This stone lion, reclining on the lawn, always takes me by surprise as we walk past a large evergreen oak and it springs into view. Surprisingly, a real lion was once kept here in the Menagerie at Nostell Priory, just yards from the Doncaster to Wakefield turnpike road, behind a high stone wall in an old quarry. There’s a story that it once escaped and roamed around the area.
This gargoyle guards a collection of medieval finials, pillar fragments and a battered font housed in one of the stalls in the stable block at Nostell Priory.
Drawn – closely following a photograph I’d taken – in Clip Art Studio with an Apple Pencil on my iPad Pro.
Nostell Priory, National Trust
After the snow and black ice over the weekend, it’s good to be out at Nostell again. The place seems to have sprung to life: blue skies, sunlit trees and the breeze picking up sparkling ripples on the lake which had been leaden grey with ice last time we were here.
Winter aconites and snowdrops are at their freshest.
It’s ten degrees warmer than it was yesterday and one of the cygnets on the lower lake has been stirred into action: she – I assume this is a female – is sitting at the water’s edge in a quiet backwater behind a small screen of reedmace, practicing her nest-making skills; plucking pieces of vegetation and throwing them back with a flick of her head. They’re tending to land on her tail, but she’s so enthusiastic, she’ll soon build on her skills.
I’ve taken my iPad Pro on location for the first time and drawn this view over the Calder Valley around Mirfield from the shelter of Charlotte’s Ice Cream Parlour, Whitley.
As usual, I used an Apple Pencil and the iPad version of Clip Studio Paint.
I started with the Transparent Watercolour brush then used the Uneven Layering Brush for the wet-on-wet blotches on the clouds.
On a new layer I used the pen tool with the G-pen nib to add the white patches were distant snow on the moors between Brighouse and Haworth.
I used mainly paint swatches directly from the standard palette but decided that the brown that I’d used to suggest trees and field boundaries was too dark, so I gently rubbed over it with the Soft Eraser tool.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
Bank Holiday, film, 1938.
Love Under Fire, film, 1937
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.
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.
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.
Around Old Horbury on my Willow Island Editions website (£2.95, post free in the U.K.)
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.
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.
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.