I have been playing with more abstract (and abstract adjacent) painting this year. This one was built up over many layers ending up somewhere between impressionism and abstraction. At some point in the process, the moon appeared in the sky and stayed. The feeling was quite dreamy and more subtle than this photo shows but I can’t get another because it sold quickly.
Tom wrote a delightful sonnet with a rhythm of anapestic tetrameter (like Dr. Seuss) which really suits the mood of the painting.
The farmer’s abed and the Moon is reborn so we’ll dance and we’ll sing from the eve until morn when we’ll lie down exhausted and sleep through the day. In the shadows of grasses and flowers we will lay until the soft darkness ensilvered by stars creeps out of the gloaming and brings us awake to drink from the dew by the light of bright Mars and sip the sweet nectar of flowers ’til we slake our thirst and our hunger. Our bodies adorned with trews made of petals, so silken and gay we’ll jig to a hornpipe like England’s old tars who served that old pirate, Sir Francis the Drake. For we are the Fairest of Folk in this land obeying no law but the bright Moon’s command.
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.
A huge glorious morning glory climbing on my parent’s porch railing …I was feeling like painting just one large bloom and this suited my purposes beautifully. It was curiously striped instead of being solid blue like the “heavenly blue” variety but had its own charm and I had fun playing with the composition and background.
As usual, Tom’s take on the image is beautiful in its own right! He tells me this is a standard sonnet form with a Pushkin rhyme scheme …just because.
Rosette of morning, opening to spring
proudly bearing witness to the fact
that winter’s end is definitely a thing
and summer’s pouring through the cataract
of time as warming days turn into weeks:
over the horizon Solstice peeks
through foliage entangled in the trees
and swayed by gentle summer’s zephyr-breeze.
Each day is met with petals opening wide
to all that hours of sunlight may yet bring
into the fields where climbing vines all cling
to posts and trees with nothing left to hide.
The summer brings us all to bare our all
To dance like flowers knowing not the fall.
Recently, I have been finding inspiration in unusual places – such as William Morris wallpaper. The patterns can be mesmerizing. I was looking at one before I painted this and while there is something of the underlying structure there, the painting quickly took over with its own voice.
For a painting that looks so light and airy, Tom found a dark side to explore in his poem.
When the guns have fallen still
no missiles scream across the sky
then will flowers cross the sill
and go in search of reasons why
through all the empty world’s expanse
where no lovers meet nor glance
in secret trysts or wedding bands
across the burned and barren lands
over oceans, through the air
around the world and back again
from pole to pole through all terrain
but finding no good reasons there.
No reasons will the future yield
While flowers blow in empty fields.
This abstracted floral was inspired by a photo I took on a recent visit to Victoria. What amazing gardens they have at this time of year! …well from now until September really. Great gardening climate. As you can likely tell by looking at it, I took a lot of liberties painting very loosely and feeling free with it. An impression of something can feel even more real than a photograph in some ways and that’s what I am working on achieving.
Tom has written a sonnet for this one that gives more scope for thought!
This riotous intensity of life
this flowing force of beauty growing tall
this moment of reality, a slice
of time: this Garden does not fail or fall
but bursts forthright upon the worldly stage
to teach the innocent, unlearn the sage
arrest a glance and free the troubled mind
overwhelm the proud, reward the kind.
This Garden waits for all who wander lost
across the empty spaces, forests, fields,
searching for the treasure that time yields
although their lives be rough and tempest tost.
Not somewhere after death is our reward
but here and now in beauty’s soft accord.
I was happy to get back to the easel after being out of town for a few days. This is another in my abstracted botanical-fantasy series.
I love Tom’s sonnet for this one …and I’m seeing my own painting with fresh eyes after reading it! (The painting’s title comes from the last line.)
The leaves of night unfold behind
the sunshine of this summer’s day:
beyond blue sky the stars await…
when evening comes they’ll have their say
on matters deep and manners mild;
on things domestic, also wild;
on blossoms speaking truth to power
gently swaying in their bower
reminding Night of Day’s domain
for starlight is but Day afar
on other worlds ’round distant stars
where damsels woo their swains.
Balanced ‘tween the dark and light
Bright flowers bloom on summer nights.
I find some flowers especially challenging to paint and roses are one of those! Here I tried something more experimental with colour and paint application.
Since these are single-petaled roses, they were not the same challenge as with the regular double-petaled type. I love old-fashioned single-petaled roses. They have a sweet simplicity and usually an amazing scent.
Tom’s wonderful sonnet started by channeling Shakespeare and then quickly went off all his own way!
A rose by any name at all
would still delight a poet’s nose
by putting out its scented call,
to blossom bright and be his Muse.
A simple burst of complex colour
pink and red and maybe yellow
dancing in the foliage
sans pluie et sans la neige:
spring’s eternal budding flower
thorny-sharp and softly scented
in the winter much lamented
for its deep entrancing power.
A rose by any other name
Would still set our hearts aflame.
Water colour has transformed the black and white mandala. There are so many ways this could be done that sometimes it is hard to choose but this time, the colour palette and rendering of the single large flower behind the drawing was in my mind from the beginning …a carefree feeling of summer meadows.
In colour, it is much easier to see the dainty hoverflies. While mimicking the appearance of bees for self-protection, they are stingless. To give an idea of scale, the overall mandala is 8″ in diameter so the yellow centre with all the intricate details is less than 3″ across and the hoverfly is about 1/4″ long which is about full scale – although they do vary in size by species.
Here is Tom’s new sonnet for the colour version. Wonderful!
find the flower soft within the flower
rising moon behind the open fields
where the nightingale sings o’re the bower
of his lover, dreaming as she yields
to seductive songs of other climes:
promises of joy complete, fulfilled
by the long result of flowing time
down the river, through the hollow hills
where ancient magics deep within the Earth
stir, arise from endless eon’s sleep,
go whispering along the banks in mirth
a spell is spoke, a promise made to keep
Beneath the moon two lovers eyes alight
Upon each other, daisies in the night
Back to full on summer (well the last gasp of summer anyway) with daisies! They are such a happy flower to my mind. I started this one with a Celtic love knot in the centre and worked my way from more abstract in the middle to more naturalistic at the edges. I love to add some fauna to these mandalas but was wondering what different insect to choose this time. Can you find them? There are two tiny hover flies – or flower flies – lurking in the petals. Cute little pollinators! They will show up more clearly once the mandala has been painted. There’s one in the detail below.
Tom has written a wonderful new sonnet for this one. 🙂 He often sees quite different things than I do in these mandalas so it is exciting to see his poem that accompanies, seeming just right, without mirroring exactly.
Radiating energy abounds
from out the core so dense and dark and deep
sinusoidal synergies surround
oscillations making quantum leaps
from stem to stamen, fecund in the sun
anthers fat with lakhs of silent seed
hieroglyphic human hearts are one
while triple-stems lift blossoms high to feed
the insects buzzing lazy through the air
searching out sweet nectar to devour
spreading pollen here and also there
casually ensuring all the flowers
will not be lost too soon in time’s great well
but in the fields the daisies still will dwell.
A new mandala! Back to one of my favourite themes …trees! This time I used a division of ten for the first time – usually it’s eight or twelve. To me, it has an innocent Garden of Eden feeling – before the bite.
A apple waits in the centre of each tree…
Tom’s sonnet inspired by the image takes on a medieval feeling.
deep within the beating heart of trees
open spaces open invitation
to a knight who rides the land so free
and a maid of bold clear-eyed temptation
spreading limbs and roots within the grove
leafy shadows dapple dance and quaver
as a gust sweeps through the central trove
leaving them in silence while they savor
gasping moments breathing in the sound
hearing sights and tasting touch beside
each other lying on the welcome ground
the grass beneath a slowly rising tide
sunlight paints their naked innocence
hearts and minds in pure coincidence
image (c) 2017 Hilary Farmer
poem (c) 2017 Tom Radcliffe