A Wassailing I do go … tra la!

September’s “Camping and Caravanning Club” magazine was all about wassailing. Old, rural traditions that are still carried out

The strange-looking fish pie at the top is actually known as Stargazy pie; a dish orginating from the Cornish fishing village of Mousehole.

Cheese rolling in Gloucestershire has been annual event for hundreds of years. A round cheese is set off rolling down Cooper’s Hill followed by contestants hurling themselves down the steep hill to catch the cheese.

In Yarlington, the locals hang cider-soaked bread from tree branches to ensure a fruitful harvest.

Morris Dancing is a traditional form of English folk dance.

For the Morris Dancer picture I used two or three different pictures that I found on the internet.

I enjoyed colouring and shading the rags on the Morris Dancer’s outfit, but avoided sketching in a face. Regular visitors might have noticed that I rarely sketch figures. It’s just something that doesn’t tend to capture my interest – as you know I’d far rather draw a plate of food, than the gentleman eating it!

Unfortunately the magazine rather wanted a face on the Morris Dancer and emailed me shortly after they had recieved it, to ask if I could put a face on the figure.

No problem, you might think …

… except that I’d already set off on holiday.

Thankfully it was only down to Bournemouth. And I’d luckily taken my laptop with me, so I had access to the original scanned images, but I still had one or two problems…

My first problem was that the morris dancer had never really had a face at all! The hat was from one photograph, the main body from a second and the overall outline of the figure, from a third.

At first I tried finding photographs of faces from the internet that would fit into the space. But to no great success.

Then I realised that I could use my mobile phone to take my own photograph … if I could only get my face into a position that fitted the space …

(I apologise for the following series of photographs. A gurning Matthew trying to have fun as a Morris Dancer)

Eventually I managed to sketch out a face that fitted.

And I even shaded it in flesh and green man forms.

(The green man has been an image commonly linked with nature and fertility in english folklore. Many images of the festival at Yarlington showed green-faced morris dancers. So it seemed fitting that I join in with the celebrations and green up)

Now, this was all well and good. But remember I was on holiday, in a caravan.

Luckily the local library had computers and scanning facilities, which let me scan the faces in.

Once I’d scanned the faces in it was just a matter of resizing and fitting into the empty space on the Morris Dancer.

I was quite pleased with the result and so was the magazine, who used the Green man Matthew as part of their September issue about Wassailing.

It was exciting working out of the comfort zone of my drawing office at home. Well, once I’d figured out the logistics of how to put the image together without my scanner.

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