The latest sketch of Walker Hall, UC Davis. The tiles are now stacked on the roof, ready to be laid, and some steel structures have been built around the entrances to the wings. There is also some extra steel framing on the roof of the wings. Long way to go but it’s coming along nicely! Want to see all my other Walker Hall sketches? Here is a handy Flickr album: https://www.flickr.com/photos/petescully/albums/72157678149480548
The sneezing starts slowly for me each year, and this week it is starting to ramp up. There is always a nice period before the sneezing begins however when I can enjoy the sudden colourful bloom of Spring in relative peace, thinking “you know what, this year I’m just not going to sneeze, everything’s going to be fine.” By the darling buds of May though I’ve turned into Rentaghost’s Nadia Popov. Also, the “are you taking anything for it?” conversation is even more boring than saying “bless you” after every sneeze and then laughing after the fourth, so when people ask me what I’m taking I say “sneezing powder”. I have seen a lot of floral sketching recently in my Urban Sketching Community’s online feeds, inspiring me to draw more flowers myself; my sudden upsurge in walking everywhere and seeing so many colourful gardens, parks and pathways made me really see this year that Spring is actually quite visually beautiful. So, out comes the sketchbook. Now I wish I knew the names of all the plants, and thankfully the Arboretum does label most of them, but I’m a little bit plant-clueless. All the more reason to sit and really look at them, see how they work.
The walk to Northstar Park in the north part of Davis has a lot of beautiful flowers.
And here in the Arboretum, I took a stroll through the Acacia Grove, drawing in pencil this time.
Finally, a tree stump. It was too interesting to leave out. Happy bloomin’ Spring to you!
Last Sunday, we held a Let’s Draw Davis sketchcrawl in the UC Davis Arboretum. It was actually full of people out having photoshoots with family, either the ones with graduating students or maybe because they have lots of family visiting for Picnic Day, or maybe just the parents-and-small-kids photoshoots; all of them were there, mostly in front of me in the scene above. It’s a good spot for it. The Redwood Grove is quite beautiful. Those Redwoods were planted about seventy years ago or so. It was probably my favourite spot in Davis when I first moved here, though I don’t walk down here very often any more. You can almost imagine that you are deep in the Redwood forests, maybe an Ewok or two whistling in the branches. Plus picture-perfect photoshoots. I didn’t draw the people though.
I was photographed myself, in the Redwood Grove, when a couple came and said hello to me, who had met me before at my sketchbook exhibit event a couple of years ago, Brian and Susan Monchamp. Many thanks to them taking this pic of me in action.
The Arboretum has had a lot of work done over the past few years. The section closest to downtown in particular has been completely renovated. Pathways newly paved, handrails along the creek in the narrowest sections, the Creek itself completely refurbished. I haven’t been here in ages. I drew the bridge that I have sketched several times before. As I sketched, a lady walking past made a big point of going and picking up a crisp-packet wrapper from somewhere up the verge. I mean, that’s good of course, but she did feel the need to announce it vocally to the world, as if the person who dropped it were still around. The day before was Picnic Day, so I’ve always felt that Sunday is ‘litter everywhere’ day. That said, it’s never really that bad, I always expect it to be worse. IT was a lovely Sunday afternoon, at the end of the sketchcrawl we went back to Wyatt Deck and looked at all our sketches. I’ve done a lot of foliage sketching lately, by the way, which I’ll show you in the next post.
Last week, I co-led a couple of mini-sketchcrawls over a two lunchtimes called “Sketching Sustainability“. Here are my sketches… Above, the UC Davis Eco-Hub. Yes, part of the saem building as the Bike Barn, I have sketched this building so many times. You could say I recycled an old subject. The aim of this sketchcrawl was to draw things that promote sustainability on campus. The Eco-Hub obviously does that, so does the Bike Barn, because Bikes. However I did not know that the orange flowers in the foreground are also part of a sustainability thing, which is that the thing they are planted in is actually something that is designed to catch rainwater so that it doesn’t just go away. You can tell I’m not an expert, but it was explained to me and I thought it was cool. Below, some super quick cyclist sketches. I gave a quick demo on super fast people sketching. These were all very quick, just a few seconds of scribble, plus a few splats of paint.
Below is Nick Linda, a student in Sustainable Environmental Design who is also a tour guide. He introduced the theme of Sustainability at the start of the sketchcrawls. We didn’t have many people come, they were small groups, but people still did a lot of sketching. It’s part of the Cool Campus Challenge. We are trying to once more be the ‘Coolest Campus’. I know, I know, we already are, but in this case it’s do with with environmentally cool. Again, UC Davis should breeze that (pun absolutely intended, hey it’s me), but apparently Irvine won it last year so we have to show all the other UCs who is really Cool. Here’s a link to the Cool Campus Challenge: https://www.coolcampuschallenge.org/. By the way this sketch of Nick took about a minute and a half, I had to be quick because it was nearly my turn to speak. The main organizer was Camille, I didn’t sketch her, but she had made a whole bunch of sketchbooks for participants, or anyone who would like to join in, along with pencils and sustainable sharpeners (nail files! I’m going to use it as a sharpener now). I’m also going to stop using my pencil sharpener to cut my nails, that has been very painful.
Below is the Student Community Center, whee we started and ended our sketching. It is a Platinum LEED Building, which is very good (my building is Gold, which is also good, but this building I guess is just better). This is the rear. I sat down low on my tiny super-lightweight fold-out sketching stool.
And finally, well I can’t resist drawing these bins can I. Recycling is of course very much part of Sustainability. By the way, I have to say I’m glad I don’t work in Sustainability, because typing that over and over is quite tiring, it’s a long word. It’s hard enough for me to always be typing Biostatistics, my spell-corrector now just corrects it to the typos, I’ve done it so often. But I think perhaps Sustainability should use a smaller word, more carbon-neutral, easier to type out. Anyway! This was a fun thing to be involved with, great to raise awareness of Sust-y, I learned a few things myself and met some nice people. Many thanks to Camille and Nick for organizing it!
It’s not every day you see one of these! This is a DeLorean, in case you weren’t aware, a car from the early 1980s, made in Northern Ireland, but immortalized in some movie about time travel, you might know it. There is a DeLorean association in this area and on Picnic Day in Davis they are often part of the parade. After my son’s soccer game in the morning, we came downtown after the parade had already happened, and got ice cream. Well I didn’t get any because I am officially on a self-imposed diet. So, when we saw there were three DeLoreans parked along the sidewalk of E Street, I couldn’t resist stopping and sketching. Three DeLoreans! Well I assume there were three DeLoreans, it might have been one DeLorean visiting itself from the future (or the past). As I sketched, the owner of this one came by and we chatted, it was very interesting to hear about how the various DeLorean owners help each other out – owning a car like this you kind of have to become an engineer, and parts aren’t exactly easy to come by (the plutonium alone is tricky enough). As you can see I drew the wing mirror in on the other side before the car door was open; when they opened the door, well I just had to draw that. I’ve sketched a DeLorean once before, in the Automobile Museum in Sacramento. While I sketched, several young lads would come up and ask the owner to take their photos with it, even though they were born many years after 1985. My family came back, having eaten their ice-creams, and it was time to either go to campus for Picnic Day fun or go home for a nap. We chose the second.
Last Saturday evening, the weather was nice, and the daylight a little later than I was used to (it’s always a surprise, every year), so I took a walk downtown to do a little bit of sketching, a little bit of reading, have a few beers. I walked over to E St Plaza, where I noticed that local band Wealth of Nations were playing again; I’ve sketched them several times. I did this quick sketch below. After that, I went to the University of Beer, and sat at the corner of the bar. I have been planning my summer travels, going to the Urban Sketching Symposium, adding in a bit of Belgium as well, and a day in Paris. For some inspiration I re-read Lapin’s book of Parisian sketches, “Paris je t’aime”. The fellow sat next to me saw the book and was looking at it with me, I was telling him about Lapin and all the other Urban Sketchers, I didn’t mention about my own sketching but when it came time to get my sketchbook out he left me to it, I did manage to include his right hand and phone into the sketch though. Another bloke was sat to his right, reading a book. After a while they both left, and another pair of men were there, one of whom was one of those guys who was loud and a bit overbearing, I think he was quite a bit into religion and never paused for breath about how he “only respects people who know their purpose in life!” and “I don’t mind atheists but they have to know what they believe in or I can’t respect them!” He never seemed to take even a sip of his beer, all I could think was, mate are you drinking that or what? Some writers and sketchers take inspiration from overheard conversation, I on the other hand actively try not to listen to anything anyone is saying. I looked at my sketch, remembering the quiet reading man and the friendly man who liked looking at Lapin’s drawings. Eventually loud man and quiet friend also departed. I saw a couple of other faces at the bar I knew through soccer, said hello. Various sports played on the tv screens. The beers I had were the Russian River STS Pils, and the much more familiar Firestone Walker 805. I sketched the bar in dark blue pen. The walk home was nice; I’m trying to get my 10,000 steps in every day.
“Yes, yes I think that will do.” Those were my first thoughts on seeing this very nice view from our hotel balcony in Huntington Beach, aka ‘Surf City’, on our trip there during Spring Break. Palm trees, orange rooftops, a deep blue ocean, blue sky with a bit of fog, very sandy sand, big waves and even the view of Highway 1, which (along with Highway 101) runs along the whole Pacific coast of America (as the ‘Pacific Coast Highway’). Yeah, I can’t really go wrong with a view like that. My wife certainly knows how to pick the hotels with the good views. We had expected rain – in northern California, huge whopping storms were beating down while I splashed about in the pool, getting out to read my travel stories book and sip a refreshing mango beer. Yes, mango beer, that’s right, it was from a local brewer, the poolside barstaff told me. I like mango flavoured things. Oh is it raining in Davis? Well never mind. We had glorious sunshine, and we used it wisely, at the beach and at the pool. It’s at times like this when I think, yeah, actually it was a good idea to leave London and live in California.
I did a little bit of sketching. The building above is Naugles, some sort of eatery by the beach. It wasn’t open, though the building next door was renting those surreys and bikes to people. I think I imagined Spring Break to be a bit more Spring Break-like, if you know what I mean, Florida style, but warm as it was, it’s still too cold in California for that sort of thing. For which I was very grateful, I do love places without big crowds. I even went into the ocean myself (which was fairly freezing), my son and his friend out there splashing about in the waves. I can’t surf, but we had one of those boogy-boards and so I floated about on that, on my belly, riding the waves like a dead whale. I’m not sure if dead whales ride the waves, but ‘dead whale’ was the only thing that came to my mind when the tides flopped me back onto the shore. I was a dead whale enjoying myself though. We even built sandcastles and dug tunnels. These sketches though were done while they were back at the hotel pool, which was heated and had water slides. Below is one of the many lifeguard lookouts that stand along the beach like the watchers on the wall. At this point it’s obligatory to mention ‘Baywatch’, but I never watched that show, so I wont. The beach was clean, and well trimmed like a suburban lawn. There are firepits for people to use when barbecuing in the warm summer evenings (like in pretty much every teen LA-based movie or TV show), but there’s a curfew on this beach, nobody is allowed after 10pm. In the distance, Huntington Beach pier, and further behind still are off-shore oil rigs, which maybe adjust the perfection of the view a bit (but offer something a bit different to look at). The waves get pretty big; you can see a surfer making their way in. Huntington Beach is nicknamed Surf City: there is a statue of Duke Kahanamoku, legendary Hawaiian surfer and olympic sportsman, standing outside one of the big surf shops downtown. I popped in, and discovered that surfboards cost a lot more than I though they did. There goes that dream!
Speaking of ‘The Duke’, we had a very filling and quite delicious dinner at Duke’s restaurant, on the beach next to the pier. We went to the Duke’s restaurant in Waikiki a couple of years ago, and had our very first Lava Flow drinks. They were delicious. The ones we had here were just as nice, but served in those great tiki glasses. I only had the one – they are pretty filling! So are the enormous Hula Pies. We got one to share between the four of us, and I’m glad – we barely finished it. I bought a Hula Pie plate as a souvenir. I did get to tell a great pun when the waiter was giving us the list of specials. My wife wondered if she should have the fish special, and I said, “why not, just for the halibut!” The waiter didn’t get it though. I thought it was good. One of the fish specials was halibut. Now I have to engineer some other situation where I can use the “just for the halibut” line.
It was a long walk back to the hotel, but since I had eaten so much I was rolled along the seafront like one of those massive snowballs. I was still basking in the glory of my “just for the halibut” line. It was not yet ten o’clock, so the beach was dotted with the glow of numerous firepits. In the parking lots, travelers were sat outside immense RVs enjoying the spring evening’s cool ocean breeze.
On the second evening in Huntington Beach, after an incredibly fresh tasting dinner at a place called Lemonade (which as you might expect made delicious multi-flavoured hand-made lemonades – I had ‘Cucumber Mint’. So refreshing. Everyone was tired, and so the rest of the family went back to the hotel, but I still wanted to walk to the end of that long pier, so I talked my sore feet into making the trek up over the boardwalk into the Pacific Ocean. There are lots of people fishing from that pier. It’s not full of amusements like Santa Monica or Walton-on-the-Naze, but right at the very end in the red-roofed building is one of my favourite places in California, Ruby’s Diner. I have a lot of favourite places in California, I can’t really choose; ok this is in the top 100. It’s a classic American diner at the end of a pier, there’s a great classic American atmosphere, and when I say classic American I mean ‘like in the movies’, probably. It doesn’t feel themed or kitschy though. There is a tiki bar upstairs, which I passed through to use the bathrooms, that was a distinctive change of look. All I wanted was a milkshake. A bit of history here, the very first time I came to the United States was in 2002, to visit my still-new Californian girlfriend whom I had met while living in France, and she took me on a road trip down California and to the Grand Canyon. Oh by the way my then-new Californian girlfriend is now my Californian wife of course! Back then though America was completely new to me, I was a fresh-faced twenty-something, and on this road trip we visited our friend Erin (whom we had met in France; actually it was Erin who introduced us to each other) and she lived in Huntington Beach. She took us to Ruby’s Diner at the end of the pier, and I had what up to that point in my life was perhaps the best milkshake I had ever tasted. It was a butterfinger milkshake, it was huge, it made every milkshake I grew up with seem like Nesquik. By the way every milkshake I ever grew up with was Nesquik. I’ll never forget the taste of Nesquik gone BAD. Never leave banana Nesquik in a flask out of the fridge for a couple of days in summer and then try to drink it. I was six. Anyway, all I had on my mind was coming back to Ruby’s and having a milkshake, and I was not disappointed. They had the same menu of shakes, but they were also doing a special Mint Chocolate shake made with Girl Scout Cookies. It was delicious. The long walk down the pier and the long walk back to the hotel were good exercise, and I’m now still dieting to get over all the big foods I had on that trip, but it was worth it. Huntington Beach is cool. And below, for those who really need a gumball, they have them in a gas pump. Classic American.
Ok after Huntington Beach we went to Great Wolf Lodge for one night, which had some fun water slides but overall was a bit of a disappointment after Huntington Beach, and so we ended up going to see Captain Marvel instead (loved it!). We got back to Davis to hear that there had been even more heavy rain (this is the rainiest I’ve ever known Davis, except maybe that first winter here).