Robin Hood’s Bay

4.45 p.m., Friday, 5th October.

We had a couple of nights at the Raven Hall Hotel, Ravenscar, earlier this month. This is the view through the fanlight window of our third floor room, room 303, which is the one up in the pediment of the Georgian facade, looking out across Robin Hood’s Bay.

Grey Seals

4 p.m., Wednesday, 4th October: From the ramparts of the cliff-top gardens of the hotel, we had some difficulty spotting the seals below because, from six hundred feet above the grey sea, it was the similar-looking bobbing knots of seaweed and diving sea-birds that caught our eyes.

But we did see one grey seal which appeared to be relaxing, floating on its back, while another seal bobbed up its head nearby . . . or was that another knot of seaweed?

At the time that it was built, at the beginning of the nineteenth century, Raven Hall overlooked a scene of industry; we looked down over the hotel’s golf course to the preserved ruins of an Alum Works that stood on the cliff top.

Bay Ness

5 p.m., Wednesday, 4th October: The promontory of Bay Ness, beyond Robin Hood’s Bay village, vanished as the mist rolled down the slope and out across the headland.

Next day, in complete contrast, we sat out in the sun at Swell’s Café in Robin Hood’s Bay village. As I drew the cliffs of Ness Point, the tide came in surprisingly quickly, covering the black rocks that I’d been drawing before I could add a watercolour wash. Six or seven holidaymakers and dog-walkers were caught out and had to pick their way over the sea defence boulders to get back to the village from the cut-off bay.

Hackness Valley

The sides of the Hackness Valley, which I drew from the Everley Country House Café, are topped with conifer plantations, with broadleaved hedgerows and sheep pasture on the slopes below. The flat valley floor is given over the arable farming.

The land use corresponds to the underlying rock: the conifers are planted on poor soils on the steep upper slopes of Jurassic gritstone while the gentler lower slopes and the flat valley floor have been cut into the underlying Oxford Clay.

Links

Raven Hall Country House Hotel

Swell Café Bar, Gift Shop, Robin Hood’s Bay

Everley Country House Café

The Majestic

I drew the magnificent pile that is the Majestic Hotel on a short break in Harrogate last month. Forty-five years ago, in August 1972, as part of my final project on the Graphic Design course at Leeds College of Art, I organised an exhibition at the Harrogate Festival about the life of Yorkshire composer William Baines (1899-1922) and a recital of his music by pianist Eric Parkin at the Majestic.

Drawn on the train from Leeds.

Harlow Carr

On our visits to Harrogate, we invariably head up through the Victorian park of the Valley Gardens and continue through The Pinewooods (left) at the top of the slope to Harlow Carr, RHS gardens.

With its vegetable and flower gardens, woodland walk, meadow area and alpine house, there’s always something to see, whatever the season. There’s even a woodland bird hide.

Buzzards over Whitley

7th September, 10.50 a.m.: Two buzzards land on the grassy embankment of Whitley Reservoir. A smaller bird – it looks like a kestrel – swoops down on them and they fly off after a minute or so.

11th September: The view changes every few minutes as grey curtains of rain sweep down from the hills across the Calder valley.

18th September: Just one more drawing of the view from Charlotte’s Ice Cream Parlour at Whitley, a regular date to meet up for a coffee with Barbara’s brother.

28th September: But we do visit other cafes: here’s the view from the Seed Room Coffee Shop and Bistro in Overton, looking across the Smithy Brook valley to Thornhill Edge.

14th September: And we do get even further afield, I made a quick sketch of the old lime kilns at Rheged visitor centre, Penrith, on a brief visit to the Lake District. Two grey wagtails flitted about on the rocks by the nearby pond.

Rheged was a good stop for us: after an hour driving through the Dales and along the M6, it gave us an opportunity for a short walk around the centre and along the adjacent country lane. You can’t do that at some motorway services.

 

Trees in September

However ingenious it might be, drawing on an iPad doesn’t have the familiar feel of pen and watercolour on paper. On an iPad, I feel that any mistakes I make betray a shortcoming in my technique while in a real-world drawing, such as this autumnal tree I drew yesterday, the ‘mistakes’ – wayward squiggles, ragged lines and minor smudges – are very much part of the medium.

On Friday, at the Thyme cafe, Cannon Hall Garden Centre, as a change from my usual pen and wash sketches, I launched straight into watercolour: the pale featureless sky first, then the lighter background foliage and finally the darker patches as the watercolour dried.

I’m a bit out of my comfort zone in pure watercolour though so, visiting friends yesterday, I drew my mug in pen and resisted the urge to add colour.

Four Hundred Miles with a Fitbit

For the past few months it’s been rare for me to settle down to do a drawing but on Monday morning we had a longer than usual wait at the doctors’ so I had time not only to draw my hand but also to add some colour.

One of the reasons that my drawing time has been a bit limited is that since I bought my Fitbit Alta HR step-counter and heartbeat monitor (the blue strap on my wrist) in July I’ve been enjoying hitting my target of 10,000 steps a day.

According to Fitbit, in those twelve weeks I walked 892,355 steps which they estimate is equivalent to 444 miles. That’s getting on for twice the length of the Pennine Way!

I think that is pretty impressive but apparently the record for completing the trail is a little less than three days, and that included a leisurely eighteen minute break for fish and chips in Alston!

Link

Fitbit

Fastest time to complete the Pennine Way

Digital Turnip Pen

I’ve often drawn the view from my studio window before but this is the first time I’ve drawn it using an iPad Pro and Apple Pencil.

Once again I’ve got it connected to my iMac and the point of the exercise is to become more familiar with the comic drawing program Clip Studio Paint. So, I’m using a different virtual nib with the pen tool today; the turnip pen, which I leave set to size 5.

I add the watercolour on its own layer, which I keep behind the pen layer.

I add the colour using the brush tool set to transparent watercolour. The way I’m using the brush tool makes it feel more like a marker pen filled with watercolour. I notice that if I hold the Apple Pencil at an angle I can get a blended effect and tone down my initial brushstrokes.

Autodesk SketchBook

I drew the vase using Autodesk SketchBook. It’s designed with a touchscreen in mind which is probably why I find that colour selection is more intuitive than Clip Studio Paint but I want to stick with the latter as it offers so much more when it comes to page layout for comic strips.

Links

Clip Studio Paint

Autodesk SketchBook

Digital Mapping Pen

Imagine a mapping pen nib that doesn’t splay and twist if you press too hard or being able to splash on India ink without getting the odd drop on your fingers and desk top: welcome to the world of digital pen and ink.

This drawing of my trainers took about forty minutes, drawing in Clip Studio Paint using the pen tool with the mapping nib selected and the paintbrush with the India ink, darker bleed option.

Like the hand I drew the other day, it’s drawn with an Apple Pencil on my iPad Pro which was linked by a USB cable to my iMac, using the Astropad program.

I hope that as well as getting more familiar with the basics of drawing in Clip Studio Paint that I’ll also learn to free up my regular pen on paper drawings.

iPad Sketch

I’ve drawn my hand here using an iPad Pro connected to my iMac. It doesn’t feel as responsive as pen on paper but there isn’t a significant delay as I draw with an Apple Pencil.

I’m using a program called Astropad which is designed to enable you use your iPad as a graphics tablet. This has an advantage over the Wacom tablet that I use, as the drawing is there on the tablet as well as on the big screen.

I’ve got various sketching apps on my iPad but I’m drawing this using the comic strip drawing program Clip Studio Paint which I’d like to get more familiar with so that I can use it for my walks booklets and local history publications.

Links

Astropad

Apple Pencil

Clip Studio Paint

Titles and Text

Hand lettering the title of my next Dalesman article, it takes a few attempts to get the ‘S’ of Semerwater looking just as I’d like it. It needs to snake around in a relaxed manner but it shouldn’t slouch or look as if it’s putting on weight.

Getting the right degree of slope of the strokes of the A and the W also makes a big difference; my first ‘W’ ends up too wide, the second looks rather undernourished.

Homegrown Lettering

I try drawing the letters just as I’d draw anything else, for instance a plant. The serifs should look as if they’ve grown from the letter, rather than been stuck on as afterthought.

I’d like the letterforms to look as if it they’d grown naturally so I draw them as I would, for example, a winter hedgerow: I’d be as interested in the spaces between plants as I was in the shape of individual trunks and branches.

I decide that I’d like the main stems to taper slightly towards the base, as the stems of hedgerow shrubs often do.

Line Sheet

So much for the titles; I’ve had a bright idea for the text too: I put the lined sheet that came with a Basildon Bond writing pad under my layout paper. That saves a lot of drawing parallel lines, then rubbing them out later . . . and often then having the clear up the smudges where the rubber caught the ink that hadn’t quite dried.

I’ve been drawing this outline lettering – and filling it in – with my Lamy Vista fountain pen, filled with a homemade mix of Noodlers brown and black inks.

Cirrus

10.15 a.m.: Wispy cirrus cloud is a sign of a change in the weather.

Sure enough, twenty minutes later on our walk around the valley, we’re already seeing cumulus moving in from the west below it.

As I write this, seven hours later at 5 p.m., the sky is completely overcast and we’ve had half an hour of light rain.