Skyflowers

Skyflowers (30″x30″ oil on canvas)

I just had a three day open studio as part of the Gabriola Thanksgiving Studio Tour. It was a wonderful experience slightly tempered by the necessity of keeping strict COVID protocols. Welcoming people into our space after being quite solitary for the past year and a half was heart-warming. People were so thrilled to be able to take part in this activity and visit many artists studios throughout the long weekend. This painting was shown at the central gallery where each artist displays one piece of work.

The idea for “skyflowers” – or clouds that taken on the aspect of various flowers – drifted into my mind and just had to be painted. The seascape part is very much inspired by the local waters here amongst the Gulf Islands off Vancouver Island on the west coast of Canada.

Here are irises cascading into the ocean behind an island at sunset.

Skyflowers (Detail)

I built up and scratched away layers to enhance the evening glow in this part of the sky.

Skyflowers (Detail)

One more piece of sky clearing showing the shape of the iris clouds.

Skyflowers (detail)

This painting is definitely not the last of this series. 🙂

images (C) 2021 Hilary Farmer

Pansies and Weavings

Pansies and Weavings (8″ x 10″ oil on raised panel)

I painted this one for my Mother. She’s an avid gardener and loves pansies. She also weaves, so I combined those two loves here. If you look closely, you can see subtle hearts in the background.

Happy Mother’s Day, Mom! (She got the painting in the mail a couple of days ago, so it’s OK to post!)

Tom wrote a beautiful haiku tying this painting to the larger world.

every year in spring
nature weaves her colours deep
soft fabric petals

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

Arranging flowers

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Arranging flowers (11″ x 14″ acrylic on canvas)

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

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

White rhododendrons, blue sky

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White rhododendrons, blue sky (16″ x 20″ oil on archival panel)

I painted this one about a month ago from photos I took (not this year) of a large rhododendron garden in a nearby park. I say nearby, but it would have still required a ferry ride to visit this park and we haven’t been off our small island since the shutdown started almost three months ago.

Tom just wrote an amazing poem this weekend that speaks to the times we live in as much as this painting. I feel profoundly grateful to have inspired it with my art.

storm clouds rising           somewhere up ahead
blossoms tossing            shadowed on the wind
skies are changing           blue is running red
searching for forgiveness           for our sins
in the darkness               under forest cover
eyes that hide           from hunters passing by
we hold these truths
                  clutched to us like our mother
we tell these stories       hoping they're a lie
raindrops splashing         fat upon the flowers
shaking leaves and          dampening the ground
summer's waking thunder           tolls the hour
what never has been lost         cannot be found
young buds open          now their time has come
senescent giants falling            free the sun

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

 

Tulips

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Tulips (20″x 20″) oil on canvas

This larger tulip painting doesn’t look much like the study posted previously but I think they each have different things going for them. I especially enjoy the undulating leaves in the foreground in this one.

Here is Tom’s haiku written for this painting. As he said – “Small poem for a large painting! They seem innocent and open, but the wood behind…”

pink, red, open, closed…
tulip blossoms greet spring sun
keeping no secrets

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

Spring flames

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Spring flames (6″ x 8″ oil on raised panel)

Here is a little study from when the tulips were just starting to show their colours. I was playing with the brush strokes and the colour palette for this. Although I actually like how it looks, the bigger painting of tulips I did after turned out quite different. Hopefully I can post that one soon.

Tom wrote a beautiful poem for this one.

Some fires burn more brightly in the sun
and in the dark retreat to embers, cool,
exploding once again to join the fun
while playing for the rest of us the Fool
who trips and stumbles, bounces up again
whenever springtime sunshine touches down
to warm the Earth while shyly singing wrens
banish by their edicts every frown.
Behold the flames that stir the winter heart,
rising toward the sky in hopeful light
to lift the spirits, signalling the start
of another day before the night.
For though the fire is fleeting it will burn
again in other hearts as seasons turn.

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

Camellia

20200403-Camellia
Camellia study (approx. 5″ x 5″ watercolour on paper)

Last fall we did some planting to bring some colour and variation to our property – and so I’d have some flowers to paint! One of the things we put in was a pink camellia. It was covered in pink buds but not all of them survived the cold spring we’ve had. Anyway, some flowers did come out fully – so pretty.  I did this watercolour study for an oil painting and then ended up liking the watercolour better. That can happen.

Tom wrote another amazing poem for this.  Here’s what he said about writing the poem. “I started with the image of the flower as a dancer–can you see her?–and moved to contrast it with soldiers standing, and then Vimy came out of somewhere and I checked the date and it’s 103 years since Easter, 1917, when the battle was fought.
The poem wanted to end after two quatrains. Something to do with short
lives. So this poem is dedicated to them.”

In delicate extravagance arrayed
with gauzy robes that flutter in the airs
dancing through the serried rank’s parade
to music never heard by anywhere
or anyone commanded to march along,
to charge in line-abreast up on a ridge
toward enemies demanded. There’s a song
that only breezes hear, across the bridge
that links the worlds. The silent ranks of stone
are corridors where flowers dance, alone.

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

Periwinkle in the grass

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Periwinkle in the grass (8″ x 8″ oil on raised panel)

Painting continues to be a challenge right now. I am painting much slower and more deliberately than usual. There is beauty all around where I live and especially at this time of year but it has been difficult to focus on that given the world situation. In any case, there are periwinkles in the yard that have been blooming for a couple of weeks already and they made a natural choice for painting.

My method was a bit different for this one. I started with  an under-painting of transparent burnt orange colour. (There’s only a bit of that still showing.) Then I built up the rest over a few days …so not alla prima.

Here’s Tom’s lovely poem for this piece. Enjoy!

Stars that cluster in the night
burning blue against the fall
of darkness, burning hot and bright,
expending everything and all
for brief eons of renown
as a constellation’s crown
in some distant elsewhere sky.
They burn and live and then they die
in vast explosions, sending seeds
to find their resting place in clouds
where younger stars will be endowed
with all a younger planet needs.
Then other creatures will arise
and look in wonder to the skies.

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