today’s doodles – two versions of a portrait

Posted in art, drawing with tags , , , , , , on 2015/10/05 by greenteadoodles
first try - "too realistic"

first try – “too realistic”

Well my friend Tom (who regularly posts poems on my blog) commissioned a portrait in the style of the crows in the previous post. If I haven’t posted for a while, it’s because it’s taken a while to sort out how I might do that. I have never done even a traditional portrait before so this was quite a challenge! The first try above was not as much in the style as Tom was looking for. I was pleased that it actually had a reasonable likeness but then got back to work!

that's more like it!

that’s more like it!

This version is pretty quirky and I think it captures some of the inner Tom. He seems to like it too!
The poem below was part of the original inspiration for the portrait.


I am made of rusty steel
and old sun-hardened leather;
flagellating ligaments
of gut and binder twine.
Behold the man:
an awkward compilation
of inadequate exigencies
unversed in protocol.
Analogue approximations
rule my sovereign deviations
while digital domains complete
halting victory’s defeat.
An adequate attempt at love
is all that I desire;
rough and ready, that’s enough,
a poet’s burning lyre.

images (cc) 2015 Hilary Farmer
poem (c) Tom Radcliffe

today’s doodle – two crows…

Posted in art, drawing with tags , , , , , , , , , , on 2015/08/30 by greenteadoodles
two crows joy

two crows joy

For some reason, I was thinking during the week that the next bird in the series needed to be a crow. When I started to look for interesting photos for inspiration, I was reminded of the rhyme “one crow sorrow, two crows joy…” and so of course decided to do two crows – more of a challenge too! I actually did a computer doodle on that theme some time ago (2011!). In any case, I found this fabulous photo (scroll down – it’s the eighth photo in their post) and got to work.

This time, I left the drawing strictly black and white with just a bit of pencil shading – which seemed right for the subject. I had originally thought that it would be 3 1/2″x 5″ like the last doodles I posted but the crows took over the page and spilled onto the margin. Once again, inspired by “Zentangle”… I am pretty pleased with the effect.

UPDATE: New poem from Tom just right for the image as usual – thanks Tom!

We’ve gotta stick together, Bud,
upon this cable’s span
clinging ‘gainst the gusty winds
that blow from Autumn’s fan.

I’ll lean on you, you lean on me
we’ll be OK together
no matter what tomorrow brings,
nor even what the weather.

You’re lookin’ slightly hollow there
your wickerwork’s askew
but stick with me and sure as eggs [*]
you know I’ll stick with you.

Then in the Spring we’ll fly away
and build us nests of gold:
fresh straw and twigs, the very best,
for Fortune’s with the bold

and who is bolder than we two
who cling to this thin wire
up in the sky while groundling folk
stand firmly in the mire?

It isn’t always pleasant here
but ain’t the view just fine?
And when you’re famous-rich I’ll say
you was a friend of mine!

poem (c) 2015 TJ Radcliffe

image (cc) 2015 Hilary Farmer

today’s doodles – barn swallows and owl

Posted in art with tags , , , , , , on 2015/08/22 by greenteadoodles
swallows on a wire

swallows on a wire

Since my last post I have been pretty busy but at least three weeks of that was a busy vacation! That’s the best kind of busy :-D

Last fall, I was playing around with something called “Zentangle”. It was pretty fun but didn’t ever seem me. Last weekend, I decided to try the technique out on something real instead of an abstract form. The swallows above are the result… with a fair amount of “cheating” – that is I didn’t really follow the rules. Anyway, I was fairly happy with the result so I decided to do another this weekend and that is the owl below.

Northern Saw-whet Owl

Northern Saw-whet Owl

It is really fun to express the form and even emotion using patterns instead of rendering the birds in a truly realistic way. These are both done with ink on paper and are about 3.5″x5″. After the ink was done, I did some shading with pencil for volume and a hint of colour with water colour pencil. I didn’t use any water on them though because the paper isn’t very thick and would have buckled.

I found the photo of the owl here. It’s small on the page but you can click to make it larger and see where the inspiration came from. I know owls are fierce predators but they are awfully cute too!

UPDATE: New poem from Tom in the comments! Delightful! thanks!!

“I’m feeling something abstract here,
upon this strand of wire,
as if the Artist had no fear,
was willing to acquire

a method new, a novel set
of rules to break and bend
with pencil shading, ink of jet–
it seems just slightly zen!”


“O, I say… do you not see
the pattern weaving deep
within the fabric of the world
where silent truths still sleep?

What a pity, for in truth
there’s beauty undiscovered
by all who see just surfaces
and think they have uncovered

all there is to know and see
through all of space and time
but those who know the pattern’s there
they see the world sublime!”

images (cc) 2015 Hilary J. Farmer

poems (c) 2015 TJ Radcliffe

oil paintings… plein air!

Posted in art, painting with tags , , , , on 2015/07/05 by greenteadoodles

Has it really been this long? I guess it has! Well it has been a very busy spring (now summer) but happily I managed to squeeze in a plein air painting workshop – something I’ve been wanting to do for a while. Charles Vinh, who I have taken other classes with, led the two day workshop. It was lovely to spend that much time outside painting and the weather was great even if we did have to postpone day two for one week due to rain.

The first spot we chose to set up was on a small path by a pond surrounded by rushes and willows. I enjoyed the challenge of making the texture of the oil paint as watery as possible. Step one was to get the dark layer that could be painted over later.

Day one - first time oil painting outside

Day one – first time oil painting outside

The water was much too blue compared to reality after the first day so on day two, the water became a more realistic greeny-brown and details were added creating the feeling of a warm summer day by a pond.

...after a second day outside and some touch ups at home

…after a second day outside and some touch ups at home

The second painting was started on the first day in the afternoon. The second site also had some water – yeah! There were also some particularly beautiful trees.

second painting on day one

second painting on day one

On the second afternoon, details and highlights were added including the reddish blossoms on the larger tree. Here the atmosphere is hazy and warm.

second painting after a second day outside and some touch ups at home

second painting after a second day outside and some touch ups at home

Not sure when I will get out to do this again but the workshop has definitely given me the confidence and the appetite for more – I highly recommend it. Happy painting! (or any outdoor summer activity really :-)

paintings (cc) Hilary Farmer 2015

UPDATE: Lovely summery sonnet and Wind in the Willows homage from Tom via the comments to go with the paintings. Thanks Tom!

Layered days laid down upon a base
of gessoed canvas plain and bare and pale
capturing a glimpse of nature’s face
between the gentle hill and watered dale
where perhaps a duck or two might lurk…
a mole or water rat might hold the bank,
like the lilies, daily sweat they shirk
yet still they stand in front of all the ranks
of creatures who inhabit paradise
today, tomorrow, down the fall of time,
when this pond is covered by the ice
of winter still they’ll dwell in beauty’s prime.
A summer’s day encoded in this oil
will live beyond the season’s mortal coil.

(c) 2015 Tom Radcliffe

oil painting… resplendent quetzal!

Posted in art, painting, poetry with tags , , , , , , , , , , on 2015/01/11 by greenteadoodles
extraordinary exotic bird

extraordinary exotic bird

After painting the cardinals last fall, I wanted to try a more exotic bird species. There are some amazing birds out there! Since I had never seen one of these beautiful birds in the wild, I used a combination of a number of photos I found on line as a basis for the bird and the background. This site has a striking quetzal photo and some interesting information.

The quetzal lives in the canopy of the rainforest and a loves to eat wild avocados, so I am showing him (yes, it is a male quetzal) in that setting. The style is not completely  realistic but I have tried to show the quirky appearance of this bird and get something of the iridescent shimmer of the feathers. I may yet make some tweaks before I decide that the painting is finished and sign it (beyond the digital signature shown here).

Hope this brings some warmth to the winter deep freeze so many are experiencing!

UPDATE: New poem from Tom in the comments. It took longer than usual to get back to the right mindset for writing poetry that would match a painting of a quetzal. Happy you’re back in the mood – thanks Tom!

Beneath the empty tropical blue sky
beneath the canopy of hungry leaves
beneath the cloak of feathers brightly dyed
there beats a heart of peerless peace and ease
within a breast of red a coat might envy
below a head of strangely fuzzy green
above a tail that causes quite a frenzy
whene’er a milliner comes on the scene.
Yet high upon his branch the quetzal calm
surveys with dignity and steady gaze
gripping with uniquely trogon palm
well-hidden in the forest-foam of baize.
Such beauty isn’t made for human sight
but for his dowdy love in jungle night.

poem (c) 2015 TJ Radcliffe

painting (cc) 2015 Hilary Farmer

leaf studies enhanced with birds!

Posted in art, painting with tags , , , , , , on 2014/11/16 by greenteadoodles

Well it has been quite a while. Very busy with work and doing many things but not much painting. So finally getting back to this pair that seemed to be lacking something. I think now that they may actually be finished – just missing the real (not digital)n signature.

female cardinal

female cardinal

I think she’s rather sweet :-)

male cardinal

male cardinal

… and he just looks cheeky enough.

Picture them facing each other… or back to back if they’re having a bad day!

Cheers and hope to be posting more regularly!

UPDATE: Awesome poem from Tom in the comments to go with these paintings. Thanks!!

Come live with me and be my chick
I’ll bring you nesting-leaf and stick
And we will all the pleasures try
From depth of Earth to height of sky!

If bright colours were good troth
And poetry a law-sworn oath
Then with thee I’d gladly fly
For never would a lover lie.

I’ll help you dodge the long-eared owl
Leaving it to hoot and howl
As we escape through oak and elm
Free from fears that overwhelm.

Brave soldiers wearing red are wont
To praise their courage as the font
Of all that’s good and strong and wise
Yet still too many deal in lies.

I’ll crack hard acorns with my beak
To feed our hatchlings ere they speak
Find you cicadas on the wing
When in August heat they sing.

Bring me leaf and stick for nest
And I’ll count myself well-blessed
To build our castle in the sky
Then with you in pleasure fly!

Poem (c) 2014 Tom Radcliffe

paintings (cc) 2014 Hilary Farmer


oil painting doodles – further leaf studies…

Posted in art, painting with tags , , , , , , , on 2014/07/27 by greenteadoodles
colours brightened

colours brightened

darker outlining

darker outlining

further leaf brightness and background enhancement

further leaf brightness and background enhancement

So, I was in the mood to push these little leaf studies a bit further. I wanted more warmth and summer brightness so I started by adding a lot more yellow and green. Then, more definition seemed called for… The outlining was deliberately too extreme but gave me something to paint towards. So, the (for now) final versions have been resoftened somewhat and both the leaves and background given more colour.

paintings (cc) Hilary Farmer 2014



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