Painting birds is so joyful for me so I wanted to revisit the varied thrush but this time in oils. This piece was not painted alla prima. I let the first layer dry and then was able to scratch through to some of the bright under-painting where I wanted. Check out near the bird’s claws for example. I was quite pleased with the balance between representing something real and having an abstracted feeling. There is a very free feeling in that colourful background.
Here is Tom’s poem that goes with this painting. He actually wrote this one separately from the painting but it turned out to be perfect for it!
Branches glow like ladder-rungs up, up the trunk in springtime sun: a thrush alights upon the bark, it’s orange breast a joyful spark of colour after winter’s grey that ushers in the brighter days.
I started doing a fun series of birds in December and posted one per day for the “Twelve Days of Christmas” with a short poem from Tom for each. Apparently, I couldn’t quite stop so here is one more.
One day in late December, our yard was visited by dozens of Varied Thrushes. I didn’t grow up with these birds so they are surprising and especially delightful to me. Of course, I needed to paint one to add to my seasonal birds. This piece of paper was a bit bigger than the others so I had even more scope for abstract play in the background.
And here is Tom’s poem!
A variation on a theme of joy that darts through lambent colours of the wood beneath the winter sun. A spirit buoyed by all in life that’s gentle, kind, and good.
I have been continuing experimentation with abstracts both in acrylics and oils. Because acrylics dry so quickly, I can build up many, many layers in a shorter time than oils. As a result, I tend to keep going for even more layers building up, scraping away, and making decisions about what stays and what gets painted over. It’s an evolution over two or more weeks for these. So different from my alla prima oils! Anyway, this one started off very different but ended up with (for me) an under the sea feeling. Others will no doubt see other things.
Tom’s poetic take on it is similar but goes back …well, to the beginning.
Bubbles burning up the fecund deep,
champagne reef a-swirl with venting gas,
primordial and proto quickly meet:
proto-cell and protoplasm fast
entangled in the ancient ocean depths
where chemistry and magic both combined
into something new, a broom that swept
the world with pulsing, growing, greasy slime
whose cells are now ancestral to us all,
whose origins are lost in bubbly chaos,
whose evolution made it great and small,
whose imperfections still come back to slay us.
We all began in beauty, vibrant, dark…
Partaking of that lost and vital spark.
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.
This one was quite experimental for me. I did not use my usual transparent under layer method and was playing with some different colours. Like the previous painting this one was from my imagination …but it sure took an unusual direction!
Tom saw a whole different world within my painting and wrote this poem!
A wooden door is built into the wall
of dry-stacked stone that bounds the little lane
between the elf-mounds. Curious, and small,
the door’s ajar, a gate to other planes.
The wood is grey and weathered, like the stones
which grow with moss and lichen, ancient rime.
I put an eye up to the gap. Alone
I’ve wandered here, beyond my proper time.
A face shows by a hollow in the dusk,
someone familiar, yet so far away…
I turn and see the lane-way, feel I must
continue on my journey. I can’t stay.
Above the stars are pentagons of light
while I walk on, across the fields of night.