’til you drag your feet to slow the circles down

Rock Hall 062722sm

Still catching up with the summer sketching, here are some UC Davis sketches from in between the two Europe trips. I have actually done more drawing this year than last, although I am forever miles behind on scanning and posting. These first couple were done in June – June! A million years ago – and the first one is Peter A. Rock Hall, formerly Chem 194. As I write in the latter half of September, that roundabout is likely a wild mess of cyclists going round and round until they have the courage to veer off without causing a spaghetti bolognese of bike chains.

Latitude UCD 062922 sm

This is Latitude, a food place for students on campus. I like the roof, it looks like statistics, maybe of a pandemic, maybe an opinion poll, maybe the results in a Tottenham season (start well, go up, lose to Burnley or someone, start to dip, sack the manager, get a new manager, win against Man City or someone, start to rise, don’t win anything; as every Spurs fan knows, the real trophies are the managers we sacked along the way).

Silo 070522 Above is The Silo, you’ve seen me draw this before. When I need to draw something with a pointy hat, we don’t have any wizards or wizard-school castles near here, so I draw the Silo. It used to be covered in greenery, but that has been shaved off to reveal a dull concrete torso. Someone sped past on one of those motorized stand-up scooter things. We never got actual hoverboards here in the future, did we. No, we got those electric scooters, that cut silently up the sidewalks and streets. I would fall on my Aristotle if I rode one of those about. I wasn’t even good on a skateboard. I had a skateboard for a bit when I was a teenager. It probably needed better wheels, better bearings, probably a better board, definitely a better person on top of the board. I just couldn’t make the thing go. I’d see other people, they seemed to just stand on their skateboard, tilt their head slightly and they’d be flying off, moving it telepathically. Never mind all the tricks, like the one where you jump off it and it spins around off a railing, and you land on it again like it was no big deal. If I ever did that, I would expect the win Sports Personality of the Year or something. I really wanted to be a skateboarder too; one day me and my friend Kevin, who also had a skateboard interest and a similar set of skills to me, met up in Harrow or Wealdstone or somewhere and skated a bit at some skate park, falling over, sending my board flying into a group of people before deciding, right, we’ve done that and are shit at it, so let’s go to the actual main skateboarding site in London, that area with all the graffiti on the South Bank in London, near Waterloo Bridge. We went that same day, got the tube down, and when we got there and saw all the kids doing tricks and flips, we basically stopped being skateboarders any more, and went back to just talking about football. Less Tony Hawk, more Tony Hawks (or is it the other way round).

Cruess UCD 070822 Finally, this is Cruess Hall, which had those bright pink blooms on the trees outside in early July. Cruess is where the Design Department live, and that’s where I had my 2016 show at the UC Davis Design Museum, ‘Conversations With The City’, a ten-year retrospective of my sketchbooks. That was six years ago this Fall. I have drawn quite a bit since then. If I just look at the past six years, on campus and outside, I’ve probably drawn more than in the previous ten years. I think I was quite happy with my drawings around the years 2014-2016 though, that was a good period of sketching for me. I’m still sketching, trying to get better, hopefully a better sketcher than I was a skateboarder.

street corners in july

E & 2nd 071122

A couple of corners in downtown Davis from the first half of July. The top is on the corner of 2nd and E, the bottom on the corner of 5th and C. That Philz Coffee shop used to be DeLuna Jewelers; just around the corner (unseen) is the football shirt shop Soccer and Lifestyle, the first shop I ever set foot in here in Davis, back in (checks notes) 2005. I drew this after eating a ‘super burrito’ at El Patio opposite Philz. Yes, I’ve been here since 2005. Long-time readers will know that, but the further away 2005 becomes the more bizarre that sounds. 2005 was the pre-smart-phone era. The time of Blair and Bush! Spurs had Kappa shirts. Prince William had lovely hair. As I write, in September, it is nearly 17 years since that move, and I have watched (sketched) a lot of changes in Davis. Those triangular flags with the black and white stripes on top, they come in a number of colours but they have been pretty constant, that always tells me it’s Davis. Below is the side view of the Hattie Weber museum of Davis. I remember years ago when my son was about four going in there for their Easter egg hunt, and while quickly scanning and finding all the easter eggs hidden around the place he said “Daddy you drawed that!”, having spotted one of my drawings of that building on the wall, I think it was a print I’d sold at an ArtAbout event. We always liked that building, on our Saturday mornings out taking the bus downtown we would always stop off there to ring the big schoolbell outside. Crossing 5th Street there in July you could see the crosswalk painted for Pride, in bright rainbow colors. This was drawn on the way home from work during lunchtime, a quiet summer day. As I write, Fall quarter is beginning and the people are all back.

5th st 070522

back from london, back to the heat

Mrak Hall panorama

So, after my trip to Europe I returned to Davis and we had a heatwave where it was eight days straight of 100°+ weather. That’s been forgotten now, as we just got off a wave of ten days over 100°, of which eight were over 105°, and four were over 110°. The highest was around 116 (definitely hit 117 in Sacramento). It’s been a very very hot summer. Even on our second trip to London the temperatures were up in the records, but here it’s been oppressively hot. Thankfully it is cooling off at last, back down into the (whelp) 90s, although the fire season is on and we have had smoke in the sky from a fire in the foothills, and a soccer tournament in Tahoe cancelled (again). Back at the start of summer, it was a very hot day when I drew this panorama of Mrak Hall, UC Davis. I actually got sick that first week after returning from the UK; I had tested negative for Covid twice before flying (in fact the day I flew home was the first day they removed the testing requirement) and then negative again when I got back to Davis at our famed campus testing center. Then a day or so later I suddenly started getting ill, with a fever, a headache, a sore throat. Kept testing negative though, with various tests, so it wasn’t the Covid, but I still tested positive for ‘feeling like crap’ and stayed in bed. It took me a few days to feel ok again, but that heat was hard to do things in. I stood in the shade next to King Hall, but even then it was too hot, so I coloured it in and did all the scribbles for those trees later on. Mrak Hall is one of the main administrative centers for the campus, and Chancellor May has his offices in the top floor. I used to come to Mrak a lot when I was working with graduate students, when Graduate Studies was based here, but they moved recently to their new home in Walker Hall (you might remember all my drawings of the place). This was June, right at the start of the long hot summer; it’s now nearly mid-September, and the UC Davis Fall quarter is a week away. Our campus summertime is over. Everything gets busier now, a lot busier. Prepared? Haha.

Earth and Physical Sciences

EPS UC Davis

A little pause in the travelogue, somewhere between France and Belgium, to come back to California. I drew this in June, the building across the street from where I work. It’s the Earth and Physical Sciences Building, drawn for a colleague from that department who retired at the end of June. There’s the water tower in the background. We are right now in the midst of a long hot summer, I’m not really a fan of hot weather. I actually drew this from a photo (you can usually tell), though I’ve drawn this view a few times from similar angles. This one was from a photo taken in the middle of the street. The building has big rocks outside, all around the edge, because they study geology here (in the Earth and Planetary Sciences department). I sometimes wish I’d been a geologist. Actually I say that, I don’t really, but it is an interesting profession. We didn’t have geology at my school, at least not when I went there. Some of the older boys at the school talked about having taken geology at some point, but it seemed like something long gone in our school curriculum by 1987, and we just did boring old chemistry, physics and biology. I think we did learn about rocks in geography, come to think about it, but I probably thought that was boring too. My son likes geology, and when he was smaller and had to come to my office during summer breaks in years past we’d sometimes talk a little walk around this building to see the big rocks.

in line at the whole earth festival

whole earth festival 050622 sm Here’s another one from the UC Davis campus, this was sketched at the Whole Earth Festival in early May. The Whole Earth Festival is back in-person, and this is a popular annual event in Davis, with lots of vendors and food and music all around the UC Davis Quad. I went over on the lunchtime with many of the staff from our office to sit and have lunch with each other, I got an absolutely delicious mushroom burger, all vegan, really tasty. I started this sketch while I was in line, and went back after eating to draw some more (I had to keep saying to people “no I’m not in line”). If you like drawing people quickly, lines for food are usually a good spot because they will usually be still for a bit. I might have mentioned that in my book “Five Minute Sketching: People”, but if not, I’m saying it now and you can just write it in there of you have a copy. One thing, people are a little less likely to leave the line to come and see what you are sketching, because they don’t want to lose their spot, and they are hungry. Another tip, this one told to me by my sketching friend Rita Sabler, if sketching people at a bar, look at their drinks and sketch the ones with full glasses, because you know they will be there for a while. It’s a good tip. I was going to add colour to this sketch, but never got around to it, and now I prefer it just like this. But the Whole Earth Festival was pretty colourful, although we didn’t stop for much of the music, as we had to get back to work.

last night on turf

FC Davis game 050722

More soccer! This sketch from May was done at the FC Davis match against a team from Oakland, played at the Playfields turf field in Davis. It was the AYSO United Davis fundraiser evening, where people involved with the club went to Sudwerk’s beer garden and had food and drink, before walking as a big group over the I-80 overpass to Playfields to the game, to support the local FC Davis team. The last time I watched FC Davis they were still playing at Aggie Stadium (they were a brand new club then) – see https://petescully.com/2018/06/25/saturday-nights-down-at-fc-davis/ – so it was nice to watch them again, and I love their black Admiral shirts (would love to get me one of those). My wife was chatting with an old friend she’s known since school while I sketched and chatted to others I know; Davis ended up winning the game, and a little more beer was had. Playfields is where I’ve coached a lot of youth soccer practices and games over the years so I’m well familiar with that surface, which is not the greatest field to play on. I actually did play a game myself before Christmas; I’ve not played in years and years, the last time I actually played was a kickaround game with students and faculty from our department in about 2013, when I stretched too hard for a cross and pulled a leg muscle, making it hard to walk for a few weeks, and I gave up then and stuck to coaching. This recent game was for over-40s in one of the local ‘pick-up’ leagues (well it was for men over 40 – though most were over 50 and still twice as fit as me – but women needed only be over 30, and they were about 100 times fitter and faster than me) (despite my recent running and fitness successes, getting decent times in the 5k races, I’ve a long way to go). One of the parents on our youth team invited some of us to take part as they needed players for their team, and it turned out they were going to be up against one of the best teams in the league. It was about six or seven a side, depending on who came, and was pretty informal, I just had to wear orange. Hot off my best ever time in the recent 5k Turkey Trot, plus lots of technical practice training 13 year olds to play club league, I felt pretty good. It was raining too and I don’t mind that. Except, when it rains, the astroturf of Playfields becomes like an air-hockey table, and my steamed-up glasses become fairly useless. They kept falling off too – I really needed a strap – to the point where I would just take them off and hold them, trying to pass to the orange blur but stay away from the blue blur. My opponents were friendly and I joked with them, but they were really good. I did score though, which was unexpected, and put us 2-1 into the lead. Lovely goal as well, considering I can’t usually hit a barn door with a banjo* (*this is a phrase I think I’ve picked up here, not typically something someone from Burnt Oak would use), I hit the target a few other times too. Most unlike me, made it worth it. But I also hit the deck time after time, mostly just slipping over on the plastic ground. I called my self “The Man Who Fell To Turf”. Those little black beads of plastic that get kicked up were just too much for my turf shoes to take. I fell a couple of times really hard, covering my legs in bruises and hurting my arm, and my opponent helped me up a lot of times. In the end I was physically hammered, although I wouldn’t actually stop playing or rest, I dropped back into defense to make a few calamitous clearances. We ended up losing about 5-2 I think it was. I had a lot more sympathy for the players I have been coaching after that experience! It did help me visualize some things I’d been coaching too. I don’t know if I could do it regularly, a lot of people my age do and it’s great for them, but I hurt so much for about a week afterwards. I wouldn’t mind so much playing on grass maybe, but that hard surface took it out of me. So I think the FC Davis players did a great job playing on it. It’s a bit like when I draw on a certain type of paper and think, oh this paper is bad, you can’t draw on this, and then you see someone else drawing beautifully on the same paper and you think, hey maybe it’s me, I need to up my game.

The footy is back this weekend. Premier League, that is. Spurs kick off against Southampton tomorrow morning. It will be a long season…

you know the place where nothing is real

UCD Silo 051922 sm

As I play catch-up on my sketch posts, I may as well do one of those where I just post a bunch of the drawings I did on campus in Spring all at once, so here they are. It’s probably a lazy way to do it, but it saves you from reading through all the stories I feel the need to write to go along with them (but you can skip by the stories anyway, I’m not actually very interesting). Above, that’s the Silo, which long term readers will recognize as I have drawn it before, like a million times.

UCD Tri Co Ops

This next one, that was the Tri-Co-Ops, which I have drawn before but not as much as the Silo, so it still feels new. I’ve never drawn it with that spiky arched structure in front of it though. I suppose the structure isn’t actually spiky, it’s the plants behind it that make it look spiky. It’s made of metal and yeah, it looks interesting.

CoHo UCD 042822 sm

This is the UC Davis Coffee House, or CoHo as it’s more commonly known. This was one of those days where I just needed to sketch something but didn’t know what. I get a lot of those on campus. After all these years I’m often a bit uninspired for new things to draw. Sometimes I draw the same things in different ways, but if it’s something that requires a lot of thought like a ridiculous perspective, often I’m like, I need to eat, there’s not much lunchtime left, don’t want to do something that makes me think too hard. I was listening to a football podcast while drawing this.

UCD Calif Ave 041922

Another from April, this is along California Avenue, I cycle along here every day. They were doing some construction work, so I had to draw that because I can’t help myself. It looks different now already. There’s always some construction going on. Be nice if they constructed us a new building, we’re running out of space (us and the rest of this growing campus). I liked the people walking by eyes glued down at phones. The mind needs constant engagement, I get it.

UCD Water Tower 042222 sm

Finally, this is the Water Tower, drawn down by the Earth and Physical Sciences building. I was leading a lunchtime sketchcrawl event for the Sustainability Office (we’ve done that for a few years now, close to Earth Day), and I did have a couple of other quick sketches to go with this but this was the main one. Thanks for joining me on this brief campus outing. More sketches still to come…


sheepmowers UCD 042722 sm

I may post the next batch of sketches out of order, which is either bang out of order, or just what the doctor ordered, depending on what cliche you prefer. I wanted to post this now because who doesn’t love drawings of sheep? What’s more I am going to attempt to write a post about sheep without making a single ovine-based pun, even in the title. I’m telling you, it’s really difficult for someone like me, who loves a pun no matter how weak, but I’m trying Ringo, I’m trying real hard. (Pulp Fiction references to shepherds are allowed). Anyway back in Spring quarter we had some sheep in the middle of campus, out on a little enclosed piece of greenery outside Bainer, very close to where I work. These are the UC Davis Sheepmowers (see https://arboretum.ucdavis.edu/sheep-mowers), and they are invited to a lawn to graze, to “eat weeds and grass, fertilize and control pests as well as or better than using conventional landscaping methods”. Also, I think people just like seeing sheep, it’s good for them. We are an agricultural school – our nickname is the Aggies, which took me a couple of years to figure out, I used to think it was a reference to that Scottish woman who cleans houses on TV, I never watched that show – so farm animals are not uncommon to us, but mostly they are in fields and stables on the outskirts of campus, rather than right in the middle. Always nice to see the sheep.

sheepmowers UCD 042522 sm

Anyway as part of the Sheepmowers project, they had this great idea of getting UC Davis people down to draw the sheep, providing art materials and watercolours (and shade, very important), and inviting people to sit around the edge and draw the sheep. Well I couldn’t pass that opportunity up, so I enthusiastically drew the little sheep fellows, daydreaming about that episode of Father Ted with the sheep, the one with the ‘Beast of Craggy Island’, and other sheep based TV shows like Larry the Lamb, Shawn the Sheep, er, Roger Ramjet? There are probably more famous TV sheep I’m not thinking of, and I’m still trying so, so hard not to do a sheep-based pun. This is an act of sheer wool-power (aaargh!!!!!!!!! one slipped out. Two technically).

sheepmowers 2 UCD 042522 sm sm

Right, definitely no more sheep puns. Hey do you remember counting sheep when you were a kid, to go to sleep? No, that never worked for me either. I always thought that was really weird, like how is that a thing, counting sheep? So basically you imagine the sheep, and then count them? How many do you imagine? If you imagined them you wouldn’t need to count them. “I imagine 500 sheep”. So you start counting them but your brain says, look you know there are 500, you don’t need to check. I always had a hard time going to sleep when I was a kid, for one thing I kept imagining my room being full of sheep. These days I tend to listen to a history podcast, preferably someone with a boring voice, to get me to sleep. “Hello, and welcome to the history of sheep.” Anyway, I really enjoyed coming down and drawing the sheep. Below you can see the scene in full, with many others drawing and painting all the little sheep.

sheepmowers 3 UCD 042522 sm

To find out where the Sheepmowers will be this Fall check out https://arboretum.ucdavis.edu/sheep-mowers.

been away so long i hardly knew the place

3rd st panorama, Davis CA

Yes, it’s been a couple of months without a post on this sketchblog, but in my defense I’ve been lazy. Well, I’ve also not bought a new computer yet and my current one that I use for all my scanning is making a noise like Evel Knievel, so I’ve been reluctant to turn it on and catch up with the scanning. I have sketches from Arizona, Nevada, London, France, Belgium, and even Davis. Finally the other day I braved the loud slow machine and got it working enough to scan about half of those sketches. I need to work up the courage to turn it back on again and scan the rest. With everything going on in the world right now, I don’t have headspace for a noisy belligerent computer and a mountain of scanning, but at least some of it has been done. Now for the storytelling. This sketch goes back all the way to St. Patrick’s Day, and was drawn on 3rd Street, Davis. It was going to be all coloured in, but you know, one purple flag and a green tree was all it needed in the end (also, lazy). It’s hard to believe that it is nearly July now. I did do a race back in March though called the Lucky Run, it took place around north Davis where I live, and was St. Patrick’s Day themed. I wore my 1994 Republic of Ireland shirt, the one they wore at World Cup USA 94 when Ray Houghton scored that great goal as we beat Italy 1-0. I still have a t-shirt my mum got me a couple of days later at an Irish music festival that says “We kicked Italian Ass on American Grass”. Probably wouldn’t wear that now; probably wouldn’t fit anyway. I have another shirt my mum got me when Ireland beat England in 1988 at the Euros, “these boys made history” with a photo of the team. There were probably ruder ones available given the immensity of the occasion and the feeling between the two nations at the time but I was only 12 during Euro 88. I was 18 during USA 94 but the Republic’s huge baggy 90s-style shirt still feels massive on me even now. That made it nice to run in though. I’ve decided that for all future races I will wear a different classic football shirt. For the Davis Stampede in February, I wore the Hearts of Oak (from Accra, Ghana) shirt from a few years ago, that got a comment of “cool jersey!” from the race commentator as I crossed the line. I have another race in a couple of weeks, the Davis MOOnlight run, which is an evening race so I should wear something light coloured, I have a snazzy Ghana shirt, or maybe one of my Spurs shirts, another baggy 90s one maybe. Yes, something baggy, because I’ve not been exercising and practicing quite as much as usual lately so I feel a bit out of shape. I need to get back into routine, back to running several times a week, back to the gym, back to early starts; but you know, lazy. Hopefully this race will inspire me back to get out there.

Anyway I will also get back to posting my sketches and stories here again, some interesting travels to talk about, and some more travels yet to come. I’ve finally crossed the Atlantic again after three years and intend to keep doing it, make up for lost time.

TLC, all finished

Teaching Learning Complex UC Davis

Sure I’m a couple of months behind, but it’s good to get sketch-blog active again. The sketch-blog is a nice place after all, unlike the popular social media spaces that have dominated our lives and re-shaped global politics since the days when just a bit of regular blogging was the thing. It feels like a little allotment escape, a place to come away from the busy shouty high street tumble-dryer of Twitter, the shopping mall of Instagram, the awkward friends-of-family wedding of Facebook, although I do miss the music-store-noticeboard of MySpace. I prefer it in here, just me and my sketchbook, and some rambly stuff that doesn’t make a lot of sense but isn’t setting out to enrage and inflame. Now this drawing is a couple of month’s old already but it is the Teaching and Learning Complex at UC Davis, which I have been drawing as it has been built, and is now complete, save for some work on the top floor. It’s lovely inside and outside, some nice spaces for student learning. The construction people who built it actually gifted me a very nice surprise upon completion of the project, a nice sweater with their logo and  one of my construction drawings stitched into the arm! It looks great. The sweater is quality (Patagonia) but quite warm, so I’ll probably need to wait until after the Davis summer to wear it (or just bring it with me to the London for the British summer). A pretty cool honor though. I’ve enjoyed drawing this building over the past couple of years, and here are some of the other sketches, from various angles and times of day…

Silo and Teaching Learning Complex, UC Davis TLC Feb 2022 sm 052421 TLC UCD Latest at the Teaching Learning Complex, UC Davis TLC UCD teaching learning complex Teaching and Learning Complex UC Davis silo smoky sky teaching learning complex sept 2020 Teaching Learning Complex UCD July 2020 Silo and Teaching Learning Complex (under construction...)

Phew! I drew a lot. I should draw the interior some time. Now on to the next project…