It's my mum's birthday and we take her to Armitage's
Garden Centre at Shelley for lunch. There's an ulterior motive:
their Café 1842 overlooks a Pennine valley. It's a clear
sunny day with remnants of snow on higher ground.
I've brought a pod of watercolour pencils with me so I add a suggestion
of colour. These are Derwent Watercolour pencils (see link below).
I've used them for years; sometimes to add texture to an existing
watercolour, more often as a convenient alternative to watercolours,
such as here at the café table where it feels easier to take
out a handful of pencils than to use watercolours. Derwent have
recently introduced a new Signature range of crayons which are more
resistant to fading, but these artist's quality crayons are fine
for sketching: there's no way I'm going to take my sketchbook to
pieces to put a drawing in a frame.
I've never used watercolour crayons on wet paper or applied them
dry then brushed over them with a wash of clear water, as the Derwent
website suggests. If I want a watercolour effect I'll use watercolours.
'I thought you were drawing me,' says a man who comes over to our
table, 'then I realised I'm not handsome enough so I thought perhaps
you were writing a letter. But I've seen you somewhere before .
When I say who I am he remembers he saw me do a demonstration at
Wakefield Art Club (they liked that one; my painting kept going
wrong. I've never known an art club audience laugh so much!). I
can't go anywhere: another diner has recognised me. She's a teacher
who remembers me coming into her school to talk about my work and
do art workshops.
These days I'd prefer to spend as much time as I can actually
drawing rather than trying to enthuse other people
to draw and paint.
When I see a table come free by the other window I hop over (Barbara
and my mum have wandered off browsing), get a hot chocolate and a rice
crispy bun from the counter and settle down to some line drawing, using
my sepia Edding 1800 profipen; a fairly new pen which
I like using as a change from my habitual Rotring Art Pen.
You can see why the view from this side of the café attracts me
more than the side where we had lunch. The individual trees and houses
are visible so I can work my way along the ridge, detail by detail, rather
than do the hazy generalisations of the more distant hills. It's an intimate,
small scale, landscape of the type that, as a boy, I would have loved
to have constructed as a background for a model railway (come to think
of it, if I had the time, I'd probably relish doing that today). The Pennine
gritstone hillsides are divided into smaller units - pastures, meadows,
woods, hamlets - than the gentler slopes to the south-east (in the first
drawing), which are probably coal measures country.
The crisp line of the O.5 tip pen gives a printed look to the drawing
and reminds me of the sort of landscape Albrecht Dürer put in the
background of his prints. Durer would have included a Madonna, the Grim
Reaper or the Horsemen of the Apocalypse in the foreground. I don't see
any of them in the queue by the counter.
Derwent the Cumberland Pencil
Armitages Garden Centres
Richard Bell, email@example.com