and gathering swallows twitter in the skies

Funeral Home on D Street

Spread 10 of the Davis Moleskine… this is a funeral home on D Street, sketched from outside the Cafe Mediterranee opposite. I’m struggling to get these sketches in at the moment, splitting them over lunchtimes on different days (they seem to take me longer than usual, I’m still getting used to drawing larger and using these Pitt pens and this paper). I only have two and a half spreads left though! And I think I know what I’m going to draw.

The weather has changed here though. It’s now cold, there is rain, the long-awaited jumpers are out and at last it feels like autumn. Amazing to think that just a couple of weeks ago, it was pushing a hundred degrees.

A funeral home…reminds me of Six Feet Under, that was an enjoyable show to watch, back when we watched it. Never did see the last ones though. We watch Dexter now, that is a great show.

the places behind the streets

Sophia's Thai Kitchen

Spread 9 of the Davis moleskine, and this one is an interesting little courtyard off E Street, where you can find Sophia’s Thai Kitchen. That’s a great little restaurant, their Jungle Curry is particularly tasty. The smell was pretty irresistable, I must say! This took a couple of lunchtimes, on neither of which did I have time to eat there – some other time!

Only a few spreads left in this book… I intend to do at least one interior…

sitting here watching the people go crazy

Second St near G

I was hoping to draw this row of shops on 2nd Street, near G Street, from the front, but unfortunately there are so many cars and so much tree foliage that I had to be more creative. I sat just above a drain outside Froggy’s, eating my Subway lunch, and drew at an angle instead. I like the effect too, of the bricks in perspective. That’s the Aggie Barber Shop there. I never get my hair cut there, I go to the Razor’s Edge about a block away. The guy in there is the only person in Davis who can cut my hair. I have the easiest haircut, five minutes zhhooom, and yet some other places would take twenty, thirty minutes (or more). I tried a few barber’s around here (there are like a thousand on this block) before settling on Razor’s Edge. Unfortunately that place doesn’t have the nice brickwork, so I sketched here instead. Yes, I am nuts.

Spread 8 of the Davis Moleskine… this project just keeps on rolling on, while I’m sketching in mid-90s, mid-October heat…

walk along and come to no harm

Third Street Davis

The 7th spread of the Davis Moleskine, which is specifically downtown Davis. I’ve decided the next one will be all UC Davis and in blue, and possibly even a third one in dark grey, ‘Rest of Davis’, like the outer regions (such as where I live in South Davis). I’ll have to think about that one though. I couldn’t call it a Tale of Two Cities or something if I did that. But the best trilogies come in threes. All in the future at this point. As for now, the road goes ever on and on.

This is Third Street, in between D and E. I’ve sketched here before because I like these houses, but I have to say I don’t like sketching there, for two reasons. One, it smells of wee. I think that people wee in the alley next to Newsbeat. Two, I am always attacked by flies (thanks I’m sure to One). Why is it that when I’m trying to sketch, flies come and rest on my arm for a second? When I flick them away, they come back, undeterred. I need to pack a flyswatter in my sketching gear. That will be up on the materials page above, there.

thoughts meander like a restless wind

D Street, Antiques Plus

Spread 6 of the Davis Moleskine project. This one is down at D Street, and this building is home to Antiques Plus. It took me a couple of lunchtimes to draw this – I am still getting used to drawing bigger like this, on different paper, with a different pen. But the effect is very enjoyable!

It’s a nice little corner of Davis, this. There is a small gathering of alleys to the left which lead through to E Street, filled with little nooks and shops, the odd cafe, and the Mustard Seed Restaurant. Beyond the antiques shop is the Pence Gallery.

We’ve had some odd weather here in Davis. It cooled down a little, but then got really hot again – it was 90 degrees yesterday. But there was also a terrifying Mistral-like wind howling day and night. Cycling home, I saw scores – probably fifty or sixty – huge birds, hawks most likely, flying about in circles en masse above the trees by the creek. I’d never seen so many birds of prey like that, it was very eery. “Earthquake weather,” my wife said. Not been one yet. It’s all very strange.

he went to california, hearing that everything’s warmer there

old city hall on F street

Spread 5 of the Davis Moleskine, a building I’ve sketched before: the Old City Hall on F Street (now part of the restaurant Bistro 33). I sat outside the Paint Chip over a couple of lunchtimes last week and drew this. It was over a hundred degrees outside, which I am sure you will agree was mental for this time of year. Feels hot in the drawing too, doesn’t it. That’s living in California for you. I hear it’s freezing back in London.

The project continues…

it takes a lot to laugh, it takes a train to cry

Train off 6th St

This project keeps on moving along… this is Spread 4 (a personal favourite), a couple of train engines that were parked on the rails off of 6th Street, near the Co-Op. I had in fact gone that way to draw the Co-Op itself, figuring it should probably go into the Davis-centric book somewhere, but I could not get an angle that I liked. However, I love drawing these trains, so I jumped at the chance. The level crossing is actually from 5th Street, but I allowed it to move and become the latest transitionary device.

I’m glad I didn’t draw the Co-Op. Sure, it may yet make an appearance, but I don’t want the series to be simply a checklist of popular Davis sites and sights. This little spot where the trains sit and wait is far more interesting, and every bit as Davis as the Varsity or the Farmer’s Market, so I’m mixing it up a bit.

bears, look at me walking in all the squares

At B & 2nd, Davis

Davis Moleskine Spread # 3, the Black Bear Diner on the corner of B and 2nd Streets. This used to be a Baker’s Square (one of those places that did nice apple pies). That road leading off there, that heads towards UC Davis.

I often read my son that story in Christopher Robin about not walking on the lines in London streets. I was always told that too, when I was a kid, not to step on the cracks “or the bears would get ya!” which let’s face it is the least of your worries on London streets, unless the bears are wearing hoodies or something. You don’t get bears in Davis, we are too far from the mountains. But I did hear once that a mountain lion was spotted in West Sacramento, just across the causeway from here, and I saw a cat jump into a tree while cycling home one evening that was pretty big looking for a domestic tom. I’m no wildlife expert. Perhaps it was like the beast of Craggy Island.

As I sketched this, new students drove by being all loud in their cars, showing off to each other and woo-hooing from their windows. That won’t last. The mid-terms will get them before the bears do.

when she walks by she brightens up the neighbourhood

2nd street, Davis

Spread 2 of my Davis Moleskine project: the classic feeling Varsity Theatre on 2nd Street, an oft-sketched building as you know. I sat outside Outdoor Davis on a Saturday afternoon, people stopped to chat as I drew, new students were everywhere spending time with their families before classes begin, there was the air of ‘new’ about the city as the 10-11 year kicked in. For me, just another afternoon of drawing while my son napped. We had been down to this spot just that morning because there is a cool little toystore on 2nd street called Alphabet Moon. This street is changing even since this was drawn though – on the right of the theatre, where you can see just trees, there used to be the old Pump House, but it was moved (I drew it a little while back) to make way for the new relocated Mishka’s Coffee. I passed by yesterday and building is well underway.

This building though is the star of downtown Davis. An old movie theatre, especially one that is actually in use, brightens up the area, gives real life to small-town America. At least, it’s what I always imagined when thinking of small-town America. That and a clock-house, and a corner diner, and hover-boards.

at the foot of the mountain, such a long way to climb…

E street, Davis

I am finally using my Urban Sketchers Moleskine, the accordion/Japanese-style book that I got from the Urban Sketching Symposium in Portland (wow, that ground-breaking event was two months ago now!). I am trying out brown Pitt pens, and have decide to devote the book to one long series of drawings set around the city of Davis. This is a fun project, and a little ambitious, as I will have a second book devoted solely to campus. The plan is to show them side by side as two long drawings. I decided on brown because I liked the soft effect it had against the yellowy Moleskine paper, which I have not always loved (and nor have my other pens, but the Pitt ones quite enjoy it). The sketchbook format is a little tricky to keep hold of (I use lots of clips; however I like what Gerard Michel did while filling his), and it’s a bugger to scan, but I’m getting the hang of it. 

The first in this series (minus a gap on the top right corner where the word “Davis” will go) was drawn on E Street, sat on the steps outside the Natsoulas gallery. I’ve sketched this building  a couple of times before, it’s an interesting little house downtown (but really I’m more interested in that pipework in the foreground, as you know). I’m already a few drawings in, but this is the first…stay tuned for more!