of the people, by the people, for the people

davis sketchers

Saturday was another hot day, but another day of sketching in Davis. We held the latest “Let’s Draw Davis” skecthcrawl, this time in old North Davis, outside the Co-Op on G Street. I don’t go to the Co-Op very often (I just don’t get over there, though I used to be a member) but I really like the place, and they have great seating outside for a group of sketchers to converge and start drawing Davis. I took as always the opportunity to draw some of the sketchers before moving on to the more architectural items. There were about twelve of us total, a pretty good showing for what was going to be a hot day (about half braved it all the way to the end, where we met for a cold drink and ice cream outside Dairy Queen, a block away). It was fun chatting to other sketchers about sketching, materials, techniques, and I was excited to report all about Lisbon.
Davis Co-Op

co-op clockThe Davis Food Co-Op is one of those beloved local institutions, fully owned by its shoppers, having grown out of a living room in 1972. Being completely owned by its members, it is another example of the way the Davis community works together, promoting sustainability, healthy living and education. It started out of a living room in the early 1970s, and is now a full-service grocery store. To find out more about the Davis Food co-Op, check out the FAQs on their website.

On the right is the clock that sits outside. There’s fellow Davis sketcher Allan (Numenius) sitting in front, I caught him in the above sketch as well.

Below, the Davis Food Co-op Teaching Kitchen. They offer classes in cooking here to people of all ages (including young kids). It’s right across from the Co-Op on G Street. This in fact is the last page of my eighth watercolour moleskine (though I still have several sketches from that book yet to post). This moley took only two months to complete!! Sketching old north Davis is nice as the leaves start to change colour. It’s still the height of summer, but as we get into autumn it becomes gorgeous around here. Fall is the best season in Davis, with clear sunny days and crisper mornings, but on Saturday it was getting into the big nineties so after spending about an hour sketching below, we went to the Dairy Queen to cool off and check out each other’s sketchbooks. Another great sketching day!

 G St, Davis

The next Let’s Draw Davis day will be Saturday September 17, on the UC Davis campus. The next after that will be on October 15; I am starting to plan ahead, and I have started a new website for information about the sketchcrawls (it’s still pretty bare, and will be an information site, rather than overloaded with blog posts): http://letsdrawdavis.wordpress.com. Check it out, and I’ll see you at the next one!

Flickr group: http://www.flickr.com/groups/letsdrawdavis/

bricks, guns, candy (and dollar bills on the ceiling of a bar)

jacksonville city hall

More from Jacksonville, southern Oregon. I sat beneath a shady tree and sketched the historic city hall. It is very peaceful around there, the chirruping of birds only broken by the families of visitors humming by on Segways. I sketched this with the uni-ball signo pen, and as I was about to add a tentative wash the pen said no, I will run. You can but but I can’t hide it. So it stayed black and white. You can colour it in if you like (just don’t use watercolours or sharpies on your monitor).  

far west gun exchangejacksonville candy machine

I had to draw this antique gun exchange. With all of the antlers and horns on the front of the shop, I wondered if it was really supposed to be a gnu exchange. You homo sapiens and your gnus. I also sketched a rather interesting candy dispenser, with glamourous looking shiny beads on it, in the window of a clothes store called La Boheme. It seems to fit nicely with the  clothes I sketched before.

Jville Tavern

When I came here on the same day last year, I finished up the afternoon by sketching in the JVille Tavern, accompanied by a nice local beer (Ashland Amber Caldera). I setched this bar from the other side last year. This one was sketched quickly in my small red moley, and spattered with some paint afterwards to add an interesting effect. Those things inexplicably pinned to the ceiling are dollar bills, not butterflies.

rain drops keep falling on my head

quick shop market, 8th st

I’ve cycled past this place on many occasions and finally stopped to skech. It’s unusual for such a shop to spell ‘quick’ correctly (as opposed to ‘kwik’ or similar), and say ‘market’ rather than ‘mart’, in fact to use ‘shop’ and ‘market’ together, but let’s not dwell on semantics. I sketched this while on my way to the library on a nice dry day when I didn’t get completely soaked.

Tuesday last week however, I did get completely soaked. I needed to go to the library to drop off some books which were overdue – I just had to go that evening, get out on the bike, maybe get another Portugal book, get home. It was a nice evening, cloudy, with golden rays of setting sun poking through the gaps (I’m not making this up, I even took a photo). For some insane reason, I forgot my ‘just-in-case, you-never-know’ rain jacket, AND my bike light. I obviously wasn’t thinking. While in the library, and having a conversation about art projects and displaying my work there in November, I could hear that rain had started to beat against the roof. Not beat, but slam down in torrents. The deluge had come. I hung out there, did a drawing on a postcard (they have some postcard exchange with a library in LA) while I waited, waited for the rain to disspiate (and presumably for the sun to come back out). I live a long way from the library.

It didn’t stop, but it wasn’t so bad that I couldn’t go out in it. It’s only water, falling from the sky. We get loads of it in England. Cycling in it down bike lanes with little or no light was a challenge though. I had my flashing red back-light which is on my helmet, so that at least traffic behind could see me, but for the most part I walked – whenever I cycled I would invariably run into a large pile of wet leaves which people leave on the bike lane in the darkest possible spots (this is one reason a bike light is essential), and I know what sort of eight-legged baddies live in those piles. I passed by this place, not really having much need to buy six-packs of bud-light or large bags of doritos.

Eventually I reached Rite Aid (a store I can’t actually stand; it has such a wierd layout and they have never really codified their queuing system), where I was able to dry off a little and find an expensively-priced and cheaply-made bike light. At first it didn’t work, and it smelled of awful rubber. In the end though it came through, and helped me see my way home, and there are some really dark roads on the way to my house where cars tend to think nobody can see them speeding. I got in and had a cup of tea, and a hazelnut kit-kat. That was nice.

I was going to do some sort of drawing about that rainy journey home as part of this week’s Illustration Friday, whose them is ‘soaked’, but I’ve not had the time. I’ll wait until it rains again.

sketching islington

camden passage islington

London, December 2010. The rain had come like an old friend and washed away the snow; no more dreaming of White Christmases after this one, more like dreading. I took a ‘sketching day’ and got on the tube to Islington. I like Islington a lot, and would happily live there and vote New Labour and read the Guardian and go to the theatre and all the other things Islington people union jack chairdo (except support Arsenal of course). We lived for a few years not far away on the edge of the borough at Hornsey Lane (I love steep hills! so now I live in Davis). This is Camden Passage, an interesting little street just off Upper Street (not in Camden at all), full of charming antique stores and little cafes (trendy or otherwise). I sketched it while listening to people speak French (and German occasionally) all around me, which was nice.

I was on my way to Cass Arts’ flagship store (it’s very big, but has exactly the same products as the smaller store in Soho, just more of them) and I whipped my sketchbook out to draw some of the interesting things being laid out in the street in front of one such antique store (‘Decorext’ I believe it was called). They had a pair of these interesting Union Jack chairs, and I had to draw one of them, being the foreign tourist that I am. This would make a fine seat for anyone watching the Royal Wedding this April. Pass the Battenburg.

One of the other buildings I really couldn’t resist sketching was the Screen on the Green cinema. I’ve only been in there once (I think I saw Fahrenheit 9/11 there) but it’s historic and Islington. For some reason I chose to use my coloured micron pens for the neon signs. Drawing old movie theatres is fun. After this, I jumped onto a double-decker bus and went to Piccadilly.

screen on the green, islington

sketching in islington

some things change, some things stay the same

vipins, burnt oak

This is Vipins, a stationery and card shop in Burnt Oak, north London. It has been there all my life, and I swear it hasn’t changed a bit. they even have the same stock as when I was a kid. I used to go in there all the time for pens, notepads, card, glitter, pritt stick, rulers, cartridge pens and so on. I still pop in there whenever I’m back, and sometimes find unexpected goodies. This time I found a mini clipboard, which has the clip along the side rather than the top, and fits into my bag. It’s perfect sketchbook size, handy for when I’m trying to hold onto my often awkward watercolour moleskine. I guess it’s used for Bingo. Anyway I decided to try it out straight away (it was Christmas Eve, still snowy, I had just got my hair cut at Syd’s barbers behind Woolworths – er, behind where Woolworths used to be, I mean), and so I stood outside Vipins in the cold and sketched for fifteen minutes, standing up. The clipboard was brilliant. It really helped whne standing to sketch, and being small it was still discreet. I popped back in to show Mr and Mrs Vipin, they were pleased with the sketch. This is a very typical Burnt Oak scene I’ve known my entire life, and I need to sketch these whenever I’m back, because the area keeps changing so much.

Incidentally, today’s my birthday. I share it with Charles Dickens (I always hated our joint birthday parties). I sketched San Francisco yesterday as a birthday present to myself (though I forgot my little clipboard). I’ll show you at some point.

see me at the record shop

Here’s an exciting piece of news: next Friday, January 14, I will be exhibiting some of my sketchbooks (including the fire hydrants book and the Davis accordion moleskine) and prints of my work, as well as giving a live sketching demo, as part of the monthly Davis 2nd Friday ArtAbout event. It will be at Armadillo Music, a small independent record store on F St (near 2nd St). This should be a lot of fun! The artist reception will be between 7-9pm, preceded by live music from 6-7 by a surprise special guest (I don’t know who it is!). I’ll have a selection of prints up in the store for about a month, available to buy, mostly Davis urban sketches.

armadillo music, davis

This is Armadillo Music on F St, in case you’re wondering. I sketched it today (in the cold).

Here’s the flier for the ArtAbout event (pdf). So, if you are in Davis next Friday evening, please pop down to Armadillo and say hi!

droit au but

target, davis
Target, in Davis. A controversial place in this town. It has only been open for about six months, but a few years ago it required a very narrow win in a city-wide vote for building to be approved. Target played hard-sell, appealing to the underwear buying public, college students and suburban moms alike, as well as sugaring the pill for Davis’s famed environmentalists by building the greenest Target building ever built (or something), but they faced some fierce opposition – Davis, with it’s anti-big-box tendencies, is not a town to mess about with. Downtown independent businesses banded together and fought the proposal, fearing (justifiably, given the story in so many other American towns) that the arrival of large big-box stores on the edge of town would destroy this small city’s downtown, and with it, its character. There were arguments, oh boy there were arguments, bitter bloody spit-in-the-street-and-call-you-elitists arguments. The underwear argument for one. The fact that there was already a new Target opening up the road in Woodland so another one was unnecessary. The whole creating new jobs thing (with the counter-argument that if it forced other stores out of business it would take away jobs too, and then the town is dependent on its big box store for employment, and if said store goes the way of Woolworths…) And then it was back to the underwear argument again (just where can you buy socks in Davis?). 

But in the end, Target prevailed; with their national wealth behind them they had been able to spend sixteen times what the downtown stores had been able to muster up. And so here in 2010, here it is, green Target. And despite my love of and support for independent stores, I do go there when I have to, because it’s there. But personally, I don’t buy socks. I wait for Christmas.

flits from shop to shop just like a butterfly

fillmore street, SF

It was so warm and sunny on Saturday in the City. We went up to Grace Cathedral on Nob Hill (and like a nob I forgot the camera) to see the Labyrinth, before heading over to Fillmore Street to have lunch and look around the really cool shops they have there. My wife like ‘Seconds to Go’, a cool second hand store that is in the drawing above, and I loved ‘Paper Source’, a great store stuffed wit many different types of paper for all purposes; I bought some cardstock to make some cards of my drawings. They were very friendly in there. 

I sat on the pavement outside Crepevine (where we had eaten lunch) and sketched the colourful street ahead of me. It’s a cool part of a very cool town. There are so mnay different neighbourhoods here. I could draw San Francisco for ever.

Also blogged over at Urban Sketchers.

you give me fever

The Hay Fever’s really kicking in now. Sat outside the Davis Co-Op fighting back the sniffles and sneezes, and drew in the moleskine.

the davis co-op

The Co-Op is a nice supermarket, a proper Davis institution. It’s in old north Davis where the picket fences and old buildings are.

Incidentally, I now have a twitter account. Not actually sure why or what for, but I have one.

in the city of blinding lights

vesuvio & city lights

This is the one I began sat in North Beach outside City Lights, but abandoned after drawing the outline when it started to rain. I did most of it at home with a photo and plenty of time (and a roof over my head). It is one of the best spots in the city; indeed, one of those really cool spots in the whole world. City Lights is an important San Francisco bookshop, most commonly associated with the Beat poets (presumably they were called that because they were tired the whole time?), and a bastion of progressive politics.  Right next door, just across Jack Kerouac alley, is Vesuvio: a colourful brewpub that also trades on its historical Beat clientele.

I went there after visiting Specs, an old old place packed with junk and people just across Columbus from here. Very nice atmosphere, and they do a lovely Anchor Steam.

Drew this in copic multilner 0.3 and 0.1, cobalt blue. And I nearly did the whole thing. But I decided not to complete it. I heard somewhere that leaving something at 75% is often better than going for 100%. With this drawing, I felt that to continue would make it look overdone, and I think I’ve made the right choice. This is also my illustration friday submission for this week (been a while), theme of ‘subtract’, because this is columbus avenue with part of it taken away.