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.

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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

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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!

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a space full of moments

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Here’s another sketch from last month, a sketch of the space in the UC Davis Design Museum on the last day of my sketchbook show “Conversations with the City”. That was a fun show, I really enjoyed that. Now the books are all back home with me!

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

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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.

Opening Weekend at the Manetti Shrem

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And finally, the art museum is open! The Manetti Shrem Museum of Art is a pretty amazing piece of architecture, designed by SO-IL and Bohlin Cywinski Jackson and built by Whiting-Turner. As you recall I have been sketching the in-construction progress of the building (let’s do a recap in a different post) and so on Opening Weekend, I was invited to attend the Director’s Debut, a special event on the Saturday night for donors and artists. It was an incredibly cool event, and amazing to finally see all of the artwork inside.

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The Director, Rachel Teagle, gave a speech to the gathered attendees, including Jan and Maria Manetti Shrem, thanking them for their support and announcing that because of their patronage, entry to the museum will be free to all. Pretty awesome! I was introduced to Rachel by Prof. Tom Farver, an emeritus faculty member I know (who is one of the donors listed on the big wall, along with his wife), and they also introduced me to the wife of the late Robert Arneson, the ceramicist who made the Eggheads and many of the sculptures in the Manetti Shrem’s collection (lots of toilets!), as well as a few other artistic luminaries. As I sketched the scene above though, a couple came to check out my sketchbook, and introduced themselves to me as the Madonnas (no not that Madonna), Joen and Paul. I was pretty surprised, realizing this was the same Paul Madonna whose books I have, the San Francisco artist who does the All Over Coffee strip, which inspired me to keep drawing in the early days. I’d never met him before though I’d been to one of his exhibits, so it was a nice surprise, and I showed them my sketches from San Francisco the day before. I kept on sketching the evening away, met a few other interesting folks, probably also really well-known artists I’m less familiar with (I didn’t get to meet Wayne Thiebauld though, the local art legend), though I did know quite a few people from the local art world who were there, and one of my artist friends Dori Marshall was there with her art group presenting this colourful cycle-powered sculpture on display outside the main entrance. I drew it below, it was really fun. You could see the colourful circles projected onto the wall behind it when approaching the building, really added to the party.

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There were some interesting art performances as well. Above, a spoken word group called Sick Spits performed some of their pieces, very performative, especially when spoken in the pulpits of the sculptures I attempted to draw very loosely (this is “five minute people sketching”, Pete, you wrote a book about it…). I love that sort of thing, having a background in performance (well, my undergrad degree in drama) and spoke with the performers afterwards. I need to sketch more performance artists. The food was great too. Top fancy stuff, stuff I didn’t even completely understand. I did have a lovely ice cream, which was made by pouring liquid onto a slab of nitrogen, it was very swanky stuff. I felt clever just watching them make it.

Here are some photos. The big bunch of flowers, well that was from Prince Charles, who couldn’t make it to the event, but he knows the Manetti Shrems and wanted to send his best wishes. Would have been fun to meet Prince Charles, I’ve sketched his house before. after this, the wine and canapes were put away and replaced with cereal for the big student party, which would go on until 2am. Not being a student I didn’t stick around for a bowl of Cheerios, and headed down to the pub to sketch out some of my buzzing drawing energy with another De Vere’s bar sketch. But next morning I had to get up and go back to the Museum for the Grand Opening…

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There were a lot of people there awaiting the big event. That large colourful chain decorating the museum exterior was to be formally cut signifying the opening of the doors. Rachel Teagle gave another speech joined by many other UC Davis importants, and we sat on the little grassy knoll with all the other families and watched the proceedings. My son was very excited to sketch so he chose the spot he wanted and we both sketched away. My scene is above (pencil and watercolour), and I also drew him getting down to work. He’s really getting into sketching now (we did a bit more together in London the week after)…

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… and he drew the scene below. Great job mate!

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And so, we have a new centre for the arts on campus, a place that really puts UC Davis on the art map. (Speaking of art maps, I drew one recently too for the UC Davis magazine! Details soon). I will do a post like I did for the Pitzer showing all of the in-progress sketches of the Manetti Shrem in one go.

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http://manettishremmuseum.ucdavis.edu/

the sketchcrawl at vanderhoef quad

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More sketches from over a month ago! On Saturday November 12th we held another “Let’s Draw Davis” sketchcrawl on the UC Davis campus, this time at Vanderhoef Quad, named for the late Chancellor Larry Vanderhoef, location of the brand new Manetti Shrem Museum of Art, which was opening that weekend (more on that later, many sketches to post…). Several of us met up in the middle of the Quad and started sketching the scenery, the lovely autumnal leaves and bright November sunshine, the modern campus buildings lining the edges. Above is Davis sketchcrawl regular (and person I have probably sketched the most!) Allan Hollander, who I couldn’t resist sketching again.

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Above is the Mondavi Center, an amazing performance space, with the fountains of the Vanderhoef Quad in the foreground. I actually won a t-shirt for this sketch, they sent it to me, it’s nice. Below, also longtime Davis sketcher and fellow British-accenter Alison Kent sketches away, with another sketcher Suzanne sketching beneath a big hat. someone actually asked me once for a good tip on drawing faces when sketching people in public, often a tricky subject, and I said “make sure they are wearing a hat that covers their face, so you can get around that” and clearly I wasn’t really joking!

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And below is a large panorama of the Manetti Shrem Museum of Art itself! I will likely post this sketch again in the next post about the museum, or perhaps in an upcoming post where I display all my sketches of it from first construction onwards, but the building is finally finished and open! On this day, the day before the Grand Opening, they were having special opening events throughout the day – at this time, there was a special event just for faculty. That evening they were to have the ‘Director’s Debut’, an event for donors and artists (including me!! I’ll post about that next, it was fun), then another late-night event for the students. The colourful chains around the edge are there for the opening event, made by local people to be formally cut to open the museum. I had never two-page-spreaded this building before (that’s a new verb, that), given it the old panoramization treatment (another new word), so here it is. Not easy to draw over two pages with its unusual curving roof but I gave it a good old go.

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We sketchcrawlers met up at the end to check out each others books, and it is always fun to see the range of different styles and points of view. Great fun as always, Davis sketchers! Now I had hoped to run a sketchcrawl here in December, but my weekends suddenly filled up fast and so I never got around to it, but I am working on a set of dates for next year starting January, and will announce those here shortly, and email all those on my email list. I’m hoping to have the Davis sketchcrawls continue monthly, but I am also planning a ‘themed’ crawl in San Francisco at some point (history themed, dates/details to be set…) and possibly another themed crawl in London, though the dates for that are also uncertain (probably going to be Soho themed though, after two Wren crawls, a Ripper crawl and a Fleet Street crawl…). Roll on sketchbookers of 2017! I gotta feeling we’ll all need a bit of sketching…

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tercero tops

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Oh wow, it is nearly Christmas. I’ve been sitting on sketches to post for ages, but I’ve been busy. No, lazy. I’ve had a headache. My desk is messy. I’ve been Christmas shopping. Ah well so, here is one to get on with, and I’ll post the other more exciting sketches later. This is an in-construction sketch of the dorms at Tercero, UC Davis, the latest part of campus to be built. This area has changed so much since I first came here. This sketch was done over a month ago, so it probably looks a bit more done by now. That is not a reindeer in the corner of the sketch by the way. Hey have you seen Rogue One? Good isn’t it!

upstreet downstreet like paper caught in wind

Amtrak from Davis to Richmond

I haven’t posted much lately, though I have a lot of sketches to post. It’s not because I’ve been travelling (and I have), it’s not because I’ve been busy (though I have), it’s not because I’m rather lazy (yes I am), it’s not even because I’m so mentally exhausted from all the news in the world right now (yes we are). No the real reason is that I have a pile of stuff on top of my scanner that I couldn’t be bothered to move to scan anything. You know how it is, I’ll just put this magazine here, oh and these books, this jumper, oh and all my mail, and this Lego, a pencil case or two, the car, a turkey and all of my family, all piled up on top of the scanner, so moving it off of there and finding a space for it takes too long, so I’m behind on my scanning. This week I finally sat down and moved the actually-admittedly-quite-small pile off (not reorganized, just moved) and scanned the remaining sketches from the last sketchbook, Seawhite #5. First up, sketches from my Memorial Day trip to San Francisco. I didn’t go there with any real purpose other than a need to get out of Davis for the day. The family were out of town visiting other family, so I hopped onto a train down to the Bay, sketching in the Amtrak as I went (above). I probably don’t need to do any more of those train sketches but I still do it, and it looks nice.

SF Ferry Building

I stopped into the Ferry Building and sketched the view from a little winery/cafe place. I really like it inside the Ferry Building, plus it’s like a middle class theme park. Cheese-tasting, Sur-La-Table, Oysters, Soap, Wine, it has it all. I had no plan of action for sketching the City that day, I just needed to be somewhere with different streets, yet familiar streets, and see where they took me, but as it turns out I unexpectedly ended up following a similar path to the sketchcrawl I did back in November 2007, nine years previously, starting at the Ferry Building and ending up at Rogue in Washington Square. Spoiler alert for the end of this post.

SF Hydrant, Embarcadero

I drew a fire hydrant along the Embarcadero. These ones are interesting, they have this weird handle on the front, they look funny. This model has been on my sketch-wish-list for a long time. Hey I like fire hydrants, ok. A lot of joggers jogged by, as they do.

SF Broadway

I got a bite to eat at a food truck and sat on the side of the road eating it, like you do. It was curry, it wasn’t cheap. It is designed less as real authentic street food and more as a way for local techsters and moneyboffs to grab some real authentic street food and pay more than in a sit-down restaurant. The city ain’t cheap. I walked up Broadway, a steep bustling thoroughfare leading to Columbus, where the old raunchy nightspots and strip-clubs are found. I was more intrigued by the angle of the sloping streets (“I only read Playboy for the Articles”…”I only go to the Red Light District for the Angles of the Sloping Streets”) (side note, I’m reminded of when someone told me they “only read the Daily Mail for the TV Listings”, so I said “I only read Breitbart for the Cereal Ads,” but enough current affairs). North Beach has some epic hills. If you want to practice the way perspective interacts with steep hills this is a great place. Lisbon too. And anywhere with hills. When I was done with this, I walked around to Columbus and certainly not up those steps.

SF Records Shop North Beach

I did pop up Green Street, and saw to my pleasure that music store I sketched back in 2007, if you remember that far. Here it is on Flickr; I like my comment that I would draw it “Some other time, definitely”. Well I kept my promise to my 31-year-old self! It’s pretty much the only promise I kept to my 31-year-old self but there you are. I did go inside this time – it really is crammed with stuff! Loads of old tape-decks and video players, as well as a guitar shaped exactly like an axe. I didn’t colour the outside in this time; maybe some other time. Definitely.

SF Rogue

So just like in 2007, when I met up with sketchers at the end of the ‘crawl for a beer at Rogue Brewing, I did the same this time, except without the other sketchers, just by myself. I sketched the bar in purple, using a bit of blue and pink, and white gel pen. And then it was back to the BART, back on the Amtrak, and straight to the couch to watch TV. It’s always nice having a day in the city.