saturday summer sketchcrawl

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This is the Davis Farmer’s Market, a sketch that I did while standing up for the best part of two hours, occasionally talking to people. It was busy, though by the time I was finished all the people had gone and the market stalls had all but packed up. This was the longest sketch I did as part of the “Let’s Draw Davis” sketchcrawl on Saturday, the return of the sketching meetups I used to organize monthly for a few years until my weekend days got just too busy. It was really nice to get out there and sketch with others again, see some old familiar faces, and meet some new sketchers too. We started off at Central Park, and I did some quick people-sketching in my Fabriano sketchbook, using pencil and watercolour. There was an even going on speaking up against oil trains, those big hulking freight trains that carry oil dangerously through residential areas (such as Davis). It was interesting to listen to, I support their cause and I sketched some of the speakers.
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LDDjuly2016 Speaker 2
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Look at me sketching people eh. Below, some of the other sketchers. In the first sketch, of Sonja in the purple hat, I showed off my favourite tip for drawing people, draw a massive hat and avoid the face at all costs. No I’m only kidding, but it looks like that’s what I’m doing! I’m quite pleased with this sketch though, I like the way it turned out, full of character, showing the sketcher busy at work. The other sketchers drawn below are Kim, Sam and Peter, three different seated poses, three different angles.
LDDjuly2016 Sonja
LDDjuly2016 Kim
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LDDjuly2016 Peter

I used three sketchbooks on this sketchcrawl because I enjoy carrying loads of stuff around with me. No, Seawhite #4 was at a close (the Farmer’s Market sketch was the last double-page spread, though the penultimate sketch – I actually finished it next day sketching the Euro final). I enjoy the Seawhite of Brighton sketchbooks now, after seeing what other sketchers did with them when out in France last year, and I was pleased to see another sketcher, Peter, also using a Seawhite. I opened a new sketchbook, the Stillman and Birn ‘Alpha’ landscape, my third one of this particular model (though I have a few other sizes of the Alpha, it’s my favourite paper I think). I drew the newspaper boxes outside Peet’s Coffee in E Street, while my legs started to hurt from all the stand-up sketching. I need to use my stool a little bit more (but I do like having the elevated view of standing up).

E Street newspaper boxes

And then the remaining sketchers met up at the end to look at each others sketchbooks, which is always nice. We got a lot of very nice sketches done that day. Here is a photo I took of everyone holding up their books. By the way, we didn’t lay them all out on the floor and stare at them from six feet up like too many sketchcrawls do these days (pick them up! Pass them around!).  Some of the sketchers that didn’t make it to the end did come and find me before they went and I got to see what they had done, and a few others met me at De Vere’s afterwards having not been at the E Street Plaza end point, so overall it was a very nice day full of sketching in Davis. I do plan to restart Let’s Draw Davis on a monthly basis, but not until October, to coincide with my sketchbook exhibit at the UC Davis Design Museum. In the meantime, Davis sketchers, keep up the good sketching work!

Some of the Davis sketchers...

how to stay in europe

Euro 2016 IRL-ITA

I love this Euro 2016 football tournament. I love Europe in general, let me be clear about that – I was born European, and will remain European. The EU referendum news is fresh, new and bitter – and Cameron just resigned a few minutes ago – so to cheer you up again, I’ll bring it back to the football. I’ve often been frustrated by the European Football Championships, the less fun little brother of the World Cup. Perhaps it was the Years of Hurt – as a fan of both Ireland and, yeah, England disappointment went hand in hand. I still have a celebratory t-shirt from the famous Ireland victory over England back in 1988 (“These boys made history” it read, my mum got it for me from the Irish festival in Willesden Green). Despite some World Cup fun times since, the Republic of Ireland have either not qualified or just been rubbish at the Euros. England, well, Euro 96 was a fun ride, with a depressing end. These Euros have seen Wales, England, Northern Ireland and now the Republic of Ireland qualify for the knockout stages in dramatic fashion. Kind of pales into insignificance now with the political earthquake of “Brexit”, but while the two final group matches played yesterday lunchtime I sketched them both simultaneously (I do love split-screen). Ireland beat Italy 1-0 with a late winner, and I leapt off my seat, fist pumping. Even the Italians celebrated with the Irish. Both Ireland teams in the next round! Wales and England too! And Iceland, who are close enough to Scotland! Another of the teams I like, Belgium (I lived there for a year, during Euro 2000 funnily enough, I lived opposite the stadium where England beat Germany) beat Sweden, and I sketched some of them to, Belgium in their cool away kit. The outcome was finely balanced, but Belgium scored about 20 seconds before the Irish did, and suddenly Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s international career was over. There he is there, looking rather like a comic villain, Dick Dastardly but without the evil smirk. At least he wasn’t throwing on-pitch tantrums like Ronaldo was (though at least Ronaldo looked more like he cared, and scored a couple of goals out of it – not free kicks, of course). Zlatan has left the building – “Zlexit”, as I’m calling it.

Euro 2016 BEL-SWE

I sketched these partly for practice. I just finished writing a book about sketching people in five minutes (coming out in the Fall!) and one section is about sketching people playing sports, live, so these are my efforts. There’s no football tomorrow, either. Well it’s already tomorrow now. But two days without football, just as all these teams celebrate staying in Europe, and what goes and happens? It all starts up again on Saturday – Wales v Northern Ireland! – and then the big one for Ireland against France on Sunday (6am wake-up for me), with England v Iceland on Monday. Allez les Euros.

drawing UCDAAC 2016

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Last month I attended the annual UC Davis Academic Advising Conference here on campus. It is part of my day-job, but on this occasion I was invited to be the official sketcher of the event as well. Two birds, one Pete. I would be drawing everything anyway, but now I get an official excuse and it saves my department some money in registration. It’s also an opportunity to draw people. Five-minute sketches of people in fact – a good thing to practice. Hey if you are interested in five-minute people sketching there is a book coming out all about that later this year (hint, it’s why I have been so busy the past few months). Back to the UCDAAC though, it was a day long event, a series of workshops and talks, tent-poled around the keynote speech of David Spight, president of NACADA (the National Academic Advising Association). It was St.Patrick’s Day so a lot of people wore green.
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Here is David, above, and below are two of the organizing forces, Brett McFarlane of UC Davis and Elizabeth Dudley, also of UC Davis, also a former co-worker in my office. Below them there, Sharon Knox of UC Davis, and Alejandra Garibay, also a former co-worker in my office.

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The thing with five-minute people sketches is that they don’t have to be entirely accurate, but it’s a good idea to try and get the sense of people. However, thinking about it, talking about it, and then actually doing it are different things – I always feel a little hesitant when sketching people, not wanting to take too many risks, probably for fear of that “you’ve drawn me as a massive scribble” “it looks nothing like me” “can you make me look younger” reaction. But my favourite ones are the much looser, less inhibited sketches. It can take you a few people sketches to get into your groove, so keep them quick and keep them coming. I enjoyed myself sketching people on this day, so here are a few more.

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Here are a couple where I kept the linework in these workshop presenters fairly basic, but it looked like them so it still served its purpose. In the second I had to look over my shoulder to sketch the attendees, and loosened up the lines a lot more. The session was called “What color is your cape?” and had a superhero theme. We each had to say who our favourite superhero was (quite a lot of “Batman”, “Wonder Woman”, “My Mom”). One woman beat me to the one I was going to say, Ms Marvel (Kamala Khan) who I think is absolutely awesome. I gave her a mention too but also went with Captain America because I happened to be wearing Captain America socks (as you do). I wanted to say Magneto of course but he might not have been the model of a good adviser they were looking for, what with his whole “Master of Magnetism, Homo Superior” stuff. It was a fun session though.

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This was an interesting session, about Cultural Capital, there was some good discussion and I learned a lot. I enjoyed it most though because I had an opportunity to sketch the lady with bright blue hair, and I had a nice shade of W&N watercolor to use, I think it was the Antwerp Blue. I like sketching that large ovular table as well, a challenge in perspective sketching.

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Here is David Spight again, giving a Q&A after his keynote.

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And the final session of the day before the closing speakers, this was a session devoted to “wellness through art” (above), whereby people cut pictures out of magazines and made big collages. They were mostly full of the typical “peace”, “love”, beach”, “growth” type phrases and images, all trying to convey a certain wellness and spiritual mindset – except for that made by Alejandra, who made a collage of people in the magazines she found attractive, which was in my opinion easily the most fun one. It was a pretty calming session, they played classical music (the instructor explained why, something to do with increasing brainpower, and I understand that, I listen to certain bands sometimes to make me feel clever). One of the pieces they played I recognized straight away as the theme song to the BBC TV show “The Little Silver Trumpet” from the early 1980s, a TV show which I was actually a cast member of, at the tender age of four. If ever you should come across it, I am pretty instantly recognizable as a scruffy red-head kid in the main family of red-heads (my “mum” was Patsy Byrne, aka Nursie from Blackadder, and my “Dad” was the brilliant but scary Ron Pember), and in one scene I actually remember filming I was drawing, showing the other kids how to draw stuff, and holding my pen in that distinct way, all those years ago. That’s what I was thinking of when that music came on. I enjoyed this sketch most of all, the composition of the scene and the different directions people were sat in. It probably reminded everyone of kindergarten.

Check out information about the day at the UCDAAC Website.

pete’s tavern

Pete's Tavern NYC

Thank you New York City, thank you. They named a bar after me! Pete’s Tavern, on East 18th Street. Ok fine, it’s not named after ‘me’, but without a doubt, you know this was the first bar I was going to hit in New York. Pete’s was established in 1984, sorry I mean 1864 (it is hard to read the writing backwards on the window) and is the oldest continually operating bar in New York City. I visited another oldest bar in New York City a couple of days later and I daresay there are more, but I loved it here. I actually came once before, in 2008, but I didn’t have time to sketch it then. This was my 40th birthday trip though and dammit I was sketching Pete’s. Now before i go on I must point out my favourite bar sketcher / pub artist in the world is Stephen Gardner, who has inspired me to sit in pubs with a sketchbook for several years now. He lives in New York and has done some amazing paintings and sketches of Pete’s Tavern over the years – check them out in this Facebook album. The. Master. Sadly he was out of town that weekend (as were a lot of people, long weekend and all) but I still sketched Pete’s while enjoying a few celebratory beers with my chums from London. Quite a few in fact, a fair few. A good old few. Fun times.

barman at pete'sPhilip Shoptaugh at Pete's Tavern

And we chatted with locals and other bar patrons. The bartender was celebrating his birthday too, though he is considerably younger than me (29 I think he said) and was a lovely bloke from Ireland. I sketched him quickly in pencil. I also sketched another nice fellow I was chatting with, a trumpeter in the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra called Philip, he was in town from Oakland (he was telling me his grandparents lived in Woodland, nearby Davis!), and his other job is actually an inventor of toys and games, especially mazes and labyrinths! Which was pretty much my dream job as a kid. And as an adult.

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Yeah, Pete’s was fun. We came back on the last day before I flew back for a farewell pint, and on that day the snow piled down outside the windows. I may need to come back and sketch here again.

quick sketches from the lunar new year

Lion Dance for Lunar New Year
Last month our department held its annual Lunar New Year party. We have a lot of Asian students, predominantly from China, and so this has been a popular event each year. This time around I brought my sketchbook. Above is a very quick sketch of a “lion dance” by the Golden Turtle Lion Dance Association. This was set to music and was a really fun performance, though I had to be quick to capture it at all! The person at the rear of the lion is one of our co-employees Michael, and it was a great show.
KevinIrina
Here are a couple of people I’ve known for years now, Kevin (one of our PhD students) and Irina (formerly one of our PhD students, now an alumna who teaches on campus). I am practicing my five-minute people sketches , so did a lot of that on this day, mostly in my little Fabriano sketchbook. Below, a group of students eating (actually they muts have already eaten because those plates look empty). This was a single-line sketch, no taking the pen off the paper, drawn in the Moleskine.
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JamesDebashis
There was even karaoke. Above, one of our faculty, Professor Sharpnack, singing the Bowie song Golden Years; Professor Paul looks on. And yes I did in the end sing a song on the karaoke, after most people had already gone of course. And it was Bowie, and I did that thing where, have I ever mentioned this before? You take any song, any song at all, and replace the words of that song with the words from Yellow Submarine. And it works! So I proved it with ‘Modern Love’. “In the town where I was born, lived a man who sailed to sea, and he told us of his life, in the land of submarines…” You see? Totally works. I overheard one lady say, when it was announced I’d be singing Modern Love, “Ooh that’s my favourite song!” Ok, I thought, this version won’t be. Now I did something I’ve never done before, I sketched while singing on karaoke. Not particularly well, but I was multitasking and singing Yellow Submarine to the tune of Modern Love while someone else held the microphone up to my mouth. Now at last I can finally say that in my life, if I’ve done anything, I have at least done that. I haven’t scanned the result. I’m not showing all the sketches I did that day, they didn’t all turn out great…

I did draw a monkey though. Being the Year of the Monkey, we gave out special certificates to those who were born in a previous Year of the Monkey which said “Certificate of Most Excellent Monkey”, and here is our little monkey:

Monkey Logo crop

I hope you all had an enjoyable new lunar year, and have a most excellent year of the monkey.

line up in line

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And now for something completely different. These are very quick sketches of people standing in line at Starbucks. Before you all go “hang on you hate Starbucks and don’t even drink coffee” let me explain. I don’t hate Starbucks, I just don’t drink coffee. Starbucks does occasionally have nice pastries but I don’t like their tea or other drinks so I never go there. However there is one inside the Silo building at UC Davis, and I sit near there when I am eating my lunch or reading comics on my iPad. I never actually get anything from there, not even the aforementioned nice pastries, because the queue (or ‘line’ as they prefer to say here) is always so long and slow. “Slowbucks” they should call it. However this slow line is good for something – practicing people drawing. Now I could have drawn individual people with all their details and faces and stuff, but I was practicing one particular thing. I was doing that thing where you draw a whole load of people or things without taking the pen off of the paper. you place the pen down, and just let it go. This type of ‘single-line’ sketch can produce some very interesting results. Because you can’t pick the pen up and stop for a second, you have to back up or cross spaces until you are less concerned with smooth details and more with the overall shape itself – it is a very liberating experience.
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People look at their devices while waiting in line for their cup of Joe. by the way as a non-coffee-drinker is it only a cup of Joe if it’s in the morning, as in ‘Morning Joe’? Or is it called something else after 12, like ‘Afternoon Dave’ or ‘Suppertime Barbara’? Who was Joe anyway, was he a famous coffee-drinker? Is it rhyming slang, like ‘Joseph’s Toffee’ or something? I suppose I could have asked the people in line but I didn’t want to break the fourth wall. This was another single-line sketch (or ‘single-queue’ sketch perhaps).
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I wasn’t done sketching quick people. Sticking with the single-line theme I went outside and sketched passers-by, each in that same fast and loose fashion. As this was outside the UC Davis Silo, near the Silo Bus Terminal, people moved about fairly rapidly, giving me just a few seconds to capture them. Not easy. It was a cooler day, overcast, I was still in my 30s and I tried to get different walking poses wherever I could. This being a university, there are many people with backpacks. Why not give it a go, this quick people sketching?
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sometimes you just need to draw dragons

Luke drawing
This is my son drawing on Black Friday, while the rest of the family were out Black Friday Shopping. He’s drawing a dragon, he likes dragons. I like dragons too. I’m not very good at drawing dragons so I’m hoping he’ll teach me some day (I’ll teach him how to draw fire hydrants, very handy when dragons are about). I can draw Lego dragons, and we have a few of those.