While waiting for my food at lunchtime yesterday, I sketched the scene ahead of me quickly into my Miquelrius notebook. Sophia’s Thai Kitchen, on E Street, Davis. I had the ‘Jungle Curry’. I like that one a lot. I do like my curries at Sophia’s.
I walked around downtown in Davis yesterday looking for a car to sketch in tribute to Florian Afflerbach – Flaf – who passed away recently, far too young, far too soon. I could have drawn any of the scores of beige Toyotas or silver Hondas parked along the street – it was Florian who taught me to see the beauty in the form of a car, or a modern building – but I saw this red BMW parked along 2nd Street, and immediately I thought of the BMWs Florian, himself from southern Germany, had drawn. I sketched in pencil and watercolour, with Florian in mind. I felt pretty sad though, remembering Florian; in the spread about drawing cars in my book Creative Sketching Workshop, I mentioned Florian as one of my main inspirations. I think it’s hard to sketch cars and not think about him.That’s a feeling that will be shared by many at this year’s Urban Sketching Symposium in Manchester. The participants in this year’s symposium were asked to draw a car as a tribute to Florian, and this one is mine.
I sketched this on Stillman and Birn ‘Alpha’ paper, in pencil and watercolour rather than my usual pen; I think Florian would have been proud of me. Still can’t believe he is gone.
Here’s a view that I used to sketch a lot more, but I got bored of it, as it never really changed much. It’s the South Silo at UC Davis, as viewed from the steps of Bainer Hall. I used to sketch it every six months in fact, once in winter, once in spring, tracking the changes. This past week I noticed however that it had changed quite dramatically – the big wild tree to the left of the leaning one was cut down, as were several other smaller ones near the Bike Barn, as the UC Davis South Silo area undergoes a major redesign. This is going to look pretty different. Here’s an article in The Aggie detailing how it will eventually look – quite a change, I think. More dining locations will be added (hooray!), plus a convenience store (I still miss the little one that used to be the Law Bookshop). It won’t be all done until next year.
While we are waiting, let’s go back in time and see what it used to look like….
January and March 2009
I will miss that tree.
This is the Davis Farmer’s Market, a sketch that I did while standing up for the best part of two hours, occasionally talking to people. It was busy, though by the time I was finished all the people had gone and the market stalls had all but packed up. This was the longest sketch I did as part of the “Let’s Draw Davis” sketchcrawl on Saturday, the return of the sketching meetups I used to organize monthly for a few years until my weekend days got just too busy. It was really nice to get out there and sketch with others again, see some old familiar faces, and meet some new sketchers too. We started off at Central Park, and I did some quick people-sketching in my Fabriano sketchbook, using pencil and watercolour. There was an even going on speaking up against oil trains, those big hulking freight trains that carry oil dangerously through residential areas (such as Davis). It was interesting to listen to, I support their cause and I sketched some of the speakers.
Look at me sketching people eh. Below, some of the other sketchers. In the first sketch, of Sonja in the purple hat, I showed off my favourite tip for drawing people, draw a massive hat and avoid the face at all costs. No I’m only kidding, but it looks like that’s what I’m doing! I’m quite pleased with this sketch though, I like the way it turned out, full of character, showing the sketcher busy at work. The other sketchers drawn below are Kim, Sam and Peter, three different seated poses, three different angles.
I used three sketchbooks on this sketchcrawl because I enjoy carrying loads of stuff around with me. No, Seawhite #4 was at a close (the Farmer’s Market sketch was the last double-page spread, though the penultimate sketch – I actually finished it next day sketching the Euro final). I enjoy the Seawhite of Brighton sketchbooks now, after seeing what other sketchers did with them when out in France last year, and I was pleased to see another sketcher, Peter, also using a Seawhite. I opened a new sketchbook, the Stillman and Birn ‘Alpha’ landscape, my third one of this particular model (though I have a few other sizes of the Alpha, it’s my favourite paper I think). I drew the newspaper boxes outside Peet’s Coffee in E Street, while my legs started to hurt from all the stand-up sketching. I need to use my stool a little bit more (but I do like having the elevated view of standing up).
And then the remaining sketchers met up at the end to look at each others sketchbooks, which is always nice. We got a lot of very nice sketches done that day. Here is a photo I took of everyone holding up their books. By the way, we didn’t lay them all out on the floor and stare at them from six feet up like too many sketchcrawls do these days (pick them up! Pass them around!). Some of the sketchers that didn’t make it to the end did come and find me before they went and I got to see what they had done, and a few others met me at De Vere’s afterwards having not been at the E Street Plaza end point, so overall it was a very nice day full of sketching in Davis. I do plan to restart Let’s Draw Davis on a monthly basis, but not until October, to coincide with my sketchbook exhibit at the UC Davis Design Museum. In the meantime, Davis sketchers, keep up the good sketching work!
I last posted construction pictures of the forthcoming Manetti Shrem museum of Art on the UC Davis campus back in April. A lot has been done since then – the canopy is now finished, the landscaping is ongoing, and (something I’d not thought much about) the interior is already pretty much complete! So, I was invited along for a special viewing of the inside (many thanks to Prof. Tim McNeil of the Design Dept for the opportunity!), and it was one of the first days that hard hats were not required inside, meaning I didn’t get my photo-op of sketching in hard-hat and fluorescent jacket (I only wanted that for the urban sketching street cred), but I got the full inside experience of how a brand-new museum is designed and completed. Every corner of it was so modern and cool, and the most amazing aspects were the sudden views outside, looking at how this building interacts with its environment but from an interior perspective. This really is going to be the most spectacular new building on campus, not simply functional but enlightening too, I think. After having a good look around at the future gallery spaces and imagining what artwork will grace its walls (I know that Wayne Thiebald made a big donation of art recently), I was able to do some art myself, sketching the above view of the main entrance area looking out toward the Mondavi Centre.
A few days later I came back to sketch outside at lunchtime, and rather than the wide-angle view I focused in on the same entrance area, but from the street looking in. You can see how it is all coming together now. Opens in November…
Here are the previous posts documenting the construction in my sketchbook…
Carrying on the series of street panoramas going from 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th and now 5th. This is Newman Chapel on Fifth Street, Davis, on the corner of C Street. I have drawn it before, a few times. But it is nice so it is always worth drawing again. If you live in Davis and are at a loss for something to draw, just come and draw Newman Chapel, it’s small and simple but pretty, and the light is usually good. I sat opposite on a nice Sunday morning on Independence Day weekend (it was the 3rd) (by the way I hope you had a fun Independence Day everyone in America! I just want to know, why do you have to have fireworks on a date when the sun goes down so much later than on the rest of the year? Could you not have declared Independence in, I don’t know, mid-October, or some time in April?* Then you can have fireworks at a decent hour and tired kids can get to bed a bit earlier, I’m just saying, it’s just a suggestion America, it’s too late now but any other countries wanting to declare independence should probably consider this. Just think of the children, the sleepy children!) (Actually I bet Jefferson and co did take the daylight thing into consideration, thinking “well, we don’t have electric lights and stuff so let’s have Independence Day on a day when people can celebrate in as much daylight as possible, yes that makes a lot of sense actually, and schools are out so kids can stay up as long as they want, what is a firework anyway,” that’s what Jefferson and co thought. It’s worth pointing out that schools are indeed out over here by this point, unlike in Britain, which I’m sure factored in the whole Independence thing too, “we’ll finish school when we want!” I’m sure the politically powerful Summer Camp Lobby had a say in matters as well, arguing for longer summers. I’m digressing well off topic here but can I just say, summers off school are very long over here and figuring out what to do with the kids all summer can sometimes be a challenge. We watched the fireworks in Davis from the Green Belt with all the other families in our neighbourhood, all the kids running around in the dark with their glow sticks, it was like a rave for very small tired people. The firework display itself was at Community Park, just opposite, but we avoided the throng of people over there who went to listen to live music and a poetry reading by the Davis Poet Laureate before the big firework s went off, staying in our little Green Belt park. It’s a very family atmosphere. Davis is a very family town.
This was sketched in the Seawhite of Brighton sketchbook #4, all ink done on site and coloured in later when I got home (after going for food and drink at some friends’ house).
*I just need to point out that in fact Independence Day should have been in April, it was signed 7/4/1776 right, which technically should be the 7th of April (think of Oliver Stone’s famous film ‘Born of the Seventh of April’), meaning you could have had fireworks after dinner and then got the kids to bed and still had time to watch a movie, but for some reason it isn’t. That’s fine, I totally prefer July anyway.
Last Friday, I really needed to go out and sketch away my frustrations with the day’s news by doing a complicated drawing of a bar, and having a few beers while I was at it. I’ve sketched all of Davis’s bars now I think (except ‘Our House’, I’ve never sketched there) and wasn’t sure which one I wanted to draw. I nearly went back to City Hall Tavern again, (they had kindly posted something about my sketches on their Instagram account the day before), but I hadn’t been to Sophia’s bar in quite a while (a year and a half at least) and I always like it in there, the people are nice, so that’s where I went. I go to the attached restaurant pretty regularly, Sophia’s Thai Kitchen. It’s my favourite food in Davis. I have sketched this bar a couple of times before, both while sat further back from the bar and focusing more on the colours and contrasts, but this time I wanted to tackle sketching those bottles. Sophia’s has Brother Thelonious on tap, which is probably my favourite beer in the US, though you can’t drink too much of it. The Giants were on the TV; the Giants are always on the TV when I bar-sketch. You can click on the image for a closer view. I drew this in the Seawhite of Brighton sketchbook (the one I started in Santa Barbara) with the brown-black uni-ball signo um-151 pen, and it took me, I don’t know how long. Three beers I think. I had a couple more for luck. I kept the colour to a minimum but did add a block of blue highlighter for that fish-tank thing. Also blue for the bartender’s hair, you know I can’t resist sketching blue hair. And so, another bar sketch. See my others…