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The House the Dwarfs Built

Richard Bell’s Wild West Yorkshire nature diary, Saturday, 22nd November 2008


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Scenic sketch
Palace sketch

WE BLOCKED OUT a plain, half-timbered structure for the interior of the dwarfs’ house last weekend and this morning we add the details. At this stage you have to start being specific.

The bedside cabinets, for instance; would they have three drawers or a cupboard and drawer? Would the window be arched or mullioned? We settle for curtains and leaded-lights.

In the afternoon we’ve got a couple of hours to paint the palace scene. The eight 11 x 4 ft canvas flats provide me with a grid for the design. I realise by sketching my idea that pointed arches look like an abbey cloister so I go for rounded arches which are easier to draw on the flats using a piece of string and a pencil. The template for the capitals and plinths of the columns is one of the dwarf’s shovels (cut from plywood). We blobbed scenic paints on this little sketch to test out colour schemes. We’re not going for subtlety.

Magic Mirrors

While the rest of the crew are adding the colour to the pencilled outlines, I paint gilded flourishes around the magic mirror.


Budget versions of Snow White use the incantation:

Mirror, mirror, in my hand
Who is the fairest in the land?


You can tell that ours is a lavish production because we’re going for:


Mirror, mirror, on the wall
Who is the fairest of them all?


First night on Wednesday, so I better get back to work:


Heigh Ho! Heigh Ho! . . .


But finally, here’s my portrait of our resident joiner, who is keen to spend more time with his pigeons.