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!