Newsagents in Pen

I’ve used the pen tool with the G-pen nib in Clip Studio Paint in this drawing of  Kershaw’s Newsagents, Horbury, in 1938. The effect is very similar to my regular pen and ink drawings, although bringing the whole drawing together wasn’t so straightforward; although I appreciated being able to zoom in on the different sections of the drawing as I worked, this did mean that it felt a bit like working on a jigsaw: I’d concentrate on one area, such as an edge, but I’d lose sight of the picture of a whole as I did that.

Adding colour was also unfamiliar to me, compared with using my watercolours. I’ve stuck to one brush to get the feel for that particular setting, but the result feels like colouring using a felt-tip pen.

The whole exercise has been useful for getting used to the range of marks that I can produce with pen and brush in the program. I’m sure that I’ll find it useful.

Sunrise

8 a.m.: Sunrise over Coxley Valley. The pond and the bird bath are frozen over. One of our neighbours is clinging to a gate post as she negotiates black ice on the pavement.

Newsagents, 1938

Tracing from a vintage postcard in Clip Studio Paint.

I recently joined a local history group on Facebook, focussing on Horbury and neighbouring Sitlington. This newsagents caught my attention; it appears in the left-hand corner of a postcard of Queen Street, Horbury, one of series which Helen Bickerdike, administrator of the group, has been posting.

I’ve been doing a bit or research into the film titles on the poster for the Savoy Cinema and into what I can decipher of the newspapers and journals. I’ll explain more when I finish the picture and can pick out some of the details but it must have been taken a year or two before the outbreak of World War II, perhaps in January, 1938.

The shop, which was Noble’s Newsagents in until the late 1960s, appears, second from the left, on the cover of my booklet.

Like the digital painting of Coxley Beck which I posted the other day, I’m doing this as a way of getting thoroughly familiar with the program Clip Studio Paint.

When I was writing my local history booklets, such as Around Old Horbury (1998), I did a lot of drawings like this, initially by sitting on street corners with my sketchbook, but later using my own photographs as reference.

I had a unique opportunity when I redrew the cover illustration as a wrap-around design for a china mug. When I arrived in Horbury, one Sunday morning, I discovered that they’d closed the High Street for resurfacing and I was able to sit on my fishing stool in the middle of the road, to get a perfect view of the sweeping curve at the lower end of Queen Street.

Link

Around Old Horbury on my Willow Island Editions website (£2.95, post free in the U.K.)

Coxley Beck

This digital painting has turned out looking like the starting point for one of my acrylic on hardboard paintings, before I’d started adding details of tree, water and ferns.

Coxley Beck is running opaque with sediment where it passes through an old mill race at Horbury Bridge. I’ve draw this on my iPad Pro, using an Apple Pencil in the Clip Studio Paint program.

I pasted a photograph that I’d taken this afternoon into the lowest layer of my Clip Studio Paint document, then added a layer for pencil above it. So that I could see where I was going with the pencil, I partially faded out  the photograph by using the opacity slider for that layer.

I traced the trees and the line of the beck in pencil, then hid the photograph by clicking its eye symbol in the layer palette and drew using the pen tool, using my pencil tracing as a guide.

Paint Layer

Once I’d finished with the pencil layer, I hid it and added a new layer for paint. In order not to paint over my pen lines, I added the paint layer below the pen layer.

As I worked, I kept referring back to the photograph layer, now with the opacity slider set back at 100%, and used the eye-dropper tool to sample colour. I couldn’t always get the colour that I wanted, so I also used some of the standard swatches and the colour wheel.

In the odd spots that I hadn’t painted, the default white background of what Clip Studio refers to as ‘paper’ showed through, making Coxley Beck look more sparkly than it actually does this afternoon, so I added a background layer of a suitably muddy brown.

Pen, initial pencil sketch and first attempts at adding colour.

It reminds me of when I painted in acrylic and I’d start by painting the whole canvas in a neutral light grey, so that I wasn’t misled when mixing tones by a brilliant white background.

I used various digital pens, finishing up with the textured pen and various versions of the watercolour brush, including dense watercolour.

I look forward to trying the technique with another subject.

Links

Clip Studio Paint

iPad Pro and Apple Pencil

Basildon Bond

It’s that time of the month again, when I put together my Wild Yorkshire sketchbook spread for the Dalesman magazine. I’m pleased with the way that the illustrations have come together but, for the lettering, I’m going for a slightly different technique.

Last month, I found that the Noodler’s ink that I use, which is waterproof when dry, was taking a surprisingly long time to dry on layout paper.

Even when I came back to my work after a break, there was still a danger that I’d smear a carefully hand-lettered heading or paragraph

I’ve switched to ordinary, non-waterproof Lamy fountain pen ink, which usually dries in minutes and instead of layout paper I’ve gone for a classic letter-writing paper, Basildon Bond, which is a pleasure to use: after all that is what it was designed for. It’s more substantial than layout paper, which gives me a feeling of confidence, something that I need when I attempt my neatest lettering with my waywardly shaky hand.

Once I get into the rhythm of lettering, I enjoy it. It just when I’m getting started that I’m a bit stuttery.

The pad comes with a pre-ruled backing sheet with lines that are at just the right spacing when I write with a Lamy Safari with a medium nib.

Links

Lamy Safari

Basildon Bond

Dalesman magazine

 

Dogs Mercury

Tassels of male flowers have already appeared on dog’s mercury.

Perennial Dog’s MercuryMercurialis perennis, is already in flower in the hedgebanks, or at least the male flowers are now showing. Each plant is either male or female but I’ve yet to spot any female flowers; they are long-stalked and grow from the axils. An axil is the joint where a leaf stalk branches from the stem of a plant. Axilla is the Latin for armpit.

Like the petty spurge that I drew yesterday, dog’s mercury is a member of the Spurge Family, Euphorbiacaeae. It spreads by root-like rhizomes and is common throughout most of Britain in woods, hedges, scree and in the sheltered crevices (grykes) of limestone pavements. It is rare in Ireland.

Male flower

The male flowers are just four or five millmetres across and grow in catkin-like tassels. Each has three bract-like tepals.

Petty Spurge

Petty spurgeEuphorbia peplus, is a common weed  of gardens and waste ground but its tiny green flowers look quite exotic in close up. Those horned glands give it a hint of the extra-terrestial.

The winged capsules are the female parts of the flower. There are three here, the central one much larger than those at top and bottom of the picture. Each capsule has a tuft of stigmas (five on the lower one).

Appropriately, the male flowers are the ones that are sporting the stag’s horns (which are glands). Again, there are three in the photograph and I think that on the tips of the stamens of the top one there’s a hint of yellow pollen.

The the small beak-like fleshy ‘leaves’ that can be seen clasping the top and bottom flowers are a structure that is special to euphorbias called the cyathophyll. I think that must be a botanical term for ‘cup-like leaf’ because phyll means leaf and cyathos is derived from a Greek word meaning ‘A cup or ladle used for drawing wine from a bowl’.

The larger ‘leaves’ clasping each flower are bracts, which look very similar to the leaves in this species. Each umbel of flowers has three rays (primary branches).

The petty spurge is not thought to be a native to the British Isles but is believed to be long-established here, since before 1600.

Masons’ Marks at Westgate, Wakefield


Victorian stone masons left their marks on this embankment wall, south of Wakefield Westgate Station.

The Roman numeral ‘IV’ carved on this sandstone block appears to relate to the iron bracket that has been added to brace the wall but it’s the mark below that intrigues me: it looks like a flag, a key or a crossed out semiquaver. It has weathered more than the numeral, which suggests that the ironwork is a later addition.

The sun was at a perfect angle this morning for picking out the marks and we spotted dozens of them.

They’re carved at the centre of the facing side of each block. Some masons used letters of the alphabet. You can see that the quality of the sandstone varied because the ‘H’ in the top right of my photograph has faded away more than the one on the left.

There are crosses, arrows and triangles but my favourite marks are the fish-like hieroglyphs and that rabbit’s head (or perhaps it’s an upside-down ‘R’) in the bottom right-hand corner.

This embankment wall, between Westgate Wakefield and the first arch of the Ninety-nine Arches railway viaduct over Ings Road, was constructed in the mid-1860s.

Carrion Crow

There’s often a carrion crow on the old felled sweet chestnut trunk near the Lower Lake bridge, feeding on grain that’s been left there and frequently being photographed. You can see in my photograph that it’s stuffed its crop with grain.

A few rooks feeding alongside jackdaws on the turf in Obelisk Park also have full crops, but they are more likely to be feeding on earthworms and insect larvae, such as leather-jackets: the caterpillar-like larvae of the crane fly.

grey squirrelUnder a yew near the Menagerie seven grey squirrels have gathered. They’re turning over the leaf litter and stopping to nibble at frequent intervals. One appears to have found half a nut, probably an acorn that it – or another of the squirrels – had hidden during the autumn.

We disturb the adult grey heron yet again. This time it was hoping to be left in peace at the top end of the lake beneath the Cascade Bridge. It takes off, clearing the clapper stones of the Druid’s Bridge with inches to spare.

 

The flock of fieldfares are still around. Wigeon have left the now completely ice-covered field pool. There’s a pair on the Middle Lake, along with two pairs of gadwall, tufted, the usual mallards and swans and an increasing number of goosanders, some swimming in pairs.

There are more wigeon on the ice-free Upper Lake, which isn’t accessible from the Park.

As we walk along the edge of Top Park Wood, a kestrel wheels from tree to tree ahead of us.