Travel Sketches

AFTER OUR WEEKEND trip to Glasgow we returned to Wakefield Westgate station exactly 48 hours after we set out. Travelling by train gave me a rare chance to sketch, so here are yet more drawings from our travels that I wasn’t able to fit into my last posting. I couldn’t have done much drawing if I’d been driving but the main reason that I was able to be so productive – in terms of sketchbook pages – was getting away from the distractions of home life and running a business.

Dark Angel

It’s a 4½ journey but on the way out the daylight only lasted for the first hour and a half or so, about as far as Durham, so the grim outline of the Angel of the North was the last thing I drew. He doesn’t look like an angel about to take flight. I’d hate to look out each morning on such a doom-laden figure, weighed down by his iron wings, which are surely shackles of imprisonment rather than a means of soaring to escape. It seems churlish to say that I’d rather look out on a utility than a work of art but the pylon that stands in the field above the wood is light and airy in comparison with this grim apocalyptic figure.

Early Start

On the return trip, looking around for something to draw at Glasgow Central station, I had a wobbly attempt at the Uppercrust refreshment booth. It often takes me a while to get started in the morning. I don’t always feel like bursting into a drawing, especially when I’ve got a train to catch which makes me feel unsettled, but doing some kind of drawing is better than doing none at all.

It gets me started.

The pigeons coming down for scraps of sandwiches were a better warm-up than those tricky parallel curves of the sandwich booth.

At our stops at York, Edinburgh Waverley and Newcastle, the cast iron pillars seemed the obvious subject to draw. As in all the other views from the carriage window, I added the colour later. There’s hardly the time to draw a tree or building as we hurtle past, let alone add colour, so the drawings are from one landscape, the colour from another, or from memory.

Wild Tracks

I drew these cattle and sheep as we crossed through the Scottish borderlands, heading for Berwick on Tweed. Where the line runs close to the cliff-top, we looked out for seals in the rocky bays below. No seals and we didn’t see much in the way of wildlife at all so to spot a woodpecker as we sped along was a bit of a bonus.

Barbara thought it was a green while I thought it was great spotted but we both agreed it was a woodpecker from its size and its bobbing flight as it crossed an open field, heading away from a nearby copse.

The motion of the train makes for a jerky pen line.

As we came back into Yorkshire, the North Yorks Moors loomed above the farmland. They’d been almost imperceptable in the mist on our outward journey, their tops hidden by a long low cloud.