summertime in davis, 2022

Paint Chip F St 083022 sm

Still playing catch-up from last summer, here are the rest of the sketches from downtown Davis in summer 2022, including September, which very much is still summer when it’s a hundred million degrees outside. The panorama above though is from the end of August, and is one of our favourite Davis shops, The Paint Chip. They have art supplies and do framing, and when I was doing the sketchcrawls (it has been a while…) they would always put up the flyer in their window. The people outside are actually a painted mural on the side of the building; except for the redhead in front of the window, she was real. The dog behind was not real, that is a painting. Next door, Tibet Nepal, not in the location that I drew it last, it moved from the corner of G Street when they redeveloped that whole quarter. I stood outside the Old City Hall building (now empty) in the shade to draw this.

Speaking of chips, odd incident yesterday evening in Habit Burger in Folsom. It wasn’t busy, but there were four staff members behind the counter, one guy was talking very loudly about British food, not exactly sure why. He kept saying how someone called fries ‘chips’ and he was ‘offended’ at that, and then started going on about fish and chips and other foods, and the other staff were joining in going on about bangers and mash and shepherds pie and spotted dick (basically the Jeopardy category, “What Americans Think We All Eat”), and then – criminally – stating loudly “and they eat beans with tomato sauce, that’s gross!” Knowing how important Baked Beans are to me culturally, my wife raised her eyebrow to me as if to say, “them’s fighting words!”.  I said it sounds like he has a fry on his shoulder. The staff were talking a bit unnecessarily loudly about all this stuff and then it became clear they were actually having a go at a previous customer, who had said ‘chips’ (this guy would not let it go) and then when they overheard them making disparaging remarks about it, had told them to ‘shut up’ before leaving. They were saying all sorts of stuff about this customer too, like “she’s probably having a bad day because her husband’s cheating on her!” and “she’s just angry because we say fries”, like pretty immature comments. One of them was making these impressions by saying “shut up!”, and because it was in the direction of the customer seating, my wife actually thought they were saying it to us, so she said, “Excuse me? I haven’t said anything to you.” The eldest of them (manager maybe? Hard to tell) just said oh no, we were talking about someone who said that to us. I mean, it’s a bit rude to be talking so loudly about another customer like that in front of your customers, but mocking British stuff? So we probably won’t be eating at Habit Burger in Folsom again (we go to the one in Woodland anyway). Though if we do got back to Folsom, I will be asking for CHIPS, chips on toast, bangers and chips, spotted chips, chips in the hole, chips tikka masala, baked beans on chips (actually that’s delicious), diet chips with no ice, chips sandwich on a chip bun, etc and so on.

black bear diner davis 080122

Next up: Black Bear Diner on B St in Davis (and much better customer service). Actually I remember one server we used to talk to there, she always seemed very all-American to me, turns out she was British but had moved over here as a young kid, never became a citizen (neither have I, yet). Black Bear Diner is a fun rustic-style diner place we first discovered in Medford Oregon years ago. We love going there for pancakes. Well, I don’t eat the pancakes, my son does, I usually get the cinnamon roll French toast (or even the bear claw French toast, when they have it). I love their country potatoes and egg scrambles and chicken sausages too. Black Bear is a chain all along the Western US now, but it’s good grub and the sort of thing I’d really crave going to if we ever lived in England again, this is what I’d miss. Even though these days we go like maybe twice a year. It’s always the place I like to go to refill after running the Turkey Trot 5k. This year however I could only manage the 2 mile (foot injury plus increasing lack of fitness and non-existent gym attendance), but I still deserved the cinnamon roll French toast.

3rd st Davis 082522 sm

This sketch is from 3rd Street, on the way towards campus, Tim’s Hawaiian BBQ. Or “Tim’s Hawaiian” I think it’s just called. Or are they saying Tim’s Hawaiian, that is, Tim is from Hawaii? I don’t know, but I’ve never actually eaten here. I don’t know why I never think of it, because I really like Hawaiian food now. There is this Hawaiian food truck that comes on campus called Jojo’s that I love, although their portions are so massive I often skip dinner if I’ve had that for lunch. In fact I feel so full afterwards that ‘skipping dinner’ is literally the only exercise I can do for at least 24 hours. I should try out Tim’s though, I pass it on my bike enough but always forget about it at lunchtime. You’ll notice I mis-spelled my own name on this as well. That’s because I either cannot type, or because the laptop I was using to edit the scan of this drawing is a little slow on the uptake whenever I have to type words with double letters. To mis-spell my own name though; then again Shakespeare apparently spelled his name sixteen different ways (he was probably trying to rhyme it with something). One funny thing about this sketch, on the right-hand side it feels like it slants off to the right. I feel like I’m standing with my head cocked. Maybe it’s the way it’s scanned, but I don’t think so; the sketch below does it too. I think it’s a consequence of how I hold my sketchbook, and when I get the right side I don’t necessarily draw as straight as on the left. I don’t know; either way, I quite like it. It’s one of those things that makes it more real, less mechanical and more human. You need to put yourself in these sketches, even in subconscious ways.

D St Davis 081722 sm

Next up, what’s this one, oh right this is that house on D Street I have drawn quite a few times, the one in between the Pence Gallery and the Mustard Seed restaurant. In fact I once exhibited some artwork and sketchbooks in there at an event called ‘Scene in Davis’ with some other local artists, back when this was an artist’s center and studio. Before that it was an antiques shop. Then later it became, I can’t remember, a realtors I think. I’ve exhibited in the Pence Gallery too, on several occasions, most recently in the 2022 Art Auction (I sold the drawing of that London pub, the Lamb and Flag). What I didn’t know though is that one of my drawings is on the wall of the Mustard Seed restaurant too. It’s a pretty fancy restaurant, so my wife and I went there for our 18th wedding anniversary, we hadn’t been there in, well it must be about a decade? It’s a nice treat. When we walked in though we had a pleasant surprise, my drawing of the Mustard Seed from 2011 was there on the wall. It was just a print they had bought (I presume; the original is slightly smaller and sold in my solo exhibition at the Pence in 2011) (which by the way, ELEVEN YEARS AGO now, doesn’t seem that long!). Still it was exciting to see it in this fancy place. I remembered too that when it was exhibited back in 2011 I was at the gallery talking to a local woman who had lived in Davis for many years, and she said back in the 60s she used to go to the house which is now the Mustard Seed, her friends lived there and they would stay up late playing cards. The hidden stories in all these places. I have a few of my own now.

3rd st davis 091722 sm

A hot mid-September day, after a short period of not-sketching-enough and being-tired-all-the-time, I just had to get out and draw something. I cycled over to the Candy House (that place that sells the delicious little chocolate pyramids/cones I can’t resist), and bought myself a box of those little choccies, because they are the best and I was hungry. I stood outside and drew the second-hand store across the street. Well, as best as I could manage. I was feeling tired. I only got so far. I needed to go home.

hattie weber museum 092422 sm

A week later, the 24th of September, with the new academic year in swing, I must have had a bit more energy, judging by the colourful picture above. Saturday morning, I cycled down to the Davis Farmer’s Market (voted the Best Farmer’s Market in America) (“by the people of Davis” as I used to add in my Virtual Tour of Davis) to sketch something, walk about, not be inside. I settled on the side of the Hattie Weber Museum of Davis. This building has a history too – it was the first Davis library (it still says ‘Library’ above the door) and was actually in a different place entirely. Ok, not ‘entirely’, it wasn’t on the Wirral or Mount Everest or somewhere, it was still in Davis, but three streets away on F Street. (I had to count in my head there, C, E, D, F; oh actually that’s four streets away) (actually at 117 F Street so probably a few more, if you count going down blocks) (look it was somewhere else and it moved, ok, don’t worry about it). It was named for the first librarian of Davis, Hattie Weber. “Known as Miss Hattie by young and old alike,” the HWMD website says. I love that place too. And yep, they too have some of my drawings on the wall, including another from that 2011 exhibit (a printed copy, the original was sold) of the Museum itself. I remember going in here many years ago with my son when he was about four or five, to do the Easter Egg hunt, and was surprised when he suddenly said “daddy this is what you drawed!” pointing out my sketch of Old City Hall. I was amazed he remembered, I think he was about one when I drew it. I drew this one however while sat in the little Hattie Weber Rose Garden, looking north. The Farmers Market raged behind me. This end of the Market is where you get the people who get to set up their stalls and I don’t know, say any old bollocks. The Flat Earth lot, basically. They seem to be there a lot, with their “Nasa’s lying to you man!” signs and literature about how, I don’t know if you’ve heard of this, how apparently the Earth is flat and not a globe, despite the fact it is demonstrably a globe, because “it’s a conspiracy man!”. Whatever mate, not a rabbit hole I want to go down. There were a lot of people standing around them though (probably new students trying to find out what they are on and where to get it); right next to them were the local Republicans, and nobody was talking to them. So the Flat Earth lot were back there, maybe I’ll sketch them some day, or probably not. It did remind me of when I was at school though, and my friend Terry got in trouble for submitting a one-line history homework, responding to some reference in the homework about the explorers sailing to all four corners of the globe, and he just wrote “globes don’t have corners”. Needless to say, the teacher was not impressed, and I think gave him an F for that. Didn’t matter, we both thought it was funny, and I suppose that’s what is important. Humour makes the world go round.

Still more 2022 sketch catch-up posts to come… Better start catching up with 2023 sketching too.

some time at UC Davis (summer 2022)

UCD construction panorama 081122 sm

As we catch up from last summer, here are some of the things I drew on campus. There was a lot of work done on the roundabout junction between the Silo, Chemistry and Bainer, so I stood behind the wire and drew the construction machines and the workers putting the street together. The standing stones in the foreground on the right have been there for ages, I’ve drawn them before, I’ve drawn everywhere before. It’s interesting to draw the in-between moments of these places, as they go from looking one way to another.

UCD Bainer pano Aug2022 sm

The next view is very close by, from a different angle, where there’s no work going on, and it hasn’t changed in years. I drew this one pretty fast; it was the difference in the high-summer greens that made me want to put it to paper.

TB UCD 082622 sm

Another one drawn on a super hot day while stood in the shade, this is an old campus building called TB-9, which sounds like the name of a protocol droid in the Star Wars universe, but TB stands for ‘temporary building’. I mean, astronomically or geologically it is temporary, as are well all and all our thoughts and fears and politics, but in this case, the building was born in 1958 and is now on the actual National Register of Historic Places, no less. So it’s probably not going anywhere, but it might tempt fate to call it ‘Permanent Building 9’. If you want to know more about this building, check out this article: https://www.ucdavis.edu/curiosity/news/historical-highlights-uc-davis-department-art-and-tb-9-1958-1976

UCD 082222 sm

This next one is primarily about the cacti in front of the Student Community Center, looking out at the Silo area. Another hot day, they all blend into one now. What even happened last August? It feels so long ago already.

UCD SSS lobby 090122sm

A week or so later, while it was a sizzling 102 degrees outside (in the weeks that would follow, 102 would feel like a bit of an ice age), I sat inside the Student Community Center and ate lunch, and drew the lobby area. Among other things this building is home to the UC Davis Cross Cultural Center, and there are colourful murals inside. We hold our annual department holiday party here too.

silo 092722 sm

And finally, the end of September, summer was over and the new Fall quarter had begun. So everyone was back, and we all got busy again, and the Silo area had new blue and yellow sun-shades over the tables. The academic year started. I still have a bunch more sketches from summer to post, from Davis and a few other places, and some from Fall too, but this was the summer on campus. Most of the staff in our department worked remotely except for one day a week, so I was there by myself for a lot of the time, but it’s nice when there are more people about again giving the campus its life, with all the students rushing about and bikes everywhere.

saturday last summer

davis farmers market 082722 sm

Still with Summer 2022. Right now it is a sunny but cold January Saturday, right after lunch (which I’ve not eaten yet; it’s not that long after my late fried-egg sandwich breakfast, after a late start this morning), at the end of a pretty busy but also pretty unsatisfying week. I’ve done a bit of sketching this week, not much but more than I’ve been doing. The tip of my middle finger has a band-aid on it, I picked up a cut somehow this morning, and so typing is a bit messier. I just took out the trash. I’m listening to the Boo Radleys for a bit of mid-90s-ness while my wife is packing up some of my son’s old things to take to the Goodwill. The cats are doing whatever the cats do, chasing each other around the house. I keep thinking, it is a nice day, I should be outside sketching, but well, Saturday in Davis and like, what do I want to sketch? Not that much. Our little backyard is getting a bit overgrown after the massive storms, but I’m not feeling up to going out there with gardening tools, I’m not up for the black widow fights today. It’s too late to go down to the Farmer’s Market, and I don’t really fancy being there anyway. I did draw this panorama there in the summer though, underneath the big metal shading, as many people went by (I was counting the different football shirts; there was a guy in a Tottenham shirt, big respect, but with ‘Ndombele 28’ on the back, which was a bit hopeful of him). I wanted to draw the perspective, but also the people, and then mix it up with some paint washed over it. It was a very, very hot day. There’s always a lot going on in a Farmer’s Market sketch. Well, not that much, I suppose, just people walking in that slow Farmer’s Market way. It’s good observation practice though. I’m not always that much of an observer, despite being an urban sketcher for all these years. My eyesight’s not great, and I daydream, so if someone I know walked past, I probably wouldn’t recognize them. Many of the people I draw tend to be a mash-up of different people – I’ll draw their face and they are gone, so I add the next person’s shirt, and so on, like one of those books you had when you were a kid. I don’t make things up though, I try to draw the people I’ve actually seen, so it’s representative of who was actually there (otherwise everyone would be in a Spurs shirt of different eras, all looking a bit like Glenn Hoddle). That guy with the ‘tache on the left though looks a bit familiar, like maybe he has the face of an old teacher from school. The posting of last summer’s sketches continues, but I should get on with some new sketches; I should eat lunch first. Saturdays don’t grow on trees you know.

painting the room in a colourful way

UoB Davis pano Aug2022 sm

Here’s something you don’t see much from me any more – a sketch from a Davis bar. Back before the pandemic I enjoyed going to an interesting bar in Davis and sketching a complicated scene with a slow beer, and I have a good backlog of those. In the past few years, much less so. One of my favourite places to go to randomly sketch with a beer, De Vere’s, closed down last year. University of Beer, which I have drawn numerous times since it opened in, what 2014? The year before? They focused a lot on its outdoor seating during the pandemic times, as did many places. I did go there one evening last summer though, not long after we got back from our summer trip. I was thinking of this thing where I draw a scene and then splash lots of colourful watercolor over the top, a bit like with that sketch of the Black Heart in Camden, maybe with some areas masked over with the paint masking pen, and I wanted to try it out on an interior. University of Beer is usually interesting to sketch so I went there. It was pretty quiet in there. Those few people at the bar were not there too long, there were some other people at one point, but mostly it was empty, with the few people there staying in the outside seating. There were more staff than customers, but the staff were friendly and said they liked the sketch. It had been a while since I drew a bar interior in Davis, and I don’t think I’ve drawn one since (although I did sketch a couple in San Francisco one day in September when it was really hot). I went with using a rainbow of colours, although it really was pretty colourful, though still reasonably dark for a bar. You never want it too bright, a bit atmospheric but able to see the page. Still with so few people it felt a bit cold, despite being very hot outside.

4th and F Davis pano Aug2022 sm

Earlier that evening in fact I did do a sketch outside, stood on the corner of 4th and F, looking out at that Chinese restaurant (Silver Dragon? I’ve only been there once and can’t remember if that is still the name, but it’s usually quite busy) and the Wells Fargo bank. This one I left uncoloured, it felt better like that. My foot was hurting a bit as I stood and sketched, so I was looking forward to stopping off somewhere and sitting down with a cold drink and my sketchbook. I think I was most excited though about doing that paint thing, and this wasn’t the right drawing for that.

but now these days are gone

EOP building from Olsen 011023

I have not done a lot of sketching yet this 2023, much less than in previous Januarys. I think there are a few reasons. The weather was awful, with all those storms, which felled so many trees. Normally I’m like, well yeah but I’ll still draw, but I haven’t as much. Secondly, I’ve been busy with work. Yeah but normally when I’m busy with work, my sketching output increases, and January is always busy, but I’ve been feeling a bit more stressed and a bit more tired. I guess when you slip out of day-to-day sketching even for a week or two it’s harder to slip back in, I always like to have ‘runs’ of sketches, it takes the pressure off that first sketch. Sometimes I lose confidence in sketching how I want to, even though I draw fast. I’m getting that thing where in my lunchtime I will be like, do I have enough time now to draw? Is this enough time to get something done that I actually like? Usually when I run out of time, I’ll just finish off later, but I am finding that I’m becoming the king of finish-off-later. Then there’ my ageing eyesight; for some reason, sketching outside, normal light, I’m still fine, but I find it a bit more irritating drawing at the desk at home now, I have to either get my face close to the page with glasses off, or sit way further back, and indoor lighting just doesn’t seem to cut it (I know I’m getting to the point where bifocals would probably help with that, but for some reason they always remind me of those school secretaries you used to get who would peer down at you for being late or send you to talk to the head; I thought it was just me that imagined this imaginary character, but then my Mum said the exact same thing when she was talking about bifocals; funnily enough we did go to the same school, some decades apart, but I doubt that this imaginary school secretary with bifocals was actually there either in the 80s or the 60s. Maybe it was someone we saw on TV). Anyway I don’t mind my bad eyesight when sketching out and about, because that’s part of the view, but when drawing at home from a photo (more so than the finish-odd-later thing, where I’m finishing off colours or leaves from memory anyway) I have to shift my focus a lot more. I don’t know, “fortyitis” my optometrist called it. I actually had to look that up, thinking it was a real condition. So I’ve not been doing any desk drawing at home either. And then there’s the weekends – I really really want a day out sketching, down in the city maybe or somewhere else completely (…London?…), but for one reason or other I’ve not been able to.

I also, well, get a bit bored of drawing Davis. I know, I’ve been here before. I always find something else to draw, some other way of looking at old things. It’s just I’ve been finding it hard to stay motivated to keep documenting the same place, when I really need to get out and travel more. I think posting my sketchbook from the summer of 2022 this past couple of weeks has not helped with that, it’s just made me yearn for more travelling and sketching. Looking at other people’s sketches online, while usually a massive inspiration, has also made me feel frustrated for not being out sketching interesting places more. The Urban Sketching Symposium is finally back this year, and while I was super excited about it, I then made the (possibly stupid, surely regrettable) decision not to go. It’s in Auckland, New Zealand, a place where I’ve wanted to visit since I was a teenager at school. When I was 13 or 14 I had a pen-pal in New Zealand actually, in Lower Hutt near Wellington – though I can’t now remember their name, I remember they did send me a letter once inside a plastic bottle, that was sent through the post across the world to me in north London. Our school had this scheme where they would arrange pen-friends for students in different countries, and I loved writing letters across the world. I had one in New Zealand, another in Koblenz in Germany, another in Naples in Italy, and another in Vienna, in Austria, who I was pen-pals with the longest. I never met them in person, but it was a fun way to learn about people in other countries at a young age. These days it would be harder because it’s so much easier, with email and social media, it would probably be nowhere near the same. Anyway I’ve still never been to New Zealand. It’s in April, which is an awkward time for work when it can be busy. I also feel somewhat overwhelmed by the large symposia these days – they are such huge events now that I sometimes just want to wander off on my own anyway. I really enjoy meeting new sketching people and talking sketchbooks and styles, and I always love hanging out with those sketchers I’ve been meeting with since that first one back in 2010, the originals. I still get shy though, and I never feel quite confident enough though to propose teaching a workshop, or even a talk, so I just lurk about with my sketchbook drawing as much as I can, always obsessing that I have not yet drawn enough, I need to get more, to ‘catch up’.

So this drawing above was done on one lunchtime where I was like, no come on Pete, you really do have to draw, it will help. And it did, and there was no ‘finish-off-later’ to fall back on. It was on one of the off-days when the storms cooled off and the rain stopped a bit, but I went up to the second floor of Olsen Hall and draw the EOP building at UC Davis shielded away from any possible rain interruptions. This old tree is still there, with its large bulging bit in the middle. And I tell you what: I will -WILL- draw today. Especially when things are stressful (and are they!) I have to remember that the place I go to put that stress is a little 8.5″ x 5″ book with a nice blank page. Whatever comes out, comes out, even if it is the same old thing I’ve drawn a thousand times. Hey, that thing I draw might not be there next time I draw it.

the eggleston home on third street

3rd St Davis 010623

The next stage of our summer trip was a vacation in northern France, taking in Normandy and Paris. I’ll put posting those on hold for a bit though and come back to the present day. Or at least last week. This circus of dangerous storms is still sweeping through California on the back of this Atmospheric River, bringing heavy rain and flooding in many areas, as well as evacuations, and strong winds that are still knocking down some really old trees. Every couple of days though we get an off-day when it doesn’t rain as much and maybe even some sun peaks through. On one of those off-days I walked downtown for lunch, and came back via 3rd Street, where I stopped outside the old building now occupied by Davis Copy Max, historically known as the Eggleston Home and one of the oldest buildings in Davis. It was built in 1870 at 232 3rd St, and was the home of  Lucy Eggleston, who was an important member of the Women’s Christian Temperance Union in the Davis. Back in the early years of the twentieth century they campaigned to have alcohol banned in Davis (or Davisville as it was), finally succeeding and getting a one-mile ban from campus put in place, which eventually became a three-mile ban, a rule that lasted until 1979 (it’s from this that Three Mile Brewing took inspiration when choosing a name). I’ve drawn this building before. I’ve also drawn Davis Copy Max when it was located in the building directly opposite, which was behind me as I sketched and is now home to ‘Guads’, a restaurant. I wonder how Lucy would feel about people drinking beer right opposite her old house, maybe some swooning and some stern letters to the Mayor.

atmospheric river / bomb cyclone

010123 tree carport sm

Before we return to the sketches of summer 2022, here’s 2023 so far. Here in California we are going through some of the worst wave of storms I’ve seen since coming here, knocking down more trees than I’ve experienced before (in my life that would be since the Great Storm of 1987 in the south of England, the Michael Fish Not-a-Hurricane). We knew the ‘Atmospheric River / Bomb Cyclone’ was incoming, but weren’t expecting it to cause so much damage. Atmospheric River and Bomb Cyclone sound like two flavours of anti-perspirant spray, or maybe a double A-side twelve inch from a 1980s dance group. With all these trees down I wasn’t not sure whether to call it ‘Arbor-gedden’ or ‘Arbor-calypse’. The situation has been pretty serious though.. The first biggie was on New Year’s Eve. It was pouring with rain and the wind was picking up, but we weren’t going anywhere, just played some board games and ate a nice roast dinner, and then noticed that the internet had gone down. We watched a movie saved on the iPad (the new Pinocchio, funnily enough) We could hear some big crashes not far away, but couldn’t tell what that was, maybe a big tree limb had snapped off. Just before midnight, the rain and wind had stopped revealing a bright starry sky. My son and I took a little walk around the neighbourhood and saw some trees had come down, but turning back towards our road the lights were out, but we could just about make out that a big tree had fallen and totally crushed the carport opposite. That’s it above, as seen first thing next morning. The car was just missed. Then walking away from that we nearly walked right into a huge tree that blocked the entire street, twice as big as the other fallen tree, and that had taken out the street lamp too. We found a way around and went back home. Power was out through much of Davis, but we were ok. The next morning I saw that the huge tree that came down had also totally flattened a car and pulled up the pipes from beneath the street, right outside our neighbour’s house. The sound of chainsaws had started at about 2am, before crews even made it out, there were neighbours just cutting away branches so that people could get past. Another enormous tree came down on top of all our mailboxes (that stopped the junk mail for a few days). I walked around, and saw that trees were down everywhere, a huge one already cleared from the main road, plus one house which had two trees fall on it, one damaging the roof and another crushing a car (I know the owner actually; he told me that they heard the first tree come down and went out to see, and only narrowly missed getting hit by the second tree which took out the car – so very, very lucky). This was just in our few blocks, trees were down everywhere. I’ve seen a lot of trees fall in Davis, but never this many all at once.

fallen tree outside MSB 010423

It took a while for the internet to come back on at home but I went into work a few days later, to find that the massive tree in front of our building had fallen too. Other trees have gone down outside the Math Sciences Building over the years but this was the biggest, a huge pine I think it was, and the roots had pulled up the sidewalk too. Crews have been out there ever since with chainsaws and shredding machines pulling it all apart, the the huge stump is still on its side and roped off. Several other trees around the building have had large parts come off. In front of Mrak Hall, two historic trees, oaks I think, fell on the main path. I walked through part of the Arboretum, mindful about loose branches, and saw one of the big Redwoods in the old Redwood Grove had fallen too. A lot of old trees fell on New Years Eve, a lot of history (and some much-needed shade) went with it; it made me feel sad. However, we were told that this was only a taster, that the really big storm was coming on Wednesday evening, with the worst hitting on Thursday afternoon. I got a little bit drenched cycling in on Thursday morning, but by about lunchtime it was another calm lull. In the early afternoon however I could see from my fourth floor office window a long black line against the sky, ominously stretching from north to south, moving fast in our direction. By the time it reached Davis, it was like we were suddenly engulfed in a giant grey wave, with the view from my window being a wall of water across the city. I had to quickly sketch while watching this deluge.

rainy view from MSB 010523

Thankfully the storm didn’t bring quite as much damage to our area as on New Year’s Eve, but still caused chaos around the state, and there have been big floods already with the region on high alert for more. There was another lull on Friday, and then on Saturday night (last night) the next wave hit, and boy was there some wind. It reached around 65 mph here, and I was pretty nervous watching as best I could from my bedroom window, as the silhouettes of large trees dancing around like jelly against a sky illuminated by flashes of lightning, to the constant pounding drone of the winds. The one tree that is right outside my window was giving it all that, mouthing off and getting lary, but by sunrise the tree had sobered up and acting as if nothing had happened. I took another walk this morning to survey the damage around our part of Davis, and while there were some big branches down and at least one tree it didn’t seem quite as bad, but I can’t speak for the rest of town and the news showed that midtown Sacramento got pretty badly hit. Our electricity was on, unlike for much of town after some power lines went down, but the internet was out. I cycled down to campus during today’s lull to check that power was on in our building, thankfully all ok (first day of the quarter starts tomorrow!), but didn’t sketch anything. All along each street there are piles of branches, and chopped up tree trunks, or the scars of where they crashed.  Last night was pretty scary, but the news is telling us the next wave of this Atmospheric River will hit tonight, the winds of the Pacific stretching out its long arm to give us another clobbering, and this one will be even worse than last night? It’s nature’s way, sure. Fingers crossed that tomorrow will be ok. I’d say ‘touch wood’ but frankly I want to keep as far away from any wood as possible…

’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.