time may change me but i can’t trace time

south silo panorama mar2017 sm.jpg
Here is another two-page panorama of UC Davis, a scene I have sketched many times but has been undergoing a lot of changes lately. As you can see in the distance there they are building a whole new covered area between the Silo and the Bike Barn which will be for eating and stuff, and as you can see there’s a cement mixer on the side there. In the foreground though by the sign is a small sustainable garden that was planted there last year, it’s quite a nice addition to this area. Click on the image for a closer view.

a crocker full of nuclear

crocker nuclear lab
This is the Crocker Nuclear Lab at UC Davis, which is located right next to where I work, so I didn’t have to go very far for my lunchtime sketch. The building itself is called John A. Jungerman Hall, but the lab has been home for the past 50 years to incredible machinery such as the 76-inch isochronous cyclotron. I know, right? Ok I don’t know what that is but it sounds great. I’m actually very interested in particle physics. I’m quite particular to it, no that doesn’t work. I like listening to podcasts and watching TV shows about particles, the old bosons and quarks, all the particles, they’re great. I do sort of understand it, for sure, but I think I just like hearing all the words being said, I like to know someone is out there doing the science. I loved physics when I was a kid, I wasn’t very good at it but it was such an exciting science (conversely, I got great grades in biology but was always bored with it) (we don’t talk about chemistry though. I was scared of the Bunsen burners). Except I had a teacher called Mr Vilis, who I always liked, but he would get very angry if anybody opened the window in class if it was hot, he would go and furiously slam it shut. He did do a very good turn as the Laughing Policeman at a school show one year though (along with my form teacher Mr Singer) so I always knew he was a joker at heart. I do remember the Van Der Graaf Generator in his classroom though (I’m probably getting quite far from particle physics and radiation now I think), making our hair stand on end. Not exactly a hard trick with me, my hair always stands on end, it’s why I keep it short. Van Der Graaf Generator were a really good band back in the day, I say really good, I only knew one song but I did meet one of the band members when doing a thing years ago at Union Chapel with Shape Arts. I remember telling him, oh wow I’m a really big fan, but only of that one song, which I heard recently on a compilation album free with Uncut magazine. So not a really big fan then. But I would be because I like your band’s name, because I like physics, event though I’m not very good at it.

So anyway this is the Crocker Nuclear Lab at UC Davis, home to the cyclotron (which you can learn more about at cyclotron.crocker.ucdavis.edu), and I’ve walked past it every day for over a decade, so here it is. Well not every day obviously, I do have weekends off, and vacations, and half the time I cycle, not walk…etc etc


rear of arts annex

Ok then! Right…so that was about a month without posting a blog, was it? As near as. Is it really mid-April? My wall calendar still says March! Well, I’ve been busy, it’s a busy time. Yeah I know, the whole world is busy (and isn’t it just!) but I have been too tired of an evening to collect my thoughts and write them in some sort of meaningful way to accompany my latest sketch-du-jour. Yeah I know, what I write looks like nonsense with next to no thought whatsoever given to structure, tone or consistency but that is all actually carefully crafted and tested and edited to make it look like I gave it next to thought whatsoever. You see, even there, I carefully constructed that sentence to give it a call-back to a line in the previous sentence. And there too, when I explained what I did, I did that to give the semblance of backing up my claim. Anyway, I’ve been busy working, but I’ve also been busy sketching. In fact one of the things about being busy but still sketching incessantly is that, alas, I have no time to scan (yet I still have time to say stupid words like ‘alas’). Let me take you behind the scenes, into what happens after I sketch – the mysterious art of ‘scanning’.  Scanning doesn’t exactly take forever, it just feels slow because the scanner itself makes that slow-movement sound (you know the one, that ‘vvvvmmmmmm’ sound) while I am pressing the sketchbook against the glass. I have a printer-scanner from HP (the computer company NOT the sauce!) (the sauce may have been quicker) (my slow scanner needs to ‘ketchup’) (see THIS is why it takes ages!) and I scan it into my computer, and then I edit in Photoshop, make sure the colours are as they should be, crop out the edges of the page, re-size it for uploading to the web at 72 dpi (that means ‘donuts per inch’), type my name on it so people trying to copy it can feel a small pang of guilt when they try to crop it out and put it on instagram and pretend it’s theirs (yeah, someone did that), and then finally I post it on Flickr, and then on my website. It’s a long, arduous process that takes many minutes.

When I do finally get around to posting it on my blog, I then spend the aforementioned appropriate amount of time writing a lot of unrelated stuff, followed by a brief bit where I remember I should talk about the actual drawing I ahve posted. Speaking of which, that comes in at around now. This sketch was done at the UC Davis campus and features a part of the Art Annex, in the background, along with part of a free-standing sculpture that is on campus, which is called “Shamash” by Guy Dill, which I’ve always believed to be a gateway to another dimension, and have therefore never ever walked through it. (Or maybe I did, in 2016; maybe we all did?) I do like multiversal theory though, it’s quite mind-bending stuff. Well, it would be if literally everything I have ever watched on TV or film or read in books and comics didn’t have a similar take on it. “Parallel Universes”, yeah I know, I have watched a lot of Red Dwarf you know. That of course taught me that the “fifth dimension” refers to the existence of parallel universes (or probably the group that possibly got to number 6 with “baby I want your love thing”) which makes me wonder whether we will ever get movies in 5D? 3D is not enough these days, and they now have those “4D” movies after all (though they get that wrong, spraying you with water and moving the seats a bit – the fourth dimension is “time” surely, and I don’t know if movies actually send you literally through time, at least not at anything other than the usual speed). Maybe an example of a 5D movie is one which you watched and absolutely hated, but someone else watched and absolutely loved, therefore two parallel universes were experienced, one in which the movie was good, and one in which it was shite. In which case most movies are like that. I remember seeing the movie From Hell years and years ago with some people, and some of them really loved it. Yeah we couldn’t be friends after that, that didn’t really work out. (The graphic novel from which it was very loosely derived on the other hand is an absolute masterpiece and well worth reading). Aha, we are at the part where I have digressed so completely from the topic of the sketch that I have to make a cup of tea and then wrap this up.

I have so many sketches to show you, if you’re still here! Not right now obviously, I have to get some kip. But I have the results from the centenary sketchcrawl, plus many other sketches of century-old buildings from around Davis, oh and some sketches done while sneezing terribly, and some more sketches of my son’s things, oh yes and a whole bunch from around San Francisco. I spent the night down there recently while escaping to massive to-do list. Normal services will now, I hope, resume…

the tree of everything

School of Education Tree
This tree is in the courtyard of the School of Education at UC Davis. Trees are very useful as symbols for education, epitomising how we learn, with branches and bark and roots, and how they have leaves, then they don’t, and then they do again, and also birds and insects. Trees are also very useful for how we think about life in general, not knowing where the branches will come out, how many extra branches they will sprout, how they sometimes grow more on one side because of wind, plus the leaves fall and provide nutrients for the soil so that the tree can grow bigger, plus birds’ nests, that whole life metaphor. I like to think about trees when writing stories, how you can write and write, taking you off into branches unthought of, which don’t have to intertwine and reconnect, instead you step back and see the whole tree and realise that is the story, right there, with all the leaves falling and growing and the birds’s nests and the insects, and how the little creatures that live on the tree play the part of characters moving around from plot line to plot line. I also think trees make a good analogy for language, the way it evolves and branches off, yet each branch has a symbiotic relationship with nearby branches, especially with birds that make nests in there eating certain insects but leaving the insects on other branches alone, so they grow into different types of insects which in turn affect the branches themselves, and then you add squirrels into the mix and you have a perfect metaphor for both prescriptive and historical linguistics right there. Trees are awesome, we need them, not only for breathing (something about carbon dioxide) and furniture, but also as symbols of whatever it is we are trying to say. And the great thing is, there are so many types of trees – Oak, Palm, Acorn, there are loads of tree types – you can fit whatever it is you are trying to describe into any type of tree. Try it out, next time you are in a meeting, “So, can you explain to me how this new marketing plan will strengthen our growth in emerging markets?” “Well sir, I like to think of it as being like a Beech tree. Here are the roots, then you have the bark, and you don’t know exactly where each branch will come out of the trunk but they will come, and the tree will still end up as a tree shape, and birds will build nests, and squirrels will move about symbolising our customer base. Leaves will grow and fall and grow, and if it all starts getting out of hand we can chop it down and build a nice beach hut or a deck-chair.”

I sketched this tree because I liked the bark. It reminded me of something a dog said once.

maybe i don’t really wanna know

south silo construction (cont...)

Construction continues at the UC Davis South Silo area. Here’s what it looked like the last time I sketched it in November (aka “OHGODNOOOO!!!-vember”). That roof is really coming along now. Here is what it looked like last August, almost the same view as this one.Those triangular roofs look like a mountain range, or the crests of a cliff face. This sketch is a bit like one of those “puzzles” people post on Facebook, “how many triangles can you see in this image?” Don’t answer it, there are just loads. Honestly. You like all those puzzles and posts though don’t you, those “Can you see the Math problem? Only one in ten can!” and it’s like 10-5 or something, then you realize the problem is the word “Math” but it’s only a problem if you’re British and a stickler (let me just say, I work in the same building as the Math department whereas I work for “Stats”, amusing observation on usage of plurals in the abbreviated form. Look I’m not going to go on about this, you know I would, but it’s late on a Friday night and I’m tired and a bit hungry.) My favourite ones are the posts that state, I’m honestly not making this up, things like “Try to name a Song which has a colour in the title. It’s harder than you think!!” Um, no, it’s really really fecking easy, there are literally millions of songs. Yet you see the comments afterwards, everyone’s coming up with the same “She Wore A Yellow Ribbon” shite as if they have discovered something unique and obscure, well done you, well done, pat on the back, good job remembering the most basic things. Ok, here I go, they’re too easy a target, stupid Facebook posts, I apologize, it’s late on a Friday. Oh but those other ones I hate, “Do you remember [insert name of chocolate bar here]?” And everyone’s like, “yeah I remember those! God that brings me back. Gawd, eating a [insert chocolate bar here] after school, covered in mud, no such things as video games back then, we had hula hoops if we were lucky, eating a [insert chocolate bar here] after saving up my pennies, gawd didn’t have video games and iPods in those days, made our own entertainment, didn’t have immigrants either, etc etc ad infinitum.” You’ll notice that is less realistic than the real thing, on the real Facebook they reach the inevitable immigrant conclusion of their random journey down fake memory lane much more quickly, at least on the FB memory-sharing groups I have seen and subsequently unfollowed. And the funny thing is, that [insert chocolate bar here] is still bloody available! Still in the shops. Those ones are in the category of “do you remember…” posted by people who are actually goldfish with zero memory of anything. “Do you remember Twix?” “Do you remember the sky?” “Do you remember the concept of time and space?” Sorry, sorry, Facebook is too easy a target. Actually I haven’t posted on my Facebook page (petescullysketcher) in ages. It’s probably FB fatigue, we’re all getting that. Undoubtedly it’s also laziness. It’s also because nobody remembers anything when I post “Do you remember…” posts, nobody remembers any of it, like it’s too obscure. “Do you remember … where I put my gloves?” “Does anyone remember … next Thursday?” I don’t really connect with Facebook any more, I don’t really get it. The Next Big Fad hasn’t arrived yet. Wow, where did this stream of nonsense begin? (Skims backwards through the post) Oh right,”Triangles”. How many triangles in this image? I don’t know, it’s late on a Friday night, I really want a chocolate bar, and I can’t remember where I put it, and I’m not asking Facebook, because they can’t remember anything.

I hope you like the sketch!

university house

University House, UC Davis
This is University House, one of the oldest buildings on the UC Davis campus. It was built in 1907/1908 as the house of the farm director when the campus first opened as University Farm, an agricultural research offshoot of UC Berkeley. You can see the sloping roof of South Hall behind it, one of the first dorms. This is near the Quad. Sketched in the Stillman & Birn “Beta” landscape sketchbook. That is a nice book, I’m almost done with it.