Night Patrol

Sunday, 24th October 2004
Wild West Yorkshire nature diary

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1.30 a.m.
Recently I've done hardly any wildlife sketching but tonight the wildlife came to us.


We heard a 'kiwikking' outside the window. I'd have turned over and gone back to sleep but Barbara got up and peered through the curtains.


A tawny owl was sitting on the top of the telephone pole - appropriately this is the telephone pole via which all my nature diaries have been uploaded to the world wide web.

owlThe post could have been designed for the owl. It sits there looking around; into a neighbours garden, then across the road. It preens. I'm not a night person and I drew these before breakfast the next morning but the shape of a tawny owl is so distinctive that it stayed imprinted in my mind.

After a few minutes it turned towards us then flew off on silent wings on its nocturnal patrol. I don't remember having heard tawny owls very much recently (probably because I sleep through it) and it's rare for us to see one. But it's good to know that they're still around.


Dear Diary

I've been keeping this diary for 6 years now, since October 1998. Here are my three previous entries for the 24th October (the other years I missed out on this date):


2001: a pheasant at the bird table and a painful encounter with the car door.

1999: nice weather for ducks.

1998: misty memories.

stairsOne small step . . .

My latest Vue d'Espirit 3D computer design project: a spiral staircase is a satisfyingly complex shape to construct (just try describing it to someone without moving your arms) but it's easy to put together because it's made of one simple repeated component: a cylinder with a rectangular block attached to it. Once I've made my first step it's just a case of copying it and stacking them up neatly.

This 'work in progress' render reminds me of the times that I worked as a freelance set decorator at Creative Consortium in Leeds (an advertising agency which has now disappeared). We had a stage about 30 x 20 ft which had curved walls so that if you painted a landscape on them you couldn't see the join between ground, walls and ceiling. It was disorientating to be up in one of the corners on top of a stepladder waving a spray gun about to paint clouds. It was like being on the inside of a tennis ball. No corners to tell you which way was up.

From Pizzas to Piazzas

My scenic work from the late 1980s

A four-wheeled drive out on the moor? No it's in the studio with a truckload of rough pasture bought from a farmer at Ilkley Moor. I painted the sky and hills.

This was the most enjoyable project: we had a week to design and construct a bistro stage set for a pizza sales conference in a big Bradford hotel. I made a scale model, one inch equals one foot, of my design in cardboard so the team would know how it would all fit together on the day. That's my painting in the background: the oven door had hinges so that, after a Fawlty Towers style comedy sketch the piping hot pizzas from the hotel kitchens could be handed out for the sales reps to sample.

Want to photograph an Italian sports car without the expense of going to Tuscany? Why not reconstruct an Italian Piazza in the studio in Leeds? I used a spray gun to paint a vast sunset. The pillars were cut from a sheet of plywood.

tableThis set for a Christmas biscuits promotion could have been designed to illustrate the Spike Milligan gag:

'The curtains were drawn but the rest of the room was real'

In fact only the table is real. Next Page

Richard Bell,

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