later, which itself took ages.

Castro and Market, SF

I actually drew this one first, while the morning fog still lingered, on the corner of 17th and Castro looking up towards Sutro Tower. I added in the watercolor while standing there, the sky had a strange pearlescence, and people lined up at the cafe across the little street form where the F car stops to get their brunch (it may have been a late breakfast / brunch, which is sometimes shortened to ‘lunch’). There was a guy camped at the bus stop, and there was a fair bit of odor wafting up, so I just remember a farty smell now when remembering sketching this, so I wanted to be done and run. I had decided I would go exploring up Corona Heights, but would draw around the Castro first, maybe eat lunch myself down there. I had a burrito at a place near 18th, and it was not very good. I didn’t even finish it. I had some Turkish Delight that I had bought at the Ferry building though, and that gave me some energy when climbing up the steep hills later that day.

Market St, SF

Above, this is a very quick sketch of the Ferry Building I did while waiting for the F streetcar to arrive on Market. I splashed a bit of watercolour on there for effect. I did the same on the other half of the page when I got on the F, and as it dried I added some lines in while we trundled uphill towards the Castro. This is a fun way to draw while on public transport. I haven’t spent a lot of time on any public transport for quite a while, save for the Amtrak occasionally, so i was glad that it wasn’t too busy and that they have a number of single seats still. These old streetcars are well known – they aren’t the famous San Francisco cable cars, but these historic vehicles originate form all over the world and have found a new home here in the city. You can learn more about them at: https://www.streetcar.org/streetcars/. The one I was on was a classic San Francisco original from the 1950s, but many others come from Milan, Philadelphia, Zurich, Kansas City, Melbourne, even Japan. I do love the streetcars. When I spent a year in Belgium, some Saturdays I would go wandering in Brussels and would get on the streetcars there until the end of the line, and just read my book while the streets of Ixelles, Etterbeek, Laeken passed by outside.

on the F streetcar, SF

Below are a couple more sketches I attempted on the Castro before climbing big hills. The first, two big old houses where I just drew the outline and the alley, and ended up juts not bothering with the rest. The page is a bit dirty because as you can see from the sketches below, I decided to use coloured pencil to do some brass rubbing (well, masonry really), I saw the word ‘Castro’ on a stone plaque on the street and thought ‘that would look good in my sketchbook’, having seen someone else do that a couple of days before. Maybe it would have worked better not on the fairly thick Moleskine paper, because you can barely read it. So i drew some people instead with pencil. I didn’t get any interesting characters (such as the naked guy who I’d usually see passing by every other time I come here) but sketched a few passers-by and went off up the hill. I’ll post that next time.

castro st houses

castro people