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.
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
These current times have me experimenting more with my art for some reason. Anyway, this is painted in acrylic which I haven’t done much with for a few years. It felt more playful and less “pressure-y” which was what I needed! And it turned out to be playful too – no surprises there! Acrylic dries so fast that if you decide a colour or shape isn’t working, you can paint over it almost right away. So different from both oils and watercolour.
Tom found inspiration for a very dynamic poem here! He adds some background information in case you’re wondering – like I did – what the heck that word means:
Thylakoids–which sound like they should be some kind of creature on
Edgar Rice Borough’s “Barsoom” (Mars)–are the structure within
chloroplasts where the light-dependent reactions that almost all life on
Earth ultimately depends on take place.
Storms of summer, raging light
crashing down as photic waves
sweep the beaches of the night
and shift dark beasts within their caves:
the sleeping thylakoids are roused
by the light in which they’re doused.
They ride the surges, open wide,
absorb the roaring solar tide
and feel some energy within
as bonds are broken and remade
within this bright and sunny glade,
a garden without sin
where simple surfaces abound
but deep beneath the truth is found.
This week I prepared my 18×24″ canvas with a variety of colours all in the mid tones in terms of darkness. I also sketched the position and clothing for the figure in the painting. The final result was refined during class today while producing this sketch to be used to transfer the most detailed part of the painting onto the canvas. For this I simply traced the sketch onto tracing paper, put graphite from my handy 6B pencil on the back and then transferred onto my canvas. It was still hard to see, so I followed up by applying some acrylic paint (raw umber) to follow the outline.
At this point some more adjustments were made with the teacher’s advice. The balance and composition were improved until we were both satisfied.
There was only enough time left to add some tone to the painting – also in a wash of raw umber acrylic paint. Since the light source will be from the far side of the hills, just adding the wash starts to give that feeling, starting to create ambiance and give an idea of the shape of the final painting. Even though this painting will be completed using oil paint, doing the painting to this point using acrylic was helpful as the detail won’t be smudged away when the oil paint is added next week.
Last time I posted poems that Tom had sent me for this work – here is another one, a haiku:
Clotho’s tangled thread trails across the pier at dawn she casts herself free
Another in the series from the last post. Tom’s haiku is clearer in this one since fewer layers were added after the text.
opening their eyes
curious koi might enquire
after the abyss
(c) 2013 TJ Radcliffe
It is hard to see this painting well in a photograph since the texture catches the light. Actually, the painting looks very different under different lighting conditions. The detail below was taken later in the day and shows another feeling… more abyss-like!
Playing with texture but using a similar palette with metallics to make a visual connection with the previous water lily painting.
image (cc) 2013 Hilary Farmer
12″x12″mixed media on panel
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.