Cliffs and trees

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Cliffs and trees – 1 (4″ x 6″ watercolour postcard)

We took a trip up the coast of British Columbia this summer to a place of great beauty called Desolation Sound. Keeping in mind how many extraordinary places there are around, this was still almost unbelievable.

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Cliffs and trees – 2 (4″ x 6″ watercolour postcard)

These two little watercolours were the only paintings I did on site. I don’t know – maybe I was too busy soaking it all in but I am glad I at least I did these sketches. They do give the feeling of the sunlight and the scale of the cliffs and trees around the clove where we moored our sailboat. (Yes, I feel very lucky.)

I am sure there will be more paintings coming from memories of this trip.

As Tom’s poem so wonderfully evokes, we shared this place with many other creatures.

Stepping stones of giants climb
long pathways to the summer sky
where slow vultures dream in time
as eagles pass kingfishers by
before they circle down to land
in treetops reaching high, they stand
above the surface of the bay
where the sunlight dances, plays
with breezes blowing from the Sound.
Water ripples, calms again,
in warming depths the fishes claim
no better place was ever found.
I drift upon the waters, free
of care beneath the cliffs and trees.

images (c) 2019 Hilary Farmer
poem (c) 2019 TJ Radcliffe

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finding a new balance – mandala

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finding a new balance (9″x9″ ink on watercolour paper)

Yes! It has been a long time since I posted anything …but I’m back! Here is the first mandala I’ve done in a while with not one, but two beautiful new poems that Tom wrote. Since we are now living on an island, and the mandala was about finding a new balance in a new context, it seems fitting that one poem highlights the ocean and the other the forest.

Boulders strewn beneath the mass
of Ocean’s dark and vasty deeps
protect the rising reefs of glass
sponges where the mermaids weep
to see these fragile structures shine
in darkness since the dawn of time:
no sun has broken their repose
since species now extinct arose
to master Earth and sea and air
with mighty roars and stomping feet,
they ruled and the world until defeat
by time and chance entombed them there
beneath great Ocean’s darkling waves
where reefs of glass still mark their graves.

https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/lng-crew-discovers-rare-prehistoric-glass-sponge-reef-1.3514548

The forest hides its secrets well,
they’re measureless beyond account:
a perfect flower, an open dell,
a tiny grotto where the Fount
of Youth may flow into a stream,
until it feeds slow Lethe’s dream
as all about the forest speaks.
Leaves might whisper, branches creak,
each voice a secret now revealed
to anyone with ears to hear,
who dares to overcome their fears
and venture past familiar fields.
The forest watches, listens, waits,
for one who comes, embracing Fate.

(“Lethe” is the river of forgetfulness in Greek mythology.)

image (c) 2019 Hilary Farmer
poems (c) 2019 TJ Radcliffe

 

 

Happy Year of the Pig!

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Happy Year of the Pig! (6″x6″)

We are still in the middle of moving, renovations etc so painting has taken a backseat to other things lately. Very much looking forward to being settled and in a space where I can get back at it!

Here is a pig to welcome the Chinese New Year – health, wealth and happiness to all! I was inspired by the traditional Chinese paper cut art which often includes flowers…

Tom wrote a poem to honour this pig …and this year!

Glitter glowing over mud
a touch of sunlight dapples
a brow enjoying springlike floods
of sunlight. Soon the apples
will be afruiting in the trees
abuzz with busy worker bees
while below the pigs will root
and wallow with great ease. Bring boots
if you’d cavort with happy swine
for they’ve been known to splash and spatter
anyone they want to flatter
with the last and best of wine!
The good brown earth makes hearth and floor
for the happy sow and boar!

image (c) 2019 Hilary Farmer
poem (c) 2019 TJ Radcliffe

Deep memories

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Deep memories (9″ x 9″ ink on watercolour paper)

This mandala was drawn over several days with the intricate motifs taking on a life of their own. I don’t analyze these; they are the process and become whatever they become. The end results aren’t planned and so can be quite surprising.

Tom saw something deep in this mandala inspiring him to write this amazing poem. As I sometimes do, I took the title of the mandala from one of his beautiful lines.

Within the door where dwells the King of All
now slumbering, exhausted by the trials
of life and rule and matters great and small
his ancient face is youthened by a smile
slow, soft and happy, lingering on old
deep memories of when the world was new.
Upon the door, fine-cut into the wood
the pattern of the world stands bold and true
to all that he once dreamed. There is a child
who stands before the door, his eyes entranced
by intricate emblazonments of wild
leaves and flowers spinning through their dance.
The Old King wanders through the door at last
The Young King stands before the living past.

Tom adds: I get a sense of age and tradition as well as wild beauty from this: there’s something timeless and eternal as well as continually renewing.

image (c) 2018 Hilary Farmer
poem (c) 2018 TJ Radcliffe

Flower fey mandala

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Flower fey mandala (9″ x 9″ ink and watercolour)

The inspiration for mandalas is still strong! I am enjoying sitting (and spending hours and hours) to draw and paint these! Completing the ink work is the longest phase because there is so much detail and then even more fun – deciding on the colour palette to really bring the image alive. Joyful. As usual, this one evolved as I went along. I did not expect the faces until they appeared!

Tom’s poem goes magically along with the image.

Adrift upon a sea of flowers
dreaming softly side by side
turning through this night of ours
as dusk to dawn we gently glide
from face to face within our dreams
trying on each one that seems
to fit the moment or the place
it vanishes without a trace
into the mystery at the centre
where a deeper beauty grows
beneath a lotus, not a rose:
a door where starlight yearns to enter
as we move on to other hours
snuggled here among the flowers.

image (c) 2018 Hilary Farmer
poem (c) 2018 TJ Radcliffe

 

Mouse-ville mandala

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Mouse-ville (9″x 9″ ink and watercolour)

This mandala started with mouse-like shapes around the centre and evolved from there. I had fun with the houses which are similar but all different. I hope you enjoy looking at all the little details – I know I enjoyed drawing them!

Tom’s poem is playful and whimsical like the mandala!

We are the mice of Plimsoll Close
and we will keep you on your toes
rustling through your drawers at night
searching for a crumb that might
satisfy our search for tastes
that delight our palates. Haste
is not our way, we’re patient mice
who will pass up a grain of rice
in hope sincere that we will find
a candied walnut, orange rind,
or some such savory delight
before the end of this fine night.

image (c) 2018 Hilary Farmer
poem (c) 2018 TJ Radcliffe

Nectar dreaming mandala

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Nectar Dreaming (9″ x 9″ ink and watercolour)

Have I mentioned it’s been hot here? I continue to have a rather tropical inspiration permeate my work!

Here is a magical poem from Tom …a riff on T.S. Elliot’s “Usk”.

Do not step and break the branch
where snakes slip soft
on forest floor
bright birds dip beaks but not too deep
seeking wisdom
asking more
of ancient mysteries that dwell
down the Amazon
a dell
contains the secret
in grey air
a high safe nest
a serpent’s lair

image (c) 2018 Hilary Farmer
poem (c) 2018 TJ Radcliffe