Utah 5: Moab and Salt Lake

Utah hiking trip

This was my ‘journal’ page in the sketchbook where I wrote a bit about the trip. I always mean to do things like that in my sketchbooks as I go along when I travel but sometimes forget, or I draw it with stupid cartoony Petes doing stuff badly, but I liked the tone of this in pencil, and it kept with the pencil and paint theme of my sketching in the parks. I always worry that the pencil will smudge as I used my book (one of the reasons I don’t draw much in pencil, though when covered in watercolour it doesn’t seem to happen as much). On the last day in Moab I went for a walkabout; Moab reminded me a lot of Radiator Springs, the town from the movie Cars (which we watched about 7000 times when my son was younger); the backdrop mostly, but some of the shops too. So it was quite funny to see one of the auto repair shops had converted a truck into Lightning McQueen’s buddy Mater (full name “Tow Mater”). I had to draw him! There were a lot of vehicles in Moab I could have drawn, and by that I mean (1) Jeeps and (2) ATVs. So many ATVs. ATVs are all-terrain vehicles are those funny looking buggy things, and they look like they are only driven by people who would not like them being called “funny looking buggy things”. But my descriptive skills are tired from all the hiking. You see? That sentence doesn’t even make sense. Well dad-gum, as Mater would say.

Tow Mater in Moab

We left Moab for the long drive back to California, which would take two days, across mountains and deserts, through snowstorms and sunshine, but boy were there snowstorms across the Great Salt Lake Desert. We stopped off in Salt Lake City once again, so we could get some more delicious waffles and frites from the little Belgian place we discovered, Bruges Bistro. This place was amazing, and I had a nice chat with the Flemish guy who ran the place. I had once more a huge waffle covered in s’mores (a nice mix of the Belgian and American), with sauce andalouse to go with my frites. This is the place below (I drew that after I got home).

Bruges Belgian Bistro SLC

After lunch we headed off to Temple Square to see the Tabernacle and the historic Salt Lake Temple. You can’t go inside the buildings (and the Temple is undergoing a major renovation, it looked like the foundations of the church itself were being completely updated) (that’s not a metaphor by the way, I mean the building itself). You’ll know of course that Salt Lake City is the epicentre of the Mormon church (real name The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints) (which is a long official name; I like long official names, like “Brighton and Hove Albion Football Club”, “El Pueblo de Nuestra Señora la Reina de los Ángeles” (the real name for L.A. though not really the official name) and of course “The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland” (still correct at the the time of writing but check back again soon)). They usually go by “LDS” but are mostly known as Mormons. It was interesting to learn that the streets in Salt Lake City all emanate out from Temple Square. I did a very quick sketch of the Temple while we explored the square, which is permanently walled off but still open to visitors. there were many friendly guides about to give information, but we didn’t stay long. It was interesting. Surrounding the square were a great number of large and very corporate buildings for all of the church’s global administration. The city itself was surround an most sides by mountains capped with snow; I forgot that would be the case, but they did have the Winter Olympics here many years ago. The Great Salt Lake is just to the north, and we drove past that on the way back towards Nevada. 

Salt Lake City Temple Square

I didn’t draw on the rest of the journey; we listened to podcasts, and an audio book (Neil Gaiman’s “An Ocean At the End of the Lane”; appropriate as there was a Great Salt Lake at the end of the road), stopped in Elko again and eventually made it home. A long road trip. Next time we go we will fly, but it was fun to see a bit more of America.  

disneyland

Disneyland Castle Dec2016

Before Christmas we took a family trip to Disneyland, down in southern California. I managed to get a couple of sketches in, namely the Fantasyland castle, and Flo’s V8 Cafe in Cars Land, over in the California Adventure park. Christmastime in Disneyland is fun. Hey what is your favourite Disney movie? I’m not including all the ones owned by Disney like Star Wars and Marvel movies, but the cartoons, and some of the live-action ones like Mary Poppins and stuff. I suppose Pixar counts as well. Mine is probably Jungle Book, or maybe Aladdin.

Disneyland Cars Land Dec 2016

These were the first sketches in my new Stillman and Birn (Beta) softbound landscape sketchbook. That’s a mouthful, so we’ll just call it the Sm&B(B)SbLsSb for short.

ka-chow!

lightning mcqueens
Just a selection of the various variants of Lightning McQueen, my son’s favourite toy character. And of course upon finishing this, he points out which ones I did not draw, cars which to me look identical but to him have one slight variation that makes the most immense difference. Minute details are everything to that five year old. Never, ever forget: young kids are not stupid, they notice EVERYTHING, way more than adults do. It keeps me on my toes, let me tell you.  I was the same, as a five year old counting the vertebrae on the dinosaurs at the Natural History Museum, oh I was the same. This was drawn in the excellent Stillman and Birn ‘Alpha’ book I’ve reserved for pictures of the boy’s things. I like Lightning McQueen as well, “Cars” is fun.

gettin’ cozy at the cones

Disneyland Cars Land
Cars Land, aka Radiator Springs, the most popular attraction at the Disneyland California Adventure, and the main reason we travelled all the way to southern California. My son, who had his birthday recently, is mad about Pixar’s Cars movie, as are many kids his age. Cars Land is HEAVEN. One thing Disney does really well is attention to detail, nothing is done in a half-hearted way. It is expensive to go there, but you can see they spend the money really well. Above, I had about half an hour or so to do some sketching while my son, overwhelmed from a morning spent inside his favourite movie, rested for a bit. I stood at the excellent Cozy Cones motel while happy tow-truck Mater posed for photos with ecstatic kids. Every building there is an incredible and absolutely faithful recreation of the Radiator Springs in the film, from the rocky backdrop catching the warm light right down to the detailing of Sarge’s Surplus Hut or Luigi’s Casa Della Tires. Occasionally, the great car Lightning McQueen himself will ride through, and as the sun goes down, the neon lights of Flo’s V8 Cafe and other buildings come on to the music just as in the film. Every so often the DJ Car (one of the ‘”import punks” from Cars 1) rolls in and plays music while dancers dance with the kids. The Radiator Springs Racers ride is wildly fun, though my son preferred only the Junkyard Jamboree ride, in which the wild tractor cows dance around while riders sit in carts behind them. We went on that about ten times. Yep, for any parent of any Cars-mad kid, a trip to this place is worth every penny.

Below: our hotel room in Anaheim. Got to have the in-room sketch when travelling!
Marriot Hotel Anaheim

“i am a very famous racecar!”

lightning mcqueen shoe

Sometimes you just need to draw a shoe, and what a shoe! This is one of my son’s beloved Lightning McQueen shoes. It’s not drawn in the book which chronicles all of his shoes (those are in black and white), rather it’s in the Stillman & Birn Alpha book (which I’m using to draw his things in colour), and this merited colour. The heel has little lights embedded inside which flash when he walks. This whole drawing took me a couple of hours, while watching Spaced. It is a busy, trying week, this week, and sometimes you just need to sit back and draw a shoe.

planet of the cars

my son's toy cars

Here are some of my son’s favourite toys, the Cars. I am forever tripping up on them, camouflaged against the roadmap rug in the living room, or lined up in very specific race positions on the many racetracks we draw together. The two movies, along with the Mater’s Tall Tales specials, are never far from the dvd schedule, and we all find ourself humming one of the tunes from the movies or saying ‘ker-chow’ or ‘dad-gum’ or such as like. My son has loads of these die-cast metal toys from both movies, some of them quite hard to find individually, to the point where it becomes a parent’s favourite quest to find the more obscure ones (I don’t know who Rip Clutchgoneski is in the movie but he for one is very difficult to obtain). And unlike so many toys, these get really played with, and my already multi-lingual son likes to get the Spanish one to count in Spanish, the French one in French, Francesco Bernoulli says ‘uno! due!’ tre!’ and so on. The German one is called ‘Vettel’ (actually it’s Max Schnell, but Sebastian Vettel is his favourite race-car driver, and I think he does the character’s voice in the German version of the movie, just as Lewis Hamilton guests in the original). See? I’m an expert.

Cars is a funny universe though. I read it as a Planet of the Apes type world, and would love to see Cars 3 run along those lines, whereby a human from the past arrives, does the ‘get your wheels off me you damn dirty Audi’ or something, and ends up with Mater pulling the Statue of Liberty out of Carburettor Canyon. Surely no crazier than the story of Cars 2?

I drew this in copic multiliner pen with watercolour, in the Stillman & Birn ‘Alpha’ sketchbook. I am using that sketchbook to draw a series of my son’s things. It’s great paper too.

lightning mcqueen shoes

19: lightning mcqueen shoe
Back to this series, though I actually am not sure if there’s another shoe between the last one and this. These shoes however are the main ones, the favourite footwear: Lightning McQueen shoes. They have little red lights on the soles that flash when my son runs in them. Drawn monochromatically in black copic multiliner, as per the convention of the series, but this is one shoe where you really need the colour! These shoes are getting bigger and bigger.