drawing UCDAAC 2016

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Last month I attended the annual UC Davis Academic Advising Conference here on campus. It is part of my day-job, but on this occasion I was invited to be the official sketcher of the event as well. Two birds, one Pete. I would be drawing everything anyway, but now I get an official excuse and it saves my department some money in registration. It’s also an opportunity to draw people. Five-minute sketches of people in fact – a good thing to practice. Hey if you are interested in five-minute people sketching there is a book coming out all about that later this year (hint, it’s why I have been so busy the past few months). Back to the UCDAAC though, it was a day long event, a series of workshops and talks, tent-poled around the keynote speech of David Spight, president of NACADA (the National Academic Advising Association). It was St.Patrick’s Day so a lot of people wore green.
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Here is David, above, and below are two of the organizing forces, Brett McFarlane of UC Davis and Elizabeth Dudley, also of UC Davis, also a former co-worker in my office. Below them there, Sharon Knox of UC Davis, and Alejandra Garibay, also a former co-worker in my office.

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The thing with five-minute people sketches is that they don’t have to be entirely accurate, but it’s a good idea to try and get the sense of people. However, thinking about it, talking about it, and then actually doing it are different things – I always feel a little hesitant when sketching people, not wanting to take too many risks, probably for fear of that “you’ve drawn me as a massive scribble” “it looks nothing like me” “can you make me look younger” reaction. But my favourite ones are the much looser, less inhibited sketches. It can take you a few people sketches to get into your groove, so keep them quick and keep them coming. I enjoyed myself sketching people on this day, so here are a few more.

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Here are a couple where I kept the linework in these workshop presenters fairly basic, but it looked like them so it still served its purpose. In the second I had to look over my shoulder to sketch the attendees, and loosened up the lines a lot more. The session was called “What color is your cape?” and had a superhero theme. We each had to say who our favourite superhero was (quite a lot of “Batman”, “Wonder Woman”, “My Mom”). One woman beat me to the one I was going to say, Ms Marvel (Kamala Khan) who I think is absolutely awesome. I gave her a mention too but also went with Captain America because I happened to be wearing Captain America socks (as you do). I wanted to say Magneto of course but he might not have been the model of a good adviser they were looking for, what with his whole “Master of Magnetism, Homo Superior” stuff. It was a fun session though.

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This was an interesting session, about Cultural Capital, there was some good discussion and I learned a lot. I enjoyed it most though because I had an opportunity to sketch the lady with bright blue hair, and I had a nice shade of W&N watercolor to use, I think it was the Antwerp Blue. I like sketching that large ovular table as well, a challenge in perspective sketching.

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Here is David Spight again, giving a Q&A after his keynote.

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And the final session of the day before the closing speakers, this was a session devoted to “wellness through art” (above), whereby people cut pictures out of magazines and made big collages. They were mostly full of the typical “peace”, “love”, beach”, “growth” type phrases and images, all trying to convey a certain wellness and spiritual mindset – except for that made by Alejandra, who made a collage of people in the magazines she found attractive, which was in my opinion easily the most fun one. It was a pretty calming session, they played classical music (the instructor explained why, something to do with increasing brainpower, and I understand that, I listen to certain bands sometimes to make me feel clever). One of the pieces they played I recognized straight away as the theme song to the BBC TV show “The Little Silver Trumpet” from the early 1980s, a TV show which I was actually a cast member of, at the tender age of four. If ever you should come across it, I am pretty instantly recognizable as a scruffy red-head kid in the main family of red-heads (my “mum” was Patsy Byrne, aka Nursie from Blackadder, and my “Dad” was the brilliant but scary Ron Pember), and in one scene I actually remember filming I was drawing, showing the other kids how to draw stuff, and holding my pen in that distinct way, all those years ago. That’s what I was thinking of when that music came on. I enjoyed this sketch most of all, the composition of the scene and the different directions people were sat in. It probably reminded everyone of kindergarten.

Check out information about the day at the UCDAAC Website.

and the band begins to play

More sketches from San Francisco. I trotted into Washington Square, at the heart of North Beach, where nearby there were many bars and cafes, and all around me there were green-t-shirted revellers galloping (for want of a better word) from pub to pub in honour of St. Patrick’s Day. I sat and drew the church of Saints Peter and Paul. 

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I saw an unpleasant sight. One of the gallopers in green, a rather plump lady, had some embarassing sweatmarks on her shirt. Not just coming from under the armpits, but around the whole bra area. A hoop of dark sweat around a lurid green t-shirt. It was a pretty cold day, I might add. I recomposed, and walked down a street where some interesting jazz or whatever (cool old men with trumpets and a big double bass, and an oboe and stuff) wafted out of an old looking pub, the Savoy Tivolisavoy tivoli jazz bandIt was pretty cool, so I went in and got a drink and attempted to capture the scene, failing spectacularly; however, I was trying different pens and a different style, and I don’t normally draw musicians, so funny enough I quite like the results, unmannered though they are. 

There weren’t as many St.Patrick’s drinkers in there, but plenty more everywhere else. America really goes mad for it, more so even than in Irish north London which is my background. It’s ironic; years ago, St.Patrick’s day was the one day in Ireland when pubs were closed (presumably, people go out drinking because they think that’s all the Irish do or something). It’s funny how in America, people get very sensitive on tv and in advertising with the word ‘Christmas’, or even ‘Easter’, yet nobody bats an eyelid at exclamations celebrating the religious day of a famous saint. And all this ‘luck of the Irish’ stuff you see everywhere? I don’t get it, over the years the Irish have been one of the unluckiest peoples in history (living next to the English didn’t help much); possibly all of the four-leaf clovers plastered everywhere means that people don’t realise it’s the three-leafed shamrock that symbolises Ireland. And another irony: St.Patrick’s colour was actually blue.

I did my bit though; got myself a nice big green margarita, shortly after sketching my last urban scene of the day, a cable-car waiting on California St. Back to my typical old way of sketching. More to come.

a cable car on california