Shelley after Snow

Thursday, 26th February 2004
Wild West Yorkshire nature diary

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the view from Shelley

It's my mum's birthday and we take her to Armitage's Garden Centre at Shelley for lunch. There's an ulterior motive: their Café 1842 overlooks a Pennine valley. It's a clear sunny day with remnants of snow on higher ground.

I've brought a pod of watercolour pencils with me so I add a suggestion of colour. These are Derwent Watercolour pencils (see link below). I've used them for years; sometimes to add texture to an existing watercolour, more often as a convenient alternative to watercolours, such as here at the café table where it feels easier to take out a handful of pencils than to use watercolours. Derwent have recently introduced a new Signature range of crayons which are more resistant to fading, but these artist's quality crayons are fine for sketching: there's no way I'm going to take my sketchbook to pieces to put a drawing in a frame.

I've never used watercolour crayons on wet paper or applied them dry then brushed over them with a wash of clear water, as the Derwent website suggests. If I want a watercolour effect I'll use watercolours.watercolour crayons

Drawing Attention

'I thought you were drawing me,' says a man who comes over to our table, 'then I realised I'm not handsome enough so I thought perhaps you were writing a letter. But I've seen you somewhere before . . .'

When I say who I am he remembers he saw me do a demonstration at Wakefield Art Club (they liked that one; my painting kept going wrong. I've never known an art club audience laugh so much!). I can't go anywhere: another diner has recognised me. She's a teacher who remembers me coming into her school to talk about my work and do art workshops.

These days I'd prefer to spend as much time as I can actually drawing rather than trying to enthuse other people to draw and paint.

sprinkling of snow

hilltopTable Hopper

When I see a table come free by the other window I hop over (Barbara and my mum have wandered off browsing), get a hot chocolate and a rice crispy bun from the counter and settle down to some line drawing, using my sepia Edding 1800 profipen; a fairly new pen which I like using as a change from my habitual Rotring Art Pen.
edding 1800

You can see why the view from this side of the café attracts me more than the side where we had lunch. The individual trees and houses are visible so I can work my way along the ridge, detail by detail, rather than do the hazy generalisations of the more distant hills. It's an intimate, small scale, landscape of the type that, as a boy, I would have loved to have constructed as a background for a model railway (come to think of it, if I had the time, I'd probably relish doing that today). The Pennine gritstone hillsides are divided into smaller units - pastures, meadows, woods, hamlets - than the gentler slopes to the south-east (in the first drawing), which are probably coal measures country.

ridge The crisp line of the O.5 tip pen gives a printed look to the drawing and reminds me of the sort of landscape Albrecht Dürer put in the background of his prints. Durer would have included a Madonna, the Grim Reaper or the Horsemen of the Apocalypse in the foreground. I don't see any of them in the queue by the counter. Next Page

Related Link

Derwent the Cumberland Pencil Museum.

Armitages Garden Centres

Richard Bell,

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