conversing with the campus…


On October 6th I gave a talk at the UC Davis Design Museum as part of the reception to my sketchbook exhibition, “Conversations with the City”, which is curated by Tim McNeil and James Housefield. A lot of people came! Thank you to all who attended, it was lovely to meet you all and talk about sketching. I talked about my own story with sketching, and how I go about it, what I look for, what I used, and the various sketchcrawls that I have organized. I talked about Urban Sketchers, about the symposia. I also talked about using the sketchbook as a way to document history, showing examples such as the Occupy UC Davis protests of late 2011, the history of my son’s shoes, the progression in my own technique by drawing the Varsity Theatre for ten years and also (the set-piece I’d been dying to show everyone) the progression from the Boiler Building to the Pitzer Center (you can see that progression in this post). It was a lot of fun.


Here I am talking about some of my pens, the Uni-ball Signo UM-151 pens I love so much. I like to point with my left hand. Goes back to my old big-bus tour-guide days, holding the microphone in the right hand and pointing with the left. And ducking to avoid branches.


Here, I am pointing out sketches from the pages of my earlier sketchbooks.


And finally, Q&A. Now get sketching! You can see some much better photos of the exhibition on the Arts Dept website at UC Davis:

There is also a nice article about the show (and the sketchcrawl which was held yesterday…) in the Davis Enterprise, which has a much nicer photo of me at the museum event:

If you want to to check out the exhibit, it is open Mon-Fri from 12-4pm, and on sundays from 2-4pm. It runs until November 13.

From the Boiler Building to the Pitzer Center

ann e. pitzer center uc davis
Last night I held a talk at the UC Davis Design Museum in conjunction with my sketchbook exhibit, “Conversations with the City”. It went really well, a lot of people came, and hopefully I made some sense. I know afterwards I kept thinking, “oh I forgot to say that! I should have mentioned this!” One thing I did make sure was a central part of the talk though was the idea of the sketchbook as a tool to record history, and to demonstrate that I showed the history (over a period of a few years) of one spot on the UC Davis campus, that being of course where the Boiler Building once stood, and its heir, the Ann E. Pitzer Center. UC Davis’s newest music building is, as regular readers will know, now complete and hosting beautiful music, and at last my final drawing of the building is done, right above. I sketched this last Sunday morning and showed it in my slides last night, the original will be displayed at Putah Creek Winery from next week (did I mention I have another show in Davis starting next week? I think in my excitement I forgot to say last night! I’ll post about it soon…)

So now then I will show at last the full story, as I showed people last night, of my sketches from the Boiler Building to the Pitzer Center. It has been a fun piece of documentation.


Old Boiler Building

allez les verts

nanodrawmo 33

boiler building

boiler building (other side)

boiler building again

behind the boiler buildingboilers


boiler building, under demolition

boiler building, under demolition

boiler building (back)

boiler building, coming down

boiler building 121112 two


former boiler building location


music recital hall (under construction)

music recital hall (under construction)

Pitzer Center under construction

pitzer center uc davis

pitzer center uc davis

pitzer center oct2015-2 sm

pitzer center (under construction)

Pitzer Center UC Davis (under construction)

Pitzer Center UC Davis (under construction)

Pitzer Center UCD

Pitzer Center UCD

Pitzer Center UCD

Pitzer Center UCD

pitzer center - nearly done!


pitzer center back

pitzer center rear

pitzer center performance 9/24/16

ann e. pitzer center uc davis

Thanks for following this, everyone. It’s been fun.

next thursday – conversations with the city, talk and reception


“Conversations with the City” – talk and reception

Well I’m enjoying my sketchbook exhibit at the UC Davis Design Musuem, the curators and staff there have done an amazing job showing off my little books. Anyway, next Thursday October 6th, from 6pm-8pm, the Design Dept will host a reception at the Museum, along with a talk by me which will be about my work, about urban sketching, and about why you should carry a sketchbook. You totally should come if you are in Davis!

Oh and why not bring a sketchbook? Hope to see you there!


The Pitzer Center…finally finished!


After more than a year covering its construction, preceded by several years sketching the old Boiler Building on this spot, then documenting its demolition, the Ann E. Pitzer Center is finally open. This is the new Music Recital Hall for the UC Davis campus, a state-of-the-art performance and teaching facility. This past weekend was the opening weekend of performances, and on Saturday evening I attended the Faculty and Students of UC Davis concert, choosing a seat near the back to not only get as good a view for a long-awaited interior sketch, but also to test the acoustics of this new space. They are very good. I drew most of the room before the performance started, and just added the performers of the first piece once they took to the stage; I spent the rest of the time just sitting taking in the beautiful music. Many of the performances were amazing, and so varied, a lesson in the history of music, but for me this first piece was the best bit. Members of the UC Davis Symphony Orchestra played “Crisantemi” (“Chrysanthemums”) by Puccini, and it was just beautiful, haunting, elegant. The music comes right back to me when I look at the sketch. That is the thing about sketching – you can show, and you can even demonstrate your feelings in the lines, but unless you were actually there, you weren’t there, and I wish you could hear the music I still hear when I see it. I enjoyed this event, and the shiny clean newness of the building. I must make an effort to see some more events there.


I did get an outside sketch of the back of the building before the concert, though it was a little rushed, and the green grass a little forced.


I did do another one on Monday in pencil, of the view with the tall Sproul Hall behind it. I wanted to get one last sketch of this view, as this was the same view from when I sketched the Boiler Building back in 2011.And for all that I like this new building, and the beautiful music that it will host from here onwards, this view made me a little sad to think about the old Boiler Building, crumbling, idle, full of cobwebs and rust. I loved sketching that old place. Looking at Sproul in the background, though, I think I’m better at perspective now…

Old Boiler Building


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!