Friday, September 10, 2010

"Banbury Cross"

"Ride a cock horse to Banbury Cross
To see a fine lady upon a white horse..."

New on the Etsy shop are prints of one of my favorite pieces, the pen and ink rendition of Banbury Cross. It is one of a series of black and white illustrations of nursery rhymes, all on a large scale and all of them luxuriant in detail.

In my first year of art studies our required course materials included a set of Staedtler or Ko-Hi-Noor Rapidograph pens. There were four in the box, the nibs ranging in size from 1.0mm to 0.13mm, along with little ink cartridges and a spare bottle of india ink for refills. I remember the transformative delight of trying them out for the first time - the glossy, silky flow of ink as I styled fine leaves, flowers, feathers, curlicues and twisting vines, smaller and smaller with the increasingly finer nibs. It seemed one could approach infinity with fine enough tools. The white of the paper behind the ink sparked like silver filigree and I fell in love with black and white work for quite some time. I still begin paintings by visualizing them in black and white values, and in every series of watercolour classes that I teach there is a lesson in grisaille painting.

The fall term for art classes (two courses at least, possibly four) begins next week so it is well and truly autumn at last. From my one pear tree I have picked bags and basketfuls of fruit to give away. I took one large and overflowing basket to church this week and left it on the narthex table - all gone in minutes at the end of service. The last batch, below, represents one more afternoon of baking and jam making before classes and other painterly obligations resume.


  1. Let me be the first to admire this beautiful artwork. Black and white focus the eye on the interplay between the positive and the negative, this is especially effective on a two dimensional surface like your piece here. When I first saw it I thought it was taken from the pages of book illustrated by one of the "Golden Age Illustrators", it is certainly worthy to be ranked alongside them!

  2. May I agree with Valerie about the exquisite beauty of this Banbury Cross.

    Your mention of the glorious Rapidiograph pens has summoned up all kinds of nostalgia. I just loved those pens, and have drawn many pictures with them, and had many Rapidiographs go to Rapidiograph graves ... all dried up, and beyond restoring.

    Pen and ink drawing was what led me to learning about etching and drypoint, too.

    Ahhh, I so want to have more time to actually make art in this century, rather than indulge memory lane from the last century.

    Best wishes.

  3. Thank you Valerie and Frances, I am honoured by your kind words!

  4. That print is amazing! And now you've got that tune stuck in my head :) Must go check out the Etsy shop. The last time I called in I loved your stuff!

    p.s You got all those pears from one tree?! They look so yummy too...

  5. That is a lovely print, and just reading the little verse took me back. I haven't heard that in a long time :-) Oh, if you ever get lonely, you must just draw yourself a new friend. What a wonderful thing to be able to do.

    I've just realized I don't really know what it is called India Ink, I suppose it was developed in India?

    Oh, and you know how occasionally your eye will see a word and rearrange it into a word you are more familiar with, vs. what it actually says? I saw the word "narthex" table (a word with which I am unfamiliar...heathen that I am) and saw, instead, "Anthrax" which was really startling!!!

  6. Just found your lovely blog with your amazing a new follower!!