Monday, October 11, 2010

We'll sketch them on the beaches

Summer, sometime in the mid-1980s, and I spent a lot of time on Port Elizabeth's superb beaches. At the time I think King's Beach was my principal choice, but possibly also Humewood. Anyway, a beach is like a free chance to sketch people practically in the nude - a vast improvement on the academic studies I did at art school way back in the mid- to late-1970s.

Working on very fine A4 paper, I used a simple ballpoint pen for what are essentially composites comprising several separate smaller drawings. I rather enjoy the lad at the base of this one playing in the sand. As people get older, I found, they do less and less when they're on the beach - with the odd exception.

Here it is a large character of a woman, beside a tiny, thin man, who prop up the page.

There can be no denying the allure of a taught female bum.

Here, again, a youngster lapping up the sea sand, supports the other pictures.

Ever noticed how some people, no matter how out of shape physically, are completely happy with their bodies?

More kids playing in the sand, bringing a bit of movement to the party.

From slender young things, to a larger lass secure in her chair.

A different size, and texture - somewhat dimpled - paper was used for this next series, also done on one of PE's beaches around the mid-1980s. My drawing teacher at art school, Jack Lugg, used to emphasise the importance of showing which part of the body is taking the strain, such as the left arm and shoulder in this instance.

A somewhat overweight guy walks slowly past and you start trying to draw him. No matter that the end result is not of him precisely, especially in so far as the legs are drawn and redrawn. I think this captures the sense of someone walking along a beach - it is far from static, and something you can't do with a camera.

I rather like this composition. The foreground oke is a solid shape, with lots of shading, while behind there is just the suggestion of a woman's figure.

Old okes also hit the strand, totally happy in their whithering shells - which is where we all end up, if we manage to live that long.

The beach attracts people who are physically fit - those who will spend hours swimming in the waves, which is something I've been remiss about doing over the past few years.

Okay, so it was this woman's rather pleasant posterior that first attracted my attention, but then the man and child with her just added to the composition.

Methinks this guy is eyeing a boat out in Algoa Bay.

This rather appeals to me. The woman's legs are somewhat knock-kneed as she "drags" the little child to the sea for a dip.

Vive le difference! Pardon my attempt at French, but it is a truism that female hips, as shown here, are wonderfully different to those of males.

An oke with a flat cap, on the beach, leaning on his right arm. Naturally, he is going to shift that rather vast shape occasionally, which occasioned the adjusted head position.

Both arms are bearing the weight of this guy's body, with the shoulders soaking up the pressure.

For me, this is probably the pick of these drawings. I enjoy the Henry Moore-like quality of the female figure, with one line of the man on the right linking his body to hers, while a yacht's sail on the horizon adds the nautical touch.

What more could one ask for? A sleeping, or pretty still anyway, woman lying on the beach, just waiting to be drawn.

This looks like the same guy with the flat cap again. That's probably how my body's starting to look.

Nice to end on a slim, lithe note.

The female form is a thing of beauty, and I make no excuse for exploring that beauty. Here I did a tiny woodcut of a female torso.

Somehow, among the 20 or 30 prints I made, I discovered that I had started by using the same block to make an image of a black woman - which only goes to show how irrelevant skin pigmentation is.

Given, as mentioned earlier, that my marriage ended up on the rocks, I think I can be pardoned this and the following explorations of the female form. It's all art, I tell you!

Voluptuous, to say the least.

Athletic lady.

When you start doing watercolours like this, it is possible to feel the form emerging as you go along. Here the woman is almost without breasts, but none the less feminine for it.

Again, a small upper torso is complemented by beautifully rounded hips.

There is surely no limit to the number of attractive female figures.

I was clearly on a roll, and in this I branched out into semi-abstraction.

As has been my wont down the years, I have painted many landscapes in which the female figure is reflected in the hills and valleys. Here I made it somewhat too obvious!

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