Goodnight to Flamboro’

Another link with Yorkshire composer and pianist William Baines (1899-1922)Alan Cuckston’s 1990 recording of a selection of his piano music is the only CD that I’ve ever provided the cover artwork for; a pencil and watercolour of one of Baines’ favourite places, drawn on location at Flamborough Head.

The centre piece of Cuckston’s recital, recorded at Leeds Grammar School on a Steinway piano, are two sea pieces, published as Tides (1920):

“Tonight I have written a lovely mind’s-eye impression. . . Goodnight to Flamboro’. The waves persistantly roll on the rock and in the caves. . .  A beautiful ecstatic sorrow surrounds everything about. . .”

William Baines, 1/7/1920

“This is an important disc,” Baines biographer Roger Carpenter tells me, “because it includes several items not otherwise issued commercially, such as Glancing Sunlight and Island of the Fay.”

At the Grave of William Baines

In 1995 Eric Parkin recorded a CD of the Piano Music of William Baines, which includes the Seven Preludes (1919) and Twilight Pieces (1921).

There’s a Baines connection to the music included on Robin Walker’s CD, I thirst. His piano piece At the Grave of William Baines was composed in 1999 to mark the centenary of Baines’ birth in Horbury. Walker writes:

“He was a composer who lived in his own reality, was solaced by Nature, and composed with a wild spirituality that always retained musical integrity.”

Links

Alan Cuckston’s Goodnight to Flamboro’ on Music Web

Eric Parkin’s Piano Music of William Baines in the Gramophone

Robin Walker

Clip Studio Sketch

After a bit of a break, I’ve gone back to Clip Studio Paint on the iPad Pro, drawing with an Apple Pencil. Struggling to draw from memory on the iPad (see below), I decided to re-familiarise myself with the process by drawing three India ink bottles that happened to be sitting on my desk.

As usual, I started with a pencil layer, which proved useful because I made the third bottle that I drew a bit too small compared with the others. I realised that it wasn’t going to work as I inked it in (below) so it was easy to go back to the pencil outline, to correct the proportions (right). Virtual erasers don’t chew up the virtual paper.

I created a new layer labelled ‘pen’ and drew with a G-pen, one of the standard pens in the Clip Studio toolbox.

I added a ‘paint’ layer and painted with some of the watercolour brushes but then felt that I needed some darker areas, so added another layer for different ink brushes.

I decided on a tonal background rather than the white of the virtual paper, so used the rectangle tool to draw a box around the subject which I then followed on one final layer, using the pen tool to trace around the box, so that the line matched the drawing.

Teacher in Tweed

This is the drawing from memory that I was struggling  with. It was supposed to be one of my teachers but I haven’t caught his character as I remember him. After a bit of drawing from life, I’m ready to try drawing from memory again.

Links

Clip Studio Paint

iPad Pro

William Baines Leaflet

Following a discussion on the Horbury and Sitlington History Facebook page, I looked out a copy of my leaflet, The Yorkshire of William Baines, produced as part of my Major Project on the Communication Design (graphic design) course at Leeds College of Art.

The project grew and grew until it included an exhibition and a recital by pianist Eric Parkin at the Harrogate Festival in August 1972, followed by another recital in Horbury, Baines’ home town, in the November (the 50th anniversary of his death, aged just 23), when Parkin was joined by contralto Caroline Foster, who performed five songs by Baines. I transcribed the songs from copies of the original manuscripts but fortunately pianist and singer were able to perform despite my inevitable errors.

Since my degree show days, my enthusiasm for pen and ink drawing and my interest in local history remain undiminished, but I’m so glad that my struggles with Letraset Times New Roman are a thing of the past. Letraset was rub-on lettering supplied on a plastic sheet, which was almost impossible to apply successfully. I wish that I could have had access to a time machine to pop forward 46 years to set up the project on my current iMac!

Victor Ambrus

My pen and ink style was heavily influenced by Victor Ambrus, at that time a prolific illustrator of history and children’s books, and later a regular on Channel 4’s Time Team. He incorporated finger prints into his drawings, so, so did I. I felt that if I could use the same pen and the same paper as he did, I might be able to achieve the assured springiness of his line.

I was lucky enough to get a chance to ask him about his technique when he did a session at a Children’s Book Fair in Leeds. I remember him telling me that he used layout paper for pen and ink work, and some readily available dip pen nib (if I remember rightly, he didn’t use a mapping pen).

Gathering material for the leaflet, I borrowed photographs and drawings from residents and former residents of Horbury and ordered copies of documents and photographs from the Baines archive in the Additional Manuscripts department of the British Library, which was then housed in the British Museum.

The publication was to be a booklet, but one of my graphic design tutors, John Daffern, persuaded me at a late stage to try something more adventurous, so it became two broadsheets in a card cover plus a facsimile of a career-changing telegram that Baines received from composer Arthur Eaglefield Hull. All this in a decorated envelope, that I sent out mail order, stamp stuck over the price tag – 5p – in the top right-hand corner.

The leaflet is currently available from the Rickaro Bookshop, Horbury.

Links

Rickaro Bookshop

Horbury and Sitlington History Page Facebook group

Mastering Comics

I’ve drawn comic strips since since I was aged eight or nine and I’ve published a few of them, from as early as 1979 in my Sketchbook of the Natural History of Wakefield, so you might think that I’ve left it a bit late in my career to read Mastering Comics, the sequel to Drawing Words & Writing Pictures by Jessica Abel and Matt Madden.

I’ve learnt a lot from it and I’ve especially enjoyed being immersed in all things comic: writing, planning, printing, binding and trying to make a living. It reminds me of the years that I was lucky enough to spend in total immersion in graphics and illustration during my time at art college.

Comic creators Abel and Madden teach the subject at New York’s School of Visual Arts, so they’re well aware of the practicalities and the questions that are likely to arise during the creative process. I can’t get to New York to take one of their courses, I’d get a lot out of that, so this is the next best thing.

Homework

Perspective homework: examples by Jessica Abel and Francois Ayroles. An activity I’d like to try for myself.

I decided to read right through the book but I’d like to go back and try some of the activities they suggest:

  • a sketchbook comic drawn entirely on location (which still evokes some kind of story)
  • a comic with no people that includes examples of different perspectives and viewpoints
  • a traditionally coloured comic using black line and CMY (cyan, magenta, yellow) colours.

Link

Drawing Words & Writing Pictures

Black Swans Preening

The Calder Valley beyond Mirfield is disappearing into the haze this morning.

In the waterfowl pen at Charlotte’s Ice Cream Parlour, black swans are preening.

This disconsolate-looking West Highland terrier was sitting by a table at the the Caffe Capri.

These are the first scans from my sketchbook made using Affinity Photo. Aspects of the process are still slightly unfamiliar but there are plenty of short tutorial videos on specific subjects, like setting levels, so I’m not finding it too difficult to get into the program.

I do still miss the the preview that you get in Adobe Photoshop, which takes the guesswork out of exporting an image for the web. In practice, as I stick to pretty much the same settings every time, it’s unlikely that I’m going to be surprised by the end results.

The sketch of black swans preening looked very similar when I saved the same image in Photoshop.

Affinity Photo

Affinity Photo: for readability, I’ve gone for the light version of the user interface with large print, and with the tool names popping up as soon as I hover the mouse over the icon.
My original scanner, in a GIF image from 2002, so please forgive the pixelation.

I’ve been using Photoshop for twenty-two years but I might finally be moving on.

In 1996, I bought my first scanner which came with an OEM version of Adobe Photoshop 4.0 included in the box. This was quite a bargain as, at that time, if you wanted to buy the same version of Photoshop on it’s own, it would have cost you more than the scanner and Photoshop bundled together! Continue reading “Affinity Photo”

Patio Patrol

In close-up, this paved area at the end of Barbara’s brother’s South Ossett garden is a miniature landscape; a sun-baked plateau dissected by a network of canyons. Brown ants patrol the edges of a dense forest of mosses.

Moss is still green in the crevices but on the surface of the concrete paving slabs, it’s dried up. White whiskers give the clump a little protection from the direct glare of the sun.

Spore capsules of the mosses are like pepper-pots on wiry stalks. One (left) has split open, leaving the teeth around the rim splayed out, like the petals of a miniature daisy.

Spots, Stains and Splatters: Crustose Lichens

There are a few spots of a dirty yellow crustose lichen on the concrete. It’s dotted with orange sporangia, each with a narrow yellow rim.

This black crustose lichen looks like little more than a tar stain on the concrete but my macro photograph reveals a surface cracked like dried mud.

A white lichen looks like splatters of paint. In close-up almost every individual scale in the colony is dotted with a small depression, perhaps the lichen’s spore-producing body.

I’m guessing that the single orange sporangium is a different species of lichen – probably the yellowish species – that has become engulfed by the white one.

Bluebottles and Bumblebees

When I drew these a month ago on 11 June the temperature was climbing to 34°C, 92°F, in this sunny corner, so insects were active. A half-size version of a bluebottle touched down while a small marmalade-coloured bumblebee visited the white clover at the edge of the lawn.

I was soon adopted as an extension of the habitat by a small brown spider which climbed over me.

Weaners

At Charlotte’s Ice Cream Parlour, the piglets are getting to the stage where they’d be better being separated from the sow. She’s getting increasingly irritated by the continual rough-and-tumble of her nine little porkers.

Rough-and-tumble except for the numerous occasions when they’re taking a break.

Rhea

Rhea eggs laid in the paddock in May.

Two of the rhea eggs in the incubator at Charlotte’s have hatched, although we haven’t yet had the chance to see the chicks as they have to stay in there for a while. Rhea eggs are large but, even so it’s surprising how large the chicks are – about a foot tall apparently – so, they must have been well folded up in there.

Quails

In the lovebird aviary, a female quail is being pursued by an insistent male. He keeps grabbing her by the feathers of her nape so she’s starting to look a little the worse for wear.

The View from the Café

On Sunday morning when I drew the old scouring mill at Horbury Bridge from the Di Bosco Café, the temperature was climbing to 81°F, 27°C, so it was good to have the shade of their well-ventilated conservatory to draw in.

Yesterday, Monday, afternoon, I drew a buddleia-dotted development site through the open doors of Create Café, Wakefield One. The hoarding advertises the adjacent Merchant Gate development of flats, steak house and offices as ‘diverse & striking’. They seem to have given up on the ‘vibrant hub’ slogan.

Cushions in an armchair at Barbara’s brother’s.

Mr Thompson

Continuing my experiments with drawing with a brush, here’s my third-year teacher from St Peter’s Junior School, Mr Thompson. In those days of the post-war baby boom our class, 3T, was a short walk from the school itself, in the Ebenezer Hall. I’ve got an image of him in my mind leading us from school to overflow classroom and vice-versa. As to whether he wore a trilby hat and a scarf, I’m not certain, but I’ve tried to keep to my impression of his character.

There’s a gap between the picture in my mind and the drawing that appears on paper, so why should I add further to my difficulties by not going for the more familiar medium of pen and ink? I scan my initial pencil before inking over it (right), just in case that turns out to be the version that I prefer.

I couldn’t resist adding colour this time. The brush pen drawing works well with the flat colour produced by the paint bucket tool in Photoshop, so I’m definitely going to keep on experimenting.

I’ve got one more class teacher to draw, Mr Lindley from the fourth year, then there’s the headmaster, the caretaker and about half a dozen other teachers who made an impression on me, so hopefully I’ll get better with practice.

Mr Thompson has ended up looking a bit like J B Priestley in my pencil drawing and like Priestley’s main character in his play An Inspector Calls. That’s appropriate because Mr Thompson was a great storyteller.