On the plus side:
I have a garden hose, a corner of the garden is not overlooked, and the Mahonia is in flower.
And I thought:
I should be doing some artwork. All the people in my Facebook feed, most of them swimmers, most of them suddenly landlocked. Perhaps I could provide a bit of entertainment and give myself a useful drawing challenge at the same time.
I was going to ask you for your silly swimming tales and draw them.
I thought this picture as the first one would grab your attention.
I underestimated the physiotherapy.
I underestimated the fact that when a bone breaks, the actual part where the bone sticks itself back together is only the start of the recovery.
I underestimated the number of postal orders I would be doing mostly with one hand, and for how long I’d be doing them like that.
And to be honest, I didn’t want to engage with people until I felt more like me again, and that meant being able to start doing ‘me’ things again, or at least being within closer reach of them.
So this… is both the beginning and the end of that idea. There’s no point now sending me your silly swimming stories, I’ve lost so much work time I’m saying no to everything, even paid commissions this year. Though there is nothing to stop you posting stories as comments to this blog …you never know what the future holds.
“Hiatus” – painting in watercolour by Nancy Farmer
A painting I finished last week, but started… quite a long time ago, back in February, when the world was different…
/hʌɪˈeɪtəs/ noun: hiatus; plural noun: hiatuses A pause or break in continuity in a sequence or activity.
The title occurred to me when someone said that a then unfinished painting had a story and I should leave it as it was. It had a story because 15 minutes after putting down my paintbrush, I was walking back along a slippery muddy path, holding my very obviously broken wrist with the other hand.
That was not a nice reason to finish work on a painting. It waited, patiently, with its face to the wall while I determinedly didn’t look at it for nearly six months. This week I finished it and here it is.
The title fits perfectly with a swimmer pausing to let the world go past, but the painting also encapsulates a pause in my artistic life. Between the start and finish of this painting was a time I’d not like to repeat, but it is still a time in which I learnt things that I won’t forget, not least the importance of knowing a very good physiotherapist. (Thank you Ivor Field!)
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
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
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.
Lake Mural by Nancy Farmer. Photo Joanna Richardson
This isn’t new artwork I just wanted to post this photo, courtesy of Joanna Richardson. This is a panel I designed for Marlens (the charity which maintains the Marine Lake at Clevedon), one of three printed onto tiles and installed at the lake. Usually it’s not underwater, but on Friday it was a very, very high tide. And below is me on a different day, next to it, just for reference!
Me and the Mural! Photo Mary Stanley-duke (I think!)
I’m an artist: I’m not obliged to be politically correct, or even accurate, but there is a difference between girls and boys when it comes to cold water swimming. There is one thing that girls are so much better at. Faffing.
People ask me why there aren’t many pictures of men in my paintings, there aren’t actually many of the male persuasion in our group, it is true, but another of the reasons for it is they simply aren’t there. We’ve no sooner arrived at our lake, said hello, caught up on the week, the weather, measured the temperature of the water, discussed the possibility of wearing gloves or not wearing gloves, admired a new bobble hat or two, a bikini, somebody’s homemade cake, repeated the water temperature to newcomers, compared the readings on a couple of auxiliary thermometers, discussed the water temperature with those leaving the vicinity and shared a couple of hilarious stories about pants…. and we look up and find that the boys have just got in and started swimming! There they are, half way to the other side of the lake. And we have so far succeeded in removing our bobble hats and locating our cossies. If we are organized.
So now you know. One thing boys aren’t very good at.
This is Chris on the steps and Andy, already swimming. Andy was last year’s oldest person to swim the English Channel, solo, and he probably didn’t stop to swap stories about pants even then.
In truth the Silly Season has been going on since about December if you are a cold water swimmer. If you are not, you may well have considered it to be silly to swim outside since September, if not earlier. The actual swimming, however, is not the silly part. Welcome to the season of Winter Events, where wetsuits are often banned, but chicken costumes considered perfectly appropriate attire.
This is the Polar Bear Plunge! 2019, at Bude Sea Pool
Polar Bear Plunge! 2019 at Bude Sea Pool
(note: this is all one pic – since they updated the software and I updated the hardware I seem to have a load more pixels to play with, so I thought you might like to see some close-ups since I spent ages putting all this in….)
Close-up detail – the chickens and the tiger
Close-up detail – medals for everyone!
Close-up detail – Lucy, Neptune and the unimpressed dog.
A commission I finished a while ago – this is Jeremy Storr’s father learning to sail. He was the only one in the class, so he had all his lessons in the boat! I wanted to show his face – I had a photo where he had a lovely smile – but I thought it would be a shame if you didn’t see the whole boat, so he and his instructor are in the foreground, and at the same time sailing past in the background. Art is useful like that…