Monday, October 18, 2010

Along the strand

Another envelope has yielded yet more drawings done on the Port Elizabeth beachfront in the mid- to late-1980s. In some cases I again took to watercolouring the original blue ballpoint pen drawings.

I fear I overworked some of these, but on the other hand they do take on a more painterly character than previous watercolours shown on this blog, which used a minimum of washes.

One of the drawbacks of working pictures up to this extent is that by the very nature of drawing, it is impossible - and in fact undesirable - to fix the figure too finally into a space on the page. Drawing is about following the form with the eye and distilling an image from that. Hard edges are, as a result, not all that possible to pin down.

This study of a man on the beach works well, I think, by virtue of it being underpainted.

Here, the difficulty was that the sketch was only of the man's upper torso, so I had to "lose" the rest of his body by melding it into a profusion of abstract colour.

This one worked well, I think. The dark background offers a nice contrast to the light foreground.

Almost a cartoon figure, this was, of course, drawn from life, in the space of a few seconds.

Ever watched a toddler this age for any amount of time? If so, you'll know they rarely keep still. So here, again, I had to get the lines down in a rush.

This woman was probably unpacking something out of a beach bag or cooler box. I rather like the colour-wash effect.

Here, again, I had to improvise due to the one figure being incomplete. The foreground stick was possibly being thrown for the dog, which is taking a well-earned rest.

This is reminiscent of earlier beach drawings, with light washes over the original sketch.

And this one escaped the watercolour brush altogether. These people are walking along the beach at lowish tide past a storm water drain outlet which gives the area - between Hobie and Pollok beaches - the name Pipe.

Meanwhile, out in the bay, sail craft take advantage of a stiff breeze.

This has a naval look to it, or it could be a pilot boat.

A small yacht.

And a catamaran of the sort which launched in great numbers from what is now, since the advent in the early 1990s of the pier, called Hobie Beach.

I can't recall what those large bundles were in this "rubber duck" being launched, probably also at Hobie, by a group of men. Today, sadly, such scenes are linked to the scourge of perlemoen poaching.

In less than a decade, I too would be doing just this - walking a little child through the shallows at King's Beach.

A moving dog is not easy to capture. But it is this very problem which gives a work like this interest, since movement itself becomes the primary subject.

Another moving object - this time a small child.

A carried object. Parents develop strong arms during the first years of their kids' lives.

One of the lads.

Maybe not one of the lads, but another sun lover all the same.

Here I'm working with small, square bits of thin paper which proves receptive to ballpoint ink. This youngster is digging in the wet sea sand.

Another beach-goer, reading while protected from the sun by an umbrella.

A young woman arranges her towel.

Another young woman lifts her dress slightly as she paddles in the shallows.

At this age you were allowed to go naked - even in apartheid SA.

A pity about the drawing behind, which shines through the paper, detracting from this mother and child scene.

I rather like the figure behind this young bull.

Kids can play for hours in the sand.

Just another young girl on the beach.

And out at sea, a couple of people man a small yacht.

This was done at another time, when all I had to draw on was this bit of print-out paper.

The young girls are taking over.

Even in post-apartheid SA, the ice-cream man is a summertime fixture. But they don't seem to bring to the beach those bicycles with a freezer attached anymore.

Done at another time, this is a better view of one of those bulky ice-cream bicycles being pushed across the sand.

The squiggle, top right, was me getting the ink flowing. The picture is of a lifeguard high up on his tower.

As I mentioned in a previous post, some large people are quite at ease on the beach, despite their size.

I rather like the exaggeratedly small (if that's possible) heads on these figures as a man applies suntan lotion to a woman. It has a Henry Moore sculpture quality.

Oh and the beach does attract slender young things like this, thank heavens.

Father and son. I spotted these two looking through the wire fencing around the Supertubes water-shoot at King's Beach.

The weight is all on the shoulders and arms.

This was on the back of the picture above it - a more athletic pair of shoulders.

And a youngster with the thin torso of adolescence.

A view north-east along the PE beachfront. I think that's a suggestion of the concrete monoliths which jut out of the sea at Humewood - the remnants of an old whaling-boat slipway, apparently.

Looking from Pollok across rocks at low tide towards the harbour.

The lovely outcrop of rocks at Pollok, which is a favourite fishing area.

However, the space is often contested, with surfers finding rideable waves there on occasion.

Sea birds - especially cormorants - are often to be seen on this outcrop near Pollok.

And finally, drawn on the back of one of the above sketches, an attempt to demonstrate how horizontal and vertical stripes are said to affect how fat or thin one appears. These two women are actually exactly the same size. Not.

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