The images for this year’s calendars are all of oil paintings I have done over the past couple of years. Each painting is paired with a poem by TJ Radcliffe written specifically for each work. Being married to a poet has amazing advantages!
Here are some example pages but to see all of them (or to order one while supplies last) go to this link for my website.
The feeling of the warmth and sleepy yet full vitality, of a summer afternoon – blackberry bushes alive with the sounds of bumblebees stocking up on pollen. This painting was finished just in time for my recent open studio and I was delighted at the reactions. The feeling I was trying to convey definitely made its way from eye to heart. That’s the best thing I, as an artist, can hope to achieve!
Maybe it’s the scale (the bees for example are about double life-sized) but the photo does not convey the feeling of the painting very well. That’s always a bit of a problem but for some reason, with this one there’s a bigger difference.
And here is Tom’s delightful poem which riffs on the notion of “the boys of summer”.
The bees of summer take the field
running ’round the diamond flowers
praying that the day will yield
a bounty worthy of their powers
to seek that sweet-spot in the sun
as from base to base they run
always heading back to home
to swing again and go alone
as fast as ever they can fly
gathering the crowd’s applause
who in winter’s frozen pause
will remember warmer skies.
The bees of summer never cease
while the score may still increase.
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.
Well for me this was one of those moments – I saw the shape of the board and a vision formed in my mind of what to paint …and I painted it. There was some evolution as I painted but this is pretty much per my original vision. Happy! She is called Sophia because the name means wisdom.
Without discussing what the painting meant to me with Tom, he came up with a poem that says in words what I hoped to express in paint. To be honest, we never do discuss the paintings before he writes the poetry – sometimes I am amazed and surprised by what he sees, and sometimes like this time, there is a remarkably singular vision.
The Lady of the Lake has seen
the colours of the western sky
where the future’s past has been
as swallows dance and nightjars fly
between the sunset and the dawn
as the silent stars are drawn
so slowly up the vault of heaven
where the will of man is leavened
with the love of woman, strong
whose waits with patience, fortitude,
and just a little attitude,
for time’s result, so ever long.
She knows all things will one day be
in futures bright we cannot see.
I painted this towards the end of summer. The image of these early blue spring flowers had stayed in the back of my mind for months and so I finally got around to painting them. Commonly called blue squill, they are most beautiful as a grouping …like stars scattered in the grass.
Tom’s haiku celebrates their (possible) origin.
fine flower of spring
dreams of far Siberia
beneath warmer suns
Everything at the market is so inspiring at this time of year! I deliberately chose the apples that still had some leaves attached – partly because then I can tell that the apples are really fresh …but mostly because I like to paint the leaves. The wooden bowl I put the apples in has an oval shape – the view is pretty much looking straight down. I painted this alla prima and had lots of fun playing with colour as usual.
Tom wrote a nostalgic feeling poem for this one.
Early mornings on the way to school
in crisp September under shifting skies
I’d pick an apple, hard and tart and cool:
a burst of flavour telling me no lies,
just flooding all my senses with its taste
and texture, scent, and colour, then the crack
of every bite in autumn silence. Haste
devoured it to the core. No looking back
upon a lonely childhood would be fair
without those moments pure and full, delight
in what the world might be, what’s waiting there
for anyone who reaches for a height.
Apples gave us knowledge, so it’s told
Apples gave me beauty, bright and bold.