roll up for the chemistry tour

Chemistry Building UCD 122019
The Chemistry Building at UC Davis is big, and I have drawn bits of it before a few times. This is the building that I have most often seen fire trucks outside of, unsurprisingly. I did notice last December just before Christmas that some new work was starting on this side of the building, and that the large concrete double-decker connecting walkway between two wings was about to be toast. So I stood on the little hillock opposite (no rhyming jokes please) and drew as the machines started tearing into it. This was page one of my sketchbook, which in the new numbering system is #36, a Stillman and Birn Alpha book.
chemistry UCD 011020 sm
There is work going on around the other side of the building too. So in early January I stopped and drew that one lunchtime. Chemistry, I was not a fan of that subject when I was at school. I didn’t like Bunsen Burners. Our teacher was ok, a bit grumpy though, used to say things like “I don’t care if you pass your exams, I’ve already passed mine,” and I was pretty so-so with the subject. I like Physics a lot more, I just wasn’t very good at it. Whereas I didn’t like Biology much, and yet I used to get really good grades in it. They all used to even each other out like some sort of science equation with chemistry being in the middle, Bi + Ch – Ph = PS. That looks really unsciencey. One thing we used to enjoy (and so did most of you) was coming up with molecules using the letters in the periodic table to make rude words. Science can be fun. Fluoro-uranium-carbo-potassium for example, or Polonium-Oxide, etc and so on. Surprisingly I ended up getting C overall in GCSE integrated science, and that was my non-starter science career done with. You can’t go on to be a scientist after that. I loved Michael Faraday, read lots of books about astronomy and the solar system, and watched Young Einstein a bunch of times, but I guess when it came to chemistry all I brought away was remembering the formula for Potassium Permanganate, KmNO4. Oh well. Now I listen to science podcasts and watch science TV shows and feel like I know loads about science but chemistry was always a bit beyond me. Honestly it was the Bunsen Burners.
drill ucd feb 2020
I drew this drill using the iPad. It was there with all the other machines by the Chemistry Building. Brings me back to school too, back to CDT class. Craft Design Technology. What Americans would call “shop class”. Drills, sanding machines, moulding plastic, building cogs, circuits and conductors, and all sorts of things I have forgotten. Again I was not super good at it except in the bits where I could draw. We did do one project in the third year though where we had to design a moving vehicle with a rubber band and some wooden sticks, and I made this triangular designed race car (obsessed with race cars, Formula One is back this weekend!), using a kinder-egg plastic shell as the front wheel. We had to race them. Guess who won! Yes amazingly I did. No idea how, total fluke, but I hung up my engineering boots that day.
chemistry building jan 2020
Here is another with the iPad, back round the side where the walkway used to be. I like using the iPad for those skies. You put them on a different layer. Working in layers in ProCreate is really handy.
Chemistry Building UCD 060520 sm

And then finally, the same view as in the first picture, and this happened to be the final page of Sketchbook #36, rounding off the book with a view from the same small hillock (oi, watch it) as on the first. And this was also my first outside sketch in three months, after the shelter-in-place was lifted. As things start to get worse, it looks like the little bit of reopening that we have seen will now be scaled back. I’m not going out much to draw these days anyway, spending my lunchtimes at home and not really going out on the weekends, so I have started looking online again and drawing London tube stations, because why not. 2020 is totally Ruthenium-Boron-Bismuth-Sulphur-Hydrogen. See no wonder I got a C in Chemistry.

metamorphosis of walker hall

walker hall 080218
Some of you may recall that I enjoy drawing the in-progress construction (and deconstruction) of buildings on the UC Davis campus. For example, the construction of the Manetti Shrem (completed 2016), and the long removal of the Boiler Building and replacement with the Pitzer Center (also completed 2016 – see the sketches from that project in this Flickr album). So when I was told a few years ago or so that the empty Walker Hall, a historic E-shaped building in the middle of campus, was going to be completely reconverted to house the new Graduate Center, I was super excited. I’m a big advocate for graduate studies on campus so am pleased they will be getting a modern new space, while still reusing an existing building. I started sketching the renovation already back in May, and drew it quite a few times in its previous dormant state, but this summer the real work began, so when I got back from Portugal I took the sketchbook over and started sketching from the outside.
walker hall 081418
walker hall 081518
As you can see, the whole building is empty now, leaving the shell. It looks like the wings at the rear of the building will be slightly shorter than they originally were, but that is where the largest degree of change will happen, and will be completely modernized – the front however won’t look too different.
walker hall 081518
Above and below, sketched from the side closest to the Shields Library. The Graduate Center will be located in between the Shields Library and the Student Community Center.
walker hall 081618
The most recent sketch I did is below, stood across the street outside Everson. It’s hard to see a lot of the building because of the trees and trailers in the way, but it’s a hive of activity. I’m looking forward to sketching some more as the year goes on. It’s expected to be completed by Spring 2019. You can find out more about the Graduate Center at the Grad Studies website, and also at at the Design & Construction Management site.
walker hall 082918

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!

as the present now will later be past

South Silo UC Davis
More campus construction. This is the South Silo, which is being totally remade into “the Market” I think, I have seen the images but I will just see it when it’s all done. There used to be a small Law bookshop here which sold snacks, where I would come and buy a Sobe and some mint M&Ms.I’ve been here on campus more than ten years now, which my 30-year-old self would see as a surprise I’m sure. So, it’s nice to track the changes when they happen. Hey look! Clouds! This was a day of fluffy clouds. We had a fair bit of at the end of October, washing Halloween out, and our final AYSO game of the season too. The sun is back now though, but the weather is decidedly cooler and more autumnal. This was the first day of November. With the upcoming presidential election, I prefer to call this month “OHGODNOOOOO!!!!!vember”. Two more months of this bizarre 2016 left, maybe two very long months. Keep on sketchin’…

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?

how are things in your little world

south silo uc davis
Here’s a view that I used to sketch a lot more, but I got bored of it, as it never really changed much. It’s the South Silo at UC Davis, as viewed from the steps of Bainer Hall. I used to sketch it every six months in fact, once in winter, once in spring, tracking the changes. This past week I noticed however that it had changed quite dramatically – the big wild tree to the left of the leaning one was cut down, as were several other smaller ones near the Bike Barn, as the UC Davis South Silo area undergoes a major redesign. This is going to look pretty different. Here’s an article in The Aggie detailing how it will eventually look – quite a change, I think. More dining locations will be added (hooray!), plus a convenience store (I still miss the little one that used to be the Law Bookshop). It won’t be all done until next year.

While we are waiting, let’s go back in time and see what it used to look like….

heitman and south silo panorama
January 2015

view from bainer uc davis<
July 2011

south silo uc davis
January 2011

the view from bainer, again
June 2010
January 2010

bike barn from bainer
June 2009

January and March 2009

smoky and the bikebarn
June 2008

no leaves for you
January 2008

uc davis trees encore
July 2007

I will miss that tree.

constructing the manetti shrem, part seven

Manetti Shrem Interior
I last posted construction pictures of the forthcoming Manetti Shrem museum of Art on the UC Davis campus back in April. A lot has been done since then – the canopy is now finished, the landscaping is ongoing, and (something I’d not thought much about) the interior is already pretty much complete! So, I was invited along for a special viewing of the inside (many thanks to Prof. Tim McNeil of the Design Dept for the opportunity!), and it was one of the first days that hard hats were not required inside, meaning I didn’t get my photo-op of sketching in hard-hat and fluorescent jacket (I only wanted that for the urban sketching street cred), but I got the full inside experience of how a brand-new museum is designed and completed. Every corner of it was so modern and cool, and the most amazing aspects were the sudden views outside, looking at how this building interacts with its environment but from an interior perspective. This really is going to be the most spectacular new building on campus, not simply functional but enlightening too, I think. After having a good look around at the future gallery spaces and imagining what artwork will grace its walls (I know that Wayne Thiebald made a big donation of art recently), I was able to do some art myself, sketching the above view of the main entrance area looking out toward the Mondavi Centre.

A few days later I came back to sketch outside at lunchtime, and rather than the wide-angle view I focused in on the same entrance area, but from the street looking in. You can see how it is all coming together now. Opens in November…
Manetti Shrem Museum of Art (under construction)

Here are the previous posts documenting the construction in my sketchbook…


building the pitzer, part six

Pitzer Center UCD
It’s nearly done, the Pitzer Center, the new Music Recital Hall on the UC Davis campus. I’ve sketched this spot since it was the Boiler Building, and watched that old campus character get knocked into the dust, with this finally rising to take its place. It’s nearly done.
Pitzer Center UCD
Here is the front entrance area, now fully glazed. This is what will greet visitors to campus for years to come. I’m looking forward to finally seeing performances there myself.
Pitzer Center UCD
Below, a panorama using pencil. I was thinking about Florian Afflerbach that day, he would have enjoyed to sketch this building. It’s through him that I gained the interest in sketching buildings like this, and using them to really study perspective.

Pitzer Center UCD

Here are the previous chapters: PART FIVE (Feb 2016), PART FOUR (Oct 2015), PART THREE (Aug 2015), PART TWO (Aug 2015), PART ONE (July 2015).

constructing the manetti shrem, part six

Manetti Shrem under construction 030216 sm
The continuing construction of the Manetti Shrem Museum of Art at UC Davis has reached a new phase, with the large metal canopy now finally coming together. Early last month I sketched the scene above, the framework for the canopy undergoing its paint job, while the large metal slats that would make up the design were beginning to be inserted. It’s like a massive Airfix model but without the smell of superglue.This was particularly fun to sketch, figuring out the complicated lines and curves, but also because this scene is so brief – already it looks totally different.
Manetti Shrem under construction March 2016
Here you see, just a few weeks later, the canopy is already complete, or as good as. I sketched this on a day when the sky was lovely, with deep blues and fluffy white clouds, not a very common sky for Davis. Reminded me of Britain.I sketched this from beneath the shade of the UC Davis Welcome Center. The buildings around Vanderhoef Quad are modern and bright. This is a really exciting part of campus now. Below, I sketched another view of the Manetti Shrem from a little further back, beyond the Mondavi Center. You can see the interesting shape of the canopy as it curves around the entrance. This will be a really photogenic spot. I stood beneath a tree to sketch. As i did, I got several odd looks from people as they passed by. Nothing bad, just, I don’t know, frowns. Shifty looks, suspicious glances. I must look odd standing there with a sketchbook under a tree, it’s fair enough. People on this edge of campus are usually a bit better dressed. No, they are, I don’t know why. They are walking to their cars parked at the Mondavi or on their way to an important meeting at the Founders room at the Buehler or the Graduate School of Management or doing something in the Conference Center, I don’t know, they dress better than the people hanging out at the Quad or at the MU Bus Terminal. Maybe that is why they gave me shifty looks, “who is this odd freakish weirdo beneath a tree with a small creepy black book staring at the distance like a fool?” I put it down to turning 40. This didn’t happen so much when I was 39, no back then it was all, “who’s this cool character coolly hanging in the shade making fantastic cool urban art which is so cool?” But now I’m 40 it’s all changed, it’s all downhill from here. Or it would be, if Davis had any hills.
Manetti Shrem and Mondavi Center

I’m enjoying sketching this construction though, and the Manetti Shrem will officially open its doors in the Fall with a Grand Opening on November 13, 2016. Check out their website at:

Here are the previous posts charting the construction in sketches…


all these things into position

020416 international center sm
More campus construction…this is the International Center, on the north end of campus, and it is almost ready. I have sketched it once before (in this post), but I have been cycling past this spot for years. By the way, click on the image to see it embiggened slightly. This was sketched in the watercolour Moleskine (#14 of those sketchbooks I have used). I like this view, as the perspective points us all the way to Russell. It was breezy, but the weather is getting pretty mild now. The last few days of my thirties are winding down.