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.

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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!

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.

back home on the couch

living room
So the Spurs finale at the Lane was pretty epic. The victory against United, which of course I never doubted for a second would happen, and then all the old legends came out onto the field in pouring rain, and Kenneth Branagh’s video, and the rousing rendition of Glory Glory Tottenham Hotspur (“Pride of northern London and the KINGS of WHITE HART LANE…” yeah, I got a bit salty-discharge-eyed) and the clouds broke and sunshine poured in mid-chorus, and That Rainbow which was an unbelievably Hollywood moment of perfect timing (and did you see Glenn Hoddle? Raising his eyebrows and pointing his brolly up to show his fellow 80s legends, who were all thinking, Glenn, don’t get too excited mate, it’s just weather!). Yep, in my living room which we had decorated with Tottenham shirts from through the years (happy mother’s day, by the way), we watched and felt very moment. And all those years that I have been singing “Spurs are on their way to Wembley,” and now I really don’t want them to. And today, the bulldozers are already in digging the old place up.

But enough of all of that. This is a completely unrelated sketch, except that it is of the couch where my exiled-from-north-London bottom was sat watching it all from 5000 miles away. This sketch however is from April, on a day when I was home from work sick, and lying on the sofa. Sofa away, you might say.

so long sofa

the old Couch
This is our old sofa. Or couch, settee, whatever, They don’t say settee as much over here as in we said growing up in England, but sofa and couch are pretty interchangeable in everyday speech. That isn’t by the way an invitation to school me on correct terminology for furniture, this is just What People Say. When we moved to Davis in 2005, what feels like a million years ago now, we needed something to sit on in our apartment living room, as you do, so we found this little couch (someone called it a ‘loveseat’ but come on, that’s just another euphemism for the bottom, I’m not falling for that one) at Cost Plus World Market (“Cost Plus”, why would you call your shop that? It’s like calling your shop “Value Free” or “Save Less”). It wasn’t expensive but it was very comfy. This very comfy couch stayed very comfy for almost eleven years, but we have outgrown it (especially with our ever-growing son), plus it had started to smell, and we wanted something that would make our living room feel more comfy. We went to Ikea one Saturday afternoon, bought a big L-shaped sectional sofa, which came next day and they took this one away. Au revoir couch. “We’ve come sofa.” So on its last night in Davis I sketched it, giving it all the old #couchexit and #sofexit nonsense, pointing out that I’m glad when we voted to get rid of the old couch we at least had a plan in place for its replacement, that we wouldn’t be sitting around on the floor for weeks while we decided what couch to get, etc and so on. Our new couch, an Ektorp if you must know, is very nice and I love it. I don’t miss the old couch one little bit.

We kept the cushions though. They are lovely aren’t they.