The view from here

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The view from here (16″ x 20″ oil on archival gessoboard)

The world has changed a lot in a few short weeks …weeks that have felt very, very long. I want to continue posting images that reflect joy and beauty as I see it, but there are obvious challenges given the situation.

After the lockdown started where we are, it took a week or so for me to get into a headspace where I could start painting again. What came out was not a specific view, but reflected both the landscape here and my feeling of how surreal the unchanged local beauty seems in this context as well as the feeling of connectedness within separation of this time. This painting was not an alla prima piece. I kept coming back over several days layering paint until I achieved something close to the vision I had.

Tom as usual responded to the painting with a deeply beautiful poem.

Trees at Twilight

Behind the trees a secret lies
that whispers on the evening light
that speaks of other times and skies
before the day becomes the night…
as brightness falls the air is still
behind the forest, where the will
of Nature rules the tides and time
to make of this a place sublime
where the truth that can’t be spoken
drifts across the twilight sea
dipping deep to set us free
of all our yesterdays unbroken.
These silent sentinels behold
more beauty than is known or told.

image (c) 2020 Hilary Farmer
poem (c) 2020 TJ Radcliffe

Spring marsh

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Spring marsh (8″ x 10″ oil on raised panel)

Continuing the “wetscape” series reveling in Spring wet places. The sun was out and so reflections, shadows and transparency were all there to be explored. Curious as well as familiar plants were on show, while the bottom mud glowed in warm tones.

Tom’s poem takes a remote – one could say alien – observer point of view …I love it!

Report from the Away Team

This planet’s flora: great variety
is found among the forests of the north
along the margins where society
has left alone some places of great worth.
The survey team was beamed down to a spot
that isn’t quite unsullied, but has been
protected from the worst of wrack and rot
that permeates so much of what is seen
in other places. Strange bold life-forms grow
in waters rich with nutrients. They are
exotic, most unusual, we know
of nothing like this, far among the stars.
To summarize: there’s something here, unique,
full clothed in beauty, which of beauty speaks.

image (c) 2020 Hilary Farmer
poem (c) 2020 TJ Radcliffe

From the boardwalk

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From the boardwalk (8″ x 10″ oil on raised gessoed panel)

I am feeling really inspired right now by what I am calling “wetscapes”. This time of year, at least here on the West coast, the ditches are full of rain water and the marshes are overflowing with water and happy ducks, frogs and other signs of spring life. New green grasses are starting to push up through last fall’s dried out stems and dainty sprigs of trailing plants lightly touch the water. Add to that, the reflections, shadows and transparency of the water itself and I could keep on this theme for some time!

Here is Tom’s wonderful poem which parallels the painting so perfectly!

Brightness, darkness, falling both
softly from the spring-time air
teasing dormant life to growth
turning green the golden hair
of grasses dried and brittle now
to the Pleiades they bow
in thanks for rain, which brings new life
to pools and ditches, dark and rife
with strange concoctions, shadowed roots,
tendrils fine exploring through
the muddy depths to find a new
embankment where they push up shoots.
Brightness falls, the rains of spring
Closing now the season’s ring.

image (c) 2020 Hilary Farmer
poem (c) 2020 TJ Radcliffe

Sea urchins

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Sea urchins (8″ x 8″ oil on raised gesso board)

This is part of another tidal pool. (I’ve painting a couple before – like this one.) There are always fascinating creatures to see. I love how the sea urchins look like purple flowers.

Tom’s delightful poem was inspired by my painting and also this little video that shows the life cycle of the sea urchin …I had no idea!

A journey of a thousand leagues
once ended on this rocky beach
where larvae lost and sore fatigued
sank below while seagulls screeched
and minnows darted as the waves
swept the larvae, small and brave
across the reefs to sheltered spots
where they clung to fecund rocks
so ripe with seaweed, all they need
to grow into an urchin there
protected by their spiky hair
until it’s time for them to breed
and send new larvae on their quest
for distant shores on stormy crests.

image (c) 2020 Hilary Farmer
poem (c) 2020 TJ Radcliffe

Geometric abstract

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Geometric abstract (6″ x 6″ oil on raised panel)

This one was quite experimental for me. I did not use my usual transparent under layer method and was playing with some different colours. Like the previous painting this one was from my imagination …but it sure took an unusual direction!

Tom saw a whole different world within my painting and wrote this poem!

A wooden door is built into the wall
of dry-stacked stone that bounds the little lane
between the elf-mounds. Curious, and small,
the door’s ajar, a gate to other planes.
The wood is grey and weathered, like the stones
which grow with moss and lichen, ancient rime.
I put an eye up to the gap. Alone
I’ve wandered here, beyond my proper time.
A face shows by a hollow in the dusk,
someone familiar, yet so far away…
I turn and see the lane-way, feel I must
continue on my journey. I can’t stay.
Above the stars are pentagons of light
while I walk on, across the fields of night.

image (c) 2020 Hilary Farmer
poem (c) 2020 TJ Radcliffe

Rose fantasia

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Rose fantasia (8″ x 8″ oil on raised panel)

This piece was straight from my imagination and pure play. I love these colours and the way the roses are starting to dissolve into the background.

Tom’s poem is as fantastical as the painting! It could be the seed of a wonderful story and yet it’s enough as it is.

“Why must we learn the art of flower making?”
asked the Acolyte. The Master smiled.
The Acolyte went on, “Are we not breaking
the Rule that time is wasted, minds beguiled,
by the frivolous? We reproduce
what Nature does much better. Why is that?”
“Because we find it is an art of use,”
the Master said. He laid a book down flat
and gently tore a page, forbidden text,
that criticized the Emperor and told
the truth about his tyranny’s effects,
written by a monk, now dead, once bold.
Dyed pages made the flower blossoms glow
So in the future scholars might yet know.

image (c) 2020 Hilary Farmer
poem (c) 2020 TJ Radcliffe

Pinks plus bee (3 times)

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Pinks plus bee – 1 (6″ x 6″ oil on raised gesso board)
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Pinks plus bee – 2 (6″ x 6″ oil on raised panel)
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Pinks plus bee – 3 (6″ x 6″ oil on raised panel)

Well I don’t usually paint the same subject multiple times but I thought there could be something to learn doing this – and I was preparing for a live demo. This was the first time for me really doing painting as performance art. It ended up being really fun! 😀

The first time I painted it, I realized I was too slow and that I really needed to speed it up to maintain interest …and there wouldn’t be enough time available. So I painted the second one almost twice as fast. The background in particular is much looser as a result in the second one. The third painting above is from the live demo. I did a few touch-ups when I got home but not much actually. Since I was talking and answering questions throughout, it did take some focus and time away from painting. However, I think I was able to show my method and the art group was very engaged and appreciative of the presentation. Happy Day! …and each painting has a cute little bee that is a bit different in each one.

Curious if you have a favourite painting!

Tom had something to say in poetic form about the process …and he is certainly right!

An artist cannot paint the same
picture over, once again,
for the scene has shifted, changed,
and she has moved along the chain
of time from link to golden link
while the sun down blue skies sinks
toward the far horizon lost
as by winds the flowers tossed
change their aspect and their guise
from bright to pale and pale to bright,
tame to wild and wild to right,
each walks with beauty in her eyes
for as she changes day by day
the flowers grow and turn and sway.

images (c) 2020 Hilary Farmer
poem (c) 2020 TJ Radcliffe