coronado, old town and the zoo

San Diego Coronado Beach
More from San Diego. So one of the nicest places there is Coronado, an island city with an absolutely stunning beach. It might be the best beach in the United States. We had a lovely time playing on the beach in the sunshine, and I did a sketch of the historic Hotel del Coronado, “the Del” as my wife kept calling it (nothing to do with Southampton’s old ground, the Dell). It was built in 1888! Back then Jack the Ripper was doing his ripping, the Football League just started leaguing football, the lawn tennis association was founded on a lawn, and Katz’s deli opened in New York, not serving cats. Yes, it’s been around a long time. I sketched it with my feet in the actual Pacific Ocean. I would love to some day sketch the bar area, spend a bit of time doing that, but we had places to go. I did however see a bird flying around inside which flew directly into a window with a thud, cartoon like. I didn’t see it recovering, but I imagined it was on the floor all dazed with little tiny people running around its head. Poor little bird.
San Diego, Angela at Coronado Brewing

We visited the Coronado Brewing Company, who had lovely beer and food. I drank a Belgian Impaler (while Belgium lost to Italy on the TV nearby) and sketched my wife (above). I ate a lovely mac and cheese dish.


A few days later we visited Old Town San Diego. I didn’t do much sketching, other than at lunch. We went to a very colourful cantina restaurant and were serenaded by a couple of Mexican guitarists while we ate. I drew the scene opposite. Mexico is really close by to San Diego, in fact it backs right up to it, conurbating into Tijuana across the border.
San Diego Old Town
Here are some other sketches I did. We of course went to the Zoo, and it really is a lovely zoo. My favourite animals were the pandas, and the elephants. My son loved the Komodo Dragon. I did a few quick sketches in pencil with a little bit of colour.
San Diego ZooSan Diego Zoo

I have a few more sketches from our trip, from Legoland, but on the whole I mostly relaxed, swam in the pool, had the odd cocktail and didn’t check my email all week. Wicked.

post-deadpool choco-taco

DeVeres Davis
“Sudwerk Choco-Taco” is an actual beer that I actually had. It’s quite dark, darker than I usually like, but it was really nice, I would have it again. I like trying the different craft beers that we have out here, and in fact I’ve started recording the ones I have tried by using that ‘Untappd’ app on my iPod. Admittedly there are times when it can be hard to remember, so I make a point of writing them down, or in this case, drawing a picture of it. And of course, why draw the glass when you can draw the rest of the bar as well? This is another bar sketch of De Vere’s (I do one from time to time, last time was January 2015). I’ve been very busy lately, and so one Saturday night I went and watched Deadpool. By the way, Deadpool is awesome. Don’t take your kids!!!! It will make you laugh. After watching Deadpool, I popped by the Avid Reader to buy Star Wars Top Trumps cards, and then into De Vere’s to read Deadpool comics and do some bar-sketching. The bar-sketching thing sometimes comes down to me needing to sit somewhere and draw a complicated but structured scene. I used a brown-black uni-ball signo um-151 (“say my name!” I hear this pen yelling to me, “say my whole name!”) and also a light grey Tombow marker to mix it up a bit. There’s also some Pigma Graphic pen in there for the thick lines. I had a couple of other beers, a Smithwicks red, which was very nice, and the Aggie Dry Hop lager by Sudwerk, which is alright.

I was also celebrating, from 5000 miles away, my older brother’s birthday; he turned 50 on that day. This is a year for milestone birthdays. Wish I could have been there celebrating with him – happy birthday Perks!

I have some more bar sketches yet to post, ones from New York City. In the meantime if you’d like to see some more, this Flickr set “Pubs, Cafes etc” has loads of mine, from pubs around the world.

turning the wheels

city hall tavern, davis
It was time for another bar sketch. After a Saturday of AYSO soccer, pirates versus knights battles, Disney Infinity super-hero smash-downs and the occasional lightsabre duel, I headed out in the evening to do some drawing, read some comics and have a few beers. I love being a grown-up. Since I have a new book out (available right now!) in which I talk extensively about drawing bars in low light, I felt I should add to the sketchbook a little more, so I popped into the City Hall Tavern, which I last sketched two years ago, to again attempt their bar area with the bicycle wheels on the ceiling. Ice Hockey was on the TV (they just call it ‘Hockey’ here; similarly they say ‘cubes’ instead of ‘ice cubes’, ‘cream’ instead of ‘ice cream’, and ‘stares’ instead of ‘icy stares’ whenever I make this joke). They get so aggressive and fighty in Ice Hockey. For a game in which you are essentially just skating around trying to hit a small disc that won’t stop moving, players seem to get unusually angry, angrier than in most sports. Perhaps it’s because they dress head to toe in armour and carry huge sticks, it brings out the medieval warrior in people. Maybe the sport needs to change its image a little, and rename itself ‘Nice Hockey’. Ok, from now on I am calling it ‘Nice Hockey’ in the hope that it catches on. And those stares I get when I do will be called ‘Nice Stares’.  So, back to the sketch. I sat on the opposite side of the bar to when I last sketched this bar, for a slightly different angle. I follow City Hall Tavern on Twitter, and I notice that they are using one of my sketches of their bar as their header image (I think I said ok to that), but they have removed whatever was on the screen and replaced it with an actual shot from a real basketball game. Hmm, no, not really a fan of that. Replace it with a shot of Harry Kane scoring for Tottenham, maybe, or of Jose Mourinho huffing as Chelsea lose again, perhaps. Anyway, I tried a couple of different beers, one was a Gose Wheat beer (tasted like Strongbow), the other was a Sudwerk Aggie Cruiser, which was nice too. Lots of people were coming in drinking cocktails as part of some local bar crawl event that was happening. By the time I was done with my sketch, all the City Hall bar patrons were standing and chatting and dancing, and so I popped down to De Vere’s for a comfy seat and one more wheat beer to read a couple of comics (“the Unbeatable Squirrel Girl” if you’re interested, and it’s great) before walking home.

Here are my previous City Hall Tavern sketches (inside only; I’ve sketched the outside building since way before it was a bar):

city hall tavern, davis

July 2012

city hall tavern, davis

October 2013

sketchcrawl 34 city hall tavern

January 2012


it’s a trappe!

La Trappe sm
More from San Francisco, last March. Yes amazingly I still have not shown all. This was my dinner, eaten at a small Belgian restaurant in North Beach, La Trappe. I have been there with my wife once before, and enjoyed the size of the massive beer book (which, large though it is, doesn’t have my two favourite bieres belges but has a lot of bloody nice ones). They aint cheap either. The food though is lovely. I am a fan of moules frites (a pot of mussels with Belgian fries, which ironically I didn’t actually eat when I lived in Belgium). On this evening, I chose the Moules Normandes, a tasty dish of mussels heavy with apples. I had the frites of course, which were nice (but not as nice as the ones I used to eat in Charleroi at 3am, drowned in mayonnaise), with two dipping sauces, mayo andalouse and roasted garlic mayo. For drink, I had a Maredsous 8, the brown one. Nice, but not my favourite Maredsous, and I didn’t finish it. Mostly I drank water. Anyway if you are in San Francisco, I can recommend it, and you’ll find it on the corner of Greenwich and Mason, right on Columbus. Oh yes, here is the map…
SF La Trappe map sm

and all the pictures on the wall

university of beer panoramaTo round off all the pub drawings here is another panoramic I attempted last weekend at the University of Beer, on 3rd & F (Click on the image to see the bigger picture). This is one of the newer places in Davis and is a beer-geek’s dream; I have sketched it before from the far side of the bar (see image at the bottom of this post) but didn’t quite manage the two-page panorama, so I came back to sketch that far wall. As you can see, it is worth it. they have beer signs, both metal and mirrors, from all over the world (though mostly the US and Belgium). It was a very hot day and I was just not motivated for outside sketching, so I got a footy magazine (the Premier League is finally BACK! Hallebleedin’lujah!) and popped into the ‘UoB’. After about ten minutes looking through their extensive menu and studying the beer taps I opted for a Monty Python’s Holy Grail ale – I’ve never had one before, it was very nice, and made me want to put the movie on when I got home. One of the barman had an Arsenal hat on (backwards; I suggested it maybe should stay so) and we discussed the chances of our teams in this coming season (as you know, I’m Spurs all the way). I started sketching, and quickly realized there are many more details in this place than I knew; they now have loads of beertaps lining the ventilation pipes near the ceiling. To be honest it was nice to sketch some people – the three fellows to my left were sharing stories about Davis in the olden days, while further down the bar there were other conversations of varying degrees of volume; but on the whole this was a very pleasant place to spend an afternoon. One of the barstaff remembered me from the last time I sketched here (he is in fact in both sketches, so I had him sign the second one) and I spoke to him and one other about my favourite Belgian beers (Charles Quint and Fruit Defendu, if you’re ever wondering). I followed on from my Holy Grail ale with a really nice beer called Summer Solstice, by Anderson Valley, a creamy brown beer with a very caramel-like taste, and it was delicious. If Quality Street made beer, it would probably taste like this. I had their Winter Solstice beer here back in February and that too was incredible.

This week in fact is Davis Beer Week, a celebration of craft beers in Davis, and so if you’re in Davis you should pop by here, or de Vere’s or any of the other great beer spots in town. This has really become a beer-lovers town lately, and it’s not surprising – UC Davis has an excellent beer-science facility. People here really know their Chit.

I must point out – this sketch was done in a Seawhite of Brighton sketchbook I picked up in London. Smooth paper and takes a light wash, not as robust as the watercolour Moleskine but I’m looking forward to playing with it some more.

**Incidentally… you can buy a print of the University of Beer panorama above at my Society6 store (, just follow this link. There is free shipping worldwide until this Sunday (Aug 25).**

university of beer, davis

University of Beer as sketched in May 2013

davis beer shoppe

Davis Beer Shoppe
Little rest from the ongoing mountain of London/Barcelona sketch-posting, this is one from last week in Davis. I’m slowly checking off the beer-places in Davis, perhaps to make a sketched guide of them all, and this place is the Davis Beer Shoppe. It is an actual shop which has an incredible selection of beers from around the world, but the ‘tasting room’ bar is very popular, it’s a smallish seating area at the front of the store. I popped in on a lazy sunday afternoon and had a couple of Weihenstephaners (I went to that brewery in 2005, oldest in the world; I was interested in the word ‘Weihen-‘ at the time as I was writing an essay about it for my Germanic Philology course), and set about sketching the scene. In the top left, the Giants are on TV, as is the case in a good number of my bar sketches. This is in fact the final page of Watercolour Moleskine 12, though I haven’t yet finished posting the rest of the sketchbook so I won’t stand on ceremony, other than to say I’m taking a break from the Moleys for a bit, while I try some other sketchbooks out.

See that fellow at the bar? He’s wearing a Clint Dempsey USA shirt. Dempsey was just sold by Spurs to Seattle Sounders. Also, the USA national team currently have a twelve-game winning streak, which is mightily impressive. So as soon as I saw this guy I had to add him into the picture, as a nod of respec’.

hang around a ink well

little prague panoramaA break from the London posting, here is a bar panorama I did at the weekend. This is Little Prague, a bar attached to a Czech restaurant on G Street in Davis which as regular listeners may recall I have sketched many times, though not for quite a while now. On Saturday, after a lazy day of not leaving the house, I lazily left the house and ambled downtown to the comic shop, Bizarro World (I bought “Infinity Gauntlet”, in which an all powerful but rather barmy Thanos takes on like every superhero in the universe – which is a lot of fun, if a little light on actual plot). Then time for a beer and some sketching. I chose Little Prague, because despite my many sketches of that bar I have never done the big two-pager, with the lamps on either side of the bar. The beer’s different from the last time, nicer, and I had the Staropramen Granat. It wasn’t busy – this is summer in Davis, the quiet months in a college town. This took me around three hours; three beers to be precise. Drink slow, sketch really fast – there is a ton of detail! Click on the image to see a larger version. And see if you can spot the ‘pete’.

So that is the 180 degree panorama done! I have to move onto the 360 degree ones soon, right? That may take a few more beers…