Time Bandits on a Saturday Afternoon

Living Room watching Time Bandits
I was Drawing the Living Room before it was cool.
This was done back in early November, shortly after I got my new iPad Air and Apple Pencil, and I was trying out ProCreate for one of the first times.It was a Saturday afternoon, and staying in on a Saturday afternoon (after a busy Fall Season of Soccer) felt like such a luxury. I put Time Bandits on, got out the iPad, and sketched away. Time Bandits is one of my favourite films, ever since I was a kid and would watch it all the time. I didn’t exactly get John Cleese’s Robin Hood down (or even looking human) but I think I nailed David Rappaport’s Randall. I really like sketching with the Apple Pencil, though it was an odd sensation on such a smooth surface at first, I really find I enjoy it more than with the Surface Pro’s pen for example. I love it for note taking as well, one of the great things about that is that you can spend the whole meeting scribbling football shirts and Magneto or just random patterns, and then just erase them quickly when someone looks over their elbow at you, or if you need more room for the real notes. I cannot stop actually using a pen in any way, that has been my way since I was a kid. Constantly scribbling on stuff. When I’m on the phone I draw the most detailed nonsense. So, one of the other interesting things about sketching with ProCreate is that you can use layers, so you can do the linework on one, colours on another, maybe a layer of warm airbrushes, and they all go together, it’s a different way of sketching, and I love it. I want to play with it more (and I have been).

Time Bandits though, Time Bandits always makes me happy. Right now I’d love a Time Hole Map.

Arteries and Arches: Amsterdam, The Map

Amsterdam Map
Here is a map showing where I did my Amsterdam sketches. It links to Flickr where you can see a much bigger version. It’s hard to see otherwise. I drew the map on my iPad this time. It was therapeutic, drawing all those streets and canals. Well tracing them really. I ‘forgot’ all the little lanes in the very middle, but I didn’t sketch in there anyway. I have mixed feelings about Amsterdam. Seeing the map now I just really want to go back, not be doing a symposium, just eat cheese and poffertjes and maybe not go mad in a heatwave. Explore the bits I didn’t sketch in, like De Pijp, the Museum Quarter, and Jordaan, even the trendy northern districts. But then I want to go everywhere all the time, even more so in this sudden new dark time of coronavirus pandemic and no travelling. I spend my evenings watching travel videos on Youtube like we may never have travel again. When all this is over I feel like I’m going to want to see everything on earth while we can. In the meantime I will make more maps, and if I can’t go there, I’ll sketch from Google Street View if I have to. Anyway, I’ll post some more recent sketches for a bit before returning to the story of last summer (after Amsterdam, we went back to Belgium, then Disneyland Paris, then London).

the answer’s in the looking glass

De Veres Davis

Continuing in nonlinear fashion (until I pluck up the courage to write properly about my summer trip to the Low Countries), let’s stop in at De Vere’s for a pint or two. De Vere’s is my go-to pub for sketching – lots of places to sit, lots of perspective, nice atmosphere, friendly staff. I also really like Sophia’s but it’s smaller, and a bit less light to draw by (but it’s my favourite place for food in Davis). Little Prague used to be my sketchpub years ago when it was there (it closed six years ago), it had a long bar perfect for panoramas, lots of stuff all over the walls, and awesome tall Czech beers. De Vere’s however has Pub Chips, and that is a big win for me.  Their Pub Chips have some thick gravy on them, and some melted cheese. Not quite as nice as proper northern Chips in Gravy, and possibly more similar to Canadian Poutine, either way they taste pretty nice. On this one Saturday night in September I found my favourite spot in the corner at the end of the bar and sketched away. I got into a nice conversation with a bloke from Ireland and his American partner. I lay the paint on very thick, and scribbled away with the pen very hard; I had fun with this sketch. This was one to attack the paper. I’ve drawn this place before, and I’ll draw it again, no need to be precious. I was celebrating; that evening I had sold another drawing at the Pence Gallery in the annual Art Auction, which is always a nice feeling. I really like drawing. Sometimes I get down on myself, start questioning if I’m good at anything, and then I remember I can draw fire hydrants pretty well, and while it’s not a useful skill, it’s a starting place. I can draw a bar too, in my own way, and it’s often fun as well.

De Vere's Davis on iPad

Anyway, I drew De Vere’s again a couple of months later, when I wanted to try out sketching with the iPad. It was a quicker sketch (one beer, late afternoon, on the Nov 11 Veterans Day holiday), while I played with the new Apple Pencil. A good learning experience, also enjoyed alongside those lovely Pub Chips. Now one of the nice things about Procreate is that you can create nice videos showing every stroke you made, very helpful in showing how you put the sketch together. Here it is…

Sketching De Veres

Previously, I had to show this by just taking photos of my sketchbook when I remember to. For that first sketch, I actually did, and even tweeted out the progress. Here are the photos, which helpfully show the beers too, which I’m sure you will agree is helpful to know. No sign of the Pub Chips though. Everything stops for those. Prost!

de veres sept 2019 in progress

procreating

UCD Bike Barn
Ok, let’s start this thing again. It’s been a long time since I posted my sketches properly, and it’s about time I caught up. I historically post sketches chronologically, never alphabetically, often autobiographically. However since my last posted sketches were from our trip to Disneyland in JUNE – over six months ago! – we’ve actually been to another Disneyland since then! – in fact my wife has been to Disneyland itself at least once since then – then perhaps I should just post the second half of my 2019 sketches in a nonlinear fashion. Like Pulp Fiction, or the middle episodes of every Netflix series. So let’s start off with something familiar. This is the Bike Barn at UC Davis, I have drawn it a million times, and this time it has those standing stones in the foreground. I drew it on a bright November lunchtime, with the sun in my eyes, glaring off of the screen. The screen? Yes, this was not drawn in the Seawhite of Brighton, or the Stillman and Birn, but on my new iPad, using Procreate. I have joined the Procreate drawing club, and I love it. I finally got a new iPad Air after years of using a 2014 iPad Mini. I was going to get the Pro, but the new Air is just as good and was half the weight. I made up for that by getting an expensive Moleskine cover for the iPad, so it looks like a sketchbook at least. Anyway I got the Apple Pencil and I love it, wow, it’s totally fun. I really like the other sketchers who use Procreate and digital devices (such as Rob Sketcherman, Paul Heaston and the brilliant Uma Kelkar who actually has a book about sketching with a tablet coming out next month, part of the Urban Sketchers Handbook, I’m looking forward to reading that). I especially like that you can watch back a video of how the sketch came together. Very useful for demonstrations. Still, I’m trying to get the hang of it, see what I like. I like using layers, that is very handy. The colouring part of it is very different to what I’m used to with real paint, so that’s something I am experimenting with. This sketch and the one below, the Crocker Nuclear Lab drawn quickly from my office window, were two of my first attempts at Procreate. I’ve got a lot I am figuring out and I am already getting used to some of the different brushes, but I can already see I am going to use it a lot more. In fact I drew this year’s advent calendar with it, mostly while sat on a plane back from England (I went to England in November).

UCD Crocker Lab

It’s been a while since I posted, so you’re probably wondering how UC Davis is doing. UC Davis is doing fine, it’s been getting some new buildings, and renovations, and I’ve been drawing those. Walker Hall is still being refurbished, it’s nearly done. I’ve been drawing that too. I even sketched it on the iPad last week. One of the best things about the iPad, one of the absolute greatest things, I don;t have to scan the drawing afterwards. It’s right there digitized already. I do have a new scanner, faster and quieter, but I’m still getting the hang of the lighting settings on it, there are always shadows near the crease of the book that I have to edit out afterwards, as best as I can. None of that with iPad sketching. Having just scanned half a year’s worth of sketches this past week, that is a big bonus.

symposium people

Simone Ridyard
And now for the final post about #Uksmnachsrte2106 (sorry, been typing it so many times I have forgotten how to type) (that looks like a joke but I corrected about half the words typed in this sentence just now so it isn’t) (my autocorrect has just given up on me and gone home). The final official day was on Saturday July 30th, we had a Closing Ceremony, and they announced that CHICAGO will host the next one! Hooray! I do hope I can go. Anyway here are a few more sketches of people that I did over the days of the Symposium, in no particular order, but starting with Simone Ridyard, above, Manchester resident and one of the main organizers of this whole awesome successful symposium. Here she is announcing day three, with some of the main stage backdrop behind her. Well done Simone and all the Symposium team! I have Simone’s book Archisketcher, by the way, it is very good.
Bridget March
Next up is Bridget March, a lovely lady I met in the first workshop, who is from Harrogate (I had a friend at school from Harrogate, sounds nice there) but lives and works in Saigon in Vietnam. We ate with some others at a great little street-food type snack bar on Oxford Road, while rain drizzled down outside.
Danni Hoedemakers
Here I did my only digital sketch of the Symposium, made on the iPad with the Paper app. this is Danni Hoedemakers, from Belgium (Hasselt), who I met talking with Corinne Raes at the Peveril of the Peak. She was telling me about these really interesting tours of Hasselt that she gives, “Happiness Tours” I think they were called, which I really liked the sound of, though I struggle to explain them. This gave me a few ideas of doing similar things but including sketching or writing. Anyway, it sounded like fun. There were quite a lot of Belgians at the Symposium, always a good thing, allez les Belges!
Mateusz
Now here we meet Mateusz Hajnsz from Poland, who I remember from the USk Manchester facebook page, nice to meet him. He actually had a copy of my book to be signed! So I sketched him as well. I sketched him later during dinner as well as part of the group at the Indian Tiffin Room.
Stephanie Bower
Speaking of signing books, this is Stephanie Bower from Seattle. I really like Stephanie’s artwork, very architectural and full of light, and she is a delight. Her book “Understanding Perspective“, the latest in the Urban Sketching Series, just came out, so she was signing copies at the Symposium (I bought my copy in the US) when I sketched her.
Quarto Staff
And here is the book-signing event several of us who have books were asked to come and sign them at. these two fine people are from Quarto books, Ben and Emma, with a selection of publications such as the Urban Sketching Series books (of which Stephanie’s is one), Gabi Campanario’s “The Art of Urban Sketching”, Katherine Tyrell’s “Sketching 365”, Simone Ridyard’s “Archisketcher”, and James Hobbs’s “Sketch Your World”. Ok then…where was Creative Sketching Workshop? When I got there they had none. They had some the day before, apparently, but none now. So I stuck around anyway and sketched Ben and Emma, and then after a while they found at the bottom of a box a few remaining copies and put them out, so I added those in! I didn’t sign any though. I never know what to write when signing books anyhow, I always think I should write “Happy Birthday”!
Vincent Daniel and Kalina
At the final Closing Ceremony party at the School of Art, I was already feeling tired, but I did spend time talking to people and sketching, saying my goodbyes and see-you-in-Chicagos, and I’m very glad to have rubbed shoulders with so many international sketchers, old and new friends. The funny thing about urban sketching symposia is that you might only say a few things to someone, see them in a few workshops, raise a drink and say “great job on all the sketching, here’s my Moo card” but then over the next couple of years you make a point of Liking their FB pages, commenting on their sketches, checking out their websites, being inspired by their prodigious output, and then next time you see them in another country you feel you know each other a lot more, and it all begins to feel like a big global sketching family. Above, on the right is Vincent Desplanche, from France, who I met briefly last year in Strasbourg and was blown away by his sketchbooks, and who I have followed with great interest over the past year, it was great to see him again in Manchester, and hopefully we’ll sketch together in the future. He is talking to Daniel Nies, from Germany, who I met for the first time in Manchester but I recognize from the Urban Sketcher group on Facebook. He told me that he is a beekeper, and was very interested in the bee symbol of Manchester (though it’s an inaccurate bee, he said!), and made a really cool lino-print of that same bee emblem. Incidentally the bee represents the worker element of Manchester, the home of the Industrial Revolution. On the right is Kalina Wilson from Portland (aka Geminica), who I’ve known since the first symposium (uskpdx2010) and feels like an old sketching buddy. Also a fellow pirate. Here she is disbelieving me when I tell her that I used to teach Cockney Rhyming Slang in classes at a university in Belgium, but this fact is absolutely true (it even came up in their exam). So glad she was able to make it to the UK this summer, and she even came to the Wren crawl the weekend before in London.
Matthew and Alec
Here are a couple of sketchers from Yorkshire (I do like a Yorkshire accent!), on the left is none other than Matthew Midgley from Huddersfield, who I have wanted to meet for years, I love his artwork. Super nice guy, who likes to draw food. On the right is Alec Turner, who I did not know, but was also friendly and a nice subject to draw.
Ed Harker
Next up was Ed Harker from Bristol/Bath, who I had spoken to earlier in the day, and whom I saw sketching me in his long accordion notebook. Well, I couldn’t resist sketching him back! You will notice that I am sketching most of these people in pencil, which is quicker and a bit more expressive – I’m doing this more, and it’s fun. Little dab of paint, lovely. Ed was a lovely bloke, and his sketches are lively and fun.
Lynne and Liz
Above, two well-known urban sketchers, Lynne Chapman and Liz Steel. Lynne from Sheffield (though originally from the south of England), a much-published children’s illustrator who also recently brought out a book about Sketching People, which I haven’t yet got but I certainly will do. It came out in March, just a little bit too late for me to read while writing my own book about sketching people – shame, as I am hugely inspired by how Lynne draws people, she does such a fantastic (and often very colourful) job. Speaking of books, Liz Steel (from Sydney, Australia) (there was a big contingent from Australia this year!) But Liz has been to every single symposium, since Portland 2010) also has a book coming out this Fall – it is the ‘other half’ of the one I wrote! “Five Minute Sketching Architecture” will be published in the US on October 1, same date as my “Five Minute Sketching People
USk dancers
Ok now these were sketchers dancing at the closing ceremony party. The pen scribble is an aborted attempt at sketching Marina Grechanik that just didn’t work. The other sketches on the page however are obviously super accurate and obviously detailed likenesses. Maybe not, but sketching dancers isn’t easy – it is fun though.Two of them I do recognize, the others I don’t know who they are. There was a lot of dancing; they even did the Conga. Pete doesn’t do the Conga.
with Vincent Desplanceh and Marc van Liefferinge
Pete does dress up as Captain America and pose heroically though. Here I am with Marc van Liefferinge from Belgium (a photographer whom I met in Strasbourg last summer, this time he was photographing the big symposium!), and Vincent Desplanche from France.
Paul Wang, Liz Steel and Pete
And finally, Liz Steel once more, and Paul Wang from Singapore. More old Urban Sketching friends! I remember nice evenings at dinner with Paul and Liz in Lisbon and Barcelona. Hopefully again in Chicago!

There were about 500 people sketching Manchester this symposium, and I’m pretty glad I was one of them. Too many however to meet them all, though I gave it a good try, but not ever overwhelming. I think that was Manchester itself, which despite being the first time I was there, had a real familiarity about it. I didn’t even mind the rain. I think it was the Chips in Gravy. A huge thanks to all the Symposium organizers for showing us Manchester, and who knows, see you in Chicago…

digital sketches from the UCAAC


Here are a few different types of sketches from the recent UCAAC in Santa Barbara. I don’t know if they need to be presented in this odd tiled fashion that WordPress has but I quite like it; click on the images to get a bigger view. I’ve been trying to use my iPad Mini to sketch, using an app called Paper by 53. Digital sketching is a whole new ball game and I am very much learning as I go along. I have a little stylus, nothing fancy, it just has a soft rubbery nib. It’s not an expensive iPencil and this isn’t a top of the range iPad Air or a Surface Pro or any of that. There is a very slight lag in time when making my digital marks and working out what the different tools do, the few there are, is interesting. It’s different from the stuff I do in MS Paint, which is more pixel by pixel football shirts, and quite unusual compared to using actual paper and actual pens but it is relatively quick, coloring in using big blocks of colour is intensely fun, you can go back if you accidentally put a big thick turquoise line through the middle (yeah, touchscreens) and you don’t need to scan them. Hey, you DON’T NEED TO SCAN THEM! That is actually huge. Literally years of my life have been lost crouched over my scanner pressing sketchbooks against glass while a slowly moving light trundles underneath me. But I’m a digital beginner, and still exploring, tentatively. If you need any tips…well, there are more experienced digital sketchers out there, but I hope you like these. I’ll enjoy looking back on these early efforts in years to come. The big one is the keynote speaker of the conference, Lester P. Monts of the University of Michigan, who gave a very interesting talk about being a Global Citizen. I included the pre-coloured-in version of that sketch so you can see what it looked like before the colourful blocks were added. The other sketches, two are very quick ones of breakout sessions I attended, and then there is a quick sketch of a curvilinear grid with a sketch of the room I was in (I won’t say the session but it was less fun than some of the others, I was starting to think about going to the pool). The other sketch is one I did in the observation carriage of the Amtrak Coastal Starlight train I took from Davis to Santa Barbara. Fun times!