Mobile Studio

Monday, 22nd November 2004
Wild West Yorkshire nature diary

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cornershopI know that this morning if I don't get out drawing I probably won't get out all week. Just my luck: it's wild and unsettled. I drop Barbara off at the library and drive back, trying to decide what to do. It's too wet to work without an umbrella, too windy to work with one.

I drive down to Horbury Junction and spot a rough, narrow parking space right opposite the old corner shop that I want to include in Four Corners of Horbury. I sit in the car and draw the doorway and steps. The car buffets about a bit in gusts of wind and I don't like being so near to the heavy lorries that rattle up and down this narrow road to and from the industrial estate but, using the car as a mobile studio, I'm able to concentrate on the drawing in a way that I couldn't if I was sitting out there on my folding chair.

What I don't like about drawing from a car is that feeling of being hermetically sealed from the outside world.


There are no cafés down Horbury Junction so I drive back home to take a coffee break and decide that when I return for a second session of drawing I'll sit outside. But as I approach the Calder Vale pub it starts spotting with rain so I opt for the shelter of the car again to draw this head carved on the keystone over the pub doorway. I'm convinced that this Victorian Bacchus, with his splendid moustache and mutton-chop whiskers, must be a portrait of the pub's first landlord.

Green Lane

signalboxAfter a lunch break I drawn the signal box I drew a week ago from another angle. I drive through the deep puddles to the end of Green Lane near the motorway. Again it's too windy with occasional showers for me to feel that I can settle down to draw in the open so I pull the car in at the side of the narrow lane.

I've just finished adding the watercolour when a large quarry lorry starts rumbling down the lane behind me, giving me just enough time to drive on and pull out of his way. I return up the now even muddier lane and give the car a good rinse when I get home.


capstonespot heightAfter an afternoon mug of tea and I realise that, with three usable drawings already in the bag, it would be a bonus if I could get out again, even for a half an hour. This time I can't sit in the car; there isn't room to drive it along the canal towpath. There's a ragged grey cloud sweeping in from the west but, never mind, I've got something done today so I won't feel too bad if I get washed out.

The shower adds to the effect, making some of the lines softer and greyer, and I continue in watercolours. As the light fades and the shower passes, I switch back to pen and draw a chiselled spot height and ironstone pebbles on the bridge.
ironstoneI feel that this type of drawing is something I've been missing recently with the careful architectural drawings I've been doing. I did it in a hurry, standing up to get the angle I needed so I think it catches some of the restlessness of the wild afternoon.

I hope that for my next Sushi Sketchbook I'll be able to feature landscape and natural history rather than towns and cities. Organic forms and restlessness is something that I feel I'd like to draw, much as I love the old corners of town. Next Page

Richard Bell,

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