some spring cleaning

Arboretum Sketch 040119
I still have some March sketches to post (a go-go-go sketchcrawl in Sacramento in an accordion book, and a relax-relax-relax vacation by the ocean in Huntington Beach), but it’s April now. Here is my first sketch of the month. I went down to the Arboretum and sketched the redbuds by the creek, and then went for lunch. April is here, and I have a few months before the summer travels. Belgium and Holland await. There are sketchcrawls planned – several sketching events in Davis, and I want to do that sketchcrawl historical-hunt in San Francisco (I drew a map on Sunday), but I think more than anything I want to lose a few pounds, so April is easing-myself-into-a-diet month. It won’t be easy but I’m going to give it a go. And then when I get to Belgium, I’ll put it all back in chocolate, waffles, beer and frites. So I need to clear some room. Spring is cleaning time too, and I have to clear my yard, it’s gotten a bit out of hand. I already organized my clothes drawers (though my closet is full of football shirts, which by the way necessitate the dieting). Then there is the Art Materials Cupboard. That is eternally out of hand. I don’t know if it’s ever been in hand. It’s the cupboard that whenever I get it all out to reorganize, my wife always says the phrase “oh boy”. Spring cleaning though, it’s not like when I was a kid. My mum was really into spring cleaning. When the curtains and nets came down and that bright April sunlight would stream into the living room, when you could only smell furniture polish and Windolene, when book shelves were cleared for scrubbing and dusting, that was when it was time for me to sneak off to my friends house for a game of football. Of course I could not escape the Spring Cleaning, and my room, usually impenetrable, would have to be cleaned. This usually started with my mum throwing all of my things onto the floor, and then I would have to tidy up from there, and I remember it was a very satisfying feeling to hoover the floor at the end. Anyway, with this sketch I decided to keep it clean, just the watertower shading and the still bright but starting to darken purple-pink redbud blooms.

By the way Davis folks, the next Let’s Draw Davis sketchcrawl will be at the Arboretum on Sunday April 14: https://www.facebook.com/events/838512119829255/

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a tower shining bright

UC Davis water tower
This is the UC Davis water tower. I have sketched it before, but I don’t mind rehashing old material. I’ll happily tell the same jokes many times over to the same people, over a period of many years, as anyone who has read any of this sketchblog can attest. You might think that I’m sketching for a new audience, maybe someone hasn’t seen one of my sketches of the water tower before, and here’s a new one, but no, it’s really just that after 13 years in this town there isn’t a lot else to draw, so you draw things again. Different times of year, things look different; different times of my life, I see different. Let’s not think too much about it. Cezanne never worried about that when he was painting Mont St.Victoire over and over. Well he probably did, and if I had stayed in Aix-en-Provence myself beyond 2002 then I too would be on about my hundred-and-fiftieth drawing of it, and the Rotonde, and the Place d’Albertas and all the other corners of town that might lose their charm. I’d be dreaming every day, while wandering among the ochre stone and narrow cobbled streets, stepping over dog poo, cigarette butts and dried-up wine, wishing I was somewhere far away and different, like some American college town where they have fire hydrants and falling leaves, wide streets and bicycles, huge continent-crossing trains in the middle of the night, where smoking is banned pretty much everywhere and fresh milk isn’t hidden away like some unloved cousin. Sorry Aix-en-Provence, I love you but I married Davis. I came to Davis 13 years ago, and this water tower was the first thing I ever saw of the town, sticking out above the flat valley like a giant sputnik. It reminded me a bit of my first memories of France actually, when we would visit northern France on school trips, and the most striking thing about the French countryside were the distinctive water towers. This water tower has always for me been the symbol of Davis, more than the bike or the frog or the eco-conscious beard. It’s worth a few sketches I think. I drew this one at the start of November one sunny lunchtime, stood on the banks of Putah Creek, adding the paint on site because everything was such an attractive colour. The sky was a clear and breathable blue. This was before the horrible wild fires up near Chico, that brought havoc to the area and covered northern California with a hazardous smoke for two weeks, even closing down the UC Davis campus. As of last week the rains have finally come and the fresh air is back, meaning we could go back to work today. I didn’t sketch during that whole time; I went to Portland a couple of weeks ago to teach a workshop (I’ll write more on that later), and have been on a bit of a sketching hiatus since. Everyone needs a break. But I’m getting back into it. It’s end of November, advent-calendar-making season, and I have to get that done first. There’s a sketchcrawl in Davis this Saturday (see Let’s Draw Davis) and I’ve got a bit more Walker Hall to sketch, but the rains are coming back…

Saturday nights down at FC Davis

FC Davis game 032418 sm

There is a new team in town. Well, a new football club. Soccer, that is. They are FC Davis, and have been playing for the last few months at Aggie Stadium, on the UC Davis campus. We have been to a few games already, starting with the 1-1 draw against the East Bay Stompers (yes, Stompers), who had one tall player that had a big bush of hair and scored a penalty (you can see him below). Many fans were making reference to him being the Lion King because of his mane, which I think he seemed to enjoy, especially when he scored; he was definitely their main player. Lots of the people attending I recognized from AYSO, being a soccer coach myself, and while it wasn’t a big crowd it was a fun, local atmosphere. The kids of course just loved rolling down the grass verges behind the goals, that’s what you do when you are 9 and 10. It was a bit confusing having the field play on an American Football gridiron – the soccer field was laid out in barely visible yellow marking, much wider than the football lines, and on one occasion at least a player took a throw-in from the wrong place. I was expecting a Mexican wave to start on the other side of the stadium, one bloke to stand up, then another person thirty seats away, and another even further, but it didn’t happen. The sun went down, and it got quite chilly, and the game ended in a 1-1 draw (or ‘tie’ as they prefer to say here).

FC Davis players 032418-b sm

The club have an interesting colour scheme of black, gold and white, though we only saw them play in white (with gold numbers on the back; the FIFA kit police would not like that). Their badge is a lion; I’m not sure the connection of the lion with Davis California but a lion it is. I’m sure the same can be said for other teams with lions in their badges too, such as Chelsea (no, that is from the lion in the arms of the local Borough of Chelsea), England (no, those are Richard III’s coat of arms), and Aston Villa (ah now that one has a lion for no reason other than lions are cool). Still it’s a more interesting symbol than, I don’t know, a bike or a cow (with apologies to Oxford United fans, and I know it’s a bull). The FC Davis lion is quite stylized though; my son thought it was supposed to be a monkey, so we now call them the Golden Monkey Lion Kings, and I am sure this nickname will not catch on. I also don’t think my new fan song “One Lion” will catch on either, a reworking of the famous 1996 Lightning Seeds / Baddiel and Skinner classic. It goes “One Lion on the shirt, Water-Tower still gleaming, Three months of hurt, Never stopped me dreaming.”

The next time I went they totally went and won for the first time at home. They played Napa 1839 (who very sensibly have a wine bottle as their badge; I wonder if their nicknames is The Bottlers? I don’t know but I already have a slew of potential headlines about them, if ever I have to sub-edit their match reports for a tabloid paper: ‘Napa Caught Napping’, etc and so on, I’m sure there are lots of good wine and bottle ones, ‘Napa bottle their opener’ if they lose their first game for example) (many apologies to Napa for this by the way, got nothing against you, it’s just these headlines would work really well in the British gutter press). So FC Davis won this one (there’s no way they’d get me to write match reports, I go off on more tangents than the Argentine midfield), and Napa sported a two-tone green outfit. It was a close contest, but when FC Davis scored the winner the goalscorer took his shirt off to celebrate with the roaring crowd.

FC Davis match April 14

The third and most recent game we went to was against FC Academica. I kept saying it didn’t matter what the score was, “it was academic”, but nobody seemed to hear me. This was a good game. Academica were pretty tough, and took a commanding 3-0 lead. But as it turns out, FC Davis have a a lot of lion’s courage in them, because they came in the last 20 minutes back to tie it up to 3-3, and really should have won 4-3 but had a free kick disallowed (I think VAR would have probably rectified it). It was a very exciting end to the game. I sketched as much of the match as possible (click on the image below to see in more detail). I haven’t had a chance to come to any more games but it was fun sketching them, hanging out with the family and friends and the players on our team, having pizza and beer, and it only cost five bucks to get in. Go Golden Monkey Lion Kings!!

 

FC Davis 042818 sm

Sorry, ‘Golden Lions’, that is the real nickname. If you’re local and interested, you can visit the FC Davis club website: https://www.footballclubdavis.com/ 

tower of white

UC Davis watertower
Oh the sketching is back. I got out one lunchtime when it wasn’t rainy and walked along the UC Davis Arboretum, which runs by Putah Creek. I was on my way to eat from that little food truck outside the Mondavi. They do nice chicken-cheesesteak sandwiches. Anyway I realized it’s been a while since I last sketched the UC Davis watertower, so I stopped and drew it with the palm trees in the foreground. The bridge to the left was pretty hard to see behind the foliage so that got left out. Sketched in a Seawhite of Brighton sketchbook.

towering over our heads

nanodrawmo 50

Finally! I reached my goal of fifty drawings in November for NaNoDrawMo 2010, and here are the last four. Actually I drew more than fifty drawings this month, but I’m not counting those not in this set. I filled a whole watercolour sketchbook front to back with drawings of fire hydrants and other metal pipes that come out of the ground. The final sketch is the biggest metal pipe, the larger of UC Davis’s iconic water towers. This was a fun project, and the majority of the drawings were done on site (except for those few from photos taken in LA), as I had really wanted to use this project to explore and take a closer look at the missable stuff around us. I can now spot even subtle differences between the hydrants I see around town, so the observation exercise was successful. Everything is interesting if you take an interest in it.

nanodrawmo 49nanodrawmo 47nanodrawmo 48

And now, no more fire hydrants for a long, long time! Here’s the book they all fit in, and the pen that made it through to the end (others were chewed up like, er, I dunno, chewits).

nanodrawmo sketchbook

See the other great artists who made it to 50 here.

summer sessions

davis in the summertime
Regular listeners will recall that often, in the summer time, it gets quite hot here in Davis. A hundred degrees, pah that’s nothing. It was at least that today, so I didn’t venture out into the oven world to sketch. I stayed in the stairwell, sat on a very dusty step, and looked out of the big window. I have drawn this view before, the UC Davis skyline, the tall water-tower dominating events. However, the stairwell in our building isn’t air-conditioned, so it started to feel very sauna-like after a short while. It gave me a headache. I’m not designed for hot weather, I’m red-headed and freckly.  I got this finished during lunchtime though, and in the incredible dry heat the paint dried as soon as it hit the paper.

under the brown fog of a winter dawn

Bit of a misnomer that title, this being actually a sunny lunchtime sketch (and being about Davis and not London), but it’s from the Waste Land and it’s therefore cool, and sprang to mind when I was finished.
holding water

And it is winter, or at least what they call winter here. This is the tall UC Davis Water Tower (and environs).

Speaking of which, today is Pancake Day, but this year I didn’t make any pancakes. My little plastic lemon squeezer thing (yes, just like the old jif lemons but not called as such here) is out of date, by a month (bit stupid, I bought it for last year’s pancakes and then it goes and expires in less than a year, it’s like when you buy mince pies that end up expiring on December 24th, yes you know what I’m talking about, marks and spencer). It put me off.

Also posted at urban sketchers. That extraordinary site is growing and growing…