answers on a postcard

south silo uc davis
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 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.
craft center uc davis
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…
nelson hall uc davis
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.
TB9 uc davis
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!
Wyatt Pavilion UC Davis

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

south silo uc davis
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….

heitman and south silo panorama
January 2015

view from bainer uc davis<
July 2011

south silo uc davis
January 2011

the view from bainer, again
June 2010
January 2010

bike barn from bainer
June 2009

January and March 2009

smoky and the bikebarn
June 2008

no leaves for you
January 2008

uc davis trees encore
July 2007

I will miss that tree.

back to the bike barn

bike barn uc davis
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: 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…
bikebarn, uc davis

bikebarn, uc davis

barn on the thirteenth of july

bikebarn, uc davisAnd 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.


sketch bikebarnthe ucd bike barnback to the bike barn

Above: September 2006, October 2006, January 2007.

a part of the bike barnno leaves for yourainy rainy daybikebarn

Above: August 2007, January 2008, March 2009, April 2010

uc davis bike barn february blossombikebarn, uc davis

Above: January 2011, February 2011, August 2011, October 2013

uc davis bike barnbike barn blossomthe bike barn

Above: October 2013, March 2014 (x2)

barn of bikes

the bike barn
Another of those wooden campus buildings; in fact this is the same building as in the last post, just seen from the other side. This is the UC Davis Bike Barn, which yes I have sketched many times. I did this on Friday lunchtime; the ink anyhow, I added the colour later on. All of those boxes in the foreground were moved away right after I sketched them, so I’m glad I drew them, they add something. Davis loves its bikes. The U.S. Bicycling Hall of Fame is here in Davis, and this really is a great place to be a cyclist. I commute to work each day on my bike, and laugh at those who drive and pay loads of parking. I muts admit though I don’t like drawing bikes, especially when there are loads all parked together outside a building – quite common here in Davis. But I like drawing the Bike Barn.

adventures outdoors

former home of outdoor adventures, uc davis
The building formerly known as Outdoor Adventures. This is at the rear of the Bike Barn, and is another of those old wooden buildings I am currently sketching through on the UC Davis campus.I drew this all in a lunchtime, and added the colour later on (didn’t need little notes or photo references – I know what this building looks like, I pass it every single day). When Outdoor Adventures was based here, there would be canoes parked out the front, people walking tightropes suspended between the trees, all manner of fun happening. Now they have moved to another part of campus and the tightrope walkers are gone, but it does kind of make the building a bit easier to draw when the activity is gone.

I suppose you could call urban sketching on location a form of outdoor adventure. I don’t know if it’s actually adventurous half the time, but it is fun.


bike barn blossom
Blossom. There is a lot of it these days, Spring is in full force. This is at the side of the UC Davis Bike Barn, sketched one sunny lunchtime. I do love pink blossom, it brightens up the world.