show me the way to armadillo

LDD Dec17 Armadillo

One from just before Christmas, this was sketched downtown during the December ‘Le’s draw Davis’ sketchcrawl. I already posted the main sketch I did that day, of the Christmas Tree. This is Armadillo Music on F Street. It used to e further down F Street until a few years ago. The last times I sketched it was in the old location (2013 and 2011). I also had an exhibition of my artwork there in early 2011, which was actually the first exhibition I ever had here in Davis, so I’m always thankful for that. It was a fun evening, with renowned local singer Rita Hosking providing an in-store musical performance on the same evening. So finally I drew the new store location, a bigger store. I didn’t have time to add the colour because the sketchcrawl was over and I was feeling stiff from standing there in the cold. I just coloured in the Santa, which was for some reason lying on his side. Taking a rest before his trip around the world, no doubt. Ok, I am due to sketch Armadillo, which is one of those real proper Davis community shops, another time, with colour. Maybe on a warmer day!

Advertisements

farewell to the festive season…

Xmas Lego Dec 2017 sm

Since yesterday (January 6th) is the traditional ‘take-down-decorations’ day I wanted to make sure I posted it by then, as it is technically still in the Christmas period. Then I got flu. I evidently still have it too (I can’t taste anything!), well I suppose starving a fever is probably all for the best given how much I ate over Christmas. Not gonna lie, it was a lot of chocolate. And I haven’t even opened my Terry’s Chocolate Orange yet, I’m saving that for when I can taste things again. So this! This is a Christmassy Lego set that was a lovely addition to our festive get-up this year. I want to add a little bit of festive Lego each year. The train set and village station sets look cool. So, this was my last sketch of 2017. Don’t worry, I still have more in the backlog to post (Hawaii!). I didn’t get out to do any urban sketching on New Year’s Eve (I also had a cold, different from this current flu; come on winter, give me a break!). Speaking of colds, can we stop saying “bless you” after someone sneezes? I stopped a while ago. It feels odd, it’s a knee-jerk reaction and you feel rude for not acknowledging someone having sneezed by randomly blessing them like you are some sort of authority on the matter, but it is odd. Ok the real reason is that I have seasonal allergies, and from the period of about March to May I will sneeze a lot, uncontrollably, again and again and again. If we ever have the Spring Olympics I could represent Great Britain in the consecutive sneezing event. When someone gets to the third “bless-you” you really want them to stop, your magical blessing is clearly having no effect. Beyond that, it’s like, if you must, can you do it at the end like a package of blessings? And what exactly are you blessing me for? I remember being at a baseball game and I had a sneezing fit. People all around were blessing me, and frankly it was embarrassing. After sneeze five they were all laughing like someone sneezing in April is really hilarious (to be fair, it was probably more entertaining than the baseball). And again, and again, and again. I couldn’t get out to the garlic fries stand quickly enough. Yeah being laughed at by a crowd of strangers just for having allergies is so enjoyable. The blessings don’t work guys, just stop it okay!

This is a fun Lego set. I used it for a brief stop-motion animation which I played at our holiday party at work, I think people enjoyed it. I am still making those, I have a lot of ideas but little time to play with them. I may be overdoing the Lego in fact, but it’s so much fun. Goodbye, festive season. Until next year.

Voices Singing, Let’s Be Jolly

Davis Xmas Tree 2017 sm

I’m hoping 2018 will get me back into the groove of sketching-scanning-writingnonsense-posting, but we shall see. I haven’t even scanned my November sketches yet! And some of those were from lovely Hawaii. Also, a couple of sketchcrawls not reported on, but actually a lot less sketching than usual. The large massive glut of sketches at the start of 2017 has, well not dried up exactly, just been a bit disrupted by my working-through-lunch habits, and also running out of things to draw in Davis. So anyway rather than play catch up, here are three recent and timely sketches of Christmas Trees. The one above, that’s the one down in E Street Plaza in Davis, sketched on the December “Let’s Draw Davis” sketchcrawl. I really enjoyed sketching that, after quite a busy and stressful week, I needed to be out sketching with sketchers and it was nice.

SF Union Square Xmas Tree 2017 sm

Now this one was done only a couple of days ago, down in San Francisco. Needed de-stressing, so getting out of Davis for the day down in the City was the ideal tonic. I just went around SoMa and Union Square, and ended up sketching the big tree with the extremely festive Macy’s in the background. It was very bright.

Home Xmas Tree 2017 sm

And finally, our own little Christmas tree at home. It’s a fake tree, which we bought if I remember rightly back in December 2005, our first one in Davis. It’s heavily protected from kittens who like getting in and lying on the branches. I always like to draw it before Christmas Day itself, so it still has pressies around it. It’s Christmas Eve right now – well, just turned Christmas Day, and I just finished off a bottle of Italian red wine, which feels not only supremely festive but highly decadent, I have not finished a bottle of red wine pretty much since I was at college, I think. I’m not a huge wine drinker; this one was quite nice. Also ate a lot of turkey, parsnips, cheese, chocolate, and even a mug of hot chocolate – I accidentally bought a tin of hot chocolate at the store today for $12.99 which is completely mental, I don’t even drink hot chocolate (once every few years) but I saw it and thought yeah, that looks nice, and only $2.99! Checked my receipt later and was like, what the? But the store was so busy I didn’t want to go back. So I got my $12.99 hot chocolate and yeah it was nice I guess, it bloody well better be, $12.99, that is, wow. I bought a lot of unnecessarily expensive cheese too. The selection wasn’t very good either. Well, Christmas is all about the dearth of cheeses.

Sorry, cheesy Xmas joke ahoy. Actually the selection of cheeses was very good. Merry Christmas everyone! Happy Holidays, Seasons Greetings and And a Happy New Year. May you have all the joys of the holiday season, full of friends, fun, festivities and lots of things that begin with f. Buon Natale! Joyeux Noel! Meli Kalikimaka! Frohe Weihnachten! God Jol! Prettige Kerstdagen! Nollaig Shona! Feliz Navidad!

Alright here’s a few more Christmas trees I’ve sketches from down the years. Not all of them, just a few.

merry christmas everybody!
xmas tree 2011
christmas back home
Merry Christmas!
sapin de xmas
at about 5am on boxing day

Harry Christmas!

img_1320

Each year, I make my son an advent calendar. They have been getting more elaborate each year, and always themed differently. Behind each window I put a selection of images of things that he has been interested in during that year – the one when he was three for example had Bob the Builder, Fireman Sam, Poppy Cat etc, while now it’s more Minecraft, Pokemon, Harry Potter etc. We read the Harry Potter books together this year, one after the other, followed by the movies, and he is a huge Potter fan now; we even visited the Warner Bros Studios “Harry Potter Tour” outside London last month, touring the sets where they filmed the movies, which was amazing. So it made sense then that this year I should make a Harry Potter themed advent calendar. And here it is!
img_1308img_1317img_1323img_1324

This one was bigger and more complicated than I have made before, drawn in pen and coloured with a mixture of watercolour. As you can see, it opens out into a larger scene with Hogwarts in the background. The first panel, when it’s all closed up, is the Hogwarts Express, opening up to then reveal Hogsmeade, opening up to reveal the Forbidden Forest, the Black Lake, and a magical view of the Great Hall. I started drawing this at the beginning of November, and had about four fifths of it drawn before taking a break for our Thanksgiving trip to London. I finished it when I got back, painting it physically, scanning it, colouring part of it digitally and stitching it together, before printing it, cutting the windows with a perforator, adding the images behind each window (oh, and it does have a window nine-and-three-quarters between windows 9 and 10), gluing it onto some left over mat board from another project, and managing somehow to get it all done for December 1st. Well, about 2am on December 2nd. Yeah, it took a while and was ultimately a day late but it was well worth it. My son loved it, and was totally surprised, having not seen it at all in progress. This is the sixth advent calendar I have made for him, and already I’m thinking about next year…

img_5338

we could steal time, just for one day

seven dials
The shortest day of the year is shorter in London than it is in Davis, because London is further north and the night-time is subsequently longer. It gets light at about midday and then five minutes later it’s dark again. Well, that might be an exaggeration. It also feels shorter because there is (a) more stuff to do and (b) more people in the way when you are trying to get to those things. While I am adept at navigating London crowds, having worked on Oxford Street when I was younger, ten years in tourist-and-commuter-free Davis have, if not quite dimming my instincts, decreased my tolerance for the slow-moving crowd nature of pre-Christmas London. I still know most of the shortcuts, however, and back when I was a student at King’s College London I would dash through this area to get to my classes, in wind and rain. This is Seven Dials, a junction of seven streets just north of Covent Garden which was deliberately designed to confuse American tourists. It’s always been one of my favourite spots in London and one day I will draw a panorama encompassing 360 degrees and all seven of the Dials, but it was not this day, because this day was very short (refer back to my previous statements), and also rainy.

Although the day was short, I had filled it well, meeting in the morning at the National Portrait Gallery with the lovely folks from Rotovision Books (by the way, a quick plug, my book creative Sketching Workshop which was created by Rotovision Books is available in bookshops and online, you can find our more about the book on my dedicated page CREATIVE SKETCHING WORKSHOP). I then met up with my two cousins, the amazing artists Dawn Painter (http://dawnpainter.co.uk/) and Claire Scully (http://www.thequietrevolution.co.uk/; Claire also published a book recently which you should all get, it’s called The Menagerie and is a colouring-in book filled with her exquisitely detailed and bejewelled drawings of animals), and Claire’s fiance and another amazing artist, Stewart Easton (http://www.stewarteaston.net/), and his little boy Archie. We all went for tea and then wandered Covent Garden, going to Stanfords (Yeah!!) and the London Graphic Centre (Yeah!!). A brief meet-up, but always a pleasure to see them. I wish I were in London more!! I also got to meet, even more briefly, with London urban sketcher James Hobbs (http://www.james-hobbs.co.uk/), who of course wrote chapters in the creative Sketching Workshop book, nice to see him. Hopefully on my next trip I’ll get more time to sketch with London’s urban sketchers (by the way, I am considering organizing another ‘themed’ sketchcrawl in London this summer, perhaps on the weekend before the annual Urban Sketching Symposium which this year is going to be held in Manchester). Anyway, once I left everyone I did a bit of shopping (had to get a football shirt for my old great friend Simon, aka the actor Simon Nader (http://www.simonnader.com/; incidentally he was in Silent Witness on BBC1 earlier this week playing a drug dealer), who I was meeting up with that evening, and then I went back up to Seven Dials to get this sketch in. I stood beneath the awnings of a building and sketched as the sky darkened and the sparkly Christmas lights got brighter, and the rain sprinkled down. It was not heavy. Seven Dials is lovely.

christmas in south ken

NHM Xmas 2015
There are a few places in the world that are very special to me, and this is one of them – the Natural History Museum in South Kensington, London. I came here just before Christmas with my family to see the dinosaurs (Dippy the Diplodocus is still taking pride of place in the main hall, but will soon be replaced with a whale skeleton). I used to come here when I was a child to see the dinosaurs (Dippy was my favourite), when my older sister used to bring me here as a four-year-old so that I could argue with the staff about vertebrae (I never understood that story either). I was a total dinosaur nut, and I even still have a few of my old dinosaur books from my youth. Those dinosaur illustrations enthralled me, and the long hard-to-pronounce names were fascinating to me. This place is more than just dinosaurs of course, and within its walls it keeps a massive collection of specimens from all periods of natural history – around 80 million specimens in all, mostly housed in the Darwin Centre. This is an unbelievably important place. But back to the dinosaurs, the term ‘dinosaur’ was coined by Dr. Richard Owen, who eventually helped to found the Natural History Museum. This building was opened in 1881, and is one of the jewels of London. And importantly, it is free to go in.My son’s not as into dinosaurs as I was, he kind of likes them, but he really likes rocks and minerals, so he enjoyed that. After we were done and had played a few games of Top Trumps in the cafe, we went and had lunch in South Kensington (it’s so nice there, so civilized, and I had an organic mince pie which is very posh of me), I went back to use up the rest of the daylight sketching the ice rink and Christmas tree in front of the museum. In London in December it starts getting dark at about half past three, though this was an unseasonably mild day with some clear sky. The scene before the museum is so festive, I might make it into a Christmas card next year. You’d probably not catch me ice skating though.
mince pie

christmas every day

christmas living room dec2015 sm
Happy New Year! I’ve been away these past couple of weeks or so, not blogging over the Christmas period, instead gorging on Quality Street and mince pies. I was in London for Christmas, flying back on New Year’s Eve, and am still getting through the jetlag even now. Our decorations are staying up for a couple more days yet, and there is still festive seasonal beer in the fridge. 2016 is going to be busy, very busy. To bring you right back into the spirit of Christmas however here are the first three sketches from the new Watercolour Moleskine (#14), all of a certain festive theme. Above, our living room here in Davis. We dragged out the fake tree this year, sketched a few times before (years ago). On the TV, Stewart Lee on DVD. On the shelves to the right you can make out my son’s advent calendar, made by me – I make him one every year. This year was pirate-ship themed. I tried to sketch this same scene last Christmas, on Christmas Eve, but not long into sketching it our electric went out, not to return for almost a week, which was an adventure. This year at least I finished my sketch!

lois's living room xmas 2015 sm

Second up, this is my mother-in-law’s living room in Santa Rosa. Click on the image for a closer view. We had an early Christmas with our U.S. family before our trip to London, and I sketched this while my two-year-old nephew was napping and the house was still relatively quiet, before all the presents were unwrapped. Everybody’s stockings were nicely placed above the fireplace, and dogs were asleep on their blankets. They are in this image, but you can barely see them, and they don’t look as much like dogs as they might (I don’t really draw dogs too well). This was a nice day, but we had to go home in the evening to pack for London…

xmas mum's living room sm

Finally, across the ocean to England! This is my Mum’s living room in Burnt Oak, north London, (again click on the image for a closer view) which I started sketching on the first jetlagged morning there, up early with my son, but finished off over a couple more night-time sessions on the trip. This is the living room that I had all of my childhood Christmases in, beside that very fireplace. The Christmas parties my family had in this room, many years of memories. This year as in many others we had all the family over for Christmas dinner, with two long tables going the length of the room.  On the TV there, we were watching Return of the Jedi, because this was December the 18th and we had tickets for the morning show of a film called The Force Awakens (which you might have heard about). We had a lovely Christmas in London, and the weather was warmer than in Davis. I hope you had a lovely merry time too.

Happy new 2016!