Home and Family

Tuesday, 28th December 2004
Wild West Yorkshire nature diary

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leylandi cypress

The sombre sentinel of the Leyland Cypress is still the signature tree of local gardens.This is the best view I can find to draw on this tail-end of a grey afternoon from Barbara's mum's front room. I draw it in waterproof fibre tip pen (my Christmas gift; a Staedtler mars professional) but by the time I get to adding the watercolour, the light is fading and I'm working partly by guesswork when mixing the colours. Good job I know the layout of my watercolour box.

party people

By now the guests are arriving for the annual gathering and I turn my attention to them.


Izzy's World

'Are you drawing a princess?' I ask Izzy, who is lying on the floor near me. She looks up and smiles at me indulgently, as if I'm being flippant.

I should have realised that this sensitive drawing is of her mum. I like the earrings and, this evening, I think she's caught that tipsy demeanour beautifully. She draws her dad and her older brother, George, in chunkier fashion. The male side of her family are shown in profile wearing big hats and dressed in green to match the garden hedge (her mum, in stance and colour, seems to echo the house).


In contrast to her mum, mincing along on mouselike feet, her dad is goose-stepping purposefully in sturdy boots towards the house.


In Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain, Betty Edwards discusses the way children use symbols in drawing and asks her students to recall the house that they habitually drew as young children.

Izzy is five and her symbolic house is recognisable as her own because it includes the driveways, front and side, that they had resurfaced last summer. Just as her mum's rooflike hairstyle echoes the house, her dad's boots seem to echo the driveways. Her brother George is not only the furthest from the house but he's also the only figure to be drawn entirely in green to match the hedge.

Izzy is the only character with her face shaded in blue. My version of Izzy's mum and dad can be seen on the right hand page of my sketchbook (above, top).

IzzyUncle Richard's Pen

Rotring art pen

While I'm out helping myself to the buffet, Barbara overhears Izzy saying; 'I'm trying hard not to be scared of Great Uncle Richard because he might let me use one of his special pens.'

Izzy will eventually realise that, even though it's Christmas, not all men with grizzled beards are so generous: letting a child loose with one of my favourite pens is rather like expecting a violin virtuoso to let the kiddies have a play with his beloved Stradivarius. Next Page

Richard Bell, richard@willowisland.co.uk

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