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

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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

flowering crystal mandala…

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flowering crystal mandala

The latest mandala has been water coloured! The colours have been kept very cool in keeping with the feeling of snow and cold I wanted to evoke on this hot sunny summer day! The very centre is red to keep a connection with one of the original inspirations – Queen Anne’s Lace. A tiny red central flower which is common for this wildflower, is to attract insects but I like the whimsy of the folk tale origin – it represents a drop of Queen Anne’s blood pricked from her finger while making the lace.

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flowering crystal mandala detail with spring azure butterfly

A detail showing the spring azure butterfly which is one of many insects attracted to Queen Anne’s Lace.

Tom’s new poem for the water-coloured mandala gets to the heart of the cold winter feeling …be refreshed on this summer day!

In the heart of hopeful winter
Crystal flowers spin and grow
Under pressure splinters sinter
Dusting down as drifting snow
Jeweled movement in the centre
Turns the world through double-hours
Ticking as the New Year enters
Through the door of Winter’s tower
Along the moonbeams sliding silver
Drift soft snowflakes to their rest
Keeping seasons in fine kilter
Unsung heroes on a quest
To keep all Nature’s endless round
Turning, never winding down

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

snowflower mandala…

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snowflower mandala

What could be more refreshing during August than thinking about snowflakes?! Given the time of year, thinking about snowflake patterns led to wondering about similarities with the wildflower Queen Anne’s Lace. In the end, this mandala is inspired by both but is neither one nor the other – and just when you’ve decided that it is really mostly a snowflake, there’s a butterfly – spring azure – lurking around the perimeter to make it flower-like again. Here’s a photograph that started me thinking about the texture of the Queen Anne’s Lace. (Check out his blog – he’ll make you see wildflowers with new eyes!)

Tom wrote a delightful poem full of both summer and winter for this one!

Subtle turning of the seasons
Marching bands of heat and cold
Crystals ringing changes, reasons
Why all flowers fade and fold
As the season of the snows
Overtakes warm summer lands
Winds of winter skirl and blow
Pearls of ice turn on the strands
Of twisting currents through cold air
Lacing patterns, tracing flowers
Melting as the summer fair
Escapes from frozen empty towers
Life propelled by turning centre
Changes leave before they enter

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

a wintery doodle for Christmas…

wintery togetherness

A quick doodle to celebrate the season… so busy with everything related to said season that I haven’t been posting much here and the buffer for Albion is getting smaller. Hopefully I can catch back up over the holidays.

Wishing you the Best of the Season and a Wonderful New Year.

UPDATE: New sonnet from Tom to capture both the cold and the warmth of winter…

The winter night in glinting diamond silence
sparkles in cold light, the Solstice Moon
glows bright upon the hills with blue fluorescence
across the open spaces deeply strewn
with virgin snow: a wonderland of ice
where lovers might take pause to contemplate
the beauty of this frozen paradise
where nothing moves and everything awaits.
Their hands are joined within a single glove
the touch of skin a promise for the night
to come while silently the stars above
reflect the frozen diamonds of the night.
One single thing belies the winter the cold:
The warmth of hands that other hands enfold

Copyright (C) 2011 TJ Radcliffe

(cc) 2011 Hilary Farmer

wintery anticipation…

what is this white stuff??

A very random doodle today. Actually we’ve been having a very mild fall so far but the weather is supposed to change tomorrow so winter must have been on my mind!

She seems to be in the midst of saying something but I’m not sure what it is…

UPDATE: Just in – a lovely and bilingual approach to the illustration in the for of a Pushkin sonnet no less!

“I love this season’s consumation:
Je ne suis pas un hiver-phobe!
Mais oui, it’s still a small frustration
when the city dons her robe
of downy white; so soft, enchanting,
yet quite enough to set me ranting!
Le métro est en retard!
The slippery streets make driving hard!
But walking is for lower classes,
non pour une ingénue like me
caught adrift on snowy seas
until her handsome hero passes
who will my dreadful stress assuage
And be my knight, mon homme de neige!”
:-)

Copyright (C) 2011 TJ Radcliffe

image (cc) 2011 Hilary Farmer

winter’s end haiku by Issa…

Issa winter's end haiku with incidental cat

on the eaves
firewood and a cat…
snow is melting

小庇の薪と猫と雪解哉

kobisashi ni maki to neko to yukige kana

Issa 1818

I find this one a bit funny – maybe it’s clear in the Japanese but does it mean the cat and the firewood are on the eaves with the melting snow? I didn’t think so as you can see from my accompanying doodle.
I decided to call it “winter’s end” but I suppose it could just as easily be a temporary thaw… I guess I’m just hoping!
A nice piece of trivia (well that ties in nicely with my blog name) is that this master haiku writer’s pen name, Issa means “a cup of tea”!
If you like the idea of reading more of his over 9500 haikus check this site. You can read random selections or pick something based on a season… or cats!

image (cc) 2010 Hilary Farmer