picnic in the park

farmers market davis
Hello folks! Sorry about the blogging break! Been very busy lately, settling into the new job, also coaching soccer again, also a little bit of travel (a couple of days in LA helping my friend from England celebrate his 40th birthday), and a slow-down in the sketching (but only a slow-down, not an actual break…never an actual break!) Also I just have had a lot of things piled on top of the scanner and you have to move it to scan things and…excuses, excuses. So I am up super early today watching Tottenham beat Huddersfield (it’s 3-0 at half-time, Harry Kane is giving a masterclass) and it seemed like a good time to start catching up. So, this sketch is of the Davis Farmers Market and I drew it at the August “Let’s Draw Davis” event, which are still going monthly, this one was organized by fellow Davis sketcher Alison Kent. I stood and sketched this among the Wednesday evening ‘Picnic in the Park’ crowd. That’s what the Wednesday evening summer events at the Farmer’s MArket are called, they have music and bounce houses. A few days later I added this sketch to the Pence Gallery’s annual Art Auction, and it sold!! I’m so glad, as I really enjoyed sketching this. The Farmers Market on a Wednesday after work is a nice place to hang out in this town.
band at central park, davisband at central park, davis
I did a couple of other sketches, of the band performing, using one of those multi-coloured pencils for the second sketch.
unity rally davis CA
unity rally, davis CA, john garamendi sm
My final sketches of the evening were at a very important event elsewhere in the park, the Unity Rally, organized in resistance of bigotry and hate, this coming just days after the events in Charlottesville. One of the speakers was US Congressman John Garamendi, who very kindly signed my sketch afterwards! He did look it over to make sure I hadn’t misquoted him; I thanked him for repeating the Nelson Mandela quote a couple of times so I could get it right. The evening ended with a touching candle vigil, of course I’m always nervous about candles all around me (a candle once burned a massive hold in my shirt at a party in east London, leaving me to go all the way across London on the night bus with basically half a shirt on, very embarrassing) so I sidled back with my sketchbook. Another of the speakers was the new UC Davis Chancellor Gary S. May, who has now appeared in my sketchbook three times; I’ll post about the other two times soon, but I’m very happy he is our new chancellor (he likes Lego! and Comics! And is obsessed with Star Trek!)Speaking of Lego, one of my latest things is making Lego animations. I’ve made a few this past month, and if ever one gets any good I’ll maybe even post it here…


the 42nd president of the united states of america…

bill clinton rally, uc davis quad
The 42nd President of the United States, Bill Clinton, was at the UC Davis campus yesterday for a rally organized by Davis Campus Democrats. I love Bill Clinton, so I wasn’t going to miss this. I took an early lunch, and sketched the crowd waiting around before the main man arrived. Pres. Clinton was giving support to local Democrats running for Congress, as well as to President Obama (apparently there is an election next month? I wouldn’t know as I have avoided all contact with TV ads, every time the TV goes to commercial I go for a walk). I can’t vote, of course. It was a large crowd, and an excited one. It was also very sunny, and facing the sun was getting a bit hot after a while, so I went to the shade and sketched one of the news vans (KCRA3, which I’ve sketched before, I like them better than News10). When Bill came up to his podium the atmosphere was electric, ie everyone raised their smartphones and cameraphones into the air to capture some footage. The funniest was seeing people simultaneously want to clap and take photos at the same time, so lots of one handed slapping of own thighs. I returned to my main sketch, adding in Bill and writing down some snippets of his speech (he loves UC Davis, he said, every time he comes to the campus). It was pretty special to see and listen to him  in person. It’s one of my ambitions to have a beer with Bill Clinton.

kcra3 van at clinton rally

having a mayor

ken and boris

Ken and Boris (and some other people) are the choices today for the London Mayoral election. I’m for Ken, personally, not ‘he of the unbrushable hair’. I wish I were there to vote, but I missed the first one in 2000 (living in Belgium), missed the second one in 2004 (off visiting France), missed 2008 (moved to California), and obviously I’ll miss this one too. But I still care who runs my home city! Boris could at least offer to shave his head if he wins. So to mark election day I drew them in my Stillman and Birn book in a pilot hi-tec C, a quick lunchtime sketch when I couldn’t leave the office due to the high pollen count. Ok here’s the inevitable pun, I’m hoping Boris gets a low polling count and has to leave office.

you’re mitt, and you know you are

mitt romney

Yesterday was Super Tuesday. I’m not sure why it was so Super, it didn’t exactly fly by. A really Super Tuesday would be one where the next day turns out to be Saturday or something. That is the epithet they give to the day when lots of presidential primaries – in this case, for the Republican candidate – happen at once, therefore making the eventual nominee appear that little bit more clearly. The eventual nominee (Mitt Romney, above) has not emerged very clearly as the eventual nominee (though he will be), with the race still very much open for Rick Santorum (yeah it won’t be him) and Newt Gingrich (no, no it won’t be him either). Ron Paul is still in it too, apparently, though he really looks like Magneto. Personally I think they’re all nuts, and not very Super. Less-than-Fantastic Four? Mitt has a bit of Reed Richards going on with those grey bits, and he’s certainly the most elastic of all of them. Santorum I suppose could be the Preacher (except Jesse Custer is the epitome of cool while Santorum is clearly off his trolley). Newt, well he already sounds like a sinister twisted mutant super-villain (not his name Newt, just his, you know, personality and politics).

So it’s going to be Mitt Romney, isn’t it. At least we can look forward to such headlines as “Romney You Plonker” (well, maybe in the English papers). Now seemed to be the best time to draw Romney though, if only to capture that hair, because after November I would either have to wait another four years for him to run again, or he’ll get elected President and be completely grey by June.

HB Pencil in the Stillman and Birn gamma sketchbook.

when the circus comes

kcra3 van at gubernatorial debate, uc davis

Politics has come to town. The first of the California gubernatorial elections (yes, I do just like saying that word) was held yesterday in the Mondavi Center at UC Davis. The race for Arnie’s successor is on. In the democrat corner, Jerry Brown, the man who was governor a long time ago, during the 1849 Gold Rush or something. In the republican corner, Meg Whitman, founder of e-bay, which might come in handy when she’s auctioning off all of our public services and state parks. I watched some of the debate on TV; it was pretty underwhelming, as expected, but I know which of the two I’d vote for, if I had the vote.

I popped out at lunchtime to witness some of the preparations. Police cars were everywhere, lining the entire building. The media were setting up camp, and so I sat in the shade and sketched this KCRA3 News TV van. KCRA3 is our local station, it’s the news channel with Edie Lambert and Gulstan Dart (who hosted the debate), and of course KCRA3 Chief Superior Weather Plus Meteorologist Doppler Radar Controller Grand Lord Mark Finan and his colleague/substitute/baldrick, Dirk Verdoorn; I’ve spoken about these Californian weather guys before. It was really hot – it may be almost October, but we’re having 100-plus degree heat here in Calfiornia. As I was finishing the sketch, a member of the UC Davis news office took my photo. I couldn’t sketch the debate itself, but I was pleased to at least document it in my own small way.

gordon is not a moron

What an interesting few days! A week really is a long time in politics. The first general election to end in a Hung Parliament since 1974. The Conservatives won an extraordinary amount of seats, but not enough to gain a majority and legitimately form a government. To explain, this means that the party that came second, Brown’s governing Labour party, remain as government for now, until deals can be made for Labour or the Conservatives to form some sort coalition with the smaller parties, meaning all those that lost the election are allowed to govern rather than the party that ultimately came first, or failing any agreement, allow the Conservatives to form a minority government with Cameron as PM. Got all that? Don’t worry, I don’t think even they get it.

gordon brown resigns...

So amid the wooing of the Liberal Democrats by both parties, Gordon Brown offered his own head, and committed to stepping down as Labour leader. It was inevitable, of course (and he was constitutionally correct to remain in office while a new government is formed, despite Murdoch’s media arm of Sky News, The Sun et al trying to force him out in favour of their bloke).

The Liberal Democrats’ situation is wierd, isn’t it? The nation was so gripped with Cleggmania before the election that they forgot to vote for them – the Lib Dems ended up with fewer seats than in the last election! Even Lembit ‘Mr. Cheeky Girl’ Opik lost his seat to the Tories. But that doesn’t matter – despite such poor results, they now hold the key to deciding the next government, because it’s Clegg that Brown and Cameron are courting. Now explain that to the aliens from outer space.

I was thinking of that song Jilted John, and thinking of David Cameron. Listen to the lyrics and replace ‘Julie’ with ‘Clegg’, and imagine Clegg ditching the possibility of alliance with Jilted Dave and going off with Gordon. “And they were both laughing at me! But I know he’s a moron, Gordon is a moron…” It could still happen. One can only hope.

The election was fun though. I always used to stay up all night for elections, getting excited as they called such exotic places as Ceredigion and The Wrekin. This time we were treated to no ‘Portillo moment’, but watching Jacqui Smith lose her seta while dressed as No. 6 from the Prisoner was amusing. Paxman was  a relative gentleman, while Dimbleby was getting tired of the shots of cars going down motorways.  Bill Wyman showed up at one point, apparently dressed as Worzel Gummidge, declaring that basically he was working class but Labour did nothing for him, now he’s rich so he votes Tory. I didn’t even have to watch the sun rise; the great thing about living in California is that, being 8 hours behind, I could watch it all and see the new PM ‘crowned’ before bedtime. Well that didn’t work out! Several days later, it’s not done and dusted yet.

In other news, Chelsea won the Premier League, by a single point. Which presumably means that second-placed Manchester United can now do a deal with Arsenal and Spurs to become coalition champions instead. What? That’s not how it works? I’m so confused…

think about a new destination


Drew the UC Davis Bike Barn building…again. Well it has one of those looks, cant help but be turned into a drawing. The way one side of the roof is longer than the other, the shadow beneath the eaves, the unsketchable army of bikes in the foreground. I still have that brown paper cut up from envelopes.

I forgot to mention: Davis is now home to the newly opened (last weekend in fact) U.S. Bicycling Hall of Fame. That’s right, the actual hall of fame for bike-riders. I wonder if they have a special section for those ones who cycle up on the inside of buses as people are trying to get off, those cyclists deserve a medal, yeah. And the ones who go around texting or yapping into their cellphone with their ipod in their other ear.

Hang on, I’m starting to sound like a certain Tory politician on the eve of the election. “Last week I met a 70-year old nurse who told me he couldn’t get on the bus because all the unemployed eastern european immigrant asylum seekers were cycling around with their ipods and their mobile phones taking our jobs and claiming our benefits…” Oh, the UK General Election is only a week away now, and with ‘bigot-gate’ or whatever it’s being called, we’re already having our Joe the Plumber moment, or will if the Murdoch press has its way. I really hope the media leaves that poor pensioner alone, but have a feeling she’ll be used to the fullest extent by The Scum newspaper over the next week.