of these northern streets

Grosvenor Picture Palace
And now for a post showing many of the other buildings and views I sketched in Manchester during the 7th Urban Sketching Symposium. Usually sketched between workshops or activities (or while skipping activities because sketch-sketch-sketch). I would love to explore Manchester – the north of England in general – in more depth and at unbound pace, but here are some street scenes and buildings that I managed to fit in. Above, the Grosvenor Picture Palace, a building I feel sure was sketched a few hundred times that week, being right opposite the Manchester School of Art on Oxford Road.Buses whizzed by as they do, and while it was damp it managed not to rain while I sketched, stood on the corner of All-Saints Park.
Lass O Gowrie
This pub, the Lass O’Gowrie, was on the way back to my apartment and I just had to sketch it. however the time I chose to sketch was probably the wrong one – I got the time of the final big group photo wrong (6pm), thinking it was 6:30pm (doh!), and so I missed it because I was sketching this. Second time I have missed the final group photo at a Symposium! It’s becoming my Thing. Still I am not too downhearted about that, as I probably would not have had the chance to sketch this pub, and I’m happy I did, a traditional looking Mancunian ale-house, next to a small canal-way. I went for a half-coloured-in look because I only half-coloured it in before dashing back to All-Saints Park for the final group photo, like an idiot. At least I got into the American group photo (I am after 11 years in California an honorary American now after all (at least where urban sketching is concerned!), a nice group to be in.
Johnny Roadhouse Music sm
This was sketched earlier in the afternoon, right opposite All-Saints Park. It only took twenty minutes or so, Johnny Roadhouse Music, but that was because I considered doing a big panorama (decided against it!). You can see my ‘working-out’ on the sides there.
Ormond Building
After sketching Johnny Roadhouse Music I walked back over to the School, on my way to one of the presentations I’d signed up for, however I got side-tracked talking to Paul Heaston and Marc Taro, who were sketching the Ormond Building, another that was surely sketched several hundred times (and then some) over those few days. Sketchers were starting to dot around the area as part of the Final Sketchwalk (all waiting for the Final Group Photo; yeah, that was a good idea). What with chatting to fellow sketchers and working on the perspective this building took about an hour and a half, compared to the quicker music shop sketched before it. I always worry I’m not going to come back from somewhere with enough sketches to ‘justify’ the long journey out there, and I still had a few things left on my list. Still I enjoyed the experience sketching this building, and it was nice to talk to people, and learn from how they approached it.
Hotspur Press
The Hotspur Press! I had to sketch it. I drew it on the way back from Veronica Lawlor’s workshop, drawing quickly in pencil beneath a railway arch to shelter from the rain, but I had to add colour afterwards as I needed to get back to the School; I had been told I was to be signing copies of my book (though I got there, and they didn’t even have any copies of it). The rain-soaked old brick and industry, that’s the North isn’t it. Hotspur by the way would be a reference to the Percy’s; Harry Hotspur was a medieval knight and member of the Percy family, Henry Percy, son of the Earl of Northumberland. This is why Tottenham Hotspur are so named, too – they were originally Hotspur FC, and the Percy family owned land in the Tottenham area (think Northumberland Park).
British fire hydrant
For the Silent Auction many of us were asked to donate a sketch, and so because my other Thing (apart from Missing the Final Group Photo like a late idiot) is of course Fire Hydrants. Now in England they are underground, so I drew one of those, with an explanation as to how to find British hydrants. Here it is! And it sold as well!

Panorama of sketchers

Here is a group of sketchers sketching the streets around the School of Art. Speaking of which, there will be one more post before I have exhausted all #UskManchester2016 news, and it will be long and full of quick people sketches. and then, back to the present month…

a peek at the Peveril

Peveril of the Peak pub sm
“It is these little passages of secret history, which leave a tinge of romance in every bosom, scarce permitting us, even in the most busy or advanced period of life, to listen with total indifference to a tale of true love.”
That was from Sir Walter Scott’s classic novel, Peveril of the Peak, which up until visiting this pub in Manchester, I had of course never heard of. I thought Sir Walter Scotts were something you drank beer out of. It turns out that is kind of right. Peveril of the Peak was the colourful and yet old-fashioned pub was the nightly location of the Drink and Draw, set upon by scores of sketchers inside and out during the few days of Symposium. I sketched it outside (see above) alongside many other sketchers, several seated, others lined up across the street. Take a look at 13 other takes on the pub, collected  by Suhita Shirodkar on the Urban Sketchers blog. I’ve seen many more online, each as outstanding as the next. I do love to sketch a pub, as you might have noticed if you have followed my blog at all. I think it’s the classic air of social interaction. I just can’t get that in a restaurant, and hardly ever in cafes either (most cafes I ever go into these days, people are just buried in their laptops). I sketched people as well; at an urban sketching symposium I am much more inclined to do that than at other times, and so I practiced as much as I could. Below, two of my long-time sketchblogging heroes, back from the early days of Flickr, before Urban Sketchers: Andrea Joseph and Jason Das. Now Jason I have known since meeting him in Portland in 2010, and he is an especially cool bloke and an inspirational artist; check out  his site jasondas.com. Andrea Joseph I had never until now actually ever met in person – I have her zines and have followed her amazing drawings for years on her blog, so it was wicked to finally meet her in person. Here they are chatting away about music outside the Peveril…

Andrea and Jason sm
Now I did sketch other people, not all on the same night. Here are a bunch of people who were actually non-sketchers (I know, I was surprised to meet non-sketchers as well, after hanging around five hundred people tooled-up with Micron pens and Leuchturms I had forgotten that other people could even be non-sketchers). I did chat with them and gave the statutory “would you mind if…?” before sketching, and I think they really liked them. For all they knew they were probably drawn about 50 times by others in the pub that evening.
Peveril of the Peak people
Actually I think the bottom right lady was either a sketcher or with a sketcher; I forget now. California, I believe. The others were locals. On that evening in the Pev, as people would call it, two Portuguese sketchers Vicente Sardinha and Nelson Paciencia, hosted a special Drink and Draw in which they actually made very cool handouts, which gave tips on sketching in a pub (“Sketching while Sober” I think it was called). Then those that took part in the activity all gathered and did a show-and-tell, it was pretty nice. My personal tip for sketching in bars is this – if you draw the bar-staff, draw them busy!
Peveril of the Peak people sm
This group of sketchers from around the world was sat in a little ante-room inside the Peveril. They are Tine Klein from Switzerland, Suma CM and (sorry, I forgot to write down your name!) from California, and Mark Leibowitz from New York; unseen is Daniel Nies from Germany, sat to my right, but that is his hat. I sketched them and chatted; I had met Mark in Barcelona in 2013, a lovely guy; I unfortunately missed his presentation on the final day due to getting lost in a sketch (that happens), but I hope to sketch with him again in NYC some day. Suma lives in san Jose so hopefully we’ll sketch together in SF some day; she did come along to the London sketchcrawl as well. After this, I moved into the main bar, and had barely an hour to try and sketch an interior panoramic – as you know, that ain’t long enough, but I dashed through it!

Peveril of the Peak panorama sm

Click on the image to see it in more details.There is Arno Hartmann in the middle there, excellent architect from Germany who was at the Symposium teaching a workshop on 360 degree sketching, really nice to meet him. At the end of the bar, two fellows who were drinking and dancing along to the music on the jukebox – here I must say that I was singing along too, for the music was pretty wicked. I live in America now, I don’t hear the Small Faces, the Jam, the Pistols, Pulp, all those being played at the pub. This was like going back to the great Soho pubs back in the 90s, just all my faves being pumped out all night. I got conversing to the people sat around me; a couple attending the symposium from Austin, Texas (well one sketcher and her non-sketcher hubby, who also loved his music, but was more a fan of Death Metal than David Bowie), plus another couple who were up from Luton. There were local art students there telling us about Simone Ridyard’s books, and the beer was tasty (and a lot cheaper than London). And all around people still sketched away, every single night. On the Saturday evening we ended up there again. I gifted a man we sat next to a quick sketch of his building’s front door (he lived in an apartment opposite the pub), while I unashamedly wore my Captain America hoody with the hood up (just for photos though…), because much of Manchester was dressed up in costumes for that weekend was the city’s Comic Con. I saw an absolutely perfect Squirrel Girl earlier that day and really wish I had sketched her, but I was busy drawing a building. I was one of many Caps. Here I am below with Jason; dear oh dear. Months ago, I had pledged to Simone on the USk Manchester Facebook group page that if I somehow managed to get tickets and time off to attend, I would come dressed as Captain America. Well, I kept my word…

with Jason Das

And on that silly note we conclude our trip to the Peveril of the Peak. Stay tuned for more Manchester sketches and stories…

de vere’s from left to right

De Veres Aug 2016 sm
Actually, before we get back to Manchester, here is a sketch I did last weekend right here in Davis. Click on it for a closer view. This is De Vere’s Irish Pub on E Street, which eagle eyed observers will have noticed I have sketched before. I did some thinking about the old curvilinear perspective recently, and how I need to really get it into the sketches more. I do anyway, of course, but I haven’t been doing many where I get both the left and right vanishing point into the picture, so that’s what I did here. I needed to practice it again somewhere familiar, so it was back to the very middle of the bar, similar to the first time, back in 2011. I coloured the page first in a red and orange wash, for some reason, meaning I ended up with a peach coloured background. This took about two and a half hours, or three pints of Smithwicks. It was strange not to be sketching at a bar where every single other person was also sketching (like the Peveril of the Peak!). I had just been to see Suicide Squad, which was, well it was better than Batman v Superman, for sure. A terrible plotline with a lot of problems, but overall not an unwatchable movie, and both Will Smith as Deadshot and Margot Robbie as Harley Quinn were good. Jay Leno as the Joker was very different from the other Jokers, not awful but the jury is out for many, though I am well impressed at how different Jay Leno looks from his cuddly talk show persona. I do like the post-movie pub-sketch, with all the sketching ideas bubbling around my head from Manchester sometimes you just need to unwind and get them out. The first few days back my sketching was a bit of a choke but with this and others since I have kicked back into gear, and now I’m heading towards my sketchbook show at UC Davis this Fall, “Conversations with the City”. Details to come soon!

down the grafton with james and paul

grafton arms, kentish town
On the Monday I was back in London, I took my Mum to afternoon tea at Fortnum and Mason’s (always fun), and in the evening I went down to the Camden area to meet up with my good friend James, and my fellow urban sketcher Paul Heaston. It was actually the first time I had ever met Paul in person, having followed him for the best part of a decade online since the early days on Flickr and Urban Sketchers, always been one of my sketching heroes (and a fellow ginger sketcher). So it was great to finally meet him, and he is a super nice dude as well. It turns out he loves the Beatles as much as James and I do, so there was a lot of music talk. We went down to the Grafton Arms in Kentish Town and sketched in there, silly jokes ahoy, and Paul showed us his remarkable sketchbook, full of extremely accurate curving perspectives and highly detailed interiors. Blown away and inspired in equal measure. I sketched the above scene, and also drew my companions (below). A fun evening out in north London.
james mcauley
paul heaston
And here are a couple of action photos, the first sowing Paul’s great skills of fitting everything in, the second showing me with that thing I apparently do when I am drawing, poking my tongue out. My son does that when he plays soccer so it must be a Scully thing.

IMG_0651IMG_0652

Oh, and James and I did our Panini football sticker swapping for Euro 2016. Business sorted!

you know they’re gonna go which way they wanna go

sophia's bar june 2016 sm
Last Friday, I really needed to go out and sketch away my frustrations with the day’s news by doing a complicated drawing of a bar, and having a few beers while I was at it. I’ve sketched all of Davis’s bars now I think (except ‘Our House’, I’ve never sketched there) and wasn’t sure which one I wanted to draw. I nearly went back to City Hall Tavern again, (they had kindly posted something about my sketches on their Instagram account the day before), but I hadn’t been to Sophia’s bar in quite a while (a year and a half at least) and I always like it in there, the people are nice, so that’s where I went. I go to the attached restaurant pretty regularly, Sophia’s Thai Kitchen. It’s my favourite food in Davis. I have sketched this bar a couple of times before, both while sat further back from the bar and focusing more on the colours and contrasts, but this time I wanted to tackle sketching those bottles. Sophia’s has Brother Thelonious on tap, which is probably my favourite beer in the US, though you can’t drink too much of it. The Giants were on the TV; the Giants are always on the TV when I bar-sketch. You can click on the image for a closer view. I drew this in the Seawhite of Brighton sketchbook (the one I started in Santa Barbara) with the brown-black uni-ball signo um-151 pen, and it took me, I don’t know how long. Three beers I think. I had a couple more for luck. I kept the colour to a minimum but did add a block of blue highlighter for that fish-tank thing. Also blue for the bartender’s hair, you know I can’t resist sketching blue hair. And so, another bar sketch. See my others

elsie’s

Elsies, Santa Barbara
On the last night in Santa Barbara I went to look for a bar that I had heard about called Elsie’s. It looked like the sort of place I could sketch, and I wasn’t wrong – license plates all over the walls, a bike covered in lights above a pool table (alright I couldn’t sketch that, too difficult), good music, chilled out atmosphere, my sort of place. They even serve breakfast cereal, and Pop Tarts. Pop Tarts! And beer! It’s like I made this place up. All they need now is Ramen Noodles. I’m classy I know. Hey, earlier in the evening I ate pan-seared duck breast over a hibiscus flower reduction so don’t tell me I’m no foodie. I tried some interesting beer here too, something by Rincon Brewery, and “Beerito” by Oskar Blues (yes “Beerito”, as I say, I’m totally classy). This place was so much fun to sketch.

the james joyce in santa barbara

James Joyce pub, Santa Barbara
This is the James Joyce pub in Santa Barbara. After my 11 hour train journey, I had dinner at an Indian restaurant (unfortunately it was a little bit bland) and went to a pub on State Street called the James Joyce. As you may or may not know, I like pub sketching – you can practice both perspective and low-light sketching, while having a beer and chatting with locals. This seemed to be a popular pub, and on this night it was karaoke night. There were several regulars belting out their usual numbers, some with more agreeable voices than others, and so I added my own not-exactly-agreeable voice to the mix and sang a few songs. I won’t tell you which songs, but I assure you I did not replace the lyrics of any with Yellow Submarine. Well maybe one. I did convince one older fellow to sing the actual Yellow Submarine though. Nobody left the room while I was singing which was a bonus (that has happened before) (in Antwerp) (those Antwerpers didn’t feel bad about telling me they didn’t like my singing either) (but they did give me sandwiches afterwards) (this is a long tangent so perhaps I had better get back to the Santa Barbara story). I did sketch some of the singers, of course, and here they are. I have no idea what the song about the rooster was (something about a rooster who isn’t going to die, obviously an immortal rooster), it was very serious.
SB Karaoke 1 sm
SB Karaoke 3 sm
SB Karaoke 2 sm
SB Karaoke 4 sm
Once this fun evening was over I walked back to the hotel. It was a long walk, and on the way back I couldn’t help but sketch a fire hydrant. This one, for some reason, had a small shoe rested on top of it. I had noticed this earlier in the day and thought it odd. I was surprised to find it still there. A couple of days later the shoe was sitting a few feet away from the hydrant. I assume it was waiting for its twin to come back, waiting for years like Rey on Jakku.
Hydrant plus Shoe, Santa Barbara

Well, here is my latest hydrant sketch. More Santa Barbara sketches to follow. There are some pretty places there.