Richard Bell's Wild West Yorkshire nature diary
Saturday, 10th February, 2007
IT’S TAKEN SO LONG to arrive at the clear but friendly look that I’ve been aiming for in Walks around Horbury but here it is at last; finished and printed right here in the studio.
Yesterday I read and re-read it again and again. I found that I had to print out the booklet after each revision to pick up all the things that I wanted to change.
There’s a limit to how much proof-reading I can do sitting here at the computer. I need to settle downstairs on the sofa with a mug of coffee to give the text my full attention. It’s too easy to skip words in a publication as you navigate on screen with scroll bars and flashing cursor.
I’ve enjoyed proof-reading because it has been like re-doing the walks; with any walk you’ve got the pleasure of planning it, doing the walk itself and then reviewing the experience afterwards. Every time I read through a walk I paused at the double-page spread map to follow the route visually. These picture maps sum up how I feel about my home patch. Most of my work involves observational drawing so maps give me license to work in a more stylized way and even to add a touch of humour.
It’s good to occasionally change the way you work. This booklet is a change for me in several ways. For the last 6 years or so I’ve gone to great lengths to ensure that I have the opportunity to draw everything from life but with this book, compiled over the winter, I’ve taken photographs, sometimes 80 or more, as I stride out on a walk and I’ve then selected the subjects that I feel best bring out the character of each walk. To help with way-finding, I’ve included some of the bridges, stiles and steps that walkers will encounter.
I find that I get better results if I draw the photograph from the computer screen, as if it was a view through a window. Tracing it first makes me feel awkwardly constrained as I draw.
In Rough Patch, High Peak Drifter and my little Sushi Sketchbooks I tried to capture the experience of being in a particular place at a particular time but with the walks booklet the main concern is that it should work: I don’t want my readers to get lost.
As I said on the last page of High Peak Drifter, I see parallels between walking through a landscape and drawing the details in that landscape.
In its simple format this walks book gives a picture of my local patch; I feel that, in words, sketch maps and pictures, it taps into the spirit of the place.
But don’t take my word for it; buy the book and try out the walks for