California poppies

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California poppies – study (9″ x 12″ oil on gessoed panel)

On a recent trip to Victoria on Vancouver Island, I saw some poppies growing in the dry grasses between the rocks near the ocean. These California poppies glow with a translucent orange and I immediately wanted to paint them – but since I didn’t have my equipment with me, I took a few pictures for inspiration when I got home. The above is my first take – very loose and fast. I like the exuberance of it but it wasn’t quite what I wanted so then I did a larger piece.

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California poppies (16″ x 20″ oil on canvas)

This was so much fun to paint. I really got into a flow with it.

Tom wrote a wonderful, mysterious poem for the second painting. What he sees and expresses about my work always amazes me but this one is especially mystical …I guess being both a poet and a quantum physicist affects how he sees the world!

tilting down the surreal axis
swirling ’round the complex plane
twisting through the field of praxis
choosing which is what again
while the fractal facets flicker
and the colours gripe and bicker
to achieve a balanced palette
pounding with a wooden mallet
all the powders and infusions
making dyes both true and fast
for this will be a work that lasts
conjuring such bold illusions
that the mind is turned about
what once was certain now is doubt

image (c) 2018 Hilary Farmer
poem (c) 2018 TJ Radcliffe

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Bluebells

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Bluebells (8″ x 8″ oil on gessoed wood cradle)

This one was pure joy to create. I started with the idea of campanula – a flower also know as harebell and bluebell. They are so pretty and dainty. After a couple of sketches, I started applying the transparent layer of oil paints to my smooth gessoed surface. A pattern (similar to but not exactly like the sketches) evolved and continued evolving as I started applying opaque colour. I quite enjoy the way the pattern looks a bit like stained glass.

As usual, Tom has matched his words to the painting catching the mood perfectly!

Bluebells ringing in the sun
calling out now each to each
“Here is summer! Ain’t this fun!
Let’s go dancing on the beach!
Or rocking in this open field
where the music is concealed
within the sound of birds and bees
chirping, buzzing, through the trees
while we toss our joyous heads
and passing breezes ripple through.
Come let’s dance, just me and you!
All your cares and fears be shed!”
For though they are firm-fixed in place
Their dance is full of joy and grace.

image (c) 2018 Hilary Farmer
poem (c) 2018 TJ Radcliffe

Bridal flock mandala

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Bridal flock (12″x 12″ oil on board)

Experimental! I have tried doing oil painting mandalas before but this is larger and so I could include more detail …maybe too much detail! There is an obvious floral theme but if you look closer, there are birds all around the outside pointing towards the centre.

Tom’s take on this one inspired the title of the piece.

Birds in camouflage abound
within the bride’s high-flung bouquet
tumbling far above the ground
sent in joy upon its way
toward the waiting hands of all
who stand on toes and reach up tall
to grasp the prize of prizes now,
the talisman that tells them how
their turn is next in love. It bursts
asunder with a flock of birds
that spin in brightly coloured herds
above the crowd now in reverse.
Yet she who’s steadfast, true, and bold
still stands to catch the flower’s hold.

image (c) 2018 Hilary Farmer
poem (c) 2018 TJ Radcliffe

Wedding blooms …oil painting

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Wedding blooms (6″ x 6″)

A quick oil sketch showing the colours and forms of the flowers – peonies, ranunculus, lisianthus, and more.

Here is Tom’s poem!

These are the colours of our wedding day:
deep and rich and bright. They’re kind of fun,
and besides they stood and heard us say,
“You know, I really think you are the one”
or words to that effect as we two stood
facing our tomorrows side-by-side:
committing to the useful and the good,
knowing what’s not taken will abide.
These simple colours riding high on stems
held within your hands as down we walked
across the grass that brushed our fancy hems
as in the trees the birds and sunlight talked:
they stood with us as we both vowed our vows
and gave their blessing with their graceful bows.

image (c) 2018 Hilary Farmer
poem (c) 2018 TJ Radcliffe

Wild rose …oil painting

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Wild rose (6″ x 6″)

I was feeling in a playful, flower mood …and still thinking pink I guess! This one just evolved with no reference and I decided afterwards that they look a lot like wild roses. I like the stained glass effect.

Tom’s lovely poem populates the image with bugs and birds. Hidden from the observer of the painting, it is not hard to imagine them just out of view.

A wall of flowers blocking off the way
to some hidden paradise of dark
where a bug might shelter from the rays
of sunlight, hiding from a hungry lark
in search of food for chicks still safe-ensconced
at home in nests of grass, the cozy haunts
of birds who know their children need such care
and keep them safe and warm before the air
is flapped beneath their enterprising wings
to lift the chick away above the ground
exploring all that’s lost and can be found
from the heights where soon the lark will sing.
Behind the wall the bug has found its home
But in the dusk will dare again to roam.

image (c) 2018 Hilary Farmer
poem (c) 2018 TJ Radcliffe

pink rhododendrons …oil painting

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pink rhododendrons (6″ x 6″)

This is another painting inspired by a visit to a rhododendron garden a month or so ago. It was quite wonderful, colourful, and vibrant. Interestingly, although I decided to leave the bee from my reference photo out, Tom somehow saw it in the painting anyway! Those blooms were certainly inviting to the busy pollinators!

When a bee approaches fecund flowers
along a line so straight and always true
its senses buzz with subtleties and powers
that draw it where sweet blossoms bloom anew
with nectar sweet and pollen rich, inviting
a happy bee to search and find, alighting
upon the petals nearest to the anther,
pirouetting like a tiny dancer
to sweep long hairy legs that catch a load
of all that workers, queens and lazy drones
are craving most within their honeyed homes:
so eagerly she flies the homeward road
leaving far behind the sheltered grove
where blossoms bloom in red and pink and mauve.

image (c) 2018 Hilary Farmer
poem (c) 2018 TJ Radcliffe

Morning glory …oil painting

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Morning glory (6″ x 6″)

A huge glorious morning glory climbing on my parent’s porch railing …I was feeling like painting just one large bloom and this suited my purposes beautifully. It was curiously striped instead of being solid blue like the “heavenly blue” variety but had its own charm and I had fun playing with the composition and background.

As usual, Tom’s take on the image is beautiful in its own right! He tells me this is a standard sonnet form with a Pushkin rhyme scheme …just because.

Rosette of morning, opening to spring
proudly bearing witness to the fact
that winter’s end is definitely a thing
and summer’s pouring through the cataract
of time as warming days turn into weeks:
over the horizon Solstice peeks
through foliage entangled in the trees
and swayed by gentle summer’s zephyr-breeze.
Each day is met with petals opening wide
to all that hours of sunlight may yet bring
into the fields where climbing vines all cling
to posts and trees with nothing left to hide.
The summer brings us all to bare our all
To dance like flowers knowing not the fall.

image (c) 2018 Hilary Farmer
poem (c) 2018 TJ Radcliffe