Rhyming A Street

A St Davis
This is A Street, in Davis. Not “a street”, etc and so on.  It’s a corner of Davis I have sketched before, etc and so on. But now, it looks different, etc and so on. I don’t constantly repeat myself, exactly, I prefer to say that I ‘rhyme’. I drew this on a rainy lunchtime, from the shelter of the Social Sciences Building opposite. This was previously Davis Textbooks, on the corner of 3rd St and A St, then it was empty, and now it has been completely refurbsihed and is going to be ‘iTea’ which I think is some sort of chain of boba tea outlets. At least I think it’s a chain, I saw one other, in ChinaTown in San Francisco, the other day. Wait, what, ‘boba tea’? Have I got that right? If so they have missed a trick. A mash-up between Boba Fett and Mr T would be the coolest thing ever. “I don’t hate Solo, but I pity the fool. No man gonna come between me and my bounty.” You can imagine the rest, all of the Boba Fett / A Team stuff, and putting the mohawk on the helmet and those wookiee braids mixed with feathery earrings, you can imagine the whole look yourself, it’s just generally a good idea. But this is getting away from the point, which I tend to do in these blog posts, etc and so on. They have cleaned the place up a lot, and given those bricks a nice lick of green paint. By the way that car, not the blue one but the other one, it looks odd, the front wheel is a bit too far back and it’s very close to the car in front. This is because at the moment when I got to drawing those bits, another car parked in front of me on this side of the street, obscuring my view, so I just drew the top of the car and improvised the rest. Look, a tree in the foreground, my signature. But what is this? A bike? I hate drawing bikes, I said so in the Davis Enterprise last week. Well, there were actually two bikes there, but I chickened out on drawing the second because as you know, the thing I hate more than drawing bikes is drawing two bikes.

This is what this corner of Davis  looked like just a few months ago. Work going on in the street, the old Davis Textbooks sign was still up, the space was empty and someone had done a huge graffiti ‘Class of 18’ sign over the front. You have to admit that looked kinda cool.
A St Oct 2018

In Spring 2014 it was still ‘Davis Textbooks’, though I don’t recall if it was actually in business. I only ever went inside there once, when my friend Tel from England (who himself sells textbooks online, now based in Japan) wanted to have a look. We used to work for a university textbook shop in Hendon. I liked this corner because of all the signs and poles and urban furniture all about. It’s the entrance to UC Davis, but looking down 3rd Street. Lots of bikes whizz past here. Hey look that same car is there, from the first picture. Its wheel is in the right place.
A & 3rd Davis

Back when I drew it in January 2008, in the days right before impending parenthood encouraged me to draw in landscape format, I only drew the street corner, with all the newspaper boxes that used to be there. It was a gloriously vanilla January day, with lemony sky and a kind of tarte flambee feel to the world, I have no idea where that is going. I painted the sky yellow before adding the blue is what I am trying to say, it was a thing I did then for some reason, I must have forgotten that is how to make the sky green.
sc17: 3rd & A

So, another change to another spot in Davis. I’m glad I have been drawing it, and here again is the point of drawing Davis, capturing moments in time as well as space.

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and as in uffish thought he stood

tree behind music annex
This gnarly, knobbly looking thing is behind the Music Annex at UC Davis, next to the back alley that runs alongside the Arboretum. It looks a bit like an ancient sea creature that has broken through the deck of a ship, only to be cast under an ancient spell and turned to wood (lignified?). I needed to sketch at lunchtime, so I sketched this. Trees are beautiful, aren’t they. The uglier, the more beautiful. I used to like climbing trees as a kid, but I’d never climb very far, just to maybe the first branch, and I’d feel like a tree-dwelling champion. I was a big fan of the Ewoks when I was a kid, and always wanted to live in a tree-top village. I never had a tree-house, though I did have a climbing-frame in my back garden with a little metal swing at the top, it was less like a tree-house and more like a birdcage, but I loved it. I wish I had had a tree-house though. I didn’t have a tree though, so there was that. What would be cool would be to have not a tree-house but one of those houses which is just a door in a tree-trunk, and you open it to reveal a spiral stair-case going down, down, down into a subterranean world. I was a big fan of Mr.Happy when I was a kid. Jamie and the Magic Torch as well. Hang on that wasn’t a door in a tree, I’m not sure why I thought of that. Anyway the problem with that would be lack of sunlight, and it’s not really a tree-house any more and just a cave, and I don’t want to live in a cave. Unless it’s accessible by fire-pole. I was a big fan of Batman when I was a kid. I think every house needs a fire-pole, really. Coming back to this tree though, you have to wonder how much of it has been shaped by its proximity to the Music Annex. Trees are alive, they can experience and feel, and perhaps the presence of all that music has made it feel more alive and expressionist than trees next to, say, the Mathematical Sciences Building. (By the way I can vouch that those trees are generally very good with numbers). Or maybe all that music has warped its personality in the same way that listening to hours and hours of sad pop songs can make you eternally miserable, like the guy in High Fidelity? Maybe this tree is a music snob, and only listens to tree music you haven’t heard of. Or maybe, just maybe this tree is angry and frustrated, knowing that so many instruments being played right there, right on his roots-step, are made of wood, his dead friends, his dead relatives. All those woodwind instruments like the oboe and the clarinet, all those violins, cellos, even pianos, guitars, ukeleles, xylophones, they play such bitter notes when you are a tree. Or maybe they see it differently, maybe trees are proud that their kind can produce such beautiful sounds. Or maybe, and this is more likely I’ll admit, maybe it’s just a tree and it couldn’t give a monkey’s.

back at three mile

Three Mile Brewing, Davis
I’ve sketched this place before, it’s Three Mile Brewing in downtown Davis, a small brewery that does some very nice beers. Such as ‘Burnt Reynolds’. There always seems to be dogs in here. There was another one unseen in this sketch, as well as the one that is there. Last time I sketched in here there was a dog in the sketch. Am I now a dog sketcher? I have drawn a few dogs over the years, but I don’t really go for drawing animals much. So, Three Mile Brewing in Davis is named for the old three mile no-alcohol exclusion zone from campus that existed years ago (until 1979!). I like the colour scheme in this room, and it was handy that man wore that jacket providing a balance between the Burnt Reynolds beer and that wall on the left.

Napper Valley

UC Davis Quad
A lovely sunny Monday lunchtime. This is the UC Davis Quad. You will notice on the right there are blue hammocks set up with people taking naps inside. This is very much encouraged in Davis (also in nearby Napper Valley). Taking a nap is good for you. What do you call it when someone is pretending to be asleep? Fake Snooze. I haven’t tried the hammocks myself, they are usually all occupied. Ironically they didn’t have these when people were camping on the Quad years ago in the ‘Occupy’ protests. Back then, UC Davis was put on the map of infamy by the ‘Pepper Spray Incident’. Did you hear about the peanut who was pepper-sprayed? He was a salted. Peanut. Ha ha, ha ha. It’s very peaceful here now, though we still have protests and a number of marches, as you would expect. This for example was March 18. Sorry I appear to have been possessed by the spirit of Tommy Cooper.

Déanaimis Tarraingt Dáibhís

Last Sunday – St.Patrick’s Day – was the day of our most recent “Let’s Draw Davis” sketchcrawl. It was a shortish sketchcrawl, three hours downtown, ending up with a get-together to look at each other’s sketches. This time I included a ‘scavenger hunt’, which was optional, but I gave it a go. It was Ireland-themed, nine things, specific (“an animal sculpture”) or vague (“snakes!”). The weather was lovely, warm and sunny, and lots of people were out. I drew a group of cyclists (a couple of whom I chatted with), focusing on the one of course wearing green.
Let's Draw Davis March 17, 2019

The animal sculpture was easy, as right there on First Street are two enormous animals, a giant dog made of records and a cat gateway thing, outside the Natsoulas Gallery. It’s not a specifically Irish thing, sculpting animals, but not all the list had to be. The dog is called “Roy” and is a tribute to the artist Roy De Forest, by John Natsoulas and others. Becuase I wanted to show some of the detail, the various coloured vinyl records that make it up, I sketched up close, covering the ‘something musical’ point. I used to have some coloured vinyl records, when I was a kid I would sometimes buy them because I liked the colour, not because the music was any good, and I’m guessing those who donated these probably felt the same. Speaking of not-good music, that awful violin player was downtown again, his screeching echoing down E street. I wasn’t drawing him, no way. Sketching the records was a little bit of a challenge as I don’t like drawing circles (it’s why I hate drawing bikes), but also the sun was beating down, so I added the colour once I got into some shade.
Let's Draw Davis March 17, 2019
Below is fellow Davis sketcher Alison, who has been sketching Davis much longer than me and who I knew from the very earliest sketchcrawls. She found a great display of Irish books in the window of Logos Books on 2nd Street, so I sketched her sketching those (the bookshop was my ‘something to do with literature or poetry’), and then I drew one of the books myself, a children’s Irish legend book about St. Brigid’s Cloak. I don’t know enough of the Irish legends myself, despite my Irish family I never learned any of that stuff as a kid (my mum just played Wolfe Tones, Brendan Shine and Daniel O’Donnell a lot), in fact it was my son who told me the story of the Red Hand of Ulster back when he was a preschooler (gory storytime!), though I did like reading about the Fomorians and the Tuatha De Danann, Balor and the Evil Eye, that stuff.  And I loved hearing the story of the Rock of Cashel and Devil’s Bit Mountain when I went there as a kid (Cashel is full of Scully gravestones actually, that always excited me). And I know about St. Patrick of course. There’s a whole wealth of story and mythology I need to read about.
Let's Draw Davis March 17, 2019
“A green object in the street” for me was a street sign. It could have been anything, a tree, a bin, a bike, a bush. I also asked for something more than a hundred years old, and that required a bit of Davis knowledge. I said not to draw my jokes which are all about a hundred years old (including that one). I drew part of the Dresbach-Hunt-Boyer mansion, which dates from the 1870s.
Let's Draw Davis March 17, 2019
Now ‘snakes’ was always going to be interpretative, as I don’t expect to see a lot of snakes slithering around. We do of course have snakes in Davis but they like to hide, and don’t often go downtown, especially on St. Patrick’s Day, for obvious reasons. I knew there was a green metal snake sculpture behind the Pence, however it is no longer there, so I ended up drawing some metal pipes, and calling it “snakes”, and there you go.
Let's Draw Davis March 17, 2019

And the last one “DRINK!” is a reference to Father Jack’s favourite word. I had about twenty minutes before the end, so I popped into De Vere’s Irish pub (which was packed), remarkably found a seat at the bar with a great view of the Guinness toucan that had been perched up above the taps. I drew that and had a (quite marked-up) pint of Smithwicks in a plastic glass. I don’t really like drinking Guinness much myself, it’s alright but not really my tipple. And then it was time for the final meet-up with the rest of the group. we had a very good crowd this time around, and I can’t wait for the next one in April! We’ll announce when exactly that is very soon. I have some soccer game rearrangements that are still being figured out, but I’m really in sketching mode this year – I’m already months ahead of my 2018 sketch-count.
Let's Draw Davis March 17, 2019

I never learned much Irish, except a few choice phrases, so the blog title today is a little bit of Google Translate finagling. I quite like bad translation though, there’s a certain comedic innocence to it. We used to play on that in our multi-lingual theatrical performances back at university. I did have a book when I was a teenager, ‘Teach Yourself Irish’, but it was a ridiculously dry edition and put the language out of reach. I could see how it connected to other European languages, but the orthography-to-pronunciation difference was too great for me to hear it in my head, so I just learned a few words and phrases, mostly ones other people had taught me (so I could say them). None of my family ever knew any Irish phrases other than Erin Go Bragh, Cead Mile Failte and Pogue Mahone, the last one being spelled the way the band did, not the spelling I was taught later by Irish people. None of the Irish people I knew as a kid (who were pretty much my nan’s generation) spoke any Irish words, so even as the historic language of my ancestors I never felt much of a connection to it. If they learned it, it was something they might have had to do at school decades before and forgot instantly, same as I remember very little about Chemistry class except a dislike of Bunsen Burners. I do remember when I was about 12 though being somewhere in rural Kerry, and suddenly everything was in Gaelic, the radio stations, the street signs, actually that was it, the only other things around were sheep and fog. It wasn’t until I was much older that I met someone who spoke it natively, as in at home, and whenever she used it to with us it was usually in song and not to be translated (she was clear about that). So, with the Irish language, it’s another thing that I might get around to learning a bit of now we live in the YouTube era, but might not be that high on the priority list living out in California. Anyway I hope all my Irish friends had a fun St. Patrick’s Day! I certainly did.

Hey, if you want to see other people’s sketches from the day (or post your own from the sketchcrawl, if you came along) you can go to the Let’s Draw Davis group page on the dreaded Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/groups/383785982124525/  

To find out when future sketchcrawls will be, our main FB page will show those: https://www.facebook.com/LetsDrawDavis/

Pink and Psychic

Davis Psychic, E St
Well that is a bright bubblegum pink. It gave me an opportunity to use that bright pink pen I always carry. This is the Davis Psychic on E Street, Davis. I like seeing these bold colours as I walk or cycle past and have meant to sketch this building again for ages. The last time was a decade ago, when it was a different (but still bright) colour. I don’t go in for all the psychic stuff myself, but some people enjoy it and get a lot from it. I know people who do tarot cards and what not, not my cup of tea but fair play to them. I’m surprised they don’t have palm trees out the front. this was a Saturday afternoon, I needed to get out of the house for a bit because the weather was lovely, so I cycled downtown. I haven’t drawn the entirety of Davis yet but it’s starting to feel like it. There are a few old buildings (and not so old) on this street that have interesting shapes. I like it when the sun hits wooden walls in certain ways.  

In the spirit of “I’ve drawn this whole town before”, here it is as it looked ten years ago, when I sketched this building in mid 2009. You can see there how it was yellow and purple. They’ve always liked to stand out! I wonder what colour they will be when I draw it again in 2029?
the davis psychic<

a new look third street

3rd & University March 2019 sm

Third Street in Davis has been undergoing a facelift. The section between B and A (crossing University Ave) has been closed off for a while so that the whole street can have a big facelift. It just reopened a week or two ago, and while all the details are not quite ready, it’s looking pretty good. The newly paved street is bright, providing a much nicer look than old grey tarmac (they call that ‘blacktop’ over here). There are also more benchs, so I sat down to draw this. It took me a couple of lunchtimes, and I still had to do a lot of the colour when I got home in the evening. You can click on the one above to see more detail, or look at the one below for the middle bit. Now here’s an interesting thing – there should be another window next to that red front door, but my faraway spot and not great eyesight, also the tree being in the way, meant I missed it. I shouldn’t have, I’ve drawn this house before. That’s ok though, just imagine it there yourself.

3rd & University March 2019 sm cropped

As I said, I have drawn this building, and this stretch of street, several times over the years and so we go to a regular feature of this show, the “flashback corner”. Follow me on a journey back through memory lane…

2016… A front on view of that building, and you can see that the railings downstairs are wooden and white. Street looks different but that little tree is still blossoming pinkly. More ground foliage, less sidewalk. And oh look, correct number of windows.
3rd and University Davis

2014… See how the bollards are still there, plus shoes all along the telegraph line. Pink blossom still there but that building is now white with a green trim. The telegraph poles are still there, they have now gone. I liked drawing them, for perspective’s sake but also I liked the details of the wood and the ripped paper fliers. That house next door is a sort of yellow (it’s blueish now). See how the bottom front windows are hard to see behind the tree from out here.
3rd and University, Davis

2011… I drew the one below because I really wanted to draw that pole up close. I actually sold this sketch at the Pence Gallery in my 2011 show.  This was a summertime sketch. Just one pair of shoes up high. Again, window hidden.

3rd and University

2007… First time I sketched this building, if not the the junction. It was a very white-wooden house then, home of the Davis Copy Shop.
davis copy shop

That’s as far back as my sketchbook goes. If I draw it again, I’ll be sure to get the number of windows right…