Adrift – Abstract diptych

Adrift – diptych (oil on 2 raised panels each 8″x10″)

I painted this one back in November exploring shape and scale, colour and value. My method is a bit different from my acrylic abstracts but there is still lots of layering, shifts between warm and cool colours, and scratching through the surface to “excavate” down to previous layers. I love how this turned out.

Here is Tom’s haiku which interestingly also shifts between scales.

continents adrift
folding candelabra stones
crystals shine anew

image (c) 2021 Hilary Farmer
poem (c) 2021 TJ Radcliffe

Joy Eternal

Joy Eternal (20″ x 20″ acrylic on canvas)

In dark times it becomes even more important to celebrate the momentary joy and beauty that life brings… the breeze ruffling a field of flowers, the sun sparkling on the crest of a wave, a single golden leaf spiraling to the earth.
This piece was created with many layers – painted, scraped and scratched. I hope it speaks to others too.

Tom wrote a wonderful poem that captures and enhances my painting. Thank you Tom for the poem and the painting’s title.

Wandering beyond the drying fens
beyond the sunlight-burnished summer fields
a tramp might find a doorway to a gem
of elder darkness, where the Singer wields
her voice like some forgotten hero’s blade
sweeping past the stars to split the sky
reminding men they are for living made,
rising higher, sweeter, as it dies.
The Singer tells all hearers of a time
when for a moment they may breathe in joy
eternal: empty, pure, divine…
until an end no one who lives avoids.
A wanderer might listen at the door
then step in darkness, seeking always more.

image (c) 2021 Hilary Farmer
poem (c) 2021 TJ Radcliffe

Summer dreaming

Summer dreaming (12″ x 16″ oil on raised panel)

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.

image (c) 2020 Hilary Farmer
poem (c) 2020 TJ Radcliffe

Shadowed paths

Shadowed paths (16″ x 20″ acrylic on canvas)

This is the next in my abstract explorations. There is play with depth and texture as well as colour (of course). It makes me think of a hot end-of-summer day …but it’s cool in the woods.

Tom’s poem takes a different and perhaps darker path with references to:
[Proverbs, 4:16-17
“For they sleep not, except they have done mischief; and their sleep is
taken away, unless they cause some to fall.
For they eat the bread of wickedness, and drink the wine of violence.”

When in the middle of my life
I found myself within a darkened wood
though lit by faerie lights that floated up
and over trees mysterious. Their shapes
were strange and unfamiliar, hung
with vines that grow the grapes from whence
a famous vintage will be pressed
yclept the wine of violence in the Book.
I do not taste them as I softly pass
along the shadowed paths that wend their way
between the gnarled trunks. I do not eat,
nor drink from rills that run between the roots
as deeper down I go. The woods are silent,
dark, and deep… You know the rest, I think,
but I pass by, upon the other side.

image (c) 2020 Hilary Farmer
poem (c) TJ Radcliffe

Entangled

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Entangled (16″ x 20″ acrylic on canvas)

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.

image (c) 2020 Hilary Farmer
poem (c) 2020 TJ Radcliffe

Garden goddess

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Garden goddess (20″ x 20″ acrylic on canvas)

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.

image (c) 2020 Hilary Farmer
poem (c) 2020 TJ Radcliffe

Close embrace

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Close embrace (8″ x 10″ oil on raised panel)

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

image (c) 2020 Hilary Farmer
poem (c) 2020 TJ Radcliffe

Floral abstract

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Floral Abstract (16″ x 20″ oil on canvas)

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

image (c) 2020 Hilary Farmer
poem (c) 2020 TJ Radcliffe

Strange hybrids

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Strange hybrids (6″ x 6″ oil on gessoed cradle board)

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!

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

 

Summer nights …oil painting

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Summer nights (6″ x 8″)

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.