THERE’S SOMETHING special about a Saturday morning in the studio. I don’t manage it every weekend but it does happen now and then because there is less of a chance of being called away on errands, appointments and deliveries than on a weekday. I feel more relaxed because it’s a bonus session of work on my book. A gift.
A Saturday morning wouldn’t be quite complete without CD Review on Radio 3. As I write this, they’re playing a new recording of Mozart’s Haffner Symphony. Perfect!
First on my list this morning is an illustration of a blazing fire, the sort of blaze you’d get if you were burning wood-shavings. I realise how much I rely on colour because I always reach for the brightest yellow in my palette when I’m drawing flames but here I’m limited to black and white line, I can’t even add a half tone, nor can I stipple to my heart’s content because that would be just like a laborious, hand-drawn half-tone and it would be equally prone to clog up in the printing.
Flames and explosions are a staple of comic strip illustration so I could refer to my copy of the Step-by-Step Guide to Cartooning or to one of the comic strip books on my shelf but really it’s more fun to come up with my own simple home-spun solution rather than copy the best examples. That way I can keep some of the intimacy of the homely Victorian world that I’m building up in the illustrations, even though in this case there are no period details. I don’t want Batman style special effects. This sketchy version of a woodcut should be just fine.
My next subject, a skinny-ribbed person eating a local variety of porridge, prompts me to draw Oliver Twist with a touch of Stan Laurel. His second course could be this potato and onion stew.
The other day, untangling wool was my subject, today it’s picking twigs from a fleece. The people of Victorian Wakefield must have spent a lot of time preparing fleeces for combing and spinning.
I always dread being in the newspaper. I ramble on to reporters – this week it was the Wakefield Express Horbury reporter Victoria Turton – and then worry that I’m going to sound as rambling and incoherent in the article as I do in real life.
No worries; Victoria has summed up the story about the controversial proposed changes to planning legislation clearly and concisely and the Express photographer has illustrated the concept of concern for a local patch of ordinary, undesignated but much-loved countryside effectively in his picture. I did my bit by preparing a visual aid specially for this photograph; my sketchbook map of the local countryside that could be at risk if the government’s preferred option of ‘presumption in favour of development’ becomes law (see my post from last week; The Undesignated Countryside).