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
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
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:
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.
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
Here is a little study from when the tulips were just starting to show their colours. I was playing with the brush strokes and the colour palette for this. Although I actually like how it looks, the bigger painting of tulips I did after turned out quite different. Hopefully I can post that one soon.
Tom wrote a beautiful poem for this one.
Some fires burn more brightly in the sun
and in the dark retreat to embers, cool,
exploding once again to join the fun
while playing for the rest of us the Fool
who trips and stumbles, bounces up again
whenever springtime sunshine touches down
to warm the Earth while shyly singing wrens
banish by their edicts every frown.
Behold the flames that stir the winter heart,
rising toward the sky in hopeful light
to lift the spirits, signalling the start
of another day before the night.
For though the fire is fleeting it will burn
again in other hearts as seasons turn.
Painting continues to be a challenge right now. I am painting much slower and more deliberately than usual. There is beauty all around where I live and especially at this time of year but it has been difficult to focus on that given the world situation. In any case, there are periwinkles in the yard that have been blooming for a couple of weeks already and they made a natural choice for painting.
My method was a bit different for this one. I started with an under-painting of transparent burnt orange colour. (There’s only a bit of that still showing.) Then I built up the rest over a few days …so not alla prima.
Here’s Tom’s lovely poem for this piece. Enjoy!
Stars that cluster in the night
burning blue against the fall
of darkness, burning hot and bright,
expending everything and all
for brief eons of renown
as a constellation’s crown
in some distant elsewhere sky.
They burn and live and then they die
in vast explosions, sending seeds
to find their resting place in clouds
where younger stars will be endowed
with all a younger planet needs.
Then other creatures will arise
and look in wonder to the skies.
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.
Continuing the “wetscape” series reveling in Spring wet places. The sun was out and so reflections, shadows and transparency were all there to be explored. Curious as well as familiar plants were on show, while the bottom mud glowed in warm tones.
Tom’s poem takes a remote – one could say alien – observer point of view …I love it!
Report from the Away Team
This planet’s flora: great variety
is found among the forests of the north
along the margins where society
has left alone some places of great worth.
The survey team was beamed down to a spot
that isn’t quite unsullied, but has been
protected from the worst of wrack and rot
that permeates so much of what is seen
in other places. Strange bold life-forms grow
in waters rich with nutrients. They are
exotic, most unusual, we know
of nothing like this, far among the stars.
To summarize: there’s something here, unique,
full clothed in beauty, which of beauty speaks.
I am feeling really inspired right now by what I am calling “wetscapes”. This time of year, at least here on the West coast, the ditches are full of rain water and the marshes are overflowing with water and happy ducks, frogs and other signs of spring life. New green grasses are starting to push up through last fall’s dried out stems and dainty sprigs of trailing plants lightly touch the water. Add to that, the reflections, shadows and transparency of the water itself and I could keep on this theme for some time!
Here is Tom’s wonderful poem which parallels the painting so perfectly!
Brightness, darkness, falling both
softly from the spring-time air
teasing dormant life to growth
turning green the golden hair
of grasses dried and brittle now
to the Pleiades they bow
in thanks for rain, which brings new life
to pools and ditches, dark and rife
with strange concoctions, shadowed roots,
tendrils fine exploring through
the muddy depths to find a new
embankment where they push up shoots.
Brightness falls, the rains of spring
Closing now the season’s ring.
This is part of another tidal pool. (I’ve painting a couple before – like this one.) There are always fascinating creatures to see. I love how the sea urchins look like purple flowers.
Tom’s delightful poem was inspired by my painting and also this little video that shows the life cycle of the sea urchin …I had no idea!
A journey of a thousand leagues
once ended on this rocky beach
where larvae lost and sore fatigued
sank below while seagulls screeched
and minnows darted as the waves
swept the larvae, small and brave
across the reefs to sheltered spots
where they clung to fecund rocks
so ripe with seaweed, all they need
to grow into an urchin there
protected by their spiky hair
until it’s time for them to breed
and send new larvae on their quest
for distant shores on stormy crests.