maybe the dreams that we dreamed are gone

Arboretum UC Davis

This is another lunchtime sketch from the UC Davis campus, this time down at the creek in the Arboretum, looking towards King Hall and, well, Mrak Hall, back there somewhere. You can just about make it out. It has been a while since I drew from this shaded path by the water, but it used to be a regular sketching spot for me, and I’d come back every year to draw as the scene changed. It looks a little bit unrecognizable from the very first time now. Believe it or not, the sketch below was drawn from the same place, over fourteen years ago. Obviously my drawing style has evolved a bit since 2007 but you can see how much things have changed in this view.

mrak, seen from the creek

I know, I do a lot of these types of posts. Here’s a drawing of somewhere on campus, and here’s what it used to look like years ago. I never imagined being here this long. I’m not sure what I imagined back in 2007, but here we are still in Davis, tracking the changes. And for those of you “why don’t you put people in your sketches, blah blah blah” folks, look, there is one person in each of these two drawings, although the newer one is more of an anthropomorphic scribble. It’s probably not the same person, but maybe it is, after all, I am. They have gone from jogging along that path to walking across the grass, into the shrubs. I’m still drawing into a Moleskine, trying to interpret the world into ink lines and watercolour blots.

reflections of the way life used to be

king hall from uc davis arboretum sm
This is in the UC Davis Arboretum, that view of King Hall from Putah Creek, with Mrak Hall in the background, that I have sketched before. Look at that Creek! Regular listeners will recall how the Creek has so often at this time of year turned into a pea green soup, but the Arboretum people have been doing an amazing job renovating the Creek (is ‘renovating’ the right word? I’m not a Creek Scientist so I’m not sure how it works). Now the water is clear and reflective, and what a reflection. It was that that drew me to sketch this scene yet again. For years I sketched this every summer, usually around June, to track its changes. King Hall is home to the Law School, named after Martin Luther King Jr, while Mrak is where the University administration resides, named after Emil MRak, the first UC Davis Chancellor. This is the extension to King Hall built within the past decade, but the original King Hall was dedicated to Dr. King in April 1969, a year after his assassination.

Ok, I always do this when I sketch this scene, but here are a bunch of previous years’ sketches.
2015:
mrak & king from the arboretum
2012:
mrak & king halls
2011:
mrak & king halls
2010:
mrak & king halls
2009:
mrak hall... with the law school ruining the view
2008:
mrak hall
2007:
mrak, seen from the creek

I sometimes talk about being a ‘sketchbook historian’, and this is the thing, if you live somewhere, draw it. And then draw it again, and again, and you will have a record of how it changes, a record that goes beyond mere memory, and one that photographs don’t always capture in the same way. On top of that, you can see how your own sketching style evolves, improves, changes, sometimes be design, sometimes naturally and unexpectedly.

pea green soup

mrak & king from the arboretum
While walking in the UC Davis Arboretum earlier this week, I was greeted with an unbelievable sight. The entire creek and Lake Spafford was a bright, grassy green. It wasn’t the water itself, rather the green stuff floating on the surface. It wasn’t a sickly green, rather a very healthy looking green. It looked like the fairway of a golf course. So I did a quick sketch, which is below. You can see it in the sketch above as well, though in patches the water is visible and reflected the sky. Those scribbly dark areas are shadows.
arboretum uc davis
Just a little green. Or a lot of green. Anyway, the arboretum is a lovely place right now, with leaves turning autumnal colours and the change in the weather (pushing 90 a week ago, pushing 60/70 now). Ok, so back to the top sketch, this is a scene that I’ve sketched many times over the years. I watched this view change over the course of a few years, once per year, until it settled upon the current look, when I got bored and stopped. You will remember, I have been in Davis ten years now, and it’s not a big place, things will get sketched multiple times. This is King Hall, with Mrak Hall in the background. This used to be a view of Mrak alone. Here are the sketches; I really do feel like a sketch historian now…

 

2012:
mrak & king halls

2011:
mrak & king halls

2010:
mrak & king halls

2009:
mrak hall... with the law school ruining the view

2008:
mrak hall

2007:
mrak, seen from the creek

Coming next: a new sketch of the Bike Barn, which I have sketched about two million times…