Draw every day. Draw everything and anything. That’s my philosophy. When our local sketching group decided to go to the pool for our monthly drawing session, I was doubtful. What can you draw at a pool beside a rectangle of turquoise water?
As so often happens, whenever I enter a new environment, I see the possibilities. Our Aquatic Center has two pools, one for families, play, therapy, diving, etc., and one for laps and swim meets. It was a colorful scene with lifeguards, swimming paraphernalia, flags, lane markers, benches, chairs, windows, timing clocks, people standing around and in the pool and of course, swimmers. What immediately captured my attention, were the lap swimmers. I loved the motion and grace of the forms gliding through the water.
Sitting on the bench alongside the pool, I realized I could not have chosen a harder subject. Trying to sketch a moving subject is difficult, but someone swimming – fast – half submerged in the water? I started with a pencil and did some quick squiggles to get the general shapes. I’d look for the curve of the arm and the turn of the head as swimmers glided back and forth. As I so often do, I asked myself questions: How does the rolling body connect to the turning neck and head. How much of the back is above water? How does one draw kicking feet just under the surface of the water?
I decided pencil was too tentative and I jumped in (figuratively speaking) with ink. I tend to draw more deliberately in ink. After many attempts, I began to catch a sense of swimming. Of course they’re all little more than doodles and if I wasn’t writing a blog about it, they’d stay hidden in my sketchbook.
It was a great learning experience and I’m glad I gave it a go. For me, the value in doing this is 1) to stretch my skills to express the motion and sensation of swimming, 2) to practice looking quickly and carefully to capture important details, and 3) to experiment with something new. Art is all about stretching, practicing and experimenting.