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
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
This drawing is out of season, sorry, it should have appeared in November!
I am currently compiling next year’s calendar (add yourself to my email list – link in the menu – if you want to be amongst the first to know when it’s ready)… and I found that this one from last year had never got onto my blog. So, I’m adding it now, having just spent some tedious minutes scrolling through a lot of Facebook to find the text I wrote for it…
“The Training Plan”
The temperature is dropping, triathletes have retreated to the indoor pool to keep up their training, but some have notched up the effort and refuse to go indoors, wacking out training routines in rapidly cooling water. Welcome to the winter swimming season, when all normal human behaviour is turned on its head, and people who swim for fun all summer get competitive under conditions that would make professionals shudder.
To be fair, Lucy is competing against herself and nobody else, but with awesome dedication. Under these conditions a training plan typed neatly and laminated and propped up at the end of the pool isn’t going to cut it. The pool is a lake, the water is about 5 degrees and she ain’t faffing!
(at least, no more than is strictly necessary…..)
The Training Plan
The text used in this drawing was Lucy’s actual training plan, extracted from a photo of her arm!
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.
“Getting into Cold Water”
a calendar for 2019 with illustrations by Nancy Farmer
I wanted to let you know that I have 2019 calendars for sale. In truth I’ve been waiting patiently for a while to tell you this, so you may have seen that I have snuck them up in my etsy shop some while ago… But I always think that people don’t want to be reminded that the year is ending too early. So I hope you’ve had a good year so far, and there is still plenty of it to go. The water is getting colder though, at least where I live, so you may appreciate a glimpse of the new, appropriately named calendar.
you can buy them here: https://www.etsy.com/shop/waterdrawnart
As usual it features 12 new drawings which I’ve done over the course of the past year, with appropriate captions of course. I hope you enjoy it as much as I enjoyed drawing the pictures!
It was not winter, but a cold reluctant spring and feisty April weather (I have been slow to draw this one). We splooshed about in a 6 degree Crummock Water whipped up to resemble the sea, all questions of ‘do we actually want to get in there’ vanishing with the chilly water’s embrace.
Later, changing in the drizzle from cozzies into only marginally drier clothes, a dog-walker arrived at the gravely beach. As the small dog leapt about in the water yipping with delight and silliness, it’s owner sighed and told us “she goes in, even in the winter”, as if there was no explaining the antics of some creatures.
“So do we”, we declared happily.
Swimming with Jackie in Crummock Water, Cumbria, April 2018
All things are relative. While the prospect of an Autumnal temperature plummet to seven degrees may cause us to shudder at the very thought, reaching in vain after warm memories of summery 18 degrees and above; here at the back end of Winter and in the wake of winds from Siberia, 7 degrees is greeted with excitement and delight!
“It’s lovely now it’s warmed up” is not mere winter swimmer’s bravado, it is heartfelt. 10 days ago the shallow salt water dipped below zero. True, we still have that glazed look of the mildly hypothermic as we hug our hot drinks. True it is drizzling, and an icy wind is promised for the weekend. But all things are relative, and these things are mere blips in the unstoppable onrush of spring.
On Friday it was Mary’s Birthday. There being an icy blast coming straight from Siberia, and the water 3.5 degrees and dropping, she dressed appropriately for the occasion of a birthday swim. A bikini with tassels, of course!
The Birthday Suit
To those unfamiliar with the place, this is of course Clevedon Marine Lake. The water isn’t often this green, it’s generally muddier, but on this occasion it was even clear enough for underwater photos.