A Norfolk Sketchbook

Friday, 20th May 2005

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It was a surprise when this beautiful handmade sketchbook arrived in the post yesterday. It just seems to say 'Norfolk' to me . . . which is where we're setting off to today. It's cover suggests how I feel about the place: relaxed and rural.

Many thanks to Roz Stendahl who made it and who has asked me to let her know how I get on with it: 'The paper is Gutenberg (180 gsm) which is a printing/printmaking paper letterpress folks use,' she tells me, 'but I learned long ago that the sizing will support some nice watercolor wash effects over pen sketches.'

We shall see. Thanks Roz.


JackdawsJackdawClumber Park

As usual on these Norfolk jaunts we stop after an hour at Clumber Park for a coffee. A jackdaw perches on the gutter of the old stable block and flies down to a tray on a table below. The waitress soon removes the tray.

A colony of house martins nests under the eaves, chaffinches hop around the tables and two mallards waddle across the lawn.

I stick the National Trust ticket in the front of the book. Such ephemera was always a part of the holiday journals I kept as a schoolboy.

A17 near SleafordThe A17 near Sleaford

I like the paper: the oatmeal look, the torn edges and the way the page ripples slightly. Like the landscape of Norfolk: homely with a patina of history; gently undulating but wild and ragged around the edges.

We're soon heading through Lincolnshire towards East Anglia. Barbara is driving this stretch and I must be feeling more clear-headed than usual because, once I've navigated us off the A1 and onto the A17 near Sleaford, I find I'm able to draw the view ahead of us. I had plenty of time to draw the red van which we followed for 5 or 10 miles but the landscape is a compilation, pieced together bush by bush as we drive along.

Little Chef

Little Chef billjug and handThe ephemera at the Little Chef doesn't have the cachet of the National Trust ticket, but it's part of the holiday, so I stick it in my book.

I don't feel comfortable drawing the diners so I draw the jug (I drew the teapot when we were here last year) as we wait for our meal.

When we arrive at North Walsham and call in Sainsbury's I draw my hand as I wait for Barbara and her mum to go through the check-out, rather than the people in the queue. I like drawing people but I'm happier drawing them at street markets. Supermarkets rarely have that same buzz and feeling of celebration about them.

Pen on Paper

These were drawn with my favourite pen, the Staedtler mars professional 0.7 mm, but I might have come across a limitation of the paper here. The line seems to be skating over the surface. Perhaps this is because of the woven texture or the sizing applied to the paper. But it might be because the cartridge in the pen is beginning to run down. I'll try another pen.

coal bucketNuttery Cottage

I get into the mood for drawing by drawing a bit here and a bit there - even when there's nothing especially inspiring. When we unpack at the cottage it's getting a bit late to go out into the garden so I cast around for something to draw and decide on the coal bucket.

Getting a Handle on Things

I started this drawing in the top left with the handles of the tongs but, as often happens, by the time I'd got down to the rest of the drawing I found myself drawing on a slightly different scale and the handles have ended up a tad small.

But not to worry; I am on holiday, and there's always the next drawing.

When I e-mailed these drawings to Roz she wrote back and said she likes what I'm doing with the Gutenberg: 'The color of the paper adds a little age or something to the drawings.' Next Page

Related Link

Roz Stendahl

Richard Bell, richard@willowisland.co.uk

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