Drumbeg at New Years

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Drumbeg at New Years (16″ x 20″ oil on canvas)

We went for a walk on New Year’s Day in a park by the ocean. There were a number of others out taking advantage of the pleasant day on a holiday as well with lots of shared smiles and well-wishes for the New Year.

This was a bit of an experiment. I knew that I wanted to paint the scene and took several photos but I wasn’t sure if any were quite right. Half way through painting it, I thought – that’s not working! The composition had looked interesting in a small photo but in the painting instead of drawing me in, I was just aware of the vast expanse of boring foreground. Adding more detail and texture to the grass, rocks and logs seems to have been enough to solve that problem and I like it now. Having some small figures in the scene gives a sense of scale and reminds me of traditional Chinese landscape paintings where there is almost always a figure going about their life in the distance.

Tom’s poem expresses how well he knows the coasts and seasons here.

These are the crooked roads we walk
wet, muddy, by the shore
where trees are bent by slow incessant summer winds
and empty winter gales.

Their cousins lie in serried ranks
along the rocky shore
tossed by tides and angry waves from distant isles
come to rest at last.

We walk on in silence strong
secure upon this shore
while beneath the winter scudding clouds the sea
lies calm in patient peace.

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

From Brickyard Beach

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From Brickyard Beach (6″x8″ oil on canvas)

Here’s a quick piece from a recent walk. No matter the weather (it was a grey overcast day) it is still beautiful here …and every day is different – the light, the water …everything. I limited my palette a bit more than usual by removing all my shades of reds.

Tom wrote a lovely poem that is a (happier) riff on “Dover Beach” by Matthew Arnold.

The sea is calm today:
beneath the surface silent currents sweep
through narrows, over reefs
far down into the darkling deeps
while high above the sky keeps faith
with us. We walk the shore
in beauty as the light
of Winter Solstice softly peeps
through the crowded clouds that paint the sky.

There is no sadness here
no ignorance of all
the love, the joy, the hope that rules the world.
No leaden certainties constrain this life
to pain or darkness
though even now poor distant armies fight
beneath this sky, far off across the sea.

Stand by me now, my love,
on this cold day when light is short
for life is long
and in the Ocean’s silence is the song.

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

Moon at Tofino

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Moon at Tofino (6″ x 8″ oil on gessoed wood cradle)

Another view from our lovely visit to Tofino this summer. This time I was focused on the warmth of the sky tones and the shimmer of the water. The moon was clearly visible as the sky was dimming with the setting sun.

Tom was inspired by the image to write this lovely poem.

Uncertain hours between the day
and when there falls soft summer night
emboldens me to finally say
just what I feel. The Moon so bright
embellishes both sea and land
with pastel tones that paint the strand
where soft reflections summon forth
memories both south and north
of time together, warm and cold
your shape tight held against my own
your eyes on mine, two souls, alone:
in dusk the changing light makes bold.
“I’ve loved you always, evermore;
once lost at sea, I’ve touched your shore.”

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

On the path to Tofino …oil painting

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On the path to Tofino (6″ x 8″)

Had the wonderful opportunity to visit the far western edge of this country recently – that is the west coast of Vancouver Island with its incredible Long Beach, charming Tofino, and amazing sunsets! We stayed at Middle Beach Lodge which was lovely. This painting was from a view along the path from the lodge to Tofino …and yes, the wild roses were blooming. The scent of the sea and rich undergrowth of the enormous cedars was a heady combination.

Here is Tom’s wonderful poetic take on this time and place.

Somewhere in the vasty distance
out across the endless sea
moving waves meet wind’s resistance
turning toward us, you and me
who stand upon this western shore
having all and wanting more
while the waves eternal kiss
sand and stone in sunlit bliss
beneath the summer flowers in bloom
whose wafting scent illuminates
our memories in days that wait
for all our yesterdays atuned
to this present joyful place
awash with waves that leave no trace.

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