Home sweet home sweet home

living room march 27 2020
The confinement continues. I don’t watch the news, not as much as I should, but I watch the numbers, and the numbers aren’t looking great. So I sketch. I’m really drawing this house a lot. It’s relaxing to sketch. Above, the view from the couch. We were watching Spider-Man Homecoming, which is one of our favourite films. We had just watch the original Tron movie from 1982, which I had never seen before, and I must admit I wish I had not seen yesterday either. It was not just the early 1980s slow computer generated scenery, surely technically advanced for the day (though even as a kid, I remember it looked naff and didn’t really want to see it), but the uninteresting story and barely perceptible storytelling. The only thing I enjoyed about it was that the bad guy was played by Evil from Time Bandits, David Warner, whose voice I could listen to for hours. He actually played two characters, a human bad guy who looked like Arsene Wenger, and an computer-game bad guy dressed like a cybernetic prawn. Other than that the movie was just bats, and gave me a headache. So watching Spider-Man afterwards was much more of a palette cleanser.
desk area march 25 2020
Above, this is my desk area. Working from home, this is where I sit. I’m there right now too. I’m here a lot. This was another late evening sketch, drawn from the dinner table. On the screen are the latest coronavirus numbers. Even though this was only a few days ago the numbers are so much worse; we are no closer to flattening this curve. Not going to lie, I’m very much not enjoying this whole timeline. And like you all, I’m snacking way more while at home, so there’s another curve I won’t flatten. I haven’t been for a run for a few days, mostly because I am staying up too late (sketching, and worrying) and feeling too tired next day. I keep saying to myself, I’ll go to bed earlier, I’ll get up early, run before breakfast, energy and positive for the day. But I find it’s harder than I think.
living room march 24 2020

Here is the other view from the couch, looking at the desk and the table behind it. That box of tissues on the coffee table is in each picture. That coffee table is nice and big. We used it tonight to play Carcassonne. I just got that game last week as something new we could all play together. I really liked it, I want to play it more. I’ve never played it before so we are still learning. I’ve not really played any of those European-style table-top games before. Any more time at home and we’ll end up playing loads of them. I hope you are all doing well out there, at this crappy time. Let’s hope we’re out of this soon.

through the rear window

rear window view march 21 2020
The days indoors continue. So I am looking out the window. I did get out for a run yesterday, staying away from people, and this evening (Sunday) I managed to go out for a walk, this time avoiding the green belt path I know lots of people take, to social distance as much as possible. I ended up walking down some streets I’ve never explored, and was amazed at some of the designs of the houses. I’d love to draw those. Right now is not a good time to be on the streets sketching. So, looking out of the window it is. Amazingly I have never drawn this view from the upstairs back window before. I had always thought of putting a desk in that room and using it as an office, but we never got round to it, and now it’s just basically the Room of Requirement. It’s where guests sleep when they visit, and for all I know there might still be some in there somewhere, finding their way through all my travel books. The cats love it in there, full of places to hide, though it’s not much bigger than a broom cupboard. But ti does have a pleasant view, so my project now during this period of indoorsiness is to Do Something About It. Isn’t that all our project? And yet, with this whole thing going on, even getting out of bed is a struggle. I did find some time a couple of days ago to Do Something In The Yard though. My yard is beyond help, but since we got someone to get rid of the tree, it feels a bit more manageable. So I cleared a little space and built a soccer rebounder (not pictured in the sketch below as it’s a bit too far to the left). I had ordered it ages ago, but it turned out to be bigger than I thought. I finally built it a couple of days ago for my son to use in the yard, but it really does rebound a lot, so will take a bit of control. Sleeping in the foreground is one of our cats, Whiskers. They are indoors cats, but I let them run around and explore the yard. They love all the nooks and crannies and webs and branches, and Whiskers likes to get into weird-cat-noise contests with a neighbour’s cat, and guard the bottom of the fence while our other cat Sawyer just rolls his eyes.
back yard + cat

sheltering in place, the first few days

stairs
I really hate 2020, a lot. Like, it can honestly just bugger off. Well, this week Davis announced it will Shelter In Place, then this was followed a day later by an Order to Shelter In Place by Yolo County (yes our county is called Yolo), and this was then followed by the whole of California. So I started this week in the office, ready to pack up any moment, and was working from home by the middle of the week. Lots of meetings by Zoom. Because my wife is also working from home, it’s different from other times when I have worked from home like when I’ve been sick or looking after my son when he’s sick, because I can’t just have Revenge of the Sith on in the background or play David Bowie. It’s all an adjustment. I’ve not quite decided to turn on the camera in the Zoom meetings yet, until I can decide what my suitable background will be. I need to get a selection of clever sounding books and put them on a shelf behind me, either side of my head, so people will be like, wow, maybe he is clever. I have a lot of language books, and the Riverside Chaucer, or maybe I should put my own books – speaking of which, my most recent book was published in CHINESE this week! They sent me a copy. Or perhaps I’ll just put up one of my vintage World Cup posters, that would look more like me. Anyway, now that the whole world of urban sketchers it seems are sketching their houses, I thought it about time I did the same, and drew the living room last weekend. This week I drew a few more. Above, the stairs, drawn late at night while watching videos on YouTube about Star Wars (wow, there’s a lot of utter crap out there). The hanging birds and letters on the wall are from a Happy Birthday message I made for my wife, in Hawaiian. She really likes Hawaii. We would not mind being stuck there right now. There’s my son’s bike, he’s new to riding it, but he loves it, it’s just now with social distancing it’s harder to meet up with friends. And of course, despite living in Davis, the bike capital of America, I still can’t really draw a bike. I don’t care; there’s a pandemic on.
bedroom
Working from home means I can go to different rooms in the house and work. While I do have a nice computer at a desk downstairs, I can also take the laptop upstairs and do exactly the same thing. As it slowed down one afternoon I sat in the bedroom, answering emails and approving this and that, listened to podcasts, and then decided I needed to draw the bedroom. I don;t think I ever have before, the lair of Lego and piles of things, framed pictures and clothes, musical instruments and boxes of records, and all the shoulder bags I no longer use but don’t need to get rid of yet (I just brought one out of retirement that I got in 2007, it fits my new iPad into it so it’s back on the team). That large framed drawing in the middle, that is actually a print of an extreme panoramic drawing from Liège that Gérard Michel gave me way back in 2011. I keep meaning to bring that one into work, it’s too big for that piece of wall so it rests on top of other frames for now. I also have one of a 360 degree drawing from the Montagne de Bueren staircase that he gave me, now I have visited that very place maybe that one should go up here too, I just need to frame it.
kitchen

This is the kitchen, drawn from the dinner table, late at night while (again) listening to podcasts. One thing about working from home more now is that I snack more, which I had in the past year cut out completely (I lost 30 pounds in the last year, though I’ve put a couple back on now). I miss my walking to work, going to the gym after work, and I need to be a bit more dedicated to not snacking at home, but there’s a pandemic on, and the stress of that makes me feel more hungry I think. In this Shelter in Place order though, we are allowed to go out running, as I did this morning, I went on a 2 mile run (I actually was supposed to do a 5k this morning, but the event was cancelled). Most of north Davis seemed to be out too, walking dogs, walking themselves, running, biking, throwing balls to each other, social-distancing I suppose, not really sheltering in place. In Spain they have been using drones to tell people to go home from the park! So, I will run while I can, and I never liked going near people anyway, but I’m not gonna lie, I’d really like to go and sketch at the pub. I’m going to miss that for a while.

it wasn’t to be, this time

spurs champions league final living room
It felt like a World Cup game. I don’t want to talk about it. I’m just glad we got there, we really shouldn’t have even made it out of the groups. That quarter final against City with the late VAR screen ‘no goal’, that dramatic late goal at Ajax after being three down on aggregate, the fact we didn’t have a home stadium until late in the season, the fact we never bought a single player in a year and a half, it’s a whopping great achievement getting to the Champions League final, our first ever one, my beloved Tottenham Hotspur. It was a wild ride. The final itself was killed off by a dubious penalty decision in the first 30 seconds. Liverpool sat back and soaked us up easily, but both teams looked like they hadn’t played for three weeks. I had all of my Tottenham shirts, which number a good many, hung up around the house like a museum of football kits. I made a couple of banners of all the old home kits, we played the old Spurs music and watched old Spurs videos all morning. I never thought we’d actually win it, years of watching real World Cup games has taught me enough of that, but Liverpool have won it enough times. It would have felt better to lose to a non-English team really. Oh well. We can say that Poch should have done this or Harry should have done that, but at the end of the day it’s a football game and one wins, one loses, and there you go. That’s life. I had always said that if Spurs win the Champions League I would put on all of my Tottenham shirts at once and run around Davis singing Chas and Dave. Well the weather was in the high 90s so at least I didn’t have to do that.
uncle vitos

I had a walk downtown that evening though, minus all the shirts, minus the Chas or the Dave. I just needed to sketch and have a pint, and hopefully it would be somewhere that wasn’t showing a replay of the final. I stopped into Uncle Vito’s, who were showing golf, and sketched the above before walking home. Oh well. At least Arsenal lost their final too (unfortunately it was to Chelsea), but that means no North London Supercup. Some other time maybe.

the corner of the kitchen

Kitchen at home

I have tailed off from sketching the past couple of weeks. Been busy, not been spending enough time sketching at lunch, but also I have a sketchbook with only a couple of pages left to finish off and I like to fill those with big bold sketches, you know. I was hoping to close it out in April, but never made it. Suddenly it’s nearly mid-May! I’ve not had the time for a two-page panorama, and not been anywhere particularly big and bold lately. I am eager to start the next sketchbook, but I want that one finished before I leave on my summer trip, when I will start a new one. It’s all about timing. So, I should sketch at home more. But I always find, I don’t really want to. Then I stood in the kitchen and thought, I’ll sketch this corner. It’s quite colourful. I accidentally drew the top of the blender a little too high so now it sticks above the line of the cupboard which is actually in front of it, but I’ll just pretend you didn’t notice. By the way I don’t use that blender much. I got it to make nice cocktails and smoothies last year but only made a few. We don’t really make much of that stuff. The toaster gets used the most. I’m of the British variety where everything goes on toast. Beans, noodles, cheese, sardines, even toast on toast. I don’t have a toastie though, back in my teens I loved having a toastie. I’d make toasted sandwiches full of hot melty cheese, it was always the best when the cheese would melt through the sides and get all crispy. Great with a spicy sauce too, and maybe some tuna. I’m thinking about all these foods, but the diet is going pretty well so far.

a song with no words and no tune

cats on sunday
After a very busy/tiring few days, which included my son having friends over for a sleepover last night, Sunday is quiet and peaceful and the family are all taking naps. I took the peaceful time not to go out and draw in the sunshine, but to sit in sweat pants and listen to podcasts and draw the sleeping cats. Pay no attention to the boxes piled up outside, that’s a job for later this afternoon. I’ve been listening to Adam Buxton’s podcasts lately which have been entertaining in their niceness. I had to paint fast as the colours outside kept changing as the noontime January sun kept shifting position. I’ve had a good idea for a book which I am thinking of spending the rest of the day working on. After I’ve done some tidying up.

the last few sketches of the year

C St Frat House
It’s New Year’s Eve! Look to the future now, it’s only just begun. I wish it could be New Year’s Eve every day. I don’t really do much for New Year’s Eve, but I do make a point to get out and sketch somewhere, no matter how cold it is. Here are today’s ones. Most sketching I’ve done in a month! My thumb was hurting, so I had to go light on the sketching. Still hurts but wanted to feel productive. I have been trying to teach myself to do digital illustration, the very basics, which has meant a fair bit of tracing as well. Feels very ground-level though so it was nice to get back to sketching, something I feel a bit better at. Bloody windy out today though. It’s 2018 being blown away. I’m not looking forward to 2019 (specifically March, when Britain leaves the EU with no apparent deal in sight), but it’s just numbers on a calendar. I think that it’s just the last year of an unknowable decade. We don’t really have an agreed name for this decade. The last one is sometimes called the ‘noughties’ which is a bit of a rubbish name, and I’ve heard this one called the ‘twenty-tens’ but that just isn’t anything. When we finally hit 2020, and the Twenties, we can get back on track. I’m still not used to being in the ‘twenty-first century’. It’s all just numbers on a calendar. The sketch above, drawn in the wind, C Street Davis. I drew this same building on New Year’s Eve four or five years ago, from a different angle.
back yard
This is my back yard. Apart from the above, I’ve not left the house much this week. I did this before going out to sketch, as if to warm up, and listened to a podcast of Edgar Wright speaking to Adam Buxton, which was really interesting. I really liked that long triangular shadow sneaking across the back fence. New Year’s Eve, I don’t party on New Year’s Eve any more. When I was a kid my family always had a party, or if not us then someone else in our street. When I was in my 20s, I’d sometimes go out on New Year’s Eve, but I also remember the ones in my late teens when I’d just stay in watching Jools Holland and Rab C Nesbitt on my little TV in my bedroom, while drawing football kits. I ain’t changed much!
Playfields park

I did one last sketch, a quick one paint-first while the daylight drew to a close, and my son took part in a smaller soccer practice session at Playfields in Davis. It was cold, windy, brisk, but the boys were just happy to get kicking balls about. As I’m not coaching now, I was happy to just watch and sketch, though I did get cold.

I do have some more 2018 sketches to scan, maybe I’ll do those later tonight (party on!!), but I need to finish assembling the 2018 sketches grid. I do it every year. You may remember from last year (you probably won’t, that’s fine) that I have been doing more and more sketches each year. Here’s the post. Well, I can confirm that this year the sketch-rate went down again, and I could not catch up with 2017, not by a long way. Ah well. Happy New Year 2019!