midsummer indigo girls

Mondavi 2019 A1 sm
This will be another long post. I really did do a lot of sketching in 2019 and this is all from the same day. Apart from the sketch below, which was done at lunchtime (and coloured in afterwards) it’s all the same evening, midsummer night, June 21. I definitely haven’t already posted these, have I? I had been asked by the Mondavi Center at UC Davis to produce some sketches for their annual magazine, which is called “Gateway“. To do so, they invited me to come to the Indigo Girls show in an official sketcher capacity, to draw some of the outside, the lobby, and of the show itself (the last part being done in near total darkness). It was a fun night. The above was sketched outside the main entrance as people started to arrive.
Mondavi 2019 A2 sm
I drew some people outside the Mondavi Center arriving for the show. I got there early, picking people who stopped in one place, but I did some quick sketches of people walking past. I don’t think these people were together, and they didn’t all have flowery clothing, I added that in for fun. I sketched the ticket warden (or whatever they call them) because I loved how they stood out in their smart black and white, and they were all friendly, they usually are at the Mondavi.
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I was asked to sketch people in the lobby area, so I grabbed a wine and a place to stand. As it turned out I knew quite a few people who were attending the show, it was a popular one.
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Mondavi 2019 C1 Chastity Brown sm
And then it was time for the show. I was actually given a special seat, though it was in near-complete darkness. The opening act, Chastity Brown, was really good, I loved her voice, and she talked to the audience, as you can see above. Then below, the main event started. I was able to sketch some of the audience in between the shows, and also when lights were down. There was a lot of purple and blue light, and I struggled to see my pasge, but the music was great, and sketching to music makes the pen move so easily.
Mondavi 2019 C3 Indigo Girls sm
Mondavi 2019 C2 sm
I used the zoom function in my eyes* in to get a better look at the performers (*I squinted real hard), the two main guitar-playing singers (Amy Ray and Emily Saliers) and the very performative violin player in between them (I don’t recall their name). For some reason I needed to write down the chords.
Mondavi 2019 C6 Indigo Girls sm
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Mondavi 2019 C5 Indigo Girls sm

Anyway, a fun evening was had, it was a good show. So eventually the magazine came out in the Fall, using the outside sketch on the cover. Here it is!

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I’ll settle down with some old story

university of beer, davis
Last Saturday evening, the weather was nice, and the daylight a little later than I was used to (it’s always a surprise, every year), so I took a walk downtown to do a little bit of sketching, a little bit of reading, have a few beers. I walked over to E St Plaza, where I noticed that local band Wealth of Nations were playing again; I’ve sketched them several times. I did this quick sketch below. After that, I went to the University of Beer, and sat at the corner of the bar. I have been planning my summer travels, going to the Urban Sketching Symposium, adding in a bit of Belgium as well, and a day in Paris. For some inspiration I re-read Lapin’s book of Parisian sketches, “Paris je t’aime”. The fellow sat next to me saw the book and was looking at it with me, I was telling him about Lapin and all the other Urban Sketchers, I didn’t mention about my own sketching but when it came time to get my sketchbook out he left me to it, I did manage to include his right hand and phone into the sketch though. Another bloke was sat to his right, reading a book. After a while they both left, and another pair of men were there, one of whom was one of those guys who was loud and a bit overbearing, I think he was quite a bit into religion and never paused for breath about how he “only respects people who know their purpose in life!” and “I don’t mind atheists but they have to know what they believe in or I can’t respect them!” He never seemed to take even a sip of his beer, all I could think was, mate are you drinking that or what? Some writers and sketchers take inspiration from overheard conversation, I on the other hand actively try not to listen to anything anyone is saying. I looked at my sketch, remembering the quiet reading man and the friendly man who liked looking at Lapin’s drawings. Eventually loud man and quiet friend also departed. I saw a couple of other faces at the bar I knew through soccer, said hello. Various sports played on the tv screens. The beers I had were the Russian River STS Pils, and the much more familiar Firestone Walker 805. I sketched the bar in dark blue pen. The walk home was nice; I’m trying to get my 10,000 steps in every day.
wealth of nations E St plaza

making a song and dance about things

dancers in davis june 2016

A couple of weeks ago I went to the downtown Davis “2nd Friday Art About”, as I had a couple of pieces on display at the Pence Gallery following the Garden Tour (both sold, by the way – hooray!) and so while there was sunlight I stuck around downtown to do a bit of sketching. Inspired by the watercolour sketches of dancers by Kumi Matsukawa from Japan (who wrote chapters in my book Creative Sketching Workshop) I sketched a couple of women dressed in bright Spanish style dresses who were moving from spot to spot, performing a dance to some flamenco style music, and moving on. I also caught them in quick pencil gestures, below. This sort of loose style sketching is useful for people moving quickly, focusing on the gesture and movement rather than going for accurate details. That’s usually how your eye registers things, and your hand works slower than your eye so let it dance with the dancers.

dancers in davis june 2016
I also sketched a band that was playing in the courtyard of the Pence. They moved around a lot less, but my eyesight sketching from a distance made it hard to pick out too many details, but the red of the middle guitarist’s dress really stood out.
musicians in davis june 2016

boltz in the dark

the lightning bolts
Since returning from London – and I have plenty more sketches yet to post – my sketching regularity has fallen off somewhat. This often happens after a big trip, but I’ve also been filling my lunchtimes reading Marvel comics (Marvel Unlimited, dudes), and the rest of my time coaching my son’s soccer team, which also includes planning training, designing the team badge, making stickers, creating a record of the kits worn by all the other teams, and all of that fun stuff. After London, sketching more panoramas of 2nd Street just doesn’t hold the same appeal right now. However, I did get out of the house one evening to go down to Art-Is-Davis on D Street for a special party hosted by the resident artists there, to mark the end of their time at the artist’s co-operative. I was invited by one of them, my friend and fellow artist Dori Marshall, and I got to speak to many Davis artists I hadn’t met in a while, and some I was meeting for the first time. It was a nice evening, and there was a band outside in the little courtyard behind the building. the band were called the Lightning Boltz, and they were really good. I’ve said it before I do love to have live music when I’m sketching, it adds to the whole rhythm. It was also extremely dark – I sketched this in almost total darkness, in a shadow next to the building. I couldn’t really tell one colour from the next so it was guesswork, but pretty informed guesswork (I know which paint is where in my paintbox after all). This didn’t take me long, a couple of songs at most. The band liked it when I showed it to them afterwards, but I realised the guy in the middle has a quite different beard than I drew! Well, that’s my eyesight in the dark.

music and skateboards

Os Lorenzos sm
A few weeks ago I was invited by Yolo Arts to sketch in Woodland on a Friday evening, as the event sketcher for ‘Music On Main’, part of the 1st Friday Art Walk’s evening entertainments. My first stop was at Steve’s Pizzas on Main Street, where, in the courtyard at the back, a band called Os Lorenzos were playing jazzy tunes. I sketched for nearly an hour, got the musicians to sign the sketch, and moved on.
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In the square outside Woodland Opera House was this odd looking little truck. “Acoustic Sanctuary” is the colourful vehicle of the one-man-band Winko Ljizz, usually resident in midtown Sacramento, whose purple truck is filled with musical instruments and enough stools for a small audience. I didn’t have time to sketch inside – I was scheduled to sketch skateboarders next and the evening was running away fast – but I’d like to sketch Winko performing his many instruments sometime.
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Part of Main Street was cordoned off for a special skateboarding demonstartion / competition, organized by the SorD Boardshop (“SorD” stands, ominously, for “Skate Or Die”, though I’d rather simply “Skate or Maybe Walk Or Ride a Bike, Thanks”). The young skateboarders zoomed all about making jumps and other sorts of jumps (I don’t know any skateboarding lingo) while onlookers looked on. I’ve never sketched skateboarders before – well they move so fast – so it was a fun challenge.
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And finally the sun set, but I had one more sketch to make. A three-man mariachi band called Trio Los Lafiras was moving about from place to place performing traditional Mexican songs. I started following them as I saw them walking down the street, and eventually they went into a brewpub and asked to perform a few songs. I tagged in behind them, big sketchbook in hand (I had bought a large format spiral bound Stillman and Birn ‘Alpha’ sketchbook for bigger sketches that I could take out if I needed, I really like that paper) nd told them I would sketch them as quickly as I could. They played three songs, giving me just enough time to sketch them all, paint in their yellow shirts and draw the brickwork too (I added the ‘spotlight’ detail after they’d finished), which was pretty bloody fast if I say so myself. Well, their music was excellent, truly brilliant. I can’t stress how much more fun it is sketching to music, but believe me sketching to a Mariachi band is so much more of a delight. I even knew the tunes they played (though mostly from their 1980s football terrace versions, admittedly). So a fun end to a very busy sketchy evening.
Trio Los Lafiras sm

Many thanks to Kristina Fong at Yolo Arts for giving me this great opportunity to sketch!

the 100th picnic day

picnic day 2014 smA couple of weeks ago, UC Davis celebrated its 100th annual Picnic Day. One hundred! Click on the images to see larger versions (or you could hold your face close to the screen, though I wouldn’t advise it). Picnic Day is a UC Davis institution, the largest university open house in the country, attracting thousands of visitors to such attractions as the Doxie Derby, Battle fo the Bands, the Chemistry Magic Show, and, er kittens. Yes, we waited for half an hour in line to see kittens, only to find out they were now cats (they were probably kittens when we started queuing). Four cats, just sitting there doing nothing, two of which were asleep. Yet massively popular. My six year old wanted to see nothing else. The first thing we watched however was the Parade, the annual march of bands, bikes, floats, the occasional political candidate, which was as fun as ever. We sat down outside Shields Library to watch it, when I started painting, but broke my water jar (as described in a previous episode). I added the rest of the colours at home.

picnic day 2014 battleofthebands sm

This second spread was sketched at the Battle of the Bands. I went home with my family, already tired after the excitement of the cats, and had a rest before heading back in to see the famous band battle. I’ve only seen it once, briefly, but I don’t really like crowds. I am getting better at sketching in large numbers now though, but nonetheless it was tricky. I stood at the top of the slope leading down to Lake Spafford, on the banks of which were gathered the bands themselves. Now these aren’t your guitar-hero indie-beard bands, oh no these are the colourful marching bands, and boy is this an event. The bands come from universities around California. The idea is that each band takes turns playing a song, and then by the end of the day (or night), the last band standing, the last one that has not exhausted all its known songs, is the winner (and I’m told it’s always the UC Davis Aggies). It is crazy, and chaotic, but it all works, and those musicians really keep it up for hours and hours. On the left there is a dancing tree from Stanford. I finally left during a long bit in the middle where all the bands came together in groups of the same instrument, and placed themselves around the crowd in a kind of promenade-theatre fashion, playing a continuous jam (I left after 45 minutes and it was still going on) in a variety of poses. Definitely a Davis event to be experienced at some point in your life.

And this was all. In nine years this is the most Picnic Day sketching I have ever done.

sketching to music

hafter birthday party sm(Click on the image for a bigger view) Saturday evening last week I was invited to a double-birthday party for a local musician, David Hafter, and his son Noah, also a musician. It was at a place called Third Space, on Olive Drive in Davis, and I sketched the above panorama because panoramas are what I’m sketching! But I also did a couple more; below left, a sketch of Noah  playing his set (I gave the sketch to him), and one of Neon Lights (bottom right), many of the members of whom also play in David Hafter’s band Wealth of Nations (above). Regular visitors may remember that I sketched this band before on a couple of occasions in the Fall. The music was very nice, and I always sketch more quickly when listening to music – it’s the rhythm I think! Anyway, it was a nice evening, and many thanks to David for the invite.

hafter party noahneon lights