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.
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.
Another abstract piece where I followed the flow of the paint and what the piece seemed to want. My title came to me as the painting was coming close to completion. I was getting the feeling of being hugged as a child by elderly great aunts – all talcum powder and feathers …I didn’t actually have any great aunts like that – just imagining them!
It was really interesting to see how radically different Tom’s vision of the painting is. It’s a reminder how much variation there can be in what people see in abstract paintings.
staccato atmospheric draws
along the stormy front
clouds reach out with questing paws
tornadoes kick with blunt
hard feet of air the hunkered ground
that rises in response
striking back with lightning bound
in power strong it flaunts
its permanence despite the storm
that claws its native soil
for earth abides though it be torn
so patient in its toil
This started as some quick gestures in acrylic paint but was layered over – with many layers of oil paint – into …well, I followed where the painting wanted to go – a fascinating process. It can take me much, much longer to paint an abstract piece than something more realistic even though the individual brushstrokes can be bold and decisive.
Here is Tom’s poem which brings more thoughts and depths to what is seen here.
the curve of time is spiraling
toward a conscious centre
cutting holes where angels bring
our souls that they may enter
this world of finite time and space
where one thing after next
proceeds with soft diurnal pace
to make such strange effects
as flowers that are first a seed
then afterward a bud
until they blossom, finally freed
then fade in autumn’s flood
as seasons pass through space while time
gives views from all the angles
and our souls have heard the chimes
and given up their tangles
I shamelessly took the name of this small oddity from the poem Tom wrote for it. Every now and then I am moved to paint what I think of as botanical abstracts. I love the colours and the way this one shimmers.
Tom ran with the image and created a delightful accompaniment for the painting. It even has bees’ knees in it!
The forest of the night is fine
with its flaming tyger’s shine
lighting up the trees.
But I prefer the copse of day
wherein strange hybrids grow and sway
attracting stranger bees.
They buzz within the thickets tangled,
with their legs is pollen wrangled
in between their knees.
Passing to each generation
the joys of novel combination,
mixing by degrees.
And from such vigor in the roots
we’re blessed by all the diverse fruits
that do our palates please!
I was happy to get back to the easel after being out of town for a few days. This is another in my abstracted botanical-fantasy series.
I love Tom’s sonnet for this one …and I’m seeing my own painting with fresh eyes after reading it! (The painting’s title comes from the last line.)
The leaves of night unfold behind
the sunshine of this summer’s day:
beyond blue sky the stars await…
when evening comes they’ll have their say
on matters deep and manners mild;
on things domestic, also wild;
on blossoms speaking truth to power
gently swaying in their bower
reminding Night of Day’s domain
for starlight is but Day afar
on other worlds ’round distant stars
where damsels woo their swains.
Balanced ‘tween the dark and light
Bright flowers bloom on summer nights.
Like the previous painting, this one was a product of my imagination. I was focused on pattern and tone but after setting up the overall composition, this was a rare (for me) case of the painting telling me what it needed. A wonderfully joyful process!
Tom wrote a haiku to accompany this one. As usual, it feels just right for the piece!
bold rising colours
complex swift simplicities
evoke the rose
I was trying something quite different for me with this piece. I didn’t have a visual reference, scene or photo – rather, I woke up the night before with an image in my head that I wanted to paint. While this painting is related to that image, it isn’t it – so I’ll likely be playing with the idea for a while. And that makes me happy because this was pretty much the most fun I’ve ever had painting. It was a very intuitive process, much more like how I approach drawing the mandalas. It ended up playful and rather extravagant!
Tom’s take on it was different from mine which is to be expected with an abstract. After reading his poem, I see different things in my painting too.
…in chaos bright the universe is born:
incandescent streamers past the dark
before the stars. Space and time are torn
from nothingness and into quavering quarks
existence pours from portals of the night
where the walls of Now are pierced by Then
letting through the angels in their flight
from Heaven as the Where becomes the When.
Blue shifts to red across the broad expanse
long ropes of stars form loops and empty turns.
Stems rise up, each energetic lance
rides across the the field as giants burn.
Galaxies collapse and swiftly spin
as the doors swing open and now in…
It was in my mind to try painting mandalas in oils and so this was back to a very meditative process. I had no idea what I was going to paint until I started at the centre – the only given was a radial symmetry. This one started fairly geometrically but then transformed into flowers? butterflies? peacock feathers? It could be many things and I like the ambiguity!
Here is Tom’s wonderfully circular poem!
…bold and bright the peacock’s eyes
turn as inward colours rise
flaring forth in red and gold
leaping out with joy as bold…