I was first asked a year ago if I would be able to do the illustrations for Repton Parish Councils Neighbourhood Development Plan and responded that I could do as they requested, although we hadn’t discussed what the images would be exactly. But it helped that I have spent 22 years being brought up and living in that village of Repton so knew it intimately and the important aspects of the village, obviously being a lot to do with its famous Public School but also the village which has its own specific character too, and the massively important historical connections going back hundreds of years from even before the Vikings arriving there sailing along the old river Trent.
So of all the artists that could do this job, I was the best one suited to do it. And I had done some drawings before for the village so they knew what they were going to get artistically, and the quality of the work in question.
The Parish Council took their own photos for their Neighbourhood Development Plan of life in Repton and the neighbouring smaller village of Milton, as they knew what was important to illustrate the Plan itself and what they wanted to incorporate, the meeting places like the village halls, the historical aspects, the transport through and around the villages, and plans for new builds, and the leisure places and community aspects.
So I was working from their photos, but as they provided me with them, I had loads of questions for them, for instance in a street scene, did they want all the cars parked on the roads put in? Yes, and did they want all the tv aerials? Yes, and the burglar alarms? No, and the For Sale signs? No, leave those out.
They also wanted the front cover to equally depict Repton and Milton as separate but connected villages and decided that the best way of doing that was with black and white drawings with colourwash over them. After a shortish discussion on both sides I said that I would do the colourwash illustrations with the same sky, the same colours for the bricks in the buildings, the same colours for the tarmac of the roads, and the same colours for the pavements, and the trees. That gave a harmonious feel to the two pictures and with a little adjustment in the Milton main street picture was able to make them both the same size too to give them equal status.
I was also pleased that I recognised various photos that an outsider wouldn’t have done just by looking at them. I knew exactly which open space was where, from walking through them when I was a child, or how they had changed over the years since then. And instantly recognised a photo of the annual duck race along the brook in the village from how I had done it myself when I was younger, and knew when I saw the photo that I had to reduce the cow parsley growing on the bank, and exaggerate the plastic ducks themselves floating on the water to give the photo more appealing artistic licence to exaggerate it for the drawing.
I was also delighted that the two Parish Councillors who came to visit me to bring the photos over and talk through what they wanted for each photo, were impressed with my note taking so they were confident they were going to get exactly what they were asking for. And also another really important aspect was they left me to put the artistic licence in to the drawings. For instance, the photo of the Arch in Repton had very heavy shadows under it, almost as dark as the ancient stone archway above it, and I knew instantly to lessen the deep shadow, and put more detail into the old stones which brought it more to life from the photo, and also to darken the doorway in the old Priory through the arch which leads the eye through better and makes you look at the old building more than just the archway shadows. All of that I could depict with how I put the stronger contrasts in within the drawing.
And the other important thing was that although these images were separate illustrations, in black ink on A4 white cartridge paper, they were all going in the same document, so they had to be harmonious and work together in the same style of drawing, not different styles for each one. Even though the subject matter might be old stonework and old stone buildings, old brick cottages, hanging baskets outside doorways, children on swings, a 1970’s village hall, and a village hall from a much older period in time, a field, a bench, transport, and social housing, all of them had to be harmonious together and given equal credence. It was decided that I would work three hours on each image, but some needed four hours due to the nature of the subject, and some were done in less than three hours and completed as much as they needed to be, although the total hours worked was forty two, as we had agreed.
So now you can see the 14 illustrations for the big project I’ve been working on recently and you can now see all the hard work I’ve been doing on behalf of Repton Parish Council for their Neighbourhood Development Plan for the villages of Repton and Milton in South Derbyshire. This plan when its completed will go to Derbyshire Council, and Repton Parish Council wanted professionally drawn pen and ink drawings done to illustrate the message they want to convey which is why they asked me. I was brought up in Repton so know the area very well and what is important to emphasise in these drawings, to make a harmonious collection that work together for the Repton Plan.
So, I know which my favourite is, its the ancient stone Arch, but which is your favourite, and why…?