Richard Bell's Wild West Yorkshire nature diary, May, 2007
MY PORTABLE WATERCOLOURS etc., that fit comfortably into a bumbag, prove useful this morning when I’m waiting for Barbara who's got an appointment in Normanton. There’s a sport’s field nearby where I stand in the warm sun and draw the musky-scented elderflowers on the rough boundary of the field. How rare for drawing on location to be as comfortable as this for me. I rest my sketchbook on the bumbag, which I've swivelled around to the front like a kangaroo's pouch.
I can't use dip pen and ink when I'm standing up like this, so the blossom is drawn in 0.7mm Staedtler mars professional fibre tip.
I don’t know how long Barbara will be, so I pick a stem of wall barley, a grass of waste places and disturbed ground and draw that inside as I wait for her.
It’s surprising how much detail you see when you sit and draw but, even with my reading glasses on, I feel the need to use a hand lens (also packed in my bag) on the joint where the leaf sheathes the stem.
Without the hand lens I can make out a flimsy band around the stem, with the lens I can see that these are two wispy pennants, folded across each other as someone would fold their arms.
auricles: appendages which project from the collar at the junction of the grass blade and sheath that clasps the stem. Auricles may be long and clawlike, short or absent altogether.
But I can't draw in the meadow all day; we've got a pick up (then assemble, that's the challenging bit) a bedside cabinet from Ikea so we have lunch at the Bella Italia, Birstall. I'm surprised when the waiter recognises me as the chap who was sketching there before Christmas:
'How did it work out?' he asks, 'you were going to use the drawing for a stage set weren't you?'
'Yes, I drew those copper pans around the arch and they became a stall in 'the Old Bazaar in Cairo', with a Sphinx sitting on top of it; I was pleased with that, it turned out well considering I just climbed up a step-ladder and painted it. There were palm trees and a couple of pyramids, so people would realise that it was Egypt!'