christmas every day

christmas living room dec2015 sm
Happy New Year! I’ve been away these past couple of weeks or so, not blogging over the Christmas period, instead gorging on Quality Street and mince pies. I was in London for Christmas, flying back on New Year’s Eve, and am still getting through the jetlag even now. Our decorations are staying up for a couple more days yet, and there is still festive seasonal beer in the fridge. 2016 is going to be busy, very busy. To bring you right back into the spirit of Christmas however here are the first three sketches from the new Watercolour Moleskine (#14), all of a certain festive theme. Above, our living room here in Davis. We dragged out the fake tree this year, sketched a few times before (years ago). On the TV, Stewart Lee on DVD. On the shelves to the right you can make out my son’s advent calendar, made by me – I make him one every year. This year was pirate-ship themed. I tried to sketch this same scene last Christmas, on Christmas Eve, but not long into sketching it our electric went out, not to return for almost a week, which was an adventure. This year at least I finished my sketch!

lois's living room xmas 2015 sm

Second up, this is my mother-in-law’s living room in Santa Rosa. Click on the image for a closer view. We had an early Christmas with our U.S. family before our trip to London, and I sketched this while my two-year-old nephew was napping and the house was still relatively quiet, before all the presents were unwrapped. Everybody’s stockings were nicely placed above the fireplace, and dogs were asleep on their blankets. They are in this image, but you can barely see them, and they don’t look as much like dogs as they might (I don’t really draw dogs too well). This was a nice day, but we had to go home in the evening to pack for London…

xmas mum's living room sm

Finally, across the ocean to England! This is my Mum’s living room in Burnt Oak, north London, (again click on the image for a closer view) which I started sketching on the first jetlagged morning there, up early with my son, but finished off over a couple more night-time sessions on the trip. This is the living room that I had all of my childhood Christmases in, beside that very fireplace. The Christmas parties my family had in this room, many years of memories. This year as in many others we had all the family over for Christmas dinner, with two long tables going the length of the room.  On the TV there, we were watching Return of the Jedi, because this was December the 18th and we had tickets for the morning show of a film called The Force Awakens (which you might have heard about). We had a lovely Christmas in London, and the weather was warmer than in Davis. I hope you had a lovely merry time too.

Happy new 2016!

empire building

courthouse santa rosa

I hope you are all having yourselves a Merry little Christmas. Mine has been very nice, one long Lego-building bonanza. We’ve been over to Santa Rosa a couple of times to visit family, and on one afternoon before Christmas I went downtown to do a bit of afternoon sketching. It has been quite sunny here lately. This is the Empire Building in Santa Rosa’s Old Courthouse Square, built in 1910. Christmas shoppers bustled about getting those last minute stocking stuffers.

sweet spot, black friday

sweet spot
I hope you all had a very happy Black Friday last week. I went shopping and bought a blu-ray player and some toys, and then later that day took the blu-ray player and the toys back to the store, just so I could say I was involved in this very cultural holiday. I’m not really a fan of Black Friday. I always hope it rains on those people waiting outside Best Buy at 4am (although this year they decided that Thanksgiving was not an important enough holiday any more and all went shopping on Thursday evening, which thankfully we didn’t). This year our Black Friday was more relaxed, and we even went down to Scandia to do some go-kart racing. That was fun. Naturally I got a bit carried away, speeding around like it was the Monaco Grand Prix. Still, the one previous time I had been go-karting, as a kid twenty-five years ago in Spain, I literally had been carried away, crashing at full-speed into a pile of tyres on a tight corner, completely totaling the barely-safe go-kart. At least there was none of that this time!

In the evening I decided to head downtown (we were in Santa Rosa, not Davis) and sketch a bar. I wanted to sketch the Russian River Brewing Co, but it was a little packed to say the least. So I walked down the street to the Sweet Spot, a pub I’ve always liked. And here is why – there are football shirts (soccer jerseys to you) behind the bar. Some of you may know that my number one obsession is football kits. That is putting it mildly. So naturally I drew these fast. I could name almost all of them, however two of them eluded me. That drove me nuts! I spent the next day trying to figure them out. I determined that the blue one with the ‘Sol’ badge was actually a local team from Sonoma, so that doesn’t count. The red one, made by diadora with a blue/navy  trim  and the ‘Pilsener’ sponsor I simply can’t work out. The badge looked like it had an ‘N’ in the middle but I have no idea. A football shirt has me stumped. The beer was nice, the atmosphere friendly, and I finished the whole thing in under three pints.
sketching the sweet spot

formula 1 on mother’s day

mothers' day
Last Sunday was Mother’s Day in America (two months later than England). We were over in Santa Rosa, and we all had doughnuts on Sunday morning (or ‘donuts’ as they insist on spelling them over here), after which my son and I watched the Formula One, for it was the Spanish Grand Prix, which was won by Spanish driver Fernando Alonso. I sketched the living room in my Moleskine, while family milled about. Sketched with brown uni-ball signo um-151, with a spot of red paint.

Hope you mothers all had a happy mother’s day!

russian river brewing co

russian river brewing co, santa rosa
On Saturday we popped into the Russian River Brewing Co in Santa Rosa. I drank a couple of Perditions, while my wife’s father, visiting from southern CA, tried the full sampler set. Their beer is very famous and very well respected among beer afficionados. We spoke to some fellow beerophiles visiting all the way from Michigan, and I drew this on the astrology page of a local free paper.

that cinqo feeling

garden ornament

Yesterday was Cinqo de Mayo (Happy Cinqo de Mayo!), being May the 5th. We were in Santa Rosa, and went to a garden party at my mother-in-law’s house. I took the opportunity to sketch, to practise my garden sketching before today’s Garden Tour, and to try out the Stillman & Birn Delta series book. Nice paper! Being thicker and great for watercolours. I may still have the same issues with the pens ultimately of course but this felt pretty nice, so I’m going to bring that with me today. I only got as far as this garden ornament, and I started a larger piece showing the whole garden but gave up early, and went for a beer. Met a nice bloke originally from Glasgow.

is it merry black friday or happy black friday?

black friday 2011, 4th st Santa Rosa
Black Friday. It’s the day when the U.S. economy takes a brief break from it’s colossal downturn, and when Christmas lists are checked and checked off, the post-thanksgiving sales. It seems that Black Friday is getting earlier every year; it used to be the 4am lining up in the cold outside Best Buy, then it was mmidnight opening, now big stores like Toys R Us are opening at 9pm on Thanksgiving, with lines around the block. Thanksgiving is America’s favourite holiday, but it almost feels as if Black Friday is becoming more focal, especially given its importance to the economy. I am personally not built for Black Friday. I stay home with my son during the morning time, watching Cars and Charlie Brown. I did the early sales once, never again. It’s all very overwhelming; I might get out in the afternoon for a bit, but, like this year, I am usually just drawing stuff. Above and below, fourth street in downtown Santa Rosa. That evening, we went to Santa Rosa’s courthouse square for the Christmas Tree lighting ceremony, with music and activities for kids and photos with Santa, who rode in on a fire truck (inspiring my advent calendar). And it was all free, even the photos! A very nice evening. That’s the one thing about Black Friday, as the day after Thanskgiving, it’s traditionally the first day of Christmas time.  
black friday 2011 D & 4th, Santa Rosa

Below, my wife, my mother-in-law and my brother-in-law busy checking the ads on Thanksgiving afternoon, pre-turkey dinner. I do like Thanksgiving, love a bit of turkey and stuffing, lubbly jubbly.
angela looking at the black friday ads on thanksgivinglois also looking at the black friday ads on thanksgivingkris probably also looking at the black friday ads on thanksgiving