where are you going, with your fetlocks blowing

little prague panoramarathon
And so on to the very last spread of the Panoramarathon, and of the Seawhite sketchbook. The Year of the Horse had just begun, so time to saddle up and gallop the last furlong. So, cue the joke about the horse and the bar and “why the long sketchbook?”. I never got that joke anyway. The barman shouldn’t be asking why a horse has a long face, but what exactly a horse expects to be served in a bar. Unless bars are serving sugar-lumps and brewing hay-beer (and they probably are, these days) I would say, “oi, Tonto, never mind your long face, you drink from the trough outside mate, or you can git the hell outta this town, and the man who rode in on you”, or words to that effect. This is technically the old wild west after all, or Back to the Future III country at least. Anyway, back to the drawing… I have sketched the Little Prague bar on several occasions over the past seven years or so, but not quite from this angle, so I decided that I would take up that challenge to finish out the project. After a very busy week I popped by on a quiet Friday evening and sketched away. After a while, a large crowd of people came in en masse (there they all are in the sketch, mingling away with their pitchers and their nametags). That chef bloke with the bleached hair and the goatee, Guy Fieri I think he is called, was on the telly. I didn’t really pay attention to anything much except finishing the sketch. This panoramarathon was going to be done by the end of January, dammit! February is just not long enough to keep saying such a complicated word. After a while, the DJs came in and the loud dance music started, and so after one quickly-sketched panorama and three slowly-drunk dark beers, I finished up and went home to bed.

Here are the close-ups, for you to marvel at the intricate details.
little prague bar, davis
little prague bar, davis

So that was the Seawhite of Brighton sketchbook, started in August, finished in January. You can see all the images form that book in this handy set on my Flickr site.

hang around a ink well

little prague panoramaA break from the London posting, here is a bar panorama I did at the weekend. This is Little Prague, a bar attached to a Czech restaurant on G Street in Davis which as regular listeners may recall I have sketched many times, though not for quite a while now. On Saturday, after a lazy day of not leaving the house, I lazily left the house and ambled downtown to the comic shop, Bizarro World (I bought “Infinity Gauntlet”, in which an all powerful but rather barmy Thanos takes on like every superhero in the universe – which is a lot of fun, if a little light on actual plot). Then time for a beer and some sketching. I chose Little Prague, because despite my many sketches of that bar I have never done the big two-pager, with the lamps on either side of the bar. The beer’s different from the last time, nicer, and I had the Staropramen Granat. It wasn’t busy – this is summer in Davis, the quiet months in a college town. This took me around three hours; three beers to be precise. Drink slow, sketch really fast – there is a ton of detail! Click on the image to see a larger version. And see if you can spot the ‘pete’.

So that is the 180 degree panorama done! I have to move onto the 360 degree ones soon, right? That may take a few more beers…

little piece of prague

little prague, davis
Little Prague Czech restaurant and bar on G St, Davis. I like this pub. They have nice Czech beer. I’ve drawn the inside of this bar many times over the years (it’s rather sketchworthy). You can see a couple of my Little Prague sketches in An Illustrated Journey (or of course here on my blog). The outside is nice to sketch as well. I spent the morning watching Oz, The Great and Powerful (lots of fun!) and spent the rest of the afternoon looking for a downtown spot to sketch. I have drawn this exterior view before but these lovely pre-Spring trees are too irresistible. I most of it stood out on the street, but had to get home for dinner, so finished off the colour later on.

little and large

little prague, davis
On Saturday night after the Pence Auction, I popped by Little Prague for a couple of beers and the essential detailed bar sketch. Little Prague is probably my favourite Davis pub. It’s the one I’ve known the longest, and they do nice beer (though the Krusovice I used to enjoy is now no longer available). It’s also the pub I have sketched the most. I don’t go very often, and when I do it’s usually on one of those nights where the music is quite dancey and loud. There is however a lot to draw, especially behind the bar, and the lighting is good bar-light. On this night not only did I sell two pieces at the Pence (hooray!) but the San Francisco Giants won the NL West (as mentioned on the TV screen; the Giants tend to be on the TV in my bar sketches). This is great news in our house. This means the Giants will be in the post-season play-offs. Who knows, maybe even with a shot at the World Series? Baseball is a long season with about seventeen thousand million games, so it surprised me that the NL West division only has six teams in it. Even the Scottish Premier League has more teams than that (well, two really, Celtic and Rang- ah, er…). It doesn’t make it any easier though. They play every single day for hours on end, against teams from all over the country and just have to finish with more wins than their divisional rivals (imagine Celtic and Ra-, er, Aberdeen playing against, say, Ajax, in order to get points to win the Scottish title). You see, it all makes sense, especially after a Czech beer.

Hey if you’re interested in seeing some of my previous Little Prague sketches here are a few… spot the difference!

little prague againlittle prague
little prague, october 2010lil' prague
little prague tonightlittle prague lampslittle prague beer-pumplosing my superpowers


whiskey in the jar-jar

little prague, davis (envelope from peking university)

Last night, I partied like it was 1999. That is to say, I went to see the Phantom Menace. In 3D. I know I always say that 3D is shite, and that Phantom Menace is, largely, also shite, but I couldn’t wait – this would be awesome man! Well, the chance to see Star Wars, any Star Wars, on the big screen again couldn’t be passed up. Phantom Menace has its faults (I am looking squarely at you, Jar-Jar Binks – time has not made it easier to forgive the Gungan for his hapless existence) but in many places it is quite great – Liam Neeson’s Qui-Gon is someone everyone would want to know, a favourite uncle, Obi-Wan’s lightsabre skills are still world class, and I think Jake Lloyd was superb as young Anakin. They made some improvements, fixing Yoda from that terrible puppet to a digital one that more closely resembles the original puppet, and switching all of Amidala’s lines with ones that made sense (actually they didn’t do that, sadly).  I was reminded of how excited everyone was when the trailer first aired,  when double-bladed lightsabre wielding face-painting experiment Darth Maul told us he would be revealed to the Jedi. But was it 3D? Nope.

It’s hard to just switch a regular movie into a 3D movie, I guess. I remember seeing Jaws 3D at the pictures when I was a kid and jumping out of my seat when a harpoon flew out of the screen – now that was 3D (actually, Edgware cinema it may have been a real harpoon, looking back). There were trailers for new 3D movies last night which did look quite spectacular, but they were made with 3D in mind. Phantom Menace just wasn’t. Not even the podraces, exciting though they were, particularly flew out of screen. The most 3D bit, seriously, was when Watto was speaking Huttese and the subtitles came up. I was like, “oooh floating letters!” After a while, the 3D glasses (“3D – Real D” it says, whatever the heck that is supposed to be) were bugging me. I expected those light cardboard ones you used to get, red on one side, blue on the other, but these were proper plastic sunglasses. They’re great, if you don’t already have glasses on. They fit over your glasses, but wearing two sets of specs is a real pain on the nose.

Still, after Darth Maul went to pieces, after Qui-Gon Jinn was set on fire and after the Gungans paraded their vuvuzelas in the streets of Naboo  (with Palpatine looking on saying to himself, seriously what part of “wipe them out” did they not understand??), it was fun to come out of the movie theatre feeling like I had relived the olden days. I then fancied a beer and a sketch. One other thing I did in 1999 was spend a couple of weeks in Prague, so I went to local pub Little Prague for some Czech beer. I’ve drawn this place several times before, and this time I drew on a brown envelope (from Peking University), using a uniball vision micro, a superb Y&G Calligraphy pen, and a white gel pen. Oh and a bit of warm grey Pitt brush pen. Took me about an hour and a half, while people milled about dancing and drinking. I like Little Prague, but the music on Friday nights can be a bit loud and, well, not my thing. Lots of others seemed to enjoy it though, but I concentrated on drawing all those bottles. I considered extending the envelope to draw the rest of the bar (I would love to do a curving panoramic of this bar sometime, perhaps on a less busy evening). I would like some time to organize a Drink and Draw type group here in Davis, something that seems to be popular in other cities. In the meantime, here’s wondering how the other Star Wars films will look in 3D. I think I can guess!

captain sensible

little prague, davis

I went to see Captain America last week. It’s funny how the movie companies are now making prequels before they make the main films now (the main film being The Avengers). Before the movie, I sat outside and sketched local Czech pub Little Prague. I’ve drawn the interior several times now but never really the exterior.

The movie was good fun, a little silly in places, but likeable, not ridiculous, not a made-for-3D ‘thrill ride’. some of the trailers before the movie were clearly such – the new Spiderman for example, coming out next year, looked too slick, too obviously 3D orientated, and lacking the personality of the Tobey Maguire Spidey (whose first two movies were great; the third one was dreadful, largely because it was overblown and too interested on spinning your head around a screen while nothing particularly interesting happened, oh a mid-air fight, oh he’s brushing off concrete blocks like they’re made of polystyrene, oh wow a man made of sand, and as for that stupid dance routine…) (that’s why they rebooted). Other trailers I saw, the new Three Musketeers, apparently back in the 18th century there were flying airship galleons that could do battle mid-air (it always has to be mid-air, doesn’t it? Do they think moviegoers can’t stay awake during ground-level scenes any more?); I’m pretty sure they didn’t have those in the original book, but I haven’t read it. My only reference (and come on, probably yours too) is Dogtanian and the Three Muskehounds. Don’t ever try to reboot that, that series was a classic. Another trailer was for some doomsday plague virus movie with an all-star cast (they love those genres, don’t they) Then there was Rise of the Planet of the Apes, looks pretty good, Draco Malfoy is in it, so is the Green Goblin’s son, and William Stryker, and the Trinity Killer, oh and Gollum plays the chimp, Caesar the Geezer. Actually at first I thought it was a reboot of Bigfoot and the Hendersons now that they can reboot). I want to see it, mostly because of that shot of the gorilla jumping into a helicopter from the Golden Gate Bridge. Nice try, bananas, but how are you going to fly that thing?

After all of that, Captain America was quite wholesome and satisfying, with proper leather-jacketed and jack-booted nazi/megalomaniacal villainy, and a quite international team alongside the Cap, a ‘coalition of the willing’ if you like. The feel was not hugely ‘American’ in fact, not so much Captain America, but Team Member America. There are other overly patriotic macho nonsense films, so this didn’t need to be – to its credit, I think, but still surprising given that he is, you know, Captain America.

After the movie, I popped into Little Prague to finish off the last bit of colour in the first drawing, and to draw the sketch below. Didn’t spend too long there doing all the details (I have done that before), but captured the atmosphere.
friday night at little prague

and fix upon the pattern on the wall

lil' prague

Friday night, after the gallery event and a trip to the record shop, time to stop off at the pub, Little Prague, for some well-deserved end-of-week beer, coupled as always with even more sketching. I sketch this bar scene every few months or so; improving my bar sketches, that is my excuse anyway. For my other sketches in and of pubs and cafes, see my ‘pubs, etc’ flickr set. I wish I’d had the whole page, because I’d like to try a curvilinear sketch of this bar; I did go for a slight semi-curvilinear, but ran out of page. Up on the screen, Man City beating Sunderland, doing Spurs no favours. Below, bar staff rushing back and forth, and behind, people busy ordering drinks and socializing and dancing. You know those photos they take of city roads where you can’t see the cars, just long streaks of red and white light? That is how I should draw the bar scene. I am drawing what stands still; the rest of the world moves about around me. At this point I’m supposed to say, “oh, that’s how I feel all the time”, but it isn’t in the slightest, so I won’t. Well, perhaps occasionally, but only when I sketch.

little prague beertaps

Here are the beer pumps. Since I’ve not sketched fire hydrants since the end of November this is the next best thing. I drew this one on a small artist trading card. Useful things for pub sketches, as it turns out. Below, back to the Moleskine, but with a different colour micron pen. little prague bottles

it’s getting hard to be someone but it all works out

little prague again

I went down to Little Prague again, to carry on the spread I’d started before, with a dark Krusovice, nice beer to sketch with. Again I splattered the page with lots of little spots of paint, and then after drawing everything with the pigma sensei pen, I did a sepia wash. I was glad to get some people in this one. It’s such a sketchable place.

little prague spread

It was the ‘2nd Friday Art About’ earlier in the evening, though I missed many of the exhibits this time. And now it’s the weekend! The weather is cold and bright, which means scarves and sunglasses, a great time of year. Christmas shopping and afternoon sketching in store.

bayern some time

bavarian band at little prague, davis

I had to draw this Bavarian band that has been playing occasionally at Little Prague in Davis during this past month or so for Oktoberfest  – I finally went there to sketch them. They played interesting German-style music, sometimes donning a sombrero to add some Mexican into it. I sketched alongside fellow Davis sketcher Steve, and after the band finished our photos were taken by the singer’s wife with our sketches and the band.

The band wasn’t called ‘Bayern’ by the way, I just felt the need to write that up there. I like Bavaria – my wife and I spent a couple of weeks there back in 2005, partly in Munich, partly driving around the Alpenstrasse, to small towns and lakes, popping into Switzerland (where I spent an afternoon studying the Abrogans, a 1200-year-old manuscript and the oldest thing in German language), and then back into Bayern and up the Romantische Strasse. I loved that each town had its own beer, and we ate only local food (I had the most amazaing roast duck in Schliersee), and castles and timber-framed chalets and the odd hilarious name (there was a mountain called ‘Wank’). And it was truly ‘Bavaria’, not just another part of Germany, it felt like its own country, with that blue and white flag everywhere and the Bavarian dialect everywhere. I wouldn’t mind going back some day.

that is you can’t you know tune in but it’s alright

little prague tonight

I went out last night to my local pub Little Prague (I’ve sketched there once or twice before) with fellow Davis sketcher Steve Wright, to draw a German band who were playing (I’ll scan that in later) and do some more bar drawing. I decided to do some more paint-splattering on the paper first, since that effect would look good on a theme such as this. I splattered fairly subtle tones, and this made it feel like I was drawing on craft paper rather than in the moleskine, which was a nice feeling. Steve drew into his regular moleskine, and produced some amazing work using both micron pen and watercolours, both of which I had never been able to use in the regular moley – but he made it work really well! Pleasure to sketch with him. I stuck to a sepia wash, still trying to draw bottles (I seem to have some problem with sketching bottles, hence my recent practising). This is a particularly interesting bar area to sketch though, and the bar staff were very friendly and checked up on our sketching progress from time to time.

That beer in the foreground is a Krusovice dark, a very nice beer. You can spot me in the background there.