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Faces in the Crowd

Richard Bell’s Wild West Yorkshire nature diary, Thursday, 19th February 2009

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On the bus
Cafe sketches
Cafe Rouge

There are seven goosanders; two drakes in striking black and white plumage with brownish females in tow. Moorhens, dabble about by the overhanging vegetation of the banks while mallards zoom along the river as if on urgent business.


On the return walk we meet a mild-mannered white horse on the path by the riverside alders. It looks as if it has stepped out of a storybook; its mane has been gathered into a series of plaits.


IT FEELS like spring as we walk alongside the River Aire from Hunslet into Leeds.

Its rider tells us that this horse and its companions have been spending the winter ‘living like wild animals’ in a muddy field but it’s back to work for them now; the season opens at the Royal Armouries and they will be appearing in a programme of daily demonstrations which will include jousting, archery and historic firearms.


I’d love to draw them in action.


We’ve left our 8 year-old car at the garage in Hunslet for its MOT test. Sadly it didn’t pass so we find ourselves making our way home by bus - hence the drawing.

Café sketches in Pilot Drawing Pen, 0.8 nib, colour added later from a few notes made at the time and from my fallible memory.


There were some wonderful faces in the crowds walking past the café. I tried to memorise each face in the 10 or 15 seconds it took for the person to walk past. I had more time to draw the baby at the next table at lunchtime. She was a remarkably good model, staring at me wide-eyed as I started drawing. Barbara tells me that wasn’t the colour of her dress!