sketchcrawl sunday scavengers


Last Sunday we held the latest “Let’s Draw Davis!” sketchcrawl in downtown Davis, starting at the Amtrak Station and finishing up at Mansion Square. This one was, unlike the other ones I’ve organized in Davis, a “scavenger sketch-hunt”. I provided everyone with a list of things at the start, things which could be found in that section of downtown Davis, and they had to draw between 8-12 of them to win a sticker at the end. In truth, just getting to the end meant you got a sticker, but it’s a good fun way to explore and have ideas of things to draw. I think everyone really enjoyed it! I was told it helps some people get over the “what should I draw” conundrum, like Inktober or Every Day Matters – little prompts, totally optional. I’ll do that again.


The list is as follows:

  1. The Amtrak Station (or part of)
  2. A Fire Hydrant
  3. A Bicycle
  4. A Piece of Public Art (sculpture, mural)
  5. A Giraffe
  6. A Public Pay-phone
  7. A Musical Instrument
  8. Another Sketcher
  9. A Barber’s Shop
  10. A Bottle
  11. A Street Sign
  12. The Varsity Theatre (or just the sign)

For the record, I managed eight of them – numbers 1, 2 (obviously, come on), 3, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, and 12. Here’s why I didn’t get all 12 – I draw fast, but not that fast. No, not just that. IT RAINED ALL DAY! Unusual for Davis. But I spent some of the summer sketching in Manchester so it felt a little familiar. It wasn’t raining when we started, and we had quite the turnout (around 25 sketchers) despite the threat of rain. A lot of people set up across from the station to sketch it, and I sketched some of them – and then the rain came, and it didn’t stop until, haha, right after the sketchcrawl finished. Like, immediately afterwards, blue skies. Ah well. So, here are my sketches of the sketchers Jesse, Omar and Emily:


As you can see, splotches of rain started slowly splashing onto the page as I sketched Omar and Jesse; I had to duck under cover when adding colour to Emily’s sketch.


Here is my sketch of the Amtrak Station, sketched in a dry spot next to the building opposite. Most sketchers had ducked for cover, but there is one with a brolly (a few others held umbrellas and sketched too but didn’t last as long as that sketcher!).


Yeah it was raining hard when I sketched this bike. I was stood beneath a shopfront awning and the rain was still getting to me, so I just painted it quickly. I had wanted to sketch either the large giraffe statue or the giraffe bench opposite this on F Street, but the rain was too heavy to get a decent vantage-point.


I did have a nice dry spot to sketch the Davis Barber Shop though. I have never sketched this place before, and should really sketch inside some day. I was glad they were open on Sundays. The barber was kind enough to let other sketchers in to sketch, and I think he liked my rendition of the outside. I kept it simple and didn’t add paint, as I wanted to move on.


I have sketched the Varsity a million times before and this day was so rainy and grey that I didn’t need to worry about that blue sky bringing out the white building or the shadows cast beneath it, however the pink and blue of the neon sign was too cool to pass up. I added a blueish grey marker to the foreground tree.


Right, a few items to check off the scavenger hunt list. The street sign, obvious. The bottle, that was at De Vere’s though I had included a bottle on the list just to advertise my show at Putah creek Winery, basically, in case people went by there. And the trumpet, fulfilling the ‘musical instrument’ sketch. Actually it is a coronet, and I sketched it at Watermelon Music on E St, which will be vacating its downtown spot at the end of the year and relocating to West Davis, due to the new landlords downtown forcing all these local businesses to close. Yes, some tough times ahead for downtown. Well, I like Watermelon, and bought some guitar strings as I am inspired now (after seeing Paul McCartney live in Sacramento recently – wow that was awesome! My 12 year old Macca-obsessed past self was smiling down on me that night). Several other sketchers had been in drawing stuff, they didn’t seem to mind too much, and I asked if it was ok if I drew too. I’ll miss them; I probably won’t cycle out to West Davis, see, kinda far for me.


Yeah, the rain was getting a bit much so time for an interior, and where else but De Vere’s. This time I drew the familiar bar but played a bit with the colours and I LOVE it, that blue and yellow. I’ll do more of that. I had a nice stout, good choice on a drizzly day.

And then we all met up at the end, well about a quarter of those who had started, and I gave out more stickers such as those ones below. I hope everyone had fun! The next Let’s Draw Davis sketchcrawl will be on Saturday November 12, at Vanderhoef Quad on the UC Davis campus, starting at 10:30am. I’ll post a poster soon!

art about at putah creek winery


This Friday, October 14, if you are in downtown Davis (“or even if you’re not”, as that late-night TV ad used to say), why not come to Putah Creek Winery on F Street (near the Hallmark Inn) and say “hello” and look at some of my sketches? They will be hanging on the walls, as you do in a winery, and I will be there to tell you about sketching and why it’s so fun. And also I will remind you about the “Let’s Draw Davis” Sketchcrawl coming up this Sunday October 16. I’ll also say, hey why not check out my sketchbook show at the UCD Design Museum, “Conversations with the City”? I will probably tell you to go and get my new book as well, “Five-Minute-Sketching: People”. I’ve been pretty art-busy lately (not to mention work-busy and coaching-soccer-busy). It’s also “Pajamarino” in downtown Davis that evening, look that one up, it’s an ancient Davis tradition I have never been to. So, if you fancy trying some wine, seeing some sketches, talking about Moleskines vs Seawhites (they are sketchbooks, not ice hockey teams), come on down…

WHEN: Friday October 14th, 5pm-8pm

WHERE: Putah Creek Winery, F St, Davis CA

Hope to see you there!

Event announcement on Downtown Davis

From the Boiler Building to the Pitzer Center

ann e. pitzer center uc davis
Last night I held a talk at the UC Davis Design Museum in conjunction with my sketchbook exhibit, “Conversations with the City”. It went really well, a lot of people came, and hopefully I made some sense. I know afterwards I kept thinking, “oh I forgot to say that! I should have mentioned this!” One thing I did make sure was a central part of the talk though was the idea of the sketchbook as a tool to record history, and to demonstrate that I showed the history (over a period of a few years) of one spot on the UC Davis campus, that being of course where the Boiler Building once stood, and its heir, the Ann E. Pitzer Center. UC Davis’s newest music building is, as regular readers will know, now complete and hosting beautiful music, and at last my final drawing of the building is done, right above. I sketched this last Sunday morning and showed it in my slides last night, the original will be displayed at Putah Creek Winery from next week (did I mention I have another show in Davis starting next week? I think in my excitement I forgot to say last night! I’ll post about it soon…)

So now then I will show at last the full story, as I showed people last night, of my sketches from the Boiler Building to the Pitzer Center. It has been a fun piece of documentation.


Old Boiler Building

allez les verts

nanodrawmo 33

boiler building

boiler building (other side)

boiler building again

behind the boiler buildingboilers


boiler building, under demolition

boiler building, under demolition

boiler building (back)

boiler building, coming down

boiler building 121112 two


former boiler building location


music recital hall (under construction)

music recital hall (under construction)

Pitzer Center under construction

pitzer center uc davis

pitzer center uc davis

pitzer center oct2015-2 sm

pitzer center (under construction)

Pitzer Center UC Davis (under construction)

Pitzer Center UC Davis (under construction)

Pitzer Center UCD

Pitzer Center UCD

Pitzer Center UCD

Pitzer Center UCD

pitzer center - nearly done!


pitzer center back

pitzer center rear

pitzer center performance 9/24/16

ann e. pitzer center uc davis

Thanks for following this, everyone. It’s been fun.

next thursday – conversations with the city, talk and reception


“Conversations with the City” – talk and reception

Well I’m enjoying my sketchbook exhibit at the UC Davis Design Musuem, the curators and staff there have done an amazing job showing off my little books. Anyway, next Thursday October 6th, from 6pm-8pm, the Design Dept will host a reception at the Museum, along with a talk by me which will be about my work, about urban sketching, and about why you should carry a sketchbook. You totally should come if you are in Davis!

Oh and why not bring a sketchbook? Hope to see you there!


five minute sketching people

5 minute sketching people, by pete scully
Announcement alert! I have a new book!

It’s called “Five-Minute Sketching People“, and is being published this coming week by Firefly in North America, and Apple in the UK. It’s my second book in a year (following “Creative Sketching Workshop”), and the focus of this one is, as you can guess, all about sketching people in, well, not very much time at all. Over a hundred and twenty pages of tips and techniques, with some lovely contributed images from some of my favourite sketching friends. It’s called, as I say, “Five Minute Sketching People”, which is a bit like “24 Hour Party People” but you know, shorter. The thing with me is that, as you might know, I don’t draw people as often as I draw things that are not people (except other sketchers – I drew loads of people at the symposium this summer), so when I do, I tend to do it very quickly, in five minutes or less. People tend to move about, or have opinions, and change expressions constantly. It can be far more intimidating than drawing, for example, fire hydrants. Sketching people quickly means you can capture their essence without thinking too much, and so in this book I talk about that using different themes and examples. From sketching motion, to perspective, to using different media, and tip on different poses, I hope readers gain a few insights!

The book is available on amazon, and maybe in other places too. There is, and this is exciting, a sister companion to this book called “Five Minute Sketching Architecture” by Liz Steel, my urban sketching friend from Australia. She is a prolific and rapid sketcher, and also an architect herself, and that book is one I am super excited to read. Why not get the pair!

The Pitzer Center…finally finished!


After more than a year covering its construction, preceded by several years sketching the old Boiler Building on this spot, then documenting its demolition, the Ann E. Pitzer Center is finally open. This is the new Music Recital Hall for the UC Davis campus, a state-of-the-art performance and teaching facility. This past weekend was the opening weekend of performances, and on Saturday evening I attended the Faculty and Students of UC Davis concert, choosing a seat near the back to not only get as good a view for a long-awaited interior sketch, but also to test the acoustics of this new space. They are very good. I drew most of the room before the performance started, and just added the performers of the first piece once they took to the stage; I spent the rest of the time just sitting taking in the beautiful music. Many of the performances were amazing, and so varied, a lesson in the history of music, but for me this first piece was the best bit. Members of the UC Davis Symphony Orchestra played “Crisantemi” (“Chrysanthemums”) by Puccini, and it was just beautiful, haunting, elegant. The music comes right back to me when I look at the sketch. That is the thing about sketching – you can show, and you can even demonstrate your feelings in the lines, but unless you were actually there, you weren’t there, and I wish you could hear the music I still hear when I see it. I enjoyed this event, and the shiny clean newness of the building. I must make an effort to see some more events there.


I did get an outside sketch of the back of the building before the concert, though it was a little rushed, and the green grass a little forced.


I did do another one on Monday in pencil, of the view with the tall Sproul Hall behind it. I wanted to get one last sketch of this view, as this was the same view from when I sketched the Boiler Building back in 2011.And for all that I like this new building, and the beautiful music that it will host from here onwards, this view made me a little sad to think about the old Boiler Building, crumbling, idle, full of cobwebs and rust. I loved sketching that old place. Looking at Sproul in the background, though, I think I’m better at perspective now…

Old Boiler Building

Let’s Draw Davis! October 16, 2016


Join us for another sketchcrawl in downtown Davis, on Sunday October 16th! We will begin at 10:30am, meeting outside the Amtrak Station (2nd Street), and then sketch individually or in groups (as you prefer), before finishing up at 3:30pm at Mansion Square (corner of 2nd and E Streets), to look at each others sketchbooks.

START: 10:30am, Davis Amtrak Station

FINISH: 3:30pm, Mansion square (2nd/E St)

This sketchcrawl will also be a scavenger hunt – I will provide a list of things to look for and sketch, see if you can sketch ’em all!

This is FREE and open to everyone who likes sketching, all ages and levels. All you need is something to draw with and something to draw on!


I hope to see you there.