Looking North

THE CAFE at Marks & Spencer’s Birstall looks out over the higher ground between the valleys of the Aire and the Calder. Ignoring the cars and the stores of the retail park I drew the trees and made quick watercolour sketches of the sky to the north when we called with my mum for coffee this morning.

Birstall appears as Burstall in 13th century manuscripts, a place name that derives from the Old English burgsteall, meaning the place of the burn, or fortified homestead’.


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  1. I like that sky, Richard. But what always charms me are these small
    landscapes that you do like that tree, below. You seem to get so much into
    the tiny paintings, but they are not crowded, either. How small are these
    little paintings and sketches in real life?


    1. I scan them same size but the two quick sky sketches have been squashed up a bit to fit the width of the WordPress blog. The tree is two and a half inches across the skies an inch and half an inch wider than that respectively.
      The pine was drawn with my new slightly wider nibbled ArtPen and I think that works well for me because I can’t get bogged down with fine hatching, which helps to avoid that busy crowded look that you can get when you go over the top a bit on the shading.
      However, there’s nothing wrong with going OTT occasionally in a drawing – it’s fun to see how far you can take it!

  2. Love the pen and ink drawings! I’ve just started doing watercolors and I’m just figuring out how to do it by myself. One person commented that I was so brave to try watercolors. I guess nobody told me it was difficult, so I was too dumb to be scared to try it! 🙂 Pen and ink is my first love. Still tons to learn, but no hurry. It’s all for fun!

    1. Pen and ink is so reassuring isn’t it. I was thinking at the weekend when I was painting the scenery for the pantomime that one year I’ll try and do it without adding black outlines to everything, using a half inch brush, the backdrop equivalent of pen and wash. It tends to look like a cartoon background, which is appropriate for a pantomime but I would like to try a more painterly style some day.

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