Just interrupting my Italy posts to bring you some sketches from our recent Let’s Draw Davis sketchcrawl, held on a very hot July morning a week or so ago. Let’s Draw Davis is now monthly again, and now the organization is shared between myself and two fellow local sketchers, Alison Kent and Ann Filmer. This month it was my turn, so I organized a crawl that would explore the courtyards and alleys of downtown, starting in Orange Court and ending up on the patio behind the Pence Gallery. We had around seventeen sketchers in total joining us, and despite the heat a lot of nice sketching was done! I started off by drawing people in pencil and paint.
I then moved up to the walkway overlooking Orange Court, trying to squeeze into whatever shade I could find, and drew the aerial perspective. It was a bit tricky with the sun burning down but I was determined. After this, I had a chicken hotdog at the Hotdogger.
Then I walked through the little side-streets between D and E Streets, which have a few colourful shops and cafes, and I drew two more of my fellow sketchers (there is Marlene Lee on the right, she had a few drawings featured in my last book), sat outside a new art gallery/shop called Couleurs Vives, which deserves a bigger more colourful sketch some time. After that, the remaining sketchers met up and did a show-and-tell with each other’s sketchbooks, which is always my favourite part, seeing how others interpret the same scenes.
The next Let’s Draw Davis sketchcrawl meeting will be on Wednesday August 16th at the Davis Farmer’s Market “Picnic in the Park”; check out the event posting on the Let’s Draw Davis Facebook page!
While I love an early morning when travelling, I also like the night. Depends where though – I’ve never really liked Venice at night, but Rome’s piazzas, lined with warm streetside cafes, are a pleasant place to be. I didn’t go to the Trevi fountain at night, that was crazy enough during the day that I didn’t want to spend too much time there, but Piazza Navona, a short walk from our place, was much more pleasant. Doing as the Romans do is the thing to do, so I went to a cafe and bought a beer and sat on a bench near the fountains. Actually it was mostly French students doing that, but I assume they were doing as the Romans do. Actually what is funny is that since I was there, the Mayor of Rome has brought in a new local law forbidding people from drinking alcohol in those public squares and places after 10pm at night, effective July. So the Romans aren’t doing that now. We also noticed that, during the day, anybody sitting down on steps or by fountains and monuments and eating anything, even a gelato, were being quickly moved on by local wardens. Apparently this was a new law as well, enacted just a week before I got there in June, and you can get big fines for breaking it, a fact completely not signposted anywhere. I sketched the above scene, as best as I could see. Piazza Navona is in the shape of the ancient Stadium of Domitian, which used to stand on this spot in Roman times. Well I suppose these are still Roman times, this city being still called Rome. It is the Eternal City after all.
A bit closer to home now. Right outside the front door of our apartment, which was itself about 120 steps up four steep flights, was a little trattoria/bar in a narrow lane just off the Pantheon. On our last night in Rome, after la famiglia had gone to bed, I walked down the stairs and sat at a table with a beer and my sketchbook, drawing Rome at night. The street is Via della Palombella, and that church, which has a stone head of a stag on top, is called Sant’Eustachio. The little Piazza before it is called, of course, Piazza Sant’Eustachio, and the cafe of the same name just across he street is where I would get my pastries in the morning. There were people strolling about, as they do, tourists and Romans on their nocturnal promenades. I sketched some of them (above), Romans going home. “Romanes eunt domus“.
Hey folks! Another slight pause in posting; I’ve been away on vacation, no spoilers about where I went but it rhymes with “bitterly”, specifically “dome” and “menace”, as I say you will have to wait to find out where from my many many sketches. But in the unforgettable words of Jar-Jar Binks, “meesa back!” I can’t remember where I was with my sketches, oh yes, Pacifica. So a week after my son’s soccer team’s tournament in Nevada we had another one down in the beach town of Pacifica. The waves were high and the air was salty, and our team did excellently, only missing out on qualifying for the final on goal difference. I did of course get a good bit of sketching in, and here it is. Above, a hydrant near the Ocean. Below, two views either side of the same rocky outcrop, from two different beaches. The top one was Rockaway Beach, right outside our hotel, and sketched on a super windy morning. Those waves were incredible, and the beach was covered in fluffy sea-foam blown in from the Pacific.
And don’t forget the beachgoers. With the waves so big there were a lot of extra surfers out. I used to want to be a surfer, when I was young. It was mostly because it was as far away as something people in Burnt Oak would do that I could think of, so therefore it was what I wanted to do. I always imagined I would live in Australia, surfing every week, walking about town in my wetsuit, but that never happened. Instead I live in California (not near the beach) and seriously, I ain’t getting in no wetsuit now. That’s ok, I’m fine with that. I just sketch the surfers now.
Possibly one reason why is my love for delicious milkshakes, and this one was partaken at the local Rockaway Beach diner “Rock’n’Robs”. Cookies and cream flavour. Yeah, no surfing for me now. Another reason may be the found in the image below. “Nick’s” is a 90-year-old bar and lounge in splashing distance of the Pacific waves, and a few steps from our hotel, so I popped by to sketch their bar and try a few beers. That slanted mirror let me sketch the patrons to my right, and on the other side of the bar a band played and local couples danced. It was a fun place to spend the evening.
And here is a sketch of the small town itself, the Rockaway Beach part of Pacifica. Pretty nice down here. It’s really close to San Francisco by the way, surprisingly near, yet it feels a million miles away. I liked it; I think we’ll be back.
As some of you may know, I have a book out called “Five Minute Sketching People”. It came out in the autumn and has been apparently doing well; I don’t really know exactly how well, I’m not told these things, but I often check the ranking on Amazon. And then, to compare, I always check the ranking of Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s book, “I Am Zlatan”. I don’t check it against any other book, only that one. And every day I would check, and my book would be above it in the Amazon rankings. I’d be at 26,000, Zlatan would be at 46,000. It was always up and down, but I’d usually be higher than “I Am Zlatan”, so regardless of how high it actually was or what any of it means, as long as I was above “I Am Zlatan”, that was all that mattered, beating Zlatan. I mean it doesn’t mean I’m somehow better than Zlatan, that would be ridiculous, all I’m saying is that the numbers don’t lie, and clearly my next book should just be called “I Am Better Than Zlatan”, obviously. It’s a fun game I play every day.
And then recently I noticed that Zlatan had overtaken me. Is it because he is finishing up his contract at Manchester United, that saw a spike in his book sales? I too do not play for Manchester United. Coincidence? And the worrying thing is, he has stayed there! Today for example he is at #57,515 and I am at #88,844. Now I don’t doubt that Zlatan is a great writer, after all He Is Zlatan, and admittedly he is slightly more globally well-known than I am, him being a Premier League/Serie A/La Liga, Ligue 1/international superstar, and me being a bloke who draws pictures of things in a town nobody has heard of. So, fair play to him.
Oh, these by the way are some of my quick people drawings from the past month or so. These are the sorts of ones I did in the book, simple, quick, passers-by, capturing what you can in a tiny amount of time, most of them being at UC Davis, except the ones at the top which are at the Farmer’s Market. Many were sketched at the Silo, or nearby, sketched on days when my lunchtime wasn’t long enough for a building sketch (or I just had no inspiration to draw more buildings). The ones immediately below were sketched at the UC Davis Picnic Day, Battle of the Bands. Hence the funny costumes. It’s all very silly.
The whole Zlatan thing is just a bit of a joke I have with my son, we find it funny to look up the numbers. I did notice recently though that someone had given my book a “1 star” rating. I mean I don’t mind, that’s fine, but I had to look at it anyway. They wanted to see step-by-step tutorials rather than tips on techniques, you see, which I totally get. They even said I was a good artist, which I do appreciate. But, 1 star? I mean I don’t care obviously, but that 1 star, it stands out, like Sirius glaring at the constellation of Orion. I looked and saw they had given 1 star to the other book in the series, the one Liz Steel wrote about 5-minute Architecture Sketches. In fact they had written exactly the same review word for word, which saves time I suppose, and to be fair they changed the word ‘him’ to ‘her’ for the other review so it’s not a total cut and paste. But it’s totally fine. I had a look at what else they had given 1 star to, just out of interest, and the next 1-star was for a book called “Guns: Weapons Guide for Total Beginners”, because “the only picture was on the cover”. Which is a fair assessment. He gave 5 stars to “Think Like A Winner” though, which sounds like a book I could use, though I must point out that book is even further below “I Am Zlatan” than I am, so.
I looked to see if Zlatan had any “1 star” reviews, and was pleased to discover that unfortunately he had two. And they aren’t really very good reviews either. One said that they were a huge fan of Zlatan as a player but that his book was “full of ego and painful to read”. (Haha, just wait until “I Am Better Than Zlatan” comes out!) But “painful to read”? More painful to read than a 1 star review? The Darkhold is painful to read, or The second one said that “There is a lot of “I” in his book. Its really not that good.” Now to be fair, you need to use the letter “I” a lot in english, otherwse t mght look lke ths. You see? Also, the book is called “I Am Zlatan”, which yes it starts with the letter “I”, but he left out his last name, which has at least three “I”s in it, maybe more. Also there are a lot of lower case “L”s, which could be mistaken for “I”s. If however the reviewer is referring to the fact he talks about himself a lot, well, Zlatan is guilty as charged, but what with it being an autobiography, that is to be expected, unless you think an autobiography is a biography of a car. But if the reviewer really thinks Zlatan is a massive egotist, well he’s wrong, and he proves it by saying that he uses “I” a lot. Truly massive egos don’t do that, they prefer using the third person, like “Zlatan is hungry, Zlatan wants a new contract,” or like Pete does in his profile page on this very website. In fact if he was truly as egotistical as these reviewers think, his book would have been called “Zlatan is Zlatan”.
You’re probably wondering who this “Zlatan” even is, don’t worry about it, he’ll come up again I’m sure. He is a very good footballer, look him up on Youtube, his skills are amazing. Buy his book too, keep it above mine in the charts, I don’t mind honestly. The figure in the second row, second to the left looks a bit Zlatan-like, though he is significantly taller, a very tall bloke. By the way the fellow in the above sketch, bottom row, yes that one, he is not yogic-flying, he is in fact sitting on grass that you cannot see. Invisible grass. And yes, top left bloke is wearing a Liverpool shirt. Anyway, these are my recent quick people sketches, I do hope you like them and if you have five minutes why not do some yourself?
More sketches from over a month ago! On Saturday November 12th we held another “Let’s Draw Davis” sketchcrawl on the UC Davis campus, this time at Vanderhoef Quad, named for the late Chancellor Larry Vanderhoef, location of the brand new Manetti Shrem Museum of Art, which was opening that weekend (more on that later, many sketches to post…). Several of us met up in the middle of the Quad and started sketching the scenery, the lovely autumnal leaves and bright November sunshine, the modern campus buildings lining the edges. Above is Davis sketchcrawl regular (and person I have probably sketched the most!) Allan Hollander, who I couldn’t resist sketching again.
Above is the Mondavi Center, an amazing performance space, with the fountains of the Vanderhoef Quad in the foreground. I actually won a t-shirt for this sketch, they sent it to me, it’s nice. Below, also longtime Davis sketcher and fellow British-accenter Alison Kent sketches away, with another sketcher Suzanne sketching beneath a big hat. someone actually asked me once for a good tip on drawing faces when sketching people in public, often a tricky subject, and I said “make sure they are wearing a hat that covers their face, so you can get around that” and clearly I wasn’t really joking!
And below is a large panorama of the Manetti Shrem Museum of Art itself! I will likely post this sketch again in the next post about the museum, or perhaps in an upcoming post where I display all my sketches of it from first construction onwards, but the building is finally finished and open! On this day, the day before the Grand Opening, they were having special opening events throughout the day – at this time, there was a special event just for faculty. That evening they were to have the ‘Director’s Debut’, an event for donors and artists (including me!! I’ll post about that next, it was fun), then another late-night event for the students. The colourful chains around the edge are there for the opening event, made by local people to be formally cut to open the museum. I had never two-page-spreaded this building before (that’s a new verb, that), given it the old panoramization treatment (another new word), so here it is. Not easy to draw over two pages with its unusual curving roof but I gave it a good old go.
We sketchcrawlers met up at the end to check out each others books, and it is always fun to see the range of different styles and points of view. Great fun as always, Davis sketchers! Now I had hoped to run a sketchcrawl here in December, but my weekends suddenly filled up fast and so I never got around to it, but I am working on a set of dates for next year starting January, and will announce those here shortly, and email all those on my email list. I’m hoping to have the Davis sketchcrawls continue monthly, but I am also planning a ‘themed’ crawl in San Francisco at some point (history themed, dates/details to be set…) and possibly another themed crawl in London, though the dates for that are also uncertain (probably going to be Soho themed though, after two Wren crawls, a Ripper crawl and a Fleet Street crawl…). Roll on sketchbookers of 2017! I gotta feeling we’ll all need a bit of sketching…
And now for the final post about #Uksmnachsrte2106 (sorry, been typing it so many times I have forgotten how to type) (that looks like a joke but I corrected about half the words typed in this sentence just now so it isn’t) (my autocorrect has just given up on me and gone home). The final official day was on Saturday July 30th, we had a Closing Ceremony, and they announced that CHICAGO will host the next one! Hooray! I do hope I can go. Anyway here are a few more sketches of people that I did over the days of the Symposium, in no particular order, but starting with Simone Ridyard, above, Manchester resident and one of the main organizers of this whole awesome successful symposium. Here she is announcing day three, with some of the main stage backdrop behind her. Well done Simone and all the Symposium team! I have Simone’s book Archisketcher, by the way, it is very good.
Next up is Bridget March, a lovely lady I met in the first workshop, who is from Harrogate (I had a friend at school from Harrogate, sounds nice there) but lives and works in Saigon in Vietnam. We ate with some others at a great little street-food type snack bar on Oxford Road, while rain drizzled down outside.
Here I did my only digital sketch of the Symposium, made on the iPad with the Paper app. this is Danni Hoedemakers, from Belgium (Hasselt), who I met talking with Corinne Raes at the Peveril of the Peak. She was telling me about these really interesting tours of Hasselt that she gives, “Happiness Tours” I think they were called, which I really liked the sound of, though I struggle to explain them. This gave me a few ideas of doing similar things but including sketching or writing. Anyway, it sounded like fun. There were quite a lot of Belgians at the Symposium, always a good thing, allez les Belges!
Now here we meet Mateusz Hajnsz from Poland, who I remember from the USk Manchester facebook page, nice to meet him. He actually had a copy of my book to be signed! So I sketched him as well. I sketched him later during dinner as well as part of the group at the Indian Tiffin Room.
Speaking of signing books, this is Stephanie Bower from Seattle. I really like Stephanie’s artwork, very architectural and full of light, and she is a delight. Her book “Understanding Perspective“, the latest in the Urban Sketching Series, just came out, so she was signing copies at the Symposium (I bought my copy in the US) when I sketched her.
And here is the book-signing event several of us who have books were asked to come and sign them at. these two fine people are from Quarto books, Ben and Emma, with a selection of publications such as the Urban Sketching Series books (of which Stephanie’s is one), Gabi Campanario’s “The Art of Urban Sketching”, Katherine Tyrell’s “Sketching 365”, Simone Ridyard’s “Archisketcher”, and James Hobbs’s “Sketch Your World”. Ok then…where was Creative Sketching Workshop? When I got there they had none. They had some the day before, apparently, but none now. So I stuck around anyway and sketched Ben and Emma, and then after a while they found at the bottom of a box a few remaining copies and put them out, so I added those in! I didn’t sign any though. I never know what to write when signing books anyhow, I always think I should write “Happy Birthday”!
At the final Closing Ceremony party at the School of Art, I was already feeling tired, but I did spend time talking to people and sketching, saying my goodbyes and see-you-in-Chicagos, and I’m very glad to have rubbed shoulders with so many international sketchers, old and new friends. The funny thing about urban sketching symposia is that you might only say a few things to someone, see them in a few workshops, raise a drink and say “great job on all the sketching, here’s my Moo card” but then over the next couple of years you make a point of Liking their FB pages, commenting on their sketches, checking out their websites, being inspired by their prodigious output, and then next time you see them in another country you feel you know each other a lot more, and it all begins to feel like a big global sketching family. Above, on the right is Vincent Desplanche, from France, who I met briefly last year in Strasbourg and was blown away by his sketchbooks, and who I have followed with great interest over the past year, it was great to see him again in Manchester, and hopefully we’ll sketch together in the future. He is talking to Daniel Nies, from Germany, who I met for the first time in Manchester but I recognize from the Urban Sketcher group on Facebook. He told me that he is a beekeper, and was very interested in the bee symbol of Manchester (though it’s an inaccurate bee, he said!), and made a really cool lino-print of that same bee emblem. Incidentally the bee represents the worker element of Manchester, the home of the Industrial Revolution. On the right is Kalina Wilson from Portland (aka Geminica), who I’ve known since the first symposium (uskpdx2010) and feels like an old sketching buddy. Also a fellow pirate. Here she is disbelieving me when I tell her that I used to teach Cockney Rhyming Slang in classes at a university in Belgium, but this fact is absolutely true (it even came up in their exam). So glad she was able to make it to the UK this summer, and she even came to the Wren crawl the weekend before in London.
Here are a couple of sketchers from Yorkshire (I do like a Yorkshire accent!), on the left is none other than Matthew Midgley from Huddersfield, who I have wanted to meet for years, I love his artwork. Super nice guy, who likes to draw food. On the right is Alec Turner, who I did not know, but was also friendly and a nice subject to draw.
Next up was Ed Harker from Bristol/Bath, who I had spoken to earlier in the day, and whom I saw sketching me in his long accordion notebook. Well, I couldn’t resist sketching him back! You will notice that I am sketching most of these people in pencil, which is quicker and a bit more expressive – I’m doing this more, and it’s fun. Little dab of paint, lovely. Ed was a lovely bloke, and his sketches are lively and fun.
Above, two well-known urban sketchers, Lynne Chapman and Liz Steel. Lynne from Sheffield (though originally from the south of England), a much-published children’s illustrator who also recently brought out a book about Sketching People, which I haven’t yet got but I certainly will do. It came out in March, just a little bit too late for me to read while writing my own book about sketching people – shame, as I am hugely inspired by how Lynne draws people, she does such a fantastic (and often very colourful) job. Speaking of books, Liz Steel (from Sydney, Australia) (there was a big contingent from Australia this year!) But Liz has been to every single symposium, since Portland 2010) also has a book coming out this Fall – it is the ‘other half’ of the one I wrote! “Five Minute Sketching Architecture” will be published in the US on October 1, same date as my “Five Minute Sketching People”
Ok now these were sketchers dancing at the closing ceremony party. The pen scribble is an aborted attempt at sketching Marina Grechanik that just didn’t work. The other sketches on the page however are obviously super accurate and obviously detailed likenesses. Maybe not, but sketching dancers isn’t easy – it is fun though.Two of them I do recognize, the others I don’t know who they are. There was a lot of dancing; they even did the Conga. Pete doesn’t do the Conga.
Pete does dress up as Captain America and pose heroically though. Here I am with Marc van Liefferinge from Belgium (a photographer whom I met in Strasbourg last summer, this time he was photographing the big symposium!), and Vincent Desplanche from France.
And finally, Liz Steel once more, and Paul Wang from Singapore. More old Urban Sketching friends! I remember nice evenings at dinner with Paul and Liz in Lisbon and Barcelona. Hopefully again in Chicago!
There were about 500 people sketching Manchester this symposium, and I’m pretty glad I was one of them. Too many however to meet them all, though I gave it a good try, but not ever overwhelming. I think that was Manchester itself, which despite being the first time I was there, had a real familiarity about it. I didn’t even mind the rain. I think it was the Chips in Gravy. A huge thanks to all the Symposium organizers for showing us Manchester, and who knows, see you in Chicago…
Dinnertime at the Symposium is naturally a time for taking a break from sketching, putting that pen or pencil down, breaking bread and drinking wine and naaaaah, KEEP ON SKETCHING! It’s just what we do, and here we have permission, justification, obligation, compulsion. We can never really stop. Of the four evenings spent in Manchester I went out for meals with fellows sketchers on two of them (the other two, I ate at the apartment, or at the closing reception). It’s a good time to flex those people-sketching skills. I remarked more than once that I don’t often like sketching people, because I’m quite self-conscious about it in public, but at the symposia (and this one especially) I let loose and sketch away. It’s quite liberating. I had never sketched an entire table of people in one sketch before though (I don’t think I have anyway), always running out of space, and on my first night in Manchester I joined some of the French-speaking sketchers for dinner at Thomas’s Chop House. Actually it turned out to not just be the Franco-Belgian sketchers, but from all over the world, the Symposium in a nutshell. There was Spanish, German, Portuguese, French and English spoken, and it was a really nice evening. It was cold too so many of us, sat outside, were given blankets by the restaurant to keep warm. I shared a blanket with Arnaud De Meyer, a sketcher from Luxembourg who was sat next to me. The long sketch is above – click on it for a closer view. It’s actually over two double-page spreads.
The third night in Manchester I went with a group for a late dinner at the Indian Tiffin Room, which was obviously a popular choice for the urban sketchers as the place was full of them! Our group was mostly Portuguese (Vicente, Luis, Nelson and Pedro) but also Rita from Portland, Mateusz from Poland and Silvio from Argentina, a great bunch of people. There was a lot of Spanish spoken though, I couldn’t keep up with that! (I never did learn Spanish, I must remedy that) The food was great and the company friendly, and I sketched the scene above, managing to just about fit everyone in, though I had to place Nelson into an inset window. Pedro Loureiro did do a sketch of me on one of the paper menu-placemats, but it got curry spilled on it (I didn’t mind that, seemed appropriate! I love a curry, as my cheeks will attest…)
Stay tuned for more #UskManchester2016 sketches…