The Wind over Whitley

With a low over the North Atlantic, we’ve got the prospect of warm winds coming up from France and Spain but this morning it’s blowing so cold that, by the time I’ve drawn the ewe, my eyes are watering so much that I can hardly focus on the twin lambs which are following her.

Time to go indoors here at Charlotte’s Ice Cream Parlour for coffee and scones and to draw the view looking up the Calder Valley to the moors.


Charlotte’s Ice Cream Parlour

iPad Landscape

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.

The View from Charlotte’s

Three years ago, my mum, then ninety-six year old, was still with us and we used to take her to the shops every Thursday morning then, if she was feeling up to it, which she usually was, we’d set off to Charlotte’s Ice Cream Parlour, Whitley, for coffee and scones. She so appreciated this view.

But we always gave the long summer holidays a miss because, by the time we would be arriving the place would be a bit too busy and bustling for my mum.

 It’s good to have the excuse to return here as it’s one of Barbara’s brother John’s favourite places so we bring him here most weeks. He’s better at getting up and off than my mum ever was, so we always get here for a short walk along the hillside before the parlour opens and we’re always in time to get a table with a view.

For these three sketches draw during the summer vacation I used fibre tip pen and watercolour (top), watercolour with no preliminary drawing and brush pen, adding watercolour the following week. I’m already looking forward to our next visit (and the scone).


Calder valley.
Looking northwest over Mirfield in the Calder Valley.

12 noon: When we arrive at Charlotte’s Ice Cream Parlour, Whitley Lower, there’s a clear view across Mirfield and the Calder Valley to the hills beyond, with patches of sunlight scudding gently across the landscape.

On the highest ground in the distance, there’s a white brilliance, which appears to be a powdering of snow.

buzzard circles over Liley Wood, below us to the west.

Grey cloud and misty rain obscure the view for ten minutes or so, as a shower passes over.

Whitley Wood

Charlotte’s used to be a regular weekly destination for several years, when we’d head here on a Thursday morning for coffee and scones with my mum. She died a little over two years ago but, had she lived, we would have been celebrating her ninety-ninth birthday last Sunday. In fact, she once suggested that for her one hundredth birthday she would like treat all her family and friends to a gathering at Charlotte’s.

Her latest great-grandchild, Henry, is making his first visit here today, but he’s far too young to appreciate the ice cream.

A large spotted pig is contentedly snoring in its pen.

Also taking a break, there’s a pochard on the duck pond, sleeping with its bill tucked under its wing.


Charlotte’s Real Jersey Ice Cream

Snow on the Hills

snow on the moors


Mum heading for the hills in the 1940s.
Mum heading for the hills in the 1940s.

From molehills to mountains: the moors on the tops of the Pennines are still covered with snow. We returned to Charlotte’s Ice Cream parlour at Whitely this morning, a regular coffee stop in the days when we had my mum in tow. It was often the one day of the week that she got out and, despite her deteriorating eyesight, she always appreciated the panorama . . . and of course the coffee and the scone.

I must take after her. Oh dear!

Ten Minute Goose

Canada gooseThe Thornes Park Canada geese are used to passing dogs but still a bit wary of them, timing their morning traipse from the duck pond to the adjacent football field until there’s a break between dog-walkers.

‘Come away!’ says one dog-walker, ‘not everybody likes dogs!’

Well, you’d have to be very anti-dog not to like this quiet, wide-eyed, little white terrier – looking freshly shampooed and as if it’s going to a fancy dress party as one of Bo-Peep’s little lambs. It doesn’t want to walk past without pausing to check what I’m up to. Not to fuss me, or to yap but just to take in what I’m up to as I sit on the park bench.

I assure Ms Bo-Peep that it depends on the dog and, to be honest, I would have done a quick sketch of it if I’d had time but it does illustrate why I find that I can be more productive heading for Old Moor bird reserve for the day. I can sit amongst the herbage and get absorbed in my work.

Don’t get me wrong, I really like breaking off to chat to passers-by but there are only so many hours in a day for drawing.

I was ten minutes early for an appointment and driving past the park and thought why not have a ten minute break at the duck pond rather than arriving early. So, I’ve only spent a single minute of my precious time chatting but scale that out across a day and I could happily while way 10 percent of the time available!




donkeysTHE DONKEYS are coming to the rail to be petted and photographed, enjoying the fuss being made of them by the children at Charlotte’s ice cream parlour this morning.

Guinea fowl are foraging in the grassy pen next door.




High Street


High Street, HorburyDespite my recent efforts with photography and video, I’m still keen to pick up my pen and draw whenever I get the chance. I fit in a brief sketch of shop fronts while my mum waits for her appointment at the opticians.


TillyTillyWhen I call for Barbara at the bookshop, I often get the chance to sketch Tilly the border collie. On Monday Rickaro bookshop is hosting not only a meet-the-author  but also a meet-the-cartoonist. Ian McMillan will be there, accompanied by Tony Husband to promote their latest book 101 Uses for a Flat Cap.

Tilly always has her nose in a book (at least, whenever Richard is holding a dog treat there).

TillyWe can’t persuade Tilly to wear a flat cap to celebrate the event as she can be in turn either too self-conscious or over-excited. We don’t have a flat cap in her size anyway.

This gives me the perfect excuse to play about with Photoshop; resizing, skewing, cutting, erasing, pasting, brushing and layering.

North America

ON OUR walk around Langsett Reservoir on Monday we took a break at the ruined farm marked on the map as North America. Remote farms and fields were sometimes named after remote locations. Red Grouse were calling on the moor, joining each other on some crest amongst the heather and bilberry before hurtling off elsewhere.

Several flocks of thrushes, fieldfares we think, flew over, all heading west, up the valley of the Little Don.

These days we can’t get my mum to such isolated spots but at least Charlotte’s Ice Cream Parlour, where we headed for coffee and scones, overlooks a broad curve of the Calder Valley, the tops of the Pennines dissolving into the mist in the background. Not the ideal subject for pen and ink but I don’t pack my watercolours in my ‘urban’ art bag.

In this bag for errands around town I keep a variety of pen, most of which, I now realise, need refilling. As my favourite Lamy Safari needs refill I started drawing Tilly at the bookshop in ArtPen but then, when the ink ran out, switched to Pentel BrushPen.

Sketchy Intervals

Mirfield from Charlotte’s ice cream parlour, Tuesday.
Old butcher’s shop, now a beauty salon, drawn from the opticians when we took my mum on Thursday.

I FEEL out of practice with drawing. I’ve spent my spare time this week learning a drawing program, Manga Studio EX4, but that isn’t the same as getting out and drawing for several hours. We’ve had a couple of mornings of appointments/coffee with my mum, which effectively breaks my rhythm especially as, partly as a result, I’m getting around to tracing one of the branches of our family tree.

I’m finding that addictively interesting, like a puzzle or a detective story.

Manga Studio

My attempt at the ‘Creating Your First Manga Page: A Quick-Start Guide’ in Doug Hills’ ‘Manga Studio for Dummies’.

As I enjoy drawing in a sketchbook, why should I go through the rather technical process of learning Manga Studio, a computer assisted drawing program?

  • It’s good to have a change occasionally and work in a different medium; I want to use it with my pen tablet, although you can simply scan in your line drawings
  • There’s a possibility that it could save me a lot of time on the structural side of drawing a comic strip

I had about 100 individual panels to draw for my Walks in Robin Hood’s Yorkshire so I’m looking forward to exploring the possibilities that the program offers to draw panels around each frame. As you can see, I haven’t quite got into that; Doug Hills’ Quick-Start guide in Manga Studio for Dummies shows a figure bursting out of a frame but the explanation of how to do that must come in a later chapter. Manga Studio is also intended to mask the parts of a drawing which overlap the frame, so that you get white borders between the frames, a feature that didn’t work with the method that I used to set up this page.

Dots and Stipples

It offers a lot of help with speech and thought bubbles and comic book sound effects but the feature that really attracts me is the ability to add tones and textures, which I’ve made a start with here.

It’s going to be especially useful in print as I can produce artwork for newspapers or magazines that is pure line; even the tone will be pure black and white, made up of tiny stipples or dots. Pen lines should be crisper as they’re not converted to half tones during the printing process.

That’s probably enough technical stuff!

Links; Manga Studio, PNH Comics; Doug Hills’ website

Whitley Reservoir

Charlotte’s Ice Cream Parlour, Whitley, 11.30 a.m. THE PENNINES are fading into the mist and the mist grades into the low cloud above. A Skylark rises high over a pasture in which donkeys and cattle are grazing.

Besides the small stocky  black cattle, which I think are Dexters, there are two young Jersey cows. One takes a break from grazing to rub her chin on the fence.