ring mandala…

ring mandala

The last few mandalas have been drawn using a quite water resistant ink in my fountain pen. So yay! I can add water colour without blurring out the details. This was “mini-mandala 2” now renamed The Ring.

Here is Tom’s beautiful and highly personal poem to go with this mandala. I feel so fortunate to have someone in my life that sees and responds to beauty in such a profound way!

waves of beauty curling round
washing up the pebbled beach
swirling over summer ground
chanting, singing, each to each
a susurrus so tremulous
as bluebells quaver in the breeze
ringing changes sensuous:
quiet sounds across the sea
while the golden evening rays
scatter from the leafy crowns
bowing to the end of days
where all pain and sorrow drown
in the silence of the night
two hearts make one in joyful flight

image (c) 2017 Hilary Farmer
poem (c) 2017 TJ Radcliffe

middle kingdom mandala – painted

Middle Kingdom mandala – painted

Well, here is the final version with colour added! The choice of mostly shades of blue is to give the flavour of Chinese pottery. The yellow accents came about because yellow represented the emperor in ancient Chinese society. For example, only the emperor could have yellow roof tiles or wear yellow robes. So it is used sparingly in this mandala for the centre, the lanterns drifting away in the sky and the mostly hidden dragons…

Here is one quadrant to make it easier to see the details.

Middle Kingdom mandala – detail

Happily, Tom was moved to write another poem for this final version of the mandala!

Beneath a layer of protective blossoms
the Earth abides in softly glowing shades
of summer fading toward a rainy autumn:
evening drawing nigh as August fades
toward a long September ocean blue
swept by early storms and errant waves
crashing up against the harbour’s thews
protecting ships at anchor from the staves
of floating logs and wayward whales withal
as beacons glow through scudding rain and wrack
calling home the wanderers and all
who’ve lost their way and yearn to find a track
through storms and seasons ‘cross the empty sea
riding down the gales into the lee.

image (c) 2017 Hilary Farmer
poem (c) 2017 TJ Radcliffe

crow doodle interlude…

shore crow

A quick crow doodle. There is something engaging about these highly intelligent birds. Here on the West coast, they have carved out a habitat they share with traditional shore birds such as gulls.

Luckily, Tom likes crows too! I love how he catches what seems just right for the voice of a crow.

I stand amidst the pebbles fine
upon the margin of the brine
reveling in my command
of all who wander on the sand.
Passersby they hesitate
and pause as they perambulate
through their existential state:
I make them think and make them wait!
Then off I dance in slanting breeze
to settle in another place
across the shingle, by the trees
where I strut and prance and pace
for I’m above the common folk
who sleep while I am truly woke.

image (c) 2017 Hilary Farmer
poem (c) 2017 TJ Radcliffe


mandala sequence – 3 of 3

Middle Kingdom mandala

Well, after struggling the previous day with the mid section of the mandala this final third felt like a gift. As I was meditating, the image arose in my mind of lotus leaves forming a canopy over this world. I love the whimsical, surreal sense it gives the whole. Hope you do too!

Here is Tom’s response as the final third of this mandala series narrative experiment. Love this!

Rising high above the mountains
lotus blossoms spread their leaves
catching water from the fountains
of the scudding Hyades
as from rain-wracked winter skies
cataracts fall on the wise
who avert all-seeing eyes
from an army on the rise
until the warriors of home
meet in battle cruel invaders
as the king upon his throne
commits his great dissuader:
Art unfolding on the plain
sends attackers home again.

But wait! there’s more!! Tom so enjoyed the final image that he wanted to write a separate poem for the image as stand alone. This poem is less action packed and more meditative. There is one more version of this mandala planned …what will Tom’s poetic response be after it’s painted?!

curving round horizon near
a world within a pond
ancient garden, absent fear
embracing lotus fronds
little mountains rising small
weighty, deep, and dense
dragons hide in clouds too tall
beyond the garden fence
here within this perfect world
wisdom sits and waits
in the sky the curlews skirl
above the open gates
though none may leave and none may enter
all are drawn into the centre

image (c) 2017 Hilary Farmer
poems (c) 2017 TJ Radcliffe

mandala sequence – 2 of 3

Middle Kingdom mandala part 2 of 3

Well, I have to admit I got a bit “in my head” with this one – not as meditative as an approach as I try to bring to mandala drawing. But after reading Tom’s poem for the first part, this is how I continued the mandala. The scene unfolds with bridges, people and stylized Chinese clouds with dragons lurking …and Tom followed with the next poem for the series.

All across the Middle Kingdom
gossips gather in the streets
“Will the Emperor’s dominion
yield to rude invader’s feet?”
“Of course the Throne is will never fall
to the horsemen of the steppes!
Our warriors will give their all
to keep the raiders from our steps!”
On the walls the mages conjure
summoning the dragon-clouds
to ward the kingdom from its danger:
up they rise so fierce and proud!
While the sentinels beyond
huddle ‘neath the lotus fronds.

image (c) 2017 Hilary Farmer
poem (c) 2017 TJ Radcliffe

mandala sequence 1 of 3

mandala sequence 1 of 3

We are trying something a bit different this time. With more of an improvised approach, Tom is going to write a poem after each third of the mandala has been drawn. My second and third parts will respond to his poetry written for the previous segment. Should be fun!

Here’s his poem for the first (central) part of the mandala.

Chinese lanterns light the night
drifting up into the sky
echoing the birds in flight
calling out with curlew’s cry
across the spiral miles to home:
“We are the sentinels, our towers
stand beneath the vaulted dome
of heaven, like the lily-flowers.
Now we need a swift reply
to our message, to our need.
Let not long slow days go by!
Hear us! Hear our voice, and heed:
The enemy is at the gates!
Send us mages! Do not wait!”

image (c) 2017 Hilary Farmer
poem (c) 2017 TJ Radcliffe

mini-mandala – 3

A Swallow’s Dream

While I was drawing this one, I was thinking (unseasonably) of swallows gathering grasses for their nests and dreaming of the eggs they would hatch in Spring. What joy as they ascend to the sky!

The poet saw that and more. Check out Tom’s poem – it’s a medieval romance!

A knight’s pavilion in an open field:
swift swallows flit and turn above the bower
where a lady to her knight might yield
perhaps in thanks for rescue from a tower
or simply for the pleasure of the dance.
They move together under silken sheets
by the swallow’s call both are entranced
simmering in liquid summer heat
beholden to no master but the chance
of one true moment, lifting up the veil
and waking from their long romantic trance
as together into truth they sail
knowing there’s no ending to their tale.

image (c) 2017 Hilary Farmer
poem (c) 2017 TJ Radcliffe



mini-mandala – 2

mini-mandala – 2

This “mini-mandala” is about 5″ in diameter. It is fun to play at this slightly smaller scale. The others I have been doing are almost double that size at about 8″ in diameter and I may try much larger at some point.

Spirals and petals and loops flow from one another leading to hidden or more apparent pictures within. Here’s Tom’s poem expressing what he saw – or at least his reaction to what he saw. I especially love that final couplet!

Engines of creation always turn
through cycles mixing levels of impulsion
while the rising petaled flowers burn
with colours never captured in emulsion.
Bluebells ring around the rosy centre;
tumbling changes spill across the fields
where the breath of nature yearns to enter
souls that stand aloof and do not yield.
Soft temptation gently filigreed
across the meadow by an errant breeze
beckons to the wanting and the need
of supplicants upon their bended knees.
Figures frozen in the grip of Fate
‘Til they rise and love wins over hate.

image (c) 2017 Hilary Farmer
poem (c) 2017 TJ Radcliffe

seashore mandala – 7

seashore mandala – 7

While drawing these mandalas, I may have a certain idea in mind but this usually evolves and changes. A pattern in one context looks like one thing but could be seen as something completely different in another. For example, if we divide the mandala into central area, mid zone and periphery, what does the pattern in the mid zone represent? It could be flower petals, waves, sand dunes etc. – so many options just for that one pattern. That is one reason why it is so fun to find out how a poet responds to these and see what he sees in them!

…and here is Tom’s poem!

Laurel wreaths surrounding petaled waves
weed-grown margin of an isle alone
inhabited by fishes as they drave
around the world in search of footpaths home
within the margin of the reef entire
thin ornamental band protecting dunes
as clownish owls come ogle at the fire
of buccan wood that burns in evening’s gloom.
Bell-fruits dangle from the swaying trunks
as the dry Alize brings ships alee…
brave companions quaffing rum so drunk
so as to stand and sign and follow me.
All hands set sail, the Spaniard’s on the Main!
We’ll take her treasure, live like kings again!

image (c) 2017 Hilary Farmer
poem (c) 2017 TJ Radcliffe

mini-mandala – 1

mini mandala – 1

The other day, I was thinking that I could do some quick small mandalas, simpler and with more space to add paint. Hmmm …while it was fun to try a smaller one (this is about 5″ in diameter) it is just as curious and almost as full of details as the larger ones!

Here is Tom’s poem expanding on the depths of oddities in the mandala!

“The Queen will see you at the circus
Goodman Herald. Don’t you see
we must ensure the clouds of witness
only glower on what can’t be:
a monarch watching clowns perform
is ever so outside the norm
that gossips never will deform
their minds thus to the truth conform.
Ergo–or somesuch schoolman’s term–
you will meet in secret there,
Her Majesty’s desire to learn
in front of all whose eyes don’t dare
to see the truth before their face:
a Queen so far from proper place.”

image (c) 2017 Hilary Farmer
poem (c) 2017 TJ Radcliffe