I have been working on this painting (off and on) for months. I did post it once before but then after some time went by I decided to add even more layers. The overall photo doesn’t really show it well so I added some detail shots. I really do enjoy this process of building up and scraping away to reveal what’s underneath in places. It started out as a meditation on a friend’s garden I had visited and that is still there, but it dissolved and resolved into something else.
Tom wrote a deeply beautiful poem for this one.
Earth, water, air, and fire combine, combust, conflate, conspire to form the mystery of all things: the solid ground, a ghost that sings of other Edens lost to time and futures flying in their prime toward the secret, never seen. They flit and flutter, twist and lean to glimpse beyond this life’s abyss and catch a moment’s endless bliss.
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.
I have been playing more with acrylics lately than I have for a long time. Feeling experimental! This peonies in a vase composition was painted from my imagination using lots of layering, mark-making and impasto – another piece that felt very freeing.
Tom’s haiku is a perfect accompaniment!
cut blossom glass vase
petals falling in the sun
lazy summer morn
I originally bought the tulips in March 2010. I was thinking at that time that if I left the canvas white where the tulips would be, that they would glow better and the yellow would be truer.
When I decided to actually develop this painting last weekend, I decided that I would be able to have a looser approach if the whole background was filled in and I wouldn’t have to worry about white canvas peaking through where I didn’t want it to.
Then I needed to actually start painting the tulips. Fortunately I had taken photos of the original tulips to work from. It developed quite quickly but didn’t yet have the contrast I wanted.
At this point I darkened up some areas and added some highlights to increase contrast. (Unfortunately, the photo doesn’t show this very clearly)
Here I laid in some thick layers of paint to given some texture on the petals and leaves and finally the signature!
A detail to show the texture. Since I have been finding it a bit of a challenge to stay loose when working on canvas (as opposed to paper) I am reasonably pleased with the results.