…and THAT was 2021.


2020 : The Sequel. The Empire Strikes Back of years. Actually, it’s the Godfather Part II of years. And now we ae in 2022, which will hopefully be more Return of the Jedi than Godfather Part III. Hmmm, all of these make it sound like 2020 was somehow the Star Wars or Godfather of years, and it totally wasn’t. It was the Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice of years. Which means that 2021 was the Justice League of years. Maybe 2022 will be the Rocky III of years?

2021 was a long bloody year, some big ups and big downs. We lost some family and friends, but also my new niece was born. We travelled more than 2020, but all in the US – Hawaii (twice), Utah, Yosemite, San Diego, Laguna Beach, among others. Really got into those National Parks. There was a lot of soccer, both watching and coaching, too much maybe, it feels like there hasn’t been a break, with the big drama of England at the Euros, and Spurs having four different coaches. I’ve been more excited by Formula 1, having seen one of the best seasons I’ve ever seen, although the bloody ridiculous ending still gobsmacks me. The world of news, well we started with that awful event at the Capitol, but now that other fella is out of office it’s been really nice not waking up every day to “what the bloody hell has he said now?” But the big Covid keeps moving about and mutating into new Greek letters faster even than Apple brings out iPhones. But 2021 did give us Get Back, the amazing Peter Jackson epic of the Beatles, which I think has changed my life. And I have done a lot of drawing. There they all are above. More sketching than I did in 2020, thankfully, but still way short of 2019 (the year of the big summer sketching trip to Amsterdam, Belgium, France, and three times to London). Funny enough though, I did pretty much the same amount of sketching in 2021 as I did in 2018, when I went to the Urban Sketching Symposium in Porto. Here is the annual side-by-side comparisons of sketching output going back to 2013.

2013-2021 sketches

Here’s to 2022, which so far I’ve done my best not to feel like has actually started yet, and a year that already it seems you cannot really plan for. Keep on sketching.

and that was 2020.

2020 sketches

And here are all the sketches from 2020. Far fewer than in 2019, but given the year it’s been, that’s hardly surprising. I put these together every year, as I go along. You can tell the story of the year this way. 2020 has been a story in everyone’s lives for shitter or worse; for me it started off in Hawaii, on the paradise island of Maui. To summarize the rest: youth soccer coaching; birthday in the ER; pandemic starting; Friday the 13th of March; sketching the house over and over; working from home; schooling from home; flood at home, sick cat; landlord deciding to sell house, and then us buying the house; fires all over California / unbreathable air; Zoom calls; family members passing away, new family being born; cancelling all travel plans; doing a virtual tour of Great Britain; sports stopping then starting and Spurs briefly topping the league; US presidential election result going as hoped-for; son starting a new school but then breaking his arm; running lots but needing to get back into it again. We’ve all had our own years, some much much harder than others, and the new year won’t be making that change any time soon. All in all, on the sketching front it was a less productive year maybe but still a good haul under all the circumstances.

Here are the comparisons year by year from 2013 to 2020. I was not surprised that 2020 was about half of 2019, but didn’t expect it to be on a par with 2015, for example. My goal for 2021 is just to match 2020, in some way, beat it if I can, and maybe to try and learn something new, bring something more to my sketching. Or just do what I can to stay sound of mind. If I have times when I just cannot draw, that’s fine too.

2013-2020 sketches

And that was 2019.

It’s been a long time! Happy New Year 2020. Nearly three weeks into 2020 it’s still a new year. A new decade (all those people who smugly say, the new decade doesn’t start until the “1”, I say to you, you are soooo clever, you’re well clever you are, cor, I wish I was clever like you, meanwhile I am going to enjoy the 20s while you are still in the whatever-the-last-decade-was-called). It has been ages since I posted a sketch, wrote a ‘well-clever-you-are’ story about that sketch, but in my defense I have been avoiding scanning the sketchbooks. 2019 as it turned out was my most productive year for sketching, and I will start the posting soon. This weekend in fact. I have to remember what I did last summer. There’s been a lot going on. Without any further ado, here is the annual ‘list of all the sketches’ for 2019. You can zoom in or click on the image to see them bigger, or move your face closer to the screen, or simply ask an ant to describe them to you.

2019 sketches sm

I hope I haven’t missed anything out. As I wrote that sentence, Ir ealized that in fact I missed out scanning an entire sketchbook of quick drawings from a special sketchcrawl in Sacramento back in March I think it was, with the Council of Educators in Landscape Architecture. That added one extra line to this. But FINALLY I am caught up.

2019 really was the sketchingest year in ever. As a comparison to recent years, it beat them all, even 2017. 2108 saw a drop (very busy coaching soccer that year) but 2019 came right back at ya. Here is the chart from 2013-2019…

2013-2019 sketches

I’ll also be announcing the next Let’s Draw Davis dates soon. Now I have my soccer schedule kinda-sorta settled (I am coaching AYSO Select again this year…our first game ended 7-6 so it’s going to be Keeganesque!) I can start planning. 2019 was very busy, I think 2020 will be too. I went to England three times in 2019 though. We also went to Hawaii over Christmas / New Year, and the summer was a trip through Belgium/Holland/France. I had better start writing about it all, before I forget.

And we need to talk about Star Wars…



2016 is over, 2017 is already fully in swing. I suppose at this point I should give a review of 2016. Here’s my review: #2016. Enough said, I think. Let’s just say I tend to do a lot of drawing when things in the news stress me out! And there really were a lot of celebrity deaths. To those who say, it’s statistically the same as every other year, I say “cor, you are well clever you are”. David Bowie alone was enough. You know the rest of the list; I mean even Manuel from Fawlty Towers died. It’s ridiculous. On top of that, I’ve personally known several people who passed away this year too, including my uncle, two professors from work, and of course my friend and fellow urban sketcher, Florian Afflerbach. He is greatly missed by our urban sketching community.

So, as I do every year now, above is the list of sketches I have done this year. It doesn’t include badges designed for my son’s soccer teams, nor the advent calendar I drew, and other side-projects here and there, so yes this isn’t even all of my drawing but this is what I filled my sketchbooks with.

2016 was very much #2016. But personally, it’s actually been a good and very productive year. This was the year I turned 40, which was celebrated with a trip to New York with my friends from London.

And I wrote a book! “Five-Minute Sketching People“, a book about, well, it speaks for itself. My second in a year, though this was the first written solely by me (as opposed to being the primary author, as last year’s book “Creative Sketching Workshop” was). It was a lot of work, a lot of late nights at my writing desk, but I’m proud of how it turned out and it’s going into a second printing. My first book has been translated into French as well, so that was exciting to learn.

Apart from the usual local Davis/San Francisco/Sacramento, I went to (and sketched)…

  • London, England (twice)
  • Manchester, England
  • Knebworth, England
  • New York, NY
  • Disneyland, CA
  • Santa Barbara, CA
  • San Diego, CA
  • Legoland, CA

…and I drew a lot of people, because y’know, the book. Also the Manchester Urban Sketching Symposium, there were like 500 people there. I went on eleven plane journeys, and one long 11-hour train journey down California, as well as two much quicker train journeys to Manchester and back.

I had a big exhibit at the UC Davis Design Museum called “Conversations of the City”, a retrospective of ten years’ worth of my sketchbooks, which was a great success. I also held a smaller exhibit at the Putah Creek Winery in October. I organized a few Davis sketchcrawls (though not December – I need to put the dates in for this year), but also organized a large Wren-themed sketchcrawl in London which was a big success and great fun.

The sketchbooks I used this year (not including the peripheral hardly-ever-use ones) were…

Incidentally, if you’re interested, here are the sketches from 20152014, 2013 and 2012. Yes, I did sketch even more this year than usual, and here is the proof: 2016 compared with the past few years.


And 2017 is well under way. I sincerely hope you, and all of us in general, have a good year.And even if you don’t, just get your sketchbook out and do a lot of sketching!

that was twenty eleven

toy planeAnd so 2011 draws to a close.

I was afraid that the world would be ending tonight, because my calendar has no more days in it after December 31st, but I guess I’ll just get a new calendar tomorrow (see, Mayans?). This has been a very busy year, and it still seems so weird to be talking about twenty-eleven, which used to be just a year so far into the future, and now it’s over. I’m fully expecting hoverboards sometime in the next few years.

Anyway as some sort of retrospective, here’s a run-down of what I did art-wise this year:

January: ArtAbout at Armadillo. I exhibited some sketchbooks and prints at Armadillo Music in downtown Davisas part of the 2nd Friday Art About. This was a great evening, with music by the popular country musician Rita Hosking (who lives in Davis). I also got written about in Davis Life magazine by Walking Bob Schultz.

artabout jan 14Rita Hosking and her bandAndy the fiddler

April: Artery show ‘8×8 Small Is Great’. I contributed one piece for this group exhibition at local art co-op The Artery, ‘Miscellaneous Details’, and it sold! I went by to do some sketching and met more great Davis art folks.

May: ‘The Revengers’, background art. I drew some pictures for my actor/director friend Simon Nader in London who was staging a play called The Revengers. The ‘Avengers’ themed drawings were part of the background of the set.

hat"miscellaneous details" at arteryumbrella hilt

July: Urban Sketching Symposium: in July I flew to Lisbon to meet up with nearly 200 other urban sketchers from across the globe (all continents represented!) to take part in the 2nd International Urban Sketching Symposium. Lisbon’s an incredible city, and I learnt so much from being around all the other urban sketchers whose work I have admired over the years. And there were lots of fire hydrants!

contrastes rua bicaLisbon perspectives sketchcbookshydrant rua santa justa

August: Pence Gallery Art Auction. I contributed a drawing of the UC Davis Arboretum for the 2011 Art Auction (and it sold!).

August: Dr. Johnson’s House cards were produced (on sale at Dr. Johnson’s House museum in London). The kind folk at the Johnson house sent me a pack of the cards, they look great!

arboretum bridge at pence gallery auctionjohnson house and hodge the cat

November: Davis Library display. I exhibited sketchbooks and drawings in the display cabinet at the Davis Public Library for the month of November. That was fun!

November: ArtAbout at the Avid Reader. I displayed some sketchbooks and prints at the Avid Reader bookstore in downtown Davis for the 2nd Friday Art About, on 11/11/11.

Sketchbook display at Davis Public Library11-11-11 art about event!ArtAbout 11-11-11, Avid Reader

December: Grace Cathedral Christmas brochure. I illustrated the cover for Grace Cathedral (San Francisco)’s Christmas Concert brochure and program, and was invited to come and see one of the shows.

December: Pete Scully, Urban Sketches upstairs at the Pence Gallery. Saved the best one for last, my first solo exhibition at a proper gallery, and it went really well! The artist reception on Dec 9th was especially fun. Many thanks to everybody who came to see my work, and especially to those who bought my drawings.

grace cathedral xmas brochurespreparing for my show at the PencePence Gallery Show, Dec 2011

Sketchcrawls / Let’s Draw Davis:  We held ten ‘Let’s Draw Davis’ sketchcrawls this year, in every month except March (rained off) and December (too tired!). January’s was the most popular, with thirty people coming out to sketch. We were also featured on Aggie TV. In October our downtown sketchcrawl was featured on the front of the California Aggie. We’ll be continuing them monthly in 2012, starting with the next worldwide sketchcrawl on January 21st – details to come soon! I also went to San Francisco in April for the Worldwide Sketchcrawl, sketching the Mission District, and of course took part in the Worldwide Sketchcrawl in Lisbon in July.

let's draw davis october 15, 2011davis sketchcrawlers!let's draw davis: may 14 2011

Sketchbooks finished in 2011: These are the sketchbooks I completed this year. I still have several more on the go…

Moleskine 7

Moleskine 8

Davis Moleskine

London/Lisbon Moley

Small WH Smith Sketchbook

Little Red Moley

heathrow airportTravels: I went to a few places in 2011. Las Vegas in February, Oregon in July, London in July, Lisbon in July, Monterey in August, and San Francisco several times.

What did I learn in 2011? That I can find time to do anything, but that I can’t do everything. I have lots of plans and ideas! This has been a very busy year.

Art goals for 2012? That would be telling. What is expected for 2012? First of all the new Urban Sketchers book, ‘The Art of Urban Sketching’ will be published on February 1st so be sure to get your copy (I’m on pages 30, 46 and 281). As for the rest, well let’s see what the year brings!

Happy New Year 2012, may it be prosperous and happy for all.