For the next few weeks there will be less (or no) oil paintings and more watercolour or ink pieces. We are moving soon and the idea of trying to move wet oil paintings makes me cringe. Anyway, it is great to have other, quicker drying media that are also fun!
Dancing patterns of leaves fascinate me at this time of year and the colour play can be subtle or bold making for potentially endless variety. It’s very freeing because basically, all decisions work out looking good!
I always love Tom’s poems but this one is especially wonderful, I think.
Stems of autumn, soft decay
permeates their fallen leaves
yet still some beauty, green and grey,
falls between their stalks and sleeves
as season’s cycle yearns and turns
autumnal colours flare and burn
to scent the air with voiceless smoke
that rises from the forest’s coke
within the loam’s dark furnace hot
where summer crumbles into coals
and for the days of warmth there tolls
a curfew’s bell of iron wrought.
Falling figures through still air
dance for all that may be there.
A study of the local Gulf Islands landscape. The ink part was done with carbon black ink in a fountain pen with an ultra fine but flexible nib – really nice to draw with! A quick wash of watercolour brought it to life.
Tom’s evocative haiku! (I took the title of the piece from the haiku – not vice versa.)
face turned up, warm sun
cedar island dreams
Pink flowers, green leaves, a tawny cat …and a lacy white tracery.
Here is Tom’s lovely poem.
Lacy network, leafy ruff
worn about my lady’s throat
made from all the finest stuff
like her veil and petticoat.
Through her veil the garden’s wild
panoply of flowers beguiled
as away her time she whiled
by the pool whose bottom’s tiled
with stones and fragments of her soul.
Deep she leans across the pond
reflecting on a memory fond,
before time took it’s mortal toll.
Somewhere children laugh behind
Bringing hope and joy to mind.
I wanted the colours for this one to be very rich with mostly purples, reds and oranges. This is a “mini-mandala” so about 6″ in diameter but there is a lot packed in so here is a detail.
As usual, Tom saw even more curious things than I did. This new poem encapsulates a whole story!
The lamps are lit, the wheels must turn
let the toothy gears engage
opening the secret urn
decoding all the truths the Sage
encrypted on four secret scrolls
each entire and carefully rolled
hidden well ’til they were stoled
then to a Magus quickly sold!
Now in London they do lie
waiting for the seance start
where the Sage’s beating heart
will for justice–vengeance–cry
within the rich embroidered room
where four men go to meet their doom!
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.
The colours of a summer afternoon! It was pleasant to put myself in that zone on a grey autumn day. (This was mini-mandala 3 now water-coloured.)
And here is Tom’s seductive poem continuing the medieval theme!
Through skies of softest Tyrian blue
joyous swallows flit and fly
delighting in the evening hues
of the dusky darkling sky
while beneath a silken cover
knight and lady, lord and lover,
whisper secrets to each other
softly sliding truth discovered
somewhere in the space between
each breath, each word, each kiss, each touch
as swallows dance above the green
until enough is more and much
is carried on throughout the night
until the dawn brings love to light.
The last few mandalas have been drawn using a quite water resistant ink in my fountain pen. So yay! I can add water colour without blurring out the details. This was “mini-mandala 2” now renamed The Ring.
Here is Tom’s beautiful and highly personal poem to go with this mandala. I feel so fortunate to have someone in my life that sees and responds to beauty in such a profound way!
waves of beauty curling round
washing up the pebbled beach
swirling over summer ground
chanting, singing, each to each
a susurrus so tremulous
as bluebells quaver in the breeze
ringing changes sensuous:
quiet sounds across the sea
while the golden evening rays
scatter from the leafy crowns
bowing to the end of days
where all pain and sorrow drown
in the silence of the night
two hearts make one in joyful flight
Well, here is the final version with colour added! The choice of mostly shades of blue is to give the flavour of Chinese pottery. The yellow accents came about because yellow represented the emperor in ancient Chinese society. For example, only the emperor could have yellow roof tiles or wear yellow robes. So it is used sparingly in this mandala for the centre, the lanterns drifting away in the sky and the mostly hidden dragons…
Here is one quadrant to make it easier to see the details.
Happily, Tom was moved to write another poem for this final version of the mandala!
Beneath a layer of protective blossoms
the Earth abides in softly glowing shades
of summer fading toward a rainy autumn:
evening drawing nigh as August fades
toward a long September ocean blue
swept by early storms and errant waves
crashing up against the harbour’s thews
protecting ships at anchor from the staves
of floating logs and wayward whales withal
as beacons glow through scudding rain and wrack
calling home the wanderers and all
who’ve lost their way and yearn to find a track through storms and seasons ‘cross the empty sea
riding down the gales into the lee.
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