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!
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.
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
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.
Has it really been this long? I guess it has! Well it has been a very busy spring (now summer) but happily I managed to squeeze in a plein air painting workshop – something I’ve been wanting to do for a while. Charles Vinh, who I have taken other classes with, led the two day workshop. It was lovely to spend that much time outside painting and the weather was great even if we did have to postpone day two for one week due to rain.
The first spot we chose to set up was on a small path by a pond surrounded by rushes and willows. I enjoyed the challenge of making the texture of the oil paint as watery as possible. Step one was to get the dark layer that could be painted over later.
The water was much too blue compared to reality after the first day so on day two, the water became a more realistic greeny-brown and details were added creating the feeling of a warm summer day by a pond.
The second painting was started on the first day in the afternoon. The second site also had some water – yeah! There were also some particularly beautiful trees.
On the second afternoon, details and highlights were added including the reddish blossoms on the larger tree. Here the atmosphere is hazy and warm.
Not sure when I will get out to do this again but the workshop has definitely given me the confidence and the appetite for more – I highly recommend it. Happy painting! (or any outdoor summer activity really 🙂
paintings (cc) Hilary Farmer 2015
UPDATE: Lovely summery sonnet and Wind in the Willows homage from Tom via the comments to go with the paintings. Thanks Tom!
Layered days laid down upon a base
of gessoed canvas plain and bare and pale
capturing a glimpse of nature’s face
between the gentle hill and watered dale
where perhaps a duck or two might lurk…
a mole or water rat might hold the bank,
like the lilies, daily sweat they shirk
yet still they stand in front of all the ranks
of creatures who inhabit paradise
today, tomorrow, down the fall of time,
when this pond is covered by the ice
of winter still they’ll dwell in beauty’s prime.
A summer’s day encoded in this oil
will live beyond the season’s mortal coil.