It is a beautiful hot sunny Spring day here on the Sunshine Coast of Queensland so hubby, son and I set out to Moffat Beach for a morning of sun, sea and – for me – sketching.
Rather than drown, I drew
I’m not the most buoyant in the water and while my son snorkelled and my husband scuba dived with his local dive team, I retreated to the safety of the sand after my customary five minutes of panic-breathing and treading water not much deeper than my height. It was actually a lovely calm ocean today, sad for the surfers, but I was happy. It meant I got more than my ankles wet.
I’ve never been a strong swimmer and in Australian oceans I really don’t feel at home, unlike in the balmy Mediterranean or Aegean Seas of Europe. However, rather than put on a brave face and pretend I’m better than I am, I am at least honest these days. So when the scuba divers came back with tales of what they’d seen several metres below, I admitted how I’d only just managed to get my face submerged once. Of course my teenage son added painful details immediately, and with a little too much glee for my liking, so honesty was really the best way to go, rather than trying to save face.
I came into my own though, when I whipped out my sketch book and proudly showed the water babies that my own strength was in capturing, rather than immersing in, the sea. The sketch got a few raised eyebrows, approving gestures and “You did that just now?”, so I think I regained some ground that had just been swallowed up in the watery depths of my swimming!
I used pastel pencils that I bought recently from a local shop, and a small sketch pad that fitted nicely into my beach bag.
When we chose our spot, it was in the quieter end of the beach with one or two couples around, but not too close. I had an unimpeded view of the headland and happily got into testing the new pencils. I quite liked them, they were easy to use in the environment and didn’t need anything other than a few clean finger tips to smudge.
However, I’d got as far as sketching the sky and smaller tree when my world became crowded with one family of three generations perching on the rocks right behind me, and another couple who stuck their sun brolly into the sand right in the centre of my line of sight.
I felt like getting angry, then remembered I didn’t actually have sole rights to the beach, so chose to ignore it all and got on with sketching.
Occasionally I heard members of the family behind me saying, “that looks so realistic”, “I wonder if she teaches”, “she’s got the colours just right.”
The Leo in me quite liked the admiration, so I turned and smiled and we ended up having a nice chat. Their feedback on the colours I was using was actually helpful, because the sun was so bright, it was hard to tell what was dark blue and what was dark green. It was also encouraging when they asked if I did this for a living and did I teach it.
When it was time to leave so the divers could gain access to their towels etc (I held the car keys), the family told me to keep painting and using my talents. I took that as encouraging advice from the Universe, wished them a wonderful day and trudged back over the sand to the diving team with my son.
For a sketch done in an hour or less, with a new medium and in glaringly bright light, I am happy with the little painting. I sprayed it with some matt fixative so it won’t smudge and am considering taking my pad along tomorrow when we go to the beach again.