Right, after all those people sketches, here is a building. This is the Memorial Union at UC Davis, and it has just recently reopened after a big upgrade. The still-closed Freeborn Hall is on the right, and the modernized shiny bookstore is there on the left.
As some of you may know, I have a book out called “Five Minute Sketching People”. It came out in the autumn and has been apparently doing well; I don’t really know exactly how well, I’m not told these things, but I often check the ranking on Amazon. And then, to compare, I always check the ranking of Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s book, “I Am Zlatan”. I don’t check it against any other book, only that one. And every day I would check, and my book would be above it in the Amazon rankings. I’d be at 26,000, Zlatan would be at 46,000. It was always up and down, but I’d usually be higher than “I Am Zlatan”, so regardless of how high it actually was or what any of it means, as long as I was above “I Am Zlatan”, that was all that mattered, beating Zlatan. I mean it doesn’t mean I’m somehow better than Zlatan, that would be ridiculous, all I’m saying is that the numbers don’t lie, and clearly my next book should just be called “I Am Better Than Zlatan”, obviously. It’s a fun game I play every day.
And then recently I noticed that Zlatan had overtaken me. Is it because he is finishing up his contract at Manchester United, that saw a spike in his book sales? I too do not play for Manchester United. Coincidence? And the worrying thing is, he has stayed there! Today for example he is at #57,515 and I am at #88,844. Now I don’t doubt that Zlatan is a great writer, after all He Is Zlatan, and admittedly he is slightly more globally well-known than I am, him being a Premier League/Serie A/La Liga, Ligue 1/international superstar, and me being a bloke who draws pictures of things in a town nobody has heard of. So, fair play to him.
Oh, these by the way are some of my quick people drawings from the past month or so. These are the sorts of ones I did in the book, simple, quick, passers-by, capturing what you can in a tiny amount of time, most of them being at UC Davis, except the ones at the top which are at the Farmer’s Market. Many were sketched at the Silo, or nearby, sketched on days when my lunchtime wasn’t long enough for a building sketch (or I just had no inspiration to draw more buildings). The ones immediately below were sketched at the UC Davis Picnic Day, Battle of the Bands. Hence the funny costumes. It’s all very silly.
The whole Zlatan thing is just a bit of a joke I have with my son, we find it funny to look up the numbers. I did notice recently though that someone had given my book a “1 star” rating. I mean I don’t mind, that’s fine, but I had to look at it anyway. They wanted to see step-by-step tutorials rather than tips on techniques, you see, which I totally get. They even said I was a good artist, which I do appreciate. But, 1 star? I mean I don’t care obviously, but that 1 star, it stands out, like Sirius glaring at the constellation of Orion. I looked and saw they had given 1 star to the other book in the series, the one Liz Steel wrote about 5-minute Architecture Sketches. In fact they had written exactly the same review word for word, which saves time I suppose, and to be fair they changed the word ‘him’ to ‘her’ for the other review so it’s not a total cut and paste. But it’s totally fine. I had a look at what else they had given 1 star to, just out of interest, and the next 1-star was for a book called “Guns: Weapons Guide for Total Beginners”, because “the only picture was on the cover”. Which is a fair assessment. He gave 5 stars to “Think Like A Winner” though, which sounds like a book I could use, though I must point out that book is even further below “I Am Zlatan” than I am, so.
I looked to see if Zlatan had any “1 star” reviews, and was pleased to discover that unfortunately he had two. And they aren’t really very good reviews either. One said that they were a huge fan of Zlatan as a player but that his book was “full of ego and painful to read”. (Haha, just wait until “I Am Better Than Zlatan” comes out!) But “painful to read”? More painful to read than a 1 star review? The Darkhold is painful to read, or The second one said that “There is a lot of “I” in his book. Its really not that good.” Now to be fair, you need to use the letter “I” a lot in english, otherwse t mght look lke ths. You see? Also, the book is called “I Am Zlatan”, which yes it starts with the letter “I”, but he left out his last name, which has at least three “I”s in it, maybe more. Also there are a lot of lower case “L”s, which could be mistaken for “I”s. If however the reviewer is referring to the fact he talks about himself a lot, well, Zlatan is guilty as charged, but what with it being an autobiography, that is to be expected, unless you think an autobiography is a biography of a car. But if the reviewer really thinks Zlatan is a massive egotist, well he’s wrong, and he proves it by saying that he uses “I” a lot. Truly massive egos don’t do that, they prefer using the third person, like “Zlatan is hungry, Zlatan wants a new contract,” or like Pete does in his profile page on this very website. In fact if he was truly as egotistical as these reviewers think, his book would have been called “Zlatan is Zlatan”.
You’re probably wondering who this “Zlatan” even is, don’t worry about it, he’ll come up again I’m sure. He is a very good footballer, look him up on Youtube, his skills are amazing. Buy his book too, keep it above mine in the charts, I don’t mind honestly. The figure in the second row, second to the left looks a bit Zlatan-like, though he is significantly taller, a very tall bloke. By the way the fellow in the above sketch, bottom row, yes that one, he is not yogic-flying, he is in fact sitting on grass that you cannot see. Invisible grass. And yes, top left bloke is wearing a Liverpool shirt. Anyway, these are my recent quick people sketches, I do hope you like them and if you have five minutes why not do some yourself?
Yeah, another posting break. I can assure you that I have been sketching a lot though – a LOT. Almost as if I needed stress relief from the world at large. 2017 really is making 2016 look like a golden age, as predicted. So I am about a month behind posting my sketches, and this one is of ‘The House’, a building on the UC Davis campus. I really wish The House was located on A Street. It is a good name though, because it is exactly what it says it is. It’s a bit like The Barn, another campus building. I for example work in The Mathematical Sciences Building, which to be fair is equally as descriptive. And A Street is, I must concede, A Street. Have you missed this? The inner workings of my thought process made into pixellated reality to justify the space beneath the drawing, as if the larger the paragraph the more justified the illustration (this paragraph is totally not justified though, it is left aligned). This year has flown by, and at the same time felt so long. There is still a lot of it left. Tomorrow is the British snap general election (actually it is today now) (I’m up late writing from California), because we weren’t already drained enough. It feels so much worse than even a decade ago. I remember drawing a political cartoon for the 2005 general election that actually got shown on the Channel 4 website, with the leaders of the Three Main Parties as the Three Bears, with Goldilocks running away from them, it seemed funny and innocent at the time. These days I’d draw it as something like the Brothers Grimm’s ‘Death of the Little Hen’ or something equally, well, grim. I ain’t going all politics here though, I honestly cannot be bothered right now. So, this is The House. Actually I really wish it could have been located on R Street, maybe in the middle. I’d write a song about it.
This was sketched in the middle of UC Davis (not the geographic middle because it doesn’t half stretch out west, “beyond the cows”, but I’m not counting that part of campus) that is to say, between Shields Library and Mrak Hall. It’s on Shields Avenue. That’s officially the UC Davis address, “One Shields Avenue”. I know, “1, Shields Avenue” probably makes more sense but more often than not we write “One Shields Avenue”. (Yes I know “Shields” is plural but only if you mean the thing, the shield) (For all you know “shields” is a verb in the third person) (Well this actually refers to a surname, Peter J Shields) (Look just leave it). Mail doesn’t even go there, it goes to Mail Division out in the far west of campus near the airport. Oh does UC Davis have its own airport? Well yes it does thank you very much. The address does remind me of “Number One, London”, the actual address of Apsley House, by Hyde Park Corner. Yes if you wrote a postcard to “Number 1, London” it would go there. That is the former house of the Duke of Wellington, he of Waterloo fame (the battle not the Eurovision-winning song) (Waterloo did reach Number 1 in the UK though, funny enough, but not in the US) (Hey, Abba were Number 1 in the UK when I was born but I’m not telling you the song) (Because I can’t remember) (Look just leave it). The Duke of Wellington, or Arthur Wellesley as he was known to his mum, was also called “The Iron Duke”. Ah, because he was a famously firm and strong-willed commander. Or perhaps because he kept a whole bunch of special arc-reactor-powered flight and combat suits in his basement. Well neither of those in fact. When he was Prime Minister he was not particularly popular and people often came to Number 1, London to throw things at his windows, so he put iron shutters on them to stop them from breaking, hence “Iron Duke”. I know, it doesn’t make any sense. Perhaps Iron Man should have done that when those helicopters came knocking on his window in Iron Man 3. Speaking of Marvel and of Shields, I’ve really been enjoying Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. lately, that’s been quite a fun show, very comic-book. But anyway back to the sketch, this (as I said) is of Shields Avenue, and I actually sketched it in pencil rather than pen, then adding the paint as usual. This was late April, sketched in the latest Seawhite of Brighton sketchbook (#6 I believe, though I may embark on a complete sketchbook renumbering project, my sketchbook show last Fall has kind of prompted that).
This is in the UC Davis Arboretum, that view of King Hall from Putah Creek, with Mrak Hall in the background, that I have sketched before. Look at that Creek! Regular listeners will recall how the Creek has so often at this time of year turned into a pea green soup, but the Arboretum people have been doing an amazing job renovating the Creek (is ‘renovating’ the right word? I’m not a Creek Scientist so I’m not sure how it works). Now the water is clear and reflective, and what a reflection. It was that that drew me to sketch this scene yet again. For years I sketched this every summer, usually around June, to track its changes. King Hall is home to the Law School, named after Martin Luther King Jr, while Mrak is where the University administration resides, named after Emil MRak, the first UC Davis Chancellor. This is the extension to King Hall built within the past decade, but the original King Hall was dedicated to Dr. King in April 1969, a year after his assassination.
I sometimes talk about being a ‘sketchbook historian’, and this is the thing, if you live somewhere, draw it. And then draw it again, and again, and you will have a record of how it changes, a record that goes beyond mere memory, and one that photographs don’t always capture in the same way. On top of that, you can see how your own sketching style evolves, improves, changes, sometimes be design, sometimes naturally and unexpectedly.
This is the latest at the South Silo, UC Davis. Much of the new expanse with the food trucks and covered area is open now, it looks very nice and I’ll sketch it when it’s done. This however is The Market (I think it’s called) and it’s almost ready, so I took the chance to sketch it in its almost-complete state. Those particular triangles are very popular on this campus.
This is Putah Creek Lodge, in the UC Davis Arboretum, sketched one lunchtime. It’s a short walk from the office. People don’t really lodge there, it’s just a good place for meetings or staff retreats, dinner events and so on. It feels out of the way enough though that you’re not in the bustling heart of campus, it’s a little more peaceful. I sketched in the shade while listening to a football podcast.