It’s been a long time since I did some proper artwork, or posted anything here, sorry, I am about to get this site together again. The story so far: I broke my wrist. Not the drawing one, but keeping on top of the physio and the postal orders has taken pretty much all my time, and I need two hands for painting. Plus, the small matter of a pandemic has diverted all our lives, I don’t really need to tell you that, so even without a broken wrist I’d not have had much to say in the way of new swimming tales.
Breaking your wrist is no fun, I cannot recommend it. It is slowly recovering, but it means there will be very little new artwork this year. There will however be a couple of new swimming hat designs, and a calendar for next year. So, I have some glimpses of the new hat design to show you.
Way back ages ago, long before you needed eyes in the back of your head to maintain a statutory 2 metres from every living being, I thought eyes on swimming hats would be a nice idea, in the manner of eyes on the prows of ships. It seems to be a thing that goes back centuries and across cultures.
And I’d been messing about with this idea, but ship-eyes just didn’t really work. So I tried sort of scaly fish / reptilian eyes. I posted the drawings on my profile on facebook, and naturally the most liked design was the one I didn’t think was going anywhere. So here is a glimpse of my design process that is about to lead to some real swimming hats (the ones here are all mock-ups and drawings).
Update: I ordered them yesterday! If you’re interested in knowing when they will be available, feel free to join my email list (see link in the menu) and you’ll be the first to know when they arrive.
hat design sketch – this was my final version before asking other people what they thought. It got second place in the popularity stakes. I might come back to this one.
hat design sketch – an alternative version
hat design sketch – I quite liked the round eyes but they got out voted by all the others.
hat design sketch – another round version
hat design sketch 5 – in fact this was about the first one I drew. Originally I didn’t think it was working well with an eye like this. Lots of people disagreed. Fortunately!
Working out the actual eye placement – this changed the design as the eye needed moving a lot from my original guess (orange hat) to the final (white hat)
Original placement – not working too well
I am not scowling, it was very hard to get my head and the camera and the mirror all in the right place!
Final placement, I wanted it so that it works from the front and from the side too.
Having got the eye in the right place, next, back to the actual design work, and all those scales were just too fussy
Nope, too fussy…
working from the front
Yes!, with tentacly eyelashes but only a suggestion of scales.
I am aware I should have done this drawing a month ago, January has been a bumpy one and as my father died on the 2nd of January a Happy New Year neither seemed appropriate, nor was there anyway time to do this drawing last month. But the morning of 1st of January was such a lovely one with fantastic friends that it would be a shame to loose the opportunity. So here’s to another go at the new year, and in memory of my dad, not so much a swimmer but a keen sailor in his time.
New Year’s Day at Clevedon Beach, 2020
New Year’s Day in Clevedon dawned calm and dull, Wales had apparently vanished, the neap tide lapped unenthusiastically low on the shingle beach. And we more than made up for it.
The 7 degree water brought the swimmers out in a bright pink ‘tan’ and were it not for the weather, the whole thing could have been mistaken for a summers day on the beach.
And there was beauty in the eerie stillness once out in the misty water.
Lucy’s now famous purple bikini put in one more appearance, though she says it is due for retirement, so I made sure to include it in this drawing, in case this is its last. Meanwhile, modesty* forbids me from drawing Professor Wolf’s festive 3D wolf posing pouch, sent to him anonymously and worn because we recklessly encouraged him. But he is there, centre ground posing for a photo in it. I believe it has since been confiscated, which is a shame but probably for the best.
*not actually my modesty.
“New Year’s Day 2020, on Clevedon Beach” Digital drawing by Nancy Farmer
As we enter another year I wanted to show you some photos sent to me by Richard Cox. An inspirational tale which apparently began with one of my 2019 swimming calendars, received as a gift. He swam on the 1st of January 2019, and the calendar seemed an appropriate place to make a few notes about the swim. On 2nd of January he swam again, and again wrote it on the calendar, by the time he had finished January and not missed a swim all month it had accidentally become a Thing, and achievement that cried out to be completed for another 11 months. Another 11 pages waiting for the notes of each place, time, and swimming friends. Those special people who are prepared to come out with you, come rain, shine or ice; and go for a swim. Anywhere.
So here are a few photos Richard’s journey. If you want to read more about his year you can do so here. And be careful if you have a calendar of mine, it can get you into all sorts of interesting situations! And if you don’t have one and want one, please be quick, I sold out but I’m doing one last print run for the late orderers, taking orders on Etsy here but only for the next few days. After that, you will have to wait for 2021.
To be fair, I was stepping far more gingerly than Susan and Francine: they with shoes, me with bare toes. They fairly strode into the Winter.
But it was the first swim of the season in single figures. The first of many since the temperature has plummeted this week. Take care out there my swimming friends: it should never be forgotten that you are doing this for fun!
(Apologies to Lucy for leaving her out of the drawing and yet stealing her hat! I used her photograph for reference, so she wasn’t in it, and I used her hat for artistic purposes, since mine was dark purple)
“Stepping into Single Figures” – drawing by Nancy Farmer
To be honest, I’ve been selling calendars for next year for a couple of months on the quiet, but I don’t like to tell people too early that another year is ending, so they have mostly been bought by inquisitive souls who have asked or searched them out.
The clocks have gone back, the leaves are falling, I reckon I can tell everyone now: 2020 calendars are in my Etsy shop! To avoid disappointment don’t leave it till late December – I never ran out of this year’s calendars because of a printing company error – they printed too many and then somehow persuaded me to buy the surplus… However, that’s not the way it usually goes: I try to judge it so that I have nearly sold them all by the end of the year.
2020 calendar by Nancy Farmer – some of the images
It was not warm in Derwentwater: not yet ‘Baltic’, but well into ‘quite nippy’. It was past sunset and Emma stood in the inky waters in bare feet on uncomfortable slippy rocks; she also had a dodgy shoulder and she was not in fact – not yet – a cold water swimmer.
She had got this far, she was already half wet and all cold. Getting out at this point was going to look like defeat, but she was going to need some persuasion.
So she gave herself a stern talking to. Strong words were delivered and after some minutes of entertaining expletives, she did as she told herself.
She got in.
…and she loved it. Briefly.
And two days later she did it again, with noticeably less swearing.
Emma’s first swim in Derwentwater – digital drawing by Nancy Farmer
We had gathered on Cawsand beach and walked to Penlee Point – a lovely group of Kingsand & Cawsand swimmers – and Jim – had welcomed us few Somerset visitors: organized a gathering, a swim, boat cover, cake, pizza in the evening. There had been much faffing on the beach at Cawsand gathering everyone, meeting friends, meeting new people, talk of logistics: clothes, shoes and drybags. We took photos while we waited for everyone to arrive, some had stopped for pub lunch, I had not, having already stopped for cake. We even had a safety briefing – this was not our home waters.
We walked to the Point and picked our way down the cliff: around 15 people descending upon a dainty little micro-beach. There were two people already there, enjoying the peace and quiet. We must have blocked the view as we stood in front of them – there wasn’t anywhere else to stand – and I wondered if they were appalled at the thought that we might all join them in this tiny space.
“I’ve been summoning up the courage to go for a paddle for the last 15 minutes,” said one to the the other “and you watch: this lot will just get in and swim off.”
And we did. We had pre-faffed, and now we had cake and later pizza to swim back for.
Many thanks to everyone for a lovely day – Jim, Sue, Kate, Moi, the boat crew, and other people whose names I should remember but can’t! We hope to see some of you in Somerset sometime.
Budgie smugglers – incorporating a photo of the text on the actual item in question!
I’m very happy to be able to tell you I will once again be in Hyde Park at the Swim Serpentine event, on Saturday 21st September. I am not swimming! I shall be part of the Swim Serpentine Festival. More on that in a bit, this is just a quick post to tell you I will be there. You will be able to find me amongst the marquees and tents and things, with artwork – paintings, calendars, swimming hats and so on. I expect that the view will be a little different to last year, in that it will not involve a 20 metre high bright pink red and blue floating sculpture made of oil drums. Perfect opportunity for another drawing then… watch this space. In the meantime I thought I’d remind you of that particular scene. It drizzled most of the day, but nobody’s enthusiasm was dampened.
To get to Clevedon I drive North on the M5, Lucy drives South, which can sometimes give one or other of us the uncanny ability to predict the immanent arrival of Weather. Lucy wonders if she should take her dryrobe. I already have mine on, the sudden biblical shower-burst south of Clevedon having only barely stopped short of raining frogs.
Like the pros we are, we naturally proceed to stand there doing nothing but talking, catching up on the last fortnight until it is well and truly coming down in buckets. We spend some time admiring the transformation of our surroundings from distinct regions of concrete and lake to a single uniform surface of hammered water.
And then we decide to change.
Lucy demonstrates the orthodox use of the Dryrobe, while I go for the more freestyle method of holding on with face and elbows. The Dryrobe is a fine thing in so many ways, but I can never be bothered with the actual zip.
It goes without saying it was lovely once we were in; I shall say it anyway.
Digital Drawing by Nancy Farmer: “A Lake That Was Wetter Than Usual”
‘Floating’ – painting in watercolour with gold leaf detail
I managed to finish an actual bigish painting (20.5 x 14.5 inches), which is a rarity at the moment. This is ‘Floating’ in watercolour with touches of gold leaf. Currently unsold and prints available in my Etsy Shop.
I thought you might like to see some step-by-step photos, so I’ve posted some below…
But first, some close-up details of the painting:
Floating – close-up
detail of feet
Floating – detail
And the step-by-step photos – the colours aren’t consistent (notice the changes in colour of the brown tape around the edge… which did not in fact change colour…), unfortunately my camera tries to correct the colour depending on what it sees, and there’s also different colour light depending on the time of day, but I hope it will give you a bit of an idea of the processes that went into creating this painting.
source photo – one I took myself – this is Jackie, in Vobster Quay.
the original drawing.
more Prussian Blue
more Prussian Blue
and still Prussian Blue
washes of Indian Yellow
more washes, some magenta, and a slightly different yellow on the swimming costume
lifting paint (with the tiny ‘scrubbing brushes’)to make highlights
adding colour in very thin washes
brushes (and a propelling pencil), in order of appearance…
‘Floating’ – painting in watercolour with gold leaf detail