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.
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
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.
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.
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.
I was feeling in a playful, flower mood …and still thinking pink I guess! This one just evolved with no reference and I decided afterwards that they look a lot like wild roses. I like the stained glass effect.
Tom’s lovely poem populates the image with bugs and birds. Hidden from the observer of the painting, it is not hard to imagine them just out of view.
A wall of flowers blocking off the way
to some hidden paradise of dark
where a bug might shelter from the rays
of sunlight, hiding from a hungry lark
in search of food for chicks still safe-ensconced
at home in nests of grass, the cozy haunts
of birds who know their children need such care
and keep them safe and warm before the air
is flapped beneath their enterprising wings
to lift the chick away above the ground
exploring all that’s lost and can be found
from the heights where soon the lark will sing.
Behind the wall the bug has found its home
But in the dusk will dare again to roam.
This is another painting inspired by a visit to a rhododendron garden a month or so ago. It was quite wonderful, colourful, and vibrant. Interestingly, although I decided to leave the bee from my reference photo out, Tom somehow saw it in the painting anyway! Those blooms were certainly inviting to the busy pollinators!
When a bee approaches fecund flowers
along a line so straight and always true
its senses buzz with subtleties and powers
that draw it where sweet blossoms bloom anew
with nectar sweet and pollen rich, inviting
a happy bee to search and find, alighting
upon the petals nearest to the anther,
pirouetting like a tiny dancer
to sweep long hairy legs that catch a load
of all that workers, queens and lazy drones
are craving most within their honeyed homes:
so eagerly she flies the homeward road
leaving far behind the sheltered grove
where blossoms bloom in red and pink and mauve.
It was just a couple of years ago while visiting a garden in England that I saw artichokes growing for the first time. They were so stunningly gorgeous I am surprised it has taken me so long to get around to painting them!
Tom has written another of his delightful poems for this piece both catching and adding to its spirit.
Bright petalled shrapnel growing as grenades
set to explode in bursts of flagrant peacei
geometric blossoms serenade
the eye of the beholder and release
their starburst beauty into garden skies
fireworks ignite and swiftly rise
as buzzing bees explore the purple blooms
drawn now hither by their sweet perfumes.
Life bursting forth from seed to stem to flower
growing great and heavy in the sun
each striving to be second now to none
in fecund glory, beauty, nor in power.
Flowers catching fire are poised to light
The summer world with blossoms bursting bright.
AND NOW …I am so excited (and not a little terrified) to be putting my art out there for the world to see …and buy! This blog will continue as Green Tea Doodles even though over the years – has it really been nine years?! – my focus has shifted from tea and computer doodles to watercolours and oil painting. As I discover and follow my creative path I am happy to have you share that experience with me.
…and I’d LOVE you to visit the website. Here’s the link to hilaryfarmer.com and as well there is a permanent link in the “hamburger menu” at the top of the blog page.