April

April (11″ x 14″ oil on stretched linen)

This one was a commission. I had it mostly done back in March when everything shut down but I did a couple of final tweaks recently and finally got to hand deliver it to the new owner. I was quite pleased with how it turned out – the setting and the dog’s expression were such a pleasure to paint. And I’m happy to say the new owner was delighted. In case you’re wondering, this beloved pup was part (mostly?) Irish wolfhound.

Tom wrote a touching poetic tribute to go with the painting.

There is a dog that moves the hearts of men,
whose soulful eyes see further than our own:
far into realms and regions past the ken
of those of us whose spirits dare not roam
beyond these castle walls of bone and flesh
and into spaces where the angels fly
unhampered by how gears of logic mesh
to make this cold illusion where we die
and are not swept into the heart of God
where our absent friends are joyously
awaiting us. Do not mistake a dog
for one without a soul. At peace and free:
where there is love, there still she is alive
to greet us in the morning as we strive.

image (c) 2020 Hilary Farmer
poem (c) 2020 TJ Radcliffe

Drumbeg view – summer

Drumbeg view – Summer (8″ x 10″ oil on canvas)

Another plein air piece from July. There is a wonderful park along the ocean that I hope to paint many more times. The mood of the sky and water is different every time. This day, the tide was somewhat low showing shallow rocks extending out from shore. A leaning tree, some wave action and a calm sky complete the scene.

Tom wrote another haiku for this one encapsulating in words my memory of painting that afternoon.

somewhere to the south
beyond warm summer mists
passage to the sea

image (c) 2020 Hilary Farmer
poem (c) 2020 TJ Radcliffe

Shadowed paths

Shadowed paths (16″ x 20″ acrylic on canvas)

This is the next in my abstract explorations. There is play with depth and texture as well as colour (of course). It makes me think of a hot end-of-summer day …but it’s cool in the woods.

Tom’s poem takes a different and perhaps darker path with references to:
[Proverbs, 4:16-17
“For they sleep not, except they have done mischief; and their sleep is
taken away, unless they cause some to fall.
For they eat the bread of wickedness, and drink the wine of violence.”

When in the middle of my life
I found myself within a darkened wood
though lit by faerie lights that floated up
and over trees mysterious. Their shapes
were strange and unfamiliar, hung
with vines that grow the grapes from whence
a famous vintage will be pressed
yclept the wine of violence in the Book.
I do not taste them as I softly pass
along the shadowed paths that wend their way
between the gnarled trunks. I do not eat,
nor drink from rills that run between the roots
as deeper down I go. The woods are silent,
dark, and deep… You know the rest, I think,
but I pass by, upon the other side.

image (c) 2020 Hilary Farmer
poem (c) TJ Radcliffe

Elder Cedar Summer Path

Elder Cedar Summer Path (8″ x 10″ oil on canvas)

I painted this one en plein air back in July. It was a warm sunny day and I enjoyed being enveloped in the moist shade of the forest. The light – even in the depths – was friendly and welcoming.

Tom wrote a haiku for this that touches on the feeling of the time I was there as well as the sense of passing time.

entangled branches
hide fall mysteries beyond
our summer senses

image (c) 2020 Hilary Farmer
poem (c) TJ Radcliffe

Tranquil landscape

Tranquil Landscape (16″ x 20″ oil on canvas)

This one was painted back in May but somehow got missed in the poetry queue. This one was painted completely from my imagination. I think it has the flavour of Ontario’s back country lake districts drawing more on childhood memory than my current west coast rain forest setting.

Tom’s poem also echos that place and other times…

There is a fire that burns where sunset touches
this land of lake and tree and summer heat:
a fire that flickers, scrabbles, grasps, and clutches
at the edge where Earth and sunlight meet.
No forests turn to smoke and ash, it burns
in abstract spaces, glowing on a land
that scatters it across the trees and ferns,
the swamps and lakes, the sky in clouded bands.
The light is caught and coloured by the lake
then thrown up to the sky and back again
to limn the trees and from the forest take
a ghost of places gone, of times unkenned.
There is a fire that burns and does not die
Now in the distance hear the loon’s soft cry

image (c) 2020 Hilary Farmer
poem (c) 2020 TJ Radcliffe

Entangled

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Entangled (16″ x 20″ acrylic on canvas)

I have been continuing experimentation with abstracts both in acrylics and oils. Because acrylics dry so quickly, I can build up many, many layers in a shorter time than oils. As a result, I tend to keep going for even more layers building up, scraping away, and making decisions about what stays and what gets painted over. It’s an evolution over two or more weeks for these. So different from my alla prima oils! Anyway, this one started off very different but ended up with (for me) an under the sea feeling. Others will no doubt see other things.

Tom’s poetic take on it is similar but goes back …well, to the beginning.

Bubbles burning up the fecund deep,
champagne reef a-swirl with venting gas,
primordial and proto quickly meet:
proto-cell and protoplasm fast
entangled in the ancient ocean depths
where chemistry and magic both combined
into something new, a broom that swept
the world with pulsing, growing, greasy slime
whose cells are now ancestral to us all,
whose origins are lost in bubbly chaos,
whose evolution made it great and small,
whose imperfections still come back to slay us.
We all began in beauty, vibrant, dark…
Partaking of that lost and vital spark.

image (c) 2020 Hilary Farmer
poem (c) 2020 TJ Radcliffe

Lingering evening

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Lingering evening (10″x 8″ oil on raised panel)

Wow – what a long beautiful summer evening that was! I painted this en plein air from the deck of our sailboat just a couple of days off the solstice. I thought I would get some wonderful sunset colours but I would have had to wait longer than I felt like. Anyway, the subtle tones are lovely too, I think.

Tom wrote a haiku with an appropriately Zen feeling for this one!

ten thousand years hence
this long summer evening light
will still be here now

image (c) 2020 Hilary Farmer
poem (c) 2020 TJ Radcliffe

From Bell’s Landing

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From Bell’s Landing (10″ x 8″ oil on raised panel)

This was painted plein air and alla prima. I took my gear to a local park and carried it down to the beach, setting up looking across the shallows towards Entrance Island with its lighthouse, and the mainland mountains beyond. The sky was also cooperating with some lovely mauve and creamy clouds. So beautiful here… Happy to say someone who saw me painting it while walking their dog bought this piece!

Tom wrote a poem that goes with this painting but also speaks deeply to the feeling of living here, I think.

There is a place where light and water touch
Where distance is illusion and the truth
Swirls the summer clouds.

There is a place where one might hear a note
From orchestras not strictly of this Earth
Echo off the rocks.

There is a place where time itself is still
and waves reflect the motion of the wind
as silent eagles soar.

image (c) 2020 Hilary Farmer
poem (c) 2020 TJ Radcliffe

Garden goddess

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Garden goddess (20″ x 20″ acrylic on canvas)

This painting was built up in many layers working daily over about two weeks. It looks nothing like its early iterations transforming quite radically from what I thought I was painting at first. The title comes from the subtle figure in the middle of the painting which I didn’t even see until I had decided the painting was finished. I have never painted anything like this before – it was fascinating to see it emerge.

Tom wrote a poem for this piece that transcends and enriches the painting. Thank you.

I am the whisper that you do not hear
I am a ripple through the summer leaves
Too close to see because I’m standing near
Too far to touch my simple floral sleeve
Now come with me upon a journey outward
Now come with me to where you’ve never been
Soft breezes quiver as you look to windward
Soft breezes waft a scent that is not seen
I’m all around you walking on the surface
I’m all there is and all there’ll ever be
There is no way to show you my true purpose
There is no way for you to not be free
I am the voice of thunder and of flame
I am the sacred utterance of my name

Tom says references for this poem include: a gnostic poem called “Thunder, Perfect Mind”, “The Waste Land” (what the thunder said, o you who look to windward…), and Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol”, image of touching the sleeve of a ghost to go on a journey.

image (c) 2020 Hilary Farmer
poem (c) 2020 TJ Radcliffe

Arranging flowers

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Arranging flowers (11″ x 14″ acrylic on canvas)

I have been playing more with acrylics lately than I have for a long time. Feeling experimental! This peonies in a vase composition was painted from my imagination using lots of layering, mark-making and impasto – another piece that felt very freeing.

Tom’s haiku is a perfect accompaniment!

cut blossom glass vase
petals falling in the sun
lazy summer morn

image (c) 2020 Hilary Farmer
poem (c) 2020 TJ Radcliffe