We walked past the empty stable at the back of the Bingley Arms, Horbury Bridge, on Christmas Day. The fresh straw echoed the Christmas Crib currently on display at Di Bosco Coffee, the former Ship Inn, at the opposite end of the bridge across the Calder. In recent years, the Bingley, like many pubs, struggled to retain its popularity but there are now ambitious plans to restore the grade II-listed Georgian building.
The donkey that occupied this stable has now moved on, along with the landlord and landlady of the pub. I once tried to take a photograph of the donkey in its little stable yard but as soon as she saw my camera she put her head back down and resumed feeding. You’d often see the landlady of the Bingley out letting the donkey graze on the green triangles of grass at the road junctions at Horbury Bridge and the bottom of Sandy Lane.
I enjoyed the process of tracing the drawing, or as we illustrators call it, using visual reference, on the iPad in the ProCreate drawing program. As I tried to create a sense of three dimensions by cross-hatching the shadowy areas of the stable, I remembered the techniques I once used for books illustrated in black and white line. I’d dab on a little Tippex, which was typewriter correction fluid, to create a narrow white halo around an object which was supposed to be in the foreground, like the vertical posts that serve as a frame for this illustration.
The fine white-on-black line that you can get with the eraser tool in an iPad drawing reminded me of experimenting with scraperboard, which gave an effect sometimes described as ‘poor man’s wood engraving’. The subject matter – an everyday scene of a slightly unkempt outbuildings – reminded me of some of the early etchings of my tutor Derek Hyatt and of the urban back gardens celebrated by the etcher Janis Goodman.