A friend of mine on Facebook, in an effort to raise spirits during this time of enforced isolation, lockdown, call it what you will, suggested a “game” to partake in, she would choose a subject and we, not the Royal we but other friends, would then draw a picture illustrating in some way the chosen subject.
The subject was “pirates”, so I rounded-up a couple of pencils and drew a picture, of a pirate ship.
I haven’t drawn anything just for the sake of drawing for a good few years and I have to say that it was fun. As a teenager I wore away many pencils in an effort to be “artistic”, I don’t think any of those efforts survive today (luckily, some may say) but it was a favourite pastime, back in the day. Then of course I had quite a range of pencils, from 4H to 4B, today all I could muster was a couple of HBs. The subject as interpreted by me was something close to my heart, sailing ships, and this depiction is one that I have tried time and again to “perfect”, it’s different every time of course but that’s part of the fun.
And what triggered that? I think it must have been the Airfix model of HMS Victory that I built sometime in the early 1970s when I was but a young lad. I was an avid Airfix modeller, as and when pocket money allowed, and supplemented by not so subtle hints in the lead-up to birthdays and Christmas and I was often to be found with my fingers covered in polystyrene cement and an expression of utmost concentration on my face.
The Airfix model of HMS Victory, when fully assembled, was about 15 inches from the tip of bowsprit to the end of the spanker boom and about 18 inches from the keel to the main-truck, that’s 380mm and 460mm respectively if you’re feeling metric. When it was finished it was, though I say so myself, quite impressive. But, and here’s the thing, the box that the kit came in had a wonderful picture on it, as did most of the Airfix kits, especially the Historic Ship range, and it’s that picture that has stuck with me all this time, that picture, or a version of it, that I often tried to replicate, in my own faltering way
I had to trawl Uncle Google to find a picture of the box artwork and sure enough, there were a few to choose from, I also found a photo of a completed model, not mine, but someone’s.
I remember that the painting of the model was fraught with difficulties; the best part, as far as I was concerned, the main event, was building the thing; painting came second but of course painting the completed model was far more difficult than if I had been more patient and painted the parts separately before I assembled them, well, that’s a lesson I learned the hard way. I also raided my mother’s sewing box for cotton and thread and I added rigging to the model, as much as I could and I even tried to keep it prototypical. The kit came with some fairly basic rigging, shrouds and ratlines, the rope “ladders” that enable hardy Jack Tars to ascend the masts, but that was about all, any other rigging had to be sourced and affixed by the intrepid modeller. Obviously, the real ship has miles of standing and running rigging, literally miles of rigging, (that’s kilometres in new money) and I couldn’t replicate all of that but I did my best to add representative rigging and, when finished, it did look good.
So, that Airfix kit with its box artwork from many years ago was the inspiration for my drawing of a pirate ship. Actually, now I come to think of it, the last time I tried to produce this image was in 2015, with chalk on a pub table in Poznań, Poland. The table tops were black and chalk was provided for just such a purpose. I remember sitting there with my beer and looking at the curiously blackboard-topped tables for some minutes before I spotted the strategically placed pieces of chalk. Then, filled with a sudden desire to “be creative” I took a piece of the chalk and proceeded to sketch out a rear, three-quarter view of… a sailing ship. I really wish I’d taken a photo of it back then.
Anyway, as I said, putting pencil to paper just for the sheer fun of it was really good and it proved to me at least that I can still do it, as we all could I suspect, when we were children.
Can you? Go on, have a go…