Tag Archives: outdoor swimming

"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

Digital Drawing by Nancy Farmer: "A Lake That Was Wetter Than Usual"

A Lake That Was Wetter Than Usual

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"

Digital Drawing by Nancy Farmer: “A Lake That Was Wetter Than Usual”

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

Bude Sea Pool in the Summer - Digital drawing by Nancy Farmer

An Unseasonal Bude

I’m not sure how it happened but this picture never made it onto my blog. It’s been on my Facebook page, because I donated it to the Friends of Bude Sea Pool to sell as prints (and also perhaps cards, t-shirts or whatever they want to use it for)… but somehow in the excitement it missed the blog.

If you’d like a print, which are lovely gallery-quality prints like my others, it is available from the Friends of Bude Sea Pool website: https://www.budeseapool.org/shop/ and available from the shop in the Summerleaze Car Park. Prints: £25, £35, £60 for print alone, mounted, or framed respectively.

So if you are longing for a glimpse of summer, this is the print for you!

Bude Sea Pool in the Summer - Digital drawing by Nancy Farmer

Bude Sea Pool in the Summer – Digital drawing by Nancy Farmer

….the text is from this year’s calendar:

“Bude Sea Pool”
With the temperature in the high twenties and no air con in the car, Lucy and I drive down to Bude to visit the Sea Pool there. It’s a year in which we actually seem to be having Summer, and of course it’s too hot, because this is England, we are not used to this sort of weather and we weren’t expecting it.
Now we can watch the antics and faffing of the great British Public, who haven’t had the opportunity to practice their waterside faffing skills since last summer. Some jump straight in it’s so hot. But we are pros at this: there is much talking, there are local swimmers to meet, there is the history of the rescuing of Bude Sea Pool from threatened demolition: it takes us nearly an hour to get into the water. It’s so, so lovely once you’re in!

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

The Oxfordshire Winter Pod

The Oxfordshire Pod

A commission that I completed a few weeks ago. It was for Beccy Mullett’s birthday – this is her and the rest of her winter swimming (and cycling) ‘Pod’, and her friends who are also in this picture commissioned me to draw it for her. Beccy is in the foreground, left of centre. Below are also some of the photos that I put this together from.

I shall be at the Swim Serpentine Event (Hyde Park, London) on September 22nd if anyone would like to ask me about having something similar done, always happy to talk if you have an idea you’d like made into an artwork.

This is  a digital drawing, and one of the useful things about that is  that I can make multiple prints if required – I only make prints of commissions for the people who commission them, but in this case I made up a large mounted print of this drawing for the birthday girl, and another 7 small ones for each of the other swimmers, who also gave her this as a present.

The Oxfordshire Winter Pod

The Oxfordshire Winter Pod

Some of the source photos

Some of the source photos