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.
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.
Even when flowers are white, they aren’t really white. There’s shades of mauve, pale blue, pale yellow etc. It is a fun exercise to decide how to give volume and a sense of the sunlight using those subtle colours. Interestingly, the buds for these white blooms were pink!
Tom’s poem captures a moment that parallels the feeling of the painting perfectly. Tom has started posting his poems on a website called Hello Poetry. Check out his poems there!
It’s quiet here beneath the waxy leaves
looking through the flowers at the sky
so changeless blue. The faintest summer breeze
stirs the rhododendrons as I lie
within the peaceful darkness, damp and cool.
Voices in the distance, kids at play,
cars along the boulevard hiss by,
furtive couples fumble down the way,
off to learn the meaning of a sigh
by the river’s isolated pool.
I close my eyes and feel the Earth beneath
the world above the universe. I fly
to distant lands where dragons form a wreath
around my life, where magic will not die,
and knights defend the helpless from the cruel.
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.
This is from a photo I took while I was living in Vancouver. There are various local markets around town and one fall day I visited one in Kitsilano – mounds and mounds of fruit and veggies to see! Artichokes combine wonderful shapes with fantastic giant flowers. What more can an artist ask for?
Here is Tom’s playful poetic piece!
Edible or beautiful
that’s the choice for artichokes:
for flowers are unsuitable
for the palate when they’ve broke
from out of inflorescences
and into excess essences
of beauty tough. It’s really not
just what you wanted when you bought
those artichokes. The market stall
was running out of produce then,
a few odd plants with hairy stems
and some artichokes, that’s all!
But if we eat the unbloomed few
the others will provide a view!
A scene from spring in Victoria – the grasses are alive with colour from all kinds of wildflowers while the trees are still bare, waiting for more warmth. Getting all those shades of green is always a challenge and I wanted to hint at the flowers without getting into too much detail.
Tom’s lovely poem perfectly captures that feeling of early spring.
Wet warm showers of April, sweet,
fall between the sprays of light
from the spring-time sun that meets
the rain with promises so bright
they dazzle we who climb the hill
and see the flowers, wild and still
until a gusty breeze ruffs down
their cheery slapdash coloured crowns
and rocks a barren winter oak
whose branches are yet bare and free,
although a tiny bud we see
where the sap has now awoke
beneath blue skies of sun and rain
that bring the world to life again.
This chaotic tangle of flowers reminded me of a country garden run wild. There’s just a hint of a fence or a shed and I really like how the blooms dissolve into the sky.
A lovely whimsical poem from Tom for this one.
It’s not just anyone we wear
these bright summer colours for,
but only you, we truly swear,
who’ve come to see us by the door
of this old shack where once there lived
a hermit. He had much to give
but kept it all for only us:
he planted, tended, went to dust.
So now we’re all that still remains
in memory of one whose will
was loneliness and life fulfilled
by solitude and gentle rains.
So only those whose hearts surrender,
to this place may see our splendor.
An energetic explosion of colour! These rhododendrons were glowing and backlit in a photo I took last spring. The sun was even shining through the leaves so painting it seemed like a good antidote for the dull grey days of late fall. For this painting I added Cad red to my palette – it really pops.
Tom has written lots of poems for my flower paintings by now. It’s pretty amazing that he continues to see new things and have original ideas about them to work into poems!
The limbs of planets forming
around a birthing star
glowing in the morning
turning with the bar
of dust and gas and light
that keeps the stars in line:
dying, rising, slight
against a background dark
with empty deathless night.
I painted this towards the end of summer. The image of these early blue spring flowers had stayed in the back of my mind for months and so I finally got around to painting them. Commonly called blue squill, they are most beautiful as a grouping …like stars scattered in the grass.
Tom’s haiku celebrates their (possible) origin.
fine flower of spring
dreams of far Siberia
beneath warmer suns
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