Chairs, Dog and Baby

My sketchbook pages for the past couple of days include sketches of my brother’s Welsh springer spaniel.

The Dentist’s Chairs

Negative shapes between the chairs.

WITH MY STUDIO taking shape, I feel that I’m beginning to get back my enthusiasm for drawing. I hadn’t lost it really, I’d just found myself beset with other tasks. This morning in the dentist’s, as I didn’t have a direct view of my usual subject, the fish tank, I took the opportunity to draw the chairs. Usually I have time to draw only one chair but today I had the chance to add more. There’s something fascinating about the way one chair places itself in front of another to give a broken rhythm of verticals and horizontals. Considering that they’re such regular shapes, these utilitarian chairs produce odd jigsaw-piece shapes in the empty spaces seen between them.

I might not be diving headlong into a project, as I have been after Christmas during the past three years, when I rushed to get my Rhubarb, Robin Hood and Ossett walks booklets into print to launch at the annual Rhubarb Festival but I feel that I’m creating the possibility of finding more unusually shaped spaces (for drawing) between the rigid and repetitive elements of my life.

The rhythmic repetition and variation in the simplified version of the drawing remind me of the structure of a piece of music. Those little hatching marks, representing the varying weave of alternate carpet tiles are like the minor variations that you’d have within the larger blocks that shape a musical composition.

Simplifying the design to flat colours gives a retro feel, like Penguin paperback covers of the 1950s and 60s so, with some lettering added, I could see this as an album cover for some rather laid-back music inspired by the jazz of that era. Some of those shapes remind me of the floating shapes in Miro paintings or the stylised backgrounds of a 1950s cartoon . . .

This could be cityscape perhaps. Or perhaps I’d better stop messing about with Photoshop!

Because of a hitch with the equipment, I had to return to the dentist's in the afternoon and this time I had a seat by the goldfish tank.


MY BIG SISTER posted a comment yesterday to say that I was beginning to sound like a computer geek (wish I was sometimes, that would be so useful) so just to prove that I haven’t totally exchanged pen and ink for mouse and graphic pad here are a few recent drawings from my sketchbook. I have to admit that when drawing this row of chairs as we waited for my mum at the doctor’s I did find myself thinking ‘how would I do this in Sketchup’.

These magazines would be fiddly to design on a 3D program. The basic shapes would be simple enough but the dog-eared corners would need adding individually.

Everyday Sketchbook

CHARLOTTE’S Ice Cream Parlour  at Whitley, with its assortment of farm animals and its panoramic views across the Calder Valley, is a relaxing place to draw. It’s up on a ridge-top but on a windy day you can retreat to the shelter of the cafe . . . and perhaps sample the Real Jersey Ice Cream.

As well as a contented Jersey cow there are a couple of donkeys, some heavily pregnant nanny goats and rare breed sheep.

Peacocks are displaying to the peahens, a black hen is leading her brood of black chicks across the meadow and, adding an exotic touch, a couple of rheas (or are they young ostriches?) are strutting along in the paddock by the car park.

The donkeys wander over to meet visitors and indulge in a bit of mutual grooming.

I’m back to working in the Crawford & Black portrait format sketchbook – that’s the one with the 96 gsm acid free cartridge which I find a bit thin and absorbent for my pen and watercolour sketches but it will do for everyday. When I get the chance for some natural history drawing, I’ll go back to landscape format.

Recent snatched sketches in my ‘everyday’ sketchbook include the backs of some shops and this tubular metal chair.


I have been drawing recently but you wouldn’t know it from my sketchbook; these are all I have to show for the last week or two. I’ve been drawing the maps for Walks Around Ossett in the odd hours I’ve had between family matters and parcelling up my books. Parcelling up books and shipping them out to customers never seems like real work – it’s therapeutic but hardly taxing – but it is, after all, the way I make my living, so I shouldn’t grumble!

I think that I can see a patch of calm, clear water ahead but at the moment I really feel as if I’m swimming against a backwash and getting nowhere and that is reflected in this handful of sketches:

  • a couple of people at the Wakefield Naturalists’ meeting on Tuesday
  • a newspaper drawn when I waited to have my hair cut last week
  • two chair backs

The chairs are entirely typical of my unsettled life at present; I started drawing one chair then got moved on after I’d drawn two lines then – at my next port of call – I’d no sooner started drawing a second chair when someone came along and moved it!

Rhubarb Rootstock

Finally, this afternoon, after a morning painting scenery and an afternoon at a farm shop event, I got the best part of an hour to sketch. As it was a Rhubarb Festival event the most appealing subject to hand was a basket of forced rhubarb and an example of the rootstock from which the shoots are grown, at this time of year, in total darkness to ensure an early crop, at a time of year when there is a break in the supply of soft fruits.