living in a movie, but it doesn’t move me

Sculpture outside Davis library
Remember before social distancing? I would go out, staying away from everyone, sketching places without any people in them, and that was just normal. Now social distancing is the norm, along with a whole load of other words that we now know. Social Distancing will be the Time Word(s) of the Year 2020, I suspect (and we thought it would be Impeachment) (but that particular horse has a fair few furlongs to run yet), but there’s also “Zoombombing”, which I think is a genuinely new coinage, the practice where unwanted miscreants get into your Zoom meetings and perform perfidious profanities; “Shelter-In-Place”, which I’ve only ever had to do when there was an active shooter in town (America, folks! They love a gun); “Self-Isolation”, and its related verb, to self-isolate, which is like Luke Skywalker on that island that sounds like a sneeze, or Obi-Wan on Tatooine, or Yoda on Dagobah – basically you do it and pretend you are an old Jedi; I have also seen the word “immunocompromised” become more widely used, I had never thought of that word before, it could take up almost two Countdown Conundrums. And then in France you have the “Attestation de déplacement dérogatoire“, which is a form you must complete (France!, folks! They love a form) every time you want to go outside your house, and you can’t for example go more than a kilometer from your home if you are out exercising or walking the dog. The Attestation is just a part of life in France now, and will probably be their Mot de l’Année 2020. We all gotta do what we can to stop this thing. Stay at home when you can folks.
2nd and B Davis 102819
But here are a few more sketches from late 2019, a golden age for going out and (in my case) avoiding people, as I catch up on posting the sketches that backed up. It turns out that was probably a good thing, as it gives me something new to post that isn’t a sketch of my living room. Although I will say, that living room is going to be my St Victoire (also I do have a poster of St Victoire on the wall of my dining room). The sketch at the top is a sculpture outside the local library, near where I live. This was in Fall, when the leaves were red, outside the library where the leaves were read. JOKE OF THE YEAR 2020? Maybe not. Besides it references something from 2019 so it cannot count. Also it’s just not very good.

Incidentally do you want to hear my personal joke of the year funniest thing I said in 2019? Ok here goes. Don’t laugh ok, I thought it was funny. My wife and I were watching TV and on this one advert there was a young horse who needed rescuing from a road. She said, “I feel sorry for that baby horse”. So I said “I pity the foal.” Cue laughter, at which point I stood up and waved at the living room and left the room, you’ve been great folks. It’s right up there with “Missouri loves company” and “some day my prints will come” in waiting years for the perfect situation to come up to use those lines.

But in the sketch above, at the cross-section of 2nd Street and B Street, I was really hoping for some kind of road-rage incident involving an annoyed (not angry exactly, just irritated, unhappy, let’s say cross) motorist not stopping and causing some sort of, well not an accident for sure, I don’t want that, but something where they cause more annoyance, like they have to go around someone and everyone gets in a huff, and then I can say well the sign does say, cross traffic does not stop, so your mood at that moment determines whether or not you need to be the one that stops, just as the sign says. But that didn’t happen, and it’s just as well because it wasn’t very well thought through. It’s no “I pity the foal” is it.
3rd and E Davis
Further down 2nd Street on a completely different day two days before, I sat with a cold beer outside Uncle Vito’s, on the corner of E Street. Our AYSO team the Blue Guys had won an exciting 10-5 game against an excellently named team called the Black Goats that day, and I had the afternoon to go cycling and sketching. I miss the Saturday-afternoon-after-the-game feeling. Now our Select soccer season has been cancelled, it’s left a big gap. I’m still watching videos and reading about tactics and training plans. By the way the big blue sign with a “P” on it is I presume pointing people to where the toilets are.
Pho King Davis
A month before, I drew this restaurant on the corner of 3rd Street and University Avenue, called Pho King. I know, I know. Don’t tell De Niro, he’ll make a ‘comedy’ movie out of it. They have a big sign on the restaurant (I don’t know if you can make it out) that says “$10 IPA Pitcher Go Vegan!!!” Again my mind was trying to put this into some sort of joke, where there is a baseball game and the pitcher’s name is Vegan and he plays for a team with the initials I.P.A. (Industrialists of Pennsylvania? Icelandic Philologist Academy?), but again, it’s no “Missouri loves company”. I’m still not stooping down to making Pho King jokes though, unless a shop called Tories opens next door. Incidentally I’ve never eaten here but I really like Pho so I will try it out. And if it’s not as good as expected, I might say “I pity the…”
Sophias bar, Davis
No, I won’t. I tell you what though, I really like Thai food, and my favourite is Sophia’s on E Street. We get food from there all the time. I do like their bar as well, a really nice place to have a cocktail, to sketch and, yes, talk to actual other people. I’m not always a complete social-distancer, sometimes I will converse and speak and stuff. This was back in August (!) and I was still trying to use those brush marker pens more. This is a great place for those because the lighting in Sophia’s means there are much darker areas to fill in, making the values really stand out. I just really like it there. Oh man, I miss going out to the pub to sketch. This was a nice evening, I did speak to quite a few people and sketched several others too, but I’ll only post this one, which I sketched across the bar, a couple of people talking to each other in front of the big blue fishtank, I caught snippets of what they were saying. I just automatically assume they were making pun-like jokes about something, but I don’t really overhear conversations well, I’d have made a terrible Stasi spy.
people at sophias

So, here we are in April 2020, staying at home (except for those numpties protesting on the streets in Michigan), and it would have been Picnic Day here in Davis when the kids get out and party it up, but not this year. And now, back to sketching the living room and watching old World Cup games. I watched England v Argentina from 1986 a couple of days ago. I think tonight I’ll watch Italy v Nigeria from 1994. Stay home and stay safe everyone.

all you need is lava

sophia's bar davis
Another from the end of March. I did promise the staff at Sophia’s that this would be posted on my sketchblog but that it would be probably late, as I have been slow to sue my scanner; I was write, almost three months later. The past weekend involved a fair amount of scanning of several months of sketching (ironically, far less sketching than last year; in terms of volume, January-June this year is the same as January-March last year) (I do keep a chart) (this year I have been busy with learning a new job and coaching a select soccer team) (excuses, excuses). Anyway this was from the very sketch-productive weekend when I was home alone, so went out sketching the whole time. Usually I would go out of town on this weekend (San Francisco in previous years) but this year I stayed in Davis to (a) feed the cats and (b) I was too knackered to traipse around North Beach. After some sketching outside, followed by a chicken biryani at the Yeti restaurant, I popped by Sophia’s bar for a ‘Lava Lamp’ drink, which I had been told by my wife is very similar to the much-loved Lava Flow we had in Hawaii. It was delicious, so I made it the centrepiece of my latest bar sketch. It added a bit of contrasting colour to this quite golden-lit bar area. I had a couple of these. The white gel pen came in handy. This is another example of sketching in low-light conditions, and doing the paint on site if possible (not always a priority for me, I sometimes sacrifice the painting when short on time, the penwork on site is my thing) is important to really bring across my experience of the light, dark and colour. See I’m great at explaining things aren’t I. Hey, chapter 1 in my book ‘Creative Sketching Workshop’ is all dedicated to bar sketching tips. Anyway while I come in here about once or twice a year, it’s one of my favourite bars in Davis, but I love the food at the adjoining restaurant (Sophia’s Thai Kitchen), we eat there a lot.

Here are some previous sketches of the same place…

sophia's bar, davis
sophia's bar, davis
sophia's bar, davis

waiting for jungle curry

sophias thai kitchen, davis
While waiting for my food at lunchtime yesterday, I sketched the scene ahead of me quickly into my Miquelrius notebook. Sophia’s Thai Kitchen, on E Street, Davis. I had the ‘Jungle Curry’. I like that one a lot. I do like my curries at Sophia’s.

you know they’re gonna go which way they wanna go

sophia's bar june 2016 sm
Last Friday, I really needed to go out and sketch away my frustrations with the day’s news by doing a complicated drawing of a bar, and having a few beers while I was at it. I’ve sketched all of Davis’s bars now I think (except ‘Our House’, I’ve never sketched there) and wasn’t sure which one I wanted to draw. I nearly went back to City Hall Tavern again, (they had kindly posted something about my sketches on their Instagram account the day before), but I hadn’t been to Sophia’s bar in quite a while (a year and a half at least) and I always like it in there, the people are nice, so that’s where I went. I go to the attached restaurant pretty regularly, Sophia’s Thai Kitchen. It’s my favourite food in Davis. I have sketched this bar a couple of times before, both while sat further back from the bar and focusing more on the colours and contrasts, but this time I wanted to tackle sketching those bottles. Sophia’s has Brother Thelonious on tap, which is probably my favourite beer in the US, though you can’t drink too much of it. The Giants were on the TV; the Giants are always on the TV when I bar-sketch. You can click on the image for a closer view. I drew this in the Seawhite of Brighton sketchbook (the one I started in Santa Barbara) with the brown-black uni-ball signo um-151 pen, and it took me, I don’t know how long. Three beers I think. I had a couple more for luck. I kept the colour to a minimum but did add a block of blue highlighter for that fish-tank thing. Also blue for the bartender’s hair, you know I can’t resist sketching blue hair. And so, another bar sketch. See my others

when the half light makes for a clearer view

sophia's bar jan 2014 smSophia’s Bar, Davis. Click on the image to see a larger version. 2014 has started as a very busy little year so far, with not enough time to sketch. Not enough time..? Well, make time. I’ve been feeling a little headless-chicken-esque, so one Wednesday evening I decided I needed to go and pour myself into another bar panorama, this time at Sophia’s, a bar which I have sketched before, but I had not included the fishtank before. The fishtank was going in this time, for sure. My friend Tel, who I grew up with but now lives in Korea for some reason, would like that fishtank. Years ago he used to make me go with him after school all the way to a shop in Colindale called Vibratanks to see the tropical fish in their bright tanks, his nose pressed against the glass staring at the tetras and guppies and swordtails. To get him back, I would make him come to WH Smith in Brent Cross where I’d spend ages looking at pens, travel guides and adventure gamebooks. In a twist of irony he now sells books, while I am sketching fishtanks. Anyway, I sat with an amber beer and covered the pages in paint before going in with the pen. I was spotted by the owner Kenneth who remembered my previous sketch, it was nice to meet him. After sketching the wider view I went to sit at the bar to get a better view of the bottles, and spent a good deal of time chatting to people, many from all over the world, while scribbling away continually. I am on a bit of a roll with these panoramas now, and have done a few more since then (yet to post; I am calling it the ‘panoramarathon’) but still 2014 continues to be busy, busy, busy. I’ve just remembered that when I am so so busy, and so so stressed, it’s always best to balance it with some art. No time for it? Make time for it. You’ll be glad you did.

the bar at the end of the sketchbook

sophia's bar, davis

The last page of moleskine #9!

This is the bar of Sophia’s Thai kitchen in Davis, where I went on Friday evening for a couple of beers and a bit of sketching. Actually I was going to see The Avengers, but the lines were so long – a lot of people really wanted to see it too apparently. I missed the 7:30 show, all tickets sold by the time i reached the front of the line (at 7:45) so chose the 10pm show, and came over here to pass the time. Good way to pass the time, on a hot evening. I’ve never spent time inside here, sketched on the deck a couple of times but not in the bar. It’s nice! I sketched this by washing the page in warm watercolours, plus a little bit of splattered paint while it was wet, and then drawing over it in uni-ball signo pen, with white gel pen for the highlights. This was a really fun one to draw, and after a testing week, drawing this put me in a good mood.

And the Avengers was a lot of fun too! I want to go and watch ‘Thor’ and ‘Captain America’ again now though. And fight bad guys.