Line and wash drawing, colour

Brewer’s Dray


When I went to Devizes to deliver my work to the White Chalk Gallery (Open Exhibition) I happened to be in the car park behind the Three Crowns, when Wadworth, a local brewery, were delivering their beer. This was only noteworthy because they were using a horse-drawn dray. I learnt later that all of their local deliveries are made this way, and that the two shire horses pulling the dray are called Sam and George.

I grabbed my camera from the car and, after asking permission from the gentleman in charge (at which point the little group of admirers melted away – I guess that my elderly SLR made me look like I knew what I was doing), took a few photographs. Two or three of the horses and one – an afterthought, but from the same position – of the dray.

In one of my photographs, the closest horse was looking towards me, which I thought made a more involving picture. This is George, the younger of the two at seven years old. Sam is twelve.

I had several goes at this subject, the first in pen and ink on paper and then two in ink and (watercolour) wash. I think that you can tell that I found the horses more interesting than the dray (which is functional rather than attractive). It didn’t really help that I was using two separate photographs, either.

First time around, the dray was definitely too small. I hadn’t left enough paper for it, so it got truncated as well, and the wheels were out of proportion. I wasn’t happy with the texture on the horses, either, so I decided to dig out my watercolours for a line and wash, which would be smoother. I paid more attention to relative sizes but the dray still didn’t look right. I had another go and this time I sketched out the perspective rather than eyeballing it. I didn’t go as far as plotting vanishing points and using straight edges, but I did draw a rough cuboid around that pesky dray, and there were a lot of pencil lines everywhere. Now the dray looked more realistic. I also toned down Wadworth’s blue paint (the previous picture had a strange colour balance and, oddly, made me think of Postman Pat), replaced the odd items on the dray with more kegs, and took the opportunity to vary the features on the brick wall behind the subject.

Note: None of these pictures were part of the WCG Open Exhibition.