Early in September I went out with my gear and found another local beauty spot. It was really hot that day! I was glad to find a bit of shade to set up in. The challenge as usual with plein air painting was to catch the light quickly – as well as the colour of the water and the shapes and locations of the clouds before everything changes. The result is less detailed but fresher and more dynamic than working from a photo.
Here is Tom’s poem which at first seems to be for another scene but wait for it – the final couplet tells the tale.
In summer gales these waters roil as wind and tide and waves contend for who shall make the sailor’s toil the worst. And who shall best unmend the flapping canvas, spliced up rope, a bimini not made to cope with gusts that come from angles all around the compass. Masts might fall as waves come in from every point. The bow is bounced, the stern is slewed, the sky with clouds ascudding’s strewed as the sea tests every joint. But in the calm it lies serene as if those storms were never seen!
Having bought some sunflowers at the market back at the end of August, I had to paint them of course. I decided to use extra thick and juicy brushstrokes a la Van Gogh. Sunflowers just seem to want that approach.
Tom wrote a haiku that gets to the heart of the painting in so few words.
transient fires burn triumvirate of blossoms brighten summer days
I have been playing with more abstract (and abstract adjacent) painting this year. This one was built up over many layers ending up somewhere between impressionism and abstraction. At some point in the process, the moon appeared in the sky and stayed. The feeling was quite dreamy and more subtle than this photo shows but I can’t get another because it sold quickly.
Tom wrote a delightful sonnet with a rhythm of anapestic tetrameter (like Dr. Seuss) which really suits the mood of the painting.
The farmer’s abed and the Moon is reborn so we’ll dance and we’ll sing from the eve until morn when we’ll lie down exhausted and sleep through the day. In the shadows of grasses and flowers we will lay until the soft darkness ensilvered by stars creeps out of the gloaming and brings us awake to drink from the dew by the light of bright Mars and sip the sweet nectar of flowers ’til we slake our thirst and our hunger. Our bodies adorned with trews made of petals, so silken and gay we’ll jig to a hornpipe like England’s old tars who served that old pirate, Sir Francis the Drake. For we are the Fairest of Folk in this land obeying no law but the bright Moon’s command.
This is a plein air painting from August. The sun was high and warm reflecting back all kinds of glorious colours in the water. I captured a couple of sailboats at anchor as well as a few floating markers. The mountains of the mainland are in the distance. I have a lovely memory of the day when I look at this.
Tom wrote a thoughtful poem that speaks of times long gone the results of which still impact us today.
Upon a time a Spaniard passed this way anchoring and sending out a brace of boats to sound the waters all around the quiet bay where otter, seals, and cod could still be found. The shore was all alive with other eyes that watched the strange great ships and wondered where they had first tasted of sea. What skies had witnessed their emergence from their lair? Dark ravens cocked and turned upon the wind Dark rhymes were brewing in the human heart Dark beneath the summer sky the sins of darkness drove the worlds apart. The ships sailed on, left chaos in their wake and broken words that promises forsake.
I painted this one for a specific local show which isn’t until January but I wanted to make sure it would be dry in lots of time for varnishing. All the paintings in the show will be the same format (12″ x 12″) and the same price but all different styles and subjects. I really hope mine appeals to someone …who doesn’t like waterlilies, right?!
Tom wrote a poem for this one about the power of illusions.
Some days I think that I could walk across the mirror-surface of this lily-pond stepping on the stones of green and gloss all my weight supported by the fronds of floating pads. Their vines are columns, stone could not provide as much support or strength as their living sinews, summer-grown from roots and stems, prodigious in length. Could I not walk on water, dance on air? Could I not just this once defy the laws? Could I not touch the face of one so fair? Could I not have effect without a cause? Some days there are illusions that have power But none so great as one strong lily’s flower.
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.
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
This is the next in my abstract explorations. There is play with depth and texture as well as colour (of course). It makes me think of a hot end-of-summer day …but it’s cool in the woods.
Tom’s poem takes a different and perhaps darker path with references to: [Proverbs, 4:16-17 “For they sleep not, except they have done mischief; and their sleep is taken away, unless they cause some to fall. For they eat the bread of wickedness, and drink the wine of violence.”
When in the middle of my life I found myself within a darkened wood though lit by faerie lights that floated up and over trees mysterious. Their shapes were strange and unfamiliar, hung with vines that grow the grapes from whence a famous vintage will be pressed yclept the wine of violence in the Book. I do not taste them as I softly pass along the shadowed paths that wend their way between the gnarled trunks. I do not eat, nor drink from rills that run between the roots as deeper down I go. The woods are silent, dark, and deep… You know the rest, I think, but I pass by, upon the other side.