Distant land

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Distant land (oil on 16″ x 20″ stretched canvas)

Things have been very busy lately – in the best possible way. I had an open studio as part of the Gabriola Island (Canadian) Thanksgiving  Studio Tour. So many lovely people came and several bought pieces. After working away on my own for about two years, it was wonderful to have such a positive experience when I let “outsiders” in to see my work!

The style in this painting evolved into something quite like some of the impressionists as I searched for a way to create a shimmer of light on the water. This is not any particular view but it’s very rooted here in the Gulf Islands of the West Coast – the mossy foreground, the light coming through the evergreens and distant mountains reminding us that there’s another world out there.

I love Tom’s poem for this one!

Shadows beckon, light awaits
around the distant point of land
where the evening gently scrapes
against the rocks where cedars stand
upon these timeless island shores
where in winter gale-winds roar
tearing at the ancient trees
that still stand tall in summer breeze
as the evening, warm and long,
breathes in life’s diversity:
mosses, flowers, trees, the sea
that sings the oldest of the songs.
Far beyond these coves and bays
The Ocean sings of elder days.

image (c) 2019 Hilary Farmer
poem (c) 2019 TJ Radcliffe

Mouse-eyed view

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Mouse-eyed view (oil on 8″ diameter raised birch panel)

My first round painting! So much fun to try this. I kind of love it. 🙂 Hard to photograph though because of seeing the background so I blacked it out digitally.

I adore Tom’s playful poem for this! It made me see my own painting in a new way. 😀

A mouse-eyed view from way down here:
it sees the world all round
and sneaks along without a fear
upon the secret ground.

A blade of grass is ever-tall
to creatures of the Earth.
The trees and stars both rise and fall
above a mousie’s birth.

“For I was born,” might say a mouse,
“with Maple crossing Mars
and Douglas Fir in Retrograde…
the fault’s not in my stars

but in the trees that chart a course
across the stars so chill.
For as they turn so does the world…
and yet, I have my will.

Although I cannot move the trees
I’ll bend my life’s own course
and chew down grasses to the lees
and dance without remorse

beneath the high and distant sky
where silent stars all drift
above still trees where soft winds sigh…
my life is Fortune’s gift!”

image (c) 2019 Hilary Farmer
poem (c) 2019 TJ Radcliffe

Cliffs and trees

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Cliffs and trees – 1 (4″ x 6″ watercolour postcard)

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.

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Cliffs and trees – 2 (4″ x 6″ watercolour postcard)

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.

images (c) 2019 Hilary Farmer
poem (c) 2019 TJ Radcliffe

Metalwork mandala

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Metalwork mandala (9″ x 9″ ink and watercolour)

This one ended up with a strong somber tone. I’m not sure why since I started with a flower! It’s a mystery. Anyway, the title arose because it felt like etching or metal inlay by the time I was done. We’re nearing the end of summer with autumn starting to give a hint of its cool breath. Perhaps that was in the back of my mind. Someone recently asked me about the meanings of mandalas which I have not studied deeply at all. I imagine that any analysis of my mandalas would say more about my psyche than about the iconography of any particular tradition.

Tom’s poem matches the mandala in tone and weight. This poem references some things in the poem “Dover Beach” by Matthew Arnold.

Etched upon the sky’s grey steel
the trees of autumn raise their arms
while burnished roots both hold and heal
warding all from hurt and harm
keeping something in the centre
open, free, a door to enter
from the wind-blown darkling plain
where armies clash in cloud and rain
into a world of peace and strength
that can’t forget the promised spring
where still, perhaps, a bird might sing
while in some burrow, giving thanks,
a woodland creature, small and rare,
dares look out to see what’s there.

image (c) 2018 Hilary Farmer
poem (c) 2018 TJ Radcliffe

frozen dawn …oil painting

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frozen dawn (6″ x 8″)

A memory of a winter walk over “the mountain” in Montreal …the squeak of the snow underfoot and air freezing in nostrils… This view from a path in the Parc du Mont-Royal is based on a photo taken recently by a friend – thanks Elena! I love the glow of the sun rising over the St. Laurent in the distance as well as the long shadows in the foreground. I experimented with this small (6×8) painting using thicker brushstrokes of paint to capture the shimmer of light.

Once again, Tom’s words paint the scene into poetry and celebrate the moment.

fire across the winter sky
burning down the frozen hours
rising up above the lie
of snow between the wooden towers
presaging the dance to come
where the world is lost and won
by the shadow and the light
in sweeping depths, abyssal heights
embracing moments on the tide
of light that’s pouring through the trees
stirring an unmoving breeze
along the path where truth abides
between cold past and future tense
moments turning here to hence

image (c) 2018 Hilary Farmer
poem (c) 2018 TJ Radcliffe

winter light …oil painting

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Winter Light (8″ x 10″)

Another painting from a walk in Stanley Park in later December. The low slanting sun lit up some branches and tree trunks with a bright luminous glow – one of those sights that stays with you. Like the last painting, this one was painted alla prima. I think when the painting is being completed in one session, I put fewer expectations of perfection on myself and the result is freer and more full of life.

Tom was inspired to write a playful poem for the imagined wildlife of this scene.

Burnished branches standing in the dark
of taller trees, so jealous of the light
that warms the winter chill from broken bark,
reminding passers-by of summer’s bright
seductive evenings. Once not long ago
beneath spring skies two squirrels ran about
chittering while running to and fro
each ignoring all the other’s shouts
of joy and anger, frustration and love
until their dance completed in a tangle
in the branches far and high above
wherefrom a tail might be loosely dangled.
Now in the winter’s chill they’re safe and warm
Curled and sleeping far from winter storms.

image (c) 2018 Hilary Farmer
poem (c) 2018 TJ Radcliffe

 

Last light – oil painting

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Last light (6″x 6″ oil on gessoed board)

This was a day when everything felt easy. Other times you need to struggle through the process but days like this are a joy.

…and here is a wonderful poem from Tom to go with this painting.

fractured crystal of the sky
scattering the evening light
as the darkness drawing nigh
ushers in the quiet night
to cloak world in winter cold
as lonely souls each other hold
and round the fire a tale is told
of bygone heroes, brave and bold
until the teller silent falls
and voices rise in ancient song
praying winter won’t be long
as the restless crows each call
while the stars come out in pairs
between the angled branches bare

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