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.
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
Inspired by the swims at the Henley Swim Festival 2019
This is a rare drawing for me – a swimming drawing about a swim that I didn’t do. But I was actually there all the same. For three years in a row now, I’ve had an artwork stand at this marvellous festival of swimming, so it seemed about time I recreated it as a piece of art. The landmark is of course the temple on Temple Island, silently witnessing the events of the day, as it has done for close on 250 years.
There were wave after wave of different swimmers throughout the day, and I have arranged them as if time has been collapsed to a few minutes – the blue wave at the front, who went off first thing in the morning, the reds at the back who swam in the last wave, gold hats sprinkled through them. Gold hats swam four times.
I have left out the last 3 waves – there were two club waves, and there was the very last wave: the duck wave. Maybe none of the swimmers noticed this one, it went off as all the exhibitors were packing up. Maybe only I noticed it, because, unannounced and un-cheered, but not unappreciated, a wave of ducks came down the river, the water finally theirs once more.
We got to Ullswater on Saturday morning, in the wind and rain. Rosie and Francine were already swimming, right out across Glencoyne bay, nearly invisible to the naked eye if they hadn’t had tow-floats as well. They were not, however, invisible to the naked ear, swimming as they were at a steady rate of about 100 words a minute. As they came back they passed by the spot where Glencoyne Beck lets into the lake, its cool waters running straight down from the fells, and though it may be June now we could hear quite clearly: it’s still quite cold in Ullswater.
(with apologies to triathlon friends and Richard!)
“I thought that was you”, Richard Smith said to me on Thursday afterwards.
…there was careful cold water acclimatization going on, triathletes emerging from their winter hibernation, technical discussions, comparison of wetsuits and swim trackers… “I saw this person in a bikini barge* through with an attitude of “…just going for a swim…” ”
(he did say barge, but I think he meant it in a good way, I did not actually elbow anyone off the ramp)
I’ve seen triathletes swimming: some of them don’t seem to like the water very much, they like to have a fight with it. And they do like wetsuits or their legs sink, with all that bike riding and running about: too much muscle, not enough fat!
But whatever you have to do that gets you in the water: and they are getting in the water now. They nearly all overtook me, of course, but I don’t care, I’ve got all year, they’ve only got a few months!
And apologies also to Vobster: it’s definitely not all triathlon swimmers, as it sometimes has a reputation for being: there is a dedicated bunch of year-round swimmers, both skins and neoprened, and it’s the best water in Somerset! …come and join us: https://www.facebook.com/groups/988659817829090/
I will not say that this happened, this is merely a hypothesis.
If it had happened, if it had happened that close on a dozen girls had skinny dipped in the lake, in a place remarkably close to the centre of a seaside town… if they had, they might have found that the cover of darkness is quite exceptional, the bright lights being all around, but not actually in that place. If they had, there would only have been the squealing of delight to give them away. They would have been invisible, but not, it is true, inaudible. But the Outside is a big place, and giggling would have carried only so far. The Outside is good for swimming.
Little commission I completed a few weeks ago – a digital drawing. And yes, you can ask me to match your wallpaper / paintwork as Sophia did, as long as you can send me a sample of the colour.
A little point here – I do know some artists would be outraged at the very thought of being asked to create art to match the decor, but seriously, would you go into a gallery and say, “I’d like to buy that painting, it’s lovely and it will look absolutely awful in my front room”. If it‘s a commission, an artist should be able to fulfil a brief be it subject, colour, size or whatever, or they are just pleasing themselves… and there’s another word for that 😉
Just saying this, as sometimes I think people are worried about getting a stroppy reply if they ask a question like that. If you do, find someone else to ask….
Changing a brief half way thorough is another matter we needn’t go into here (because this was not the case!). This was a lovely drawing to do, helped in part because of the natural grace in the initial photos I worked from.
Mind you, I can invent grace, where necessary. Trust me, I’m an artist 😉
“How to get into a River” – digital drawing by Nancy Farmer
“oops… drops off suddenly here!”
…repeat until everyone is merrily splashing about in the river. In January. As you do.
And, before someone points it out: the trick of course is not in the getting in but in the making sure you have done so at a point where you can also get out again, because it would be a shame to miss the cake…
On Sunday the South West Seals swam with the Wiltshire Wild Swimmers at Tellisford Weir. I have somehow omitted the weir so there may be another drawing if I can find the time. Thank you Wiltshire Swimmers, it was a fabulous away day for the SW Seals and you are very welcome for a re-match on our home ground. Speaking personally: a gentle 10 minutes of swimming was followed by about 6 pieces of cake. We may need to get into some serious training for the re-match!
(I should add that they also cooked hot dogs on a fire, I’m just more a cake person and there’s only so much a girl can eat: one of everything was not physically possible…)
Row Clarke is centre stage here: her fabulous Deakin & Blue cossie teamed with an equally fabulous retro flowery swimming cap.
“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!
…or, how to draw an elephant in the room without making a fuss.
It loomed: vastly, hugely, enormously: The 20 metre high, monster sculpture of 7000+ barrels, painted bright pink, red and blue, (in case a 20 metre high floating sculpture wasn’t already sufficiently visible already in the middle of the Serpentine). The work of artist Christo was precisely what I had not come here to depict.
The Swim Serpentine event was a lovely bunch of swimmers – nearly as many as the barrels – swimming their way around the Serpentine in Hyde Park, London, supported by a very hard working group of organizers, volunteers, lifeguards… that is what I had come to draw. The swimmers are centre stage but if you peer behind them you can see the yellow T-shirted lifeguards on hand to assist wobbly swimmers getting out. They were much appreciated.
And I have to hand it to the sculpture, it marks this event as this location, in this year. It drizzled for the afternoon so I battled the sculpture with a big yellow imaginary umbrella. I think the umbrella won. Useful things, umbrellas, especially imaginary ones.