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.
These current times have me experimenting more with my art for some reason. Anyway, this is painted in acrylic which I haven’t done much with for a few years. It felt more playful and less “pressure-y” which was what I needed! And it turned out to be playful too – no surprises there! Acrylic dries so fast that if you decide a colour or shape isn’t working, you can paint over it almost right away. So different from both oils and watercolour.
Tom found inspiration for a very dynamic poem here! He adds some background information in case you’re wondering – like I did – what the heck that word means:
Thylakoids–which sound like they should be some kind of creature on
Edgar Rice Borough’s “Barsoom” (Mars)–are the structure within
chloroplasts where the light-dependent reactions that almost all life on
Earth ultimately depends on take place.
Storms of summer, raging light
crashing down as photic waves
sweep the beaches of the night
and shift dark beasts within their caves:
the sleeping thylakoids are roused
by the light in which they’re doused.
They ride the surges, open wide,
absorb the roaring solar tide
and feel some energy within
as bonds are broken and remade
within this bright and sunny glade,
a garden without sin
where simple surfaces abound
but deep beneath the truth is found.
We went for a walk on New Year’s Day in a park by the ocean. There were a number of others out taking advantage of the pleasant day on a holiday as well with lots of shared smiles and well-wishes for the New Year.
This was a bit of an experiment. I knew that I wanted to paint the scene and took several photos but I wasn’t sure if any were quite right. Half way through painting it, I thought – that’s not working! The composition had looked interesting in a small photo but in the painting instead of drawing me in, I was just aware of the vast expanse of boring foreground. Adding more detail and texture to the grass, rocks and logs seems to have been enough to solve that problem and I like it now. Having some small figures in the scene gives a sense of scale and reminds me of traditional Chinese landscape paintings where there is almost always a figure going about their life in the distance.
Tom’s poem expresses how well he knows the coasts and seasons here.
These are the crooked roads we walk
wet, muddy, by the shore
where trees are bent by slow incessant summer winds
and empty winter gales.
Their cousins lie in serried ranks
along the rocky shore
tossed by tides and angry waves from distant isles
come to rest at last.
We walk on in silence strong
secure upon this shore
while beneath the winter scudding clouds the sea
lies calm in patient peace.
Another painting inspired by this past summer’s trip to Desolation Sound, a beautiful place of infinite variety.
Tom’s poem celebrates the the place, the wildlife and the light …and the experience of being there. (Note that “nightjar” is another name for a nighthawk, an insectivore that darts about in the late evening catching its dinner.)
Clouds that wander high and bright
above the forest of the night
where nightjars nest and eagles fly
beneath the ever-changing sky
over waters cold and deep
where octopi and fishes sleep
and dolphins dance while whales progress
as summer breezes soft caress
the trees and islands, rocks and sea,
where in the cove we are set free
from common care and daily grind,
easing soul and freeing mind
to wander wide and ever bright
beyond the forest of the night
where nightjars nest and eagles fly
beneath the changeless evening sky.
An exploration of the ocean and mountains at Desolation Sound. I mentioned in a previous post about the amazing beauty there and I will no doubt continue trying to capture it. So far, I feel Tom’s lovely poem is much more evocative of this magical place.
There are no mountains, nor a sea,
nor any forests, green and deep,
but these that beckon, calling me
to pause within their sheltered keep
like a knight on olden fields
who wanders, fighting, never yields,
but battered on he travels still
seeking peace beside a rill
or stream where might a hart bound by
leaving stillness in its wake,
where the knight may bend and slake
his thirst for beauty where the sky
glows in beauty over trees
below the mountains, by the sea.
We took a trip up the coast of British Columbia this summer to a place of great beauty called Desolation Sound. Keeping in mind how many extraordinary places there are around, this was still almost unbelievable.
These two little watercolours were the only paintings I did on site. I don’t know – maybe I was too busy soaking it all in but I am glad I at least I did these sketches. They do give the feeling of the sunlight and the scale of the cliffs and trees around the clove where we moored our sailboat. (Yes, I feel very lucky.)
I am sure there will be more paintings coming from memories of this trip.
As Tom’s poem so wonderfully evokes, we shared this place with many other creatures.
Stepping stones of giants climb
long pathways to the summer sky
where slow vultures dream in time
as eagles pass kingfishers by
before they circle down to land
in treetops reaching high, they stand
above the surface of the bay
where the sunlight dances, plays
with breezes blowing from the Sound.
Water ripples, calms again,
in warming depths the fishes claim
no better place was ever found.
I drift upon the waters, free
of care beneath the cliffs and trees.
Based on a view from the ferry between Vancouver and Victoria. At that time in the evening, the islands you pass look dark and mysterious. The strait was smooth, reflecting the dying light as it leaked through the clouds …a moment of transition in space and time.
Tom’s extremely quirky poem …well just read it!
The sea lies calm between the rocky shores
capturing the sun’s last golden rays:
bright Day is ending, “Leave them wanting more”
she whispers as she slips away, off stage
to take off makeup, rest and smoke a fag,
while gossiping with Dawn and watching Dusk
who entertains the punters in her rags
of scattered cloud and twilight ’til she’s thrust
into the wings by Night’s commanding step
onto the boards, her retinue of stars
all keeping time until the moon has crept
up through the trap to shine, so high and far.
Day stubs her smoke and goes off to her bed
To dream of Dawn and inhibitions shed.
The look of my blog will be changing soon! I am updating it in preparation for coordinating with my NEW WEBSITE! I am super excited that it’s almost ready to launch. There will be a post soon with a link.
I really loved how the quality of light and the grandeur of the sky came across with this one. This is a view of English Bay from around Kitsilano Beach. I took some liberties with the colours enhancing them to give the feeling of that glorious sky.
Tom’s poem paints the scene with words.
as above, so too below
waters burnished by the glow
of golden sunset falling down
wreathing islands with a crown
of cloud and light as evening falls
while some distant seagull calls
across the waters calm and deep
where the day in silence sleeps
While “enjoying” the cold and dark and damp, something that keeps me going is the memory of long summer days …and especially those spent on the water. What a peaceful joy that can be!
I think Tom agrees!
safe within the bay’s deep arms
sheltered from the storms and harms
of weather wild and rough deep seas
crashing somewhere to the lee
against the shores of distant isles
separated by the miles
of empty ocean, scudding wastes
far from here, this sheltered place
where there’s time for pause and rest
until again the sea’s behest
beckons us to raise our sails
and ride the waves in summer gales