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.
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.
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
This is a curious piece that came out of how I was feeling in early May. At least I guess it must have! It started off as abstract and the figures just asked to be added at some point. Maybe they are personas of various ways I was feeling about the situation – joyful, fortunate, questioning, questing, striving, toiling…
I will let Tom’s poem say any more words that go with this one.
We’re busy here, so hard at work
when she wanders by:
she sure does catch the eye
with her flagrant fripperies
uncaring of our toil.
To keep the wheels aturning
is why we churn and moil
but she will have none of that.
It’s hard to concentrate
when she’s flaunting everything
we’ve tried to quell, abate,
and keep under control
but there she is, insouciant
just going for a stroll.
This one was quite experimental for me. I did not use my usual transparent under layer method and was playing with some different colours. Like the previous painting this one was from my imagination …but it sure took an unusual direction!
Tom saw a whole different world within my painting and wrote this poem!
A wooden door is built into the wall
of dry-stacked stone that bounds the little lane
between the elf-mounds. Curious, and small,
the door’s ajar, a gate to other planes.
The wood is grey and weathered, like the stones
which grow with moss and lichen, ancient rime.
I put an eye up to the gap. Alone
I’ve wandered here, beyond my proper time.
A face shows by a hollow in the dusk,
someone familiar, yet so far away…
I turn and see the lane-way, feel I must
continue on my journey. I can’t stay.
Above the stars are pentagons of light
while I walk on, across the fields of night.
Even though I put the dimensions on the images of the paintings, it is hard to tell on the screen the impact the size has on the art. This one is a bit larger than I have been working recently and so the cat is larger than life-sized. Feeling bold, I used my largest brushes and painted it alla prima in one 3 hour session. The cat is loosely painted but definitely a portrait of a specific cat and the background – an abstraction of the view out the window beyond – has a pleasing Klimt-esque quality. Sometimes, while painting there’s a feeling of ease and “rightness” – this one had that for me.
Another charming poem from Tom for this piece!
A cat upon the windowsill
all done with years of wandering,
at last a place to warmly chill
while contemplating, pondering
the biggest question of her day:
is it best to sit or lay
oneself upon a a window ledge,
or prowl around and haunt the edge
of every room where there might be
a scrap of kibble, or a slice
of bacon dropped by raiding mice
no cat seems ever quite to see?
The choice is hard, but now it’s made
and in the sunshine she is laid!
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!