February, I hardly knew ye

davis community church 020220
Ok, since I’m posting month by month to play catch-up, here are a bunch more sketches all from February, from Davis (downtown and campus this time). I’m still not going out and sketching at the moment, even though I can, I’m just not for some reason. This week I have been drawing Northern Line tube stations with a limited palette of three colours, one of which I can’t pronounce, one I can’t remember, and the other one I just like having fun with the name. You’ve got to have fun with language in a pandemic, although in my case it’s more like a pun-demic. I have to wear a mask indoors so nobody can hear the dad jokes.
Right, back to the drawings. Above is Davis Community Church. I like drawing this building, especially when the trees are a bit leafless. I drew this building first back in 2006, and I remember not being super happy with the outcome but thinking, you know one day I’ll think this will look good. I never did, to be honest, but I’ve drawn it a few times more when I have been much happier with it, and I really like this one. I drew it again, below, uncoloured and from the front, more quickly over a lunchtime, but I was not super bothered with that one so just left it.
davis community church 021120
I do like drawing churches though. I’m probably one of the most unreligious of people I know, but I love a good church building, in fact most interesting looking religious buildings. I’m kind of specifically obsessed with cathedrals, and want to do a sketchbook tour (a real one, not a virtual one) drawing loads of them, inside and outside, and I don’t know that I’d ever get bored of them. I remember the very first time I went to Notre Dame, in Paris, and feeling the ancient cold stone, looking up in wonder at the massive rose window, sensing the years of stories. I mean I don’t get that feeling obviously from the Davis Community Church building but it’s interesting in its own way, and I like to stop and draw it every now and then.
Plant Sci UCD 020520
Let’s take a stroll back over to campus. This is the Plant Sciences Building at UC Davis. They are really good at what they do there, and what they do is plants. Specifically, the science of plants, or Plant Sciences. Ok I am not a plants person, I don’t know my onions. I studied medieval English, and before that Drama and French. We have established in the previous post that I love science, but only in a kind of “cousin you only see every now and then” kind of way, I don’t remember science’s birthday until I see people on facebook saying happy birthday to it. Biology was not my interest, despite me getting ok grades in it (for my class anyway). I do remember one homework set by my biology teacher in which we had to describe to aliens who had just landed on earth what the difference was between an animal and a car, why one was alive and the other was a machine. My answer was short. “It’s a bit like your spaceship.” I said. My teacher didn’t give me a good grade for that. But the thing is, this was clearly a vastly more advanced civilization, being able to get across space like that when we couldn’t even get the high-speed rail link to the channel tunnel right at this point. If anything they could tell us what the difference is, and a whole lot more. I don’t know, I’d be a bit suspicious of these space aliens asking suspicious questions, I don’t think I’d want to tell them all that much. This homework was from like, 1990, and I’m still thinking about elaborating on my obviously wrong answer. I think that’s where my science career ended, and also my sci-fi writing career.
UCD 021820
And then there’s these buildings. I don’t know what they do, but there is some construction going on opposite. One of the things that happened to me in February, I went to the emergency room on my birthday, as I had picked up some sort of infection in my nose, which looked terrible and was very painful, but thankfully got better with lots of medicine. I keep forgetting about that now with all the global pandemic we’ve had since, but that was my first trip to the doctors in a decade so it felt like a big deal, and made for an exciting birthday.
3rd and University 022520 sm
This one, on the corner of 3rd and University, might be my favourite sketch of this whole period. Very springlike. I was getting over that whole nasal infection thing, and I had a spring in my step (people kept bouncing into my door) (sorry, dad joke alert). This is another corner I have returned to many times over the years. It used to have a telegraph pole with shoes hung over the lines. Now (out of shot) there is an obelisk made of bike arts.
Rice Lane Davis 022720 sm
And finally here is another spring-like sketch, this is a house near campus I have always thought was one of the prettiest in town. I only drew a bit of this one on site though because I was in a hurry, so I did all the colour and half the drawing later on. There was a “Bernie” sign on the tree, presumably for Sanders, I don’t think it was for Bernie Winters. Remember Bernie Winters? He had that massive dog, a St.Bernie-Winters I think it was, I think it was called Orbitz. Anyway this is a beautiful little house, there are some lovely little houses in this town, and as I’ve been exploring more on my walks and my runs in Davis I’m seeing just how many lovely houses there are.
February was a long time ago. Today is Born on the Fourth of July here in the US, and so Happy Independence Day to everyone. We are watching Hamilton tonight! And tomorrow morning, I’m also watching Lewis Hamilton, because my beloved Formula 1 is back…

i’m standing in the wind, but i never wave bye-bye

E Street 011820
January still, but this time in the non-campus world of town.Was it cold this day, probably, I can’t remember. Might have been too cold for me to bother colouring in. Except for those two bits of yellow. This is E Street. One day Davis will get around to naming its streets after actual things and not just alphabet letters. Maybe not people though, you never know if the name will need changing later if said person turns out to be a colossal scumbag. For example I’m surprised Savile Row in London is still called that. It doesn’t matter it’s named after a different Savile, just fix it anyway. Best leave E Street as it is then. Or name it after e-name concepts such as “Evolution”, or “Emolument”, or “Epidemic”. Perhaps rather than make it permanent, it could be symbolic and on a rotating basis, so it will stay “E Street” in all the addresses and publications and maybe most of the street signs, but be given a new name each year, named after some prominent figure of the day. I can’t think of any personally because nobody’s name begins with “E”. “Eddie the Eagle Edwards Street” maybe. Anyway it’s just a thought, and a bloody good one. Actually no, it favours those with names in the early letters. You see a lot of “A” Streets or “G Streets”, not so many “W Streets” or “Q Streets”. Not saying they don’t exist in bigger cities but basically what I’m saying it that Davis with it’s lack of a “P Street” and an “S Street” is unlikely to be temporarily renaming any streets after me any time in the future, so time to give up on this wild and crazy dream.
First St 012920 sm
Where’s this? First Street, along there somewhere. Drawn from the shaded trees side of the street. It’s a busy road. I’ve drawn most of the buildings along that side of the street. First Street, Second Street, maybe these need a rename. Name them after things or people that rhyme with the ordinal numbers. So “Damien Hurst Street” for example. Then, well we’ll come back to Second Street. “Thora Hird Street”. “Terry Christian Out Of The Word Street”. We’ll come back to Fourth Street. “Biff McTannen Street.” This doesn’t work, forget all of this. Let’s just say 1st, 2nd, 3rd Streets and don’t worry about it.
CACA Davis 011320 sm
And this sketch has a bit of colour. It’s the Cal Aggie Christian Association, as drawn from the edge of the UC Davis campus. On Russell Boulevard. Named after Russell Brand, you might think, but in fact they rename it annually after different Russells: Russell Brand, Russell Harty, Russell T Davies, Bertrand Russell, Russell Crowe, and of course Russell Grant. Mid January, sunny Davis. We had a much less rainy year this year than last winter. This meant we had far fewer soccer games cancelled, hooray! Until mid-March came along and the global pandemic situation tore everything up. I think this was all of the non-campus sketches I did in January, it was nearly six months ago now.

au revoir, city hall

davis old city hall 021720
Social distancing. Masks. Second wave. Spike. Testing. Contact tracing. We’re entering that odd phase where things are reopening, kind of, but we aren’t all in the same sort of ready yet. I know I’m not particularly ready for the world yet, but I don’t know if I ever was. This next few months will be hard. Still staying in, working full-time from my bedroom, yet occasionally having to be around groups of people for various things (such as youth soccer tryouts), everyone having different levels of social comfort, and different expectations, it’s a bit uncomfortable. But I will get back out with a sketchbook. I’ve already started, but working from home I’m less inclined than when I work at the office, because I can spend lunchtime on the couch watching the restarted fake-crowd-noise Premier League. I’m teaching my son French too, which is fun, as my French is very rusty. I suppose absolute beginners French I can still just about handle, although I told him to learn the French numbers rather than the Belgian ones, even though the Belgian numbering system makes more sense and is easier to remember. Come on, ‘nonante-neuf’ is easier to explain than ‘quatre-vingt-dix-neuf’. This will be a summer without travel to places where we can practice it though, so no real-life ordering pains-au-chocolat for breakfast at the boulangerie. I thought about using Tricolore to teach him, you remember Tricolore, the textbook we all used at school, where we learned our way around La Rochelle. In the end I went with another simple book, and I’m also creating a bunch of handwritten exercises on my iPad using cartoons of cats that I am drawing. A cat called “Ronron”. I think I’m enjoying it the most, but then I loved learning new languages as a kid, this whole idea that other words and ways of thinking existed beyond just the ones I experienced. German is still my favourite foreign language that I learned, and I’m getting back into learning Italian, which I did a GCSE evening course in while we still lived in London. Enough about language. I’m still watching Shakespeare at the Globe on YouTube, the Midsummer Night’s Dream production was funny, as was the Merry Wives of Windsor, one bloke in both was Pearce Quigley, he was very funny and his comedic northerner style of performance worked great in that intimate Globe setting.
But back to Davis. I suppose I should post here my pre-Covid sketches, of which there are plenty. I may be totally slowed down on the sketching front now, and officially months behind the same point last year, but I started fairly furiously. However I will just post one here now – the Old City Hall, Davis, also known currently as the City Hall Tavern. Well I say currently – it was announced recently that this bar, along with the longer standing restaurant Bistro 33 on the other side of the building, will not be reopening. I’m sure the coronavirus is partly to blame, but the building did get new owners recently and the lease for the restaurant and bar was expiring anyway. Still it is always a shame to see local businesses close. I have drawn the building many times, and I’ve drawn inside the bar a few times too, although it’s been years since I ate at the restaurant (I liked their creme brulee). I wonder what it will be next. Knowing Davis, a frozen yogurt shop. Or another bar and restaurant. I do know that it used to be a police station, and a fire station, and this part was used as a gallery space when I first came here. Oh and of course it was the old city hall.

All Change at the Avid Reader

Avid Reader Feb 2020 sm
And so, it’s time to start catching up with 2020’s sketching posts. This one was done in late February, back in the golden age of being able to crowd together in close proximity to other humans, not knowing any better. This was drawn at the Avid Reader bookstore on a momentous occasion, the moment ownership of this long-time Davis staple passed from Alzada Knickerbocker to the Arnold family, a local family here in Davis. I of course had to go along. This was the first place I worked in America, Alzada was my first boss. I had two jobs here at first, partly working the store, and partly being the shop’s bookkeeper (which was the same job I did for a small independent bookshop in England before I moved out here). It was only part-time but it got me started, and shortly afterwards I started working full-time for the university (in the same department I am still working in), but I remained here on Saturdays and a couple of evenings per week, working at the little desk under the stairs behind a pile of Ingrams invoices. I hadn’t worked there since just before my son was born, so it’s been a long time, but I always popped in to say hello. I have been back in my official capacity as artist a few times to give talks or exhibit sketches. It was nice to go in and see Alzada off after all these years, and welcome in the new owners. I was surprised to see one of my old drawings of the shop in a frame on display at the counter, a piece of the history there. Unfortunately in less than a month the world was hit by the coronavirus and everything closed up, but they have been doing business and recently opened up again to the public, albeit with all the social distancing rules. But look at this, a crowded shop, with wine and sandwiches and people looking over my shoulder; we didn’t know, though we were being warned, but it wasn’t yet real to us. I had already been to hospital that month though – a couple of weeks earlier (on my birthday in fact) I was in the emergency room with a nasal infection that grew rapidly, and thankfully got under control within about a fortnight, but was pretty painful (as well as unsightly). In the hospital, which was pretty busy even pre-Covid 19, everyone was asked to disclose where they had travelled in the past few weeks, and hand sanitizer was doubled up, but this was still the pre-mask time, and since I was not contagious I was free to go to the soccer tournament the next day, full of people in close contact, seems hard to imagine now. I was heavily tanked up on medicine though, and exhausted much of the time, but our under-12 team did well and came third overall (though I think we had a good shot at winning it, we just missed out in the semi-finals in high winds to the team who eventually won it; still, a third place medal was a good finish). Our season was put on hold in mid-March, and eventually cancelled, including the Davis World Cup tournament which I was on the organizing committee for (I had spent a long time designing the logo! I’ll have to reuse it next year). This year has been a shame. But I am glad to see the Avid Reader is still going through all this, and wish the new owners the Arnolds all the very best in keeping this shop at the heart of the community, as well as wishing Alzada the best in a well-deserved retirement.

black lives matter

BLM March, Davis, June 6 2020
Yesterday I went downtown for the first time in three months, joining the Black Lives Matter march from Community Park. There was a sizable crowd that seemed to increase by every block, all wearing face masks (I social-distanced as much as possible – this was the most people I have been around since the shelter-in-place began), with many hand-drawn signs in support of justice for black people recently killed by police officers, particularly George Floyd and Breonna Taylor. Cars and buses honked in support as they went past. We marched down F Street, and I tried to sketch as I went, but that was actually very difficult, all I managed were some scribbled figures, so I added in a lot more details and signs later on from the pictures I took. We circled round to Central Park, before circling about the downtown streets. The crowd then went on to march outside the Davis police station, though I ended up staying downtown (I stopped into the Soccer and Lifestyle shop, now open to the public again, to see how they are doing – the shelter-in-place has been very hard on small businesses). I’m so glad I went along on the march, it was very heartening to see so many – young, old and those of us in the middle – out expressing their voices in support of our black friends and neighbours. Yesterday afternoon, the Davis police chief announced a change in their use of force policy, a very positive step. This past couple of weeks have been a big moment in this country and the constant shock news has been often very difficult to process. It’s been emotional for everyone, feelings of anger and sorrow, on top of everything else this year is throwing at us. Marching even for that short while, just being around people again, and hearing so many voices speak out in solidarity with the black community, was the right thing to do.

living in a movie, but it doesn’t move me

Sculpture outside Davis library
Remember before social distancing? I would go out, staying away from everyone, sketching places without any people in them, and that was just normal. Now social distancing is the norm, along with a whole load of other words that we now know. Social Distancing will be the Time Word(s) of the Year 2020, I suspect (and we thought it would be Impeachment) (but that particular horse has a fair few furlongs to run yet), but there’s also “Zoombombing”, which I think is a genuinely new coinage, the practice where unwanted miscreants get into your Zoom meetings and perform perfidious profanities; “Shelter-In-Place”, which I’ve only ever had to do when there was an active shooter in town (America, folks! They love a gun); “Self-Isolation”, and its related verb, to self-isolate, which is like Luke Skywalker on that island that sounds like a sneeze, or Obi-Wan on Tatooine, or Yoda on Dagobah – basically you do it and pretend you are an old Jedi; I have also seen the word “immunocompromised” become more widely used, I had never thought of that word before, it could take up almost two Countdown Conundrums. And then in France you have the “Attestation de déplacement dérogatoire“, which is a form you must complete (France!, folks! They love a form) every time you want to go outside your house, and you can’t for example go more than a kilometer from your home if you are out exercising or walking the dog. The Attestation is just a part of life in France now, and will probably be their Mot de l’Année 2020. We all gotta do what we can to stop this thing. Stay at home when you can folks.
2nd and B Davis 102819
But here are a few more sketches from late 2019, a golden age for going out and (in my case) avoiding people, as I catch up on posting the sketches that backed up. It turns out that was probably a good thing, as it gives me something new to post that isn’t a sketch of my living room. Although I will say, that living room is going to be my St Victoire (also I do have a poster of St Victoire on the wall of my dining room). The sketch at the top is a sculpture outside the local library, near where I live. This was in Fall, when the leaves were red, outside the library where the leaves were read. JOKE OF THE YEAR 2020? Maybe not. Besides it references something from 2019 so it cannot count. Also it’s just not very good.

Incidentally do you want to hear my personal joke of the year funniest thing I said in 2019? Ok here goes. Don’t laugh ok, I thought it was funny. My wife and I were watching TV and on this one advert there was a young horse who needed rescuing from a road. She said, “I feel sorry for that baby horse”. So I said “I pity the foal.” Cue laughter, at which point I stood up and waved at the living room and left the room, you’ve been great folks. It’s right up there with “Missouri loves company” and “some day my prints will come” in waiting years for the perfect situation to come up to use those lines.

But in the sketch above, at the cross-section of 2nd Street and B Street, I was really hoping for some kind of road-rage incident involving an annoyed (not angry exactly, just irritated, unhappy, let’s say cross) motorist not stopping and causing some sort of, well not an accident for sure, I don’t want that, but something where they cause more annoyance, like they have to go around someone and everyone gets in a huff, and then I can say well the sign does say, cross traffic does not stop, so your mood at that moment determines whether or not you need to be the one that stops, just as the sign says. But that didn’t happen, and it’s just as well because it wasn’t very well thought through. It’s no “I pity the foal” is it.
3rd and E Davis
Further down 2nd Street on a completely different day two days before, I sat with a cold beer outside Uncle Vito’s, on the corner of E Street. Our AYSO team the Blue Guys had won an exciting 10-5 game against an excellently named team called the Black Goats that day, and I had the afternoon to go cycling and sketching. I miss the Saturday-afternoon-after-the-game feeling. Now our Select soccer season has been cancelled, it’s left a big gap. I’m still watching videos and reading about tactics and training plans. By the way the big blue sign with a “P” on it is I presume pointing people to where the toilets are.
Pho King Davis
A month before, I drew this restaurant on the corner of 3rd Street and University Avenue, called Pho King. I know, I know. Don’t tell De Niro, he’ll make a ‘comedy’ movie out of it. They have a big sign on the restaurant (I don’t know if you can make it out) that says “$10 IPA Pitcher Go Vegan!!!” Again my mind was trying to put this into some sort of joke, where there is a baseball game and the pitcher’s name is Vegan and he plays for a team with the initials I.P.A. (Industrialists of Pennsylvania? Icelandic Philologist Academy?), but again, it’s no “Missouri loves company”. I’m still not stooping down to making Pho King jokes though, unless a shop called Tories opens next door. Incidentally I’ve never eaten here but I really like Pho so I will try it out. And if it’s not as good as expected, I might say “I pity the…”
Sophias bar, Davis
No, I won’t. I tell you what though, I really like Thai food, and my favourite is Sophia’s on E Street. We get food from there all the time. I do like their bar as well, a really nice place to have a cocktail, to sketch and, yes, talk to actual other people. I’m not always a complete social-distancer, sometimes I will converse and speak and stuff. This was back in August (!) and I was still trying to use those brush marker pens more. This is a great place for those because the lighting in Sophia’s means there are much darker areas to fill in, making the values really stand out. I just really like it there. Oh man, I miss going out to the pub to sketch. This was a nice evening, I did speak to quite a few people and sketched several others too, but I’ll only post this one, which I sketched across the bar, a couple of people talking to each other in front of the big blue fishtank, I caught snippets of what they were saying. I just automatically assume they were making pun-like jokes about something, but I don’t really overhear conversations well, I’d have made a terrible Stasi spy.
people at sophias

So, here we are in April 2020, staying at home (except for those numpties protesting on the streets in Michigan), and it would have been Picnic Day here in Davis when the kids get out and party it up, but not this year. And now, back to sketching the living room and watching old World Cup games. I watched England v Argentina from 1986 a couple of days ago. I think tonight I’ll watch Italy v Nigeria from 1994. Stay home and stay safe everyone.

Let’s Draw Davis sketchcrawl reports – Oct 2019 – Feb 2020

Let's Draw Davis, Oct 12 2019Let's Draw Fifth Street, Davis!
Let's Draw Davis Dec 2019Let's Draw Davis! Feb 29 2020

Because I was so lax in my posting (“lax” is another word for “lazy”, but my excuse was I had lots of books resting on my scanner and if I moved them the cat would jump up there and wow is that the time, gotta go) I never got around to showing the results of the recent “Let’s Draw Davis” sketchcrawls, those in October, November and December 2019, as well as February 2020 (we missed out January because I was very busy coaching soccer, and right now with the planet on hold, I’m not doing so much of that). So, now is a good time to report on the sketchcrawls. By the way, “Let’s Draw Davis is a series of sketchcrawls – meet-ups for those who want to sketch with other sketchers and then show each other their sketchbooks at the end – that I started back in 2010 after I came back from the first Urban Sketching Symposium. I had been on sketchcrawls in Davis before – the very first time was way back in December 2005, one of the early Worldwide Sketchcrawls (Enrico Casarosa’s ones, they are still going every three months), and I joined in a few other times since, but I decided that we as a town really needed to have something more often, monthly, advertised, free and open to anyone at all who likes sketching (as the worldwide sketchcrawls always are), non-judgemental, non-critiquey, beginners or experts just getting out and seeing their town and putting it in sketchbooks, and then if other people see you doing it, they might be inclined to join in. Being monthly means that if you miss one another comes along next month. except, sometimes it is difficult to organize them, so there are now a few others who help with the organization, and we have a really good group of regulars (including of course Alison and Allan who were sketching with me even back in that early ‘crawl of 2005, and inspired me to keep sketching Davis). There have been a lot of sketchcrawls over the years, most of the same locations repeated, I’ve made a lot of posters (and stickers and occasionally maps), and also made many sketching friends. Perhaps my favourite event was the 2017 Davis Centenary sketchcrawl, when we drew buildings that were all 100 years older or more. Let’s Draw Davis (I came up with that as a name while furiously scribbling notes on the flight back from the Portland Symposium, full of energy and ideas, finally deciding that to needed to ‘get myself out there’ in the art world of Davis rather than always hiding away, actually meet other artists and learn about their work, and it’s been for me personally a great success on that point). From there I did a sketchcrawl in London to mark the launch of the new Urban Sketchers (USk) London chapter there in 2012, called “Let’s Draw London” (I really like alliteration; this one kicked off the “Let’s Draw London” sketchcrawls that have continued ever since). I have long thought about doing a monthly sketchcrawl in Sacramento called either “Let’s Sketch Sacramento” or “Sacramento Sketch Saturday”, and if we ever get the Earth back to normal I still plan on doing that. Oh I have lots of plans for all sorts of themed sketching events.

BUT ANYWAY… the recent Let’s Draw Davis sketchcrawls!


Ok we will start with the one in October. This one was in Old East Davis, which is the the few blocks east of G St downtown. It’s an old neighbourhood, with some interesting houses (such as the Schmeiser House – aka the Swastika House because of the big turn-of-the-century swastika in the brickwork on the chimney). We met at the Amtrak Station, did a bit of sketching around there, and then went off from there. I enjoyed talking to people about perspective, giving a few pointers here and there, but then I wandered off and drew a few things, starting with the ‘Davis Tower’ opposite the main Amtrak station building.
davis amtrak tower
I then went along 3rd Street, opposite the Trackside Center which has been threatened with redevelopment for a while now, but it doesn’t seem to be happening just yet. This is the entrance to the Cable Car Wash.
Cable Car Wash, davis
And this is the long-term favourite subject of mine, Nails By Tam. Now I drew this originally back in 2006 with coloured pencils, before I even started using watercolours to colour in my sketches, and I’ve also drawn it when it was in a different location, but it seems to be back here now. It’s a little out of the way, I sued to cycle past it on my way home years ago, so it reminds me of the first half of my Davis existence, I felt a lot younger then.
nails by tam, davis
Then we all met up again at the Amtrak station…

LDD Oct 2019 photo


For November we met at the corner of Central Park for a sketchcrawl along Fifth Street. The annual Turkey Trot race had just packed up nearby – I ran in that race by the way, I did the 5k! I am really into running now – and I had my new iPad, so was able to do a quick demo of how that works, showing a video of a sketch I did on a trip to Portland the weekend before. But I love my pen and paper, so my main sketch that day was the corner of 5th and B (actually this stretch of road is where 5th stops and becomes Russell). Highly autumnal (or fallumnal as I think they say over here):

5th and B Davis
Then i turned the other direction and drew with the iPad. I never quite finished it off (I could have done later but I never had the time) but it was fun to do this and show people how the iPad works for this sort of thing. I’m very much still learning though.
5th St ipad sketch Nov 2019 sm
And we met up right there afterwards – Marlene Lee took these photos, you can see more at the FB page: https://www.facebook.com/LetsDrawDavis/


Xmas Tree Davis 2019 sm
For the festive crawl we went back downtown to the big Christmas Tree on the E Street Plaza. For this I also used the iPad, sketching in ProCreate. I have drawn the tree that is put up here a few times, even though I always say “last time! I don’t like drawing Christmas trees!” But actually it turns out I do, especially when I have a new toy that makes drawing the lights and baubles so much easier. I was still getting the hang of colouring in but I like that you can do the sky in a different layer and make the clouds look all fluffy. Also you can zoom in to draw smaller details. Merry Christmas folks, several months late!
Santa at avid Reader Active, Davis sm
In the window of the Avid Reader Active store was a large well-dressed Santa Claus.
Zia's Deli Davis Dec 2019
I went to draw Zia’s deli, though I never got around to finishing it so it stays like this. I wasn’t feeling that energetic that day (I had just gotten over a cold I caught in England a couple of weeks before – these days I’d need to quarantine myself for ages if I felt like that again) so after standing for over an hour sketching a Christmas Tree I had little zap left, so I rested and went inside to look at pannetone. I love a bit of Italian pannetone at Christmas. Then to finish off the day I sketched the glorious orange trees near the Union Bank.
3rd and E Davis Dec 2019
Here are some of us who finished off the crawl, this is Jim Coulter, Allan Hollander and me with my iPad (this is another pic by Marlene Lee from the FB page).

LDD Dec 2019 photo


Orange Court, Davis
And so bringing us into the Present Day. Present Day? February 29th was just over a month ago, but if that wasn’t the longest month in the history of months I don’t know what is. March 2020 was a bit crap, but we closed out February with a lovely sketchcrawl down at Orange Court, one of my favourite spots in Davis (because it’s where you find Sophia’s Thai Kitchen, my favourite food in Davis). We had a good turnout, and as it turned out, this would be the last bit of social gathering for a while.

LDD Feb 2020 photo

We were supposed to have a sketchcrawl in March at the UC Davis Arboretum, but that got cancelled, along with everything else everywhere. We now live in Shelter In Place world, with no end in sight, so perhaps the next Let’s Draw Davis sketchcrawls will be virtual. In fact, I’m going to look at my calendar (yeeeeep, seems to be free) and schedule one soon. It’ll just be drawing the view from your window or something but hey, that’s something. Ok, I’ll announce that soon.

In the meantime you might want to check out the Let’s Draw Davis FB page at: https://www.facebook.com/LetsDrawDavis/, where we announce all our sketchcrawls and such, as well as the public group page where people can post their own sketches of Davis or results from the sketchcrawls: https://www.facebook.com/groups/LetsDrawDavis/

LDD sticker 3

Phew, that was a long post! The next one will be shorter, and then there will be another long one, and that one will have more of the silly nonsense like in the one about 1980s/90s British kids TV shows, but will probably be about X-Men or ramen noodles or something.

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

midsummer indigo girls

Mondavi 2019 A1 sm
This will be another long post. I really did do a lot of sketching in 2019 and this is all from the same day. Apart from the sketch below, which was done at lunchtime (and coloured in afterwards) it’s all the same evening, midsummer night, June 21. I definitely haven’t already posted these, have I? I had been asked by the Mondavi Center at UC Davis to produce some sketches for their annual magazine, which is called “Gateway“. To do so, they invited me to come to the Indigo Girls show in an official sketcher capacity, to draw some of the outside, the lobby, and of the show itself (the last part being done in near total darkness). It was a fun night. The above was sketched outside the main entrance as people started to arrive.
Mondavi 2019 A2 sm
I drew some people outside the Mondavi Center arriving for the show. I got there early, picking people who stopped in one place, but I did some quick sketches of people walking past. I don’t think these people were together, and they didn’t all have flowery clothing, I added that in for fun. I sketched the ticket warden (or whatever they call them) because I loved how they stood out in their smart black and white, and they were all friendly, they usually are at the Mondavi.
Mondavi 2019 B3 sm
Mondavi 2019 B2 sm
Mondavi 2019 B1 sm
I was asked to sketch people in the lobby area, so I grabbed a wine and a place to stand. As it turned out I knew quite a few people who were attending the show, it was a popular one.
Mondavi 2019 B6 sm
Mondavi 2019 B4 sm
Mondavi 2019 B5 sm
Mondavi 2019 C1 Chastity Brown sm
And then it was time for the show. I was actually given a special seat, though it was in near-complete darkness. The opening act, Chastity Brown, was really good, I loved her voice, and she talked to the audience, as you can see above. Then below, the main event started. I was able to sketch some of the audience in between the shows, and also when lights were down. There was a lot of purple and blue light, and I struggled to see my pasge, but the music was great, and sketching to music makes the pen move so easily.
Mondavi 2019 C3 Indigo Girls sm
Mondavi 2019 C2 sm
I used the zoom function in my eyes* in to get a better look at the performers (*I squinted real hard), the two main guitar-playing singers (Amy Ray and Emily Saliers) and the very performative violin player in between them (I don’t recall their name). For some reason I needed to write down the chords.
Mondavi 2019 C6 Indigo Girls sm
Mondavi 2019 C8 sm
Mondavi 2019 C4 sm
Mondavi 2019 C5 Indigo Girls sm

Anyway, a fun evening was had, it was a good show. So eventually the magazine came out in the Fall, using the outside sketch on the cover. Here it is!




midtown, downtown, train back to my town

Ok…this one goes back a while. Back to March, in fact. In my defense, I only got the sketchbook back recently, so I could not write a post about it at the time. Well I could have, but stories without pictures? I was invited by Prof David Del La Peña of UC Davis to take part in a special sketchcrawl, which was to be part of the annual conference of CELA (the Council of Educators in Landscape Architecture) in Sacramento. The sketchcrawl would move from midtown Sac and end up in Davis, linking up by train between the two. I joined them after lunch in Sacramento, and we were given accordion Moleskines to draw a series of fast sketches in, on location, at various spots about downtown. Also in attendance was Chip Sullivan, who I was not familiar with but he is very well known as a sketcher and educator and knows James Richards well. So I started off by drawing him and David near the conference center in midtown.

Sac sketchbook p1
Sac sketchbook p2

“Where Are We Going” it said on the sculpture near K Street. Well it turns out we were going down to the Cathedral, and I sat behind the large open angel wings of a statue. I remember drawing this Cathedral (Our Lady of the Blessed Sacrament) years ago, 2006 or 2007, back when Pyramid Brewing was right behind, and California was so new to me. I remember trying to draw the Crest back then as well, the classic movie theatre a little way down the street. As we stopped for a moment to mention something about sketching I drew the sign, taking just a few minutes, before we moved on.

Sac sketchbook p3Sac sketchbook p4

And then we moved to the newest part of downtown, the area around the Golden One Center, the massive basketball arena. We saw Paul McCartney there a couple of years ago, an amazing show, one of the first performances held at the stadium. Macca sang for three hours and was incredible. I remember when this was part of the downtown mall, I would come here occasionally, but it is long gone now. You’ll notice I decided to deraw in pencil that day. I find that in those accordion moleskines I find drawing in my usual pen to be frustratingly difficult. The paper, the size of the page, the fact that it’s flopping all over the place, plus the extremely limited time in each spot – so I just went with pencil, which moves so fast across the page, and splashed on watercolour when I could. It was a sunny day with great clouds.interesting shadows, but cool enough for scarves. My favourite weather. We walked from there over to the Crocker Art Museum, not with much time to do a larger sketch (such a tight schedule, and distances to cover!) but enough time to pop into the gift shop. Oh but I did get a sketch, of another sketcher in a red coat. And then we went to old downtown…

Sac sketchbook p5
Sac sketchbook p6

Old Downtown has lots to sketch, I really should go sketchign there more often. This time I decided to draw some of the fire hydrants, one with a yellow cap, one with a green cap. This was followed by fast sketch of the Pony Express statue, before we walked to the Amtrak station.

Sac sketchbook p8Sac sketchbook p7

Sac sketchbook p9

I sat with a couple of the people attending the conference, Penelope and Tatyana (I think one came from Texas, another from California, but this was in March and my memory has faded). It doesn’t take long to get from Sac to Davis, but there was a table and a defined amount of time to sketch. You can see from the window that the Causeway was still full of water, after all the rain we got last spring. I have sketched the inside of Amtrak trains a few times before.
Sac sketchbook p10

And then we got to Davis, with just enough time to draw that iconic and sketchable Davis building, the Varsity Theatre on 2nd Street. And then we relinquished our sketchbooks, and walked back to the UCD campus.

Sac sketchbook p11 (davis)

The books were shown at an evening event during the conference, I was unable to go to it, but it would have been fun to see how everyone else interpreted the afternoon. Everyone sketches at different speeds and with different amounts of detail; I consider myself a fairly quick sketcher but it was hard to keep up! My feet were pretty tired afterwards, and I needed a good rest that weekend.