It was an emotional finale to Dick Whittington last Saturday when our producer for the last twenty years, Wendie Wilby, retired. The presentation included a framed copy of my sketch of her which I drew a few years ago (greatly enlarged here, but it brings out the texture of the watercolour better than a same-size scan).
The Pageant Players are also going to miss the support of her husband, retired joiner and pigeon fancier, David, who has been stage managing the shows for almost as many years. The only thing that’s missing from my portrait of him is the pencil behind his ear that seemed to be a permanent feature.
You’ve already seen my working drawings for the backdrops, so here’s the cast. I took a particular interest in Alderman Fitzwarren because he – or should I say ‘she’, as this is a pantomime – was wearing a three-cornered hat of the type that I need to practise drawing for my Adam and the Gargoyle comic strip.
As so often in a pantomime, the baddies get all the best parts, so Queen Rat (above, left), was greeted by enthusiastic boos from the audience whenever she appeared.
The End! – OH NO it ISN’T!
After fifty-one years, I’ve said that will be my last production with the Pageants. With Wendie stepping down it seemed like a good time to go but I’ll be interested to hear how they get on. Like many drama groups they’re now faced by sky-rocketing rents for theatre space. The price per hour in Horbury Academy is still quite a bargain if you are requiring the room for just a few hours, but the Pageants need their set-building weekends, three technical rehearsals, dress rehearsals and the four evenings of performances, plus a Saturday afternoon matinee.
Reviewing my A6 postcard-sized Pink Pig landscape format sketchbook for this winter, you might think that my life has been dominated by a search for the perfect scone. It has, and we’ve got our visits to Nostell timed to coincide with when the scones emerge from the oven, however these freshly-baked scones, were at the Rich & Fancy Cafe on Queen Street, Horbury.
But I don’t insist on Bake Off standard cakes to draw; I equally enjoyed drawing the salt and pepper pots and the sauce and vinegar bottles on my brother-in-law’s dining table. These drawings are all larger than they appear in my sketchbook because I like the texture of pen on cartridge paper, which I lose at screen resolution. Drawn with my favourite pen, a Lamy Safari with an extra fine nib filled with brown Noodler’s ink.
I’ve got another Lamy Safari filled with a cartridge of Lamy black ink, which I blotted with a water-brush to get this wash effect on a brooding morning at Charlottes. Again during a coffee and scone break. A pattern is emerging.
We’re having wintry showers this morningbut it’s milder so the sleety rain and wet flakes of snow are actually clearing the pavements of the snow and ice that have covered them during the last week.
We’ve decided that it’s a good day to stay put and catch up, so we’ve got a batch of dough rising above the hot water tank in the corner of the studio, ready for knocking back, and I’m delving back into my sketchbooks to catch up with my blog posts.
When I drew at Charlotte’s at the end of January, patches of snow on the distant moors were imperceptibly disappearing into the mist.
I drew these in my pocket-sized notebook, which has such small pages that you can pick it up even when you’ve only got minutes to spare.
That morning I also drew cushions on my brother-in-law John’s sofa and a crow by the boulders in the goat enclosure. They’re similar subjects; when I can’t get out to draw rocks, cushions make a reasonable substitute.
The goats love climbing and settling down at strategic look-out posts on the rocks but during the winter they’ve been confined to the stables. Hopefully they won’t have long to wait before it’s suitable for them to live in their outdoor enclosure again.
The Old Cart Shed
The old Cart Shed at Blacker Hall Farm dates from c.1620, so the old beams always appeal to me as a subject.
The little sketchbook was handy again when at a family meal at Holmfield House in Holmfield Park, Wakefield, I drew this tree.