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
Even when flowers are white, they aren’t really white. There’s shades of mauve, pale blue, pale yellow etc. It is a fun exercise to decide how to give volume and a sense of the sunlight using those subtle colours. Interestingly, the buds for these white blooms were pink!
Tom’s poem captures a moment that parallels the feeling of the painting perfectly. Tom has started posting his poems on a website called Hello Poetry. Check out his poems there!
It’s quiet here beneath the waxy leaves
looking through the flowers at the sky
so changeless blue. The faintest summer breeze
stirs the rhododendrons as I lie
within the peaceful darkness, damp and cool.
Voices in the distance, kids at play,
cars along the boulevard hiss by,
furtive couples fumble down the way,
off to learn the meaning of a sigh
by the river’s isolated pool.
I close my eyes and feel the Earth beneath
the world above the universe. I fly
to distant lands where dragons form a wreath
around my life, where magic will not die,
and knights defend the helpless from the cruel.
An energetic explosion of colour! These rhododendrons were glowing and backlit in a photo I took last spring. The sun was even shining through the leaves so painting it seemed like a good antidote for the dull grey days of late fall. For this painting I added Cad red to my palette – it really pops.
Tom has written lots of poems for my flower paintings by now. It’s pretty amazing that he continues to see new things and have original ideas about them to work into poems!
The limbs of planets forming
around a birthing star
glowing in the morning
turning with the bar
of dust and gas and light
that keeps the stars in line:
dying, rising, slight
against a background dark
with empty deathless night.
This is another painting inspired by a visit to a rhododendron garden a month or so ago. It was quite wonderful, colourful, and vibrant. Interestingly, although I decided to leave the bee from my reference photo out, Tom somehow saw it in the painting anyway! Those blooms were certainly inviting to the busy pollinators!
When a bee approaches fecund flowers
along a line so straight and always true
its senses buzz with subtleties and powers
that draw it where sweet blossoms bloom anew
with nectar sweet and pollen rich, inviting
a happy bee to search and find, alighting
upon the petals nearest to the anther,
pirouetting like a tiny dancer
to sweep long hairy legs that catch a load
of all that workers, queens and lazy drones
are craving most within their honeyed homes:
so eagerly she flies the homeward road
leaving far behind the sheltered grove
where blossoms bloom in red and pink and mauve.
It is a crazy beautiful time of year for those who like flowers! Here on the west coast, the rhododendrons make a particularly spectacular show. Recently, we had the occasion to be in Bowen Park in Nanaimo where there is an area dedicated to these bushes. It was a riot of color. There was a wedding party there at the same time having photographs taken – I would have been worried about the flowers upstaging the bride! Anyway, this is not the exact scene as I played with the composition but was strongly inspired by that visit. This was a larger piece for me (16×20) – there was just so much to show!
Here is Tom’s lovely poetic response. I learned a new term this week “ekphrastic poetry” which is poetry particularly written in response to a piece of art. I am honoured that Tom has been regularly providing ekphrastic poetry for my art!
Variations on a theme
of colour, light, and forest shade:
rhododendrons by the stream
bloom beneath the sylvan glade
within the garden where the dark
beneath the leaves hides thrush and lark
who dart and flit and hide from view
but pause to sing a song that’s true
while the gentle breezes blow
and bees abuzz from flower to flower
take the sweet and leave the sour
then back to home and hive they go.
This patch of beauty unalloyed
brings to all a touch of joy.
I had so much fun painting the first “Crow and blooms” that I decided to do another! An incredible burst of rhododendrons is gracing the neighbourhood so they form the backdrop for this crow.
Tom wrote a curious and thought-provoking poem for this crow!
I think perhaps you have assumed
too much about the world at large
so look upon the blousing blooms
and tell yourself, “I am in charge
of everything I can control
and nothing else: the dice may roll
and come up seven, eight, or two
and with that truth I’ve naught to do.”
But when the dice are finally done
then how I ride the winds of chance
or bide my time upon this branch
will be my choice, for lost or won.
For though the wind blows where it might
I will yet rule my turn of flight.
Another in my growing series of small oil paintings of flowers. This one was inspired by pictures I took last year about this time of local flowering bushes. They looked pretty exotic to me with their shiny year round foliage and plump, juicy blooms. I am starting to get used to the different flora here but it still seems a bit strange that it’s now the beginning of spring both on the calendar and for the flowers!
Tom wrote a wonderful poem for this one!
Scarlet dresses sweep and dance
through their brief and heady turn
around the ballroom. They advance
from bud to blossom as they burn
with the blooming life of spring
careless of what summer brings.
For now the moment is their all:
to live as if no Autumn’s fall
will ever mute their colours bright.
Today they reign as princesses
whose beauty n’er diminishes
in the face of time’s swift flight.
Their glow will light all future ways
However short may be their days.