A curious, possibly mystical presence grew out of the shadows as I was painting. A glowing figure overlooks the forest pool – a naiad? What do you think?
This painting was built up with many layers of acrylic paint often scraping and scratching down to previous layers while the newest layer was still wet… I did this one in June and I remember that crayons were also involved – which you can still see traces of if you look closely.
There is beauty all around including in the details of the various plants in the under-story of the West Coast woods. For example, here is the shiny green of salal leaves and the brilliant red of the Oregon grape leaves at this time of year. I had fun painting this – such bold, natural complementary colours!
Tom’s wonderful poem puts this tiny detail into a much bigger context of space and time.
The tangled under-story dwells
above dark earth, the ground’s foundation:
listen to the tale it tells
while the wind’s damp susurration
passes by on raven’s wings.
All around us voices sing
of elder days, when on this ground
no human footprint could be found.
The under-story still remembers
life alone beneath the trees
where forest gods might bend their knees
and coax new shoots from winter’s embers.
Ready always with the flame
of spring they leap to life again.
It doesn’t quite look that wintery here yet since there isn’t any snow on the ground. But I was in the mood to paint snow so I found a photo I took last year where the snow was bending the ferns along the path and a low winter sun shone through the trees.
Crooked branches, beams of light
scatter through the cold wet air
as fleeting day yields to the night:
sun slipping back to winter’s lair.
The slushy snow beneath my boots…
they mire in mud, they skid on roots,
as cold seeps in beneath my coat
while the daylight dims, a mote
of yellow, distant, glimmering light
is all that’s left of this short day
while long before me lies the way
with miles to go before the night
has gripped the forest, cold and deep,
so I walk on, and do not sleep.
Yes! It has been a long time since I posted anything …but I’m back! Here is the first mandala I’ve done in a while with not one, but two beautiful new poems that Tom wrote. Since we are now living on an island, and the mandala was about finding a new balance in a new context, it seems fitting that one poem highlights the ocean and the other the forest.
Boulders strewn beneath the mass
of Ocean’s dark and vasty deeps
protect the rising reefs of glass
sponges where the mermaids weep
to see these fragile structures shine
in darkness since the dawn of time:
no sun has broken their repose
since species now extinct arose
to master Earth and sea and air
with mighty roars and stomping feet,
they ruled and the world until defeat
by time and chance entombed them there
beneath great Ocean’s darkling waves
where reefs of glass still mark their graves.
The forest hides its secrets well,
they’re measureless beyond account:
a perfect flower, an open dell,
a tiny grotto where the Fount
of Youth may flow into a stream,
until it feeds slow Lethe’s dream
as all about the forest speaks.
Leaves might whisper, branches creak,
each voice a secret now revealed
to anyone with ears to hear,
who dares to overcome their fears
and venture past familiar fields.
The forest watches, listens, waits,
for one who comes, embracing Fate.
(“Lethe” is the river of forgetfulness in Greek mythology.)
This mandala is a kind of inversion of the previous one – even to the extent of “breaking the rules” and creating it from the edge inwards instead of from the centre outwards. There is still a Celtic knot as a foundation but the trees are reaching for the centre instead of stretching out. For this one, I tried for the first time to divide the circle into a number other than eight. The twelve divisions give a very different feel – there are connotations such as clocks or rose windows… I expect this mandala to be quite transformed by the addition of colour and will post again once the painting layer is done.
Tom had a preview of this one and has already produced this potent poem to accompany it – Thank you! 🙂
Reaching upward toward the changeless Sky filled with swallows turning as they fly
Deeply rooted in the fertile Earth entangled moments giving joyous birth
To connection: linked embodied minds souls well met, butterflies in kind
Thrusting inward to the source of all bending outward, answering the call
Of root and branch and leaf to grow and thrive a flower blossom opening, alive!
image (c) 2016 Hilary Farmer
poem (c) 2016 Tom Radcliffe
When I was drawing this mandala, I thought of greens and purples …I was thinking mysterious …but the more I painted, the more it became instead suffused with joy. I hope it lifts your heart to look at it as mine was while creating it.
UPDATE: A truly wonderful poem from Tom for this image! Thank you. 🙂
Intertwining all connects to all
radiating joy from root to branch
curving endless rise within a fall
twisting time, sequestering mere chance
as some creative gravity draws skies
toward the future, outward looking in
toward the open contemplative eyes
toward the garden innocent of sin.
Silent beauty deep, complex, divine
entwining truths entangled by connections
bending on in endless knotted lines
a pilgrimage through stations of reflection.
Each moment moves, creating time and more
in stillness drawing all into the core
Inspired by time spent hiking in British Columbia this summer, this new mandala grew organically bit by bit over quite a few days starting from the Celtic knot in the centre. The level of detail might be getting just a touch obsessive 😉 On the other hand I do find it truly meditative and a joyful process. I will post it again after I have added a layer of water colour. In the meantime, here is a close up to give a clearer view.
UPDATE: New poem from Tom! Thanks Tom!!
Beneath the canopy of leaves
the forest world awaits
with intertwined complexities
and deep entangled states
Without beginning, without end
both root and branch are one
into each the other blends
as leaves soak up the sun
protecting flowers deep down below
in shadowed forest glades
turning toward the light they know
in floral-fine cascades
as in the depths the open eyes
of roots observe the world
aware of all that lives and dies
around the centre curled
in intricate embellishments
of density required
to supply the nourishment
of souls by this inspired