I’M SORRY that I’ve haven’t had more time to draw from life or write natural history
observations in this diary recently and, in the circumstances, my last page of cartoons
might seem like an off-topic indulgence but studying how cartoonists go about their
work has fed into the artwork I’m doing for my latest walks book.
The cartoon of Princess Jaffa-Kake (and, by the way, that’s not her real name) is
an attempt to put into practice John Byrne’s advice to construct a cartoon figure
from ovals and sausage-shapes.
“My eyebrows aren’t like that!” she says, frowning.
“Yes they are - look: you’re doing it now!”
I take lots of photographs as I walk the routes but in my maps I aim for a kind of
caricature of the places I’ve passed through. I want to give people a very clear
impression of the route without bogging them down with the kind of detail you get
in a Google Earth satellite view or in the official Ordnance Survey map, which is
obliged to carry a lot of information - such a parish boundaries - that you don’t
see on the ground.
On a walk on Friday afternoon, we crossed acres of grass (left) that I remember,
in the 1960s, as the town rubbish dump. Restored when the M1 motorway cut across
the valley, they’d now make a fine parkland setting for a stately home.
Thumbnail sketch in blue Parker fountain pen, made while standing in the queue in
Toon Town & Country
At least the countryside doesn’t look over my shoulder and say “That doesn’t look
like me!” but similar principles of relaxed simplification apply.