Early in September I went out with my gear and found another local beauty spot. It was really hot that day! I was glad to find a bit of shade to set up in. The challenge as usual with plein air painting was to catch the light quickly – as well as the colour of the water and the shapes and locations of the clouds before everything changes. The result is less detailed but fresher and more dynamic than working from a photo.
Here is Tom’s poem which at first seems to be for another scene but wait for it – the final couplet tells the tale.
In summer gales these waters roil as wind and tide and waves contend for who shall make the sailor’s toil the worst. And who shall best unmend the flapping canvas, spliced up rope, a bimini not made to cope with gusts that come from angles all around the compass. Masts might fall as waves come in from every point. The bow is bounced, the stern is slewed, the sky with clouds ascudding’s strewed as the sea tests every joint. But in the calm it lies serene as if those storms were never seen!
I have been playing with more abstract (and abstract adjacent) painting this year. This one was built up over many layers ending up somewhere between impressionism and abstraction. At some point in the process, the moon appeared in the sky and stayed. The feeling was quite dreamy and more subtle than this photo shows but I can’t get another because it sold quickly.
Tom wrote a delightful sonnet with a rhythm of anapestic tetrameter (like Dr. Seuss) which really suits the mood of the painting.
The farmer’s abed and the Moon is reborn so we’ll dance and we’ll sing from the eve until morn when we’ll lie down exhausted and sleep through the day. In the shadows of grasses and flowers we will lay until the soft darkness ensilvered by stars creeps out of the gloaming and brings us awake to drink from the dew by the light of bright Mars and sip the sweet nectar of flowers ’til we slake our thirst and our hunger. Our bodies adorned with trews made of petals, so silken and gay we’ll jig to a hornpipe like England’s old tars who served that old pirate, Sir Francis the Drake. For we are the Fairest of Folk in this land obeying no law but the bright Moon’s command.
This is a plein air painting from August. The sun was high and warm reflecting back all kinds of glorious colours in the water. I captured a couple of sailboats at anchor as well as a few floating markers. The mountains of the mainland are in the distance. I have a lovely memory of the day when I look at this.
Tom wrote a thoughtful poem that speaks of times long gone the results of which still impact us today.
Upon a time a Spaniard passed this way anchoring and sending out a brace of boats to sound the waters all around the quiet bay where otter, seals, and cod could still be found. The shore was all alive with other eyes that watched the strange great ships and wondered where they had first tasted of sea. What skies had witnessed their emergence from their lair? Dark ravens cocked and turned upon the wind Dark rhymes were brewing in the human heart Dark beneath the summer sky the sins of darkness drove the worlds apart. The ships sailed on, left chaos in their wake and broken words that promises forsake.
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
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
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
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.
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.
I painted this one about a month ago from photos I took (not this year) of a large rhododendron garden in a nearby park. I say nearby, but it would have still required a ferry ride to visit this park and we haven’t been off our small island since the shutdown started almost three months ago.
Tom just wrote an amazing poem this weekend that speaks to the times we live in as much as this painting. I feel profoundly grateful to have inspired it with my art.
storm clouds rising somewhere up ahead
blossoms tossing shadowed on the wind
skies are changing blue is running red
searching for forgiveness for our sins
in the darkness under forest cover
eyes that hide from hunters passing by
we hold these truths
clutched to us like our mother
we tell these stories hoping they're a lie
raindrops splashing fat upon the flowers
shaking leaves and dampening the ground
summer's waking thunder tolls the hour
what never has been lost cannot be found
young buds open now their time has come
senescent giants falling free the sun