littlest league

t-ball at the park
My son is playing t-ball again this year, for the second time. T-ball is little league baseball for the very young. They don’t keep score, play two or three innings, everyone gets a chance to learn. I sketched a little at his second game of the season – he plays for the Diamondbacks. He’s an old hand now of course! Sketched on a sunny early evening at Community Park, Davis, in my Moleskine diary. Not easy to sketch these types of things, especially the bit where he was about to bat, but fun trying to capture it quickly. Fun memories!

a hatful of silo

silo uc davis
Sketching has been sporadic lately, but I have been doing a little. Above is a quick lunchtime sketch at the Silo, UC Davis, where I often eat my lunch. On this day I sketched; other days I just eat, read, listen to podcasts, or in the case of yesterday I spent my time writing hilarious captions against photos of hairy pretentious bands in a local free magazine. That was fun. But anyway, this got me thinking about how many times I’ve sketched at the Silo – a LOT, I’ve worked at UCD for six and a half years now, blimey. So here is a selection of sketches of the Silo area from over the years.
sooner or later, one of us must knowno colours any more
(Above Left: March 2008; Above Right: April 2008)

silo um mittagsilo

(Above Left: Feb 2007; Above Right: July 2009)

yer bluesblue silo
(Above Left: Feb 2009; Above Right: Oct 2007)

the silo
(Above Sept 2010)

through the windowrainy silo

(Above Left: Feb 2010; Above Right: March 2012)

in the silo
(Above May 2011)

lunchtimesilo lunchers

(Above Left: March 2008; Above Right: July 2009)

silo on an envelope

(Above: Feb 2012)

at the silo, in purplepurple pen at lunchtime

(Above Left: August 2007; Above Right: Jan 2008)

taco bell at the silohalal truck at uc davis silo

(Above Left: June 2011; Above Right: May 2011)

carl's jroverheard conversations

(Above Left: March 2009; Above Right: Sept 2007)

the silothe silo oct 2011

(Above Left: Sept 2011; Above Right: Oct 2011)

Thanks for sticking to the end! This isn’t even all of them, and doesn’t include all the South Silo, Bike Barn, Outdoor Adventures ones, the whole Silo Complex. This represents a helluva lot of Grill’d Stuff’d Burritos.

the answer my friend is blowing in the hair-dryer

hair dryer

How did a hair-dryer save my computer’s life?

It’s a fairly old computer as pcs go, six years old now and very cranky. It gets so dusty inside an periodically I have to clean it out (not with a hairdryer though) to stop it making that awful loud fan noise. Anyway, after the last time cleaning it out, I tried to turn it back on again, but got nothing. “Please, man,” I said, but no response. I am not a techie and didn’t know what to do. I need a new computer, been on the list for a while, but I also wanted to get back those items which hadn’t yet been backed up (including a load of hi-res scans of work that’s now at the Pence). Mostly I wanted to turn the machine on so I could just tell it to sod off, one last time. Ok, it’s not the worst machine in the world, not that slow, every now and then it plays up but it’s still got a fair bit of life in it, and lots of memory. There haven’t been any operating system issues. So what was wrong, had I broken some important tiny part inside it?

Thankfully I have a iPod and was able to google the symptoms straight away. On the back of the machine a little green light was flashing, which would otherwise be green. I love that you can google this stuff, and that so many people have had this exact same issue. Apparently it was something to do with the power source unit, and most of the places I looked said to replace it. Yes very helpful, I thought, but kept looking. Some forums said to go inside the machine and unplug this and reconnect that and put a paper clip here and hold down a button there, and all of this seemed very confusing and unecessary. Then someone said, just get your wife’s hair dryer, aim it at the power source unit, blow on full power for two minutes, and bingo, back to life. Nah, come off it, I thought, but it was followed by about a hundred comments that all said, “oh wow it actually works! Oh wow my computer hadn’t worked in months but two minutes with a hair dryer, and it’s back to life, it’s a miracle!” And words to that effect. Even then, thought, surely not, butwell I had nothing to lose.

I tried it out on cool air at first, but that had no effect. Then I did it on warm, again no effect. I remembered that it had to be hot – this was not just about the air blowing, but about the heat. I was convinced I would cause something to blow up, but I came back, hair dryer in hand, and aimed.

Two minutes later, the green light came back on! I pressed the power button, and the computer was back, as good as before. Back from the dead, like that fellow ET. Who would have thought? It’s a Christmas miracle!

I wish it would work on my awful cold though…

smiling beguiling

william and kate

The Big Day is Here. Actually it’s not Here, it’s Over There, where you all get to Wave Flags (if you so desire) and get a Day Off (which I’m sure you won’t say no to). I however will need to be up at some unroyal hour to watch it all on telly, and then go to work wondering how many street parties will end in flashing blue sirens. Hopefully not too many. As I can’t get out onto the British streets to draw all the Union Jack bunting (that sounds like a boxer, doesn’t it), I decided to draw Will and Kate in my Moleskine diary. Will has rather a long face in this, but that’s ok. One day he’ll be literally on the money, and money has to stretch (seriously, that’s the best ‘long face’ joke I could come up with?). Kate Middleclass will be joining the Royals and a life of tabloid front pages, and I wish her all the best. I wish both of them all the best, actually; I’m quite sentimental about this royal wedding lark.

I still remember that big one thirty years ago (who was that for again?). We had a street party in my small Burnt Oak street, and I still recall the little plastic union jacks we waved furiously all day, sat on long tables in the street with my neighbours the Glennons, the Smiths, the Daniels, the Jamesons. There were lots of kids in my street back then. I was only a scruffy-haired five-year-old, eating cake and drinking cherryade. I remember that the grown-ups played games in the street, such as the race that my dad won against the other dads, with me on piggyback. It was fun, simple non-cynical fun, and I hope that everyone having street parties today keeps those same memories thirty years from now. Or of course you can drink yourself silly, and that’s fun too.

just a northern song

tube sketch

While back in London in December, I spent about six million pounds just on travelling on the tube. Or at least, it felt like it. The Oyster Card was well used. Lots of urban sketchers sketch on their urban transport systems, so I of course had to do some as well. Being a Londoner of course and therefore absolutely terrified at the thought of interaction with any other person, I usually sketched when the tube was near empty. I am from the Northern Line, Edgware Branch, that was my highway. Years ago, before the trains very nicely started telling me where I was, I could tell I was getting closer to home because of the way the stations were painted – Hendon Central was sky blue, Colindale was yellow – ah, red! Burnt Oak. Time to get off and get some fried chicken. They’re all painted the same now, though the signs help.

Trains still stop inexplicably outside Golders Green for like, ten minutes though. “When a man is tired of London, he is tired of the tube stopping for no reason whatsoever outside Golders Green for ages,” as Johnson once said.

luke on the northern line

Someone enjoyed watching those dot matrix displays on the underground train (above). I remember when they brought those in, that was nice, and nowadays they even work! He got to know the voice that announces the stations very well (“this station is Belsize Park. This train terminates at Morden, via Bank“). Best of all though was the ‘Mind the Gap’ announcement, which in many places is a nice gentle FYI, but in others it is still the one I remember as a kid, the booming, authoritative ‘MIND THE GAP’, which I always imagined was the voice of the Supreme Being. Yes, the one from Time Bandits.

more tube sketching

I do miss the Tube sometimes. Even after so many years and years of it annoying the hell out of me, even though certain ticket office staff seem to deliberately make an effort to be unhelpful, even though it’s overcrowded and unreliable and ridiculously expensive…um, sorry I forgot what I was talking about.

a visit to vegas

room at the mirage

We went to Las Vegas for the weekend, to celebrate my wife’s birthday. We’ve been several times before (we got married there), and this time we stayed at the Mirage, as we were going to see the Beatles ‘Love’ show by Cirque du Soleil (which was incredible). The rooms at the Mirage are very nice. I had to sketch ours.

Below, another airplane sketch. Our flight was full, on a pretty small and veyr cramped US Airways flight. The flight was so full that after everyone was on the plane, the attendants asked that two people volunteer to get off because the plane was too heavy. That didn’t make me nervous at all. 

flight to vegas

I managed to get in quite a bit of sketching, which I’ll post shortly…

are you murray in disguise?

spurs losing 4-0

Not a brilliant Sunday morning, sports fans. I was tired, after staying up far too late (and falling asleep on the couch) watching Andy Murray turn up and get humiliated in the Australian Open final (I’m not a tennis watcher, but as a Brit it’s my duty to tune in and get my hopes up before having them cruelly dashed by someone from the old Yugoslavia, and there’s still six months until Wimbledon!). Then I woke up to watch my beloved Tottenham  (almost an anagram of Tim Henman…) get roundly turned over by Fulham, all over by half-time at four-nil. This hurt; it’s the FA Cup, the oldest football competition in the world, and this year ends in a ‘1’ – Spurs are supposed to win it this year! Perhaps this was a ruse, to make AC Milan think we’ll be a pushover in the Champion’s League in a few weeks. If so it was a bloody convincing ruse, I must say. Anyway, enough disappointment, I got out my moleskine diary and started sketching the living room as I watched (I would have been hanging my head anyway). Soon my son and then my wife joined in, all drawing pictures together with my little paint set, which was fun. You can see the streamers are till up from my son’s birthday party, all around the room; our apartment currently resembles an airmail envelope. Back in the match, Spurs didn’t even score a consolation goal.  

leavin’ on a jet plane

Happy New Year! I got back into Davis today, after two and a half weeks in snowy England. I’ve never seen a winter like it in London, but I still managed to do some sketching, though probably less than usual. The scanning and posting will be an ongoing process. Here’s a good place to start: my first and last sketches of the trip, both on BA jumbo jets, drawn in my Moleskine diary.
flying British Airways to London

Here’s the thing: I hate flying. Not in a BA Baracas “fool aint gettin me in no plane sucker” way. I hate airports, the ever-decreasing baggage allowances,  packing suitcases, Heathrow, overhead lockers, the toilets, the engine noise, the fact it takes me two days to get over the ear-popping thing and I hate that sleeping on a plane is practically impossible. Flying is not my favourite thing, but it’s a necessary necessity. Carbon footprint my bottom. 

Below is the sketch I did while waiting to leave London yesterday, New Year’s Eve. You can sense the dread.  

leaving London behind, New Year's Eve

And so it is a new year. In fact today is 1-1-11, which must be significant. New Year’s Resolutions? I have no idea about that, but I had three doughnuts for breakfast. Perfect jetlag cure. Art goals? Just keep on going, keep on drawing everything around me.

2010 was an interesting year for sure, and very full on art-wise. Some interesting projects, some interesting travels and of course the Portland Urban Sketching Symposium in the middle of it all, spurring the creativity of the rest of the year. We held a couple of great sketchcrawls in Davis in the Fall, and a third ‘Let’s Draw Davis’ crawl will take place on January 22 to coincide with the worldwide sketchcrawl. There are more fun things happening soon as well so I’ll keep you posted.

But for now I’ll just say happy new year, I hope 2011 is filled with fun and if you haven’t yet taken up sketching as a way to record your world, why not do so now? It’s so much fun!

rural sketching

ponies in medford

It’s good to get away, for a few days. We (and family) drove up I-5 to Medford, Oregon, for the fourth of July weekend. There were ponies there, in the field opposite my wife’s grandma’s house. I’ve never drawn ponies, or any sort of horse before, so I grabbed a bic and quickly sketched them while they munched on the grass.

mount shasta

The long road up to southern Oregon takes you right up the hot, flat Central Valley, paasing places such as Redding (where Merle Haggard lives), Weed (where they sell a lot of tacky souvenirs based on the fact they have an amusing name), and the magnificent and perfect Mount Shasta. If you said to someone, draw a mountain, just a typical moutain, from imagination, it would look just like Shasta. It looms lonely on the horizon, still crowned with snow, and then you pass its feet from across a broad meadow, and even though it’s right in front of you it still it doesn’t look quite real. I’ve never really seen a mountain like it, not even Mont St.Victoire in Aix. I drew it on the way home, quickly from the window of the moving car.

an urban sketch

an urban sketch

This is Urban, who until his retirement this week was our computer guy at work. I took the opportunity to sketch him at his farewell lunch because I need practice drawing people on the spot, and also because this makes it literally an ‘Urban sketch’. Thought you’d like that. I drew it in my moleskine diary.

Speaking of Urban Sketchers…one month until the Portland Symposium