food and wine, i’ll be fine

RMI April 2018 sm
This is the Robert Mondavi Institute of Food and Wine Science, which I have drawn before. This was sketched a couple of months ago now. Before the World Cup. This World Cup is draining me a bit, it’s all I can think about. I’m up at 5am every day watching it, then spending the rest of my waking hours thinking about whether Germany will get into the knockout stages and how England can avoid them; why both Spain and Iran changed into their away kits when their away kits are the same colour as the other team’s home kit; how unexpectedly brilliant VAR has been; why are Argentina playing so utterly rubbish; was that Iran player’s attempted flip-throw that became a limp roly-poly the funniest moment of any World Cup; when will the 0-0s start? Is this happening to you? There is a day next week when the football stops and I hope to completely catch up with life on that day. Anyway this is as I said the RMI, nearby to my office, sketched one lunchtime.

Ok here are some previous versions…

RMI 092213putah creek uc davis
RMI building, UC DavisRMI building

RMI building

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never mind the balalaikas

watching the world cup
I hope you are enjoying the World Cup. Here I am in my living room, watching Russia beat Egypt 3-1, the big World Cup poster hanging above my TV. On the wall to the right I have all of the flags on the wall arranged by group, mosaics made of paper, my son and I made many of them for the 2014 World Cup, he didn’t help me make any of the new ones though. I like this World cup, I’ve had a lot of 5am wake-up calls for kick-off, but World cups in their early group stages are still full of hopes and maybes, before the rot sets in. Still some room for excitement and apathy. Soooo…my pre-tournament tip of Argentina winning it? Yeah, they drew 1-1 with Iceland and lost 3-0 to Croatia. I think Argentina’s formation was one big sad face, Messi’s certainly was. Time to break out the “Don’t Cro For Me Argentina” headline. (“Messi Argentina Taken to Cleaners.” “Hrvat’s Going On?”). No 0-0s yet, thankfully, but 1-0s aren’t any more exciting. Goals can be overrated, a good contest is much more fun. I’m glad England won their opener, Harry Kane doing what he does. I feel bad for the North African teams all going out early though. Oh yeah, Tunisia aren’t out yet, but they have Belgium next and the Belgians are looking good. I could go on, but I have had two very long pre-World Cup posts already. I’m enjoying this Russia World Cup, teaching us all a bit more about Russian geography, and the hosts have had a good start, less Russian bots and more Russian boots. The TV studios backing onto Red Square with St.Basil’s in the background look amazing. I had a pen-pal from Moscow when I was a teenager, so many years ago. I remember going to see the Hunt For Red October when I was about 14, and not enjoying it, I left before the end because I was bored. I’m not sure what I was expecting. Big nuclear explosions probably. Maybe there were a few last-minute goals I missed, I don’t know. I never watched it again and don’t want to, I like the mystery of not knowing what happened. Also, I don’t remember anything that happened during the movie anyway. It was no ‘Back To The Future 3’.

the view from the dinner table

At Home
Here are a couple of sketches (two months apart) from our dinner table, one looking out to the yard, the other to the kitchen. Fun penwork. The one above was done in the afternoon with a Pepsi Max (or rather, ‘Pepsi Zero Sugar’ as it’s called now over here), while the one below was done in the evening and a glass of Portuguese wine. I am going to Portugal this summer for the Urban Sketching Symposium so wanted to get an early taste. It’s Vinho Verde; I’ve never actually had Port wine, not sure what I would make of it. They tell me it’s a dessert wine, good with cake. When I was last in Lisbon the only thing I saw locals drink was Super Bock and Sagres beer. I’m also reading ‘Futebol: the Brazilian Way of Life’, a gift from the Brazilian family whose son was on our U10 soccer team this year. We were the Davis Spurs (naturally). I’m enjoying the World Cup, by the way. I ended up getting the Argentina away shirt, but I was given a Brazil away shirt along with this book so I’m wearing both of those this year (as well as wearing my 2010 England away, my 2014 France shirt and my 2016 Belgium top; I just like good football shirts).
Kitchen

I might get a new dinner table. The chairs are getting a bit wobbly, despite frequent retuning with the allen key. That vinho verde was very nice. I’m enjoying the book.

all you need is lava

sophia's bar davis
Another from the end of March. I did promise the staff at Sophia’s that this would be posted on my sketchblog but that it would be probably late, as I have been slow to sue my scanner; I was write, almost three months later. The past weekend involved a fair amount of scanning of several months of sketching (ironically, far less sketching than last year; in terms of volume, January-June this year is the same as January-March last year) (I do keep a chart) (this year I have been busy with learning a new job and coaching a select soccer team) (excuses, excuses). Anyway this was from the very sketch-productive weekend when I was home alone, so went out sketching the whole time. Usually I would go out of town on this weekend (San Francisco in previous years) but this year I stayed in Davis to (a) feed the cats and (b) I was too knackered to traipse around North Beach. After some sketching outside, followed by a chicken biryani at the Yeti restaurant, I popped by Sophia’s bar for a ‘Lava Lamp’ drink, which I had been told by my wife is very similar to the much-loved Lava Flow we had in Hawaii. It was delicious, so I made it the centrepiece of my latest bar sketch. It added a bit of contrasting colour to this quite golden-lit bar area. I had a couple of these. The white gel pen came in handy. This is another example of sketching in low-light conditions, and doing the paint on site if possible (not always a priority for me, I sometimes sacrifice the painting when short on time, the penwork on site is my thing) is important to really bring across my experience of the light, dark and colour. See I’m great at explaining things aren’t I. Hey, chapter 1 in my book ‘Creative Sketching Workshop’ is all dedicated to bar sketching tips. Anyway while I come in here about once or twice a year, it’s one of my favourite bars in Davis, but I love the food at the adjoining restaurant (Sophia’s Thai Kitchen), we eat there a lot.

Here are some previous sketches of the same place…

sophia's bar, davis
sophia's bar, davis
sophia's bar, davis

what’s the matter with you, sing me something new

B and 8th, Easter 2018 sm

Here is another panorama, this one from Easter Sunday. This is the Davis Lutheran Church on the corner of B and 8th. B8. “B-8-iful sketch!” a passing punster might say. “B-8-a-fool” more like. Anyway I have wanted to draw this scene for ages, not so much the church which is just a regular building, not exactly Sagrada Familia, but that tree in front is incredible. I had to draw it soon; this was the start of April, which is still leaving it late, but I had to draw it when there were no leaves. It’s too leafy after that. Like this you can see the branches and the shape and yes, it was a bit tedious drawing all those branches but no, actually it was great fun. I’m glad I drew it on Easter because there’s that big cross on the lawn. There are significantly more colourful objects on the left page of this panorama than on the right. This is the way home from downtown. Nice to sketch something I have not already sketched in Davis. There are still one or two things left to draw, I guess.

eh eh, calm down, calm down

Arboretum April 2018 sm
This was two months ago now, more than that, but the view probably hasn’t changed so much. That’s Mrak Hall across the water there, occluded by the trees, while I am in the Arboretum of UC Davis, in the shade. This year is whizzing by. The news every day is just an endless stream of avoidable depression, the inbox a constant flow of to-do-nows, and the sketchbook is a little less used than last year as I struggle to fit it in (not to mention finding new things to draw). Spots like this are a great escape. I don’t know what it is about the calming effect of water. I used to love to go and look at the Thames, that would be my escape back home. The year I spent in Belgium would often be a struggle to stay motivated, and I remember one day going to the coast, and watching the sun set on the beach at Ostend, and feeling generally mentally restored by the North Sea, just by looking at the silvery waters, just looking. Of course then I got a train to Antwerp and spent the rest of the evening exploring old watering holes, which was restoring in its own way. I did a lot of exploring when I lived in that small country. I wonder if ducks do that, if they ever get really stressed out by being a duck, to they go and just look at a field. The world is moving along so fast. These colourful flowers may well be gone now, and the summer heat is already starting to pour across the valley. Look for the good while it is still there, and feel it, and remember it. Right, that’s done, now back to work.

like the color when the spring is born

LDD mar18 3rd St construction sm
Still a backlog of sketches being scanned, and these are from March. We had a Let’s Draw Davis sketchcrawl on a very Irish-weathered (sunny! No wait, rainy, hang on no, sunny, wait here comes the rain; it was great) St. Patrick’s Day. The theme was very appropraite – draw in green. I used only green pen. Well I used other colour paints, but all the pens I used were green. Light green marker, dark and normal green fineliners, and two tones of green brush pen (double ended). The building above was the dark green pen, sketched from the shelter of the US Bicycling Hall of Fame (yep, that is here in Davis) while the rain came down. As I said I used watercolour. Oh actually there is a bit of orange pen in there too, which is ok because that is in the Irish flag. (Before you St Patricks enthusiasts say anything about green only, I should remind you that St Patrick’s favourite colour was actually blue, you’re doing it wrong) (while we are on that, my annual reminder that the four leaf clover is nothing to do with St Patrick, but the three-leaf shamrock totally is).
LDD mar18 green people sm
You can see the raindrops on this one. Quick single-line contour sketches of people passing by. Below is the corner of 3rd and A, at the entrance to UC Davis. These are all sketched in a Seawhite of Brighton sketchbook, which is a bugger to scan, as evidenced by the shadowy edge where I just cannot press it hard enough against the screen. Can be hard to photoshop out. Can we photoshop out the shadows on the edges of existence? Ouch that got philosophical, or maybe photoshopical.
LDD mar18 A St view sm
Here is that brush pen. It’s double-ended, and is called ‘Zig Brushables’ by Kuretake. I dunno, I bought it in a shop and I’ve not really used it since. I do this with pens sometimes, I think oooh I will draw some great and very different sketches with this one, I will be all out of my box and shit. Then I use it once and it takes up space in my pencil case like an extravangant unknown foreign footballer. I think I will send it out on loan to Galatasaray, I’m sure its morale is low from lack of sketches. I did enjoy doing this one though, it was quick, far quicker than my usual stuff. Maybe if I sketched like this all the time I would fill hundreds more sketchbooks than usual, but they would give you a massive headache.
LDD mar18 3rd St green pen sm
And here is fellow Davis skletcher Allan, who I ahve probably sketched more than any other person, over the years. This was at the end of the ‘crawl, when we all met to look at each others’ sketchbooks.
LDD mar18 allan sm