Just got back from the printers ordering the prints for the Wednesday night ArtWalk. I will now have sleepless nights until Monday when they should be ready for collection and looking beautiful. In the meantime here is a bit of blurb to explain what's going on... The illustrator John Welding started using the Wakefield Civic Society Blue Plaques to make his unique diary pages in an attempt to make personal memories and record the changing environment where he lives and works. His drawings are a mix of illustration, comic strips and words and the Blue Plaques were ideal as a starting point and drawing catalyst for this new body of work. The pages are drawn in a comic strip or picture book style, which John is known for with his previous diary projects. Sometimes the artist features in person or sometimes as narrator in an autobiographical role, taking the viewer through his daily experiences. Sometimes there is something profound to say, more often than not it’s just an everyday obs…
The sun is low this time of year, catching the tops of buildings with angled shafts of light and shade. The building where Monkey used to be is a favourite of mine, detailed with a cornucopia of columns and swirls and over the top detail. I could never afford their clothing but went in a few times, pretending to look at clothes but really looking at the brickwork, staircases and floorboards.
Across from there is another clothing shop of distinction, Frank Birds gentlemen's clothing and next to that The Black Rock pub, the ornate tiling of the Black Rock reminds me of another pub I don't go in much further down Westgate, the Elephant & Castle.
Sunlight is in full effect on the Marygate side of of the Barclays Bank building making the red brick glow in a way that only autumnal light can make red brick glow. I have arranged to meet Helen in Deli Central, we were at the gym at the new Sun Lane Leisure earlier on and now scrambled eggs on wholemeal toast with a cup of black co…
My friend Jan had mentioned in a comment about spotting dragons on the Monkey* building. Yes I had potted one but it was a bit difficult to make out with my eyes. I did the above drawing from a close up from one of my reference photos, and even then it's got a lot of guess work in it's make up.
I like these stony gargoyle additions, who ever commissioned the building wanted to show off their wealth and standing in the community but why the fascination for decorating buildings with fantasy animals? Unless it's not a dragon but a dog, a dog would be a bit boring, dragons on the other hand are fiery and there to protect and show power and are part of a bigger mythology. So there, I have answered my own question. * Please excuse the term Monkey building, I did research into trying to find out the buildings name but the closest I got to was 21 Bull Ring, the internet is focused on businesses that run from there.
I was in a sensitive area so drew the things I knew
Using the Wakefield Civic Society Blue Plaques as destination points for drawing has hit a bit of a snag. Bishopgarth, where the next location on my list is, contains Police HQ, Children's Day Care Nurseries and a Public School. Maybe roaming around with a camera and a note book in today's heightened fear of 'stranger danger'* is not the best of ideas. So, I drew a few things that I was familiar with. The official description of what I am doing with these pages is something like this... Wakefield by John Welding
A series of personal illustrated dairy pages.
John Welding is a freelance illustrator of stories who knows Wakefield, after 13 years of treading its rain lashed streets he needed a stimulus to see the town in a different way. In September 2012 he started using the Wakefield Civic Society Blue Plaques as entry points to make his unique drawings, a mix of illustration, comic strips and words. The point being no…
It's a quiet Sunday and I have made my way out of town to St. John's Square, it's not far from Wakefield Town centre and consists of a square of very nice looking houses with a small park and Church in the centre. I lock my bike to a tree and notice the empty Horse Chestnut Cases at my feet. The weather today is bright and fresh and crisp, perfect for cycling and perfect sitting on a bench, drawing type weather.
I sit close by the church building, opposite is a bench with a really nice inscription "wherever love, laughter and music abide, I am there in spirit - Sean Turner". My moment of contemplation is broken, first by the distinctive smell of marijuana and then by the increasing laughter of teenagers who I hadn't noticed sitting on the St. John's Church steps.
I make a few more notes and take a few more photographs of the surrounds for reference and then it's time to go home for the afternoon. I walk part of the way, getting on my bike at the Town…
I am a freelance illustrator who works from home, even if that quirky home is a coal yard on the outskirts of Wakefield it's good to get out for a wander now and then. I know where the 'Registry of Deeds' is in Wakefield, not having a need to go there though I was not sure of the route. Taking into account that there is a lot of redevelopment going on in and around that area, it was a bit hit or miss if we were going to get to Margaret Street where the building resides. The redevelopment of that area has been on going and is now coming together and looking great, opening up vistas and new views of the city's old buildings and making Wakefield feel a lot more cosmopolitan than it has ever felt in my 12 years here.
Next will come the words, then after that the water colouring over the top. I used my photos for building reference, other than that it's just pen ink and paper so far. Must apologise for the poor photo quality, it's late and I'm too tired to fire up my scanner.
I did the drawing in Helen's shed away from distracting cats and internets and could hear the wind pick up a bit outside. I watched for a bit as it brought a few twigs and dead branches down to Earth. I might have to go up there tomorrow when the wind abates and trim some of the larger branches away before they come down of their own accord.
Westgate is one of the busiest streets in Wakefield, traffic entering and leaving the city centre is continuous and the various businesses of bars, banks, cafes and theaters makes sure there is plenty of foot fall along the street. Usually you are passing through from A to B, windows wound up, head phones on, metaphorical and physical blinkers to the fore. It's the same for a lot of city centers, how often do you get to stop for five minutes and just observe in this day and age of CCTV. This is what I did, taking photos and making notes the isolating pretense that today I am up to something useful. There are quiet times, people disappear, noises stop and even the pigeons have a nice sit down.
I like this view, the opulence of 57 Westgate's roof clock in stark contrast to the backs of the street buildings, a little bit grimy and crumbling with age.
Wakefield, like most towns, has lots of grand buildings hidden away behind commerce frontage or intermingled with modern functional structures. Monarch House and Dr Crowther Almhouse's are two buildings opposite a huge supermarket car park entrance. Wakefield obviously needs huge supermarkets and car parking facilities but it also needs these buildings from another era to remind us that things can look different and can look grand. I spent 20 minutes under what might have been Sycamore trees making notes and sketches and taking photos, the season is changing.
I am doing another Wakefield diary page which involves a bit of architecture drawing on a blustery day. I tried drawing the buildings freehand but couldn't do them justice. I had taken reference photos and thought about why I was trying to reinvent the wheel image wise, I could spend the rest of the week trying to get this page right when really, all I want to do is get outside working on the next page.
I thought about printing the photo off at the size I wanted and then tracing it onto watercolour paper using a light box. This is a similar although slightly different way, upping the contrast of the photo in Photoshop and printing it out in a light blue colour. Light enough to take ink and watercolour over the top.
What I like about this approach is the way it blocks in areas, giving you a silhouette to work to for accuracy and key points but allows you to still create a fairly hand drawn image over the top. You still have to probe with your mind and eyes to find where the line g…
This was a great day to be stood outside making notes and one of the first autumnal days this year. I locked my bicycle up at the supermarket and then walked a few metres across the car park in the direction of Denby Dale road. There is a fenced off culvert there in which you can see murky water which will end not far, flowing into the River Calder further up Ings road by The Hepworth. It's very quiet pedestrian wise, a few parked cars and a people walking into town, other than that there is no reason for people to hang around. There is lots of noise though, Traffic, tractors, trains, road works, lorries, usual town centre commotion.
Working late into the night the first two panels on the page went well. At 1am the third panel was nearly finished and I thought things were going good when I got an ink blob drop onto the page from my dip pen, that's it just below the word 'Snork'. I tried to redraw the panel a few times thinking I could 'patch' the panel later but the results were not as good as the first attempt, I decided to go with it and wait for the ink to dry. Next morning I looked at the ink blob with fresh eyes and thought with a bit of white ink it could be incorporated into the phlegm coughing theme of the panel.
I posted the line work for this early this morning and this is now the coloured in version. I mixed opaque white calligraphy ink into the watercolour to thicken it up a bit to get the kind of sky I wanted (moody) and just kept going pretending like I knew what I was doing. The only problem is it caused the paper to wrinkle on the right hand side. The above image is scanned (in two parts and joined together in Photoshop) pretty much as is without any tweaking. If you compare it to the next image after the jump, you can see how little I am messing with the original artwork.
This is the completed page so far. I say so far because I am not happy with the 'arfside' in panel three and might apply some cross hatching over the top to hide the typography a bit. At the time, I didn't want to be too specific in the image to the logo side of things. If I had any sense I would redraw it but I want to keep some of the 'happy mistakes' in this project and I need to move on to th…