going down different paths

arboretum bridge uc davis
Another from the last month of 2018, this sketch was down at the Arboretum on the UC Davis campus. It was more colourful than this looks; there was a lot of yellow leafage strewn along the rising bank to the left there, and a greenish hue to the water (though since the creek has been thoroughly redeveloped, there is no longer a pea-soup thick covering of algae).

By the way, I was interviewed by Anjini Venugopal for the California Aggie (UC Davis’s long-running student-managed newspaper), and the article appeared this week: https://theaggie.org/2019/01/11/the-artist-pete-scully-discusses-urban-sketching. Check it out! “I’m just obsessed with drawing,” Scully said. “It’s something I have to do.” I totally said that.

Right now I am (in addition to sketching) actually doing lots of logo design, both for our Select soccer team (the “Dawgs”) and also the Davis World Cup, so I have been drawing lots of ideas, and teaching myself how to use Illustrator, which I have just nor bothered with for years (I typically use Photoshop when doing anything digital).  At some point I might share that stuff, but for now, I’m just teaching myself and messing about. And it has been immense fun!

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i wanna see some history

sex pistols 1996 ticket
Here’s a little bit of my past, a drawing of an old concert ticket I still have, the Sex Pistols comeback show at Finsbury Park in June 1996. It’s pretty worn out – most of that wear and tear was from being in my pocket while pogoing around with 30,000 other sweaty punk rockers on a very hot Sunday evening. I went with my uncle Billy, and my Hungarian friend Andrea (we lost her during Skunk Anansie, one of the many supporting acts). I had been a Sex Pistols fan since I was about 13, when Billy first played me some Pistols records at his flat, but never thought I’d ever get to see them – I was not even two in 1978 when they split up. When the ‘Filthy Lucre’ comeback reunion tour in ’96 (with Glen Matlock back on bass) was announced, we had to go, and the Finsbury Park gig, being in Johnny Rotten’s home area (he used to go to the same school as my dad actually, but much later), was going to be great: support from loads of old (and new) punk and similar acts, most exciting of all for me being Buzzcocks, another group I’d always wanted to see (and never saw again; RIP Pete Shelley, by the way!) I had been at the Hellfire Club on Oxford Street the night before, practicing my pogo, Iggy Pop was on stage right before the Pistols, shirt ripped off, all abs and muscles and dancing (I couldn’t relate) and then it was time for the Sex Pistols and it was loud and crazy and too much fun, going right into the night. We were at the front, crushed against the barrier, barely able to move. I remember there was a woman next to me cheering and dancing, and behind her this lecherous bloke made many gross moves on her, and didn’t stop even when people called him out; I’m happy to say I elbowed him in the face as I was pogoing to ‘Seventeen’ and he sodded off. It was a crazy night. I went over the top of the crowd eventually, the crush at the front being a bit much, and then jumped up and down for the rest of the night in the middle of the Finsbury Park crowd. Rotten gave a massive fun performance, I remember him announcing “Fat, Forty and Back!” (I was Skinny and Twenty). They rattled off all the classics (they don’t actually have that many songs so it was basically their whole catalogue), in front of an audience that was probably larger than the total number of people they had ever played in front of, combined. Well, their largest gig ever. Not exactly how I grew up imagining Pistols gigs – in some sticky-floored ballroom jumping up and down on broken glass, or down at the 100 Club with cracked ribs and sweat and smoke (though there were those things), and not exactly Manchester Free Trade Hall, but I daresay a few bands were formed that night too. Andrea must have gotten home on her own, and Billy and I found his car on the other side of Finsbury Park and sped back to Burnt Oak. Wicked, we just saw the Pistols, no big deal. Not going to be going on about this for the next twenty years or so. It’s especially more fun telling people about that day now that I live in America, where people are more impressed, “oh yeah I saw Buzzcocks supporting the Pistols,” like it was in 1976 or something. It does go down as one of those things I’m glad I went to, and glad I went with Billy, and I’ll remember it all my life.

a tower shining bright

UC Davis water tower
This is the UC Davis water tower. I have sketched it before, but I don’t mind rehashing old material. I’ll happily tell the same jokes many times over to the same people, over a period of many years, as anyone who has read any of this sketchblog can attest. You might think that I’m sketching for a new audience, maybe someone hasn’t seen one of my sketches of the water tower before, and here’s a new one, but no, it’s really just that after 13 years in this town there isn’t a lot else to draw, so you draw things again. Different times of year, things look different; different times of my life, I see different. Let’s not think too much about it. Cezanne never worried about that when he was painting Mont St.Victoire over and over. Well he probably did, and if I had stayed in Aix-en-Provence myself beyond 2002 then I too would be on about my hundred-and-fiftieth drawing of it, and the Rotonde, and the Place d’Albertas and all the other corners of town that might lose their charm. I’d be dreaming every day, while wandering among the ochre stone and narrow cobbled streets, stepping over dog poo, cigarette butts and dried-up wine, wishing I was somewhere far away and different, like some American college town where they have fire hydrants and falling leaves, wide streets and bicycles, huge continent-crossing trains in the middle of the night, where smoking is banned pretty much everywhere and fresh milk isn’t hidden away like some unloved cousin. Sorry Aix-en-Provence, I love you but I married Davis. I came to Davis 13 years ago, and this water tower was the first thing I ever saw of the town, sticking out above the flat valley like a giant sputnik. It reminded me a bit of my first memories of France actually, when we would visit northern France on school trips, and the most striking thing about the French countryside were the distinctive water towers. This water tower has always for me been the symbol of Davis, more than the bike or the frog or the eco-conscious beard. It’s worth a few sketches I think. I drew this one at the start of November one sunny lunchtime, stood on the banks of Putah Creek, adding the paint on site because everything was such an attractive colour. The sky was a clear and breathable blue. This was before the horrible wild fires up near Chico, that brought havoc to the area and covered northern California with a hazardous smoke for two weeks, even closing down the UC Davis campus. As of last week the rains have finally come and the fresh air is back, meaning we could go back to work today. I didn’t sketch during that whole time; I went to Portland a couple of weeks ago to teach a workshop (I’ll write more on that later), and have been on a bit of a sketching hiatus since. Everyone needs a break. But I’m getting back into it. It’s end of November, advent-calendar-making season, and I have to get that done first. There’s a sketchcrawl in Davis this Saturday (see Let’s Draw Davis) and I’ve got a bit more Walker Hall to sketch, but the rains are coming back…

on and on across the universe

Lego Obi-Wan Starfighter
More Lego sketches! These are the mid-prequel-era Jedi star-fighters of Obi-Wan Kenobi (above) and Anakin Skywalker (below). The Obi-Wang ship actually comes with a huge ‘hyperspace ring’ (because one-man fighters this small don’t have space for an internal hyperdrive). I like the simple, sleek design, like a paper airplane, or a teeny-tiny Star Destroyer. The droid, R4 (or ‘Arfour’ as in ‘Arthur Daily’) liked to deal in dodgy motors and go for a drink down the Winchester. One thing always bugged me though. In Attack of the Clones, when Obi-Wan flies one of these to Kamino, Mace Windu orders him to apprehend Jango Fett and bring him back to Coruscant for questioning by the Jedi. But look at that ship! How’s he meant to do that? It’s not like there’s tons of room. Is he going to sit on Obi-Wan’s lap? Think, McFly, think!
Lego Anakin Starfighter

Anakin’s Delta 7B fighter is a similar but not identical design (Obi-Wan’s is technically a Delta-7 Aethersprite-class light interceptor). The R2 unit sits in front of the cockpit. That must be awkward as you can see, because he’s always looking sideways. He’s going to be very uncomfortable like that. This ship didn’t appear in the movies but turned up in some of the animated media. I wish Lego had designed a more pointed nose but I suppose they didn’t want to take kids’ eyes out.

Flashback to last year…I drew their later versions, the ones flown in the opening sequence of Revenge of the Sith (which were trashed on Grievous’s starship). First up is Obi-Wan’s red and white (or grey here in Lego), Eta-2 Actis-class interceptor. Yeah I never knew it was called that, I looked it up. Later in the movie, when he flew to Utapau, he had a cool looking blue and white one, but he had to ditch that one too after Order 66. I love this design though, kind of like a B-Wing cockpit and a tie-fighter mixed with a speeder. If I lived in the Star Wars universe, this would be my vehicle of choice, you can keep your Falcons and Slave Ones and X-Wings. Well maybe I’d have this for space and a Snowspeeder for when I’m on-planet.
ObiWan Jedi-fighter
And then there is Anakin’s one. He later flew a dark green and grey one, once he started turning to the Dark Side, abandoning his previous love of yellow vehicles. Later on, he only flew in black (or sometimes very very dark grey). You can see how this design could mould into the classic Vader TIE-fighter. I wonder what that would look like in yellow? I bet the Emperor told him he wasn’t allowed to paint it yellow, he’d ruin the Empire’s whole aesthetic.
Anakin Skywalker Jedi-fighter

 

ten years later

6th and D Davis Oct 2018
On a corner of Old North Davis is a house I drew at the end of a crisp sunny October day in 2008. I remember I left work early that day, and cycled up beyond 5th Street, still then a fairly unknown country for a South Davis-dweller such as me, to the Old North neighbourhood, looking to capture some of its old America charm with the autumnal leaves. That sketch is below. I then posted that sketch on the brand new website called ‘Urban Sketchers’, on day 1 of the blog, for which I was to be the ‘Davis’ correspondent. The header of Urban Sketchers upon its launch featured one of my sketchbooks with sketches of San Francisco. In those days Urban Sketchers, the brainchild of Seattle-based sketcher Gabi Campanario, online sketching friend back when our online sketching community still seemed pretty small, had a few correspondents from around the world but grew fast, issuing a Manifesto and encouraging communities of sketchers to get together and draw their world, or rather ‘see the world, one drawing at a time’. It launched on November 1st, 2008; a decade later Urban Sketchers (USk) is absolutely huge, with countless regional ‘chapters’ globally, many many workshops and gatherings, and the annual International Urban Sketching Symposium, which started in Portland in 2010 (with around 80 participants) and was most recently in Porto in 2018 (with around 800 participants!). So, to commemorate my first post on that first day, I went back to that corner of Old North Davis, a much more familiar district to me now, being on my way home, and sketched that same old house, above. The tree in front has gone, though another younger tree has sprouted up just behind the fence. Obviously in 2008 the leaves turned orange a little earlier than this year. My son was just a little baby. George W. Bush was still president; Barack Obama would be elected a week later. Spurs had just sacked their manager Juande Ramos (after our worst ever start to a league campaign, 1 point in 10 games; think about that, when we’re complaining now about having only 21 points from 10 games) and replaced him with Harry Redknapp. How times have changed. Me, I’m still drawing the rise and fall of trees.

D & 6th, davis

You can see the post I put on Urban Sketchers today at: http://www.urbansketchers.org/2018/11/a-decade-on.html

class of 18

A St Oct 2018
This is another view of A Street in Davis. When I say ‘A Street’ I don’t mean ‘a street’, I mean obviously it’s ‘a street’, but this is ‘A’ Street, like when you emphasize ‘The’ and pronounce it as ‘Thee’ like it’s the only one you need to consider. Ok enough of that. I have sketched this scene before over the years but not looking quite like this. That textbook store has been closed for ages, but that ‘Class of 18’ graffiti is new. Unless it’s from 1918 which it isn’t. Bit of roadwork going on here, a few bins. A lunchtime sketch drawn after a meeting. This will look different next time I draw this corner.