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.
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
I was working on this theme in the summer and have come back to it. What can I say …I love trees! Last time I was working on individual 6″x6″ gessoed boards. This new piece was a different feeling since all the trees were integrated into one piece from the beginning and it took several sessions to complete the whole thing. Definitely not alla prima! The under-painting ranged from purple and magenta around the perimeter to pinks and yellows in the middle. I decided to try putting together the stretchers and canvas myself this time so I was able to select the smoothest weave of canvas the art store had. While nice, and certainly better for my purposes than regular canvas, it was still not quite as delightful to paint on as linen.
Tom’s poem for this painting is rich and deep. He found the words for what I was trying to say with my brush.
A pool of light within the sky
reflecting water’s rippled sheen:
plunging trees all reaching high
spreading branches strong and green.
Looking up into the depths
I see the open spaces swept
by wind and wave as I accept
a promise made, a promise kept.
Down here upon the forest floor
I stand transfixed beneath the vault
of heaven, ever finding fault
with my merely mortal core.
Still among the trees I stand
Between the water, sky, and land.
What can I say? A playful drawing begged for playful colours! And now the tiny cats are easy to see. UPDATE: See below to really see those kitties!
As usual, Tom saw all kinds of things to inspire his whimsical poetry.
Cotton candy clouds of wine
fill so full the valley cups
to the hill’s soft plimsol line
where the downs go to meet up
with the mysteries of the night
which rise while lovers dance in flight
toward completion, whole and right,
on to dawn’s emergence bright
from behind the hollow hills
where white cats lie nestled deep
practicing their purring skills
until they’re perfect, then they sleep
amidst the sun and shade of trees
while lowing herds cross o’re the leas.
Well, I was in a curious and very detailed frame of mind for this one! I think the best part though is likely the 15 tiny cats.
Following this – maybe the oddest yet – mandala, here is Tom’s weird and delightful poem! It makes me giggle every time I read it!
Once upon a wobbly tower
a cat was cuddled in a bower
deep within the greenwood’s dell
where the sunlight softly fell
through the highest canopies
of lollipops and candy trees
down beneath the cotton clouds
where the tramping feet of crowds
can’t disturb the sleep of cats
warm and safe on leafy mats.
Here is the final (centre) piece of my “Looking up through trees” series. The underpainting for this one was a combination of cad orange and yellow.
Tom’s haiku for the overall piece is written in India ink with a stylus on the finished centre painting. This was an experiment and I am still thinking about how text can be integrated into oil paintings in the best way to look part of the art.
eagle forest sky
high above through reaching trees
rooted deep in Earth
I am quite happy with how this came together. Things don’t match perfectly but that wasn’t the intention. It’s the feeling of being there that I wanted to communicate.
This is going to be interesting to frame with small equal spaces between each panel. The gaps between panels will be black and the frame will have a black shadow gap at the edge. I may post the framed version once it’s ready.
The under-painting for this one is cad orange and some cad yellow medium. Unlike some of the others of the series, there is no single large tree, but a characteristic texture of foliage, branches and light. I played with a variety of colours for the sky peeking through – blues, mauves, turquoises… That and the bits of under-painting that remain, give a nice vibrancy.
This is the second last of the series! The next post will include the centre piece and all nine 6″x 6″ paintings put together. 🙂
Here is Tom’s haiku written just for this piece – I don’t see any squirrels but I sure can imagine them!
searching bursts of green
ruffled breezes passing by
shaking squirrels on high
This series continues to be so enjoyable to paint! There’s an infinite variety of greens to play with and the contrast with the various back-painting shades has been an interesting exploration. With this one, the back-painting was a warm enough red to be verging on orange.
Here’s Tom’s haiku written just for this painting.
lies behind the palisade
sunlight filters through