On Saturday morning we held our first “Let’s Draw Davis” sketchcrawl since the pandemic sent us all home, our most recent one being on February 29th. It was a socially distanced crawl, masked up and stood out of the way, down at the UC Davis Arboretum. It’s been a while. I felt uncomfortable being out sketching, but when I arrived our group was not too big so it was nice to see people. However seconds after parking up my bike I got stung by a wasp! Right behind my ear. That has never happened to me before, not even on those hot June days in the garden back in England, but they finally got me now. So I was in a bit of pain as I introduced the sketchcrawl from behind the veil of my face mask. I was wearing a mask with one of my sketches on it, from Porto. Above is the view from the path of the Redwood Grove.
Above is the richly decorated underpass that goes beneath the train tracks. When I lived in South Davis I would take this route every day on my bike, but it has been years. it was not so colourfully painted back then, but it looks very nice now. It was hot while I sketched, and my head was hurting a bit, probably due to the wasp sting that was still throbbing a bit.
Above, a few grapes hanging down from the Gateway gardens. Below, there were some turkeys passing through with a bunch of young poults, so I quickly sketched some. The bird on the right is a Green Heron, though I thought it was a Kingfisher due to the colouring, which reminded me of Kingfishers back in England, which to be fair I’ve also never seen. I was told it was a Green Heron so I am glad I waited to write that down. It was incredible – it would extend its neck to double its body length like Mister Fantastic or something. I expected another bird that looked like Doctor Doom to come along and fight it and call it “that fool Richards”, or a movie studio to come along and reboot it unsuccessfully. Still it was a fascinating creature.
Speaking of fascinating creatures, here is that wasp. I didn’t know exactly what had stung me because I didn’t see it, but when I went back to get my bike, one of the other sketchers Bill Lum came with me to identify it, to see if it were a wasp, a yellowjacket, a bee or maybe even a murder hornet, at least that is what I was thinking. He noticed that there were plenty of them over some of the bike racks, and they had built nests inside – putting my bike on one had disturbed it, so it had stung me. As he got close, one of the little bleeders came out and stung him too! So, we had to be careful. I held my sketchbook up as a swatter, and carefully extracted my bike from the wasp danger zone. Gently does it. I managed to do so without getting stung again. The sting was not particularly bad, and went down by the afternoon. I’d never been stung before so it was a first experience, nature’s way of telling me it’s not time to go sketching outside yet.
Bill took a photo of it, and identified it to be a ‘paper wasp’. So naturally I have spent the past few days trying to come up with paper wasp jokes, none of them any good, at least not on paper. So not a yellowjacket, not a murder hornet. Very interesting to draw though!
Because I was so lax in my posting (“lax” is another word for “lazy”, but my excuse was I had lots of books resting on my scanner and if I moved them the cat would jump up there and wow is that the time, gotta go) I never got around to showing the results of the recent “Let’s Draw Davis” sketchcrawls, those in October, November and December 2019, as well as February 2020 (we missed out January because I was very busy coaching soccer, and right now with the planet on hold, I’m not doing so much of that). So, now is a good time to report on the sketchcrawls. By the way, “Let’s Draw Davis is a series of sketchcrawls – meet-ups for those who want to sketch with other sketchers and then show each other their sketchbooks at the end – that I started back in 2010 after I came back from the first Urban Sketching Symposium. I had been on sketchcrawls in Davis before – the very first time was way back in December 2005, one of the early Worldwide Sketchcrawls (Enrico Casarosa’s ones, they are still going every three months), and I joined in a few other times since, but I decided that we as a town really needed to have something more often, monthly, advertised, free and open to anyone at all who likes sketching (as the worldwide sketchcrawls always are), non-judgemental, non-critiquey, beginners or experts just getting out and seeing their town and putting it in sketchbooks, and then if other people see you doing it, they might be inclined to join in. Being monthly means that if you miss one another comes along next month. except, sometimes it is difficult to organize them, so there are now a few others who help with the organization, and we have a really good group of regulars (including of course Alison and Allan who were sketching with me even back in that early ‘crawl of 2005, and inspired me to keep sketching Davis). There have been a lot of sketchcrawls over the years, most of the same locations repeated, I’ve made a lot of posters (and stickers and occasionally maps), and also made many sketching friends. Perhaps my favourite event was the 2017 Davis Centenary sketchcrawl, when we drew buildings that were all 100 years older or more. Let’s Draw Davis (I came up with that as a name while furiously scribbling notes on the flight back from the Portland Symposium, full of energy and ideas, finally deciding that to needed to ‘get myself out there’ in the art world of Davis rather than always hiding away, actually meet other artists and learn about their work, and it’s been for me personally a great success on that point). From there I did a sketchcrawl in London to mark the launch of the new Urban Sketchers (USk) London chapter there in 2012, called “Let’s Draw London” (I really like alliteration; this one kicked off the “Let’s Draw London” sketchcrawls that have continued ever since). I have long thought about doing a monthly sketchcrawl in Sacramento called either “Let’s Sketch Sacramento” or “Sacramento Sketch Saturday”, and if we ever get the Earth back to normal I still plan on doing that. Oh I have lots of plans for all sorts of themed sketching events.
BUT ANYWAY… the recent Let’s Draw Davis sketchcrawls!
OCTOBER 2019: OLD EAST DAVIS
Ok we will start with the one in October. This one was in Old East Davis, which is the the few blocks east of G St downtown. It’s an old neighbourhood, with some interesting houses (such as the Schmeiser House – aka the Swastika House because of the big turn-of-the-century swastika in the brickwork on the chimney). We met at the Amtrak Station, did a bit of sketching around there, and then went off from there. I enjoyed talking to people about perspective, giving a few pointers here and there, but then I wandered off and drew a few things, starting with the ‘Davis Tower’ opposite the main Amtrak station building.
I then went along 3rd Street, opposite the Trackside Center which has been threatened with redevelopment for a while now, but it doesn’t seem to be happening just yet. This is the entrance to the Cable Car Wash.
And this is the long-term favourite subject of mine, Nails By Tam. Now I drew this originally back in 2006 with coloured pencils, before I even started using watercolours to colour in my sketches, and I’ve also drawn it when it was in a different location, but it seems to be back here now. It’s a little out of the way, I sued to cycle past it on my way home years ago, so it reminds me of the first half of my Davis existence, I felt a lot younger then.
Then we all met up again at the Amtrak station…
NOVEMBER 2019: FIFTH STREET
For November we met at the corner of Central Park for a sketchcrawl along Fifth Street. The annual Turkey Trot race had just packed up nearby – I ran in that race by the way, I did the 5k! I am really into running now – and I had my new iPad, so was able to do a quick demo of how that works, showing a video of a sketch I did on a trip to Portland the weekend before. But I love my pen and paper, so my main sketch that day was the corner of 5th and B (actually this stretch of road is where 5th stops and becomes Russell). Highly autumnal (or fallumnal as I think they say over here):
Then i turned the other direction and drew with the iPad. I never quite finished it off (I could have done later but I never had the time) but it was fun to do this and show people how the iPad works for this sort of thing. I’m very much still learning though.
And we met up right there afterwards – Marlene Lee took these photos, you can see more at the FB page: https://www.facebook.com/LetsDrawDavis/
DECEMBER 2019 – E STREET PLAZA
For the festive crawl we went back downtown to the big Christmas Tree on the E Street Plaza. For this I also used the iPad, sketching in ProCreate. I have drawn the tree that is put up here a few times, even though I always say “last time! I don’t like drawing Christmas trees!” But actually it turns out I do, especially when I have a new toy that makes drawing the lights and baubles so much easier. I was still getting the hang of colouring in but I like that you can do the sky in a different layer and make the clouds look all fluffy. Also you can zoom in to draw smaller details. Merry Christmas folks, several months late!
In the window of the Avid Reader Active store was a large well-dressed Santa Claus.
I went to draw Zia’s deli, though I never got around to finishing it so it stays like this. I wasn’t feeling that energetic that day (I had just gotten over a cold I caught in England a couple of weeks before – these days I’d need to quarantine myself for ages if I felt like that again) so after standing for over an hour sketching a Christmas Tree I had little zap left, so I rested and went inside to look at pannetone. I love a bit of Italian pannetone at Christmas. Then to finish off the day I sketched the glorious orange trees near the Union Bank.
Here are some of us who finished off the crawl, this is Jim Coulter, Allan Hollander and me with my iPad (this is another pic by Marlene Lee from the FB page).
FEBRUARY 2020 – ORANGE COURT
And so bringing us into the Present Day. Present Day? February 29th was just over a month ago, but if that wasn’t the longest month in the history of months I don’t know what is. March 2020 was a bit crap, but we closed out February with a lovely sketchcrawl down at Orange Court, one of my favourite spots in Davis (because it’s where you find Sophia’s Thai Kitchen, my favourite food in Davis). We had a good turnout, and as it turned out, this would be the last bit of social gathering for a while.
We were supposed to have a sketchcrawl in March at the UC Davis Arboretum, but that got cancelled, along with everything else everywhere. We now live in Shelter In Place world, with no end in sight, so perhaps the next Let’s Draw Davis sketchcrawls will be virtual. In fact, I’m going to look at my calendar (yeeeeep, seems to be free) and schedule one soon. It’ll just be drawing the view from your window or something but hey, that’s something. Ok, I’ll announce that soon.
In the meantime you might want to check out the Let’s Draw Davis FB page at: https://www.facebook.com/LetsDrawDavis/, where we announce all our sketchcrawls and such, as well as the public group page where people can post their own sketches of Davis or results from the sketchcrawls: https://www.facebook.com/groups/LetsDrawDavis/
Phew, that was a long post! The next one will be shorter, and then there will be another long one, and that one will have more of the silly nonsense like in the one about 1980s/90s British kids TV shows, but will probably be about X-Men or ramen noodles or something.
Seasons greetings! Join us for the last Let’s Draw Davis of 2019, an afternoon sketching around downtown Davis, looking at all the nice festive windows, maybe stopping in places for a nice hot chocolate.
DATE: SATURDAY DECEMBER 14
START: 1:00pm, E St Plaza
FINISH: 3:30pm, E St Plaza
We will meet at the E Street Plaza at 1pm, by the clock near Baskin Robbins, then sketch about the downtown shopping area we all know so well, before meeting up again at 3:30pm at E Street Plaza to look at each other’s sketchbooks.
As always this event is free and open to all who like urban sketching. All you need is something to draw with and something to draw on! And maybe a scarf if it is chilly. Or a hot chocolate.
Hope to see you there! Pete
PS If it rains we will start or finish in Mishka’s or Peet’s, I’ll keep an eye on the weather and update the Facebook event page accordingly!
Facebook Event page: https://www.facebook.com/events/2552373148131298/
If you are in the Davis area on Saturday November 23, why not join us for a sketchcrawl around the Fifth Street? This month’s Let’s Draw Davis we will sketch along this big road, meeting up at the corner of B and 5th (northwest corner of Central Park) at 1:00pm, meeting up there again at 3:30pm to look at each others’ sketchbooks.
As always this sketchcrawl is free and open to everyone who likes to draw. Fall is a lovely time of year with all the colourful crispy leaves falling, and this is one of the most autumnally pretty spots in town. All you need is something to draw with and something to draw on! And maybe a scarf.
If it rains…I’ll still be out there sketching, but maybe using the famous umbrella-in-the-jacket technique.
Earlier that day, the annual Turkey Trot will be held nearby, for those who want to come along much earlier and sketch people running. If you do, you’ll see me also running. And I will be easier to sketch, because I will be running very slowly.
Details about this month’s Let’s Draw Davis can be found on the Facebook event page: https://www.facebook.com/events/515991652317375/
Happy sketching! Hope to see you there.
PS…if you are wondering where all my regular sketching is, well I have so many sketches built up and summer stories stored up I need to get down and start writing. Soon! I promise, I’m still sketching loads, and I even started iPad sketching recently, using Procreate. That has been fun. I’ll probably be using that on the sketchcrawl…
I’ve been on a break from posting for a while (writing in general), but in the meantime I have finally finished scanning all of my summer break sketches. Now I have to write the stories that go with them. It shouldn’t be hard, I’m just saying things that happened, that’s easy enough. Just like I’m drawing the things in front of my face, easy. Anyway, I’ve also not been organizing any sketchcrawls during the summer, but now as the Boo Radleys sang, summer’s gone. Fall is here, a new academic year, and so Let’s draw Davis comes back on Saturday October 12, this time exploring the interesting Old East Davis area. This is an interesting little neighbourhood with some historic houses (like the Schmeiser House), the Trackside area which is likely to be under much-debated redevelopment soon, and of course the historic Davis Amtrak Station. In fact we will start and end at the Amtrak.
As always, the sketchcrawl is FREE and OPEN to anyone who likes sketching, any age. It’s good to get out and draw and see how other people do it. Sketchers can sketch individually or in groups, and sketch for as long as you like. We will meet up at the end to look at our sketchbooks, and of course, I’ll have stickers.
Hope to see you there!
Now to start writing up my vacation posts…
Just over a week ago some of us Davis sketchers braved the stormy weather and came out to sketch Old North Davis. This is the neighbourhood north of Fifth Street, laid out just over a century ago, full of leafy streets and cute houses. We met at the Davis Co-Op on G Street, and spread out to sketch. I drew this corner, at G and 7th. It wasn’t yet raining again so I was making the most of what I could get before seeking cover again. Actually I like rainy sketching, I just put my umbrella inside my jacket, it seems to work.
I’ve always liked this building, historically called the Anderson-Hamel House. I have sketched it before, and pass by it most weekends when heading downtown. It’s a ‘Queen Anne’ cottage and was originally the home of John B. Anderson, who established the Bank of Davis and was actually the mayor of Davis when Davis first became a city in 1917. One of the interesting things about this house is that it was originally down at 2nd Street, but was moved when later owners the Quessenberry family decided to build their drugstore there, and so the lovely house moved into Old North Davis. Its history is detailed well in John Lofland’s book ‘Old North Davis’, an absolutely invaluable guide to the area, street by street, hosue by house. I recommend it for anyone interested in this part of Davis (I for one would love to do one where I get to sketch all the buildings).
I then sat in the Lyda Williams memorial garden on E Street and was going to sketch from there, sat on a bench in the hopeful sunshine, but a local cat decided to come and sit on my lap for a while. Ok little cat, that’s fine, just have a nap there, my feet need a break anyway. Thunder started rumbling, getting closer and closer. Eventually the cat got down and went under the bench, and I sketched this house on 6th and E. It’s very peaceful here, people out on their Sunday strolls around the neighbourhood. Someone I’ve met before called out to me “nice day for a sketch!”. The thunder rumbling more loudly above me was making me go a little bit faster. In the end I left it where it was and headed back to the Co-Op, just in time for the rain.
The car above was parked outside the Co-Op, a Datsun (don’t see many of them nowadays), and I actually sketched it at the start, but only got as far as the headlights, the windscreen and the overall outline, I had to finish the rest afterwards, because the driver came and drove away. Not sure what the funny rat symbol was on the side, but the car was very souped up and personalized, with paint splatter and special features, it was like a Stone Roses record cover.
And here are the brave sketchers who sketched Old North Davis. We’ve yet to determine the date of the next Davis sketchcrawls but we’ll post them very soon.
Join us for another sketchcrawl in Davis California! This time we will head back to the Arboretum, one of the prettiest places on the UC Davis campus in the springtime, and spend a couple of hours sketching the plants and scenery. It’s the day after Picnic Day, so campus should be a lot calmer and quieter.
We will start at Wyatt Deck, which is located on the northeast side of Lake Spafford and just off of Arboretum Drive (near Wyatt Pavilion, the oldest building on campus) at 1:00pm, and I will give a short intro to botanical sketching. We will then go off and sketch solo or in groups, around the Arboretum, and then regroup at 3:30pm back at Wyatt Deck to look at each other’s sketchbooks.
As always this event is FREE and open to anyone who likes to sketch outside. All you need is something to draw with and something to draw on. And a small foldout stool might be handy! I will provide little maps of the Arboretum on the day, and everyone will get a ‘Let’s Draw Davis’ sticker.
I drew a map of the Arboretum (I really like drawing maps) which you can use if you come along. It’s not to scale, but shows whereabouts things are.
- Info about visiting the Arboretum: https://arboretum.ucdavis.edu/visit
- Directions and parking: https://arboretum.ucdavis.edu/directions
NOTE: if you are interested in tea, there is an event right before at Wyatt Deck from 11am-1pm called ‘Tea and Conversation’, sponsored by the Global Tea Club: https://arboretum.ucdavis.edu/events/tea-and-conversation-041419
It’ll be the nice quiet day after Picnic Day, and what better way than to spend it sketching among the flowers? Hope to see you Sunday!
Last Sunday – St.Patrick’s Day – was the day of our most recent “Let’s Draw Davis” sketchcrawl. It was a shortish sketchcrawl, three hours downtown, ending up with a get-together to look at each other’s sketches. This time I included a ‘scavenger hunt’, which was optional, but I gave it a go. It was Ireland-themed, nine things, specific (“an animal sculpture”) or vague (“snakes!”). The weather was lovely, warm and sunny, and lots of people were out. I drew a group of cyclists (a couple of whom I chatted with), focusing on the one of course wearing green.
The animal sculpture was easy, as right there on First Street are two enormous animals, a giant dog made of records and a cat gateway thing, outside the Natsoulas Gallery. It’s not a specifically Irish thing, sculpting animals, but not all the list had to be. The dog is called “Roy” and is a tribute to the artist Roy De Forest, by John Natsoulas and others. Becuase I wanted to show some of the detail, the various coloured vinyl records that make it up, I sketched up close, covering the ‘something musical’ point. I used to have some coloured vinyl records, when I was a kid I would sometimes buy them because I liked the colour, not because the music was any good, and I’m guessing those who donated these probably felt the same. Speaking of not-good music, that awful violin player was downtown again, his screeching echoing down E street. I wasn’t drawing him, no way. Sketching the records was a little bit of a challenge as I don’t like drawing circles (it’s why I hate drawing bikes), but also the sun was beating down, so I added the colour once I got into some shade.
Below is fellow Davis sketcher Alison, who has been sketching Davis much longer than me and who I knew from the very earliest sketchcrawls. She found a great display of Irish books in the window of Logos Books on 2nd Street, so I sketched her sketching those (the bookshop was my ‘something to do with literature or poetry’), and then I drew one of the books myself, a children’s Irish legend book about St. Brigid’s Cloak. I don’t know enough of the Irish legends myself, despite my Irish family I never learned any of that stuff as a kid (my mum just played Wolfe Tones, Brendan Shine and Daniel O’Donnell a lot), in fact it was my son who told me the story of the Red Hand of Ulster back when he was a preschooler (gory storytime!), though I did like reading about the Fomorians and the Tuatha De Danann, Balor and the Evil Eye, that stuff. And I loved hearing the story of the Rock of Cashel and Devil’s Bit Mountain when I went there as a kid (Cashel is full of Scully gravestones actually, that always excited me). And I know about St. Patrick of course. There’s a whole wealth of story and mythology I need to read about.
“A green object in the street” for me was a street sign. It could have been anything, a tree, a bin, a bike, a bush. I also asked for something more than a hundred years old, and that required a bit of Davis knowledge. I said not to draw my jokes which are all about a hundred years old (including that one). I drew part of the Dresbach-Hunt-Boyer mansion, which dates from the 1870s.
Now ‘snakes’ was always going to be interpretative, as I don’t expect to see a lot of snakes slithering around. We do of course have snakes in Davis but they like to hide, and don’t often go downtown, especially on St. Patrick’s Day, for obvious reasons. I knew there was a green metal snake sculpture behind the Pence, however it is no longer there, so I ended up drawing some metal pipes, and calling it “snakes”, and there you go.
And the last one “DRINK!” is a reference to Father Jack’s favourite word. I had about twenty minutes before the end, so I popped into De Vere’s Irish pub (which was packed), remarkably found a seat at the bar with a great view of the Guinness toucan that had been perched up above the taps. I drew that and had a (quite marked-up) pint of Smithwicks in a plastic glass. I don’t really like drinking Guinness much myself, it’s alright but not really my tipple. And then it was time for the final meet-up with the rest of the group. we had a very good crowd this time around, and I can’t wait for the next one in April! We’ll announce when exactly that is very soon. I have some soccer game rearrangements that are still being figured out, but I’m really in sketching mode this year – I’m already months ahead of my 2018 sketch-count.
I never learned much Irish, except a few choice phrases, so the blog title today is a little bit of Google Translate finagling. I quite like bad translation though, there’s a certain comedic innocence to it. We used to play on that in our multi-lingual theatrical performances back at university. I did have a book when I was a teenager, ‘Teach Yourself Irish’, but it was a ridiculously dry edition and put the language out of reach. I could see how it connected to other European languages, but the orthography-to-pronunciation difference was too great for me to hear it in my head, so I just learned a few words and phrases, mostly ones other people had taught me (so I could say them). None of my family ever knew any Irish phrases other than Erin Go Bragh, Cead Mile Failte and Pogue Mahone, the last one being spelled the way the band did, not the spelling I was taught later by Irish people. None of the Irish people I knew as a kid (who were pretty much my nan’s generation) spoke any Irish words, so even as the historic language of my ancestors I never felt much of a connection to it. If they learned it, it was something they might have had to do at school decades before and forgot instantly, same as I remember very little about Chemistry class except a dislike of Bunsen Burners. I do remember when I was about 12 though being somewhere in rural Kerry, and suddenly everything was in Gaelic, the radio stations, the street signs, actually that was it, the only other things around were sheep and fog. It wasn’t until I was much older that I met someone who spoke it natively, as in at home, and whenever she used it to with us it was usually in song and not to be translated (she was clear about that). So, with the Irish language, it’s another thing that I might get around to learning a bit of now we live in the YouTube era, but might not be that high on the priority list living out in California. Anyway I hope all my Irish friends had a fun St. Patrick’s Day! I certainly did.
Hey, if you want to see other people’s sketches from the day (or post your own from the sketchcrawl, if you came along) you can go to the Let’s Draw Davis group page on the dreaded Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/groups/383785982124525/
To find out when future sketchcrawls will be, our main FB page will show those: https://www.facebook.com/LetsDrawDavis/
Join us for another sketchcrawl in downtown Davis, California! This one will be a sketch-scavenger hunt too, where I’ll provide a list of things to look for and sketch (optional, you can just sketch what you want!)
DATE: Sunday March 17, 2019
START: 12:00pm, Davis Commons (1st/E Streets, next to Pluto’s)
FINISH: 3:00pm, E Street Plaza, by the clock fountain (if it rains, we will reconvene inside De Vere’s Irish Pub across the road)
We will meet up at the end to look at everyone’s sketchbooks (and get a sticker if you did the scavenger hunt), and then feel free to post your results on our group page at www.facebook.com/groups/383785982124525/
As always this sketchcrawl is free and open to anyone who likes urban sketching. Just bring your sketching materials (and maybe a raincoat..) and an eye to look around at things to draw, and meet other local sketchers who like to do the same!
Oh and it’s St Patrick’s Day so why not draw in green? (I did so on the sketchcrawl last year, a little bit: petescully.com/2018/06/18/like-the-color-when-the-spring-…)
Hope to see you there!!!
FACEBOOK EVENT PAGE: www.facebook.com/events/560327291145462/
I’ve been a bit slow with posting this year. My sketching numbers are down too; but then again, 2016 and 2017 were a little hard to beat for sketch volume! I have a fair number of recent sketches still to scan though, but before we get on with those, here are the two I did on the last Let’s Draw Davis sketchcrawl, which was on a lovely sunny-after-the-rain morning at the Farmers Market. The trees were painted in exciting colours. We had a good turn-out, I talked a bit about drawing crowds and perspective (remembering all the things James Richards once taught me). These trees are almost all leafless now, as we hit mid-December. There were a lot of locals out this day, gearing up for the festive season. Below, sketched from almost the same spot but looking in a different direction, across C Street to the rear section of Davis Community Church.