Roman Villa at Lupset

In my art college days, back in the late 1960s and early 70s, if you looked down Manor Road, Ossett, towards the newly constructed M1 motorway (this section opened in 1968), you’d see, not the tree-fringed grassy slope Lupset Hill that I sketched last week (left), but the spoil heaps of Roundwood Colliery.

The name Lupset might be from the Norse ‘Lufa’s, or Luppa’s Headland’.

Mosaics, presumably from a Roman villa, were reported from Lupset in the nineteenth century, but they have since disappeared. As a boy, William Briggs, a market gardener from Thornes, saw:

‘Some Roman tessellated pavements just beneath the surface in the field between Snapethorpe Hall and the road leading to Ossett (Ossett Street-side) . . . he had bared them with his cap in order to look more particularly at the pattern.’

Wakefield, Its History and People, J W Walker, Chapter II

So, if you live between the A638, which follows the course of a Roman road, the Via Vicinalis, and the site of Snapethorpe Primary School (the site of the old Hall) and you keep finding small square tesserae when you’re digging the garden, you might be on the site of a long lost Roman villa.

Newsagents in Colour

Here’s the coloured version of Kershaw’s Newsagents, now no. 7, Queen Street, Horbury.

I’ve been able to narrow down the dates of the postcard that I drew this detail from to 1938-1939, so immediately before World War II.

The Savoy Cinema

It was the cinema poster than gave me my first clue. The Savoy was an out-of-town cinema, latterly a bingo hall, next to the Whinney Moor Hotel on Horbury Road, Wakefield.

I walked past it on what turned out to be its last night, walking back from an evening class in Wakefield. It burnt down that night and was eventually replaced by the Lupset Medical Centre. My evening class ran from September 1990 to June 1991, but I can’t remember the date of the fire.

Anyway, getting back to dating that poster:

Bank Holiday was a British drama film directed by Carol Reed and starring John Lodge and Margaret Lockwood. It was released 27 January, 1938. Being out-of-town, I suspect that the Savoy showed movies a week or two after their initial release.

Love Under Fire must have been showing well after its first screening on 20 August, 1937. An American drama, set during the Spanish Civil War, it starred Loretta Young and Don Ameche. Don Ameche had a long film career; he starred in Cocoon: The Return in 1988.

Radio Times

Despite being able to browse through every copy of The Radio Times for that period (see link below), I haven’t been able to spot a specific issue which featured the first broadcast of Elizabeth, the Queen Consort, (better remembered by my generation as The Queen Mother).

There was a lot of coverage of various royal visits in the Radio Times during 1938. This was probably due to the Government and Buckingham Palace trying to undo the potential damage caused by the recently abdicated Edward VIII and his wife (Wallis Simpson, as was), visiting the German Chancellor, Adolf Hitler, and his Minister of Propaganda, Joseph Goebbels, in October 1937.

If you do take a look through the Radio Times for that period and you spot a broadcast billed as Elizabeth’s first, please let me know.

Pearson’s Magazine

I can only decipher the title of one of the periodicals on display, Pearson’s, a magazine of speculative fiction and predominantly left wing political comment, which at that time was edited by John Reed Wade, who had been in charge since 1920. W.E. Johns, author of the Biggles stories, took over as editor in May the following year but the magazine ceased publication in November, which confirms that the photograph must have been taken pre-war.

The magazine or poster to the left of the news-rack, in the doorway, which is also visible in the window, shows a large ship with a crane in the background, so I’d guess that this is a feature about the building of the liner RMS Queen Elizabeth, which was launched by Elizabeth, the Queen Consort, at Clydebank, Scotland, on 27 September, 1938.

There’s what could be a comic in the middle of window. The Beano was already established at the time (although Leo Baxendale’s Bash Street Kids wouldn’t appear for another fifteen years, so probably not worth bothering with).

Queen Street Today


The Kershaw’s Newsagents is now Bike Medic, but there’s still a barber’s, Mister Lister’s next door. The shop fronts have changed a little but the drain pipe – and its top funnel – is still the original!

Before taking the photograph, Barbara and I had called for coffee and freshly baked scones (cherry, this morning) at the Rich & Fancy cafe, three doors up from the bike repair shop.

Local Colour

I couldn’t find any colour reference so I decided to try a bottle green for the newsagent’s, which I believe was a popular colour at that time.

For me it doesn’t ring true, even though I’ve faded it out a bit in my colour image (top), however the advantage of having drawn it as a digital image is that I could change the colours on the paint layer if I wished, without damaging my line drawing in any way.

I can also easily output the drawing in line, black and white half-tone or sepia.

I like the sepia but it does make the scene look too cosily Victorian, rather than Britain on the eve of war.

Links

Savoy Cinema

Bank Holiday, film, 1938.

Love Under Fire, film, 1937

Radio Times, the 1930s

Pearson’s Magazine

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.