Long hot summer ain’t passing me by, though I’m trying to pass it by. We went over 40 days of 90 degree weather, many of them being in the 100s. I drew this over the course of three lunchtimes, each one where I ate at one of the food trucks at the newly remodeled Silo area. I drew this from the shade of a tree, and you can see the whole area in front of the Bike Barn has been totally renovated and changed, it looks different from the way it did previously (see this post from 2015 which shows sketches back to 2011). Sketching in the heat is something I should be used to in Davis, but more and more it puts me off. Maybe because I have drawn everything in this town and on this campus (maybe not everything, but it feels like it), maybe I have sketched so much this year already that it feels like a chore sometimes (you go through these lulls), maybe I just don’t want to leave the house (I have discovered the joys of creating stop-motion Lego animations, it’s fun). Maybe I have been spending too much time drawing MS Paint illustrations of this year’s football kits (no, NOT ENOUGH time!). Maybe it’s that whole thing where you go to Italy, and nothing else seems quite as interesting afterwards, and you just yearn for more travel, more places. Maybe, I don’t really know. Maybe you’re the same as me, we’ll see things they’ll never see, you and I are gonna live forev-eeeerrrr…
Travelling through hyperspace ain’t like dusting crops. Nor is travelling across the Atlantic. So no matter how late I stay up on the arrival day, when I am a little delirious and over-exhausted from the long overnight flight, especially one delayed by over 3 hours sat on the runway at Oakland, no matter how tired I am, I’ll still wake up at like 2am and find it impossible to return to the land of the sleeping. Also the sun comes up super early in Britain in the summer, and those birds in the Norwich Walk trees do love an early morning sing-song. When I was a kid I’d stay up all night and wait for that early dawn light, those early songbirds, and sometimes I would go for a run, enjoying the world when no people were about. Well these days I’m more likely to draw the world at that time, and so I sat in my mum’s kitchen and drew the back yard. The sky’s a funny colour but it really was a bit like that. I listened to podcasts about football, language, British history and Thor (“The Lightning and the Storm”, all about Walt Simonson’s epic run on the Thor comic, look it up, it’s a great podcast) until it was time for people to wake up and have breakfast. I always love that first morning back home. I’ve lived a quarter of my life in America now, but this to me will always be home. Click on the image for a closer view. When I showed my mum the first thing she said, “oh no you drew my washing line, I should have taken it down!” Whereas I as the urban sketcher, that is the first thing I drew, it’s to me the most interesting thing to draw. “At least you didn’t draw that old bucket,” she said. “Whaaa? I forgot the old bucket! No!!!” I totally would have drawn the bucket too, if I had space on the page, but it was just “off-screen”. I did draw the gnomes though, and I don’t really like those.
Here are a couple of other early-morning sketches of my mum’s back garden from previous visits back home, the top one being in 2011, the bottom one being 2007. Both feature the washing line. The bottom one (from ten years ago!) is a little sad to me now, as it shows my old tortoise, Tatty, who we had since I was about 6 or 7, but sadly died since that sketch.
At the end of April, we drove over the Sierra Nevada mountains, still heavily packed with quickly melting snow, across the state line into Nevada. My son played AYSO Select this year at the U10 level, and his team (the Davis “Duh”) were off to play in their third tournament, the Comstock Shootout at Carson City. It was a two-day tournament, playing against other teams from northern California, but the location was utterly spectacular. The backdrop of the snow-peaked Sierras on one side, and rocky high desert hills on the other, this was, let’s say, a little bit different from Davis. The sketch above, a panorama in pencil and watercolour in a Seawhite of Brighton sketchbook, was sketched in roughly 20-25 minutes while our team warmed up elsewhere; this was actually the U14 team, the Davis Dissent, for whom several older brothers of our lads were playing. But I couldn’t resist those mountains! I was trying to channel my French urban sketching friend Vincent Desplanche, who does amazing sketches up in the mountains back in Europe. Davis is too flat for mountains, they are usually too far in the distance.
The altitude was high, so our players had more sub breaks during the games (our coach was really good at managing that). I was reminded of when South American teams go and play in Bolivia, and struggle with the altitude in La Paz, which the Bolivian players are well used to. This was so problematic that between 2007 and 2008 FIFA actually banned international games from being played at above 8,200 feet. Carson City is at around 4,800 so nowhere near that high, but you do feel it. I was also reminded of when Premier League teams go to West Brom, who have the highest ground in England, and they often struggle with the altitude, which is a whopping 551 feet, so actually it’s more the Tony Pulis tactics they struggle against.
We were actually put to the test though by another team who were much more used to playing at altitude, a team from the town of Bishop, which is in California but on the High Desert side of the Sierras. Bishop is at 4,150 feet, and their players definitely outplayed ours, giving us our only defeat of the competition (and a pretty big one too). Davis, I might add, is only 52 feet above sea level. We may not be mountain-top athletes, but our cakes are baked to perfection. Above, here are some sketches I did during the game.
We stayed in the nearby town of Minden, at the Holiday Inn. There isn’t a whole lot to do in Minden, so in the evening while my son slept I grabbed a cold drink from the gas station across the street and sketched in the seating area of the hotel. I brought my books about perspective, as I was planning for my workshop in June, and so couldn’t help a nice bit of interior perspective. It was very yellow in there, though.
And here are those mountains again, this time sketched from our hotel window in the morning. It’s pretty beautiful there with that backdrop. I’d like to explore that part of Nevada some day, the High Desert, see some of the old abandoned ghost towns. I’d like to go to Virginia City, where they filmed that TV show Bonanza; I remember once joking it would be fun to do a sketchcrawl there, but at the end you would have to burn your sketches and ride off on horses, like in the opening credits. Tell you what though, those mountains look really pretty but that snow was melting fast. As we drove back over it, you could see it all stacked high but weeping in any direction, with waterfalls gushing and creeks rushing. And the rocks…we saw a huge boulder which had fallen into the road and forced a big car to swerve off, and passed the section of highway that had been partially washed away by the heavy rain and snow in the winter. It was a fun trip, definitely a change of scenery, and a cool tournament for the boys to play in.
Here is another two-page panorama of UC Davis, a scene I have sketched many times but has been undergoing a lot of changes lately. As you can see in the distance there they are building a whole new covered area between the Silo and the Bike Barn which will be for eating and stuff, and as you can see there’s a cement mixer on the side there. In the foreground though by the sign is a small sustainable garden that was planted there last year, it’s quite a nice addition to this area. Click on the image for a closer view.
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.
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’: https://www.flickr.com/photos/petescully/albums/72157647926718773
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.