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
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
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
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
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.
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.
Here’s a quick little watercolour with some ink line-work from my sketchbook of some local wildflowers. They are so sweet – a type of orchid looking like Lady slippers but much smaller – hence the name. The whole plant is only about 4″ tall.
Here is Tom’s playful poem reminding us to enjoy life …and get outside when you can! 🙂
Psst! Hey! Let me tell you now
we’ve gotta stick together!
Come in closer, head’s abow,
now here’s the gossip… whether
there will be rain or sun or what
no one is really sure today
so be prepared for dearth or glut
and listen up, hear what I say:
This life is short, and blooming ain’t
the biggest thing you’ll ever do
so don’t be living like a saint!
It’s time to have a blast! Go to!
Enjoy this season as it runs
Enjoy the warm and loving sun!
Another piece that popped into my head and had to be realized. I thought the face looked a bit like Audrey Hepburn but the image was from my imagination.
Tom wrote a wonderful sonnet to accompany this one. I took the title for the painting from his poem.
Is there a dancer dreaming of the flowers
or a flower dreaming of the dance
waving on the winds that sweep and scour
the stage while all the chorus line’s advance
is checked by stems too short for metre’s travel
and so they bow and shimmy in reverse
before their strict formation can unravel
into a flock of petals, or still worse
inelegant and wobbly razzle-dazzle
unfit for such refined and proper blooms
despite just feeling oh so slightly frazzled
knowing that the end of dancing looms?
For days the flowers dance upon the breeze
bringing all who see them to their knees.
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.