stories and illustration

August and the Hare book

Started working on the final pictures for a new picture book about a boy and a hare, and had completed four pages, when I decided the technique, using brushwork outlines, and watercolour throughout, was not expressive enough. The watercolour was becoming too heavy, and there was too little animation in the figures.  There’s no escaping it – ink outlines are needed, I’ve worked so long with pen and ink it is part of how I feel. Since the pens I like are no longer manufactured, it seems best to go back to the old-fashioned dip pens, and use various inks.  There is a website which is dedicated to selling The Dip Pen. From Pullingers Art Shop I shall order a large block of Fabriano Artistico, and some different inks, but especially a high class sepia, if they sell this.

In the meantime, I have decided that the book is set in August, when some of the fields are cut and some are still gold-brown with the ripe wheat (the swallows in Coldstream fly in a crowd over the wall and the River Leet, and attack the first few rows of the wheat, like small bird looters, then all fly back together; meanwhile the swallows feint professionally above the wheat chasing the insects). I have been taking photographs of the flora of August (and been bitten badly in the process by the insects that have suddenly appeared).
The rape has been cut now.  There are no birds on the Tweed, only the occasional salmon leaping. The place where the swans laid up beside the river had become anonymous grass and mud, there is nothing but the furrowed field and the shorn field path. The swans feathers and the reek of swan have disappeared. In a few days I shall go up past Oxenrigs and look for hares once more.

Each month now I shall take photographs of the flora, to see if I can match the 170 or so wild flowers I found listed in the back of a book, in my 10-year-old writing, flowers that I had seen in the countryside of East Sussex, many of them in walks with my grandfather on Chailey Common when I was a very young child. I especially remember looking for autumn gentians on the Common.  I wonder whether they are still there, as were the wild orchids in Liddesdale, thirty years or more after I first saw them there. Maybe the search for the autumn gentians will become a painting for the exhibition at Berwick Watchtower in January.

August 27, 2012 Posted by | Illustration, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment


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