Last Saturday evening, the weather was nice, and the daylight a little later than I was used to (it’s always a surprise, every year), so I took a walk downtown to do a little bit of sketching, a little bit of reading, have a few beers. I walked over to E St Plaza, where I noticed that local band Wealth of Nations were playing again; I’ve sketched them several times. I did this quick sketch below. After that, I went to the University of Beer, and sat at the corner of the bar. I have been planning my summer travels, going to the Urban Sketching Symposium, adding in a bit of Belgium as well, and a day in Paris. For some inspiration I re-read Lapin’s book of Parisian sketches, “Paris je t’aime”. The fellow sat next to me saw the book and was looking at it with me, I was telling him about Lapin and all the other Urban Sketchers, I didn’t mention about my own sketching but when it came time to get my sketchbook out he left me to it, I did manage to include his right hand and phone into the sketch though. Another bloke was sat to his right, reading a book. After a while they both left, and another pair of men were there, one of whom was one of those guys who was loud and a bit overbearing, I think he was quite a bit into religion and never paused for breath about how he “only respects people who know their purpose in life!” and “I don’t mind atheists but they have to know what they believe in or I can’t respect them!” He never seemed to take even a sip of his beer, all I could think was, mate are you drinking that or what? Some writers and sketchers take inspiration from overheard conversation, I on the other hand actively try not to listen to anything anyone is saying. I looked at my sketch, remembering the quiet reading man and the friendly man who liked looking at Lapin’s drawings. Eventually loud man and quiet friend also departed. I saw a couple of other faces at the bar I knew through soccer, said hello. Various sports played on the tv screens. The beers I had were the Russian River STS Pils, and the much more familiar Firestone Walker 805. I sketched the bar in dark blue pen. The walk home was nice; I’m trying to get my 10,000 steps in every day.
This is another view of the University of Beer in Davis, California. I was there at the end of August, as I needed to go downtown to spend some time in the Avid Reader bookshop. I haven’t been in there in a while, and was in the mood where I just wanted to look through all the literature on the shelves. I bought a copy of ‘War of the Worlds‘; I’ve never read ‘War of the Worlds’, and when I opened the book the first word I saw was ‘Edgware’ so it was a sign I needed to read it. I actually worked in the Avid Reader years ago, when I first came to Davis. I still love the smell of the books. I thought about sketching in there, I haven’t done that in a very long time, but it was getting late so I went and sketched this bar a block away. I had wanted to add more colour, but was taking so long drawing. I had a couple of very nice beers there though. This was a test of perspective, with vanishing points at 45 degrees, and some curvilinear lines. Wonky in places (nothing to do with the tasty beverage, more to do with the tedium of drawing long lines. There seemed to be a fair bit of 1990s music being played. Including that utterly tedious Two Princes song that was on the radio constantly in 1993. This bar is pretty typical of Davis – busy at some points, almost empty at others, then a bit busy again, then very few again, so I drew whoever was standing or sitting when I looked in that particular part of the space; I suppose I drew the average number of players. University of Beer; see also the ‘College of Cider’, the ‘School of Shandy’, the ‘Polytechnic of Porter’, the ‘Institute of Inebriation’, the ‘Academy of Ale’, etc and so on.
Another bar sketch. It was Saturday evening, I wanted to go downtown, so I popped into University of Beer for a Brother Thelonious and did yet another bar sketch. “Keep Calm and Chive On” says the poster above, sagely. There was a lot of colour reflecting on the surfaces of this bar. I’ve done a lot of pub sketches now; check them out in this Flickr album, “Pubs, Cafes, Bars etc“.
Saturday afternoon meant sketching. I spent the morning coaching my son’s soccer team (did I mention I am coaching my son’s soccer team? We are called the Blue Torpedoes this Fall, and AYSO is a lot of fun) (I designed the badge again) (by the way when I say ‘soccer’ you know I really mean ‘football’ right, I’m only saying that because that’s what they say) (ten years in America won’t break me) (although I did in my weekly handout point out to the team that ‘soccer’ is in fact an English term derived from ‘Association Football’, it’s also a sport from England so you know, listen up, I know what I’m talking about), and then in the afternoon I opted against going to the UC Davis ‘Brewfest’ because ‘tired’ and ‘expensive’. The Aggie’s homecoming football game was on Saturday (obviously you know when I say ‘football’ I mean ‘American football’) (actually so people understand me, over here I always call it ‘American football’, or ‘gridiron’, or ‘helmet-ball’ or ‘space-rugby’), anyway my family all went to see it but I opted out because ‘sketching’. It was lovely weather. I cycled downtown with the intent of drawing something beautiful. I have a book out you know, so I’d better get sketching. I didn’t sketch enough in September (because ‘busy’ and ‘lazy’), and I didn’t want anyone buying the book and then looking up my site and it all being Lego that I drew two months ago. So I have been busy sketching the past week or so, and will be posting those soon. Well, I couldn’t decide upon ‘beautiful’ but this corner downtown of 3rd and F Streets had the sunlight hitting it in just the right way, with those two trees looking a lot barer and autumnal than other ones. Leaves were tumbling gently; fall is in the air (you know when I say ‘fall’ I mean ‘autumn’). This is the University of Beer, which I have sketched before on the inside a few times, and it was busy on a Saturday afternoon. I even saw someone wearing a USA 94 football shirt (alright, soccer jersey), the one with the wavy red stripes (think “Alexei Lalas’s beard”), which made my football-shirt-geek self jump up and down with excitement. Though I do have the USA 94 Ireland shirt (the one Ray Houghton wore when he scored the winner against Italy), I was actually wearing the 1995 Ireland Umbro shirt (the one Father Dougal used to wear to bed on ‘Father Ted’). The mid-90s, ladies and gentlemen, a high point for me. I should have sketched him, or rather his shirt. I did pop in for a pint post-sketch though, and decided to give my pencil a quick run-out with a five minute sketch of the afternoon drinkers cooling off from the heat. Yes, Autumn is coming, but it’s still in the 90s.
I am back! I have been busy. I have more busy to be busy about but that is coming. In the meantime here is a sketch I did a couple of weeks ago at the University of Beer on 3rd Street in Davis. I had just sold a couple of sketches at the Pence Gallery’s annual Art Auction (hooray! Thanks for buying them!) and was in the middle of a very busy period of history, so an evening at the pub trying a few new different beers was in order. Not my greatest bar sketch but I enjoyed drawing it. It was a strange night in downtown Davis though. The evening before a man was tragically killed in an altercation at another bar about a block away, which has since prompted the City Council to impose a 45-day moratorium on all new bar and restaurant development / expansion. The downtown Davis area has been becoming a lot busier at night in recent years, but Davis as a city is growing, and becoming more of a destination. Being before the UC Davis school year officially began, it wasn’t particularly busy on this Saturday night so was quite a pleasant evening, which I followed by the long walk home. I’m not a fan of the walk through the too-dark streets of Old North Davis, which are poorly lit because ‘residential’ but I always think a better lit street is a lot safer than one where you can’t see the person about to jump you. They say, “well we want to be able to see the stars” but forgive me if I’m wrong, the streets between fifth and eighth aren’t full of budding astronomers every night. Oak Street is the worst, the road I cycle up after work, in the winter months when it’s dark early it is complete pitch darkness. Ah well, at least on this night as I strolled back to my bed I had the internal glow of four and a half craft beers to light my way. This was the first spread of a new sketchbook, another Seawhite of Brighton one, which I’m hoping to fill quickly…
To round off all the pub drawings here is another panoramic I attempted last weekend at the University of Beer, on 3rd & F (Click on the image to see the bigger picture). This is one of the newer places in Davis and is a beer-geek’s dream; I have sketched it before from the far side of the bar (see image at the bottom of this post) but didn’t quite manage the two-page panorama, so I came back to sketch that far wall. As you can see, it is worth it. they have beer signs, both metal and mirrors, from all over the world (though mostly the US and Belgium). It was a very hot day and I was just not motivated for outside sketching, so I got a footy magazine (the Premier League is finally BACK! Hallebleedin’lujah!) and popped into the ‘UoB’. After about ten minutes looking through their extensive menu and studying the beer taps I opted for a Monty Python’s Holy Grail ale – I’ve never had one before, it was very nice, and made me want to put the movie on when I got home. One of the barman had an Arsenal hat on (backwards; I suggested it maybe should stay so) and we discussed the chances of our teams in this coming season (as you know, I’m Spurs all the way). I started sketching, and quickly realized there are many more details in this place than I knew; they now have loads of beertaps lining the ventilation pipes near the ceiling. To be honest it was nice to sketch some people – the three fellows to my left were sharing stories about Davis in the olden days, while further down the bar there were other conversations of varying degrees of volume; but on the whole this was a very pleasant place to spend an afternoon. One of the barstaff remembered me from the last time I sketched here (he is in fact in both sketches, so I had him sign the second one) and I spoke to him and one other about my favourite Belgian beers (Charles Quint and Fruit Defendu, if you’re ever wondering). I followed on from my Holy Grail ale with a really nice beer called Summer Solstice, by Anderson Valley, a creamy brown beer with a very caramel-like taste, and it was delicious. If Quality Street made beer, it would probably taste like this. I had their Winter Solstice beer here back in February and that too was incredible.
This week in fact is Davis Beer Week, a celebration of craft beers in Davis, and so if you’re in Davis you should pop by here, or de Vere’s or any of the other great beer spots in town. This has really become a beer-lovers town lately, and it’s not surprising – UC Davis has an excellent beer-science facility. People here really know their Chit.
I must point out – this sketch was done in a Seawhite of Brighton sketchbook I picked up in London. Smooth paper and takes a light wash, not as robust as the watercolour Moleskine but I’m looking forward to playing with it some more.
**Incidentally… you can buy a print of the University of Beer panorama above at my Society6 store (society6.com/PeteScully), just follow this link. There is free shipping worldwide until this Sunday (Aug 25).**
After a Saturday morning of making pancakes, watching football, playing superheroes, Cars Monopoly and Play-doh, I went downtown to watch Iron Man 3. I have spent a lot of time lately drawing different Iron Man armours for my son to colour in, so was looking forward to watching the movie itself. So was everyone else in Davis it seems; the show I wanted to go to was already full, so I got a ticket for the next one and went off to do some sketching. It was too hot to sit outside (90s; I know, in a couple of months that will sound chilly) so I popped into the University of Beer, a newer bar in Davis devoted to all types of beer, and drew the bar. I should have drawn the wall on he right as well, which is covered in colourful beer signs, but this is all I had time for. I went off for a curry for dinner, and then off to the movie, which was fun, and long.