Brickyard Beach – Late Summer

Brickyard Beach – Late Summer (10″ x 8″ oil on stretched canvas)

Early in September I went out with my gear and found another local beauty spot. It was really hot that day! I was glad to find a bit of shade to set up in. The challenge as usual with plein air painting was to catch the light quickly – as well as the colour of the water and the shapes and locations of the clouds before everything changes. The result is less detailed but fresher and more dynamic than working from a photo.

Here is Tom’s poem which at first seems to be for another scene but wait for it – the final couplet tells the tale.

In summer gales these waters roil
as wind and tide and waves contend
for who shall make the sailor’s toil
the worst. And who shall best unmend
the flapping canvas, spliced up rope,
a bimini not made to cope
with gusts that come from angles all
around the compass. Masts might fall
as waves come in from every point.
The bow is bounced, the stern is slewed,
the sky with clouds ascudding’s strewed
as the sea tests every joint.
But in the calm it lies serene
as if those storms were never seen!

image (c) 2020 Hilary Farmer
poem (c) 2020 TJ Radcliffe

Twin Beaches – High Summer

Twin Beaches – High Summer (10″ x 8″ oil on canvas)

This is a plein air painting from August. The sun was high and warm reflecting back all kinds of glorious colours in the water. I captured a couple of sailboats at anchor as well as a few floating markers. The mountains of the mainland are in the distance. I have a lovely memory of the day when I look at this.

Tom wrote a thoughtful poem that speaks of times long gone the results of which still impact us today.

Upon a time a Spaniard passed this way
anchoring and sending out a brace of boats to sound
the waters all around the quiet bay
where otter, seals, and cod could still be found.
The shore was all alive with other eyes
that watched the strange great ships and wondered where
they had first tasted of sea. What skies
had witnessed their emergence from their lair?
Dark ravens cocked and turned upon the wind
Dark rhymes were brewing in the human heart
Dark beneath the summer sky the sins
of darkness drove the worlds apart.
The ships sailed on, left chaos in their wake
and broken words that promises forsake.

image (c) 2020 Hilary Farmer
poem (c) 2020 TJ Radcliffe

Drumbeg view – summer

Drumbeg view – Summer (8″ x 10″ oil on canvas)

Another plein air piece from July. There is a wonderful park along the ocean that I hope to paint many more times. The mood of the sky and water is different every time. This day, the tide was somewhat low showing shallow rocks extending out from shore. A leaning tree, some wave action and a calm sky complete the scene.

Tom wrote another haiku for this one encapsulating in words my memory of painting that afternoon.

somewhere to the south
beyond warm summer mists
passage to the sea

image (c) 2020 Hilary Farmer
poem (c) 2020 TJ Radcliffe

Elder Cedar Summer Path

Elder Cedar Summer Path (8″ x 10″ oil on canvas)

I painted this one en plein air back in July. It was a warm sunny day and I enjoyed being enveloped in the moist shade of the forest. The light – even in the depths – was friendly and welcoming.

Tom wrote a haiku for this that touches on the feeling of the time I was there as well as the sense of passing time.

entangled branches
hide fall mysteries beyond
our summer senses

image (c) 2020 Hilary Farmer
poem (c) TJ Radcliffe

Tranquil landscape

Tranquil Landscape (16″ x 20″ oil on canvas)

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

image (c) 2020 Hilary Farmer
poem (c) 2020 TJ Radcliffe

Lingering evening

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Lingering evening (10″x 8″ oil on raised panel)

Wow – what a long beautiful summer evening that was! I painted this en plein air from the deck of our sailboat just a couple of days off the solstice. I thought I would get some wonderful sunset colours but I would have had to wait longer than I felt like. Anyway, the subtle tones are lovely too, I think.

Tom wrote a haiku with an appropriately Zen feeling for this one!

ten thousand years hence
this long summer evening light
will still be here now

image (c) 2020 Hilary Farmer
poem (c) 2020 TJ Radcliffe

From Bell’s Landing

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From Bell’s Landing (10″ x 8″ oil on raised panel)

This was painted plein air and alla prima. I took my gear to a local park and carried it down to the beach, setting up looking across the shallows towards Entrance Island with its lighthouse, and the mainland mountains beyond. The sky was also cooperating with some lovely mauve and creamy clouds. So beautiful here… Happy to say someone who saw me painting it while walking their dog bought this piece!

Tom wrote a poem that goes with this painting but also speaks deeply to the feeling of living here, I think.

There is a place where light and water touch
Where distance is illusion and the truth
Swirls the summer clouds.

There is a place where one might hear a note
From orchestras not strictly of this Earth
Echo off the rocks.

There is a place where time itself is still
and waves reflect the motion of the wind
as silent eagles soar.

image (c) 2020 Hilary Farmer
poem (c) 2020 TJ Radcliffe

The view from here

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The view from here (16″ x 20″ oil on archival gessoboard)

The world has changed a lot in a few short weeks …weeks that have felt very, very long. I want to continue posting images that reflect joy and beauty as I see it, but there are obvious challenges given the situation.

After the lockdown started where we are, it took a week or so for me to get into a headspace where I could start painting again. What came out was not a specific view, but reflected both the landscape here and my feeling of how surreal the unchanged local beauty seems in this context as well as the feeling of connectedness within separation of this time. This painting was not an alla prima piece. I kept coming back over several days layering paint until I achieved something close to the vision I had.

Tom as usual responded to the painting with a deeply beautiful poem.

Trees at Twilight

Behind the trees a secret lies
that whispers on the evening light
that speaks of other times and skies
before the day becomes the night…
as brightness falls the air is still
behind the forest, where the will
of Nature rules the tides and time
to make of this a place sublime
where the truth that can’t be spoken
drifts across the twilight sea
dipping deep to set us free
of all our yesterdays unbroken.
These silent sentinels behold
more beauty than is known or told.

image (c) 2020 Hilary Farmer
poem (c) 2020 TJ Radcliffe

Winter ditch

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Winter ditch (8″ x 10″ oil on raised panel)

Maybe it comes from my days working in architecture, but I enjoy looking at things in “plan view” (straight down). And recently, the beauty of the minutia we usually ignore right at our feet is drawing me in. There is so much life and colour there, once I stop to really look. The summers here get quite warm and very dry so I’m enjoying the rain and wet …well most of the time!

Here’s Tom’s haiku to go with this painting. 🙂

living rill feeds green
ripe grasses catching sunlight
ditch runs with spring rain

image (c) 2020 Hilary Farmer
poem (c) 2020 TJ Radcliffe

One fine day

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One fine day (8″ x 10″ oil on archival raised, gessoed panel)

It was a very fine West coast winter day – quite mild and with sunshine! Our walk took us through the woods and out the other side towards farmland and pasture. This view is looking back towards the path to the woods. I like the feeling of this painting. It captures  the cool winter sun and the mystery of the path.

Tom’s poem may mean more if you’ve read Italo Calvino’s “If on a Winter’s Night a Traveller” – however, it stands quite well alone. The image of my painting led Tom down a quite different path in his poem. I like it!

If On a Winter’s Day a Traveller

You are reading “If On a Winter’s Day a Traveller”,
perhaps online, or on your phone,
during your commute. The train, the bus,
the streetcar is quite crowded,
jostling and rattling around
as you get your head into the poem.

What lies ahead? The curve of road or track
leads on to darkness, mystery, confused
deep tunnels, full of dusty lights,
or intersections where the traffic snarls
into a knot. There’s no way out
but forward, so you go,
in time.

The screen is dark, you’ve been distracted,
and now the poem is done.

image (c) 2020 Hilary Farmer
poem (c) 2020 TJ Radcliffe