Category Archives: drawing

"Stepping into Single Figures" - drawing by Nancy Farmer

Stepping into Single Figures… gingerly

(Brothers Water, Cumbria, 15/10/19)

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

“Stepping into Single Figures” – drawing by Nancy Farmer

Under Clevedon Pier on a Windy Day

Under Clevedon Pier on a Windy Day

Under Clevedon Pier on a Windy Day

Under Clevedon Pier on a Windy Day

Compiling the pictures for the calendar for 2020, I have found one more drawing that got missed off this blog, so here it is….

On a day in November, on a windy day, I went for a swim under the Pier. It’s hard to write a story to this one, because I’ve already done that – it went with the other drawing I did of that day: me, looking at the water splooshing up against the sea wall and wondering whether to go in.
So instead I’ve done a few scrawls of the picture in construction. Drawing on paper isn’t how I usually start the digital drawings – these two are the first I’ve done like this, but the advantage is you do get to draw with a real pencil, which is much nicer. The disadvantage is that when you discover you’ve missed an essential bit of the pier, you have to go back to the pencil drawing, add it in, and re-scan the drawing.

This drawing started when I found a sketch in a sketchbook I don’t usually use. It was no more than a few wiggly lines mapping out a drawing, but I knew what I’d meant a the time, so I finished the drawing on paper:

Not much of a sketch!

Not much of a sketch!

Before i got in

Before I got in that same day…

Pencil drawing

Pencil drawing

Pencil scanned in and background removed

Pencil scanned in and background removed

Photo from the day

Photo from the day of the swim

Adding digital colour

Adding digital colour

The bit I missed!

The bit I missed! (back to the pencil drawing for a final adjustment…)

The finished version again...

The finished version again…

"How to Stay Dry" ...on Clevedon Beach - sketch by Nancy Farmer

How to Stay Dry on Clevedon Beach

"How to Stay Dry" ...on Clevedon Beach - sketch by Nancy Farmer

“How to Stay Dry” …on Clevedon Beach – sketch by Nancy Farmer

It was a little breezy down at Clevedon Beach this morning. Not as bad as it had been yesterday: a couple of floating trees, a bent iron bar on the beach and multiple heaps of seaweed up on the road above the sea wall bore witness to the weekend weather, but still, the water had that washing machine look to it. And it was a chill wind.
So as well as my cossie I also brought my sketchbook. I had a cold which came back for an encore, and wanting to discourage it from a second curtain call, I still managed to feel that the journey up the M5 was worth it by drawing everyone else getting in instead. There may have been just a little shrieking…
Of course the company, coffee and cake was worth the journey on its own. Especially the company, and being nice and dry and able to enjoy watching the shrieking!

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Drawing in Action! – photo by Row Clarke

Finished painting - photo 3

Commission: Helen Betley’s Windermere swim, with a lot of gold leaf

Thought you might like to see a painting I finished before Christmas. Last year, Helen Betley swam the length of Windermere… butterfly! Her husband asked if I could paint a painting of the swim. I don’t generally do landscape paintings, (as actual paintings, rather than digital drawings) but I do do a lot of figure drawings, and gold leaf, so I suggested this combination as a bold composition, rather than a straight painting of someone swimming. All the leaf is gold, the different colours are different alloys of gold, and it’s all applied piece by piece, with a paintbrush as it’s too delicate to pick up. The rest is pencil and a watercolour wash, and the little folly is really there on the shore of Windermere, but I added the inscription in my drawing, as a detail to commemorate the swim.

All the photographs are of the same painting – the gold leaf changes so much with different light you may think there is more than one version.

Finished painting - photo 1

Finished painting – photo 1

Finished painting - photo 2

Finished painting – photo 2

One of the photos I worked from

One of the photos I worked from

Photo elements re-arranged

Photo elements re-arranged

Sketch for painting

Sketch for painting

Detail of painting - Helen with hat details

Detail of painting – Helen with hat details

Detail of painting - Helen

Detail of painting – Helen

Detail of painting - The folly with swim details

Detail of painting – The Folly, with swim details

Finished painting - photo 3

Finished painting – photo 3

Finished painting - photo 3

Finished painting – photo 4

White Horses in the Bristol Channel, said Radio 3

White Horses in the Bristol Channel, said Radio 3

White Horses in the Bristol Channel, said Radio 3

White Horses in the Bristol Channel, said Radio 3 – pencil drawing with digitally added colour

Friday. The morning, following so many beautiful dawns this week, dawned wet and windy. However, driving up the M5 to Clevedon I was still surprised to be informed by Radio 3 that there were white horses in the Bristol Channel*. This oldly specific announcement, out of character for a for a national radio station whose main qualities are its eighteenth century selections and lack of current affairs, was disconcerting. This wasn’t even a news bulletin, merely a comment about the state of the Bristol Channel. They explained, as if this explained anything, that they were watching the web cam at Watchet. Then they played Beethoven.

So it was in a slightly surreal and thoughtful mood that I stood taking photographs on the sea front. There were indeed (modest) white horses, there was also a spring tide and much splooshing of water up onto the walkway below the sea wall. And I was the only one there. I even wondered, if I continued to be the only one there, would I go in anyway?

This is Clevedon. There has to be more than little white horses to deter everybody. I pattered along to the big cave and found two of the regulars eyeing the sea speculatively. In the end we were four, and of course we swam. And as the sun rose above Clevedon Hill – in the instant that my camera battery died – and despite the dire warnings of Radio 3, it turned out lovely!

*White horses: I had to explain this to a friend, so in case anyone else is confused – the white caps on the top of waves. Other than actually breaking on the shore I think this begins to happen (sailing friends will correct me) at about a force 5 wind.

If you like my drawings you might like to know that I now have calendars for 2019 for sale in my etsy shop: www.waterdrawnart.etsy.com.

Clevedon Pier: now you see it, now you don't

Clevedon Pier: now you see it, now you don’t

Wednesday swimmers - pencil sketches

Wednesday Swimmers

Wednesday swimmers - pencil sketches

Wednesday swimmers – pencil sketches

I like swimming on Wednesday at Vobster, though I hardly ever get to go. There is much mucking about in the water. Here is something I am working on from some photos I took on a Wesnesday recently. It started off with me liking something about the arrangement of the two figures in this one photo, though as an actual photo it’s not one of the best.
The sketch is actually three sketches, scanned and and arranged till I think they work together. Getting the underlying drawing right is absolutely the most important thing with most of what I do so there has been much thinking and faffing already. Don’t hold your breath with this one… I have other work I should be doing now….

Wednesday swimmers - photo

Wednesday swimmers – photo

My artwork is on the Sea Wall at Clevedon!

Clevedon Swimmers design

Clevedon Swimmers design

Well it’s not often you find someone nips into your local swimming spot and cements your artwork to the sea wall!
Three pictures I created for the Clevedon Marine Lake in the summer of 2016, lovely to finally see them on the wall. I haven’t actually had a chance to go and see them in real life yet and get photos in a bit of decent sunshine, so here are also the original designs so you can see them in their full detail.

Swimmer tiles being installed on the pumphouse

Swimmer tiles being installed on the disused pumphouse – or whatever this thing is next to where we get in..?

Nearly finished...

Nearly finished…

The Clevedon Swimmers tiles installed

The Clevedon Swimmers tiles installed

Crabbing panel

Crabbing panel

Boating panel

Boating panel

Boating at Clevedon design

Boating at Clevedon design

Crabbing at Clevedon design

Crabbing at Clevedon design

If you are interested in how these came to be, the original bid for lottery funding to restore the lake mentioned installing artwork, as part of the improvement of the lake, but it was no more specific than that I think. By the time Jo Tasker was lake warden I had started drawing a lot of the goings-on of swimmers at Clevedon, and other places where I went swimming and Jo asked very nicely would I like to create a picture that could go on the sea wall. My first idea was there should be 4 pictures, one for each season, but then it turned into 3 pictures, one for each activity. It made more sense, or there would just be swimmers in each picture!

And so finally they are up, all of a sudden! Swimmers, boaters and crabbers. Especially pleased that they had the good sense to put the swimmers picture next to where we swimmers change as that’s my favourite. I had to invent people for the other two panels, but the swimmers: I know all these people, they are real!