the bees are buzzin’ in the trees

black bear diner 2017 sm
Here is another one from just along the street to the Turtle House and the Barovetto House. Click on the image for a closer view.  I’m slowly making my way along 2nd Street. Here is the Black Bear Diner, where you may occasionally find me on a Sunday morning, getting fat. My son loves it here, and when he was a toddler we would come here for breakfast at just about the time that the local firemen would come in; he was a big fan. Black Bear Diner is a thing in the western U.S. They don’t actually get to dine on anything with real black bear in it, it’s just the general theme. Nor is it, as people often think, a restaurant themed about a pirate who is in the Emergency Room, that’s a common misconception I’m sure the waiting staff are tired of having to point out. I first went to one up in southern Oregon, where I had “cinnamon roll French toast”, and I basically haven’t lost weight since. Nah I’m kidding, it’s the Cadbury’s Creme Eggs wot did it, guv. To be fair I come here like once every couple of months at most. That is often enough though. It’s like when I draw a pub, you might get the impression, oh he’s a regular. Well I may be, but those two sketches were the two times I went there that year. Similarly I don’t draw everywhere I have been or everything I have seen. I’ve not drawn a fire hydrant in ages, but I still look at them and say, “Oh, cool hydrant. Hi. I’m Pete. Sorry, no I’m not talking to a fire hydrant, I’m er, on the phone.” No, If I drew what I did the most this blog would be full of Lego drawings, hah! Oh right, it is. By the way, spoiler alert, there are WAY more Lego drawings yet to post. You ain’t seen nuffink yet. Speaking of volume of sketches, you know I do those things every year where I show all the drawings from that year in one post, well this year I’m already in the same row I was in last year by May. 2017 for me is strangely prolific, like I’m sketching to avoid the daily news or something.  Last year if you recall I was drawing loads of people, for my book  “Five-Minute-Sketching People”. That’s Five-Minute as in period of time, not a quintet of sketching-people who happen to be really, really small. Or maybe not… Here is an idea, at the next event I do I will talk about that book and I will pronounce it as “Five Minute…” with minute being pronounced like the word meaning really really small, and people will be confused and I’ll say, no honestly, that’s how I meant it to be pronounced, and they will think about it for a while, then get the joke and they’ll laugh and say, haha you’re so funny. Or maybe not… Yeah, maybe not. I’ll still do it. This time last year I was writing that book, it was a really fun experience, I really enjoy the process of writing. Though, it did include many late nights. I discovered that a lot of writing involves just staring out of the window for hours, and then at 2am writing 500 words. I thought to myself that if someone ever asked me to sign a copy, I would promise to sign it in the manner of how I wrote it, that is staring at it for hours and hours and then finally at 2:30 in the morning signing my name and saying, phew I’m beat, I need a cup of tea. Of course, I wouldn’t really do that. Or maybe not?

I don’t mean to ramble, but I always do. I’m actually a really quiet person, I don’t usually say anything. So anyway… the sketch. This was done in a Stillman and Birn Beta softcover landscape book, one of the last ones in that book. I have since started a second such sketchbook, and I can heartily and artily recommend them. The soft cover means I can bend the page around making it easy to hold, but it also produces great panoramic sketches, like this one. This took me a couple of lunchtimes to draw, and I had to finish off the colour back home.

history on fourth street

This is the stretch of 4th Street, Davis, between E and F. These grids seem like a game of Battleship sometimes. You could probably play Battleship on a US city map. “A-2nd!” “Aw, you sunk my SUV.” Actually a Davis version of Battleship would have bikes and double-decker buses. And skateboards too, we have lots of those. It’s like Hill Valley. I saw someone on one of those motorized skateboards the other day. No, not those rubbish hoverboards with the glow beneath it, I mean an actual skateboard, but with the wheels moving by motor. Now, the white house on the far right (dammit, I hope this won’t come up in internet searches of ‘far right’ and ‘white house’, I’m sure there are many) is Cooper House, I have drawn it a few times before. The large yellow building on the left, hiding behind the tree, I don’t know if that is anything special but it houses an electronics company now, I think, I don’t know. I promise I’m not fake news, and I’m certainly not fake sketches.Anyway the small house in the middle, now that one is the historic building known as the “First Presbyterian Manse”, at 619 4th St, and this was built in 1884. 1884! That is a pretty old building for Davis. It is in the ‘Classical Revival’ style, and looks goshdarn good for its age. The first person to live there was Rev. J.E. Anderson. Remember I mentioned Hill Valley from Back to the Future, well when Marty and Doc were sent into the Old West, that was 1885. If Davis were Hill Valley, and Hill Valley is meant to be in the general part of California, then this house would have been there. This is from cowboy times. “Cowboy Times”, haha, that sounds like the sort of newspaper that would be allowed into WH press briefings. Well, this is the latest in my two-page panorama sketches. You can click on it to see it embiggened. If you’d like to see more such sketches, go to my Flickr album ‘panoramas’:

froggies of an evening


More two-page-spread bar-sketching. I popped into Froggies in downtown Davis one evening, had a couple of beers, and behind me people sang karaoke. I didn’t. I might have if they had the Frog Song by Paul McCartney and the Frog Chorus, “We All Stand Together”. I saw Macca in Sacramento recently but he didn’t sing that one. I was a big fan of Rupert the Bear when I was a kid. I planned to make this full colour, watercolour-shaded, surround-sound (well maybe not surround-sound, not with the karaoke and all), but I was tired so left it at this. Another in the many illustrations of Davis.

along hutchison drive


In July I started a new sketchbook, a long panoramic accordion Moleskine sketchbook, with the intention of doing some very long drawings on the UC Davis campus. As it turned out I managed three scenes, all on the same street (Hutchison Drive), though only in pen with a dab of colour here and there. If you click on the image above, you will see the whole thing in closer detail. Below, I’ve cut the three scenes down – still too long to see, so click on them for a closer view.

Hutchison Panorama part1.jpg
First of all, the new Pitzer Center, still under construction in this sketch, on the left. A good place to start! Then, the Music Building, followed by Wright Hall and the Art Building. Good place to stop.

Hutchison Panorama part2.jpg

Next up, the Silo complex, also under reconstruction. First of all you see Rock Hall, the Chemistry Building’s lecture hall. Next up, the back of the Bike Barn building, this side has been various things since I have been here, and I’ve sketched it many times. This whole area is being rebuilt and improved at present. Next up is the Silo itself, where I often eat lunch. I stopped once the sketch got across the street, where the Silo Bus Terminal is, and drew a tree as a dividing line to the next part.

Hutchison Panorama part3.jpg

Finally, on the other side of the street, Walker Hall, which is currently empty but will eventually be completely renovated and this side rebuilt, when it becomes the Graduate and Professional Students’ Building. I think that is the name. IT’s going to be pretty cool, but I do like this building, and will probably draw it again…

This sketchbook will actually be on display along with many more sketchbooks in my upcoming exhibition, “Conversations with the City“, at the UC Davis Design Museum in Cruess Hall from Sept 19 to Nov 12. If you’re in town, do come by to see it!

we’ve come a long long way together…


Another panorama! It’s like, one page is soearlier in 2016″. Haha, you think this is a panorama? You wait until my next post. No kidding, it’s the longest panorama I have ever done. Stay tuned. This one though has a nice bit more details and a good bit more colour. It is the Mathematical Sciences Building at UC Davis, which is where I work by the way. The many faces I have seen pass through here, the many memories. I drew this last week, almost exactly a year since my last panorama of this building (I have used it so many times for various graphics, I really needed a full-colour one). This took two lunchtimes plus a bit of time at home colouring in those trees. I might have to sketch it again when all the trees lose their leaves. I drew it from the best angle I could find, in the shade; everywhere else was too sunny. The weather has been consistently in the low 90s (except those days when it’s in the upper 80s, so not consistently then). More colours of this lovely old campus (well this building opened at the end of 2005, not that old…it’s been in Davis exactly as long as I have!).

old sac o’mally’s

O'Mallys, old Sacramento
One more pub panorama for you, the last one of the summer – this is O’Mally’s in Old Sacramento, a pub I last went into about ten years ago with my friend Terry visiting from England, who beat me at pool. On this day, I had just been sketching cars until I could stand no longer over at the California Automobile Museum (see two blog posts back), and wanted to get a nice interior sketch done before going home. It was too crowded outside to do a panorama of the street, full of people touristing by, getting their saltwater taffy and taking olde-time-photos or whatever they do in old Sac. I grabbed some fries from one little place which had a fairly gross cheesy sauce on them – it sounded good, but really wasn’t. Maybe it was the heat and dehydration. I decided a cool bar interior was what I needed now, and so popped down to O’Mally’s, because I had never sketched this one before. It’s pretty old inside, and I sat with a cold beer and drew the bar area. It took almost two hours. A group of people to the right of me were trying out the breathalyzer machine which is stuck to the wall. Some more people came in and hung their skateboards from the back of their seats. I originally wrote the name as O’Malley’s, but corrected it to O’Mally’s. I used the usual brown-black pen, with watercolour paint, but also some brown Pitt marker for the darker areas – when using those, do it after the watercolour – it definitely runs a bit and muddies up the colours! In this case, it added to the  overall tone, and worked well. Another pub sketched!

You can see my bar/pub/cafe sketches in one Flickr album: “Pubs, Cafes, Bars etc“. Or hey, if you want a print of one of my bar sketches, there are several available to order on my Society6 page:

exit pursued by a beer


A couple of weeks ago or so it was Davis Bear Week. I was really excited about this as a lover of bears (but not an “ursophile”, that means something else entirely), and was looking forward to it for weeks, months really, working on my bear-costume, eating nothing but honey, stealing picnic-baskets, pedantically telling people that no, a panda isn’t a bear, well ok they are related, fine, but no a koala definitely isn’t a bear, just making sure I knew all about bears ahead of Davis Bear Week. I watched all the different Bear shows – Paddington, Superted, Care Bears, the Sooty Show, the Berenstain Bears (which I don’t even like), re-runs of Children-In-Need (just for Pudsey), Rainbow (just for Bungle), I even watched “We Bare Bears”, even though it is the most boring cartoon in the history of television. Sharks have Shark Week, but down here it’s Bear Time.

So you can imagine my disappointment when I got downtown, dressed in fur with big claws and teeth and whatever else bears look like, and saw everyone else dressed as slightly drunk human beings. Did I get this wrong? I tried looking it up on my phone but my long bear-claws couldn’t work on the touch-screen, and my marmalade sandwiches had made everything in my bag sticky. So after a while I got up on my hind legs again, and popped into Woodstock’s Pizza of all places, humming “If you go down to the woods today” to myself, as I had heard they were having a bear-themed trivia night and special bear-promotions. It turned out to be nothing of the sort, the promotions were just for Anchor Brewing and the quiz was all about AAAAH I get it, “beer”. Not bear then. I got back on all fours, lowered my grizzly snout, and shuffled backwards outside again.

Now obviously, I didn’t really dress up as a bear and shuffle around town. This story is only partly true (you have to guess which bits), and I probably could have shaved about two-thirds of it away before telling it, many of you will have no idea about who Sooty or Bungle or any of them were (look up Superted on Youtube though, Superted was truly brilliant – makers of “We Bare Bears”, take note, take plenty of note) but it was Davis Beer Week, and that turned out to be just as disappointing as going to what you think is a big bear-party but turns out to be a drunk-human-party. Sure, there were some promotions and tastings and free glasses you have to pay for (the Anchor one, you buy a glass and from your second pint the already-quite-expensive beers were a bit cheaper and you get to keep a cheap glass you had no intention of carrying home). On the whole though it was not really any different than any other night in Davis, that’s how it seemed to me. I sat in Woodstock’s and listened to the beer trivia quiz, some very hard questions mixed with some very easy ones, while I read Jonathan Wilson’s book “Inverting the Pyramid” (a history of soccer tactics), not even bothering to draw, and I have never sketched inside of the Woodstocks bar area. I left and pondered where to go next, but everywhere was a little bit packed, so I chose City Hall Tavern ,as it was relatively quiet, and they at least had cheaper prices on local beers. I chose a Berryessa Plastic People Pale Ale, which was nice. I got a big table all to myself (it wasn’t that busy) and finally got to sketch the whole of the bar. If you have seen any of my previous sketches of City Hall Tavern I have usually been closer to the bar, and sketched only in pen, but this historic old building needed a bigger interior sketch. I’ve drawn it so many times from the outside. The problem is, looking around, the decor really is just too dark. Too much black paint, mixed with red curtains. The spinning wheels on the ceiling were a fun idea when it first opened, but the decor really seems to cater to the few hours on the few nights a week when the music goes up and people dance a bit. Most people sat outside. As I say, it wasn’t that busy. Except when I got up from my table to get another drink, when it seemed like about a million people piled into the bar, so I couldn’t see my stuff still on the table while I waited for my pint. When I got my pint, I was given a pitcher as well (charged for two beers), which yeah, not what I asked for (or even the right beer), but I don’t blame the barstaff as they were frantically trying to deal with the sudden rush of thirsty people (none of whom were in bear costumes). I gave the second beer to a guy who had started chatting to me (“you’re fr’m Lond’n? Aw cool, have a nice v’cation!”) and went back to finish my panorama sketch – better add a lot more people now, no problem, I like drawing people now after all. Within five or ten minutes of sitting down the place emptied again, just a few people once more. The Annihilation Wave had probably moved on to wherever the next place that the Davis Young move along to. The lighting changed around a lot, lots of purple, bit of blue, then yellows and reds, going with the music (which was rather eclectic – they played Jive Bunny!?! I recognized it immediately with a shudder, my Mum used to play that all the time at parties in the late 80s). I added all the paint there and then, including some of the old splatter technique, and was happy with the results; I think it reflects the place very well. I finished my second beer and was done, exiting (though not pursued by a bear) taking my sketchbook and my imaginary bear costume back home again. Another Davis Bar Sketch.