praising the way it all works, gazing upon the rest

mrak & king halls

Side one, track one of Moleskine #8. The eighth of my watercolour moleskines, that is (the ‘difficult eighth album’? Do I get a Greatest Hits, or just a ‘Best Of’? They’re all ‘Live’ albums; maybe this should be the ‘White Moleskine’, but such a thing doesn’t exist, yet; better get on that, moleskine). Either way, this is the fifth annual drawing from this very spot of an ever-changing view, Mrak Hall at UC Davis sketched from Putah Creek, with the now finally complete King Hall extension blocking the view.

Today is the longest day of the year, and certainly the hottest so far – we measured 106 degrees at one point driving home. Scorching weather and Davis go hand in hand. While sketching, I listened to the new Art Brut album, ‘Brilliant! Tragic!’. I didn’t find it quite as brilliant as their previous albums, but I loved the song ‘Sealand’.

Anyhow, because this is an evolving view, here are the previous years, for comparison:

mrak & king halls

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

mrak hall

mrak, seen from the creek

of mists and mellow fruitfulness

mrak hall in december

This is Mrak Hall, the big powerful building at the heart of UC Davis. I have drawn this view a few times before, and in December too, because the leaves on these trees turn glorious colours at this time of year. This was a lunchtime sketch, a moment of much needed calm in the busy busy time of year.

the return of the king (hall)

mrak & king halls

In Summer 2007 I found a pleasant spot by Putah Creek with a nice view of Mrak Hall, and drew it. In the foreground, across the green pea-soup of an early-Summer creek, two small green hillocks. I came back a year later to sketch the same spot; the hillocks were gone, razed to make way for the proposed King Hall law school extension. Fences were up, construction yet to begin. A year later I sketched there again, and the shell was up, the view of Mrak blocked. Another year has passed, and King Hall’s extension is almost complete. I drew the above picture on Friday lunchtime, while trying to avoid the England match, which I was recording to watch later (little did I know it was truly worth avoiding). I think it’s interesting to see how a view has altered over the few years that I’ve lived here.

The drawings from 2007-2009 are below. 

mrak hall... with the law school ruining the view mrak hall
mrak, seen from the creek

see you on the other side

Having just drawn Mrak from the other side of Putah Creek, and noted over the past few years its vanishing appearance, I chose to draw from the front side (or it may be the back; like Buckingham Palace, the front is really the back and vice versa).

mrak from the other side

back in mrakAnd naturally, I have drawn it before, and therefore you get to see how the view is slowly vanishing even on this side, as a forest grows at its very toes. Well, not exactly, more that the last time I drew it was late Fall or early Winter (whichever it is called here), and the trees did not have many leaves. But it illustrates the recurring theme. That drawing was way back at the start of Moleskine #2; I am now more than halfway through Moleskine #4.

the slowly vanishing mrak hall

I’ve drawn this view three summers in a row now. Each year, the creek has been a green pea soup, the tree on the left has been an orangey brown, and the weather has been a hot hundred degrees. Well, near enough. It was certainly over a hundred today.

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

mrak hallMrak Hall, the university powerhouse, stays ever the same in the background. In 2007, however, there were two grassy hillocks, with two of Robert Arneson’s Eggheads on them. Probably the highest ground in Davis? They were razed to the ground, for the new law school extension. When I drew it again in 2008, the hillocks were gone, replaced with some wire-fencing, a load of mud and a construction truck. Now in 2009, the shell of the law school is now there, King Hall, blocking the view. I’m glad I drew it. I’ll draw it again next year, with the finished law school, if they finish it.

mrak, seen from the creek

and now i’m mrak, from outer space

mrak hall

We moved apartments this week, hence lack of activity in the pete sketchbook front; however I had to get lunchtime sketching at some point, and yesterday took my little stool down to an old chestnut of a sketching spot, the view of mrak hall from putah creek (drew it last year too). The creek is actually made of green pea soup; it’s always St.Patrick’s Day in the arboretum. You may notice that the two very small hills formerly in this view with the eggheads on top have now vanished, to be replaced with mud and construction, the groundwork for the extension to the law school, because apparently what this country needs is more lawyers. This means this view will not last much longer.

The weather is cooling off here, at last – yesterday I wore a jumper for the first time in absolutely ages (that’s a sweater to you). And a couple of days ago I even got – if it can be believed – several spots of rain on me!! That’s literally all there were. From the cloud that had obviously gotten lost. It’s the first rain since about February I think. Or since the 1890s, or I don’t know, it feels like such a long time. Most of my son’s life. His Irish genes must be confused (though he was born in a torrential central valley rainstorm). Still, he has his own room now so is as happy as larry. Anyway, those seven or eight spots of rain were probably just a teaser trailer for the winter. “Winter”. That’s a misnomer. California’s winters are like our British summers.

Here are some more views of Mrak.

100 degrees in davismrak, seen from the creeksee no evil back in mrak