Andrew (8″ x 10″ oil on Arches Oil Paper)

A portrait of my brother playing the viola. I painted this from photos I took while visiting this past summer. So glad I got to visit family then – no in person family time for Christmas this year. 😦

Anyway, this is an oil sketch on paper but I thought it turned out quite well. I may do a slightly larger one on canvas at some point. He’s a dedicated musician and composer so I am happy to catch something of that combined intensity and ease here.

All the best of the season to everyone and may 2022 be a kinder year for us all.

image (C) 2021 Hilary Farmer

A Writer and his Cat

A Writer and his Cat (8″ x 10″ oil on raised panel)

Somehow I missed posting this painting from last year. The same kitty as in the last post, this was indeed where he spent most of his time helping …and possibly editing. lol

I am reminded of how much I enjoyed both the interior and portrait aspects of this piece. I’d like to do more!

image (C) 2021 Hilary Farmer

Tom contemplates the horizon

Tom contemplates the horizon (8″ x 10″ oil on raised gessoed panel)

I’ve been busy with various things but I’m still painting so here is a portrait of Tom. It was painted in a single session mostly based on a photo I had taken. We were out walking beside the ocean and then stopped for a pause to sit on a bench and enjoy the view. I am pretty pleased with how it turned out with more freedom in my colours and brushwork.

Tom’s poem …well, suits Tom! 😀


image (c) 2019 Hilary Farmer
poem (c) 2019 TJ Radcliffe


Self-portrait (12″x12″ oil on gessoed panel)

Well, it was time to try a self-portrait. There is a likeness and I had fun painting it so as an experiment, I am happy. Maybe I didn’t need to use every colour though – the background is extremely exuberant! 😀

Tom’s poem – written as usual on seeing the painting – surpassed it, turning out more beautiful than the painting. This is another poem that makes me want to follow up with a new painting!

A face to wake to in the morning
rising with the brimming dawn
where adventures are aborning
anywhere that light has shone.
Wryly watching all the beauty,
never shirking artist’s duty,
capturing the world’s strange ways
of being through the summer days.
She paints the beauty of the night,
nor to gaudy day denies
the magic of her loving eyes:
all the world, so clear and bright.
Those eyes that see me in the day
And in the night while firelight plays.

image (c) 2019 Hilary Farmer
poem (c) 2019 TJ Radcliffe

Tom – a portrait

Tom (8″x10″ oil on gessoed wood)

I did this portrait based on a photo from our wedding this summer. What a joyful day! This is the last oil painting I did before packing away the paints for our move. The painting itself is waiting for the last minute in order to be as dry as possible. I was pretty pleased with how this turned out – the likeness is good and there is a loose and fresh quality to the brushwork that I have been having a hard time bringing into portraits.

Tom wrote a poem about the joy of that day …and the joy that continues! ❤

Under the wide and clear blue sky
I speak the truth and do not lie:
glad was my troth and glad is this tye
and to stand beside you is my will.

This be the joy you give to me:
“Here he moves as he longed to be.
Sailing with you across sea
and hiking high on the hill.”

Tom noted – Straight pastiche of Stevenson’s Requiem:
“Tye” means both a knot, and a village green or patch of common land.

image (c) 2018 Hilary Farmer
poem (c) 2018 TJ Radcliffe


today’s doodles – two versions of a portrait

first try - "too realistic"
first try – “too realistic”

Well my friend Tom (who regularly posts poems on my blog) commissioned a portrait in the style of the crows in the previous post. If I haven’t posted for a while, it’s because it’s taken a while to sort out how I might do that. I have never done even a traditional portrait before so this was quite a challenge! The first try above was not as much in the style as Tom was looking for. I was pleased that it actually had a reasonable likeness but then got back to work!

that's more like it!
that’s more like it!

This version is pretty quirky and I think it captures some of the inner Tom. He seems to like it too!
The poem below was part of the original inspiration for the portrait.


I am made of rusty steel
and old sun-hardened leather;
flagellating ligaments
of gut and binder twine.
Behold the man:
an awkward compilation
of inadequate exigencies
unversed in protocol.
Analogue approximations
rule my sovereign deviations
while digital domains complete
halting victory’s defeat.
An adequate attempt at love
is all that I desire;
rough and ready, that’s enough,
a poet’s burning lyre.

images (cc) 2015 Hilary Farmer
poem (c) Tom Radcliffe

painting study – the poet…

the poet - sketch
the poet – sketch

Time to think about a new painting for my class – even though I won’t have time to complete it before the end of the course next week.
This idea came to me when a friend was describing a painting she had seen. The strong image in my head turned out to be very different from the actual painting and I decided that it would be an interesting project to try to make my image into reality.
This one is called “the poet” but is meant to be an imaginary portrait of Li Bai, one of the most – if not the most – famous Chinese poet. Perhaps he is looking too studious… Anyway, it is not an exercise in historical accuracy!

UPDATE: New poem from Tom perfectly captures the mood of the scene and even a bit of the flavour of Li Bai’s poetry!!

Walnut writing desk
rice-wine close at hand

I look down… wondering.
What name evokes “immortal”

yet completes the poet’s rhyme:
“moon’s reflection cold and white”?

(c) 2013 TJ Radcliffe

(cc) 2013 Hilary Farmer

Queen Elizabeth I…3

her regal regalness...

OK, just one more Queen Elizabeth the first… she’s so much fun to draw – what great outfits!

image (cc) 2011 Hilary Farmer

UPDATE: New poem from Tom!

This moment is the legacy
of long uncertain years
from Mother’s own beheading
to Father’s deathbed fears

My brother, sister, soon undone
by the Crown’s cold weight
while in the wings I bided
patient for my fate

To be the Queen of England’s Realm
and in my image shape
this septre’d isle, this seat of Mars,
in Peace be dusty draped

For though the future looms unknown
my youth has taught me well
that war is pointless, wasting lives,
it makes of Heaven, Hell

So though my reign may yet be long
and England’s needs be all
I’ll turn my will and shape my power
to cloak us from war’s fall.

Copyright (C) 2011 Tom Radcliffe

Queen Elizabeth I…2

very regal...

Here she is again… a bit different this time. I’d like to think she’s showing another side of her personality. Let me know if you have a preference! Which version do you like better… or are they just different?

UPDATE: A new poem in from Tom in the comments!  He saw this portrait as showing the moment of being told of Robert Dudley’s death.

“My Queen, the Master of the Horse has fallen,
riding to the baths
in Derbyshire, he’s stumbled, fallen,
gone to God at last.

I bring his breath, his final words
for Royal ears alone:
his thoughts of you, love’s lonely words,
no sins to be atoned.

He said he loved you, always, ever,
yet knew you would not bend:
your Throne is all you need forever,
while his days quickly end.

Yet he asked to be remembered
in your Royal heart
for so long as you’re remembered
though he now must part.

What’s that, my Queen? Yes I will leave
and close the door behind,
and leave you here to softly grieve
your lover warm and kind.”

image (cc) 2011 Hilary Farmer

Queen Elizabeth I…

Her Majesty...

I am trying out some stylistic alternatives using a highly recognizable historical figure as a model… Queen Elizabeth the First was really quite an interesting character and she had to be pretty tough to keep her throne – and her head! This study also happens to be background work for the alternate-history-fantasy-graphic-novel that I am working on with Tom Radcliffe. It is not yet ready to spring upon the unsuspecting world – but we’re working on it!!

image (cc) 2011 Hilary Farmer

UPDATE: New poem in from Tom – see comments for further commentary!

Although this body is a woman’s–weak–
It has the heart and stomach of a king:
A King of England, too. So please do speak
Of all the dangers Rome and Spain will bring
Unto the watered borders of my realm
All girded round by Neptune’s ramparts tall;
A Grand Armada soon will turn its helm
To batter down our Oceanic walls
But though I’m not like Boudicca arrayed
With armoured chariot and iron shield
For God’s true strength I’ve long and chastely prayed;
While England stands her Queen will never yield.
Let come the Spaniard in his ships of war
Let England stand for now and ever-more.

Copyright (C) 2011 Tom Radcliffe