but to you in your own little dreamworld

2nd G St Pano Feb2018 sm
Well this is part two of the previous post, really.It jumps forward in time from last month to today, but posting that sketch inspired me to get out and complete the circle. The sketch I posted yesterday was done on the other side of the street from this one, directly opposite, here at 2nd and G. Froggies is now on the right, with Sole Desire is on the left (oh I get it, Sole like in a shoe and Sole like, no actually I don’t get it). If I had a shoe shop I would call it Over The Heel, maybe if it were a shoe shop for mature audiences. You can see the train station from here. My barber (Razor’s Edge) is a little way down the street on the right. I got my hair cut today. I am the most boring person when getting a hair cut. I get the same thing every time, for years. And every time he asks, how does it look. And every time I say, I assume it looks fine (my glasses are off, I cannot see a thing). I get an easy hair cut. I basically get it cut so I don’t have to brush it, brushing hair is so tedious. I do have a hairbrush for those times when it gets a bit longer. It is green and the initials ‘PWS’ are carved into it, because I bought it when I was 13 in Spain (my sister got it for me actually), a cheap plastic hairbrush from a souvenir shop, that has lasted me until my 40s because I hate brushing my hair. Why on earth am I telling you this? It is in no way relevant.

I have more sketches to post from the interim period, between the last post and today’s. I can’t guarantee the text will be as riveting as my 1989 hairbrush discussion. I did go to England, briefly and unexpectedly, at the start of this month and have a few sketches from there. I’ve been up a long time today. I woke up early and registered for the 9th International Urban Sketching Symposium in Porto. I am excited, but nervous all the same. It’s changed a lot since the first one, back in Portland in 2010. Portland to Porto. Anyway, if you are going to Porto for the Symposium, do say hello to me. You can if you like mistake me for someone else, that sometimes happens at the symposium. I remember Lisbon in 2011, a woman came up to me and said, in an excited but serious manner, “I know you, stay here, my friend really wants to meet you.” I was talking with Florian Afflerbach at the time. He had to go, and I was stood there like a plum, and a few minutes later the woman’s friend comes up to me, and the woman says “this is Paul” and her friend peers at me over her glasses and says , “no that’s not him, ” and then without another word they just walked off!! I’m standing there like an eejit, obviously they think I’m “Paul” (Heaston probably, another redhead urban sketcher) (or McCartney maybe?) (Weller?) (Pogba?). No what I love about the symposium is meeting all the people whose sketches I have followed online, been inspired by, learned from, it is very educational like that. You make connections, you might meet someone at one symposium just briefly, literally a couple of words, then follow their work on instagram or something, and by the next time the symposium comes around you’re like old buddies. It’s nice. I’m interested in seeing what Porto has to offer, it looks like a really interesting city. Of course, the first thing I think about is FC Porto, and that time Spurs beat them in 1991 in the Cup-Winners Cup (which no longer even exists), with an incredible team goal scored by Lineker. I’m looking forward to seeing the Portugal Urban Sketchers again, I enjoyed meeting them before (and eating a nice dinner with a group of them in Manchester, though I understood barely a word). I guess I had better start brushing up on my Portuguese…

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you get from day to day by filling your head

2nd G St Pano Jan2018 sm
Another downtown panorama from January. Remember a few years ago when I did loads of panoramas (panoramae? panorami? panoramodes?) in January 2014 and called it a ‘Panoramarathon‘, or in the spirit of naming months after doing artwork, a ‘januaramarathon’, yeah that one didn’t catch on, not exactly
‘inktober’ is it. Hey maybe there is still time for us to do another movement, okay February is already gone but perhaps this March we can dedicate it to panoramic sketches and call it “Panoramarch”. Seriously we have to do it in March because “Panoramapril” sounds rubbish. “Panoramay” could work though, if you can’t do March. I like drawing panoramas over two pages, in fact I would love to bring out a whole book of my Davis panorama sketches, that would be a fun thing to flick through, maybe include some witty little stories, observations, reminiscences, maybe the odd story with long-term locals about the places they love. If I did that I would probably edit down the nonsensical stuff, the ‘stupid-don’t-make-sense-stories’ as me and my friend Terry used to call them when we were at school. Back then we had a short-lived home-made magazine called “The Silly Goats Gruff” which honestly made zero sense. Like, literally. Like if you read some of my more long-winded go-nowhere blog posts, that is not even close. The ‘Stupid-Don’t-Make-Sense-Stories’ were pretty ridiculous. I should try to find some and post them here. There weren’t very many. Terry’s ones were actually pretty good, I thought, while mine always felt a little forced. Listen to me critiquing my 14 year old self’s writing style. That guy who reviewed my book on amazon (the one who said “the author’s explanations are so boring by the time he gets to the point I’ve forgotten what he was talking about“, that guy) (by the way, that guy, if you have forgotten what I was talking about, just look at the page titles), well he would have hated The Silly Goats Gruff. Definitely would have given it 1 star on amazon, plus a whole bunch of links to better publications about goats. “It doesn’t even tell me how many goats there are!”

Anyway, back to the sketch. I know, I know, you’re thinking “that guy has a point”, well yes, he definitely does. So, this was sketched one Saturday afternoon in mid-January after I got a haircut in downtown Davis, on the corner of G and 2nd. The heart of historic downtown, this. That new signpost is nice. On the left, Froggie’s, a bar that has been there for ages. When Terry came to visit me in 2006 I took him there, he loved it. He doesn’t write Stupid-Don’t-Make-Sense-Stories any more, more’s the pity. Now on the right is a shoe shop called Sole Desire, which again, thinking back to the last post, is another example of a Davis shop using some sort of pun in their name and I just can’t tell what it is. This took me under a couple of hours of drawing, but I added the colours when I got home.

e-street trees and memories

E St Pano Jan2018 sm
This is E Street, Davis. Click on the image to see it in more detail. Actually to see it in even more detail, go to the actual place. You have to stand just by the bins near The Hotdogger, near the rear of Uncle Vito’s, the pizza place. Well not just pizza, they do beer and fries and other things. They show sports. It’s nice, I’ve sketched in there before. When I first moved to Davis it was actually a Chinese restaurant called “Wok’N’Roll”. Wok’n’roll. Wok. ‘N’ Roll. There is another place in south Davis over where I used to live called “Wok of Flame. Not having an American accent I did not get that pun at first. Wok of Flame? IS there a Rock of Flame, is that a thing I need to look up, like Rock of Ages (which is another thing I don’t understand but nevertheless laugh when Iron Man uses it to refer to Loki). Now with Wok of Flame, when I realized, oh that is supposed to be ‘Walk of Flame’ but even then it was like, but I still don’t get it. What is the Walk of Flame? Took me ages to realize it means Walk of Fame. That’s two puns in one. So I started to think maybe all the other shops and restaurants in Davis were punny references to things I didn’t get? At this point I should roll off a load of Davis shops and restaurants and try to make vaguely funny guesses at what they could potentially be puns for, in a completely silly manner, but honestly I feel like I’m above such frippery. No, ha ha ha no no I am totally not above that actually so here goes. The Avid Reader, is that a reference to David Ginola’s Bird Feeder? No, that doesn’t work, not even close. Being a punster in the ‘Wok of Flame’ league is harder than you might think. But Wok’n’Roll…that works too because you have woks, and you have spring rolls. And it’s like Rock’n’Roll. I used to eat there sometimes on Saturday when I worked at the Avid Reader (my first job in Davis was at the David Ginola’s Bird Feeder) and to be honest, Wok’n’Roll wasn’t very good. I didn’t like the food much. I just liked their name.

Anyway, enough wok-ing down memory lane, back to this sketch. This is E Street, like the Band. The building on the left is the Dresbach-Hunt-Boyer Mansion which was built in 1875, I have sketched it before (remember my Davis centenary sketchcrawl last year?) but not from this side of the street. There is also Mansion Square behind it, with lots of various businesses which may or may not have punny names, like ‘A Better Place to Bead’, I don’t know what it’s referring to.

Actually I have a story from this building on the right, when I first came to Davis, before I had any job (back when I’d spend the day playing scrabble by myself before leaving the apartment at 4pm and go to the library to translate Anglo-Saxon poetry; boy I needed a job) (this was before I started drawing Davis) I interviewed for Kaplan, who did all the SATs and GREs and stuff. I ultimately never got the position, which I think was teaching people how to pass those exams, exams which I had never ever taken myself because I’m from the UK and we don’t require them, but I did get on very well with the people there and had to do a presentation on the subject of my choice. Now you might think, well that’s an obvious one, drawing, or maybe history, or even historical language, no definitely football shirts. Interactive Theatre. You’d be wrong. What I decided to talk about was Black Shuck. You know, Black Shuck the ghostly dog who terrorized East Anglia hundreds of years ago. Black Shuck who had this massive great big eye and breathed fire and burnt church doors with his paws. Black Shuck used to keep me awake at night. Black Shuck scared the living bejeezus out of me. He was huge, like a horse, and would roam the country lanes of Suffolk or wherever, and cars would feel his icy flaming breath (seriously myths and legends, make your mind up). I used to have nightmares about Black Shuck, like he would for some reason seek me out in my terraced house in Burnt Oak, north London, and, what? Roar at me? Burn me with his imaginary paws? Look at me with his massive single eye that looks like a bowl? Black Shuck, ridiculous, silly ghost stories. Like the Beast of Exmoor, or the Hairy Hands of Dartmoor. Yes, the Hairy Hands of Dartmoor, look them up, it’s one of those great local English legends.

That’s not a very interesting story actually. I may even be remembering it wrong, maybe I did talk about Interactive Theatre, leaving the Legend of Black Shuck story in my notebook, deciding last minute not to bother anyone with it. Memory can be a funny thing. Not everyone remembers everything the same way, so what is reality? Speaking of memory, one more thing to add about this sketch. Until about ten years ago there used to be a massive tree which stood right in the middle there, huge thing it was, towering high above the Davis skyline. It was leaning though, to the left (left-leaning like much of Davis), leaning to quite a large extent that if it fell it would have probably meant the end of Mr Dresbach and Mr Hunt and Mr Boyer, so they chopped it down. I still see it, like the ghost of trees past.

i love it when a plan comes together

A St Belfry Dec2017 sm

I never finished this one. Ah, I’ve sketched it before. It’s the Belfry an A Street, Davis. Not “a street”, it’s “A” Street. I feel like I have explained this before. I suppose if I had written, at the start of a sentence, A street, then you could be forgiven for thinking it was just a street, obviously you would say this is not a street, it’s part of a street but it’s clearly a building. Look when I was a kid I would get really confused by The A Team. Make your mind up, Hannibal! Definite or Indefinite article! I would imagine another show called “A The Team”. You had M.A. Baracas, who is smarter than the original, Murmuring Sane Murdock, Scipio Africanus Smith and of course, The Head. No, no I didn’t. I wasn’t that original. No, when I was a kid and first heard of the A Team, before I had seen the show, I misheard and thought it was called “The 18”. This is actually true. To this day I still wonder if my cousin was actually describing a show called “The 18” (it’s possible; I’m not sure he was allowed to watch the A Team, since he wasn’t allowed to play Star Wars) (well no, he was, but it was a frowned upon) (not much admittedly) (in fact we played it all the time) (I remember this one time we got in trouble in Brent Cross Shopping Centre for having a lightsabre duel with homemade cardboard lightsabres my sister made us) (reading stories about Armageddon and being turned to pillars of salt before bed was fine though, totally, no nightmares there) (but we did watch Superman 3 and that bit where the villainous sister gets turned into a mechanical killer probably gave me more nightmares, but was awesome) (age 7 was probably my most fun summer!). Where was I? A street. I drew this on A Street, a street which will now always make me think of the A Team theme. In Davis, B.A. is probably working on being Ph.D. Baracas by now. So this is the Belfry. I intended on colouring it in, but I got a little sidetracked.

show me the way to armadillo

LDD Dec17 Armadillo

One from just before Christmas, this was sketched downtown during the December ‘Le’s draw Davis’ sketchcrawl. I already posted the main sketch I did that day, of the Christmas Tree. This is Armadillo Music on F Street. It used to e further down F Street until a few years ago. The last times I sketched it was in the old location (2013 and 2011). I also had an exhibition of my artwork there in early 2011, which was actually the first exhibition I ever had here in Davis, so I’m always thankful for that. It was a fun evening, with renowned local singer Rita Hosking providing an in-store musical performance on the same evening. So finally I drew the new store location, a bigger store. I didn’t have time to add the colour because the sketchcrawl was over and I was feeling stiff from standing there in the cold. I just coloured in the Santa, which was for some reason lying on his side. Taking a rest before his trip around the world, no doubt. Ok, I am due to sketch Armadillo, which is one of those real proper Davis community shops, another time, with colour. Maybe on a warmer day!

shoe business

Davis Shoe Shop
Another one from over three months ago. Time moves fast. This is a shoe repair shop on C Street called the Davis Shoe Shop. Shoe repair shops are great set-ups for jokes. Like for example, “My friend said he was a member of the shoe repair men guild, I said that was just a bunch of cobblers”. Yeah, that doesn’t work if you don’t know what I mean by cobblers. Also it just doesn’t work. So, a cobbler is someone who repairs shoes, you know that. Well in British English at least, if you say something is ‘cobblers’ or ‘a bunch of cobblers’  it means it’s bullshit or not true. Like, if I said “I had lunch with Prince William today,” you’d say “cobblers” and it means you wouldn’t believe me. So a better joke might be, “All my friends are shoe repair men,” and the appropriate response would be “Cobblers”. You could also say, “I went to get my shoe repaired the other day, and the guy said he couldn’t do it, but he did fix me a fruit basket. Turns out he was only a Peach Cobbler.” See, yeah that doesn’t really work either. This is what I do all day, I try to think of joke opportunities that can fit any potential situation, but I don’t know any situation that would allow me to use that one, and nobody would laugh at that one anyway. File it under ‘dad jokes’. Not my dad, he wouldn’t tell jokes as good as that, but my son would definitely say I would tell jokes as bad as that. Situation specific jokes are handy though. A couple of days ago my wife was telling me about a joke she read on one of her Disney blogs that she likes (Disney blogging is a really big thing) that made her crack up, but you really had to be a Disney fanatic to understand it. Needless to say I didn’t understand it. We got talking about different genres of blogs and she was telling me about Credit Card blogs, people do have forums and blogs where they talk about different credit cards, pros and cons, points and deals, that sort of thing. Apparently it’s a thing. So I started wondering what credit card humour would be like, whether I would be any good at it (I thought I’d take a swipe at it, if you will). (See that doesn’t make sense because take a swipe means have a go at it, not give it a go; oh, the English language, what are you like). Anyway I eventually came up with the following, feel free to use it in any situation you find yourself in with credit card enthusiasts. “So I was shopping for kitchen utensils and I accidentally chopped off six of my fingers! I didn’t mind though, because I only like to show my last four digits.” No, that doesn’t work. Ok how about this: “Why does a credit card blogger cut two fingers off of each of their gloves?” No you can see where that’s going, that’s rubbish too. Or how about “Did you know in America they don’t have chip-and-pin? Instead they have fries-and-pin”, yeah that one is, look credit card humour just isn’t as funny as regular humour. (Side note, I think this all counts under the heading “The author’s explanations are so boring, by the time he gets to the point you already forgot what he was talking about“.) Ok back to the Shoe Repair jokes. “What’s a shoe repair man’s favourite type of music? Sole Music.” (That’s weak, even for me) “What’s the difference between a shoe repair man and a wild animal doctor? One fixes heels, the other one heals foxes.” Ok that one is pretty good, maybe more of a joke-in-progress. “What is a shoe repair man’s favourite Star Wars movie? Brogue One.” Actually no, “The Laced Jedi”. Actually “Sole-o” (that’s the new one). The comedic possibilities are endless. Not very funny, but endless all the same. Perhaps the best sort of humour in this genre is more physical rather than descriptive, that is, “shoe don’t tell.” Ok, I’m done.

Voices Singing, Let’s Be Jolly

Davis Xmas Tree 2017 sm

I’m hoping 2018 will get me back into the groove of sketching-scanning-writingnonsense-posting, but we shall see. I haven’t even scanned my November sketches yet! And some of those were from lovely Hawaii. Also, a couple of sketchcrawls not reported on, but actually a lot less sketching than usual. The large massive glut of sketches at the start of 2017 has, well not dried up exactly, just been a bit disrupted by my working-through-lunch habits, and also running out of things to draw in Davis. So anyway rather than play catch up, here are three recent and timely sketches of Christmas Trees. The one above, that’s the one down in E Street Plaza in Davis, sketched on the December “Let’s Draw Davis” sketchcrawl. I really enjoyed sketching that, after quite a busy and stressful week, I needed to be out sketching with sketchers and it was nice.

SF Union Square Xmas Tree 2017 sm

Now this one was done only a couple of days ago, down in San Francisco. Needed de-stressing, so getting out of Davis for the day down in the City was the ideal tonic. I just went around SoMa and Union Square, and ended up sketching the big tree with the extremely festive Macy’s in the background. It was very bright.

Home Xmas Tree 2017 sm

And finally, our own little Christmas tree at home. It’s a fake tree, which we bought if I remember rightly back in December 2005, our first one in Davis. It’s heavily protected from kittens who like getting in and lying on the branches. I always like to draw it before Christmas Day itself, so it still has pressies around it. It’s Christmas Eve right now – well, just turned Christmas Day, and I just finished off a bottle of Italian red wine, which feels not only supremely festive but highly decadent, I have not finished a bottle of red wine pretty much since I was at college, I think. I’m not a huge wine drinker; this one was quite nice. Also ate a lot of turkey, parsnips, cheese, chocolate, and even a mug of hot chocolate – I accidentally bought a tin of hot chocolate at the store today for $12.99 which is completely mental, I don’t even drink hot chocolate (once every few years) but I saw it and thought yeah, that looks nice, and only $2.99! Checked my receipt later and was like, what the? But the store was so busy I didn’t want to go back. So I got my $12.99 hot chocolate and yeah it was nice I guess, it bloody well better be, $12.99, that is, wow. I bought a lot of unnecessarily expensive cheese too. The selection wasn’t very good either. Well, Christmas is all about the dearth of cheeses.

Sorry, cheesy Xmas joke ahoy. Actually the selection of cheeses was very good. Merry Christmas everyone! Happy Holidays, Seasons Greetings and And a Happy New Year. May you have all the joys of the holiday season, full of friends, fun, festivities and lots of things that begin with f. Buon Natale! Joyeux Noel! Meli Kalikimaka! Frohe Weihnachten! God Jol! Prettige Kerstdagen! Nollaig Shona! Feliz Navidad!

Alright here’s a few more Christmas trees I’ve sketches from down the years. Not all of them, just a few.

merry christmas everybody!
xmas tree 2011
christmas back home
Merry Christmas!
sapin de xmas
at about 5am on boxing day