Text Box: Close Ups

Text Box: All material copyright 2007 Neil Borrell                                                                                                            www.borrellcompany.com

Text Box: Chapter Index

Text Box: St Jean de Luz Harbor
We rented an apartment in the town of Ciboure on the Atlantic coast of France and this was our view.  St. Jean de Luz and Ciboure might as well be the same town but the harbor separates them.  They are on the Cote Basque and are almost the last towns before the Spanish border. In fact the apartment was owned by a Spaniard.
As usual our rental was not exactly what we expected. The apartment was a fifth floor walk-up. The stairwell was dark and winding with lights on timers. You had to get to the next light switch before the timer turned off the previous one. This was not a problem going down but created an interesting situation going up the steep stairs with luggage and a baby in a stroller. The trick was to try to memorize the location of the next switch while you could see it or else you would be groping around in the dark on the stairs.
The apartment was very small with a small kitchen and a hall to the tiny living room with its’ convertible sofa. It did however have a small balcony. I did the drawing from the balcony.
We carried portable crib sides for Amy. They were meant to strap onto a spare bed but when there wasn’t one we would spread a pad of blankets on the floor and put the crib sides there. This was 1974 and there weren’t a lot of things like this available. We had bought an umbrella stroller in a store called Mothercare in London and it was quite an oddity in France; people kept stopping us to ask about it.
I had been drawing individual things and really small scenes for a few years but I got excited by this whole scene. I loved the buildings along the quay, the rock walls, the carts, and especially all the fishing boats. I don’t remember how long the whole thing took but I remember being so focused on it that I had dreams about it. I could only draw for an hour, or maybe two, at a stretch. If I went any longer I would feel like I was getting sloppy.
One night near the end of our stay I decided I was finished. The next morning I looked out the window and every single boat was being moved. We called it “The Dance of the Boats”.
When I showed the drawing to an Art Director at work after we got home he told me I had to learn what not to draw. He said that it looked like I wanted to draw in every pebble. I think he was probably right but I loved the drawing anyway. I probably should have used larger paper but the paper I had was only 9x12 inches.
I used this drawing as our Christmas card that year and learned a valuable lesson. I had the drawing printed without considering the size of the envelope I would put it in. I wound up having to make all the envelopes. Now I know you pick the envelopes first.
Text Box: St. Jean harbor before and, below, during “The Dance of the Boats”

Text Box: Most of what we carried belonged to Amy. The large suitcase held the crib sides with clothes and diapers stuffed between the folded slats. The woman who took the picture of the three of us insisted on rolling up Amy’s pants because the sun was out.

Text Box: We would usually wait until Amy was napping and then find a restaurant that was still serving and have lunch. We would make up a plate for Amy from whatever we were having that she could eat and then when she woke up she would have a lunch of pate or fish or some other nice thing.

Text Box: We had actually thought we might be far enough South to swim in October. Not a chance.

Text Box:    The close up section might be my favorite part of this project. I love these little dinghies.  

Text Box: Chapter Index


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