Easter Day

Richard Bell's Wild West Yorkshire Nature Diary, Sunday, 4th April 2010

sumachsparrowsEASTER, and it feels like the first real break we've had since Christmas, which is probably as much to do with the weather we've had as it is my workload. Having family to dinner is good for me. I stop work, stop my spring home improvement projects and just sit and chat for a few hours but, as it's family, I don't feel that I'm being unsociable if I sketch too, making occasional comments on the conversation. They're used to me by now.

Looking through the front window, I draw the stagshorn sumach (left) in next door's front garden. House sparrows (right) hop through its bare branches. I'm glad that we still have plenty of sparrows around and that they're getting on with the seasonal business of bickering, mating and gathering wisps of grass as nesting material. They've now perfected a blue tit technique for pecking at the fat balls ; they hang upside-down from the feeder. When we first got this particular feeder a month or two ago their first attempts involved perching on its slender shepherd's crook supporting pole and leaning across to peck.

the woodchairLine and Colour

Later, moving to the other sofa, I draw the tangled view of branches in our back garden and in the wood beyond. This technique of drawing with a fibre tip pen (a brown Pilot Drawing Pen) then adding watercolour is very relaxing. Starting with line you've got only the drawing side of things to concern you - that's not too taxing, if you're drawing for fun - then you switch to colour which is potentially complex, but with my little box of watercolours things are much simplified because the primaries are all to hand, plus a handful of secondaries and it's then easy to modify the grey of the clouds or the brown of the twiggy woodland into warmer or cooler combinations.

As you can see from yesterday's photographs, my pocket-sized camera can make this job even simpler but it's not quite so much fun as painting your own little watercolour.

biscuitsNew Zealand Biscuits

In the afternoon, I turn to drawing one of the dining chairs and the Botanic Garden mugs on the coffee table with a plate of New Zealand biscuits, an oaty, treacly recipe that Barbara's mum, Betty, decided she'd try. A few weeks ago my mum tried a wartime (i.e. World War II) recipe for ANZAC biscuits which were equally nice but crisper and less treacly than the New Zealand variety.