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.
This one was painted back in May but somehow got missed in the poetry queue. This one was painted completely from my imagination. I think it has the flavour of Ontario’s back country lake districts drawing more on childhood memory than my current west coast rain forest setting.
Tom’s poem also echos that place and other times…
There is a fire that burns where sunset touches this land of lake and tree and summer heat: a fire that flickers, scrabbles, grasps, and clutches at the edge where Earth and sunlight meet. No forests turn to smoke and ash, it burns in abstract spaces, glowing on a land that scatters it across the trees and ferns, the swamps and lakes, the sky in clouded bands. The light is caught and coloured by the lake then thrown up to the sky and back again to limn the trees and from the forest take a ghost of places gone, of times unkenned. There is a fire that burns and does not die Now in the distance hear the loon’s soft cry
I have been continuing experimentation with abstracts both in acrylics and oils. Because acrylics dry so quickly, I can build up many, many layers in a shorter time than oils. As a result, I tend to keep going for even more layers building up, scraping away, and making decisions about what stays and what gets painted over. It’s an evolution over two or more weeks for these. So different from my alla prima oils! Anyway, this one started off very different but ended up with (for me) an under the sea feeling. Others will no doubt see other things.
Tom’s poetic take on it is similar but goes back …well, to the beginning.
Bubbles burning up the fecund deep,
champagne reef a-swirl with venting gas,
primordial and proto quickly meet:
proto-cell and protoplasm fast
entangled in the ancient ocean depths
where chemistry and magic both combined
into something new, a broom that swept
the world with pulsing, growing, greasy slime
whose cells are now ancestral to us all,
whose origins are lost in bubbly chaos,
whose evolution made it great and small,
whose imperfections still come back to slay us.
We all began in beauty, vibrant, dark…
Partaking of that lost and vital spark.
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.
I did this portrait based on a photo from our wedding this summer. What a joyful day! This is the last oil painting I did before packing away the paints for our move. The painting itself is waiting for the last minute in order to be as dry as possible. I was pretty pleased with how this turned out – the likeness is good and there is a loose and fresh quality to the brushwork that I have been having a hard time bringing into portraits.
Tom wrote a poem about the joy of that day …and the joy that continues! ❤
Under the wide and clear blue sky
I speak the truth and do not lie:
glad was my troth and glad is this tye
and to stand beside you is my will.
This be the joy you give to me:
“Here he moves as he longed to be.
Sailing with you across sea
and hiking high on the hill.”
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
After the bold pattern of the last painting, I wanted to try something much more delicate and subtle. Last summer when we were visiting Victoria, we saw some very lush hydrangea bushes near the Empress Hotel. This is a glimpse of that impression.
In Tom’s poem, inspired by the painting, a gentle story grows…
Soft and delicate, ensconced
upon the upper private lawn
of some estate where for the nonce
a deer peeps out and too a fawn
from forests hedging trimmed green space
where creatures wild have had no place
until the recent turn of year
when there have been no people here.
So nature creeps back from the dark
of tangled woods and caverns cold
until the mother deer so bold
leads her offspring on a lark
to nibble on the flowers sweet
and feel long grass beneath their feet.