of these northern streets

Grosvenor Picture Palace
And now for a post showing many of the other buildings and views I sketched in Manchester during the 7th Urban Sketching Symposium. Usually sketched between workshops or activities (or while skipping activities because sketch-sketch-sketch). I would love to explore Manchester – the north of England in general – in more depth and at unbound pace, but here are some street scenes and buildings that I managed to fit in. Above, the Grosvenor Picture Palace, a building I feel sure was sketched a few hundred times that week, being right opposite the Manchester School of Art on Oxford Road.Buses whizzed by as they do, and while it was damp it managed not to rain while I sketched, stood on the corner of All-Saints Park.
Lass O Gowrie
This pub, the Lass O’Gowrie, was on the way back to my apartment and I just had to sketch it. however the time I chose to sketch was probably the wrong one – I got the time of the final big group photo wrong (6pm), thinking it was 6:30pm (doh!), and so I missed it because I was sketching this. Second time I have missed the final group photo at a Symposium! It’s becoming my Thing. Still I am not too downhearted about that, as I probably would not have had the chance to sketch this pub, and I’m happy I did, a traditional looking Mancunian ale-house, next to a small canal-way. I went for a half-coloured-in look because I only half-coloured it in before dashing back to All-Saints Park for the final group photo, like an idiot. At least I got into the American group photo (I am after 11 years in California an honorary American now after all (at least where urban sketching is concerned!), a nice group to be in.
Johnny Roadhouse Music sm
This was sketched earlier in the afternoon, right opposite All-Saints Park. It only took twenty minutes or so, Johnny Roadhouse Music, but that was because I considered doing a big panorama (decided against it!). You can see my ‘working-out’ on the sides there.
Ormond Building
After sketching Johnny Roadhouse Music I walked back over to the School, on my way to one of the presentations I’d signed up for, however I got side-tracked talking to Paul Heaston and Marc Taro, who were sketching the Ormond Building, another that was surely sketched several hundred times (and then some) over those few days. Sketchers were starting to dot around the area as part of the Final Sketchwalk (all waiting for the Final Group Photo; yeah, that was a good idea). What with chatting to fellow sketchers and working on the perspective this building took about an hour and a half, compared to the quicker music shop sketched before it. I always worry I’m not going to come back from somewhere with enough sketches to ‘justify’ the long journey out there, and I still had a few things left on my list. Still I enjoyed the experience sketching this building, and it was nice to talk to people, and learn from how they approached it.
Hotspur Press
The Hotspur Press! I had to sketch it. I drew it on the way back from Veronica Lawlor’s workshop, drawing quickly in pencil beneath a railway arch to shelter from the rain, but I had to add colour afterwards as I needed to get back to the School; I had been told I was to be signing copies of my book (though I got there, and they didn’t even have any copies of it). The rain-soaked old brick and industry, that’s the North isn’t it. Hotspur by the way would be a reference to the Percy’s; Harry Hotspur was a medieval knight and member of the Percy family, Henry Percy, son of the Earl of Northumberland. This is why Tottenham Hotspur are so named, too – they were originally Hotspur FC, and the Percy family owned land in the Tottenham area (think Northumberland Park).
British fire hydrant
For the Silent Auction many of us were asked to donate a sketch, and so because my other Thing (apart from Missing the Final Group Photo like a late idiot) is of course Fire Hydrants. Now in England they are underground, so I drew one of those, with an explanation as to how to find British hydrants. Here it is! And it sold as well!

Panorama of sketchers

Here is a group of sketchers sketching the streets around the School of Art. Speaking of which, there will be one more post before I have exhausted all #UskManchester2016 news, and it will be long and full of quick people sketches. and then, back to the present month…

miles and miles of red roof tiles

Santa Barbara Anapamu St

I was in Santa Barbara for a conference, but arriving the night before meant I had most of the day before check-in to do a bit of urban sketching around town. The tourist office pointed me in the right direction, up State Street towards the Courthouse. Off I went. There were interesting shops up there too though, and I spent a good deal of time mooching around Paper Source before finally hitting the Seawhite of Brighton sketchbook. Yes, I’m rotating books; I just finished Moleskine 14 the day before, so now I’m o a Seawhite (#4) and after that I will crack open the Stillman and Birn Alpha. Gone are the days of consistency but they all still line up on a shelf (I keep them in shoeboxes actually). Hey, want to know what my sketchbooks look like? I’m exhibiting them at the UC Davis Design Museum this Fall! Anyway back to Santa Barbara. Above is Anapamu Street, looking towards the mountains that give this city its backdrop. There are a lot of red tiled rooftops in Santa Barbara.

Santa Barbara Courthouse

The Santa Barbara courthouse (above) is lovely. The current building was completed way back in 1929 just before the stock market crash and has an amazing interior, particularly the Mural Room. The website of the Courthouse is here. It surrounds a pretty garden square, where I sat and sketched the above. One passing couple joked that I can leave out the scaffolding in my sketch, but they can’t in their photos; trues, but I didn’t, I just hid it behind a tree. No leaving out important details in my urban sketchbook! I finished up my juice smoothie (still had the smallest hangover from the previous night at the James Joyce) and explored the building, climbing the tower (taking the elevator, that is) and getting the most amazing views across Santa Barbara. It was windy, and there were a fair few tourists crowding the platform, but I did manage one sketch, below.

View from Santa Barbara Courthouse Tower

I had lunch at a Belgian/Bavarian sausage/beer restaurant called Brat Haus (I do recommend) and watched Spurs implode to a 2-2 draw with Chelsea handing Leicester their deserved title before heading out to sketch more. This below is at the historic Presidio area, a block or so off of State Street. There were lots of wineries around. I considered doing some wine tasting, but then I considered not, and did some sketching instead. Wine tasting is really something to do with others, I feel. You can’t nod appreciatively and make discerning faces at yourself when tasting wine alone. You can’t pretend you have a palette for wine when there’s nobody to show off to. You can just say, “I like this label, where is the bathroom, no I might come back later”, and then go and sketch. I’m sure the wine tastes great. I sketched this as the day got later (that clock was totally wrong by the way, it was only like 3pm), and went and sketched one more which I will save for next time (it’s not anything special, I’m just pacing them out).

Santa Barbara Presidio

it is like a finger, pointing away to the moon

Rue Merciere and Strasbourg Cathedral
It might be my favourite building in the world. And this year, 2015, La Cathedrale de Notre Dame de Strasbourg is 1000 years old.

The day I got back to London last month, I was looking for some drawing pins at my mum’s house when I happened upon an old badge that was mixed in with them. It was a small metal badge of Strasbourg Cathedral, which I must have bought on my first trip there, and has been sitting in a drawer at my mum’s for years and years. What a coincidence, as I was shortly going to go back there. Strasbourg might have a European parliament building, and lots of pretty timber-framed buildings, but it is a city dominated by its massive cathedral. It sits in the centre of the Grand-Ile with its single solitary spire pointing high into the heavens. It can be seen for miles around. Locals told me that if ever I were lost, I should just look up and find the cathedral. Of course that only really helped if I were going toward the cathedral, so on this trip I booked a hotel right next to the thing (the Hotel Cathedrale, I recommend it). It was the scene above, the view down the tourist-trail of Rue Merciere, that I longed to sketch. I was stood almost in Place Gutenberg, where stands the statue of Johannes Gutenberg, who invented the printing press right here in Strasbourg. I stood there mid-afternoon, and because my hotel was just around the corner I took a break halfway through, and went back to do the rest. I had promised myself that I would sketch the cathedral at least three times, from three different angles, and so I did. I love this building.
Strasbourg Cathedral
In 1997 I came to Strasbourg with my oldest friend Terry. We came on an overnight Eurolines coach (remember taking those, in the days before budget airlines? Yeah those days are thankfully gone). I remember that it was the day after Princess Diana died (it was funny, French people kept asking us how we were doing, all concerned like, and we were both like, um, we’re fine, thanks, not realizing all the national weeping nonsense going on back in England). As we approached Strasbourg, I could see the huge spire in the yellow dawn mist towering over the city, and it was an image that stuck with me, like an illustration from a fantasy novel. Its shape is so distinct. It looks like it is missing a spire, and in fact it is – the second steeple was supposed to be built, but was never constructed. I was told many stories about this cathedral, how for several centuries it was the tallest building in the world, how during the French Revolution the cathedral was covered up with a giant cap to save it from those revolutionaries who wished to tear it down. In the sketch above, you can see how the rear is also covered over, but this is just renovation, not revolution. I had a nice time sketching this one. Several of the Belgian sketching group were there too; Gerard Michel (the cathedral expert, my inspiration) was gathering a crowd of onlookers. As I sketched, a group of young schoolchildren were gathered in the plaza (which was not as nice and open as this the last time I was here), and several times they sang La Marseillaise, which echoed off the grand building beautifully. As well it should – for as much as Strasbourg has been swapped between the French and German realms, that national anthem of France was actually composed not in Marseille, not in Paris, but right here in Strasbourg.
Cathedrale de Notre Dame de Strasbourg, and Maison Kammerzell
The sketch above is the pre-breakfast early-morning drawing. My hotel being where it was, I just had to roll out of bed, grab the large sketchbook, and stand out in the Place de la Cathedrale before all the tourist shops opened. I said ‘bonjour’ to a few people holding machine guns, as you do. The cathedral is being well guarded by soldiers, walking about the building at all hours. It’s not a scene that I’m used to, but I’m not unfamiliar with in France (I remember years ago walking past a large cadre of soldiers on the Paris Metro, their fingers on the triggers of their automatic weapons), and it’s a reminder of the terrorist dangers that France has had to deal with this year. I stood next to the 15th century Maison Kammerzell, which I drew in the foreground in black ink, and drew the cathedral in brown-black ink. This is a famous shot. I started this at about 7:30am, but by 9:00am I was getting hungry so I stopped there, and went for a pain au chocolat at a boulangerie¬† around the corner. It was such a delicious pain au chocolat that five minutes later I was back there asking for another. The woman in the bakery gave me such a dirty look when I came back and for a second one, as if to say “why didn’t you just buy two the first time?”. At least I got that much. On two other occasions that day (in FNAC and in Librairie Kleber), the shop assistant serving me barely acknowledged my existence other than holding out a hand for my money, looking away in another direction. But then I also had many occasions where I was helped by super friendly (and above all patient) people in shops and cafes.
Strasbourg Cathedral & Maison KammerzellAnd so, the Cathedral celebrates its millennium this year. I didn’t realize this before I came to Strasbourg, so it was very good timing. Later this year they are having lots of celebrations and events. The picture below, taken from a display outside the cathedral, shows the history of its construction. As with most massive building projects in the middle ages, this took several centuries to complete. It stands at 142 metres tall (that’s 466 feet). It doesn’t sound like much when you put it like that. The first stone was laid by Bishop Werner von Habsburg in 1015. One of the most prominent architects involved was Erwin von Steinbach, who died in 1318, and the cathedral is one of the best examples of high Gothic architecture.¬† DSC04824

Gerard and Belgian sketchers

Gerard Michel and other sketchers from Liege, sketching Strasbourg cathedral with an audience

DSC04836

The massive rose window, photographed from the inside

DSC04594

The view of the cathedral when I arrived in Strasbourg in the early hours of the morning

IMG_4488

Here’s that metal badge I bought twenty years ago (and found again last month), along with the USk France 2015 badge.

building the pitzer, part one

music recital hall (under construction)
music recital hall (under construction)
More construction on the UC Davis campus, while I slowly scan (and finish in some cases) my French sketches. Long-memoried observers of my UC Davis sketch adventures (really, that sentence) will recall that I spent a lot of time a couple of years ago or so sketching the demise of the old Boiler Building. You can see those posts at petescully.com/tag/boiler-building. The space was assigned as the location of the brand new Music Recital Hall, which (thanks to a generous donation by the late alumna Ann Pitzer) will officially be called the Ann E. Pitzer Center. When complete, it will be a 399 seat concert venue (why 399? Definitely no room for 400? Bet there’s a bureaucracy reason, oh I love the bureaucracy. No, I actually do). It will also be a classroom space, which will have course schedulers gleefully rubbing their hands with their 400-capacity classes (ah, I see why it’s 399 seats now…). Anyway, I got back from Europe and saw that construction had finally begun, with the first concrete panels going up (top sketch). A week later (yesterday) the large concrete box was already sealed. I don’ know what the vertical lines around the edges signify, but they add a touch of interest into what currently looks like some sort of military installation. It won’t always look like that. Once the shiny glass and steel are added this will be one of the most attractive buildings on campus, and one of the first you see when you enter on Shields Avenue, in what will be known as the campus ‘Arts District’. Old Boiler Building

On the right, you can see how this spot used to look, in 2011. I miss the old Boiler Building, with its rusty pipes and sun-burnt tiles. You can find out more about the Pitzer Center here at arts.ucdavis.edu/pitzercenter. Here is how it will eventually look (pictures from the Davis Enterprise). I’ll be sketching its progress, so watch this space…

burgers and brew

burgers & brew sm

Phew, today was a day in the World Cup, huh. Belgium-Russia, meh. Algeria-Korea, whoah! And then the drama of USA-Portugal, well this has been a tournament to remember. I can’t even remember what life was like before this World Cup began. Thankfully my sketchbook offers a glimpse into the pre-Brazil days of almost two weeks ago. On a hot, hot day in early June, I stood on 3rd St one lunchtime and sketched as quickly as I could. It was pushing a hundred degrees so I needed to finish up before I melted. This is Burgers and Brew on the corner of C St, a restaurant with a name that is designed to excite people in an ‘ooh-Burgers-Beer-I-love-those-things-gotta eat there-then’ type way (though in fact almost every restaurant in America specializes in burgers and brews these days it seems). I’ve only been here a couple of times, the last being about three or four years ago, and while I don’t do burgers (at least not the red-meaty kind) I had some nice Belgian Kwak beer once. Not on this day however, this lunch hour was for sketching.This is in the landscape-format Stillman and Birn ‘Alpha’ book, sketched with brown uni-ball signo um-151 pen, with a watercolour wash added later.

bizarro world

Bizarro World, Davis
Bizarro World, Davis. A comic shop that used to reside on 5th St, before moving into its present location on E St when Bogey’s Books closed down. I prefer this location, and I’ve been there many times over the past four years, as opposed to the one time I went to the 5th St location in the preceding five years. Then again, I read a lot more comics now. I mean a LOT. Not all of them physical, mind, but I do buy a fair few paper comics from here (and also from Big Brother Comics in midtown Sacramento and Mission Comics in San Francisco, whenever I am there). See now I have an iPad and a subscription to Marvel Unlimited, so I can read all the Marvel backlog (I have read hundreds since signing up in January). I like this place’s location though because it is right next to the pub. After a long day, it makes a lot of sense to buy a comic or graphic novel and pop inside De Vere’s for a cold brew. Or University of Beer a block away. So on a very hot hundred-esque Saturday afternoon I stood outside and sketched my local comic shop, the sweat dripping off of me. While sketching, a bearded man on a bike stopped in the street and asked me a series of questions (“are you a painter, did you draw that, what building are you drawing, do you have an email”). I had to say, sorry I can’t really chat, I am up against the time a little here, because it really was hot and I wanted to get finished and get inside. But then about fifteen minutes later another guy on a bike, this time with a moustache, stopped and asked exactly the same questions. It was, as they say, bizarre (if not quite bizarro, which as we all know means something else entirely) I’m starting to wonder whether they were in fact the same person in different disguises. I’ve had odd people come up and say odd things on E St before while sketching so it’s not beyond the realms of possibility. Perhaps I read too many comics? Nah, if that were true I’d believe it was Loki, out to trick me. I finished up all the penwork, the only colour added on site being the red pen, before cooling off with a beer in De Vere’s and finishing the paint at home. I did get a comic too, the Thanos annual, by Jim Starlin. Pretty good it is too.

Incidentally this framed drawing is currently for sale at Art-Is-Davis (222 D St, Davis) until July 6th…

the red victorian

SF Red Victorian sm
The rain came down in San Francisco, but I took a bus up to the Haight. It has been years since I was in this part of San Francisco, and I had forgotten how many amazing old colourful buildings there are to sketch around here. And hippies too, can’t forget the hippies, there are still lots of hippies. I walked about looking for a good dry spot to sketch from, and settled on a spot across the street from the historic Red Victorian, an old hotel and arts cafe, and a mainstay of “Peace, Man” San Francisco. I’ve always liked this building. There is the Peaceful World Cafe, they hold Peaceful World Conversations, and there’s also a Living Peace Museum. I must say, stood sheltered form the rain as I was, I felt pretty peaceful sketching it too (apart from one odd ‘crunchy’ guy making incomprehensible comments every time he shuffled past, but you get that when you’re out and about). You can find out more about the Red Vic and its owner, founder and artist in residence Sami Sunchild here: http://www.redvic.com/. Oh and here’s the map from my sketchbook.
SF Haight map sm