The Visitor

The Visitor (12″x24″ acrylic on canvas)

A curious, possibly mystical presence grew out of the shadows as I was painting. A glowing figure overlooks the forest pool – a naiad? What do you think?

This painting was built up with many layers of acrylic paint often scraping and scratching down to previous layers while the newest layer was still wet… I did this one in June and I remember that crayons were also involved – which you can still see traces of if you look closely.

image (C) 2021 Hilary Farmer

Abstract Reflections

Abstract Reflections (oil on 9″x12″ Arches Oil Paper)

Starting from an image of shadows and waterlilies on a pond’s surface, shapes dissolved and reformed into this. I find it curiously freeing to oil paint on paper …like I am giving myself more freedom to play.

image (C) 2021 Hilary Farmer

Hummingbird Moon

Hummingbird Moon (16″x 20″acrylic on canvas)

This abstract exploration ended up with some artifacts from fairly early in the layering process that didn’t want to be covered up – flowers, a hummingbird and maybe the moon. This is definitely a case where the original is hard to capture in a photograph. When I paint this way, the textures and layers are quite challenging for me to show on line.

In my mind this one is reaching for “Monet meets Chagall”. 🙂

Tom wrote a really lovely poem that speaks to this painting beautifully.

coalescing currents curl
from out of deeper darkness
flowing down to pools that swirl
with stillness beneath starless
skies where hope abides and wing’d
shapes may one day fly through the
chaos life will strive to reach
afar across this world where
coalescing currents curl

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

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