Blossom, branch and sky – oil painting

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blossom, branch and sky

This one was experimental in terms of subject and composition. Starting from a photograph (thanks again Claire!) I manipulated the placement and angles and edited the elements down to what I thought best expressed the feeling I was trying to convey. Happy with that aspect! While the photo was showing blossoms in Taiwan, the blossoming cherry trees here in Vancouver have been a wonderful part of my introduction to living here.

And here is Tom’s sonnet for the painting. Too bad the painting doesn’t have the scent of the actual blossoms – but after reading the poem you’ll think it does! πŸ˜‰

in the core of springtime dwells the flower
bud upon the long enleafened branch
waiting for the bee to grace her bower
releasing pollen’s fecund avalanche
into the cool clear dewy air of morning
to fall through quiet, wafting on the breeze
life itself on zephyrs now aborning
carrying sweet scents from flowered trees
down the city streets and neighbourhoods
across the boulevards and avenues
crying out the joy of cherrywoods
as just the thing to heal a life askew
Early morning joggers pause and breathe
the gift of springtime from the morning trees

image (c) 2017 Hilary Farmer
poem (c) 2017 Tom Radcliffe

expressive mask mandala…

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expressive mask mandala

Well, this has to be one of the stranger mandalas I have done so far! It started with an idea about six faces integrated and separated by the Celtic knots. The last thing to be added were the six small faces. I am not sure what they represent – one’s conscience? ancestors? descendants? imps? There may be no single meaning to the various faces and expressions so the viewer can overlay their own meaning.

Here’s Tom’s poetic take on it which took a darker, allegorical turn.

Subtleties of secular expression
each in opposition to the other
balancing the soul’s intense progression
’round the stations of my truest lover:
steady, saddened, joyous, shocked, concerned.
contemplative of her soul’s possession
of a body ruffed by wreathen ferns
wondering at time’s unchecked succession.
Anger fading to annoyance then
acceptance, understanding, contemplation,
wryly knowing all that one may ken
of the centre’s subtle conflagration.
The mystery of mysteries remains
Yet still we stand, defending life’s domain.

image (c) 2017 Hilary Farmer
poem (c) 2017 Tom Radcliffe

spring lake edge mandala…

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spring lake edge mandala

As usual the colour really transforms the black and white mandala. The palette for this one was particularly spring-y with the greens and purples. I almost lost the minnows but you can still see them swimming in the shallows. πŸ™‚ Makes me want to take a ramble down to the lake’s edge and see if the blue flags are blooming yet!

Tom wrote another special sonnet for this water-coloured version. Once again the poetry brings out a shared yet different vision together making a complete piece of art.

there is an island in the empty sea
its shores awash with waves from distant climes
overcoming reefs to strike the lee
crashing up against a wall of time
through the coastal swamp to higher ground
through the jungle toward the living centre
through the wilding spaces that astound
through the gates where only lovers enter
to the secret hiding at the core
where flowers grow within a tangled thicket
opening to all the world and more
guarded by a knot of wicker pickets
at the centre motion comes to rest
lovers laugh at time’s uncertain jest

image (c) 2017 Hilary Farmer
poem (c) 2017 Tom Radcliffe

water’s edge weavings mandala…

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water’s edge weavings

The ink stage is finished for the latest mandala. This one was inspired by the blue flags that are a typical spring flower where I grew up. They are beautiful and somewhat rare in my experience finding their place right on the edge between the rocks of the Canadian Shield and the water of the lake. As with most of the mandalas I have been drawing, there are embedded Celtic knots and at least one animal playing off the symmetry – in this case three minnows and a dragonfly.

Tom has written a beautiful sonnet that echoes and deepens the image.

rippled lobes that move forever outward
curving through the waters of the form
spars that bend beyond the point of breaking
yet still hold together through the storm
knots entwined in paradoxes folding
over depths concentrically excited
spherical harmonics tessellating
surfaces by shadow now ignited
into beauty changelessly in motion
always fixed but never standing still
echoing the memory of an ocean
deep beneath where silence drinks its fill

a universe encompassed in a jewel
by the water’s edge: a forest pool

image (c) 2017 Hilary Farmer
poem (c) 2017 Tom Radcliffe

the light of Provence …oil painting

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the light of Provence

The focus here was to achieve the feeling of a sunlit day in Provence – the dance of the dappled light and the happy flowers below the window.

Tom’s sonnet for this painting imagines being behind that window. Lovely!

Light among the shadows hiding darkness
behind the glass transparent where the room
is cool with dappled dimness as the summer
day ascends and banishes the gloom
from secret places dark within the house
dust motes dance across the beams so bright
roses tap against the window panes
holding up a handful more of light
inviting out the occupants to day:
“Come into the warmth of welcome summer!”
call the flowers now in happy song
marching to the season’s swaying drummer.
Day is dancing, dappling the walls:
Melancholy melts and sadness falls.

image (c) 2017 Hilary Farmer
poem (c) 2017 Tom Radcliffe

peonies pink and white …oil painting

peonies pink and white
peonies pink and white

I have started up oil painting again – yay! I have done three very small (6″x6″) paintings for an online painting course – Once Upon a Time in Provence with Dreama Perry. I can’t recommend her courses enough – so much inspiration! I will not be posting the paintings I am doing as part of the course and following her instructional videos as they are her copyrighted material in terms of composition, method etc. However, as I go along, I will post other pieces I am doing.

This is a 9×12 oil on gesso board of two peonies in a blue jar using the alla prima method where oil paint is layered wet on wet in a single session. Here the challenges I was focused on were painting the white peony using a subtle variety of colours for the shadows and getting a pleasing effect of transparency and shine for the glass jar.

Tom’s poem to go with this one is a little melancholy but reminds us to see beauty and love life in the moment.

so pretty on the table in the sun
warming up the lonely room with colour
pushing back the shadows and the dun
dreary dullness in the days of dolour
a bright reminder of more happy times
living beauty grown in fertile soil
giving pleasure as the churchbell chimes
calling mourners all to gentle toil
remembering the layered past beyond
this circled sadness of the present instant
skipping stones across a summer pond
listening to the loon in purple distance
a momentary beauty still in life
bringing solace in the midst of strife

painting (c) 2017 Hilary Farmer
poem (c) 2017 Tom Radcliffe

summer lattice mandala…

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summer lattice mandala

I am quite pleased with how the richness of the colours came out. The orange comes forward and the magenta recedes enhancing the layered effect.

You may have noticed that the titles of the mandalas change after they have been painted. The names come to me as I am working and the effect of the colour on this one for me was to shift from the general feeling of meadow to a meadow in full summer. Guess I am looking forward through this rainy spring weather …or maybe looking back to one of those perfect childhood summer days.

As usual, Tom has seen things and expanded the image through his poetic response. This one is particularly magical! Love it – thanks Tom! πŸ™‚

high summer fields at rest beneath the sun
dry weltering cicadas buzzing deep
curving pigtails flouncing round in fun
then hiding ‘neath the flowers, knapping sleep
in shards from solid summer afternoons
safe amidst the purple leaves and sedge
upon the sandy soil that hides the runes
writ in burrows down the lattice hedge
writ by rabbits wise in meadow ways
writ with knowledge sinking to the centre
stretching out to touch the turning days
opening the gates and letting enter
all the truth that cannot just be spoken
of the wheel that turns and won’t be broken

image (c) 2017 Hilary Farmer
poem (c) 2017 Tom Radcliffe

peace rose mandala…

peace rose mandala

My grandfather used to grow peace roses. They are lovely colours ranging from cream to peach to almost orange with the petal edges darker. Their distinctive scent can take me right back to my childhood visiting that rose garden.

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peace rose mandala detail

Even though many of the colours used are tone on tone, they bring out the various layers of the ink drawing that may have been difficult to see in the black and white version …and the playful ladybugs add another element of life to the composition.

Here is Tom’s wonderful new sonnet for the colour version of this mandala.

moments as the compass slowly turning
through the seconds, minutes, daylight hours
then beneath the midnight sky while burning
candles light the lattice of the flowers
with glowing fire until the dawn’s soft touch
ignites the luminosity within
signaling the day’s return and much
to do as all our future yesterdays begin
joyously amidst the flaming blossoms
while the busy ladybugs meander
through the leaves in search of treasures awesome:
some succulent surprise or fine philander
to pass the days in pleasuring bestowments
of joy upon each other while the moments

image (c) 2017 Hilary Farmer
poem (c) 2017 Tom Radcliffe

Sunflower spirals mandala…

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Sunflower Spirals

Has my life been busy!
…and here finally is the water colour finished version of Sunflower Spirals. I still love the bumblebee the best – so here’s a close up. πŸ™‚

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Sunflower Spirals detail

I have a few more weeks of intense busy-ness and then the plan is definitely more time for art!Β 

In the meantime, finding joy in apparently mundane daily tasks as I prepare for big changes in my life!

UPDATE: A delightful new sonnet from Tom for this image!

The solar phoenix burns and is reborn
as a flower turning up its face:
the sympathetic magic of its form
mirroring its namesake yet with grace
that’s all its own, the bright coronal plumes
fluttering upon the summer breeze
while buzzing in the orbit of the bloom
there moves a busy planetary bee
through the knotted pathway at the edge
where spiral seeds meet glowing petals bright
forming up in fields beside a hedge
where summer life is humming true and right.
Beneath blue sky the flower softly turns
Savoring the summer as it yearns

image (c) 2017 Hilary Farmer

Poem (c) 2017 Tom Radcliffe

Interlocking spirals mandala…

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Fibonacci patterns …sunflower mandala

Here is the latest work in progress. Somehow I got fascinated with how sunflowers pack the in their seeds …took a while to draw but looks cool! …and since I’ve been having so much fun with Celtic knots, there is one wreathing the seeds.

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sunflower mandala detail with bumblebee!

Couldn’t resist including a bumblebee. Love these guys!
Once I have added colour, I will post again. πŸ™‚

Tom has already written a delightful poem for this image!

Bumbling ’bout the boundary of the flower
wandering from stamen to another
pistil where the pollen gives its power
to grow into a seed while bees recover
from their tour of each and every blossom
checking for some nectar sweet and good
reveling in beauty bright and awesome
wandering in fragrant neighbourhoods
where knots are tied around the bloomin’ world
binding all diversity together
into arcs where ratios are curled
to pack in seeds no matter what the weather.
Now every bee is pollinating hard
Ensuring future flowers fill the yard.

image (c) 2016 Hilary Farmer
poem (c) 2016 TJ Radcliffe