a farewell to dippy

Dippy NHM London

Well the New Year is here and I am still posting sketches from November. I know you just can’t get enough of 2016. These are the sketches I did on our brief sojourn back to London over Thanksgiving. It was a week of family fun more than sketching outings (I did most of my UK sketching in the summer) but I managed a few. Above is a sketch from the Natural History Museum. My son really wanted to go there to see the geology exhibits (he loves rocks and minerals) and we wanted to see our beloved Dippy one last time before he is removed from the main hall and replaced with a whale skeleton. Dippy, for those who don’t know, is the giant Diplodocus skeleton in the Hintze Hall. Dippy’s been in the NHM for over a century and has been in that hall since I was a little kid, when I would go there all the time with school or my big sister; I do love the Natural History Museum. Well Dippy is leaving! This very week in fact. They are replacing Dippy with a large blue whale skeleton that will hang from the ceiling. Dippy will go on a tour of the UK (see here for details). My son and I found a seat in an alcove to sketch, but we couldn’t see the whole Dippy so sketched what we could see.

img_8124a

We also visited the Harry Potter tour at the Warner Bros Studios, at Leavesden, just outside London. We are big Harry Potter fans, and my son read the books and saw the movies this year for the first time so it was an exciting visit to go and see the real sets where they were filmed. We only had time for one sketch (so much to see! We could have been there all day) so I sketched the entrance to Dumbledore’s office while he drew the big pendulum thing. I got a Gryffindor scarf. According to the Pottermore website, my son and I would both be in Gryffindor (my wife got sorted into Slytherin!). We went there with my mum, sister and nephew, and it was a really fun family day, I do recommend it.

Hogwarts Griffin Stairwell, WB Studios, England

img_2087

One other place I was eager to visit was the new Switch House at the Tate Modern, the new tall extension to the gallery on the South Bank. It only opened last summer. My son kinda enjoyed the gallery (we saw both my books in the shop! But he was more excited about the tiny Slinky he bought) but was nervous about going to the tenth floor observation deck. When we were up there though he loved it, and again we sat and sketched the view. This is now my favourite spot in London and I will definitely come back with a few hours on hand to do a big detailed panorama. It was amazing there. Here is what I did sketch, of the view across the Thames to St. Paul’s Cathedral:

St Pauls from Tate Modern

The scene below is of drinkers at the very intimate pub off Trafalgar Square, The Harp. I came here with my friend Roshan, as they do good beer; one day I’d like to sketch the whole bar. As it was, I sketched these happydrikers while Roshan popped to the loo. Less-than-five-minute people sketching!

People at Harp pub, London

And here is Burnt Oak tube station, in the area my family live (and I am from. Looking as it has ever done. I was going to finish this, but I wanted to get back and have a cup of tea, and never finished it at home.

Burnt Oak Station

One last sketch, which is of course the in-flight drawing on the Virgin flight coming home. It was one of the newer planes, and unlike in the summer, this time I didn’t get completely squashed up and have a bad back for several weeks afterwards. Which was handy. Farewell again then my London, until next time!

virgin-atlantic-112616-sm

it was overflowing gently, but it’s all elementary my friend

111216 De Veres sm
And here once more, De Vere’s Irish Pub in Davis. This was sketched after the party at the Manetti Shrem Museum of Art. I was so full of electric artistic energy that I just had to come to the pub and sketch away, and I wanted to use colour differently again, this time adding purple and yellow washes to a dark blue pen. Oh plus a white gel pen. I enjoyed sketching this a lot, and had some fun conversations with people, many of whom had also been at the museum that evening. By the way, totally unrelated, but have you seen Rogue One yet? Totally awesome huh.

sketchcrawl sunday scavengers

img_7911

Last Sunday we held the latest “Let’s Draw Davis!” sketchcrawl in downtown Davis, starting at the Amtrak Station and finishing up at Mansion Square. This one was, unlike the other ones I’ve organized in Davis, a “scavenger sketch-hunt”. I provided everyone with a list of things at the start, things which could be found in that section of downtown Davis, and they had to draw between 8-12 of them to win a sticker at the end. In truth, just getting to the end meant you got a sticker, but it’s a good fun way to explore and have ideas of things to draw. I think everyone really enjoyed it! I was told it helps some people get over the “what should I draw” conundrum, like Inktober or Every Day Matters – little prompts, totally optional. I’ll do that again.

ldd1016-hydrant-sm

The list is as follows:

  1. The Amtrak Station (or part of)
  2. A Fire Hydrant
  3. A Bicycle
  4. A Piece of Public Art (sculpture, mural)
  5. A Giraffe
  6. A Public Pay-phone
  7. A Musical Instrument
  8. Another Sketcher
  9. A Barber’s Shop
  10. A Bottle
  11. A Street Sign
  12. The Varsity Theatre (or just the sign)

For the record, I managed eight of them – numbers 1, 2 (obviously, come on), 3, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, and 12. Here’s why I didn’t get all 12 – I draw fast, but not that fast. No, not just that. IT RAINED ALL DAY! Unusual for Davis. But I spent some of the summer sketching in Manchester so it felt a little familiar. It wasn’t raining when we started, and we had quite the turnout (around 25 sketchers) despite the threat of rain. A lot of people set up across from the station to sketch it, and I sketched some of them – and then the rain came, and it didn’t stop until, haha, right after the sketchcrawl finished. Like, immediately afterwards, blue skies. Ah well. So, here are my sketches of the sketchers Jesse, Omar and Emily:

ldd1016-sketchers-sm

As you can see, splotches of rain started slowly splashing onto the page as I sketched Omar and Jesse; I had to duck under cover when adding colour to Emily’s sketch.

ldd1016-amtrak-station-sm

Here is my sketch of the Amtrak Station, sketched in a dry spot next to the building opposite. Most sketchers had ducked for cover, but there is one with a brolly (a few others held umbrellas and sketched too but didn’t last as long as that sketcher!).

ldd1016-bike-sm

Yeah it was raining hard when I sketched this bike. I was stood beneath a shopfront awning and the rain was still getting to me, so I just painted it quickly. I had wanted to sketch either the large giraffe statue or the giraffe bench opposite this on F Street, but the rain was too heavy to get a decent vantage-point.

ldd1016-barber-shop-sm

I did have a nice dry spot to sketch the Davis Barber Shop though. I have never sketched this place before, and should really sketch inside some day. I was glad they were open on Sundays. The barber was kind enough to let other sketchers in to sketch, and I think he liked my rendition of the outside. I kept it simple and didn’t add paint, as I wanted to move on.

ldd1016-varsity-sm

I have sketched the Varsity a million times before and this day was so rainy and grey that I didn’t need to worry about that blue sky bringing out the white building or the shadows cast beneath it, however the pink and blue of the neon sign was too cool to pass up. I added a blueish grey marker to the foreground tree.

ldd1016-misc-sm

Right, a few items to check off the scavenger hunt list. The street sign, obvious. The bottle, that was at De Vere’s though I had included a bottle on the list just to advertise my show at Putah creek Winery, basically, in case people went by there. And the trumpet, fulfilling the ‘musical instrument’ sketch. Actually it is a coronet, and I sketched it at Watermelon Music on E St, which will be vacating its downtown spot at the end of the year and relocating to West Davis, due to the new landlords downtown forcing all these local businesses to close. Yes, some tough times ahead for downtown. Well, I like Watermelon, and bought some guitar strings as I am inspired now (after seeing Paul McCartney live in Sacramento recently – wow that was awesome! My 12 year old Macca-obsessed past self was smiling down on me that night). Several other sketchers had been in drawing stuff, they didn’t seem to mind too much, and I asked if it was ok if I drew too. I’ll miss them; I probably won’t cycle out to West Davis, see, kinda far for me.

ldd1016-deveres-sm

Yeah, the rain was getting a bit much so time for an interior, and where else but De Vere’s. This time I drew the familiar bar but played a bit with the colours and I LOVE it, that blue and yellow. I’ll do more of that. I had a nice stout, good choice on a drizzly day.

And then we all met up at the end, well about a quarter of those who had started, and I gave out more stickers such as those ones below. I hope everyone had fun! The next Let’s Draw Davis sketchcrawl will be on Saturday November 12, at Vanderhoef Quad on the UC Davis campus, starting at 10:30am. I’ll post a poster soon!

old sac o’mally’s

O'Mallys, old Sacramento
One more pub panorama for you, the last one of the summer – this is O’Mally’s in Old Sacramento, a pub I last went into about ten years ago with my friend Terry visiting from England, who beat me at pool. On this day, I had just been sketching cars until I could stand no longer over at the California Automobile Museum (see two blog posts back), and wanted to get a nice interior sketch done before going home. It was too crowded outside to do a panorama of the street, full of people touristing by, getting their saltwater taffy and taking olde-time-photos or whatever they do in old Sac. I grabbed some fries from one little place which had a fairly gross cheesy sauce on them – it sounded good, but really wasn’t. Maybe it was the heat and dehydration. I decided a cool bar interior was what I needed now, and so popped down to O’Mally’s, because I had never sketched this one before. It’s pretty old inside, and I sat with a cold beer and drew the bar area. It took almost two hours. A group of people to the right of me were trying out the breathalyzer machine which is stuck to the wall. Some more people came in and hung their skateboards from the back of their seats. I originally wrote the name as O’Malley’s, but corrected it to O’Mally’s. I used the usual brown-black pen, with watercolour paint, but also some brown Pitt marker for the darker areas – when using those, do it after the watercolour – it definitely runs a bit and muddies up the colours! In this case, it added to the  overall tone, and worked well. Another pub sketched!

You can see my bar/pub/cafe sketches in one Flickr album: “Pubs, Cafes, Bars etc“. Or hey, if you want a print of one of my bar sketches, there are several available to order on my Society6 page: https://society6.com/petescully/prints

exit pursued by a beer

cityhall-tavern-aug2016-sm

A couple of weeks ago or so it was Davis Bear Week. I was really excited about this as a lover of bears (but not an “ursophile”, that means something else entirely), and was looking forward to it for weeks, months really, working on my bear-costume, eating nothing but honey, stealing picnic-baskets, pedantically telling people that no, a panda isn’t a bear, well ok they are related, fine, but no a koala definitely isn’t a bear, just making sure I knew all about bears ahead of Davis Bear Week. I watched all the different Bear shows – Paddington, Superted, Care Bears, the Sooty Show, the Berenstain Bears (which I don’t even like), re-runs of Children-In-Need (just for Pudsey), Rainbow (just for Bungle), I even watched “We Bare Bears”, even though it is the most boring cartoon in the history of television. Sharks have Shark Week, but down here it’s Bear Time.

So you can imagine my disappointment when I got downtown, dressed in fur with big claws and teeth and whatever else bears look like, and saw everyone else dressed as slightly drunk human beings. Did I get this wrong? I tried looking it up on my phone but my long bear-claws couldn’t work on the touch-screen, and my marmalade sandwiches had made everything in my bag sticky. So after a while I got up on my hind legs again, and popped into Woodstock’s Pizza of all places, humming “If you go down to the woods today” to myself, as I had heard they were having a bear-themed trivia night and special bear-promotions. It turned out to be nothing of the sort, the promotions were just for Anchor Brewing and the quiz was all about AAAAH I get it, “beer”. Not bear then. I got back on all fours, lowered my grizzly snout, and shuffled backwards outside again.

Now obviously, I didn’t really dress up as a bear and shuffle around town. This story is only partly true (you have to guess which bits), and I probably could have shaved about two-thirds of it away before telling it, many of you will have no idea about who Sooty or Bungle or any of them were (look up Superted on Youtube though, Superted was truly brilliant – makers of “We Bare Bears”, take note, take plenty of note) but it was Davis Beer Week, and that turned out to be just as disappointing as going to what you think is a big bear-party but turns out to be a drunk-human-party. Sure, there were some promotions and tastings and free glasses you have to pay for (the Anchor one, you buy a glass and from your second pint the already-quite-expensive beers were a bit cheaper and you get to keep a cheap glass you had no intention of carrying home). On the whole though it was not really any different than any other night in Davis, that’s how it seemed to me. I sat in Woodstock’s and listened to the beer trivia quiz, some very hard questions mixed with some very easy ones, while I read Jonathan Wilson’s book “Inverting the Pyramid” (a history of soccer tactics), not even bothering to draw, and I have never sketched inside of the Woodstocks bar area. I left and pondered where to go next, but everywhere was a little bit packed, so I chose City Hall Tavern ,as it was relatively quiet, and they at least had cheaper prices on local beers. I chose a Berryessa Plastic People Pale Ale, which was nice. I got a big table all to myself (it wasn’t that busy) and finally got to sketch the whole of the bar. If you have seen any of my previous sketches of City Hall Tavern I have usually been closer to the bar, and sketched only in pen, but this historic old building needed a bigger interior sketch. I’ve drawn it so many times from the outside. The problem is, looking around, the decor really is just too dark. Too much black paint, mixed with red curtains. The spinning wheels on the ceiling were a fun idea when it first opened, but the decor really seems to cater to the few hours on the few nights a week when the music goes up and people dance a bit. Most people sat outside. As I say, it wasn’t that busy. Except when I got up from my table to get another drink, when it seemed like about a million people piled into the bar, so I couldn’t see my stuff still on the table while I waited for my pint. When I got my pint, I was given a pitcher as well (charged for two beers), which yeah, not what I asked for (or even the right beer), but I don’t blame the barstaff as they were frantically trying to deal with the sudden rush of thirsty people (none of whom were in bear costumes). I gave the second beer to a guy who had started chatting to me (“you’re fr’m Lond’n? Aw cool, have a nice v’cation!”) and went back to finish my panorama sketch – better add a lot more people now, no problem, I like drawing people now after all. Within five or ten minutes of sitting down the place emptied again, just a few people once more. The Annihilation Wave had probably moved on to wherever the next place that the Davis Young move along to. The lighting changed around a lot, lots of purple, bit of blue, then yellows and reds, going with the music (which was rather eclectic – they played Jive Bunny!?! I recognized it immediately with a shudder, my Mum used to play that all the time at parties in the late 80s). I added all the paint there and then, including some of the old splatter technique, and was happy with the results; I think it reflects the place very well. I finished my second beer and was done, exiting (though not pursued by a bear) taking my sketchbook and my imaginary bear costume back home again. Another Davis Bar Sketch.

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…