Bands of Landscape

Richard Bell's Wild West Yorkshire nature diary, Wednesday 8 September 2010

railway sketches

AFTER ALL the effort of booking art course, train, theatre ticket and accommodation at last I'm on the train to Kings Cross and for 2 hours I can simply relax and watch the familiar succession of bands of landscape go by:

There's a hypnotic delight in just watching them go by but, being me, this has got to be an opportunity for some drawing and I think I've now come up with a format which gets that feeling of random countryside passing by onto the page; instead of drawing trees, buildings and clouds as isolated details dotted all over the page, I start on the left then join the next detail to it as if it was part of the same scene, even though we might now have travelled a further mile. The more detailed little sketches of chimney pots represent the brief stops at Doncaster and Newark. Many of the trees are odd hybrids; a birch might be completed as an oak, as if a speeded up ecological succession had taken place as the train went on by.

Once I reach the right-hand margin of the page, I start the next band on the left below. Hooked as I am on observational drawing, it's fun to use a modicum of imagination in trying to stitch together a band of landscape from whatever details come to hand.


Tower blocks begin to creep in as we arrive in London but, even there, the railway embankments often bring a thin band of weeds and shrubs right into the city.

I sit on a bench outside the zoo in Regents Park for my sandwich and then draw the camels before moving on to Baker Street. Just before I set off this morning I was able to quickly check the proofs for the second revised edition of Rhubarb and this afternoon my visit to the Sherlock Holmes Museum at 221b Baker Street marks the start in earnest of my next book.

As Holmes would say 'The game is afoot!'