tortoiseshellBright Wings of Autumn

Wild West Yorkshire, Monday 4 October 2010

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Coxley Valley

The wood looking towarrds Netherton Hall5.30 pm THE LOW sun throws the foliage of the ashes in the valley into sharp contrasts of golds and mossy greens against peat-brown shadows. The splodges of bright golden yellow in the left foreground are a couple of branches of our golden hornet which is covered in small yellow crab apples at present.

In recent months, the vast conifer plantations of Kielder have been more familiar to us but they don't offer the autumn colour of Coxley Valley. By the way, that grey sky behind the trees in my watercolour was actually a soft blue sky, gradually yellowing towards the horizon as the sun dipped. I used cerualean blue with the tiniest blob of yellow as I washed it in downwards, diluting the colour as I went. It never scans with the same blue cast that it has in my sketchbook. On occasions I've messed around with the colour balance in Photoshop to make cerulean look a purer blue in my scans but I think, if a drawing is intended for reproduction, it would be better to use dilute winsor blue (green shade) for a sky like that. It's a similar, but purer, colour.

After the sun burnt away the morning mist in the valley, we had blue skies all day and we've had more butterflies in the garden than I've seen for a long time. On the tall sprawling stand of michaelmas daisies by the patio, bathed in a patch of afternoon sun, seven fresh-looking small tortoiseshells were busily feeding, but there were also, Barbara tells me, a peacock and a red admiral.

pumpkinLeaves and pigeon breast feather from our doorstep. The yellow one is a leaflet of rowan, but I'm not sure about the oval, toothed-edged leaves.

On our travels today, we took a coffee break at Farmer Copley's. Lined up at two foot intervals along the flagstone top of the low wall which divides the Moo Cafe from the farm shop were pumpkins, mainly real but one or two of the large garden ornament variety with smiling faces carved in them. A six-year old schoolboy walked along the row, pausing to face each one, bowing politely to say 'HELLO!'.

Richard Bell, illustrator

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