answers on a postcard

south silo uc davis
Well, what else has been going on on the UC Davis campus this summer? Building work, hot days, Delta breezes, summer sessions classes, and lunchtime drawings in a post-Manchester-symposium sketching-energy spike. Actually more of a pre-UC Davis-Design-Museum-Sketchbook-Exhibition sketching sketching-energy spike. Yes, my sketchbook exhibit is opening next month, it will be called “Conversations with the City” and will run at the Design Museum in Cruess Hall from September 19 to November 13. So exciting! See http://arts.ucdavis.edu/exhibition/conversations-city-pete-scully-urban-sketcher for more details. I will be displaying sketchbooks ranging from 2006 to 2016. The exhibit is Curated by James Housefield and Tim McNeil of the UC Davis Design Department, and I will also be giving a talk about my urban sketching work (and why you should keep a sketchbook) on Thursday October 6th, from 6-8pm. I will place an announcement in the sidebar on my website, but if you are in Davis then do come by!

In the meantime…here are some recent sketches of UC Davis. Above, the South Silo, undergoing a major refurbishment and upgrade of that whole area. New eateries will be going in, the paths will be widened to create a new vista, already we have seen some big improvements (despite the removal of an old funny-shaped tree, which was kind of in the way – it’s easier to cycle around Bainer now). You can see the oft-sketched Bike Barn there too on the right. It will be fun to see how different it all looks here. Below, part of the same building, still functioning despite the big renovations next door, the UC Davis Craft Center. I drew it one lunchtime before taking a Diversity training class in the building opposite. I added the paint later on.Not a lot of shaded spots to sketch this view from but I stood beneath a small tree.
craft center uc davis
Below is Nelson Hall, which is home to the Della Davidson Performance Studio. It’s on Old Davis Road, next to the Arboretum, and this used to be called the University Club. Last time I was in here was during the UC Davis Centenary celebrations (2008-09); in fact I took my new staff orientation here a decade ago. I’ve been on campus a long time now. I always felt like these little snapshots of Davis were my ‘postcards’ being sent back to those I left in England, so they can see where I live now. After almost eleven years in California there have been a lot of these postcards…
nelson hall uc davis
This building below has been on campus a lot longer: TB9, aka Temporary Building #9. It’s long been an arts studio and home to decades of ceramicists such as Robert Arneson. Fun story, first ever sketchcrawl I did in Davis (Dec 2005) I ended up outside here, sketching sculptures in the back yard area. Recently, TB9 was placed on the National Register of Historic Places – see the news announcement – due to its importance in art history. About time I sketched it properly then huh! It is right next to the Pitzer Center so has cropped up in the background a few times. With the Pitzer Center no longer being a big closed off construction site I was able to get stand off the road and get a better view without being run over by trucks.
TB9 uc davis
Even older still is Wyatt Pavilion Theatre, below, a decent-sized performance hall built in 1907 (that’s right, 1907! Here is some history and info). I came and saw a play here a few years ago, Richard III; I really should go and see more theatre. I do have a degree in Drama you know. Ah that explains a lot I hear you say. Well it was French and Drama if you must know. I actually did a fair bit of foreign language acting when I was at college, though usually in German. Acting in German is way more fun; you get to do Brecht!
Wyatt Pavilion UC Davis

See that blue poster on the wall of the Wyatt? That is actually advertising my exhibition! Among other things, my that is at the top, which is exciting. So anyway, come and see my “Conversations with the City” when it opens, and take a peak at my sketchbooks. I hope you like it.

how are things in your little world

south silo uc davis
Here’s a view that I used to sketch a lot more, but I got bored of it, as it never really changed much. It’s the South Silo at UC Davis, as viewed from the steps of Bainer Hall. I used to sketch it every six months in fact, once in winter, once in spring, tracking the changes. This past week I noticed however that it had changed quite dramatically – the big wild tree to the left of the leaning one was cut down, as were several other smaller ones near the Bike Barn, as the UC Davis South Silo area undergoes a major redesign. This is going to look pretty different. Here’s an article in The Aggie detailing how it will eventually look – quite a change, I think. More dining locations will be added (hooray!), plus a convenience store (I still miss the little one that used to be the Law Bookshop). It won’t be all done until next year.

While we are waiting, let’s go back in time and see what it used to look like….

heitman and south silo panorama
January 2015

view from bainer uc davis<
July 2011

south silo uc davis
January 2011

the view from bainer, again
June 2010
January 2010

bike barn from bainer
June 2009

January and March 2009

smoky and the bikebarn
June 2008

no leaves for you
January 2008

uc davis trees encore
July 2007

I will miss that tree.

line up in line

Starbucks People 1 sm
And now for something completely different. These are very quick sketches of people standing in line at Starbucks. Before you all go “hang on you hate Starbucks and don’t even drink coffee” let me explain. I don’t hate Starbucks, I just don’t drink coffee. Starbucks does occasionally have nice pastries but I don’t like their tea or other drinks so I never go there. However there is one inside the Silo building at UC Davis, and I sit near there when I am eating my lunch or reading comics on my iPad. I never actually get anything from there, not even the aforementioned nice pastries, because the queue (or ‘line’ as they prefer to say here) is always so long and slow. “Slowbucks” they should call it. However this slow line is good for something – practicing people drawing. Now I could have drawn individual people with all their details and faces and stuff, but I was practicing one particular thing. I was doing that thing where you draw a whole load of people or things without taking the pen off of the paper. you place the pen down, and just let it go. This type of ‘single-line’ sketch can produce some very interesting results. Because you can’t pick the pen up and stop for a second, you have to back up or cross spaces until you are less concerned with smooth details and more with the overall shape itself – it is a very liberating experience.
Starbucks People 2 sm
People look at their devices while waiting in line for their cup of Joe. by the way as a non-coffee-drinker is it only a cup of Joe if it’s in the morning, as in ‘Morning Joe’? Or is it called something else after 12, like ‘Afternoon Dave’ or ‘Suppertime Barbara’? Who was Joe anyway, was he a famous coffee-drinker? Is it rhyming slang, like ‘Joseph’s Toffee’ or something? I suppose I could have asked the people in line but I didn’t want to break the fourth wall. This was another single-line sketch (or ‘single-queue’ sketch perhaps).
Silo People 2 sm
I wasn’t done sketching quick people. Sticking with the single-line theme I went outside and sketched passers-by, each in that same fast and loose fashion. As this was outside the UC Davis Silo, near the Silo Bus Terminal, people moved about fairly rapidly, giving me just a few seconds to capture them. Not easy. It was a cooler day, overcast, I was still in my 30s and I tried to get different walking poses wherever I could. This being a university, there are many people with backpacks. Why not give it a go, this quick people sketching?
Silo People 1 sm
ss

fast food lunch

UC Davis Silo / Carl's Jr
France was fun, but you have to come home. I do actually have a few more sketches from London but they were kind of shoehorned in to the end of the trip, I’ll post those soon. So aftre all those lovely picturesque canals and timber-framed buildings, you get the interior of the UC Davis Silo, where I often eat lunch. this was sketched while waiting for (and subsequently eating) my Carl’s Jr. It was typically tasty, but incredibly greasy. Outside the mercury was rising fast to those unbearable Davis Summer levels. Welcome back to America! When’s my next trip to France?

there is a season, turn turn turn

silo panorama jan2015 sm
Panoramas carry on. This is a scene that I used to sketch twice a year, once in January and once in June or July. Then I stopped, because it wasn’t really changing and I was getting bored. I never did a two-page spread, though, so over a lunchtime and a half (the inkwork) and adding colour later on I checked it off the list.

Out of interest, here are some previous versions of the same scene, sketched from roughly the same spot:

bikebarn from bainer (yet again)bike barn from bainersmoky and the bikebarnno leaves for yousouth silo uc davisview from bainer uc davisheitman center, uc davisuc davis trees encorelunchtime sketch by the hog barnrainy rainy daythe view from bainer, againstanding stones near the silo

damp days

silo uc davis
The UC Davis Silo. We had a lot of rain this past couple of weeks. Last Monday it was raining, but I really wanted to sketch at lunchtime, so I did a quick one of the Silo’s tower while stood under some shelter. I wanted to colour it in a little so I did that too, but I had forgotten my water-jar. I crouched down and used water from a puddle. I must have looked a sight. I don’t care. Sketch done.

and for once in your life you have nothing to say

silo panorama nov2014 sm

Click on the drawing to see it bigger. Another panorama, this one being from the Silo area of UC Davis, which as you may recall I have sketched once or twice or a million times before. (Aaaargh, I’ve been in Davis for ages!) Still, I’ve not drawn a two-page panorama from this angle. I had intended to colour the whole thing in (hello laziness, my old friend) but those trees are just a dull green with some crunchy brown so you’re not missing any Fall colours. You can see some of them in the rainy drawing below of the view of the Farmer’s Market at the Silo (every Wednesday lunchtime) which I sketched last month from the staircase you can see on the building in the right, above. Happy Thanksgiving folks!

silo farmers market, uc davis