Fairy slippers

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Fairy slippers (6″ x 9″ ink and watercolour)

Here’s a quick little watercolour with some ink line-work from my sketchbook of some local wildflowers. They are so sweet – a type of orchid looking like Lady slippers but much smaller – hence the name. The whole plant is only about 4″ tall.

Here is Tom’s playful poem reminding us to enjoy life …and get outside when you can! 🙂

Psst! Hey! Let me tell you now
we’ve gotta stick together!
Come in closer, head’s abow,
now here’s the gossip… whether
there will be rain or sun or what
no one is really sure today
so be prepared for dearth or glut
and listen up, hear what I say:
This life is short, and blooming ain’t
the biggest thing you’ll ever do
so don’t be living like a saint!
It’s time to have a blast! Go to!
Enjoy this season as it runs
Enjoy the warm and loving sun!

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

Dancers

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Dancers (6″ x 12″ watercolour on paper)

Another piece that popped into my head and had to be realized. I thought the face looked a bit like Audrey Hepburn but the image was from my imagination.

Tom wrote a wonderful sonnet to accompany this one. I took the title for the painting from his poem.

Is there a dancer dreaming of the flowers
or a flower dreaming of the dance
waving on the winds that sweep and scour
the stage while all the chorus line’s advance
is checked by stems too short for metre’s travel
and so they bow and shimmy in reverse
before their strict formation can unravel
into a flock of petals, or still worse
inelegant and wobbly razzle-dazzle
unfit for such refined and proper blooms
despite just feeling oh so slightly frazzled
knowing that the end of dancing looms?
For days the flowers dance upon the breeze
bringing all who see them to their knees.

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

Person of the Pond

20200403-Underwater
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

Camellia

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Camellia study (approx. 5″ x 5″ watercolour on paper)

Last fall we did some planting to bring some colour and variation to our property – and so I’d have some flowers to paint! One of the things we put in was a pink camellia. It was covered in pink buds but not all of them survived the cold spring we’ve had. Anyway, some flowers did come out fully – so pretty.  I did this watercolour study for an oil painting and then ended up liking the watercolour better. That can happen.

Tom wrote another amazing poem for this.  Here’s what he said about writing the poem. “I started with the image of the flower as a dancer–can you see her?–and moved to contrast it with soldiers standing, and then Vimy came out of somewhere and I checked the date and it’s 103 years since Easter, 1917, when the battle was fought.
The poem wanted to end after two quatrains. Something to do with short
lives. So this poem is dedicated to them.”

In delicate extravagance arrayed
with gauzy robes that flutter in the airs
dancing through the serried rank’s parade
to music never heard by anywhere
or anyone commanded to march along,
to charge in line-abreast up on a ridge
toward enemies demanded. There’s a song
that only breezes hear, across the bridge
that links the worlds. The silent ranks of stone
are corridors where flowers dance, alone.

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

Happy Year of the Pig!

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Happy Year of the Pig! (6″x6″)

We are still in the middle of moving, renovations etc so painting has taken a backseat to other things lately. Very much looking forward to being settled and in a space where I can get back at it!

Here is a pig to welcome the Chinese New Year – health, wealth and happiness to all! I was inspired by the traditional Chinese paper cut art which often includes flowers…

Tom wrote a poem to honour this pig …and this year!

Glitter glowing over mud
a touch of sunlight dapples
a brow enjoying springlike floods
of sunlight. Soon the apples
will be afruiting in the trees
abuzz with busy worker bees
while below the pigs will root
and wallow with great ease. Bring boots
if you’d cavort with happy swine
for they’ve been known to splash and spatter
anyone they want to flatter
with the last and best of wine!
The good brown earth makes hearth and floor
for the happy sow and boar!

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

Signs of fall

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Signs of fall (9″ x 12″ watercolour on paper)

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.

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

Fine feathers

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Fine feathers mandala (9″ x 9″ ink and watercolour)

If peacocks made snowflakes, maybe they’d look like this… I was thinking about the mandala calendar for this year and thoughts of winter months inspired this one.

I love the poem Tom wrote for this. It’s all festive swirl and glitter with hidden depths. Tom says: This one has a (very) little of James Joyce’s famous short story “The Dead” in it, which is often touted as the greatest in the English language, although I’d put Kipling’s “The Gardener” up against it. Here’s a link for those who (like me) haven’t read this yet or would like a refresher. http://www.online-literature.com/james_joyce/958/

Kaleidoscopes of winter snow
fall across the icy sky
upon the ladies as they go
to Christmas soirees, “By the by,
I must admit I love that shawl,
with orchids, stars, a forest tall,
it looks so warm and cozy-soft,
like otters snuggled in a croft
beneath a landscape, frozen, cold
where carolers sing songs of joy
their voices by the stillness buoyed
up to the sky’s wide peaceful fold
as stars look down upon our lives:
like blowing snow we swirl and rise.”

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

Flower fey mandala

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Flower fey mandala (9″ x 9″ ink and watercolour)

The inspiration for mandalas is still strong! I am enjoying sitting (and spending hours and hours) to draw and paint these! Completing the ink work is the longest phase because there is so much detail and then even more fun – deciding on the colour palette to really bring the image alive. Joyful. As usual, this one evolved as I went along. I did not expect the faces until they appeared!

Tom’s poem goes magically along with the image.

Adrift upon a sea of flowers
dreaming softly side by side
turning through this night of ours
as dusk to dawn we gently glide
from face to face within our dreams
trying on each one that seems
to fit the moment or the place
it vanishes without a trace
into the mystery at the centre
where a deeper beauty grows
beneath a lotus, not a rose:
a door where starlight yearns to enter
as we move on to other hours
snuggled here among the flowers.

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