Jerusalem Artichokes

Monday, 28th November 2005

Jerusalem artichoke

You can boil them, then pop them out of their skins, or you can peel, slice and sauté them: Jerusalem artichokes are the edible root tubers of a relative of the sunflower. They need harvesting at this time of year, when the tops are dying back after the first frosts.

Apart from sketches made in cafés or on trains, I don't feel that I've drawn very much recently so, after a day of binding booklets and posting parcels, I decide that I might as well do a drawing just for the fun of it.

Jerusalem Artichoke

Quill pen made from a Canada Goose feather I found at a local country park.

While working on my Peak District book I've been feeling that I'd like to draw in a more inky, freer-looking way. I take a home-made goose quill pen out of the drawer and use sepia Winsor and Newton calligraphy ink.

Jerusalem artichokesIn places where this forms little pools on the drawing, it takes hours to dry, probably a whole 24 hours. Perhaps the paper you use it on would make a difference. I'm working in a sketchbook that Roz Stendahl made up for me and she said the paper in it is a kind that is used in printing, so perhaps the ink is staying on the surface. Another kind of ink might dry more quickly without losing that free-flowing inkiness.

There's something different about using a goose quill: the springiness for one thing, the unpredictability for another. I like my Pentel Brush Pen and my Pilot Parallel Pen but they're mechanical compared to the organic feel of a real quill.

A walk with a line

While I've been walking in the hills, I've realised that I need a springy, organic, unpredictable, graphic kind of medium as an equivalent of the way you experience the landscape and its rocks, trees, stiles, drystone walls and gateposts in this wild-looking corner of England, not to mention the ravens and sheep which would also lend themselves to this kind of line.

With the architectural and geological drawings I've made over the last 15 years, it has been appropriate to go for something clear, careful and descriptive, to show the details that I've been describing, but what I'm trying to put over in my Peak District book is the freedom you feel in the hills. That sense of wandering and flowing through a landscape.

Your senses seem clearer, less befuddled in natural surroundings, you become aware of approaching weather; you seem to hear, smell, taste and feel things more clearly in the calmer surroundings, but, while you're fully tuned in to what is going on around you, you aren't necessarily stopping and thinking 'is this architecture Gothic or Perpendicular?' or taking out a magnifying glass to examine a rock face.

You're not analysing and documenting; you're not standing back and being dispassionate; you're letting you're self flow into the landscape, through it, trying to become a part of it. Next Page

Richard Bell,