Original Oil Painting: ‘Dark Landscape No 1’

Link to painting in my portfolio

This one was a bit of a departure for me. I haven’t done much abstract style painting but I will certainly try to do more.

This one is of a dark, brooding landscape straight from the imagination.

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copyright Francis Barker 2019

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Original Oil Painting: ‘Lilies and Light’

Link to ‘Lilies and Light’ in my portfolio

Another Monet inspired work, oils on stretched canvas. I love the way many of the impressionists played with light and shade and the various techniques they employed to achieve it.

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copyright Francis Barker 2019

‘Summer Picnic’, A Completed Painting – Inspired by Monet

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see link: portfolio

Here is one of my completed paintings, inspired by French artist Monet, probably my favourite impressionist.

As they say about art and creation in general, it is about 5% inspiration and 95% perspiration… certainly the case with this example.

This original oil painting is on stretched canvas, see above link for details.

Other paintings will appear in my portfolio in due course.

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copyright Francis Barker 2019

Beautiful Medieval Wall Art, Castor Church, near Peterborough, England

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We recently visited the beautiful church of Saint Kyneburgha, near Peterborough in the English midlands.

The church stands beautifully on a hill, on the site of an old Roman settlement and palace.

In fact, the name of Castor is derived directly from the Roman/Latin name for a fort or castle. This village is situated near to an important Roman settlement called Durobrivae, or Water Newton in Egnlish, just a few miles west of present day city of Peterborough.

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The church is noted for its surviving medieval wall art. Before the Reformation in the 16th century, all churches had such wall art, which was then whitewashed over. More recently, as in this example above, some of these illustrations have been revealed during restoration.

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Castor church’s appellation is Saint Kyneburgha, who was the daughter of King Penda of Mercia, the last pagan king of that English kingdom in the midlands.

copyright Francis Barker 2019

The Brilliance of Britten: Astrology Musings, Neptune inspires again

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Photo by Simon Clayton on Pexels.com

One of England’s greatest composers, Benjamin Britten composed some of the most memorable music of the 20th century.

So let’s take a quick look at his birth chart. He has Cancer rising, with a wide Mars Neptune conjunction near the ascending degree, the latter being closely trine his Sun and a retrograde Mercury on either side of the Scorpio/Sagittarius cusp. Sounds complicated?

Inspirational Neptune

As I have noted before, Neptune is very often prominent in some way in the charts of creative artists and composers.

I suspect this is the source of much inspiration. Britten was from Lowestoft in Suffolk in the east of England, he was brought up by the sea and had a strong connection to it. One of his most famous pieces, the opera ‘Peter Grimes’ was inspired by this.

Emotional force

Neptune in Cancer in his first house symbolises this, with the added emotional force of Mars, which may have been difficult to control at times.

In my own mind, I equate that wonderful sound in music of the rolling waves releasing on the beach from the ‘Four Sea Interludes‘ of ‘Peter Grimes’, to the Neptune Mars in Cancer conjunction. It’s beautiful, imaginative, and slightly disquieting. Neptune’s supportive connection to the Sun will give him further innate sensitivity.

Retrograde Mercury thinking out of the box

I am also interested by the Sun conjunct a retrograde Mercury bestriding the Scorpio Sagittarius cusp, in houses 5 and 6.

It’s almost like a confusion of identity here, where the mental processes are turned more inwardly, unusually, and ‘out of the box’, and where the sense of self (the Sun in last minute of Scorpio) is always looking beyond but never quite getting there.

In some sense this may have been another prime reason for him becoming a composer and musician, in that the challenges of expressing thought conventionally with the retrograde Mercury, can be given over to creative, musical inspiration, expressed through ways alluded to above.

Strong attachment to roots

Mars is also ruler of houses 5 and 10, giving much energetic support and a link between his creativity and career path. And it is interesting to note that he was a fine conductor and pianist too.

His ruler, the Moon, is in Virgo in house 3 but very close to the Nadir of the chart, trine to Jupiter. He clearly has a strong emotional connection to his roots, probably his mother, and he never lost that sense of ‘belonging’ to the Suffolk coast.

However, in Virgo the Moon is quite fastidious, supported by a more circumspect Jupiter in Capricorn, a quality which will certainly help the art of putting all that inspiration from Neptune down on paper.

copyright Leofwine Tanner 2019

Poem: ‘Love Shack’

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Once more we are here, leaving our mark in the sand,
each time like a beginning, distant memories
of our first sight of the sea and the stretching beach.
It’s a smile you can’t stop, a sense of freedom
among the elements and primary colour,
dead pan voices of young and old
muffled by wind and rolling wave.
We look out on that flat horizon
spoilt by scattered wind farms, feathered
by painterly coasts
and we walk and talk along the strand,
laugh at the silly names of beach huts
and wonder what we would call our own,
to sit in the sun
on one of those few good days of summer
with our rug and thermos,
munching make-do cream teas
bought on a budget.
It would be a life, I suppose

copyright Leofwine Tanner 2019

Gustav Holst and ‘The Planets’ – Musings

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Photo by faaiq ackmerd from Pexels

English classical composer Gustav Holst’s most famous work, The Planets, is a testimony to his lifelong fascination for and interest in astrology.

From an early age, his step mother’s involvement with theosophy, inspired him to look beyond perceived reality and examine philosophy. Apart from being a composer, he was primarily a teacher and a trombonist.

Aquarius and astrology

When Gustav was born he had the Moon and Saturn rising in Aquarius. I think this says so much about him. Aquarius tends to be the individualist of the zodiac and anyone with a strong showing of this sign can be somewhat unusual. Holst’s fascination for astrology is quite typical in this regard.

Interestingly, in The Planets Suite, which was completed towards the end of the First World War, it is Saturn which I think is the most successful.

Saturn’s pain and peace

When I was younger I was an avid listener to this work and it was Saturn which most moved me, and I sense that it moved Holst too. This piece is composed like a musical poem and is subtitled ‘The Bringer of Old Age’.

It begins slowly, bleakly, mournfully, then panic sets in to a point of acceptance, which is followed by an unexpected peace as death approaches. It is still quite stunning to my ears, and I think Holst felt this very strongly – fitting then that Saturn should be so prominent in its own sign and on the ascendant. He was ‘in tune’ with Saturn.

Powerful higher mental capacity

That he was very much into philosophy and the higher mind is shown by the powerful Mercury Jupiter conjunction in Libra in house 9, nicely trine his Saturn rising in Aquarius. From this too, I think we can see the composing potential, the all round mental functioning of seeing the small intricacies, and also the big, full picture, plus the hard graft needed to succeed.

Jupiter also rules the midheaven, showing that the above qualities can be chanelled into his life path and career too.

Teacher and composer

His Sun in Virgo gives him a strong central dose of analytical and critical ability too, of course, which would certainly have aided him in composition and Virgoans in general make excellent teachers and worriers.

Venus in Scorpio in house 10 hints at an in depth career in the arts. This Venus is square Uranus and although it may have interrupted his career and relationships with sudden changes from time to time, here too with this tense link, I suspect, lies another indication of a leaning towards astrology; Uranus in some sense ‘rules’ astrology, although personally, I think Saturn is just as important.

copyright Leofwine Tanner 2019