"Suicide Bridge", Archway

On my full last day in London, I took the tube down to Archway to meet my cousin Dawn for some sketching around Highgate. This was my old neighbourhood before we moved to the States., and I still love it around there. I used to live on Hornsey Lane, a few doors down from the bridge above, Archway Bridge. Of course, this bridge is better known as Suicide Bridge. Unfortunately, it’s a name more commonly earned than I realised before I lived up there. Dawn (who also lives nearby here) and I sketched beneath the bridge, beside the busy Archway Road, where the 134 bus charges down on its way into central London. Because I lived higher up Highgate Hill I would not come up this way much, so it was fun to come back and explore a bit more. We popped into one store full of second hand stuff and I saw (but did not get) a full set of Worzel Gummidge dvds. We grabbed a sandwich at Tescos (I love that about England, proper normal-size sandwiches everywhere, not the doorsteps you get over here) and sat opposute the Jackson Lane building, an arts centre not far from Highgate tube station.

Jackson's Lane, Highgate

We walked around inside there, and I picked up leaflets for events that of course I can never go to, but I’m always dreaming of us all living in Highgate again some day. It’s my favourite part of London, along with Crouch End. We walked further up to Ripping Yarns, an amazing antiquarian bookstore stacked to the brim with wonderful books. Hardly enough room inside to turn around. They specialize in old children’s books but also have lots of other books as well. We spent a lot of time in there, I was looking through many of the old annuals, Roy of the Rovers, the Beano, Topper, all those I used to have on my own shelves. I did pick up an interesting (and slightly quirky) little book, The Observer’s Guide to British Architecture; it’s quite hilarious in its description of Saxon building practices, dismissing them as “primitive”, “uneducated” “crude”, complaining that “they built their churches piecemeal like children playing with bricks”. It does give a comprehensive history of architectural methods with nice little illustrations so it’s a great find, plus it has that old old book smell.

We sat opposite the bookshop and sketched it, and then it was time to go. It was lovely spending time with Dawn and you should check out her incredible work on her Flickr site.

Ripping Yarns, Highgate

I had a few more things to do in London, no more sketching unfortunately (I bought an Ireland  football kit for my son), but this was the day that the Duchess of Cambridge was in labour so lots of people were hanging around waiting anxiously for the big news. I was already home packing my suitcases when the as-yet-unnamed heir to the throne was announced. The next day we flew back to America. I still have to post my Barcelona sketches; those are coming soon…

track 1, side 1 of album 12

Page 1 of Moleskine 12

Page 1 of Moleskine 12. I wanted it to look impactful, and so I wrote ‘Davis CA on the page and the next day I went downtown at lunchtime to sketch a typical street, maybe 2nd St. It’s so sunny these days though and the shade was too great so I moved into F st and drew Armadillo Music. I drew the whole thing, except for some detailing on the tree, in my lunchtime, and added the colour at home. Armadillo is an independent record store in downtown Davis, I exhibited there a couple of years ago at the Art About, famous local singer Rita Hosking performed, lots of people came and it was a great experience. Always nice to have independent stores like this, but especially records stores. So, first page of a new sketchbook, let’s see where this particular illustrated journey takes us!

whole in the market

whole foods davis, harvest hullabaloo
When failing book behemoth Borders closed last year, there was a large empty space in downtown Davis where something should really go. Now finally something is in there: Whole Foods Market, a chain of grocers that specializes in fresh organic food. The grand opening and bread-baking ceremony was today, but on Sunday they held a ‘Harvest Hullabaloo’ over at Davis Commons, with stalls and tents offering free samples of their organic foods and drinks. I tried some very nice chocolate, followed by some air-cooled roast chicken, which I must say was quite lovely. There were other stalls with other predictably ‘Davis’ oriented stuff (such as ‘decorate your vegan bike with corn-fed soy glow-sticks’ or something) but I didn’t really pay much attention to it. It was the end of our monthly sketchcrawl, so I preferred to sit down and draw. Interestingly enough the first time I ever sketched in Davis I drew this view, back when it was Borders.

I’m sure Whole Foods will be a hit, at first, though I know it can be quite expensive. It will be competing with our much beloved Davis Co-Op (to which Davisites are very loyal) and the very popular local chain Nugget (my personal local favourite, though Nugget too can be not so cheap). Another issue is that it’s not an obvious location for a grocery store – finding a spot in the small parking lot at the back is already a challenge, though of course you don’t always need a car to shop (hello, public transport / baskets on your bike / spare the air, like?). (in fact they are offering free 24-hour bike trailer rentals… really trying hard to get the Davis vote!) Still, I hope it doesn’t hurt the Co-Op. I always worry about national chains moving into towns and driving custom away from locally owned business (eg, a branch of national sandwich/bread chain Panera just opened right opposite local independent deli Zia’s), and then after closing the small local store the chain potentially decides further down the road to close thus leaving a gap… but I don’t know if I should be too worried for Davis. Borders came and went and the local bookstore Avid Reader lived through it, same as record store Armadillo Music outlived Tower Records right across the street. Whole Foods will probably be a success, and appears to be interested in the community, and I don’t think Davis is going to lose sleep about having yet another place to buy fresh healthy organic food. I’m looking forward to checking it out.

shine on alphabet moon…

alphabet moon

Very sad news this first week of the year, our favourite local toystore Alphabet Moon has announced it will be closing this month. It’s come as a great “oh no!” to the people of Davis, parents and kids and others alike. The day after hearing the news, I just had to get over there at lunchtime and sketch the place for posterity. I must say I am gutted by this news. I take my son there most weekends, and they have toys out to play with such as the great wooden railway table. When I told him, he was none too pleased. It’s always sad to see local shops go out of business, especially toystores. Toystores are where you can find those things you never see elsewhere, you never knew you wanted. Buying toys online is not the same – for one thing it’s rarely cheaper, and two you can’t see the thing, pick it up, maybe play with it. Now everyone will have to go to Target or WalMart, and while they have a lot of toys they only carry the things that all the other big box stores carry, nothing unique. As Art Brut once sang, “Don’t buy your albums from the supermarket, they only sell records that have charted.” Toys R Us? Please, that place is depressing. They have a Thomas the Tank Engine set laid out as well, but you can’t play with it, all the trains are glued down. Small independent toystores are always better, and once they are gone they’re hard to bring back. But, as with everything, we’re all to blame. As more of us buy online, and we all do nowadays, more stores go down, both big and small, and that ultimately leaves us with emptier downtowns, and much less choice. Either way, the young kids of Davis will have one less fun place to go on the weekends.

absolutely J street

st paul's, midtown sacramento

Some more sketching from yesterday’s afternoon in Sacramento. Above is St.Paul’s church on J Street, in Midtown. I had thought about sketching the cathedral downtown, but decided in the end to do something a little smaller and homelier. I sat opposite, outside the Sacramento Memorial Auditorium, and listened to the most recent Art Brut album (confirming my view that it’s really not as good as their previous ones). I sketched for just under an hour before moving on up J Street. 

french cuff consignment, midtown sacramento

I ended up sketching this building above, which is home to the French Cuff Consignment boutique. They have one of these in Davis (everything in Sacramento has a double in Davis, it seems; I keep expecting to bump into the mirror-version of me, crouched over a moleskine) but it’s not in as cool-looking a building as this. A little sun peeked through the clouds giving some faint shadows so I drew those in.

Drawn on the second last day of 2011. If I don’t get around to posting my 2011 retrospective tonight, then Happy New Year everybody!

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.