Brickyard Beach – Late Summer

Brickyard Beach – Late Summer (10″ x 8″ oil on stretched canvas)

Early in September I went out with my gear and found another local beauty spot. It was really hot that day! I was glad to find a bit of shade to set up in. The challenge as usual with plein air painting was to catch the light quickly – as well as the colour of the water and the shapes and locations of the clouds before everything changes. The result is less detailed but fresher and more dynamic than working from a photo.

Here is Tom’s poem which at first seems to be for another scene but wait for it – the final couplet tells the tale.

In summer gales these waters roil
as wind and tide and waves contend
for who shall make the sailor’s toil
the worst. And who shall best unmend
the flapping canvas, spliced up rope,
a bimini not made to cope
with gusts that come from angles all
around the compass. Masts might fall
as waves come in from every point.
The bow is bounced, the stern is slewed,
the sky with clouds ascudding’s strewed
as the sea tests every joint.
But in the calm it lies serene
as if those storms were never seen!

image (c) 2020 Hilary Farmer
poem (c) 2020 TJ Radcliffe

Twin Beaches – High Summer

Twin Beaches – High Summer (10″ x 8″ oil on canvas)

This is a plein air painting from August. The sun was high and warm reflecting back all kinds of glorious colours in the water. I captured a couple of sailboats at anchor as well as a few floating markers. The mountains of the mainland are in the distance. I have a lovely memory of the day when I look at this.

Tom wrote a thoughtful poem that speaks of times long gone the results of which still impact us today.

Upon a time a Spaniard passed this way
anchoring and sending out a brace of boats to sound
the waters all around the quiet bay
where otter, seals, and cod could still be found.
The shore was all alive with other eyes
that watched the strange great ships and wondered where
they had first tasted of sea. What skies
had witnessed their emergence from their lair?
Dark ravens cocked and turned upon the wind
Dark rhymes were brewing in the human heart
Dark beneath the summer sky the sins
of darkness drove the worlds apart.
The ships sailed on, left chaos in their wake
and broken words that promises forsake.

image (c) 2020 Hilary Farmer
poem (c) 2020 TJ Radcliffe

Lily-pond

Lily-pond (12″ x 12″ oil on canvas)

I painted this one for a specific local show which isn’t until January but I wanted to make sure it would be dry in lots of time for varnishing. All the paintings in the show will be the same format (12″ x 12″) and the same price but all different styles and subjects. I really hope mine appeals to someone …who doesn’t like waterlilies, right?!

Tom wrote a poem for this one about the power of illusions.

Some days I think that I could walk across
the mirror-surface of this lily-pond
stepping on the stones of green and gloss
all my weight supported by the fronds
of floating pads. Their vines are columns, stone
could not provide as much support or strength
as their living sinews, summer-grown
from roots and stems, prodigious in length.
Could I not walk on water, dance on air?
Could I not just this once defy the laws?
Could I not touch the face of one so fair?
Could I not have effect without a cause?
Some days there are illusions that have power
But none so great as one strong lily’s flower.

image (c) 2020 Hilary Farmer
poem (c) 2020 TJ Radcliffe

Person of the Pond

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Person of the Pond (approx. 5″ x 5″ watercolour on paper)

Another watercolour from my sketch book. Maybe I dreamt this – not sure! It just came into my head and I had to get it onto paper. (The signature was added after as a digital stamp.)

Tom came up with a delightful poem for this – I took the title of the piece from the poem.

The Lady of the Lake gets all the press
while no one minds the Person of the Pond
floating here without the dreadful stress
of handing swords to kings. The lily fronds
are all I need to keep me company
whilst contemplating which and wherefore. Why
do humans march with such cacophony
through their lives when someday they must die?
A life of quiet in my pond is all
I’ve ever wished for, while these errant kings
go to the lake for swords: their duty calls
them to the field to fight for lower things
while I am left alone in peaceful deeps
enjoying life in silent, secret keeps.

image (c) 2020 Hilary Farmer
poem (c) 2020 TJ Radcliffe

Spring marsh

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Spring marsh (8″ x 10″ oil on raised panel)

Continuing the “wetscape” series reveling in Spring wet places. The sun was out and so reflections, shadows and transparency were all there to be explored. Curious as well as familiar plants were on show, while the bottom mud glowed in warm tones.

Tom’s poem takes a remote – one could say alien – observer point of view …I love it!

Report from the Away Team

This planet’s flora: great variety
is found among the forests of the north
along the margins where society
has left alone some places of great worth.
The survey team was beamed down to a spot
that isn’t quite unsullied, but has been
protected from the worst of wrack and rot
that permeates so much of what is seen
in other places. Strange bold life-forms grow
in waters rich with nutrients. They are
exotic, most unusual, we know
of nothing like this, far among the stars.
To summarize: there’s something here, unique,
full clothed in beauty, which of beauty speaks.

image (c) 2020 Hilary Farmer
poem (c) 2020 TJ Radcliffe

From the boardwalk

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From the boardwalk (8″ x 10″ oil on raised gessoed panel)

I am feeling really inspired right now by what I am calling “wetscapes”. This time of year, at least here on the West coast, the ditches are full of rain water and the marshes are overflowing with water and happy ducks, frogs and other signs of spring life. New green grasses are starting to push up through last fall’s dried out stems and dainty sprigs of trailing plants lightly touch the water. Add to that, the reflections, shadows and transparency of the water itself and I could keep on this theme for some time!

Here is Tom’s wonderful poem which parallels the painting so perfectly!

Brightness, darkness, falling both
softly from the spring-time air
teasing dormant life to growth
turning green the golden hair
of grasses dried and brittle now
to the Pleiades they bow
in thanks for rain, which brings new life
to pools and ditches, dark and rife
with strange concoctions, shadowed roots,
tendrils fine exploring through
the muddy depths to find a new
embankment where they push up shoots.
Brightness falls, the rains of spring
Closing now the season’s ring.

image (c) 2020 Hilary Farmer
poem (c) 2020 TJ Radcliffe

Drumbeg at New Years

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Drumbeg at New Years (16″ x 20″ oil on canvas)

We went for a walk on New Year’s Day in a park by the ocean. There were a number of others out taking advantage of the pleasant day on a holiday as well with lots of shared smiles and well-wishes for the New Year.

This was a bit of an experiment. I knew that I wanted to paint the scene and took several photos but I wasn’t sure if any were quite right. Half way through painting it, I thought – that’s not working! The composition had looked interesting in a small photo but in the painting instead of drawing me in, I was just aware of the vast expanse of boring foreground. Adding more detail and texture to the grass, rocks and logs seems to have been enough to solve that problem and I like it now. Having some small figures in the scene gives a sense of scale and reminds me of traditional Chinese landscape paintings where there is almost always a figure going about their life in the distance.

Tom’s poem expresses how well he knows the coasts and seasons here.

These are the crooked roads we walk
wet, muddy, by the shore
where trees are bent by slow incessant summer winds
and empty winter gales.

Their cousins lie in serried ranks
along the rocky shore
tossed by tides and angry waves from distant isles
come to rest at last.

We walk on in silence strong
secure upon this shore
while beneath the winter scudding clouds the sea
lies calm in patient peace.

image (c) 2020 Hilary Farmer
poem (c) 2020 TJ Radcliffe

Evening sky

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Evening sky (8″ x 8″ oil on raised panel)

Another painting inspired by this past summer’s trip to Desolation Sound, a beautiful place of infinite variety.

Tom’s poem celebrates the the place, the wildlife and the light …and the experience of being there. (Note that “nightjar” is another name for a nighthawk, an insectivore that darts about in the late evening catching its dinner.)

Clouds that wander high and bright
above the forest of the night
where nightjars nest and eagles fly
beneath the ever-changing sky

over waters cold and deep
where octopi and fishes sleep
and dolphins dance while whales progress
as summer breezes soft caress

the trees and islands, rocks and sea,
where in the cove we are set free
from common care and daily grind,
easing soul and freeing mind

to wander wide and ever bright
beyond the forest of the night
where nightjars nest and eagles fly
beneath the changeless evening sky.

image (c) 2019 Hilary Farmer
poem (c0 2019 TJ Radcliffe

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

Looking Back

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Looking Back (6″ x 8″ oil on gessoed wood)

An exploration of the ocean and mountains at Desolation Sound. I mentioned in a previous post about the amazing beauty there and I will no doubt continue trying to capture it. So far, I feel Tom’s lovely poem is much more evocative of this magical place.

There are no mountains, nor a sea,
nor any forests, green and deep,
but these that beckon, calling me
to pause within their sheltered keep
like a knight on olden fields
who wanders, fighting, never yields,
but battered on he travels still
seeking peace beside a rill
or stream where might a hart bound by
leaving stillness in its wake,
where the knight may bend and slake
his thirst for beauty where the sky
glows in beauty over trees
below the mountains, by the sea.

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