April

April (11″ x 14″ oil on stretched linen)

This one was a commission. I had it mostly done back in March when everything shut down but I did a couple of final tweaks recently and finally got to hand deliver it to the new owner. I was quite pleased with how it turned out – the setting and the dog’s expression were such a pleasure to paint. And I’m happy to say the new owner was delighted. In case you’re wondering, this beloved pup was part (mostly?) Irish wolfhound.

Tom wrote a touching poetic tribute to go with the painting.

There is a dog that moves the hearts of men,
whose soulful eyes see further than our own:
far into realms and regions past the ken
of those of us whose spirits dare not roam
beyond these castle walls of bone and flesh
and into spaces where the angels fly
unhampered by how gears of logic mesh
to make this cold illusion where we die
and are not swept into the heart of God
where our absent friends are joyously
awaiting us. Do not mistake a dog
for one without a soul. At peace and free:
where there is love, there still she is alive
to greet us in the morning as we strive.

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

20200618-Lingering-Evening
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

20200616-Bells-landing-view
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

Close embrace

20200513-close-embrace
Close embrace (8″ x 10″ oil on raised panel)

Another abstract piece where I followed the flow of the paint and what the piece seemed to want. My title came to me as the painting was coming close to completion. I was getting the feeling of being hugged as a child by elderly great aunts – all talcum powder and feathers …I didn’t actually have any great aunts like that – just imagining them!

It was really interesting to see how radically different Tom’s vision of the painting is. It’s a reminder how much variation there can be in what people see in abstract paintings.

staccato atmospheric draws
along the stormy front
clouds reach out with questing paws
tornadoes kick with blunt

hard feet of air the hunkered ground
that rises in response
striking back with lightning bound
in power strong it flaunts

its permanence despite the storm
that claws its native soil
for earth abides though it be torn
so patient in its toil

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

Floral abstract

20200516-floral-abstract
Floral Abstract (16″ x 20″ oil on canvas)

This started as some quick gestures in acrylic paint but was layered over – with many layers of oil paint – into …well, I followed where the painting wanted to go – a fascinating process. It can take me much, much longer to paint an abstract piece than something more realistic even though the individual brushstrokes can be bold and decisive.

Here is Tom’s poem which brings more thoughts and depths to what is seen here.

the curve of time is spiraling
toward a conscious centre
cutting holes where angels bring
our souls that they may enter

this world of finite time and space
where one thing after next
proceeds with soft diurnal pace
to make such strange effects

as flowers that are first a seed
then afterward a bud
until they blossom, finally freed
then fade in autumn’s flood

as seasons pass through space while time
gives views from all the angles
and our souls have heard the chimes
and given up their tangles

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

Dancing with uncertainty

20200504-Dancing-with-Uncertainty
Dancing with uncertainty (8″x10″ oil on raised panel)

This is a curious piece that came out of how I was feeling in early May. At least I guess it must have! It started off as abstract and the figures just asked to be added at some point. Maybe they are personas of various ways I was feeling about the situation – joyful, fortunate, questioning, questing, striving, toiling…

I will let Tom’s poem say any more words that go with this one.

We’re busy here, so hard at work
when she wanders by:
Randomness Uncertainty,
she sure does catch the eye

with her flagrant fripperies
uncaring of our toil.

To keep the wheels aturning
is why we churn and moil

but she will have none of that.
It’s hard to concentrate
when she’s flaunting everything
we’ve tried to quell, abate,

and keep under control
but there she is, insouciant
just going for a stroll.

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

White rhododendrons, blue sky

20200507-white-rhododendrons-blue-sky
White rhododendrons, blue sky (16″ x 20″ oil on archival panel)

I painted this one about a month ago from photos I took (not this year) of a large rhododendron garden in a nearby park. I say nearby, but it would have still required a ferry ride to visit this park and we haven’t been off our small island since the shutdown started almost three months ago.

Tom just wrote an amazing poem this weekend that speaks to the times we live in as much as this painting. I feel profoundly grateful to have inspired it with my art.

storm clouds rising           somewhere up ahead
blossoms tossing            shadowed on the wind
skies are changing           blue is running red
searching for forgiveness           for our sins
in the darkness               under forest cover
eyes that hide           from hunters passing by
we hold these truths
                  clutched to us like our mother
we tell these stories       hoping they're a lie
raindrops splashing         fat upon the flowers
shaking leaves and          dampening the ground
summer's waking thunder           tolls the hour
what never has been lost         cannot be found
young buds open          now their time has come
senescent giants falling            free the sun

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