painting the room in a colourful way

UoB Davis pano Aug2022 sm

Here’s something you don’t see much from me any more – a sketch from a Davis bar. Back before the pandemic I enjoyed going to an interesting bar in Davis and sketching a complicated scene with a slow beer, and I have a good backlog of those. In the past few years, much less so. One of my favourite places to go to randomly sketch with a beer, De Vere’s, closed down last year. University of Beer, which I have drawn numerous times since it opened in, what 2014? The year before? They focused a lot on its outdoor seating during the pandemic times, as did many places. I did go there one evening last summer though, not long after we got back from our summer trip. I was thinking of this thing where I draw a scene and then splash lots of colourful watercolor over the top, a bit like with that sketch of the Black Heart in Camden, maybe with some areas masked over with the paint masking pen, and I wanted to try it out on an interior. University of Beer is usually interesting to sketch so I went there. It was pretty quiet in there. Those few people at the bar were not there too long, there were some other people at one point, but mostly it was empty, with the few people there staying in the outside seating. There were more staff than customers, but the staff were friendly and said they liked the sketch. It had been a while since I drew a bar interior in Davis, and I don’t think I’ve drawn one since (although I did sketch a couple in San Francisco one day in September when it was really hot). I went with using a rainbow of colours, although it really was pretty colourful, though still reasonably dark for a bar. You never want it too bright, a bit atmospheric but able to see the page. Still with so few people it felt a bit cold, despite being very hot outside.

4th and F Davis pano Aug2022 sm

Earlier that evening in fact I did do a sketch outside, stood on the corner of 4th and F, looking out at that Chinese restaurant (Silver Dragon? I’ve only been there once and can’t remember if that is still the name, but it’s usually quite busy) and the Wells Fargo bank. This one I left uncoloured, it felt better like that. My foot was hurting a bit as I stood and sketched, so I was looking forward to stopping off somewhere and sitting down with a cold drink and my sketchbook. I think I was most excited though about doing that paint thing, and this wasn’t the right drawing for that.

At the Corner of St. Germain, Paris

Paris Le Corner St Germain cafe

We took the train from Normandy to Paris, where we would spend a few days of Parisian touristing, museums, walking, people watching, and dodging people zipping along the road in the wrong direction on those hoverboard platform things. I like Paris, I really like Paris; I don’t know if I love Paris, but I really enjoy spending time there and it’s a place I love to wander about in. Actually I think I do love Paris. I don’t know; these days if say you don’t love a place it means you hate it, and wow no, I definitely don’t. Give me a chance to spend time in Paris, I’m there man, especially with my sketchbooks. So yeah, I love Paris. It’s just I still feel I don’t know it well enough. I’ve been quite a few times now, but most of my time in France has usually been in other places. Maybe it’s because I’m a Londoner; Paris is our sister city. It’s pretty great though. We stayed in an apartment just off the Boulevard St.Germain in the Quartier Latin, on the corner of a pedestrianized street and next to a pretty nice brasserie called Le Corner. That is where I would stop off of an evening and sit outside with a nice big cold beer, with the sketchbook, looking out at the Parisians, and if my wife or son were up in the apartment they could just call down out of the window. The apartment was nice, and more often than not we’d get food out and bring it back there, or cook up what we got from the supermarché. As always I would get up early to wander and sketch, and bring back pastries (I think my wife was getting a bit sick of all the pastries). I drew Le Corner, stood outside on the busy street after a day of exploring with the family, while they rested upstairs. That’s the Paris I love, busy not not too busy, vibrant and close by to stuff, and with a little table and a cold beer (or a wine, or an Orangina) always very close by. The sketch below was done on the first evening here, just sat down and drawing the world going by.

Paris Blvd St Germain people sm

We last visited Paris altogether back in 2012, when my son was only four, and we also stayed in the Latin Quarter, though a bit further south, near Rue Mouffetard. We loved that short trip. I was last in Paris in 2019 when I flew in for the day before heading to Brussels, and wandered about Montmartre; we all went to Disneyland Paris at the end of that trip, but not into the big city itself. I went a couple of times in the 90s on short trips, plus of course I went at the start and end of my 1998 European rail journey, and saw some of the World Cup there. I guess I have been quite a few times now, but perhaps because there is always more, I’m always left feeling like I barely saw it. Well, on this trip we checked off quite a few boxes and really saw a lot of the city, so it was a good trip. I’m glad we had this spot to come back to and relax though. While it was a family touristy trip, I still did a lot of sketching, in those moments when we needed a rest.

Paris people rue boutebrie

at the black heart

Black Heart, Camden Town

One evening in London, after a busy day helping my brother move my dad into a new place, I met up with a couple of my old London mates down in our old haunt of Camden Town. We met at the excellent rock pub The Black Heart; I got there a little early so I could attempt a sketch, though I didn’t get very far, but I enjoyed adding the paint in like that. I do miss these types of pubs, good music and good vibes, and great company. We went for dinner at the Italian place on Parkway, and on to spend the rest of the night at the Dublin Castle, where else. That place has not changed since I first started going there in the 90s. Camden has changed, quite a lot, but in some ways not at all. The streets are still in the same place, which helps, even if some of the places aren’t. Beer costs more nowadays though (didn’t let that stop us though).

I did draw a quick and shaky sketch on the tube down to Camden from Burnt Oak, the Northern Line (I didn’t sketch on the way home, I was too busy eating my greasy bag of chips I always get from the chip shop next to Camden tube, on the last train back). I do miss London…

Northern Line 072122 sm

A L’Imaige Nostre Dame

Brussels GP Sunset sm After the rainclouds of Antwerp drifted away to wherever they go, I was back in Brussels for the evening. I ate a ‘Quick’ (a fast food they have in Belgium and France that I used to quite like, but tastes awful now) at the hotel, and then headed back over to the Grand Place before it got too dark. there wasn’t time to draw the whole thing yet again, but I wanted to capture that evening sky above the rooftops. Also that big crane. It was nice. I stood on some steps outside the massive Maison des Ducs de Brabant, others were taking selfies. There was a young tourist sat on the cobbles below me, I could see he was trying to open a bottle of Belgian beer he’d just bought, trying in vain. I went and asked a nearby cafe for a bottle opener, they kindly lent me one and I helped the tourist get his bottle open, he looked happy; good dead of the day done. We’ve all been there, when travelling! I remember trying to open a bottle of Fanta on a really hot day in a small town in Denmark with no bottle opener, I was trying to pry it open on metal street signs to no avail. After another long day of sketching I also needed to relax with a nice beer in another centuries-old tavern, so I went back down the little alley where I’d found Au Bon Vieux Temps the night before, but this time went into the lively A L’Imaige Nostre Dame.  Brussels Nostre Dame sm

This old tavern is one of the oldest in Brussels, dating back several centuries, and pretty colourful. There was no way I wasn’t sketching this. I had to find a place to sit with a decent sketchable view, and my table was a little small, but I got a ‘Malheur’ beer (which was alright) and tried to catch the spirit of the place. There was word on the mirror behind the bar that read ‘RastaTrolls’, whatever that means, it reminded me of the kids show ‘RastaMouse’, which was very funny. I could hear there were Americans at the bar who clearly loved this place, from what they were telling the bar staff. Who wouldn’t? It was a friendly place to hang out. I’ve been to some older pubs in Brussels and sometimes they can feel a little sleepy (thinking of A La Becasse), when there are pretty popular places elsewhere (thinking of Celtica, opposite end of the spectrum). I would recommend it here. I drew really fast, and then walked back to the hotel, my last night in Brussels. Next day I was planning to go to Charleroi to draw factories, but it rained a lot, so instead I slept in a bit and went in the opposite direction to Leuven. 

kulminator

Antwerp Kulminator INT sm

I went looking for a legendary Antwerp bar called ‘Kulminator‘. I thought I had been there before; back in 2000, I remember reading about this place in Antwerp with a ridiculous selection of beers, with enormous character that was worth looking for. I remember it took me a while walking around the evening streets in the days before smartphones with GPS showing us the way (that was only about three or four years ago for me, but now seems like medieval times), and when I got there, I was presented with what looked like a textbook but was actually the beer menu. I found a beer called ‘Forbidden Fruit’ (called ‘Verboden Vrucht’ here, or ‘Fruit Défendu’ as I know it) which I’d never seen before and sounded mysterious; it felt like I had completed a quest. It’s been my favourite Belgian beer since, although when I got back to Charleroi I told the barman at my local and he said, “oh no we have that beer too, here you go.” So I think that place was Kulminator, but I honestly cannot remember now, it was 22 years ago. I only had that one beer there that night, and then left to go explore night-time Antwerp a bit more, ending up skewering Pulp songs on karaoke; see a previous post.

This time I looked for Kulminator in the daytime. I had been doing some reading about old Antwerp taverns to check out and sketch, and this leapt out at me as possibly being that place from 2000. Even with my smartphone sending me upstreet and down, I still managed to get lost trying to find it. When I got there, the door was locked. It was open, but you couldn’t just walk in. There were signs all over the door. This place was serious about its beer, but you needed CASH, no cards. While I was in Lille I only ever used cash once, when buying a book off my friend Vincent Desplanche, but otherwise it was tap-tap-tap with the cards. In Belgium I found a few places which were cash only, but Kulminator evidently wouldn’t even let you inside. The door opened narrowly, and the face of an old lady peered through. “Cash?” she asked. “Ja,” I replied nervously, feeling like I was still probably not going to be let in. The clouds were starting to get greyer. Nevertheless she welcomed me inside, and it was like entering an old curiosity shop. You couldn’t see the bar itself – it was hidden behind boxes and bottles and glasses and all kinds of Belgian-beer-related knick-knacks, so it became more of a retreat den for the lady who ran the place. There were books piled high, shelves with board games, even a Brazil football shirt hanging from the rafter. The only people in there were an old man hidden away in a corner with his head in a book, and another older couple seated at a table, talking in Flemish. At the rear there was some kind of covered semi-outside area I didn’t go into, but I could hear a couple of American voices talking about beer, but otherwise the only sound was classical music, and Flemish chatter. I could see bottles of every kind of beer in the gaps through to the bar, and the old bar-lady brought to me not a massive menu , but a large chalk board, upon which were written the names of various beers. I think these were the ones on tap (“van’ vat”), and I felt that I should probably order one of these, and I should probably order the one she recommended. So she recommended a Gouden Carolus, and I took a seta by the window. The rain hard started and now it was chucking it down, so I was going to be hear for a while. It was very much the sort of place that you dream of finding as an urban bar sketcher. As I sat and drew, another older chap came in and was talking with the other patrons and the bar-lady. I can’t speak Dutch but I could understand a decent bit of what they were saying. I think he was called Vladislav and may have been an afficionado of classical music, it sounded like he was talking about it with a passion. I loved listening to the rhythms and patterns of their Flemish conversation with the backdrop of gentle music and pounding rain, and the occasional laugh as they made each other smile. I just sat in the corner with my beer and my sketchbook. I picked out some phrases; one of them said “geld is macht en macht is geld”, “money is power and power is money”. When the Americans passed through, looking nervously at the rain, they did speak with them briefly about a couple of beers they were on the lookout for, one of which was Krusovice Dark (a Czech beer). I joined in with a nod of approval and a thumbs up for that, I used to like drinking that here in Davis at the old Little Prague, but I haven’t seen it anywhere else. I had one more Gouden Carolus, and by the time I was done with my sketch the rain magically stopped, and I walked to the train station. I enjoyed this place and I’m glad I found it (and glad I had some cash).

Antwerp Kulminator EXT sm

I drew the outside of it (above) from a photo I took quickly across the street before I went in, before the rain started. If you are in Antwerp, look for Kulminator. I needed to get back to Brussels though (well, I didn’t need to, I had no plans, but I thought I should get some rest). The next day I was planning to catch a train back down to the old haunt of Charleroi, where I would be climbing slag-heaps and drawing old rusty factories – at least, that was the plan.

from sudden death to the good old times

Brussels Mort Subite sm

I’ve always enjoyed the cafe A La Mort Subite in Brussels. ‘To Sudden Death’. You may have heard of the beer. I’ve sketched here before, and years ago when I had my rainy year in Belgium, this is where I would come sometimes on a weekend to dry off in the early evening, usually after a day of wandering about Brussels, to sit and read a book with a glass of their lovely Gueuze. It hasn’t changed much over the years (except for one important thing – it doesn’t reek of smoke like it did back in 1999). It opened in 1928, and is a proper heritage site. I always liked sitting at the little wobbly table inside by the door, and remember playing chess there years ago. I always make a point of stopping here whenever I visit Belgium, and this time I made sure my hotel was right around the corner. After taking a quick rest in my room, I came out and drew the outside (I was very happy with how this turned out), before coming in for some beer and food. I got myself a lambic blanche (a wheat beer made from ‘lambic’, which I think is something to do with sheep) (took an effort not to order a ‘lambic baaa-r’) and found a spot with a good view to sketch from. My food came quickly, a very eggy omelette full of mushrooms, and the longest slice of bread you ever saw. Seriously it was about three or four regular slices in length. You could have used it as a yoga mat. I took my time, that’s the way at a Belgian cafe, and listened to the French conversations around me. I didn’t hear much Flemish (Dutch); although Brussels as the capital is officially bilingual, with everything in French and Flemish (not to mention every other language you will hear spoken here in this capital of Europe), and despite being landlocked in a sea of Flemish language areas, French is still very much the main language of Brussels. I remember when I was in Belgium it was explained to be roughly 70-80% French speaking, with the remainder being Flemish-speaking (not including the not-insignificant number of languages spoken by the many, many other nationalities living in Brussels of course). Actually, I say I listened, I didn’t really listen very much, I was inside the page of my sketchbook. I had another beer, a peche (a peach beer), and went back out to finish off my big Grand Place drawing.

Brussels Mort Subite INT sm

My legs were tired after the big Grand Place sketch. The weather was nice, the big rainstorms from the day before in Lille had not followed me to Belgium, though they were probably not far behind. I imagined myself as being on the run from a big storm, like the little fellows in Time Bandits. I strolled past chocolate shops and friteries, wandered about looking for Mannekin Pis, a famous little statue of a small boy doing a wee, which despite never changing location in all these years I always seem to have trouble finding. I needed a rest now, and after that long session stood drawing in the Grand Place I needed a Belgian beer a little stronger than a lambic blanche. I’d never been into the little tavern Au Bon Vieux Temps before, though I had passed by the narrow alleyway that leads to its door many times. “At the Good Old Times“. It’s opposite another very old bar, A l’Imaige Nostre Dame, which I’d also never once visited. Why I’d never been in those places I don’t know, but I think I was perhaps a bit nervous of them. Something a bit scary about going down those medieval nooks, perhaps I had read too many fantasy adventure stories when I was a kid, and expected to be jumped by vagabonds or goblins. There were no orcs or padfoots in here though. It wasn’t busy – it was a Monday evening – but there were a few people seated at the bar chatting (in French and American). I could have spent hours sketching here; if I ever come back, I may well do. I found a table with a view of the bar and the big colourful stained glass window, and got myself a dark Orval trappist beer. The bartender was friendly, the atmosphere was warm. I drew fast; this felt more like a cool-down exercise after the big Grand Place panorama, but in truth I’d been sketching non-stop for three days straight and had no intention of slowing down now.

Brussels Au Bon Vieux Temps sm

It didn’t take long for me to fall asleep. The next day I was going to be back riding on the train tracks again, to explore the port city of Antwerp. Good old times.

bierchope

Lille Beerchope 060422

Saturday evening in Lille, I had dinner outside at a little restaurant near the Port de Gand as it got dark, eating a delicious ‘ch’timi galette’. I did keep seeing these things on the menus of all the ‘estaminets’ in the area called ‘Welsh’, which is apparently a local specialty. The descriptions I was given made it sound like they mostly had ham in them so I gave them a miss, as I don’t eat ham, but will look a bit harder for a non-ham one next time. I was out by myself, and I wanted to try some local Nord-Pas-de-Calais beer before heading to bed, and there was this one little place called ‘Bierchope’ that looked inviting. I could tell as soon as I walked in that this would be a sketch, though you don’t see all the bottles behind glass along the wall behind me. This place had a ridiculous selection, specializing in all the beers in that part of France, so I sat next to a group of people all chatting in the northern French dialect, ordered a really nice beer called ‘Beer Choper’ (the label was amazing), and got the sketchbook out. Within minutes, a massive rumble of thunder. Outside, rain started absolutely belting it down. Minutes earlier I had been sat out there at a table with a galette wondering what a Welsh was, but I’m generally lucky when it comes to these things. The downpour was so heavy and sudden, the noise of the rain was almost matched by the panicked patter of feet splashing down the street for cover. Well, I guess I’m in here for the evening. Flashes of lightning raised a few eyebrows as they reflected through the bar. The bartender was very friendly and played great music. All along the stairwell were framed illustrations of other bar and cafe scenes, not too dissimilar in style to the way I like to draw. When I’m relaxed like this and in a good mood, the drawing really comes easy and quickly. I had had a good day of sketching – it’s never enough, I always need more drawings, but this was a good way to round things out. For my second beer, I went to the barman and asked his opinion, what local beer should I drink? Without even asking what I liked, he grabbed a bottle from the fridge, opened it and handed it to me, a beer from a local brewery with a name like ‘Piggy’, I don’t remember exactly. It was ‘coconut flavoured’, he assured me. A bit too much so, for my liking, but I bought it and I drank it. Not sure of the coconut connection to the coal mining towns of the Ch’Ti region but I suppose when it’s stormy outside, it reminds you of being in the stormy tropics, on a beach somewhere. I really liked this place, and this was my favourite sketch from Lille. Had I not been travelling from north London since 7am and wandering about Lille with a sketchbook all day, I might have stayed for another beer recommendation, but my bed was calling, and I had a full day’s sketching and exploring ahead of me the next day. Just before I left Bierchope, the rain completely stopped. Perfect.

sketchploring in sunset

Little Shamrock, SF Inner Sunset

Many of my favourite things to do got sidelined during the pandemic. Going to the cinema – I loved doing that. The last thing I’d watched at a cinema was Sonic The Hedgehog; I was determined not to have that be the last thing I saw at a cinema before the cinemas all closed down and replaced with streaming. I love travelling to other countries, not exactly an easy thing to do even now. My last trip to the UK was November 2019. And I love to sketch in pubs. I love to sit at the bar, nice slow pint, sketchbook out, putting the atmosphere of the pub on the paper. Historic old pubs, all the better. I’ve missed that. So, down in the city for the third time in less than three months, I found myself in the Inner Sunset neighbourhood, on my way for an afternoon wandering about Golden Gate Park, because I’ve not really spent much time doing that. I had some new green paints and fancied drawing a bit of foliage. I am usually bored by foliage but I thought, different park innit. However, I needed a wee. I didn’t think I could wait to go looking for the public toilets in the park, so I stopped by the Little Shamrock pub on Lincoln, which dates back to 1893. As I approached, I could see through their open window that they still have a sketch of the pub that I drew in 2013 hung proudly on the wall, next to all the historic photos and articles about the old place. That was a nice surprise, and a sign that maybe I didn’t need to go to the park just yet. so I decided to stop here; you still have to show the vaccination card to get a drink, but it wasn’t very busy and I found a lovely table by that open window for the breeze (and I was sat beneath my old sketch). And over a couple of beers, I drew the scene above, which is my first pub interior since 2019. I was pretty pleased with it. It surely ate into my foliage sketching time, but pah, I prefer sketching a pub. The couple seated at the bar were, I guess, on their way to the baseball to see the Giants, the man was in a Buster Posey jersey. That brings me back to 2012, 2013 myself, when we were watching the Giants a lot ourselves. Back when they were winning stuff. Posey was the young buck; he’s still there. I haven’t watched baseball in about eight years. I think the game I was watching might still be going on. Anyway there is a lot to sketch, all the flags, all the colourful lamps, all the ornately shaped chairs. The dark areas, the light areas, oh I have missed this. I spent a good hour and a half or so in there. Here’s my old exterior sketch on the wall, I love the red frame. Makes me feel like part of the story. 

IMG_3758

And here is my other sketch from 2013, for a bit of ‘Throwback Thursday’ on a Saturday. This was done sat at the bar. I remember listening to a couple next to me talking about the art world, I think they worked in galleries, so I knew I was in good art company. I usually am, in the city. I had just attended the annual ZineFest, and was armed with some of my own zines, that short bar-zine I produced back then, Davis Bar-By-Bar. The guy who worked there even bought one, and really liked my sketches of the day, and not too long after that they must have bought that print of the exterior sketch, because next time I came here with my wife we saw it in there. It’s a great old pub this, maybe my favourite in the city (well top two, I do love Specs down on Columbus) it would be nice to come back in the evening some day. I’m not quite ready for busy bars right now though, but this was a fun way to spend the afternoon, and involved very little foliage sketching. 

Little Shamrock SF

I did go to Golden Gate Park though, eventually, wandered about. But there were a lot of people, a lot of cars, and not really enough things I wanted to draw. There was a long line to go into the Japanese Gardens, and it was a bit expensive for the amount of time I’d have been in there, so I gave it a miss. I wandered without sketching, and headed back to the Inner Sunset.

SF Hydrant Inner Sunset

I used a bit of the green paint. After stopping for a cookie at a counter, I crouched down on the corner of Judah and 5th and sketched this hydrant with a nobbly top. There’s always a fire hydrant. These ones with the little metal bobbles on their hat are very specific to San Francisco. I was told years ago that it was for the horses, the fire horses would be tied to the big ball on top of the hydrant. That’s true, I’m going to say. It has been a while since I drew a hydrant like this too, I think. 

9th St San Francisco

I had wanted to go across the park to the area along Clement, to finally find Green Apple Books, to explore a part of town I’d not been to. Alas I never made it. But there is another branch of Green Apple Books right here, “By The Park”, so I went in for a browse and picked up a little postcard book of artwork from My Neighbour Totoro. I had a little bit of time before I had to jump on the Muni back downtown, so I stood in the street and drew as much as a I could of the shop and the view up 9th. The fog had rolled in by this point, but it had been a really nice day. I had to finish it off later, but I was tiring and needed to get back to Davis. Another well-worth-it day out in the city, I can’t wait for the next one. I’m already studying the map for more exploring. ‘Sketchploring’. I am a sketchplorer. Or maybe a sketchsplorer?    

au revoir, city hall

davis old city hall 021720
Social distancing. Masks. Second wave. Spike. Testing. Contact tracing. We’re entering that odd phase where things are reopening, kind of, but we aren’t all in the same sort of ready yet. I know I’m not particularly ready for the world yet, but I don’t know if I ever was. This next few months will be hard. Still staying in, working full-time from my bedroom, yet occasionally having to be around groups of people for various things (such as youth soccer tryouts), everyone having different levels of social comfort, and different expectations, it’s a bit uncomfortable. But I will get back out with a sketchbook. I’ve already started, but working from home I’m less inclined than when I work at the office, because I can spend lunchtime on the couch watching the restarted fake-crowd-noise Premier League. I’m teaching my son French too, which is fun, as my French is very rusty. I suppose absolute beginners French I can still just about handle, although I told him to learn the French numbers rather than the Belgian ones, even though the Belgian numbering system makes more sense and is easier to remember. Come on, ‘nonante-neuf’ is easier to explain than ‘quatre-vingt-dix-neuf’. This will be a summer without travel to places where we can practice it though, so no real-life ordering pains-au-chocolat for breakfast at the boulangerie. I thought about using Tricolore to teach him, you remember Tricolore, the textbook we all used at school, where we learned our way around La Rochelle. In the end I went with another simple book, and I’m also creating a bunch of handwritten exercises on my iPad using cartoons of cats that I am drawing. A cat called “Ronron”. I think I’m enjoying it the most, but then I loved learning new languages as a kid, this whole idea that other words and ways of thinking existed beyond just the ones I experienced. German is still my favourite foreign language that I learned, and I’m getting back into learning Italian, which I did a GCSE evening course in while we still lived in London. Enough about language. I’m still watching Shakespeare at the Globe on YouTube, the Midsummer Night’s Dream production was funny, as was the Merry Wives of Windsor, one bloke in both was Pearce Quigley, he was very funny and his comedic northerner style of performance worked great in that intimate Globe setting.
But back to Davis. I suppose I should post here my pre-Covid sketches, of which there are plenty. I may be totally slowed down on the sketching front now, and officially months behind the same point last year, but I started fairly furiously. However I will just post one here now – the Old City Hall, Davis, also known currently as the City Hall Tavern. Well I say currently – it was announced recently that this bar, along with the longer standing restaurant Bistro 33 on the other side of the building, will not be reopening. I’m sure the coronavirus is partly to blame, but the building did get new owners recently and the lease for the restaurant and bar was expiring anyway. Still it is always a shame to see local businesses close. I have drawn the building many times, and I’ve drawn inside the bar a few times too, although it’s been years since I ate at the restaurant (I liked their creme brulee). I wonder what it will be next. Knowing Davis, a frozen yogurt shop. Or another bar and restaurant. I do know that it used to be a police station, and a fire station, and this part was used as a gallery space when I first came here. Oh and of course it was the old city hall.

they only seem to come and go away

Baileys Taproom Portland
On my recent six-months-ago-now trip to Portland (not the one with the Bill, unless you count the bar bill) I took advantage of the chance to sketch a few drinking spots, because  after all, Portland is about the beer. Although actually one of the nicest spots I came to was a small wine bar across from my hotel, where I went in to do some pre-dinner wine tasting, because I thought why not. It was closing early so not enough time to sketch, but I did taste a few very nice local Oregon wines, and also spoke to a bloke who supports my own beloved Tottenham. Coincidence! He travels back and forth to Europe for wine stuff I guess, and he even went to the Champions League final in Madrid last summer when Spurs… well we didn’t win that one. Anyway as my hotel was nearby to Bailey’s Taproom, where I have been before, I wanted to come back and spend some time sketching in there and sampling some interesting beers. As it turns out, the guy behind the bar (not the one in the picture) recognized me from my previous trip there. In fact the last time had been a full six years before, on the very same date! I am nothing if not predictable. I told them I’d see them again in (gets out calculator) 2025.
McMenamins Crystal Hotel Portland
So above, the McMenamin’s Crystal Ballroom, which I had been very interested to go to, but was hugely underwhelmed. It was not very interesting, it was practically empty (this was Friday evening just after dinnertime) and the beer I had wasn’t very good. I didn’t finish it, nor the sketch. I went and had a little cake at a nearby cake shop instead, very tasty.
Hair of the Dog Portland
Above is Hair of the Dog, a walk across the river, a brewery I’ve wanted to visit for a long time. I met up with sketching friend Kalina and had a beer and some food here, and a sketch and good conversation, always nice to catch up. Years ago a couple of friends had come here and brought me back a beer, and the beer here is certainly very good.
Jakes Portland
There was another place I really wanted to come back to sketch, and that is Jake’s Famous Crawfish. A smart and historic place downtown, I popped in and saw a spot right at the corner of the bar, a great place to sketch, ordered a single beer and drew this whole thing quickly. The last time I had visited Jake’s was in 2010 during the original Urban Sketching Symposium, on a late-night sketching session with Don Colley. I should like to eat here some day as well.
Stark & Harvey Milk Portland 111719
And the last bar sketch i managed to fit in was not one I went into, but I really liked this view. The Crystal Ballroom is at the other side of the building, but this end has the Annex Bar, another McMenamin’s place, which does have an interesting interior and a downstairs cellar bar which looks like a great place to hang out and meet characters with colourful conversation. Seems like it will be a long time until we get to do that again, huh.