mishkas, davis
This is the interior of Mishka’s Cafe on 2nd street, Davis, as much a staple of Davis life as anything. I don’t actually come here very often myself (I don’t drink coffee, though of course they serve more than coffee) (I never drink tea other than at home, except in England where it’s just how I like it) but a lot of people do. It opened in 1995 in a different location, and I sketched there on the very first sketchcrawl I ever went on in Davis (December 2005, wow). That spot closed when Mishka’s moved a block down the street to a new building next to the Varsity, where the old tank house used to be, opposite the Avid Reader. I’ve never sketched in this newer location (though I drew the outside in 2012). As I say I don’t drink coffee but I do drink lovely fruit smoothies, and I had a delicious mango smoothie, followed by a very sweet wild berry smoothie (bit too sweet after the mango one). It was a Sunday evening, I had been stuck in the house for the whole weekend and needed to get out for a bit, and draw something in my sketchbook. It was not crowded there. There are still a few places I want to draw the interior of here in Davis. Tres Hermanas has a really interesting vibe, while Our House has one of those big mirrors I like to draw the reflections in. I have gone to Woodstocks Pizza to draw before but ended up leaving because I couldn’t settle into a good spot, and I wanted to draw inside that Italian restaurant over near Olive and Richards but I think it has closed now. In this hot weather, I’m on a quest for some interior sketching.

Below is a sketch of Mishka’s previous location, from over 10 years ago! There is fellow Davis sketcher Alison Kent. This was an earlier Davis sketchcrawl. I had a wild berry smoothie that day too.
sc17: mishka's cafe


scientia potentia est, gallia lardum est

3rd & B Davis CA
B Street, Davis. The corner of 3rd and B, to be precise. 3rd Street is undergoing some big changes. I can’t tell you what, but it’s exciting. I can’t tell you what, because I can’t remember. I did read a big sign detailing it all but I can’t be expected to remember that stuff. I can’t remember what I had for breakfast most days. Actually that isn’t true, it’s just one of those things busy people say to excuse their forgetfulness. No, I always have either a chocolate croissant or maybe a bowl of cereal. Sometimes I skip it altogether if one of those things is not available. I have been known to have a Twix from the vending machine if I am really stuck. Cornerstone of any nutritious breakfast. I eat junk food, yes I do. That building across the street used to be Cioccolat, speaking of chocolate goods, it was a cafe that had chocolate things, I think so, I don’t remember ever going there. It’s something else now. I don’t know what. I’m not very good at this am I, I should be detailing huge local knowledge but well, knowing things is uncool these days. Do you remember at school when the teacher would ask a question and you knew the answer but you would not raise your hand because the Thick Kids would hit you when the teacher wasn’t looking (or even when they were)? That’s where we are these days, it feels like. Except we don’t need to know everything, because we can Find Things Out instantly with our Devices, and those Things may or may not be even be Real. “Knowledge Is Power, France Is Bacon”. Smart Phones? Why can’t we have Thick Phones? Sorry, you have to say it in a Norf London accent, ‘Fick Fones’. To activate it with voice command you shout “oi!” and when you ask it a question it replies, “you wot? you takin’ the piss? come on then!” No, Fick Fones will never catch on. (Or maybe it already has and is called Facebook?) I do remember fondly those conversations at school though, I remember I was talking with one kid in science class once when I was about 12 and I said something along the lines of, “well it’s all relative, innit” and he gets all angry and starts going, “you takin’ the piss? woss my family gotta do wiv it?” Ah school days, they were such blissful times. I could be pretty monumentally dim myself sometimes though, so it all evened out. One time I handed in biology homework, which was supposed to be an essay based on explaining to an alien from another planet what the difference between cars and living creatures was. I didn’t write an essay, just the line “it’s probably a bit like your spaceship.” That may have not been what they were expecting. I thought it was so clever. God knows I could have warbled on nonsensically, I think they got off lightly with that concise (cocky) answer. My friend Tel once did something similar in history, answering one question that referred to “all four corners of the globe” with “globes are round, they don’t have corners” which to be fair is pretty true, and has remained true ever since. Nowadays though you get the Flat Earthers, which really are a thing, and if you should ever chance down that particular avenue of wisdom, I warn you that it is time you will never, ever get back. At first glance their argument appears to be the classic example of of wilful anti-knowledge and anti-science, but when you taker a closer look, the only honest response to all that is “you wot? you takin’ the piss?”

Saturday nights down at FC Davis

FC Davis game 032418 sm

There is a new team in town. Well, a new football club. Soccer, that is. They are FC Davis, and have been playing for the last few months at Aggie Stadium, on the UC Davis campus. We have been to a few games already, starting with the 1-1 draw against the East Bay Stompers (yes, Stompers), who had one tall player that had a big bush of hair and scored a penalty (you can see him below). Many fans were making reference to him being the Lion King because of his mane, which I think he seemed to enjoy, especially when he scored; he was definitely their main player. Lots of the people attending I recognized from AYSO, being a soccer coach myself, and while it wasn’t a big crowd it was a fun, local atmosphere. The kids of course just loved rolling down the grass verges behind the goals, that’s what you do when you are 9 and 10. It was a bit confusing having the field play on an American Football gridiron – the soccer field was laid out in barely visible yellow marking, much wider than the football lines, and on one occasion at least a player took a throw-in from the wrong place. I was expecting a Mexican wave to start on the other side of the stadium, one bloke to stand up, then another person thirty seats away, and another even further, but it didn’t happen. The sun went down, and it got quite chilly, and the game ended in a 1-1 draw (or ‘tie’ as they prefer to say here).

FC Davis players 032418-b sm

The club have an interesting colour scheme of black, gold and white, though we only saw them play in white (with gold numbers on the back; the FIFA kit police would not like that). Their badge is a lion; I’m not sure the connection of the lion with Davis California but a lion it is. I’m sure the same can be said for other teams with lions in their badges too, such as Chelsea (no, that is from the lion in the arms of the local Borough of Chelsea), England (no, those are Richard III’s coat of arms), and Aston Villa (ah now that one has a lion for no reason other than lions are cool). Still it’s a more interesting symbol than, I don’t know, a bike or a cow (with apologies to Oxford United fans, and I know it’s a bull). The FC Davis lion is quite stylized though; my son thought it was supposed to be a monkey, so we now call them the Golden Monkey Lion Kings, and I am sure this nickname will not catch on. I also don’t think my new fan song “One Lion” will catch on either, a reworking of the famous 1996 Lightning Seeds / Baddiel and Skinner classic. It goes “One Lion on the shirt, Water-Tower still gleaming, Three months of hurt, Never stopped me dreaming.”

The next time I went they totally went and won for the first time at home. They played Napa 1839 (who very sensibly have a wine bottle as their badge; I wonder if their nicknames is The Bottlers? I don’t know but I already have a slew of potential headlines about them, if ever I have to sub-edit their match reports for a tabloid paper: ‘Napa Caught Napping’, etc and so on, I’m sure there are lots of good wine and bottle ones, ‘Napa bottle their opener’ if they lose their first game for example) (many apologies to Napa for this by the way, got nothing against you, it’s just these headlines would work really well in the British gutter press). So FC Davis won this one (there’s no way they’d get me to write match reports, I go off on more tangents than the Argentine midfield), and Napa sported a two-tone green outfit. It was a close contest, but when FC Davis scored the winner the goalscorer took his shirt off to celebrate with the roaring crowd.

FC Davis match April 14

The third and most recent game we went to was against FC Academica. I kept saying it didn’t matter what the score was, “it was academic”, but nobody seemed to hear me. This was a good game. Academica were pretty tough, and took a commanding 3-0 lead. But as it turns out, FC Davis have a a lot of lion’s courage in them, because they came in the last 20 minutes back to tie it up to 3-3, and really should have won 4-3 but had a free kick disallowed (I think VAR would have probably rectified it). It was a very exciting end to the game. I sketched as much of the match as possible (click on the image below to see in more detail). I haven’t had a chance to come to any more games but it was fun sketching them, hanging out with the family and friends and the players on our team, having pizza and beer, and it only cost five bucks to get in. Go Golden Monkey Lion Kings!!


FC Davis 042818 sm

Sorry, ‘Golden Lions’, that is the real nickname. If you’re local and interested, you can visit the FC Davis club website: https://www.footballclubdavis.com/ 

i was dreaming of the past

E st Pano April 2018

Another panorama, this one is of E Street in Davis, stood in the shade outside Peet’s Coffee next to Chipotle. Pete doesn’t drink coffee. This was a fun one for perspective. Nothing too complicated, all heading into a single vanishing point at eye level, but made interesting by that Chipotle design going off at a different angle. Yeah some of the brickwork goes askew but that is ok. Again I have used the tree as the middle of the page, to help mask the valley you get in between two pages in these Seawhite of Brighton books, something I don’t get as much in the Moleskines and the Stillman & Birns. Actually in this spread it does open very flat, it’s one of those pages, but nonetheless in these spreads it’s good to have a tree or a pole in the middle so you can fudge it a bit if need be. I didn’t include any people walking by, because I didn’t want to. I have drawn along this street for years, from various angles, never this angle. One time I was drawing, some weird guy said to me “are you pretending to be an artist?” I said “are you pretending to be funny?” He went away. I saw him a couple of weeks later in Newsbeat, and he spoke to me again, “wow Snickers, that is a great thing to buy, you will really enjoy eating that, Snickers, those are great, good choice!” I ignored him, because seriously. Downtown Davis, man. I’ve been in Davis almost thirteen years. This Chipotle was here when I first came, it was one of the first places I ate, I still get the same thing whenever I go, a chicken fajita burrito, no beans, mild salsa and corn, light on cheese. I am a creature of habits. Beyond that, the comics shop Bizarro World (formerly on 5th Street), which is in the former location of Bogey’s Books when I first joined this town, I bought a set of Prisoner Cell Block H dvds there in like 2006 and the guy behind the counter said, “do you miss Australia?” assuming me to be from down under (for many Americans the London accent is easy to confuse with Australian, I’m used to it). I used to love Prisoner though, it was one of my favourite TV shows, old Lizzie Birdsworth and co. Beyond there is De Vere’s Irish pub, which regular listeners will recall is a pub I have sketched many times since it opened in 2011. Really good place for a pint. Across the street (unseen) is Baskin Robbins, from whom I have bought many a massive milkshake over the years. That’s what I get when I need cheering up. Anyway, on with the rest of the weekend.

food and wine, i’ll be fine

RMI April 2018 sm
This is the Robert Mondavi Institute of Food and Wine Science, which I have drawn before. This was sketched a couple of months ago now. Before the World Cup. This World Cup is draining me a bit, it’s all I can think about. I’m up at 5am every day watching it, then spending the rest of my waking hours thinking about whether Germany will get into the knockout stages and how England can avoid them; why both Spain and Iran changed into their away kits when their away kits are the same colour as the other team’s home kit; how unexpectedly brilliant VAR has been; why are Argentina playing so utterly rubbish; was that Iran player’s attempted flip-throw that became a limp roly-poly the funniest moment of any World Cup; when will the 0-0s start? Is this happening to you? There is a day next week when the football stops and I hope to completely catch up with life on that day. Anyway this is as I said the RMI, nearby to my office, sketched one lunchtime.

Ok here are some previous versions…

RMI 092213putah creek uc davis
RMI building, UC DavisRMI building

RMI building

all you need is lava

sophia's bar davis
Another from the end of March. I did promise the staff at Sophia’s that this would be posted on my sketchblog but that it would be probably late, as I have been slow to sue my scanner; I was write, almost three months later. The past weekend involved a fair amount of scanning of several months of sketching (ironically, far less sketching than last year; in terms of volume, January-June this year is the same as January-March last year) (I do keep a chart) (this year I have been busy with learning a new job and coaching a select soccer team) (excuses, excuses). Anyway this was from the very sketch-productive weekend when I was home alone, so went out sketching the whole time. Usually I would go out of town on this weekend (San Francisco in previous years) but this year I stayed in Davis to (a) feed the cats and (b) I was too knackered to traipse around North Beach. After some sketching outside, followed by a chicken biryani at the Yeti restaurant, I popped by Sophia’s bar for a ‘Lava Lamp’ drink, which I had been told by my wife is very similar to the much-loved Lava Flow we had in Hawaii. It was delicious, so I made it the centrepiece of my latest bar sketch. It added a bit of contrasting colour to this quite golden-lit bar area. I had a couple of these. The white gel pen came in handy. This is another example of sketching in low-light conditions, and doing the paint on site if possible (not always a priority for me, I sometimes sacrifice the painting when short on time, the penwork on site is my thing) is important to really bring across my experience of the light, dark and colour. See I’m great at explaining things aren’t I. Hey, chapter 1 in my book ‘Creative Sketching Workshop’ is all dedicated to bar sketching tips. Anyway while I come in here about once or twice a year, it’s one of my favourite bars in Davis, but I love the food at the adjoining restaurant (Sophia’s Thai Kitchen), we eat there a lot.

Here are some previous sketches of the same place…

sophia's bar, davis
sophia's bar, davis
sophia's bar, davis

what’s the matter with you, sing me something new

B and 8th, Easter 2018 sm

Here is another panorama, this one from Easter Sunday. This is the Davis Lutheran Church on the corner of B and 8th. B8. “B-8-iful sketch!” a passing punster might say. “B-8-a-fool” more like. Anyway I have wanted to draw this scene for ages, not so much the church which is just a regular building, not exactly Sagrada Familia, but that tree in front is incredible. I had to draw it soon; this was the start of April, which is still leaving it late, but I had to draw it when there were no leaves. It’s too leafy after that. Like this you can see the branches and the shape and yes, it was a bit tedious drawing all those branches but no, actually it was great fun. I’m glad I drew it on Easter because there’s that big cross on the lawn. There are significantly more colourful objects on the left page of this panorama than on the right. This is the way home from downtown. Nice to sketch something I have not already sketched in Davis. There are still one or two things left to draw, I guess.