Our new home is mostly “natural landscaping” that is, nothing much has been done to the land. There are lots of lovely trees and some typical local under-story – like ferns, salal, and a few wildflowers. However, there is also one lovely little rose tree that came out with a few perfect, sweet, pink roses a few weeks ago. So here’s my take on their fragile beauty.
Tom’s poem is curious and beautiful perhaps not unlike a rose in this setting …and there’s something about it that makes me want to create another completely different painting!
By Any Other Name
plum flowers bloom by the river bank
her coal-black eyebrows
sparkling red gems
in summer sunlight
the river flows between us
rare rose petals drift by
This mandala was drawn over several days with the intricate motifs taking on a life of their own. I don’t analyze these; they are the process and become whatever they become. The end results aren’t planned and so can be quite surprising.
Tom saw something deep in this mandala inspiring him to write this amazing poem. As I sometimes do, I took the title of the mandala from one of his beautiful lines.
Within the door where dwells the King of All
now slumbering, exhausted by the trials
of life and rule and matters great and small
his ancient face is youthened by a smile
slow, soft and happy, lingering on old
deep memories of when the world was new.
Upon the door, fine-cut into the wood
the pattern of the world stands bold and true
to all that he once dreamed. There is a child
who stands before the door, his eyes entranced
by intricate emblazonments of wild
leaves and flowers spinning through their dance.
The Old King wanders through the door at last
The Young King stands before the living past.
Tom adds: I get a sense of age and tradition as well as wild beauty from this: there’s something timeless and eternal as well as continually renewing.
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.
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
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.
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.
This is a bit larger piece than most I’ve been doing lately. Linen is a lovely surface to work on and so although it went through a less lovely phase, I plowed on and think I brought it together. Unlike the smaller paintings, this was not done alla prima (in one session). I worked on it for three days. This scene makes me think of small towns where cats are apt to watch the people passing by while enjoying the sun.
Once again, Tom has tapped into the spirit of the painting with his poem!
On lazy summer Sunday afternoons
when bees are bumbling through the blooming flowers
and vines are climbing up the trees festooned
with squirrels all seeking shelter from the powers
of sun and heat, it’s time for cats to prowl
along the fences, greeting with a growl
any interlopers who might stray
into the yard from houses far away
for though those squirrels are out of reach just now
they’ll keep for later when they’re on the ground
and a cat has energy new found
as the sun prepares to take a bow.
For in high summer even hunting cats
will seek a shady spot and gently nap!
Have I mentioned it’s been hot here? I continue to have a rather tropical inspiration permeate my work!
Here is a magical poem from Tom …a riff on T.S. Elliot’s “Usk”.
Do not step and break the branch
where snakes slip soft
on forest floor
bright birds dip beaks but not too deep
of ancient mysteries that dwell
down the Amazon
contains the secret
in grey air
a high safe nest
a serpent’s lair