Summer hum

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Summer hum (11″ x 14″ oil on stretched linen)

The feeling of the warmth and sleepy yet full vitality, of a summer afternoon –  blackberry bushes alive with the sounds of bumblebees stocking up on pollen. This painting was finished just in time for my recent open studio and I was delighted at the reactions. The feeling I was trying to convey definitely made its way from eye to heart. That’s the best thing I, as an artist, can hope to achieve!

Maybe it’s the scale (the bees for example are about double life-sized) but the photo does not convey the feeling of the painting very well. That’s always a bit of a problem but for some reason, with this one there’s a bigger difference.

And here is Tom’s delightful poem which riffs on the notion of “the boys of summer”.

The bees of summer take the field
running ’round the diamond flowers
praying that the day will yield
a bounty worthy of their powers
to seek that sweet-spot in the sun
as from base to base they run
always heading back to home
to swing again and go alone
as fast as ever they can fly
gathering the crowd’s applause
who in winter’s frozen pause
will remember warmer skies.
The bees of summer never cease
while the score may still increase.

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

Flower of spring

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Flower of spring (11″ x 14″ oil on raised panel)

I painted this towards the end of summer. The image of these early blue spring flowers had stayed in the back of my mind for months and so I finally got around to painting them. Commonly called blue squill, they are most beautiful as a grouping …like stars scattered in the grass.

Tom’s haiku celebrates their (possible) origin.

fine flower of spring
dreams of far Siberia
beneath warmer suns

image (c) 2019 Hilary Farmer
poem (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

California poppies

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California poppies – study (9″ x 12″ oil on gessoed panel)

On a recent trip to Victoria on Vancouver Island, I saw some poppies growing in the dry grasses between the rocks near the ocean. These California poppies glow with a translucent orange and I immediately wanted to paint them – but since I didn’t have my equipment with me, I took a few pictures for inspiration when I got home. The above is my first take – very loose and fast. I like the exuberance of it but it wasn’t quite what I wanted so then I did a larger piece.

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California poppies (16″ x 20″ oil on canvas)

This was so much fun to paint. I really got into a flow with it.

Tom wrote a wonderful, mysterious poem for the second painting. What he sees and expresses about my work always amazes me but this one is especially mystical …I guess being both a poet and a quantum physicist affects how he sees the world!

tilting down the surreal axis
swirling ’round the complex plane
twisting through the field of praxis
choosing which is what again
while the fractal facets flicker
and the colours gripe and bicker
to achieve a balanced palette
pounding with a wooden mallet
all the powders and infusions
making dyes both true and fast
for this will be a work that lasts
conjuring such bold illusions
that the mind is turned about
what once was certain now is doubt

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

Bluebells

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Bluebells (8″ x 8″ oil on gessoed wood cradle)

This one was pure joy to create. I started with the idea of campanula – a flower also know as harebell and bluebell. They are so pretty and dainty. After a couple of sketches, I started applying the transparent layer of oil paints to my smooth gessoed surface. A pattern (similar to but not exactly like the sketches) evolved and continued evolving as I started applying opaque colour. I quite enjoy the way the pattern looks a bit like stained glass.

As usual, Tom has matched his words to the painting catching the mood perfectly!

Bluebells ringing in the sun
calling out now each to each
“Here is summer! Ain’t this fun!
Let’s go dancing on the beach!
Or rocking in this open field
where the music is concealed
within the sound of birds and bees
chirping, buzzing, through the trees
while we toss our joyous heads
and passing breezes ripple through.
Come let’s dance, just me and you!
All your cares and fears be shed!”
For though they are firm-fixed in place
Their dance is full of joy and grace.

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

Lemon tree

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Lemon tree (12″x 12″ oil on gesso board)

I wanted to explore patterns in a way inspired by William Morris. Lemons with their shapely yellow fruit, graceful leaves and pretty blossoms were a perfect subject to play with. It was a pleasure to spend an afternoon creating this piece.

Tom’s poem puts the piece into a larger context.

Deep falls the sky behind the lemon trees
that grow beneath a blue which England knows
only through the hint of summer breeze
and ships that carry treasure in their holds:
fine fruits from distant lands where tropic suns
beat upon the backs of all who toil
in field and orchard, where the Empire runs
amok amidst the beauty and the spoil.
In fecund seasons endless bounty waits
for those who do not scruple at the cost
of houses overseeing fine estates
where none wander and yet all are lost.
Yet too this England grows a different kind
who will tend her gardens in our time.

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

Wedding blooms …oil painting

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Wedding blooms (6″ x 6″)

A quick oil sketch showing the colours and forms of the flowers – peonies, ranunculus, lisianthus, and more.

Here is Tom’s poem!

These are the colours of our wedding day:
deep and rich and bright. They’re kind of fun,
and besides they stood and heard us say,
“You know, I really think you are the one”
or words to that effect as we two stood
facing our tomorrows side-by-side:
committing to the useful and the good,
knowing what’s not taken will abide.
These simple colours riding high on stems
held within your hands as down we walked
across the grass that brushed our fancy hems
as in the trees the birds and sunlight talked:
they stood with us as we both vowed our vows
and gave their blessing with their graceful bows.

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