Some might say we will find a better day

teaching learning complex sept 2020

When was my last post? I don’t remember. I know I can look it up by just looking at my last post, but even as I read the date I forget what it says. Time is an irrelevance. It’s October now, isn’t it? What month is that, eight? Ten? Are months important any more? When you look at months, they do beg the question: what the hell is that about? This one has 30 days, this one has 31, then comes February and it’s like, wait no, just 28 for you, except every now and then it’s 29, I mean what the bloody hell? What is an hour?How many in a day, 24? Right let’s divide the hour into 24, no actually 60, I mean when you actually look at it all, it really does make you wonder WTactualF? Days in a week? 7 FOR SOME REASON. What is a week? I mean we know what a year is. We can understand years. Days too, to an extent, although the actual day bit depends on the time of year and where you are on the planet. But years, we get years, we can’t do anything about years. The French Revolutionaries tried changing all the months to more sensible time frames, with funny names like Breezy, Wheezy and Sneezy (those weren’t the real names, that’s what the British called them mockingly, because our old fashioned months made so much more sense). Years we understand. Except that there are only two thousand and twenty of them apart from all the thousands that went before. Don’t get me started on the boring people that insisted on the millennium not being the millennium because there was no year zero, and I was like well what the hell are we supposed to do with all these fireworks?? Besides I personally count years from 1BC. Years though, I do understand years, and a week ago or so (I think, time is an irrelevance) I celebrated fifteen years living in the U.S.

Fifteen years! Fifteen times around the Sun, and what a bloody hot sun it has been, especially lately, here in California. It’s October, and we’ve still been having 100 degree weather. Fires have still been giving us choking air. As a socially-distanced-soccer coach I constantly check the AQI to see whether the Sky Gods will permit us to kick the ball around for a bit while trying to stay six feet apart, and still be heard trying to explain rules of complicated drills under my mask. The game is the best teacher. Recently we got out of town for the weekend, driving down to Monterey across a California we could barely even see, the smoke was so thick, and even in Monterey the smoke mixed with the fog. I did do some drawing, I will post them another day. The pandemic is going on and on and on, with no normality in sight, I don’t need to tell you that. Cinemas are closing, films aren’t coming out. The things we love are on pause, or going away, and time is hard to measure. But I’ve been living in America for fifteen years, and that’s a thing for me to think about. I’ve generally measured time in sketchbook pages, though this has been much harder this year because I am so far behind all the other years. The sketch at the top of this post shows little relevance to the theme of this thought bubble, but it shows time passing, a new building, the Teaching and Learning Complex, the TLC, which meant something different in a different time. It’s an optimistic building, in these strange and unusual and unprecedented times, when so much teaching is happening through the exhausting little rectangles that give us all headaches. I like drawing buildings on campus in their various stages of transition, it’s real time, really passing. It can’t always be measured but it’s time you can hold on to, and keep, and never get back.

We can never get this time back. People grow, live and stop, things happen and stop happening, we adapt, and it’s hard, it’s bloody hard but it was hard before, now we have an excuse, that’s what I think some days. This week I’ve been seeing videos online celebrating the 25th anniversary of Oasis’s second album, “(What’s the Story) Morning Glory?” which was always one of my favourite records. I remember the day it came out, I had been having the most illustrated year of my life. Illustrated? I suppose that’s the word, I was 19 and felt like I was grabbing the world by the horns a bit. That was the year I took off and went to Denmark to pick strawberries all summer. Listening to music on my crappy tape player, and what music it was, 1995 was a great year, optimistic. By the time October rolled around this album came out and I went and got the CD from Our Price in High Barnet, where I was at college, and I got home and immediately put recorded it onto a cassette, so I could listen to it on the tube. I was going down to Stratford if I remember rightly, I was going on a date with a girl from Prague I’d met a few days before. I just remember getting to Stratford tube station, and I was so engrossed in the album I didn’t want to turn it off, so I just walked about Stratford until the very last bits of Champagne Supernova had finished, walking through a subway, volume turned right up on my headphones. Then I met the girl from Prague and apologized for being late, saying there was a delay on the Central Line or something, which sounded plausible. I remember it was a nice autumn evening, we went to a pub and played pool, but I just couldn’t wait to get back on the tube to Burnt Oak and listen to it again. That was all twenty-five years ago? That blows me away. And then again, it doesn’t. The last fifteen years probably surprise me more. The decade between where and who I was in September 2015, moving to America, and October 1995, listening to that album for the first time, makes me really wonder about what years really are – that was definitely longer than the fifteen years that have flown by since. I’ve fit a massive, massive amount in, and I still am, but the thirties and forties are so different from the twenties. Back in the old days, an album was as long as the amount of space on two sides of a 12 inch piece of vinyl. Then it was as long as you could put on a CD without getting bored. Now it’s arbitrary, what is an album? Endless playlists, pick and choose, random selection, the ceremony vanished a long time ago. But each song carries a piece of history with it, some memories that only you can carry, that album carries a lot of mine. Time is irrelevant, but absolutely precious, utterly priceless. We will never forget this year, none of us, a massive shared experience which will be different for everyone, but don’t look back in anger, I heard you say.

TLC

Silo and Teaching Learning Complex (under construction...)
There’s a new building on campus. I might not have been on campus much the past few months, while working from home, but I cycled in recently a couple of times to see what’s going on – not a lot – but this new building is going up next to the Silo. It will be the “Teaching and Learning Complex”, or “TLC”. Unsurprisingly this isn’t on the Med Centre because staff there wear scrubs and the TLC don’t want no scrubs. Right, obligatory TLC joke out of the way. It’s always fun having a bit of construction to draw, because you know it’s something new and interesting that will look different next time. Also it is something new in a familiar location. This was a parking lot. The one above, I drew on the way into the office one lunchtime, but the one below was done last Friday after being in all day and finishing early, but by that time of the afternoon, about 4pm, it’s getting way too hot. I stood in the shade, but I walked home afterwards very much in the sun and I wish I’d brought my bike, but oh no, gotta get my steps in, gotta walk. I have been running a lot lately, slowly building up my speed and instances, very slowly but every bit of progress counts. I ran my first four mile run on Sunday, felt a great accomplishment afterwards, and took a rest from the running today. I have to run early in the morning, but too dry and hot later on. Davis in the summertime.
Teaching Learning Complex UCD July 2020

roll up for the chemistry tour

Chemistry Building UCD 122019
The Chemistry Building at UC Davis is big, and I have drawn bits of it before a few times. This is the building that I have most often seen fire trucks outside of, unsurprisingly. I did notice last December just before Christmas that some new work was starting on this side of the building, and that the large concrete double-decker connecting walkway between two wings was about to be toast. So I stood on the little hillock opposite (no rhyming jokes please) and drew as the machines started tearing into it. This was page one of my sketchbook, which in the new numbering system is #36, a Stillman and Birn Alpha book.
chemistry UCD 011020 sm
There is work going on around the other side of the building too. So in early January I stopped and drew that one lunchtime. Chemistry, I was not a fan of that subject when I was at school. I didn’t like Bunsen Burners. Our teacher was ok, a bit grumpy though, used to say things like “I don’t care if you pass your exams, I’ve already passed mine,” and I was pretty so-so with the subject. I like Physics a lot more, I just wasn’t very good at it. Whereas I didn’t like Biology much, and yet I used to get really good grades in it. They all used to even each other out like some sort of science equation with chemistry being in the middle, Bi + Ch – Ph = PS. That looks really unsciencey. One thing we used to enjoy (and so did most of you) was coming up with molecules using the letters in the periodic table to make rude words. Science can be fun. Fluoro-uranium-carbo-potassium for example, or Polonium-Oxide, etc and so on. Surprisingly I ended up getting C overall in GCSE integrated science, and that was my non-starter science career done with. You can’t go on to be a scientist after that. I loved Michael Faraday, read lots of books about astronomy and the solar system, and watched Young Einstein a bunch of times, but I guess when it came to chemistry all I brought away was remembering the formula for Potassium Permanganate, KmNO4. Oh well. Now I listen to science podcasts and watch science TV shows and feel like I know loads about science but chemistry was always a bit beyond me. Honestly it was the Bunsen Burners.
drill ucd feb 2020
I drew this drill using the iPad. It was there with all the other machines by the Chemistry Building. Brings me back to school too, back to CDT class. Craft Design Technology. What Americans would call “shop class”. Drills, sanding machines, moulding plastic, building cogs, circuits and conductors, and all sorts of things I have forgotten. Again I was not super good at it except in the bits where I could draw. We did do one project in the third year though where we had to design a moving vehicle with a rubber band and some wooden sticks, and I made this triangular designed race car (obsessed with race cars, Formula One is back this weekend!), using a kinder-egg plastic shell as the front wheel. We had to race them. Guess who won! Yes amazingly I did. No idea how, total fluke, but I hung up my engineering boots that day.
chemistry building jan 2020
Here is another with the iPad, back round the side where the walkway used to be. I like using the iPad for those skies. You put them on a different layer. Working in layers in ProCreate is really handy.
Chemistry Building UCD 060520 sm

And then finally, the same view as in the first picture, and this happened to be the final page of Sketchbook #36, rounding off the book with a view from the same small hillock (oi, watch it) as on the first. And this was also my first outside sketch in three months, after the shelter-in-place was lifted. As things start to get worse, it looks like the little bit of reopening that we have seen will now be scaled back. I’m not going out much to draw these days anyway, spending my lunchtimes at home and not really going out on the weekends, so I have started looking online again and drawing London tube stations, because why not. 2020 is totally Ruthenium-Boron-Bismuth-Sulphur-Hydrogen. See no wonder I got a C in Chemistry.

walker hall, continued, continued

Walker Hall UC Davis
They are nearly done with Walker Hall, the new Graduate Center at UC Davis being built inside the completely renovated and changed older building in the middle of the UC Davis campus. I’ve been drawing it for a few years, though obviously not much in the past few months. I will get down there again soon. In 2020 I only managed these two sketches, one on the iPad and one in the sketchbook. There are only so many angles I can draw and draw again, looking in from the outside, but you can really see the changes now. The glass is being added to the windows, signs being put up around it to let everyone know what this will be, it will really make a difference to this part of campus, just as the impressive Student Community Center next door has done.
Walker Hall UCD 030220 sm

I get really obsessed with construction projects sometimes, especially if they are just a couple of minutes from my work (and easy to draw at lunchtime). It’s also that thing where you’ve drawn so much of campus and city that anything new, any changes happening, are worth tracking in a sketchbook. Before and after are fine, but during a construction you get to see things in a very temporary state. When I draw the Manetti Shrem being built, I captured views that I would never have another chance to sketch even later the same day. When using a sketchbook to record them, you are seeing them how your mind sees them, focusing on what you can. This is then also a record of how you saw the construction, what you thought was important enough to put on paper; same with every sketch.

You can see all the other Walker Hall sketches in this tag: https://petescully.com/tag/walker-hall/ 

walker hall, second half of 2019

Walker Hall UC Davis
We interrupt the tales of my summer in Europe with an update on Walker Hall’s redevelopment at UC Davis. Well I say an update, what I mean is a bunch of sketches I did last year. The place already looks very different (but it’s not yet finished). As ever I can only draw it from certain angles that I can actually see into, I’ve not been back inside it in well over a year now. Above and below, this is how Walker Hall looked in August. On the one below, you can see that some glass was put into the side windows already.
Walker Hall UC Davis

Below is the front side, which as you can now see has the glass windows installed on this side.

Walker Hall UC Davis
And here is the front side again as sketched in December, when the leaves were colourful and falling. I’m still sketching it, but I’ll add my 2020 ones in a later post. It will be finally opening this year as the new Graduate Center, when the staff from Graduate Studies will be relocating from Mrak Hall, where I’ve always known them, into this shiny yet historic new home.
Walker Hall UC Davis

sneezes and walker hall

Walker Hall UCD

A couple more sketches of Walker Hall. As you can see from above there are new metal pieces being added to the front. Progress continues apace. I hope there is enough office space for all the staff that will be working in there when it is done. I can’t wait to see what it looks like. I have not been back inside since that one time, I might see if I can go back in once things progress even more, get the hard hat back on. Anyway, the above was my second attempt at sketching, on the first (below) I was beset on all sides by the inequities of the sneezing, and the allergies of sneezy men. Blessed is he who in the name of allergies and good will asks the weak “what are you taking?”, for he is truly his brother’s keeper, and the finder of unasked for allergy remedies. And I will sneeze down upon thee with great vengeance and furious pollen those who attempt to sneeze on my brothers, and you will know my name is ATCHOO! when I lay my tissues upon you. ATCHOO! ATCHOO! ATCHOO! ATCHOO!

Ok, what? Where did that come from? I sneezed a lot. I sneeze a lot at this time of year. When I sneeze a lot it makes me think of Pulp Fiction. I’ve said before I don’t like being blessed when I sneeze, for one thing it doesn’t work, because I just keep on sneezing. “What are you taking?” “Oh nothing, I’m just hoping all the blessing finally works.” Someone actually said to me the other day after saying a couple of “bless-yous”, they said, “oh wait you have allergies, not a cold” like it makes a difference. I take it then that you can only bless someone who has an actual cold, but allergies are beyond magic spiritual faith healing? But maybe instead of saying “Bless-you!” people can instead go into the full “Ezekiel 25-17”. Just say the whole thing when someone sneezes, then they won’t feel bad for sneezing ten times over you. “What are you taking?” “Ezekiel 25-17.”

Walker Hall UC Davis ATCHOO

“Ask your doctor about taking once-daily Ezekiel 25-17. Side effects include constipation, a runny nose, flocks of seagulls, big brains, breaks in concentration, saying “what” again, saying “what” one more goddamn time. In some cases injury and death can occur. If you should notice any of these side-effects, you ain’t got no problem. I’m on the mother****er. Go back in there, and wait for the Wolf, who should be coming directly.”

california hall

california hall uc davis
The new lecture hall on California Avenue at UC Davis is now finished, except for a few bits outside. Classes are now being held there (hooray!). So, time for me to sketch it, since I have sketched this spot for the past few years.
california hall uc davis

Below, sketches from the past few years, to show the changes from a nice green spot to a brand new building…

asmundsen hall, uc davislecture hall ucd march 2016
Lecture Hall UC Davis
lecture hall UCDlecture hall construction UC Davis
california hall feb2018 sm

inside walker hall

walker hall nov 2018
As you may know I have been sketching the ongoing reconstruction/renovation of Walker Hall, the big old building in the middle of the UC Davis campus that is being transformed into the Graduate Center. It’s an interesting and exciting project that will provide the university with a dedicated hub for graduate students in a setting that retains the elements of a historical piece of UC Davis architecture with a refreshing modern upgrade. Phew that all sounds like a brochure for a condo complex. Never ever write like that again, Pete. Anyway, there was a nice write-up about my documentation of this on the UC Davis Graduate Studies website, and back in November I was invited to go inside and actually sketch the site. “As long as I can get a photo of me sketching with a hard hat!” was my response. Urban Sketching cred you know. Of course the yellow vest has in the time since taken on slightly different undertones on the other side of the pond but it can be a handy tool. Years ago someone told me that they often wear a yellow vest when they go out filming on the streets for their art projects, so that nobody questions them, they look like they are from the council. Well I’ve never done that, but it was nice to be officially kitted out by the management for sketching a building site, though I could only sketch after the builders were out of the way, and I wasn’t to jump over any big holes. I didn’t have long before the sun went down so I did as much as I could, and coloured in at home. Above, the view from the second floor overlooking two of the wings. Below, the sought-after picture of me in a hard-hat, sketching that very scene.
img_9701walker hall (sign) nov 2018

The front of the building will remain mostly unchanged, though I imagine the tiles will be cleaned up a bit.
walker hall (tiles) nov 2018
Inside was gutted with cables and crevasses and equipment everywhere. I loved this broom though. I
walker hall nov 2018
walker hall nov 2018

The scene below was mostly drawn afterwards. It was the last thing I attempted to draw and I plotted out the perspective and where the intersecting lines would go, I drew the yellow tape barriers and the crane, and then I had to go. So I came back to it this weekend and finished it off. It’s funny drawing it from the outside so many times and then finally showing the inside.
walker hall interior

Finally, a sunset photo from the second floor. I have several more sketches of Walker Hall’s exterior that I have sketched since, but this seems like a good place to stop.

img_9680

pneumatic drill and ripped up concrete

MU UC Davis
Construction work continues on campus. Well, this is not so much building anything as improving the courtyard at the MU in front of Freeborn Hall. I don’t really know what needed improving as they had done it all up just last year and it was fine, but they have had this dug up for the whole summer now blocking entrance into the front of the recently refurbished MU.