worldwide sketchcrawl #34, let’s draw davis

sketchcrawl 34 davis farmers market

On Friday there was a massive rainstorm in northern California, with flood warnings and downpours so loud I could barely sleep. “But Saturday is the sketchcrawl!” I sighed. Not to worry – it all magically stopped, and the sun came out and the world warmed up and what a lovely day for sketching. It wasn’t a massive group, but it was a fun day sketching by the farmer’s market. I always sketch more slowly on these events, because I spend a lot more time talking while sketching, but that’s one of the fun things about sketchcrawls, meeting and sharing experiences with other like-minded folk. I started by sketching the other sketchers:

sketchcrawl 34 marlenesketchcrawl 34 jennica

Above left is Marlene Lee, sketchcrawl regular and an inspirational artist; right is Jennica Forrest, who I met on the last sketchcrawl at the community park.

sketchcrawl 34 leahsketchcrawl 34 morning

Above left is Leah Jin, who I know from UC Davis, and above right is Morning Waters, an artist from Fair Oaks, California on her first Davis sketchcrawl. Nice to meet you!

This was the day of the 34th Worldwide Sketchcrawl, and people in cities the world over were out braving the cold to sketch their cities, and be part of a global sketching community. Check out their results on the sketchcrawl forum...

More Davis sketches to come!

what a catalyst you turned out to be

uc davis student general assembly crop
After the Pepper-Spray, the reaction. UC Davis students, faculty, alumni, staff, all have discussed and debated last Friday’s events, while Chancellor Katehi, who has been called on to resign, has publicly apologized and started a series of dialogues with students, something they feel they did not have before. The camp is back, bigger and much more organized, and peaceful, civil protest is the order of the day. No signs of police around, though there were quite a few Facilities trucks casually dotted about campus. On Tuesday lunchtime’s General Assembly, which preceded a town-hall event in the evening, students debated the role of the chancellor among many other things, as they tried to bring the focus back to what they were originally protesting, the recent large hikes in tuition. I recorded this important event for UC Davis in my sketchbook. A photo of me sketching even emerged later on Twitter:

(photo courtesy of Kirby Araullo)

I couldn’t resist sketching more, as the Occupy UC Davis camp grew, so I came back today (Wednesday). As my sketchbook came out, the Chancellor arrived, bringing food to the protesters. I took the opportunity for some people sketching, and while she spoke to a small group of students, along with a set of news reporters, I sketched her. She got to see it, and I think she liked it (she did comment on the nose though) but she was pretty busy so I didn’t have her sign it. As I sketched, another student questioned her on a range of issues, so I sketched her too (she’s below left; Chancellor Katehi is below right).

at occupy uc davischancellor katehi of uc davis

One news reporter who I recognized from local TV, Chris riva, commented too on my Katehi drawing, so I asked if I could sketch him. I’m not sure he liked the sketch, but I had him sign his name on it. I’m glad I did; I thought he was Dale Schornack! (another local TV news guy) Whoops. He’s below left. Below right is someone who just happened to be there, Anna-Lisa from Chronicle Books. She saw me sketching in my Moleskines and, since she works for those who distribute Moleys, gave me the brand new Moleskine pen! I’m yet to use it (it’s apparently designed specifically for Moleskine paper, but doesn’t take a watercolour wash).
chris riva of kcra newsanna sandstrom of chronicle books

There were lots of people from outside UC Davis who had come along to see events take shape, and offer support and solidarity to the students. The protests are gathering in strength, and much-needed dialogue is finally taking place. I hope it all stays peaceful and productive.

sketching the urban sketchers (part 3)

isabel fiadeiroagnes bolley

Final batch of Urban Sketcher portraits…I wish I’d sketched more! Quite a lot of people who afterwards I was thinking, oh wish I’d sketched him, wish I drawn her; maybe next time! The two above though were done in the very early hours of sunday morning (see the time-stamp!) at Cafe A Brasileira, after the Symposium had ended. I was out late there sketching with Liz Steel, Paul Wang and Lee Peng Hui, when Isabel Fiadeiro and some others came in, sat down and straight away it was a sketch-off! A bit like gunslingers in the Old West in an old saloon, Urban Sketchers are quick on the draw. (How cheesy, I can’t believe I just said that…)

(Above Left): Isabel Fiadeiro, USk correspondent in Nouakchott, Mauritania (but originally from Portugal), one of the organisers of this year’s event, I met her last year in Portland. (Above Right): Agnes Bolley, an artist from France.

luis ruiznina johansson

(Above Left): Luis Ruiz, USk correspondent from Malaga, Spain. It was a highlight of the symposium for me to meet and sketch with Luis, his subtle but powerful work is among my favourites. (Above Right): Nina Johansson, USk correspondent from Stockholm, Sweden. I’ve followed Nina’s work for years, very influential. I took her workshop ‘Unfinished Business’, though I never got a chance to actually sketch with her.

inma serranoisaac

(Above Left): Inma Serrano, USk Spain correspondent from Sevilla. She had this tiny sketchbook made into an earring that sketchers contributed to (I drew a tiny fire hydrant, what else!). Sketched at lunchtime near Rua da Bica, she was sketching me at the time. (Above Right): Isaac, from Spain; I didn’t get to speak to him other than to ask his name but he had a great profile to sketch! 

ea ejersboliz steel

(Above Left): Ea Ejersbo, USk correspondent from Aarhus in Denmark, sketched while out at dinner with other urban sketchers and her husband Reza (a great guy!). I’ve followed Ea for years, I really enjoy her drawings and the fact she’s from Aarhus, as I visited that city a couple of times many years ago and loved it.  (Above Right): Liz Steel, USk correspondent from Sydney (alongside Borromini Bear, not seen in this picture). Liz is one of the most well-known Urban Sketchers and it was great to sketch and hang out with her in Lisbon, having first met her in Portland last year.

daniella rodriguesmarina grechanik

(Above Left): Daniela Rodrigues, USk Portugal sketcher from Lisbon who I spoke to during the Light of Lisboa workshop. Finally, (Above Right): Marina Grechanik, USk correspondent from Tel Aviv, Israel, sketched at the same dinner as the pistures of Ea and Liz. Marina even tried to draw holding the pen the way I do!

And that’s it! Well, I have more sketches from Lisbon to be posted, but these are all the people I drew. Some I drew in my watercolour Moleskine, but most were drawn in the London/Lisbon ‘Volant’ Moleskine, the small red one that looks like a passport.

sketching the urban sketchers (part 1)

I sketched a lot of people in Lisbon, more than I usually would. It’s nice sketching other urban sketchers, especially those you have followed for a while, as you’re capturing them in the flesh in your own little sketchbook. Some were done out at dinner, or lunch, or while sketching, or in the lecture hall. Here are some…

gabi campanarioevening in bairro alto

(Above left): Gabi Campanario, founder of Urban Sketchers and USk correspondent from Seattle. (Above right): Jason Das, USk correspondent from Brooklyn, New York, sketched while eating dinner in the Bairro Alto district.

pedro cabraltia

(Above left): Pedro Cabral, USk correspondent from Lisbon. I hadn’t met Pedro before, he is a really nice guy. (Above right): Tia Boon Sim, USK correspondent from Singapore. Both sketched during the correspondent’s dinner. I met Tia last year, she’s an absolute inspiration.

alvaro carnicerocristina urdiales

(Above left): Alvaro Carnicero, USk correspondent from Cordoba, Spain. (Above right): Cristina Urdiales, USk Spain correspondent from Malaga. Both sketched during the correspondent’s dinner. Great to finally meet these two as I’ve enjoyed their work for ages.

alanna randallomar jaramillo

(Above left): Alanna Randall, USk Portland correspondent from Portland, sketched at the morning meet-up. I met Alanna last year in Portland, so it was nice to see her in Lisbon. (Above right): Omar Jaramillo, USk correspondent originally from Ecuador, sketches all over (most recently Newfoundland, previously UAE and Sicily), sketched at dinner at Kaffeehaus on rua Anchietta. Really enjoy his watercolour style!

More to come!!!

sir fergie

sir alex ferguson

Sir Fergie. He’s happy because he looks a bit like John Craven in this drawing. The football season is over, and it has been a long long time since I drew anything in the football book started last year, despite having an amazing football season to report on (namely, Spurs in the Champions League). I thought I’d make up for it with a few drawings of the faces of the season. Well, one drawing. Sir Alex Ferguson won yet another Premier League title this year, Manchester United’s 19th (a new record), and though they ultimately lost the Champions League final (once again to Barcelona), he’s without a doubt cemented his place as the best and most consistent of all managers in English (maybe even British) football history. Fair play to him. Refs hate him, Arsene Wenger doesn’t send him Christmas cards, and the FA seem to have an automatic ‘fine Fergie for something’ reminder on their Outlook calendars. I tell you what, football will be very different when he’s gone. He is the embodiment of the manager truly being the Boss, and for those who argue with him, he has a hell of a lot of silverware, and he’s not afraid to throw it at you.

smiling beguiling

william and kate

The Big Day is Here. Actually it’s not Here, it’s Over There, where you all get to Wave Flags (if you so desire) and get a Day Off (which I’m sure you won’t say no to). I however will need to be up at some unroyal hour to watch it all on telly, and then go to work wondering how many street parties will end in flashing blue sirens. Hopefully not too many. As I can’t get out onto the British streets to draw all the Union Jack bunting (that sounds like a boxer, doesn’t it), I decided to draw Will and Kate in my Moleskine diary. Will has rather a long face in this, but that’s ok. One day he’ll be literally on the money, and money has to stretch (seriously, that’s the best ‘long face’ joke I could come up with?). Kate Middleclass will be joining the Royals and a life of tabloid front pages, and I wish her all the best. I wish both of them all the best, actually; I’m quite sentimental about this royal wedding lark.

I still remember that big one thirty years ago (who was that for again?). We had a street party in my small Burnt Oak street, and I still recall the little plastic union jacks we waved furiously all day, sat on long tables in the street with my neighbours the Glennons, the Smiths, the Daniels, the Jamesons. There were lots of kids in my street back then. I was only a scruffy-haired five-year-old, eating cake and drinking cherryade. I remember that the grown-ups played games in the street, such as the race that my dad won against the other dads, with me on piggyback. It was fun, simple non-cynical fun, and I hope that everyone having street parties today keeps those same memories thirty years from now. Or of course you can drink yourself silly, and that’s fun too.

watching john adams

john adams (well, paul giamatti)

A couple of weeks ago I finished watching the HBO period show ‘John Adams’ on DVD, with Paul Giamatti. For those who don’t know, Adams was the second American president and the first ambassador to the UK. I knew that, because I used to go past his house on my London tour years ago (it’s on Grosvenor Square). It was a good series, covering an interesting period in history (if I go for my citizenship, I’ll know all the answers to that test now). I had to sketch Giamatti while watching. It’s funny, when I first started watching the series, I found myself suddenly putting on their voices and accents, which were less USA and more Somerset farmer Giles (especially Benjamin Franklin). “Ooh-arh, oy don’t much like dem taxes on moy cuppa tea, arh, an’ oy don’t loyk dat king George, ‘im very mad, moy lovely, arh”.  I even started wishing people still wore those funny wigs (which appeared to be more like hats).


Anyway folks…tomorrow, Let’s Draw Davis, sketching around UC Davis from 10:30… it’s raining still now, but it’s supposed to be sunny in the morning. Hope to see you there!

giant steps

Fear the Beard

There’s a funny old game over here that people quite like, called ‘baseball’. The thing about baseball that I like, apart from the fact that its name doesn’t get confused with that of another more globally popular sport, is the uniforms they wear. They are so classic looking, untroubled by sponsors or the need to change designs every few months. Usually, teams will play in white with their opponents in grey, although soemtimes they will use their other colours – the San Francisco Giants for example sometimes play in black, and even orange, being their colours. Usually (but not always) the home team will wear their nickname (“Giants”, “Yankees”, etc) across their jersey, while the away team would have the name of their city. This classic look reinforces the classic feel of the game – that iconic ballpark design, the apparently simple yet completely complicated (or vice-versa, depending on where you’re from) rule system, the fact that its not about being macho or aggressive, but hitting a ball and running, or catching a ball (with a really big glove). Simple really.

I was never a bat and ball kid. Cricket confused me (it still does) – while they may have light, bright, colourful playing kits now, I never understood growing up why they would play this sport in the middle of summer wearing thick woolly jumpers and long trousers. Rounders? Oh I hated rounders. I couldn’t throw the ball (pitch? bowl?) and was terrible at catching it, and if you missed an easy catch in the playground it was worse than, I don’t know, being Wayne Rooney at the World Cup. And you could get easily bored, with nothing to do but stand there and hope the ball doesn’t get hit in your direction. And then there was ‘softball’, which was just like rounders but with a ball that definitely wasn’t soft. I always wanted them to call it baseball so that we’d sound American and exotic, but I think you had to wear baseball caps if you wanted to call it baseball, and we couldn’t afford them at our school.

Now I live in America, and while I have always liked baseball, I’ve been a little slow in following it. My brother-in-law is a huge Giants fan, and my wife and son too, so naturally I am as well, and have been learning a lot more lately since the Giants won their division, then fought through the play-offs to win the National League, and are now two games into the World Series against the Texas Rangers – two games which they won quite emphatically (11-7 and 9-0 are veritable cricket scores even in baseball). We’ve been glued to the set (cynics can make a sentence out of the following words: “bandwagon, on, jumping, the”), it is pretty exciting. So I had to honour the Giants before they threw it all away (now who’s cynical? hey, that’s my long years as a Tottenham fan, plus a few years as a Giants fan) with a sketch of one of their players, Brian Wilson, “Fear the Beard”. He has this odd and fake-looking black beard, and Giants fans all wear their real-looking fake beards when he comes out to close (he is a ‘closer’, which means he’s a pitcher that pitches at the end of the match – look at me learning all new words!). I was going to draw Tim Lincecum (he looks like a young Severus Snape) but The Beard was too tempting (plus it reminds me a bit of Ricky Villa). 

Go Giants! Fear the Beard! Get me some Garlic Fries!

brown is the colour

I got this small brown paper sketchbook from the campus bookstore for only 89 cents, and it’s a real find. It has a corrugated cardboard cover and is handbound with a piece of string. These past few days it has become my favourite thing (funny how that happens) and I’ve been scribbling in it whenever I can (starting with the sketches at the Railroad Museum). I tend to sketch more quickly in this book; a drawing will take about ten minutes. Here are some of the things I’ve drawn (all in uniball vision micro pen, for the fellow pen geeks out there). 

sudwerk marzen

This is Sudwerk Märzen, a local Davis beer I like. It’s an amber beer, and the Sudwerk brewpub was the first place we visited when we decided to move to Davis. Funny what we may have decided if I hadn’t liked the beer.

toy digger

This is my son’s toy digger, or rather, one of them (a boy can never have too many construction trucks).

luke skywalker

This is Luke Skywalker, Jedi Knight and part-time firefighter. This is actually my toy. I love Star Wars.


A quick profile sketch of my wonderful wife. I really am trying to draw more faces on the spot and I think this turned out well.

enterprise and pole

Finally, a quick lunchtime sketch at the corner of A and 3rd streets, Davis. I’ll take this little sketchbook with me to Portland Urban Sketching Symposium I think. I’ve already packed my bag and chosen my materials, I just need a couple more pens (and maybe a new brush) and I am all set.

an urban sketch

an urban sketch

This is Urban, who until his retirement this week was our computer guy at work. I took the opportunity to sketch him at his farewell lunch because I need practice drawing people on the spot, and also because this makes it literally an ‘Urban sketch’. Thought you’d like that. I drew it in my moleskine diary.

Speaking of Urban Sketchers…one month until the Portland Symposium