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

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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

Rose fantasia

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Rose fantasia (8″ x 8″ oil on raised panel)

This piece was straight from my imagination and pure play. I love these colours and the way the roses are starting to dissolve into the background.

Tom’s poem is as fantastical as the painting! It could be the seed of a wonderful story and yet it’s enough as it is.

“Why must we learn the art of flower making?”
asked the Acolyte. The Master smiled.
The Acolyte went on, “Are we not breaking
the Rule that time is wasted, minds beguiled,
by the frivolous? We reproduce
what Nature does much better. Why is that?”
“Because we find it is an art of use,”
the Master said. He laid a book down flat
and gently tore a page, forbidden text,
that criticized the Emperor and told
the truth about his tyranny’s effects,
written by a monk, now dead, once bold.
Dyed pages made the flower blossoms glow
So in the future scholars might yet know.

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

Pinks plus bee (3 times)

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Pinks plus bee – 1 (6″ x 6″ oil on raised gesso board)
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Pinks plus bee – 2 (6″ x 6″ oil on raised panel)
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Pinks plus bee – 3 (6″ x 6″ oil on raised panel)

Well I don’t usually paint the same subject multiple times but I thought there could be something to learn doing this – and I was preparing for a live demo. This was the first time for me really doing painting as performance art. It ended up being really fun! 😀

The first time I painted it, I realized I was too slow and that I really needed to speed it up to maintain interest …and there wouldn’t be enough time available. So I painted the second one almost twice as fast. The background in particular is much looser as a result in the second one. The third painting above is from the live demo. I did a few touch-ups when I got home but not much actually. Since I was talking and answering questions throughout, it did take some focus and time away from painting. However, I think I was able to show my method and the art group was very engaged and appreciative of the presentation. Happy Day! …and each painting has a cute little bee that is a bit different in each one.

Curious if you have a favourite painting!

Tom had something to say in poetic form about the process …and he is certainly right!

An artist cannot paint the same
picture over, once again,
for the scene has shifted, changed,
and she has moved along the chain
of time from link to golden link
while the sun down blue skies sinks
toward the far horizon lost
as by winds the flowers tossed
change their aspect and their guise
from bright to pale and pale to bright,
tame to wild and wild to right,
each walks with beauty in her eyes
for as she changes day by day
the flowers grow and turn and sway.

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

Winter bouquet

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Winter bouquet (16″x 20″ oil on canvas)

 

When I bought this bouquet, it had other colours of flowers in it as well, but I just felt like trying something more monochrome. Pretty pleased with how this turned out. Even though it’s quite a bit larger than I have been painting, I got the painting laid out and largely developed in one session and finished it up in another while the oil paint was still nice and moveable. So not quite alla prima but close.

Once again, Tom has found something profound to say about my painting – this time in haiku form.

bright white cut flowers
cut glass vase catches sunlight
mourners murmur grief

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