super troopers

clone trooper shoe
My son has the coolest shoes. I always knew this of course, because I have drawn a picture of every single one of them in a single book, chronologically, in black pen. These new ones however are my favourite yet. Based on the Clone Troopers from Star Wars (the forefathers of the Stormtroopers), they even flash blue. And I totally want some myself!! Except I don’t think adults can realistically wear such footwear in public. Perhaps Boba Fett ones? I liked them so much I drew this shoe twice. The one from the ‘official’ series is below, copic pen in a moleskine cahier. The second one I drew was on the first page of my brand new Stillman & Birn ‘Alpha’ series sketchbook (thanks Stillman & Birn for sending me that!), and it took me a couple of hours, mostly in copic multiliner (size 0.1) but with a little bit of uniball vision micro, and watercolours to colour it in. I’m pleased with the result, and the paper is nice to draw on, not as smooth as the Moleskine Cahier or Volant, smoother than the Moleskine watercolour though and it takes a watercolour wash pretty well.
21: clone trooper shoe

They are cool shoes. But, alas, if I wore them I would be constantly worried that one day, they would turn on me, Order 66 style.

black place shoe

18: black place shoe

Continuing the long series of sketching all of my son’s shoes in chronological order (though there is some overlap which I’m uncertain about), this is the black ‘Place’ shoe (Place is the name of the brand; no, I don’t know them either). I don’t know how often he ever wears these, because they competed for time with the Lightning McQueen shoes (as a three-four year old which would you choose?) and so are in pretty good shape.

You can see all of his shoes in this one series here. Feet just keep getting bigger…

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.

circo shoe blue

15, circo shoe blue

After a longer than expected hiatus, it’s back to Luke’s Shoes, a series detailing all of my son’s shoes in order of appearance. It doesn’t include rainboots, or snowboots, or slippers, just shoes, and sandals. This is Number 15 in the series, the blue Circo shoe. These haven’t been worn in a long time. I am slowly catching up with the shoes. Step by step.

oh, the weather outside is frightful

sketching burnt oak in the snow

So… as you may have gathered from my non-posts this past week, I am away from rain-sodden California to lovely London, where I’ve had a week without any rain whatsoever.

Oh, but we’ve been having the worst snowy winter weather I’ve ever seen here. Many days after a sudden blizzard, the snow is still here there and everywhere, tough it hasn’t stopped me from getting out there with sketchbook. Yes, fingers freezing off and pens giving up the ghost doesn’t get in the way of this urban sketcher. Not two months ago I was sketching in hundred degree weather heat. Thing is, I grew up with snow lasting only a day or two before sodding off, and always tell people about our comparatively mild winters, but now it seems the snow comes earlier and stays longer, and the disruption is magnified. Naturally, Britain fails to cope, as the absolute madness of Heathrow attests. I’m glad I came a few days earlier than I would have. I just hope we can get back…

HMS Belfast and Tower Bridge

These are a couple of photos of what I have been out sketching though; the top one being the street where I grew up, about an hour after the biggest blizzzard I can remember here. I’m sure people thought I was a nutter sitting out there freezing, well they’re right, but urban sketchers are tough beasts. My fingers took a battering in the second one too, sat down by the River Thames, looking out at HMS Belfast and Tower Bridge. My toes were frozen too. I warmed up with a nice chicken and mushroom pie. That’s one thing Britain can always get right!

But boy, is it cold…

no time for losers, cos…

spurs reach the champions league

We’re not Champions, no, but it feels like it. Spurs, my team, beat Manchester City (again; sorry City fans) to guarantee fourth place and a spot in the Champion’s League for the first time. Peter Crouch (a man so tall he has to, erm, crouch to avoid volcanic ash) scored the winner; that is supposed to be him above, drawn in my football diary. I’m recording football events. I enjoy doing that; now I’m trying to draw some of the people involved. Hopefully I’ll see an improvement as I go on.

As I write, I’m watching the BBC online, the tail end of Election Night, and no clear winner; a Hung Parliament beckons. I’ll write more about this some other time. Perhaps it will go to penalties? Maybe even a replay (as they did in 74)? Or maybe, just maybe, football can learn something from politics. Get rid of penalties, spoiling World Cup Finals, and have a system whereby the team that comes second can do a deal with the team that comes third to become coalition world champions; of course to come second you’d have to lose, so that analogy doesn’t work.

Anyway, I’ll leave politics for tomorrow. For now, come on you Spurs!

much more important than that

england badgeI never thought I’d see the day. A couple of weeks ago, I bought the England away shirt, the new Umbro ‘tailored’ kit in red. I’ve never bought an England shirt before, but this one is nice. I live in America now, so I can wear it without getting the urge to throw chairs.  I am getting ready for the summer, when I will be following the South Africa World Cup. For those who aren’t aware I am World Cup crazy, and have been since I was a kid. I watched the last one on the Mexican stations, but this time I have upgraded to the English-speaking sports channels, which means I’ll nderstand when they talk stats, but will have to provide my own exclamations of“goooooooooooollll!!!!!”.

But before the summer of World cup, there’s a week of highly exciting Premier League left. It’s between Man U and Chelsea for the title, but for me it’s all about my own team Tottenham, and that fourth harry redknappChampions League spot. If you’d have told me at the start of the season that Spurs would be in fourth place with a week to go I’d have said you were nuts. Well we have to thank that guy on the left there, Harry Redknapp, Tottenham’s manager (drawn in my football journal-cum-sketchbook). That could all change in the next couple of hours of course, and we have to beat (or not lose to) Man City, so I am still expecting us to throw it away again. Even if we do, we haven’t been below 6th all year and that is incredible. Come on you Spurs!

Over in France meanwhile, the team I followed when I lived there, Olympique Marseille, are set for their first title since the early 90s when they dominated and then exploded in match-fixing disgrace. Again, I’m still expecting that familiar capitulation but I’m hopeful for l’OM. Besides, my other old favourite equipe, Auxerre, are right behind them. Lyon’s time is over, and Bordeaux have lost it. Allez allez!

“Football football football football football. What you men see in it I don’t know. A load of men kicking a bit of leather around a field. You men, the things you think are great fun.” (Mrs. Doyle, Father Ted) 

trash talk

garbage truck

Toddlers love fire trucks: the shiny red, the bells, the flashing lights. Toddlers love trains, hence the global popularity of Thomas the Tank Engine (who by the way should never be called ‘Thomas the Train’; Ringo will be cross). Toddlers love buses, school-buses, double-decker-buses (and he doesn’t even know about bendy-buses yet). But all of these pale into comparison with what toddlers really love: Garbage Trucks. Rubbish Trucks in the UK, Trash Trucks to others, whatever they are called kids love them. The arrival of the garbage truck can be the highlight of the week, a long awaited and much talked about event even more eagerly anticipated than the World Cup or the General Election (I’m sure some grown-ups will agree with the toddler section there too). The one above is perhaps a current favourite toy in our house. I can’t tell you how many times I have tripped over it. Oh, and if you ever get it for your kid, take the batteries out immediately – it has a way of making funny ‘garbage’ noises in the middle of the night completely of its own accord. Kids don’t care about the noises; they make their own sound effects.

think about a new destination


Drew the UC Davis Bike Barn building…again. Well it has one of those looks, cant help but be turned into a drawing. The way one side of the roof is longer than the other, the shadow beneath the eaves, the unsketchable army of bikes in the foreground. I still have that brown paper cut up from envelopes.

I forgot to mention: Davis is now home to the newly opened (last weekend in fact) U.S. Bicycling Hall of Fame. That’s right, the actual hall of fame for bike-riders. I wonder if they have a special section for those ones who cycle up on the inside of buses as people are trying to get off, those cyclists deserve a medal, yeah. And the ones who go around texting or yapping into their cellphone with their ipod in their other ear.

Hang on, I’m starting to sound like a certain Tory politician on the eve of the election. “Last week I met a 70-year old nurse who told me he couldn’t get on the bus because all the unemployed eastern european immigrant asylum seekers were cycling around with their ipods and their mobile phones taking our jobs and claiming our benefits…” Oh, the UK General Election is only a week away now, and with ‘bigot-gate’ or whatever it’s being called, we’re already having our Joe the Plumber moment, or will if the Murdoch press has its way. I really hope the media leaves that poor pensioner alone, but have a feeling she’ll be used to the fullest extent by The Scum newspaper over the next week.

lá fhéile pádraig sona daoibh

blarney castle

Well, it is Saint Patrick’s Day, so a drawing of an Irish landmark in green pen on green card seems appropriate. Of course St. Patrick’s colour was in fact blue (which might be easier on the eye than this particularly lime-verdant shade) but who are we to quibble. But speaking of quibbling, I wish people would stop using the four-leafed clover on St. Patrick’s Day, the symbol of Ireland is the Shamrock, which typically only has three leaves. But then again Celtic football club, whose shirt I’m wearing today, uses four leaves in its badge and you can’t argue with them. Ah, we’re Irish, we can argue with whoever.  

So this is Blarney Castle, in Co. Cork. I was there when I was twelve, when I kissed the Blarney Stone (at first I kissed the wrong one), and got a little certificate that said I was henceforth given the gift of the Blarney, that is to talk a lot of nonsense from time to time – they got that right. I kept that certificate for years. I love when you kiss the Blarney Stone, they hang you upside down by your ankles at the very top of the castle, so you can see the long drop below (where kids are gathered to collect the coins that inevitably fall from your pockets).  All of my family originates from Ireland, all over the place. I grew up with the Irish heritage, all the music, the Irish festivals in Southport and Willesden, the red hair and sun-shy freckly skin, and lots of cups of tea, but I don’t like Guinness. I’ve not been back over there in about thirteen years; different place now, so I hear. Ah well, it’s not going anywhere. I’ll be back one day.

My favourite chocolate bar by the way is Cadbury’s Tiffin, you can’t get it in England, but it’s common in Ireland. Tiffin and a cup of tea, my idea of heaven so it is. Just sayin’.