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.
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
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.
This painting was built up in many layers working daily over about two weeks. It looks nothing like its early iterations transforming quite radically from what I thought I was painting at first. The title comes from the subtle figure in the middle of the painting which I didn’t even see until I had decided the painting was finished. I have never painted anything like this before – it was fascinating to see it emerge.
Tom wrote a poem for this piece that transcends and enriches the painting. Thank you.
I am the whisper that you do not hear
I am a ripple through the summer leaves
Too close to see because I’m standing near
Too far to touch my simple floral sleeve
Now come with me upon a journey outward
Now come with me to where you’ve never been
Soft breezes quiver as you look to windward
Soft breezes waft a scent that is not seen
I’m all around you walking on the surface
I’m all there is and all there’ll ever be
There is no way to show you my true purpose
There is no way for you to not be free
I am the voice of thunder and of flame
I am the sacred utterance of my name
Tom says references for this poem include: a gnostic poem called “Thunder, Perfect Mind”, “The Waste Land” (what the thunder said, o you who look to windward…), and Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol”, image of touching the sleeve of a ghost to go on a journey.
I have been playing more with acrylics lately than I have for a long time. Feeling experimental! This peonies in a vase composition was painted from my imagination using lots of layering, mark-making and impasto – another piece that felt very freeing.
Tom’s haiku is a perfect accompaniment!
cut blossom glass vase
petals falling in the sun
lazy summer morn
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.
These current times have me experimenting more with my art for some reason. Anyway, this is painted in acrylic which I haven’t done much with for a few years. It felt more playful and less “pressure-y” which was what I needed! And it turned out to be playful too – no surprises there! Acrylic dries so fast that if you decide a colour or shape isn’t working, you can paint over it almost right away. So different from both oils and watercolour.
Tom found inspiration for a very dynamic poem here! He adds some background information in case you’re wondering – like I did – what the heck that word means:
Thylakoids–which sound like they should be some kind of creature on
Edgar Rice Borough’s “Barsoom” (Mars)–are the structure within
chloroplasts where the light-dependent reactions that almost all life on
Earth ultimately depends on take place.
Storms of summer, raging light
crashing down as photic waves
sweep the beaches of the night
and shift dark beasts within their caves:
the sleeping thylakoids are roused
by the light in which they’re doused.
They ride the surges, open wide,
absorb the roaring solar tide
and feel some energy within
as bonds are broken and remade
within this bright and sunny glade,
a garden without sin
where simple surfaces abound
but deep beneath the truth is found.