Blossom, branch and sky – oil painting

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! 😉

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


today’s doodle… the blue chef’s hat

happy chef
happy chef

Since I drew a girl in a red chef’s hat some time ago, a friend back in Taiwan has wanted me to do her portrait in a similar hat. Unfortunately, I am not good at portraiture and so the result looks like her only in the most general sort of way… besides, with the hat on, I had to show her hair tied back – flying all around like usual didn’t seem to have the right feeling with the hat! … so maybe that’s why it looks more like an older sister at best – oh well!

image (cc) 2009 Hilary Farmer

tea of the day… lishan wulong

lishan wulong
lishan wulong

I decided since it’s green tea doodles, that as well as the doodles, I could talk a bit about tea again!

You’ll see this week’s tea – a recent favourite – in the picture. It is an Wulong (sometimes spelled Oolong) from Taiwan specifically from Lishan, hence the name. Wulongs are not technically green teas since they are lightly fermented just not as much as black teas. Did you know that “wulong” means black dragon? The tea leaves I have right now are from the autumn harvest since spring harvest isn’t available yet.

Here’s an interesting bit of tea trivia – the tea harvested in the autumn is said to be the most flavourful, while the tea harvested in the spring is the most fragrant. I think you need to be something of a connaisseur before this is really noticeable!

This particular Wulong is not one that has been aged but is fresh this year. I especially love that style since the flavour is delicate and, for want of a better word green – but not grassy. Lishan (Pear Mountain) is one of the mountains of Taiwan where tea for Wulongs are grown. Taiwan’s teas are renowned, as the best teas come from the highest altitudes and Taiwan has the highest tea orchards in the world.

I have brewed it in the typical Taiwan way in a very tiny teapot. Perhaps I talk more about the method another day!

image (cc) 2009 Hilary Farmer

my favourite Taiwan teashop

favourite Taiwan teashop
favourite Taiwan teashop
Chen Yuting, friend and tea mentor from Taiwan
Chen Yuting, friend and tea mentor from Taiwan

I was in a lovely local teashop recently (Camillia Sinensis) and saw a magazine I’d never noticed before called “The Art of Tea”(Cha Yi). I decided to buy it for the long ride on the train the next day and because it had an article on the Taiwanese tea ceremony which I had studied a bit when I lived there a few years ago. As I was perusing it on the train I started thinking about a particular tea shop I used to visit there once or twice a week. It was located just off Art Street on the outskirts of Taichung. The woman who ran the shop had a lovely, calm feeling about her which permeated the shop as well. She sold tea but most of the shop was devoted to tea pots, cups and all the other accoutrements of the tea ceremony. The space was dominated by a large table from which she would serve a sample of whatever she was brewing at the moment. Whether this was your first visit or you were a regular, you were welcome to take a seat and chat over the tiny, steaming, fragrant cups. There was always some interesting Chinese music playing in the background. Those visits are some of my favourite memories of Taiwan. As I was reminiscing, I turned another page, there she was! So I have included the picture from the magazine as well as an old photo of the shop. Oh yes, her name is Chen Yu Ting