’twas the night before christmas

merry chirstmas everybody!
It’s Christmas Eve! And for some of you back home in the UK, Father Christmas will be arriving soon so still time to be good. A while to go here in California, but the mince pie is at the ready for Santa, and a nice turkey dinner awaits us. Oh, and a trifle, I made a very nice trifle this year. Above is our tree. We cut it down ourselves from a local Christmas tree farm (in the rain and mud), a bit bigger than last year, and heavier too. Most of the presents beneath the tree are for that smallest member of our family, who has been getting up excitedly at 4:00am every morning to open the latest window on his spectacularly successful daddy-drawn advent calendar (it was a xmas-tree-shaped race-track).
watching charlie brown at 4:30am
I draw a christmas tree every year, so I thought you might like to see every tree I have drawn since 2006. I neglected to sketch the first tree after we moved to cA, 2005, but since it is the same fake tree we used to get every year you can just imagine what it looks like. I’m including a couple of my mum’s trees from visits back to north London as well.
sapin de xmasat about 5am on boxing day
2006: Davis (left), Burnt Oak (right)
at home, january 2008
2007 (well, Jan 2008, but the tree was from Xmas 2007): Davis. Not-yet-President Obama was on the telly!
zweichristmas back home
2008: Davis (left, though in the background), and Burnt Oak (right)
last view of the tree, till next yearMerry Christmas!
2009: Davis (left); 2010: Davis (right)
our christmas tree
2011, last year, Davis CA.

Happy Christmas to all, and have a very merry 2013.

brings to us all both joy and glee

xmas tree 2011

“It’s Chriiiiistmaaaaas!” Here is the Davis Christmas Tree on the E Street Plaza, downtown. I didn’t go to the Davis Downtown Christmas thing at the start of the month; I have been before, and it’s a bit crazy to be honest. I love all the decorations everywhere here though, and people’s houses get truly decked out. Last night we went to one street that must be vying for the title ‘Christmas Lane’, a little cul-de-sac in north Davis completely  covered in all sorts of decorations, and very tastefully done, each house having some sort of theme in its wooden garden ornaments, and hundreds of lights and baubles on every tree. Of course it was a terribly windy night last night, so those baubles were flying off and rolling down the street. It was pleasant at lunchtime though, when I popped out to sketch this, after a thick foggy morning when even Rudolf would have had trouble.

Merry Christmas, everybody! (More Christmas tree stories to come by the way…)

rockin’ around…

Merry Christmas!

This little tree was the one we got for our first Christmas in Davis. It’s tradition to draw the tree. It’s tradition to draw everything…

Merry Christmas everyone! Stay well! Eat lots!

it’s beginning to look a lot like christmas

xmas tree E st

After all those fire hydrants, plus a short break from sketching, I was starting to forget what the nearly-finished Moleskine 6 looked like. I have three pages left, and intend to complete it in London, but I added a sketch yesterday lunchtime of the Christmas tree in the E Street Plaza, Davis. I drew it (as I’ve done before) from the window of Chipotle, with the clock fountain thing in the way, reminding me of how little time I have left to sketch. the trees are absolutely amazing right now, all brilliant reds and yellows and oranges, though as I speak a big storm is sweeping through the valley and blowing many of those leaves into the gutter.

So it’s nearly Christmas, folks. I did start making an advent calendar but it looked rushed and so I’ve abandoned it. I spent too much time on fire hydrants last month. Still, people seem to like them. I love the Christmas time of year. Santa’s not happy though, his naughty/nice list was published on Wikileaks. Here’s a tip, folks: don’t get the England world cup bidding team to write your xmas list, no matter how good you are Santa’s elves will stick you in the ‘naughty’ pile. I’m looking forward to mince pies and Quality Street, etc. I didn’t go to the Davis Christmas tree lighting thing though, which they hold here every year, as it is usually crazy. One thing I do love here though are all the houses that go mad with decorations; there’s one near us in Davis who really decks his halls out every year and has hourly music and light shows, even a little train that rattles around. Many cities have whole streets of houses that compete with each other for festive garishness, ‘candy-cane lanes’, with amazingly elaborate shows and attractions that must take all year to plan, all the windows, the whole garden, the whole roof, covered with loud Christmas ornaments – that must be a heavy burden to keep that up every year. I daresay in Britain you’ll say with a grumble, “ooh, it’s getting like that here now,” but believe me nobody does Christmas like the Americans*. They’re really really good at it.

(*Except the Germans, of course – German Christmases are truly wonderful, but I won’t mention them because they beat England 4-1 in the World Cup, lest we forget)

bye bye tree

last view of the tree, till next year

It’s January 6th, so time to take down the tree, and put away the decorations! This is our little tree we got for our first Xmas in America, and we still have it. The ornaments, mostly my wife’s, go back years; some are older than I am, I think. The corner will look so bare without the tree, even though only half the lights were working on it (I never got around to changing them!). Oh well, it really is a new year now.

did yer mama always tell ya that the old ones are the best?

christmas back home

It’s Christmas, here in Burnt Oak, back where i grew up, and here’s the big tree at my mum’s house, drawn this morning after the baby went down for a nap. It looks so Christmassy here! I haven’t been outside yet; it’s been sunny, and cold, and cloudy, and I just know it will rain when I do go out. Urban sketching! I turned on the TV last night, couldn’t sleep, and on came “Merry Cliffmas”. Yes, he is still around (I won’t write his name because the search engines will bring a load of people here looking for him), but I suppose he is at least someone I’ve heard of. The longer I’ve been gone, the fewer ‘celebs’ I’ve heard of here.

My son however discovered the Tweenies this morning.

it’s chriiiiiiiiistmas…

Christmas has come to Davis. The christmas tree was lit on Thursday amid a crowd of about sixty million kids (there or thereabouts) with all sorts of festivities going on, santa, carol singers, candles, etc. My ten-month old loved it, particularly the person dressed as a dinosaur. I came back next day to draw it; I’m not one for big crowds (me being from, you know, London), so you’ll just have to imagine what it was like. But here is the tree, on the E street plaza, as seen from the window of Chipotle across the road.
the davis christmas tree

there might be a parallel universe


Ok. Thing is, I wanted to draw the new apartment in a kind of tryptich (or is it triptych?), and so I did, in three sepia blocks, each of which I’m showing separately here, along with the whole thing, and for bad measure, a photo of me holding the book (while watching ‘spaced’).  

my left hand

And this is also my entry for Illustration Friday this week (theme: ‘similar’). Our new apartment is very similar to our last one – it’s on the same complex, has all the same fixtures and fitting, but for one big thing – everything is reversed. It’s like walking into a mirror, but I like it inside this mirror, I much prefer it. even if there are more bugs (such as a centipede crawling up through the plughole – do I not like that!)

zweiI was inspired because this week I got back my sketchbook from August’s Art House Co-Op Sketchbook Project, the theme of which was “How to Save The World”. My little book, which you can browse here, was filled with drawings of our own little world, the apartment where we spent all our time. I was saving the place I lived in, in the sense of recording it, so that in years to come I might look at it and say, yes I lived there, I remember that. Now we’ve moved I can do that already. And I can compare drawings of the new apartment to the old. The kitchen (above) is the other way round from how it is in this picture, for example. Even the hot and cold taps are reversed, not that you can tell, but I still get it wrong.

 The first frame shows the baby monitor. Baby was sleeping soundly. That is, not making much of a sound. The second frame shows Mr Salt, the saltpot, and his lover Mrs Pepperpot. Mr Salt has very big trousers. He is either grossly deformed or carries a lot in is pockets (perhaps he too is an urban sketcher?). dreiI think Mr. Salt is Dutch, but he comes from England. He is also into the lost practise of trepanning. You can also see the Christmas Tree, put up last weekend, hopefully out of the reach of little mischievous hands (I don’t mean those of Mr Salt, whose hands are stuck to his trousers). The final frame, looking over at the CD tower and the music players and the calendar of new york city, has a bottle of the local Sudwerk beer in it. This is purely decorative. I was actually drinking a cup of tea, but thought a beer bottle would look better. I pulled it from the recycling. I like Sudwerk, the Märzen variety, it’s a nice German style amber beer brewed just down the road from bei uns. One of the things I really like about living out here in the American West are the micro-brews – not as big a thing on the East coast. Back in London, we have the pubs alright, but I way prefer the beers out here. You can see also a Micron Pigma pen on the table; you can’t get those in England either (or at least, I couldn’t). Incidentally, I drew this in a copic multiliner 0.1. 

So this is home. Not quite the same as the old apartment, but very similar.