White rhododendrons against the sky

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White rhododendrons against the sky (6″ x 6″ oil on raised panel)

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.

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

Winter sun

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Winter sun (8 x 10″ oil on canvas)

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.

Tom’s poem for this one perfectly brings back that moment while clearly referencing Robert Frost’s “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening“.

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.

image (c) 2019 Hilary Farmer
poem (c) 2019 TJ Radcliffe

Distant land

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Distant land (oil on 16″ x 20″ stretched canvas)

Things have been very busy lately – in the best possible way. I had an open studio as part of the Gabriola Island (Canadian) Thanksgiving  Studio Tour. So many lovely people came and several bought pieces. After working away on my own for about two years, it was wonderful to have such a positive experience when I let “outsiders” in to see my work!

The style in this painting evolved into something quite like some of the impressionists as I searched for a way to create a shimmer of light on the water. This is not any particular view but it’s very rooted here in the Gulf Islands of the West Coast – the mossy foreground, the light coming through the evergreens and distant mountains reminding us that there’s another world out there.

I love Tom’s poem for this one!

Shadows beckon, light awaits
around the distant point of land
where the evening gently scrapes
against the rocks where cedars stand
upon these timeless island shores
where in winter gale-winds roar
tearing at the ancient trees
that still stand tall in summer breeze
as the evening, warm and long,
breathes in life’s diversity:
mosses, flowers, trees, the sea
that sings the oldest of the songs.
Far beyond these coves and bays
The Ocean sings of elder days.

image (c) 2019 Hilary Farmer
poem (c) 2019 TJ Radcliffe

Evening crossing …oil painting

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Evening crossing (12″ x 12″)

Based on a view from the ferry between Vancouver and Victoria. At that time in the evening, the islands you pass look dark and mysterious. The strait was smooth, reflecting the dying light as it leaked through the clouds …a moment of transition in space and time.

Tom’s extremely quirky poem …well just read it!

The sea lies calm between the rocky shores
capturing the sun’s last golden rays:
bright Day is ending, “Leave them wanting more”
she whispers as she slips away, off stage
to take off makeup, rest and smoke a fag,
while gossiping with Dawn and watching Dusk
who entertains the punters in her rags
of scattered cloud and twilight ’til she’s thrust
into the wings by Night’s commanding step
onto the boards, her retinue of stars
all keeping time until the moon has crept
up through the trap to shine, so high and far.
Day stubs her smoke and goes off to her bed
To dream of Dawn and inhibitions shed.

image (c) 2018 Hilary Farmer
poem (c) 2018 TJ Radcliffe

The look of my blog will be changing soon! I am updating it in preparation for coordinating with my NEW WEBSITE! I am super excited that it’s almost ready to launch. There will be a post soon with a link.

afterglow …oil painting

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Afterglow (9″x12″)

I really loved how the quality of light and the grandeur of the sky came across with this one. This is a view of English Bay from around Kitsilano Beach. I took some liberties with the colours enhancing them to give the feeling of that glorious sky.

Tom’s poem paints the scene with words.

as above, so too below
waters burnished by the glow
of golden sunset falling down
wreathing islands with a crown
of cloud and light as evening falls
while some distant seagull calls
across the waters calm and deep
where the day in silence sleeps

image (c) 2018 Hilary Farmer
poem (c) 2018 TJ Radcliffe

summer memory …oil painting

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summer memory (9×12)

While “enjoying” the cold and dark and damp, something that keeps me going is the memory of long summer days …and especially those spent on the water. What a peaceful joy that can be!

I think Tom agrees!

safe within the bay’s deep arms
sheltered from the storms and harms
of weather wild and rough deep seas
crashing somewhere to the lee
against the shores of distant isles
separated by the miles
of empty ocean, scudding wastes
far from here, this sheltered place
where there’s time for pause and rest
until again the sea’s behest
beckons us to raise our sails
and ride the waves in summer gales

image (c) 2018 Hilary Farmer
poem (c) 2018 TJ Radcliffe

winter light …oil painting

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Winter Light (8″ x 10″)

Another painting from a walk in Stanley Park in later December. The low slanting sun lit up some branches and tree trunks with a bright luminous glow – one of those sights that stays with you. Like the last painting, this one was painted alla prima. I think when the painting is being completed in one session, I put fewer expectations of perfection on myself and the result is freer and more full of life.

Tom was inspired to write a playful poem for the imagined wildlife of this scene.

Burnished branches standing in the dark
of taller trees, so jealous of the light
that warms the winter chill from broken bark,
reminding passers-by of summer’s bright
seductive evenings. Once not long ago
beneath spring skies two squirrels ran about
chittering while running to and fro
each ignoring all the other’s shouts
of joy and anger, frustration and love
until their dance completed in a tangle
in the branches far and high above
wherefrom a tail might be loosely dangled.
Now in the winter’s chill they’re safe and warm
Curled and sleeping far from winter storms.

image (c) 2018 Hilary Farmer
poem (c) 2018 TJ Radcliffe