blame it on the changing of the seasons

5th St Davis
Ah, another big gap in posting. I promise I am busy as well as lazy. I’ve also not sketched as much, though I have been doing ‘Inktober’, that thing where you draw a picture in ink every day of October (interestingly enough I discovered that ‘October’ is originally the month where for 31 days people would use a different southern French word for “yes”, before that it was just called “Tober”, similarly this is how ‘November’ got its name, although it was Nonvember until scribes dropped the nasal almost silent ‘n’, before that it was just ‘Vember’, and no I don’t know where this is all going, I’m running myself into nonsense again, or is that no-sense? Forget all of this, I made it up). Inktober though, you get a list of 31 words and they are prompts to get you drawing every day. Good idea for inspiration. Despite it being October, one of the greatest months ever invented (cheers Rome! I guess), I didn’t do as much outside sketching, and all my Inktober efforts are actually just of Lego minifigures (you’ll have seen these if you’ve followed me on Instagram – where I’m called ‘pwscully’ because someone else is ‘petescully’, someone who has no posts and 1 follower). I’m going to post those up soon, I only scanned them in a couple of days ago. In the meantime, here is a sketch I managed to do on Saturday afternoon after a very long day of AYSO duties. I’d cycled downtown to get a haircut and came away empty-handed (or rather full-headed), as the barbers were packed. Must be haircut-tober or something. So I got a milkshake and sat on the sidewalk at the edge of Fifth Street to at least get a sketch in this overly warm late October weather. I have drawn this scene a few times before, and the leaves are all crisping up into their proper autumnal colours. Mood lately has been tired, stressed, a bit deflated, uninspired. Sketching helps with that.

So does getting a haircut. I finally did a couple of days ago, and Tottenham beat Real Madrid 3-1 in the Champions League on the same day, so those two things have improved my mood massively. Roll on November!

 

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weekend in LA

Southwest to LAX sep17 sm
Early last month I flew down to Los Angeles with my friend Roshan who was visiting from London, for a boys weekend to celebrate his 40th birthday. I didn’t do much sketching; it was a short trip and we mostly did tourism and, well, the pub. One or two pubs! A good old few pubs. I do find it harder to sketch when travelling with non-sketchers, (not for any fault of their own, I just struggle to concentrate) but I did manage a few sketches, including the in-flight drawing above. We stayed downtown at an awesome hotel with a great view, I only grabbed a couple of quick sketches of it, but we were really close to the LA public library (which I have sketched before, years ago).
LA hotel view sep17 sm
LA skyline sep17 sm
And of course, one fire hydrant. It wasn’t a 2am hydrant sketch (like on previous LA trips) but the library is once more in the background!
LA hydrant sep17 sm
And I got a few quick people sketches down at Venice Beach, of dancing roller-skaters. I would like to go back there on a sketching trip someday, there is always so much to draw around there. I really like LA.
venice skaters 1 smvenice skaters 2 sm

Let’s Draw Davis! October 21, 2017

Let's draw Davis! Oct 21, 2017
Join us for a Let’s Draw Davis sketchcrawl on the UC Davis campus! Free and open to everyone of all ages/skill levels, it’s just an afternoon of sketching on location around campus with other people who like to draw.

DATE: Saturday October 21,
START: 12:30pm, Memorial Union North Courtyard
FINISH: 4:30pm, Memorial Union North Courtyard

We’ll start outside the M.U., where the I will do a quick demo of how I sketch my favourite subject – fire hydrants – and then we will sketch about campus in groups or alone, as you prefer, before meeting up again at 4:30pm to have a look at each other’s sketchbooks.

This will also be a SCAVENGER HUNT – I will give out a list of things to look for and sketch. You don’t have to follow it, but if you do, you’ll get a sticker…

As always, this sketchcrawl is FREE and OPEN TO ALL. All you need is something to draw with and something to draw on! (And if you run out of those, the campus bookstore has great art supplies!)

I’ve been organizing ‘Let’s Draw Davis’ sketchcrawls here since October 2010, originally monthly, then less frequently, but now they are back to being monthly again, and co-organizes by a couple of other local sketchers; October is back to my turn, and what a great month to be sketching in, when the leaves are turning and the weather is cooling.

I hope to meet you there!
Pete

Facebook event page
“Let’s Draw Davis!” Facebook Group

to boldly arrive

future forward sept 2017 sm
A new academic year has begun on the UC Davis campus (wow, I have worked here since 2006), and this year we also have a brand new chancellor, Gary May, who joined us during the summer from Georgia Tech, where he was the dean of the College of Engineering. Last week I attended a special presentation (“Future Forward”) to a packed crowd at the Mondavi Center to open the new school year, hosted by Chancellor May and also featuring some excellent spoken-word performances by students. I live-sketched the Chancellor’s speech, peppered with references to some of his favourite personal interests such as Star Trek (lots of “to boldly go” in there) and comics (X-Men!!); he didn’t mention Lego but I read that he is a big Lego fan as well. So yeah, I like this new Chancellor already. I did get a chance to meet him when he first arrived in Davis on sweltering hot August afternoon, along with many other staff, students and faculty, and of course I couldn’t resist a quick sketch!
new uc davis chancellor gary may

on yer bike

US Bicycling Hall of Fame Davis
The US Bicycling Hall of Fame in Davis is found on 3rd Street. You know I have never been in there? I guess I’m not really that interested in Cycling. Oh I ride a bike every day, I love actually riding a bike, I’m just not interested in Bikes, or Cyclists. Yet here’s the thing, I am very interested in cars and the history of cars, I love to draw them, but I don’t drive a car myself. I sketched this from across the road on B Street. I remember several years ago when the Tour of California kicked off from Davis, Lance Armstrong (in his pre-ignominious-fall St.Lance days) was participating and had his bike stolen from Sacramento the day before. Someone actually half-inched his bike! Now Davis is a bit of a cycling center you might say, in fact we were the first city in the US to have bike lanes, that’s right, Davis was first, number one, us. We’re pretty good at it too. This time of year though on campus it gets a little chaotic, with all the new students and all the new freshly-minted cyclists going in all sorts of directions, careening across corners and riding round roundabouts. The bike crashes are often spectacular; it’s worth cycling defensively at this time of year, and wear a helmet. Also, new Davis cyclists, don’t go through stop signs downtown (or anywhere) because the local cops do actually hide around the corner catching errant cyclists out, and giving out tickets. I’m glad I live in such a bike-friendly city like Davis though, with all its bike lanes and bike shops. Helps that it’s flat too, because I don’t like riding up hills, or any kind of slight incline. Which is funny because I love hills, I love walking up and down hills, and seeing them from a distance.

cooling off at baker beach

Baker Beach San Francisco
Summers in Davis, California are ridiculously hot. I know that to you back in Blighty that means little comfort while you have the usual soggy British summertime, but it’s honestly too hot in Davis. Oh it’s a ‘dry heat’ which means you don’t sweat constantly, as we do when it gets hot in London, but still it’s too hot to do anything. You don’t want to leave the cool air-conditioned house, which can then make you go stir-crazy. Davis is too hot. The first summer I had in Davis back in 2006 was so hot that air-conditioning units crashed the local power grids several times; though ours was fine, many people in Davis would escape the hot evenings and go to the bookshop I was working in, just to cool off. Even my nice office was not immune during the day – the power would go down, and the building would gradually heat up, until everyone was just sent home. Davis summers don’t see as many power outages these days (usually they happen during storms now) but the summers are still ridiculous, and our PG&E bills certainly reflect that. However there is one way to beat the heat – get out of town and drive west to the San Francisco Bay Area. That first summer, it was on a Davis day of 115 degrees Fahrenheit that I first realized how different our climates were, the Central Valley and the Bay Area – on that day it was around 65 – 70 degrees in Berkeley. Quite a difference. And so, a few weeks ago, we decided to leave the boredom and heat and drove one Sunday down to Baker Beach in San Francisco, where the air was cool and the sky was blanketed with fog. Yes in California we leave the sunshine and heat and head to the coast to cool off beneath overcast skies and this is normal – I truly have moved across the world, and found my people. There we all were enjoying the foggy skies, in full view of the magnificent Golden Gate Bridge – full view, except for the top, obscured by rolling waves of fog. It was heaven. Of course, those harmful rays can easily get through that fog (I only ever get sunburnt in San Francisco, it’s deceptive) so we were still lathered in sun-screen. We hung out at the beach for a few hours until we got hungry for cheesecake, and then attempted to drive home. That took a very, very long time. First of all, we left the beach at 3:30pm, but did not reach the Golden Gate Bridge until 5pm, and you can see how near it is. Traffic was completely stuck. Over the bridge we stopped for dinner at the Cheesecake Factory, hoping the traffic would ease off, but it didn’t – after another long wait in unmoving traffic we abandoned all hope of crossing the Richmond – San Rafael bridge, and headed north to sit in more traffic along Highway 37. We weren’t home until 9pm, five and a half long hours later. And of course, Davis was still hot. So it is worth it to get out of town and cool down, but you might end up in a car for a very long time.