Cruess Hall Sept 2016
Cruess Hall, UC Davis; this is where the previously aforementioned exhibition of my sketchbooks, “Conversations with the City”, is going on RIGHT NOW, Mondays-Fridays 12-4pm, Sundays 2-4pm, Sept 19 – Nov 13, at the UC Davis Design Museum. I sketched this on Sunday because I needed another sketch of Cruess for a different unrelated project. I haven’t actually had time to go and see the exhibit since it opened; this week has been a touch busy. Hopefully soon, I can’t wait to see what the folks at the UCD Design Museum have done!

Conversations with the City


Opening next week, I have an exhibition of my sketchbooks at the UC Davis Design Museum titled “Conversations with the City“. The exhibition, curated by UC Davis professors James Housefield and Tim McNeil, will display ten years of my sketchbooks, including every single one of those watercolour Moleskines, plus my fire hydrants (and other metal pipes) book from 2011, plus my recent accordion panorama of UC Davis, plus many more. You won’t be able to flick through the books, however there will be some sort of display where you can look through the digital scans of each book and display them on a screen.This will come with an opening reception with a special talk by myself on Thursday October 6th, from 6pm.

I can hardly believe it’s come around already. Posters have gone up all over campus, including some full-page ones, and above is one of the folded fliers from outside the Design Museum, which is located in Cruess Hall. There have been a couple of nice articles posted, one in the Davis Enterprise and one in UC Davis Dateline (“Our Urban Sketcher”). I’ve been sketching in Davis for over a decade now, and it’s really interesting to see the progression in my books, even just in the past few years. This year at UC Davis is called “Year of the Arts” – the Manetti Shrem will be opening, as well as the Pitzer Center, as you may have gathered from my many sketches of them – and in the posters my show is kicking it off, which is tremendously exciting; it’s actually my first proper exhibition on campus, believe it or not. The title of the exhibit comes from something I always say about sketching not just being about drawing your surroundings, but about interacting with them, having a conversation with your city, listening to it speak through the act of your drawing. Plus, fun fact, I actually talk to fire hydrants.

So if you are in Davis between September 19 and November 13, and would like to see my books on display, come along to the UC Davis Design Museum in Cruess Hall from Monday to Friday, 12-4pm, or on Sundays from 2-4pm. Entry is free. I’ll be in from time to time to have a look at them, so if you see me do say hello, I’ll be happy to ramble on about sketching, I’m never short of things to say on that subject! (Wait, come back! I haven’t told you about curvilinear perspective!”)  Or come along to the reception and talk on October 6th, when I will talk about my work, about Urban Sketchers, sketchcrawls, and Why You Should Keep A Sketchbook. I hope to see you there!

Announcement on UC Davis Arts website:

“Conversations with the City: Pete Scully, Urban Sketcher”, UC Davis Design Museum, Cruess Hall. September 19 – November 13, 2016, Mon-Fri: 12-4pm, Sun 2-4pm; Free.


along hutchison drive


In July I started a new sketchbook, a long panoramic accordion Moleskine sketchbook, with the intention of doing some very long drawings on the UC Davis campus. As it turned out I managed three scenes, all on the same street (Hutchison Drive), though only in pen with a dab of colour here and there. If you click on the image above, you will see the whole thing in closer detail. Below, I’ve cut the three scenes down – still too long to see, so click on them for a closer view.

Hutchison Panorama part1.jpg
First of all, the new Pitzer Center, still under construction in this sketch, on the left. A good place to start! Then, the Music Building, followed by Wright Hall and the Art Building. Good place to stop.

Hutchison Panorama part2.jpg

Next up, the Silo complex, also under reconstruction. First of all you see Rock Hall, the Chemistry Building’s lecture hall. Next up, the back of the Bike Barn building, this side has been various things since I have been here, and I’ve sketched it many times. This whole area is being rebuilt and improved at present. Next up is the Silo itself, where I often eat lunch. I stopped once the sketch got across the street, where the Silo Bus Terminal is, and drew a tree as a dividing line to the next part.

Hutchison Panorama part3.jpg

Finally, on the other side of the street, Walker Hall, which is currently empty but will eventually be completely renovated and this side rebuilt, when it becomes the Graduate and Professional Students’ Building. I think that is the name. IT’s going to be pretty cool, but I do like this building, and will probably draw it again…

This sketchbook will actually be on display along with many more sketchbooks in my upcoming exhibition, “Conversations with the City“, at the UC Davis Design Museum in Cruess Hall from Sept 19 to Nov 12. If you’re in town, do come by to see it!

we’ve come a long long way together…


Another panorama! It’s like, one page is soearlier in 2016″. Haha, you think this is a panorama? You wait until my next post. No kidding, it’s the longest panorama I have ever done. Stay tuned. This one though has a nice bit more details and a good bit more colour. It is the Mathematical Sciences Building at UC Davis, which is where I work by the way. The many faces I have seen pass through here, the many memories. I drew this last week, almost exactly a year since my last panorama of this building (I have used it so many times for various graphics, I really needed a full-colour one). This took two lunchtimes plus a bit of time at home colouring in those trees. I might have to sketch it again when all the trees lose their leaves. I drew it from the best angle I could find, in the shade; everywhere else was too sunny. The weather has been consistently in the low 90s (except those days when it’s in the upper 80s, so not consistently then). More colours of this lovely old campus (well this building opened at the end of 2005, not that old…it’s been in Davis exactly as long as I have!).

constructing the manetti shrem, part eight

Manetti Shrem Museum of Art, UC Davis

Now look at this. Another UC Davis construction project I have been following since last year, now almost finished. The Manetti Shrem Museum of Art formally opens on November 13, but look! It’s got a much more finished look about it than before, with that landscaping around it. You will recall that the last time I sketched it was actually from the inside – it was almost finished, the first day in fact that wearing a hard hat was not required. It won’t be long before this place is filled with art, and then with visitors. UC Davis really needs this space, and the Vanderhoef Quad is squared off nicely. I drew this while standing in the shade of the huge Mondavi Center across the street.

Check out my other sketches made during this construction by going to the tag manetti-shrem-museum… Bound to be one more post by the time it opens?

answers on a postcard

south silo uc davis
Well, what else has been going on on the UC Davis campus this summer? Building work, hot days, Delta breezes, summer sessions classes, and lunchtime drawings in a post-Manchester-symposium sketching-energy spike. Actually more of a pre-UC Davis-Design-Museum-Sketchbook-Exhibition sketching sketching-energy spike. Yes, my sketchbook exhibit is opening next month, it will be called “Conversations with the City” and will run at the Design Museum in Cruess Hall from September 19 to November 13. So exciting! See for more details. I will be displaying sketchbooks ranging from 2006 to 2016. The exhibit is Curated by James Housefield and Tim McNeil of the UC Davis Design Department, and I will also be giving a talk about my urban sketching work (and why you should keep a sketchbook) on Thursday October 6th, from 6-8pm. I will place an announcement in the sidebar on my website, but if you are in Davis then do come by!

In the meantime…here are some recent sketches of UC Davis. Above, the South Silo, undergoing a major refurbishment and upgrade of that whole area. New eateries will be going in, the paths will be widened to create a new vista, already we have seen some big improvements (despite the removal of an old funny-shaped tree, which was kind of in the way – it’s easier to cycle around Bainer now). You can see the oft-sketched Bike Barn there too on the right. It will be fun to see how different it all looks here. Below, part of the same building, still functioning despite the big renovations next door, the UC Davis Craft Center. I drew it one lunchtime before taking a Diversity training class in the building opposite. I added the paint later on.Not a lot of shaded spots to sketch this view from but I stood beneath a small tree.
craft center uc davis
Below is Nelson Hall, which is home to the Della Davidson Performance Studio. It’s on Old Davis Road, next to the Arboretum, and this used to be called the University Club. Last time I was in here was during the UC Davis Centenary celebrations (2008-09); in fact I took my new staff orientation here a decade ago. I’ve been on campus a long time now. I always felt like these little snapshots of Davis were my ‘postcards’ being sent back to those I left in England, so they can see where I live now. After almost eleven years in California there have been a lot of these postcards…
nelson hall uc davis
This building below has been on campus a lot longer: TB9, aka Temporary Building #9. It’s long been an arts studio and home to decades of ceramicists such as Robert Arneson. Fun story, first ever sketchcrawl I did in Davis (Dec 2005) I ended up outside here, sketching sculptures in the back yard area. Recently, TB9 was placed on the National Register of Historic Places – see the news announcement – due to its importance in art history. About time I sketched it properly then huh! It is right next to the Pitzer Center so has cropped up in the background a few times. With the Pitzer Center no longer being a big closed off construction site I was able to get stand off the road and get a better view without being run over by trucks.
TB9 uc davis
Even older still is Wyatt Pavilion Theatre, below, a decent-sized performance hall built in 1907 (that’s right, 1907! Here is some history and info). I came and saw a play here a few years ago, Richard III; I really should go and see more theatre. I do have a degree in Drama you know. Ah that explains a lot I hear you say. Well it was French and Drama if you must know. I actually did a fair bit of foreign language acting when I was at college, though usually in German. Acting in German is way more fun; you get to do Brecht!
Wyatt Pavilion UC Davis

See that blue poster on the wall of the Wyatt? That is actually advertising my exhibition! Among other things, my that is at the top, which is exciting. So anyway, come and see my “Conversations with the City” when it opens, and take a peak at my sketchbooks. I hope you like it.

three colors davis

chemistry building uc davis

This is the Chemistry Building, well behind those trees there. I wanted to sketch this now, at the height of the Davis summer (well, now kids are back in school and AYSO practices start soon, summer is really kinda going away…temperatures aren’t though!). I have sketched it twice before in the past year, once in Fall and once in Spring. Spot the difference. I will sketch it once more, in about five months when those trees are leafless. A year in Davis. See, we have seasons too…

chemistry buildings, uc davis
Leap Day 2016 UC Davis