I took a little break in posting there; I’ve been busy, lot going on, plus my computer was making a noise like a tractor, so I wasn’t scanning any sketches, and I can’t write a blog post without a sketch, it’s like a crutch. I like writing though, it’s an important thing to do. I don’t do enough of it these days. November is coming up; I remember trying to do NaNoWriMo a couple of times, that didn’t last long. I don’t know if I have a novel in me. I just like to draw fire hydrants, I’m not that interesting. If I were a novelist, basically I would write the same story with the same characters over and over, but in each one you would see one or two small changes from the last time I wrote the novel, until eventually the thirtieth novel is completely different from the first. Wow, when you pitch it like that it sounds like a good novelist career plan. This view is a bit like that though. I have been drawing this view, from the steps of Bainer Hall looking towards the Silo and the Bike Barn (the most sketchable places within short walking/eating distance from my office) since 2007 and it has changed a bit each time, as has my style of drawing. This was drawn nearly a month ago, about a week into the new quarter of the academic year at UC Davis. Things are going well though, all these big classes in-person, everyone doing their bit to stay healthy, fully vaccinated and masked, no new spikes, at least not yet. Many staff still work at least partially remote. Students and bikes are everywhere, as they were in years past, though still feels a little quieter in other places. I like going in every day, though in addition to computer issues I’ve been having bike issue, so I’ve not been riding as much. I’ve been walking a lot though, totally smashing the ten thousand steps a day challenge. I’ve been coaching soccer in what spare time I have, that has been very battery-draining; our team has been winning though so that’s good, and we have a Halloween themed tournament next weekend which will be fun (our team costume is Spider-Man, and I love Spidey and the Marvel stuff as you know). I have been wanting to find some time to make another animation with the various Marvel Legos I’ve been collecting over the years, the last one I did was a couple of Halloweens ago, Dr Strange themed. I’ve been reading a lot of old comics on Marvel Unlimited – I love all the old X-Men stuff in particular – but I still love that old Fraction/Aja Hawkeye series, so I’m well excited about the new Hawkeye series coming on Disney+, seriously bro. I have been breaking out the guitar again for the first time in years, I’m still not any good at it but I don’t care, I like playing chords and remembering songs. I started getting back to the ukulele when we were in Hawaii in August, I forget how much playing music to myself is soothing on the soul, even if not on other peoples’ ears. But I have been drawing, still drawing, when I can. It’s never enough; I would like to be out drawing today, though I’ve decided to stay home and rest while rain finally starts to come down outside; after all these long months, we are at last getting some rain. I walked to work in the rain the other day, and it felt like home, felt like being back in London. By which I mean I was all romantically gazing at the grey sodden skies and taking in the breeze for the first ten minutes, and by the time I got to my office I was wet despite the umbrella, sweaty and grumpy, and wishing London was California. I am missing London right now though. It’s nearly two years since I was last home; this pandemic has kept me away too long. All I hear in the news and from friends is how depressing it is there right now, but I miss it, still. I am nervous about travelling international right now, in case I get a positive test and can’t fly back on time; things are just too busy. But do I want to stand on the embankments of the Thames and get depressing grey London rain down my face? Yeah, I do. Do I want to get on a packed tube train? Not really, no. Isn’t that the same London story as ever for me, just a few details changing over the years? Pretty much. So for now I draw Davis, and I’ve finally caught up on the scanning so I’ll post my newer drawings here soon, maybe with more interesting stories. Or maybe just the same stories again.
Ok, let’s start this thing again. It’s been a long time since I posted my sketches properly, and it’s about time I caught up. I historically post sketches chronologically, never alphabetically, often autobiographically. However since my last posted sketches were from our trip to Disneyland in JUNE – over six months ago! – we’ve actually been to another Disneyland since then! – in fact my wife has been to Disneyland itself at least once since then – then perhaps I should just post the second half of my 2019 sketches in a nonlinear fashion. Like Pulp Fiction, or the middle episodes of every Netflix series. So let’s start off with something familiar. This is the Bike Barn at UC Davis, I have drawn it a million times, and this time it has those standing stones in the foreground. I drew it on a bright November lunchtime, with the sun in my eyes, glaring off of the screen. The screen? Yes, this was not drawn in the Seawhite of Brighton, or the Stillman and Birn, but on my new iPad, using Procreate. I have joined the Procreate drawing club, and I love it. I finally got a new iPad Air after years of using a 2014 iPad Mini. I was going to get the Pro, but the new Air is just as good and was half the weight. I made up for that by getting an expensive Moleskine cover for the iPad, so it looks like a sketchbook at least. Anyway I got the Apple Pencil and I love it, wow, it’s totally fun. I really like the other sketchers who use Procreate and digital devices (such as Rob Sketcherman, Paul Heaston and the brilliant Uma Kelkar who actually has a book about sketching with a tablet coming out next month, part of the Urban Sketchers Handbook, I’m looking forward to reading that). I especially like that you can watch back a video of how the sketch came together. Very useful for demonstrations. Still, I’m trying to get the hang of it, see what I like. I like using layers, that is very handy. The colouring part of it is very different to what I’m used to with real paint, so that’s something I am experimenting with. This sketch and the one below, the Crocker Nuclear Lab drawn quickly from my office window, were two of my first attempts at Procreate. I’ve got a lot I am figuring out and I am already getting used to some of the different brushes, but I can already see I am going to use it a lot more. In fact I drew this year’s advent calendar with it, mostly while sat on a plane back from England (I went to England in November).
It’s been a while since I posted, so you’re probably wondering how UC Davis is doing. UC Davis is doing fine, it’s been getting some new buildings, and renovations, and I’ve been drawing those. Walker Hall is still being refurbished, it’s nearly done. I’ve been drawing that too. I even sketched it on the iPad last week. One of the best things about the iPad, one of the absolute greatest things, I don;t have to scan the drawing afterwards. It’s right there digitized already. I do have a new scanner, faster and quieter, but I’m still getting the hang of the lighting settings on it, there are always shadows near the crease of the book that I have to edit out afterwards, as best as I can. None of that with iPad sketching. Having just scanned half a year’s worth of sketches this past week, that is a big bonus.
Sketching Sustainability – Cool Campus Challenge
Last week, I co-led a couple of mini-sketchcrawls over a two lunchtimes called “Sketching Sustainability“. Here are my sketches… Above, the UC Davis Eco-Hub. Yes, part of the saem building as the Bike Barn, I have sketched this building so many times. You could say I recycled an old subject. The aim of this sketchcrawl was to draw things that promote sustainability on campus. The Eco-Hub obviously does that, so does the Bike Barn, because Bikes. However I did not know that the orange flowers in the foreground are also part of a sustainability thing, which is that the thing they are planted in is actually something that is designed to catch rainwater so that it doesn’t just go away. You can tell I’m not an expert, but it was explained to me and I thought it was cool. Below, some super quick cyclist sketches. I gave a quick demo on super fast people sketching. These were all very quick, just a few seconds of scribble, plus a few splats of paint.
Below is Nick Linda, a student in Sustainable Environmental Design who is also a tour guide. He introduced the theme of Sustainability at the start of the sketchcrawls. We didn’t have many people come, they were small groups, but people still did a lot of sketching. It’s part of the Cool Campus Challenge. We are trying to once more be the ‘Coolest Campus’. I know, I know, we already are, but in this case it’s do with with environmentally cool. Again, UC Davis should breeze that (pun absolutely intended, hey it’s me), but apparently Irvine won it last year so we have to show all the other UCs who is really Cool. Here’s a link to the Cool Campus Challenge: https://www.coolcampuschallenge.org/. By the way this sketch of Nick took about a minute and a half, I had to be quick because it was nearly my turn to speak. The main organizer was Camille, I didn’t sketch her, but she had made a whole bunch of sketchbooks for participants, or anyone who would like to join in, along with pencils and sustainable sharpeners (nail files! I’m going to use it as a sharpener now). I’m also going to stop using my pencil sharpener to cut my nails, that has been very painful.
Below is the Student Community Center, whee we started and ended our sketching. It is a Platinum LEED Building, which is very good (my building is Gold, which is also good, but this building I guess is just better). This is the rear. I sat down low on my tiny super-lightweight fold-out sketching stool.
And finally, well I can’t resist drawing these bins can I. Recycling is of course very much part of Sustainability. By the way, I have to say I’m glad I don’t work in Sustainability, because typing that over and over is quite tiring, it’s a long word. It’s hard enough for me to always be typing Biostatistics, my spell-corrector now just corrects it to the typos, I’ve done it so often. But I think perhaps Sustainability should use a smaller word, more carbon-neutral, easier to type out. Anyway! This was a fun thing to be involved with, great to raise awareness of Sust-y, I learned a few things myself and met some nice people. Many thanks to Camille and Nick for organizing it!
bike barn victoire
More from campus. See, what I do is I work, I go out some lunchtimes and sketch, and then I work, then I go home and eat dinner with my family and look at things online and read and chase cats and sleep. I’ve been in Davis for a quarter of my whole life, so naturally I will draw things again that I have drawn before. Many times. Many, many times. Fecking loads of bleedin’ times. I lived in Aix-en-Provence years ago, before I was drawing as regularly as I am now, and I used to joke about Cezanne getting up every day thinking, right, what shall I paint today then? And he wanders about Cours Mirabeau and Rue des Cordeliers and sits himself down with a poulet-frites and an Orangina and goes, oh ok I’ll paint Mont St Victoire again. I’ve only painted it like 500 times already. And sometimes on weekends he will be like, maybe I’ll pop down to Marseille on the bus and paint the Vieux Port, and then he’s like, nah I can’t be bothered, I hate that walk from the bus station down La Canabiere. This is why we have so many St. Victoire paintings; I know the feeling, Paul, I feel ya. I was pretty much always busy when I lived in Aix, well nowhere near as busy as now and I wish that I had drawn more. I did start drawing again there, my flat-mate Mike from Canada and I started a ‘Wall Of Art’ in our kitchen, silly really but it was a fun place of expression. It started when I bought some oil pastels and sketched him having a drink at a cafe. I should find that and post it here, it might be a bit more interesting than my current crop of Davis sketches. Anyway, this is the Bike Barn. I have drawn this building so many times now (see many of them in this tag: /bikebarn). I suppose it’s my St.Victoire, it’s about the same shape (though I have never climbed on the roof, I have climbed to the top of Mont St.Victoire, twice).
You know what I just realized? I’ve never drawn Mont. St.Victoire from life. Maybe I should go back and do that sometime. But ONLY if Paul Cezanne comes here and paints the Bike Barn. It’s only fair.
more campus vignettes
Ok I am pretty caught up with the scanning so here are some more lunchtime campus sketches, packed into one post. Above is one of the oldest buildings on the UC Davis campus – North Hall. It’s 110 years old. This is the side of it, facing South Hall.
Here is the Bike Barn, as seen from the South Silo, next to one of the food trucks that frequent the Silo area these days (or during the academic year anyway).
This is the rear of the Enology Lab Building, just off California Avenue. It looks uninteresting but is the sort of thing I like to draw.
This is a tree outside the Arts Building.
The rear of Heitman (formerly the Hog Barn), with the south Silo behind it. I have taken a lot of staff development classes here in Heitman.
And the view of the Bike Barn from afar, once more. I have sketched this scene so many times over the years, but this time at a slightly different angle. That’s the front of Heitman there, with the South Silo behind it. Right now, at the end of June, the Davis Heat is here again. A hundred degrees and rising, with a hot wind blowing. Onwards with the World Cup knockout stage…
don’t matter what i do
Long hot summer ain’t passing me by, though I’m trying to pass it by. We went over 40 days of 90 degree weather, many of them being in the 100s. I drew this over the course of three lunchtimes, each one where I ate at one of the food trucks at the newly remodeled Silo area. I drew this from the shade of a tree, and you can see the whole area in front of the Bike Barn has been totally renovated and changed, it looks different from the way it did previously (see this post from 2015 which shows sketches back to 2011). Sketching in the heat is something I should be used to in Davis, but more and more it puts me off. Maybe because I have drawn everything in this town and on this campus (maybe not everything, but it feels like it), maybe I have sketched so much this year already that it feels like a chore sometimes (you go through these lulls), maybe I just don’t want to leave the house (I have discovered the joys of creating stop-motion Lego animations, it’s fun). Maybe I have been spending too much time drawing MS Paint illustrations of this year’s football kits (no, NOT ENOUGH time!). Maybe it’s that whole thing where you go to Italy, and nothing else seems quite as interesting afterwards, and you just yearn for more travel, more places. Maybe, I don’t really know. Maybe you’re the same as me, we’ll see things they’ll never see, you and I are gonna live forev-eeeerrrr…
answers on a postcard
Well, what else has been going on on the UC Davis campus this summer? Building work, hot days, Delta breezes, summer sessions classes, and lunchtime drawings in a post-Manchester-symposium sketching-energy spike. Actually more of a pre-UC Davis-Design-Museum-Sketchbook-Exhibition sketching sketching-energy spike. Yes, my sketchbook exhibit is opening next month, it will be called “Conversations with the City” and will run at the Design Museum in Cruess Hall from September 19 to November 13. So exciting! See http://arts.ucdavis.edu/exhibition/conversations-city-pete-scully-urban-sketcher for more details. I will be displaying sketchbooks ranging from 2006 to 2016. The exhibit is Curated by James Housefield and Tim McNeil of the UC Davis Design Department, and I will also be giving a talk about my urban sketching work (and why you should keep a sketchbook) on Thursday October 6th, from 6-8pm. I will place an announcement in the sidebar on my website, but if you are in Davis then do come by!
In the meantime…here are some recent sketches of UC Davis. Above, the South Silo, undergoing a major refurbishment and upgrade of that whole area. New eateries will be going in, the paths will be widened to create a new vista, already we have seen some big improvements (despite the removal of an old funny-shaped tree, which was kind of in the way – it’s easier to cycle around Bainer now). You can see the oft-sketched Bike Barn there too on the right. It will be fun to see how different it all looks here. Below, part of the same building, still functioning despite the big renovations next door, the UC Davis Craft Center. I drew it one lunchtime before taking a Diversity training class in the building opposite. I added the paint later on.Not a lot of shaded spots to sketch this view from but I stood beneath a small tree.
Below is Nelson Hall, which is home to the Della Davidson Performance Studio. It’s on Old Davis Road, next to the Arboretum, and this used to be called the University Club. Last time I was in here was during the UC Davis Centenary celebrations (2008-09); in fact I took my new staff orientation here a decade ago. I’ve been on campus a long time now. I always felt like these little snapshots of Davis were my ‘postcards’ being sent back to those I left in England, so they can see where I live now. After almost eleven years in California there have been a lot of these postcards…
This building below has been on campus a lot longer: TB9, aka Temporary Building #9. It’s long been an arts studio and home to decades of ceramicists such as Robert Arneson. Fun story, first ever sketchcrawl I did in Davis (Dec 2005) I ended up outside here, sketching sculptures in the back yard area. Recently, TB9 was placed on the National Register of Historic Places – see the news announcement – due to its importance in art history. About time I sketched it properly then huh! It is right next to the Pitzer Center so has cropped up in the background a few times. With the Pitzer Center no longer being a big closed off construction site I was able to get stand off the road and get a better view without being run over by trucks.
Even older still is Wyatt Pavilion Theatre, below, a decent-sized performance hall built in 1907 (that’s right, 1907! Here is some history and info). I came and saw a play here a few years ago, Richard III; I really should go and see more theatre. I do have a degree in Drama you know. Ah that explains a lot I hear you say. Well it was French and Drama if you must know. I actually did a fair bit of foreign language acting when I was at college, though usually in German. Acting in German is way more fun; you get to do Brecht!
See that blue poster on the wall of the Wyatt? That is actually advertising my exhibition! Among other things, my that is at the top, which is exciting. So anyway, come and see my “Conversations with the City” when it opens, and take a peak at my sketchbooks. I hope you like it.
how are things in your little world
Here’s a view that I used to sketch a lot more, but I got bored of it, as it never really changed much. It’s the South Silo at UC Davis, as viewed from the steps of Bainer Hall. I used to sketch it every six months in fact, once in winter, once in spring, tracking the changes. This past week I noticed however that it had changed quite dramatically – the big wild tree to the left of the leaning one was cut down, as were several other smaller ones near the Bike Barn, as the UC Davis South Silo area undergoes a major redesign. This is going to look pretty different. Here’s an article in The Aggie detailing how it will eventually look – quite a change, I think. More dining locations will be added (hooray!), plus a convenience store (I still miss the little one that used to be the Law Bookshop). It won’t be all done until next year.
While we are waiting, let’s go back in time and see what it used to look like….
January and March 2009
I will miss that tree.
back to the bike barn
The UC Davis Bike Barn, all fresh and updated. I know, you can’t tell the difference, it looks like it has in every single one of my previous Bike Barn sketches, but look closely. There is a new window above the door, and the grey area is now painted red. I barely recognized it! Anyway, the Bike Barn might be the building I have sketched the most since moving to Davis ten years ago. You can see many of the rest by following this tag: https://petescully.com/tag/bikebarn/. I’m not going to show you all of the previous ones because I did that in my last Bike Barn post, but here are a couple for comparison…
barn on the thirteenth of july
And now for a short break from France sketches to see a sketch from July 13th, which of course is the day before the French national holiday, Bastille Day. This is the UC Davis Bike Barn, yes, even looking like this. Regular tuners-in will remember I have drawn several times since taking up Davis sketching, but now it appears to be undergoing some reconstruction. It looks sad with the windows boarded up, but signposts indicate the Bike Barn is still operating during the building work. So much building work on campus right now…
Below are most of the sketches I have done of the Bike Barn over the past nine years, not including the ones of the other side of the building (which looks very similar). I wouldn’t mind, but I hate drawing bikes.
Above: September 2006, October 2006, January 2007.
Above: August 2007, January 2008, March 2009, April 2010
Above: January 2011, February 2011, August 2011, October 2013
Above: October 2013, March 2014 (x2)