Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Back on the beach

I was on a roll the day I took pencil to fine layout paper on one of Port Elizabeth's beaches sometime in the mid-1980s and produced a score of some of my strongest life drawings. Then I went home and applied some strategically placed watercolour washes.

The ravages of 25 years are starting to show in a browning at the base of this drawing of a woman in a deckchair on, possibly, King's Beach. I notice I even signed it, which for me is rare.

The wrinkling of the paper was an inevitable consequence of applying water to unprepared paper, but I don't think it detracts too badly on the originals. I wonder if the experts can sort this out, of if the pictures should just be mounted and framed as is?

Even if I have to say so myself - for no one else will - I am amazed at how my colour washes seem to work on just about every drawing. The risk of ruining a sketch completely is always present when using watercolours on it, so I was lucky.

Many of these drawings, like this one, were done in the space of probably 10 or 20 seconds.

Eish! This woman would probably say she has a "big bum", but I ain't complaining.

I'm not sure what became of this guy's arms, but I still like the drawing.

That bold bit of yellow on this guy's leg, for me, just adds that key touch.

A fitness fiend on his paddle-ski.

Father and son having fun in the sun.

Father and daughter - an experience I've not had, having reared two sons.

Summer beckons at the time of writing, and what better sight than a slender girl in a white bikini?

Pensively perusing the passing parade.

You've got to love those thin okes who insist on wearing the tiniest of swimwear to show off their credentials.

The ship at anchor in Algoa Bay provides a nice backdrop for this guy taking a languid stroll.

You get them. Okes who stand like this. It's something you can do quite easily on sea sand, as your feet slither apart.

Today, dogs are banned from most of the city's beaches, which does mean less pooh, I guess. But it also means no interesting dogs to draw.

Doesn't this just speak of summer? "There's lots of sand and sea and sun and fish in the aquarium ..." is what Jeremy Taylor sang all those years ago, and it is still spot-on today.

I must have really got into a groove painting these things, because almost all are under-worked rather than being too heavily worked. The pencil lines also look good on the receptive paper.

The aged, bless them (us?), are always visually interesting.

Too many beers, perhaps?

The splash of blue on this guy's swimming shorts, to me, is perfect, as he walks along with a towel over his shoulder.

Two sails provide depth.

And the first kid, with tiny, splayed fingers, beneath a partly completed portrait.

And possibly the best of the bunch. Notice how the man's face is evoked with virtually just one line. All these owe something to the technique taught to me by Jack Lugg at the East London Tech art school in the late-1970s, whereby you essentially keep looking at the figure, while transferring what you see to the page. This is what gives the drawings spontaneity of line.

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