froggies of an evening

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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

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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…

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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 theĀ  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: https://society6.com/petescully/prints

exit pursued by a beer

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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.

d street in davis

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Here is a panorama I sketched of D Street, Davis, last Sunday afternoon. It was a desperately hot day, and uncomfortable standing there for two hours sketching on loose sheets. I drew this over two sheets of Stillman and Birn ‘Alpha’ paper and joined them together to make the panorama – this isn’t in my sketchbook, it is to be framed for the Pence Gallery’s annual Art Auction. That is the Pence there on the right. The Art Auction will run from September 2-17, with a Gala event on the 17th itself. The building on the left was, for a while, “Art Is Davis” (I took part in a joint show there a couple of years ago), and before that was a shop called “Antiques Plus”, but now the building is home to “Land Home Financial”. Things do change. Last time I sketched this scene, the building on the far right of the drawing did not exist, but was put up last year (I did a sketch of the construction but haven’t yet drawn the finished product on the street, except here). On the far left, the Mustard Seed restaurant still going strong, but I’ve not eaten there in a few years (it was quite fancy, I must go back some time with my wife). This is a classic Davis view, and always fun to draw. This is my eleventh summer in Davis. Summers here are long, and dry.

The Art and Habit of Travel Sketching (with Rita Sabler)

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There were many interesting and varied talks that you could attend at #uskmanchester2016. Yes, I just used a hashtag in a sentence. Now if were saying that out loud I wouldn’t say the word “hashtag” but then that is why the written medium is capable of things that the spoken medium just isn’t, and vice-versa, and then there is the drawn medium. One thing I like about sketching at talks and presentations is that you can use it not only to document the visual of the event, but also take notes on the text. There is the issue of course that you must be careful what you write down, as that then potentially defines the speaker’s points in possibly unintended ways – take a sentence out of context, written down in a hurry, and sure they did say that, but it may not be what their talk was about. So whenever I have drawn presenters, I have been aware of this and tried to write down the thoughts and phrases that seem most to encapsulate it, though it’s impossible to catch it all.

I only managed to attend one talk in Manchester, having been off sketching the streets all the other times, taking advantage of the non-rain, but I wasn’t going to miss this one, “The Art and Habit of Travel Sketching“, by my friend from Portland, Rita Sabler. I first met Rita at the first symposium in Portland, learning that she was a UC Davis alumna, and have followed her sketching work ever since. She has a really cool and vibrant style, with a lot of travelling under her belt as well. In this talk she showed us some of her amazing travel sketches and shared her experiences around the world, both the good and the sometimes scary. She offered tips and advice on travel sketching, and spoke in general about the act of keeping a sketchbook, and the unexpected interactions it can bring. I wrote down some of what she was saying – click on the image above to get a better view – and some of my favourite takeaways were:

  • Sketching your surroundings, you become “at once the observer and the participant”
  • If sketching people in bars, pick the people who have the fullest glass – they will stay there longest!
  • If people notice you sketching them, smile!

I really enjoyed the talk, and everybody else that was there enjoyed it as well – and it was a full house. I was surprised that more people were not sketching though! I did spot a few others with sketchbooks out. Here was Rita afterwards, holding my book:

Rita Sabler

You can see more of Rita’s work on her website www.portlandsketcher.com, or on her Flickr page. You can also see three awesome chapters written by Rita in my book, Creative Sketching Workshop!