Forest Mystery

Forest Mystery (11″ x 14″ oil on canvas)

This was an intuitive painting inspired by local forest walks but definitely not literal. We do have cascading water falls at this time of year but the foliage is more monochrome green. I livened it up with pinks and reds as if there could be rhododendrons blooming already. A good way to play and warm up at the beginning of a new year.

(C) 2023 Hilary Farmer


Raven Sky

Raven Sky (30″ x 40″ oil on canvas)

I have been working on this larger piece for a while. The colours are more muted than I often use but fit with my mood and the season – late autumn with its short and gloomy days. Ever-present ravens still flap overhead though animating the sky. To my thinking, this painting just shows three or four ravens as they move through time and across space. Details below.

Raven Sky (detail upper left)

Layering oil paint then scraping to reveal colours below results in a sky that glows like an opal.

Raven Sky (detail lower left)

Ravens do like to perch on the very top of the tree!

Raven Sky (detail center bottom)

I love how this glows and the sketchiness of it.

Raven Sky (detail upper right)

Some bird shapes are more subtle than others…

(C) 2022 Hilary Farmer

Blooming at the Edge

Blooming at the Edge (9″ x 12″ oil on panel)

I took photos of an apple tree in bloom by the ocean a while ago and finally decided it needed to be a painting. It seemed so fragile there in a way and yet obviously had been surviving in that location for a long time.

I live on one of the Gulf Islands off Canada’s West coast. After a recent winter storm, we were out of power for about a day. No big deal. We’re used to that. But then, our main (actually only) communications line hit the main power line (both crossing from one island to another) in the wind and ended up in the ocean. No phone land lines, no wifi and very little cell phone service with sporadic access to data …and most importantly – no 911 service. Five days later we got a temporary fix. Anyway, all that to say “Blooming at the Edge” is sometimes a more active struggle than you might think!

(C) 2022 Hilary Farmer

Malaspina Galleries and Descano Bay – November

Malaspina Galleries (8″ x 10″ oil on panel)

The best known tourist attraction on our small Gulf Island is called Malaspina Galleries. This natural sandstone formation dramatically creates an arched room open on the ocean side. You can see there are trees growing on the “roof” above. Some late season fine weather meant I was able to go out painting one afternoon in November with a friend. She had painted here many times before but it was a first for me. It was quite challenging to catch this quirky spot in a painting but I was quite pleased in the end.

Descano Bay – November (8″ x 10″ oil on panel)

It was too nice to just head home after that first painting so we went to another spot nearby. Here, I really wanted to capture the sparkles in the water even though it was pretty blinding! I had to take a peek and then paint for a while then peek again. I was delighted when a family of three paddled into view and stayed around for long enough that I was able to add them to the piece. The canoe and people give a sense of scale and add movement to the scene.

(C) 2022 Hilary Farmer


Migration (7″x10″ oil on Arches oil paper)

I like to paint (with oils) on paper sometimes. With an inexpensive substrate, it feels like there is less pressure to produce something saleable. Here, I was just feeling an autumn mood with dried grasses under foot and birds overhead heading off to somewhere warmer. The sun peers through hazy clouds since we did have some late in the season forest fires in the area. The brushwork is quite loose and you can see that I have also scratched into the paint – often just with the end of the brush.

(C) 2022 Hilary Farmer

Mouse of Winter

“Mouse of Winter” (4″ x 4″ oil on raised panel)

My latest mini. I do love painting these wee ones! Small creatures on small paintings are just the thing to try out new ideas and techniques. Here as well as regular oil paints, I used some R&F pigment sticks of pure oil colour. I also did some scraping and scratching to get the look I wanted.

(C) 2022 Hilary Farmer


“Enduring” (16″ x 20″ oil on canvas)

A new piece inspired by the cliffs and rock formations around where I live. In this case, I have included the cormorants that form seasonal colonies here. From below, it looks like they make their homes on the narrowest ledges. The stone wall also has strange round pockets that seem to make more congenial nesting locations.

A couple of details below.

“Enduring” (detail middle, right)

You can see the shadow of the cormorant in flight on the cliff.

“Enduring” (detail bottom right)

Some fun with splashing surf.

(C) 2022 Hilary Farmer

Solitary Dawn

Solitary Dawn (8″ x 18″ oil on canvas)

This is an imagined landscape but very much inspired by my experiences of exploring the west coast of Canada. Sometimes there are lots of people around, lots of boats but at other times the stillness and feelings of peace and solitude and deep and pervasive. Some details below to give a better idea of the textures and colours.

Detail (far left) Solitary Dawn
Detail (middle) Solitary Dawn
Detail (right) Solitary Dawn

(C) 2022 Hilary Farmer

Former Glory

“Former Glory” (8″ x 10″ oil on panel)

This is an enormous large leaf maple tree with just a matter of time before the limbs that are left fall. In the meantime however, it’s a wonderful subject to paint en plein air. The stark pale grey of the dead tree contrast with autumn colours even on this rather dull day. I also enjoyed the interplay between the shapes of the branches and the movement of the clouds. The hydro poles remind us that there are people around even if the setting looks remote.

(C) 2022 Hilary Farmer