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 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!
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
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!
Before I got in that same day…
Pencil scanned in and background removed
Photo from the day of the swim
Adding digital colour
The bit I missed! (back to the pencil drawing for a final adjustment…)