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May 2, 2015 / Terrill Welch

My morning with an elegant Blue Heron

This morning #‎NatureIsCalling me earlier than usual. I packed my plein air painting gear, made coffee and headed out. I stopped at the bakery and grabbed an egg sandwich and sweet. But as I walk to the beach I glanced at my basket of painting supplies and sighed. I had everything but a surface to paint on. Rather dejectedly I turned around and took the basket back to the car and returned with only my camera, coffee and breakfast. So here I sit in the warm morning sun. The blackbirds made themselves known in the willows. A west coast reddish mink scurried across the sandstone bank towards the water. Clams spouted near the rocks revealed in the low tide. While a north-westerly wind rippled through the leaves of a rare patch of poplar trees behind me – I sat. I listened. I took in the scent of salt and seaweed. I watched the crows feeding on small morsels and the gulls circle on the farthest outcrop from shore.

“I guess I am not going to paint this morning” I mumble with noticeable deflated slouch.

“I guess I take photographs of that Blue Heron fishing and finish my own breakfast.”

Blue Heron Reef Bay Mayne Island by Terrill Welch 2015_05_02 110

An Elegant Blue Heron fishing Reef Bay Mayne Island

Elegant Blue Heron fishing Reef Bay Mayne Island by Terrill Welch 2015_05_02 121

Blue Heron seriously looking for breakfast…

Blue Heron seriously looking for breakfast Reef Bay Mayne Island by Terrill Welch 2015_05_02 201

rushing it out off sea floor in the shallows.

Blue Heron scaring up breakfast Reef Bay Mayne Island by Terrill Welch 2015_05_02 205

An hour later, I am ready to head for home having visited with an elegant Blue Heron and soaked up the morning sun and no longer feeling grumpy about forgetting my gessobord for painting.

 

Who in nature has graced your morning this fine day?

Note: #NatureIsCall is the hashtag for the David Suzuki Foundation 30 minutes x 30 days in May Nature Challenge. I am outside more than 30 minutes in nature each day as a matter of work and life style but I committed to being particularly observant for the Month of May. As time allows, I will share these experiences with you here on Creative Potager.

© 2015 Terrill Welch, All rights reserved.

Liberal usage granted with written permission. See “About” for details.

Creative Potager – Visit with painter and photographer Terrill Welch

From Mayne Island, British Columbia, Canada

For gallery and purchase information about Terrill’s photographs and paintings go to http://terrillwelchartist.com

April 27, 2015 / Terrill Welch

If a painter decides to paint a recognizable hill with a road then it best be drivable

I do think it is important that regardless of an approach that a painting is plausible or maybe it becomes plausible with time as we begin to experience the work as the artist did in its creation. This means if there is a recognizable hill in a painting that has a recognizable road then it is reasonable to expect that it would be drivable.

detail 1 Early Spring Muir Beach Overlook California 18 x 24 inch oil on wood with 1.5 inch cradle. by Terrill Welch 2015_04_27 057

Hence came about the resolution to a recent painting problem when I was working on EARLY SPRING MUIR BEACH OVERLOOK CALIFORNIA. I had about 20 reference images and I printed four before I started working.

I was nervous about my intuition for this painting. The landscape is hardly known to me. Though I stood there for a long time trying soak in all the information I could. Though I had my photography sketch type images, I still wasn’t really sure if I understood or if I knew this place in my bones. I had not witnessed year after year of subtle seasonal changes. But also I question my ability because the California landscape does not have the cool clear blues of its northern sisters. The haze and atmosphere are warm and rich – almost buttery, even in early spring. There is a constant taste of chalk with a hint of salt on the air in this drought-ridden geography. I must learn a new palette, possibly even a new approach. I do not know this landscape even as my rain forest hair registers a more waif-like wisp on the sea breeze. I want to know it though. I listen and peer as if learning a foreign language. I am hypersensitive a I prepare to paint All my sensory recorders on high alert. What I can not discern, I must guess. I am doubtful of my ability to read the body language of this landscape with my brush where words and understanding fail me. But I must try. I painted the ground a week ago and this morning I start.

1 outline for Early Spring Muir Beach Overlook California 18 x 24 oil on wood with cradle by Terrill Welch 2015_04_26 004

After a few quick lines to help guide me through the composition I start blocking the painting in. I knew there was a strong underlying difference between sky and sea. They were not the same family of blue though a slight reflective element on the sea connected them on the surface. So I started there.

2 beginning to block in Early Spring Muir Beach Overlook California 18 x 24 oil on wood with cradleby Terrill Welch 2015_04_26 010

For future reference there is a dirt road on the first hill above the beach. At this point, it is not so bad for being accurate. So far so good. I finish blocking in the landscape. That blob of white is just a reminder to put in a sea stack later on.  But look what happened to the road. In my mind’s eye I wanted the road to go to the beach. I am not aware of my mistake and continue on with this lively work which is already breathing on its own.

3 Blocked in Muir Beach Overlook California 18 x 24 oil on wood with cradle by Terrill Welch 2015_04_26 016

Several hours later, I am disappointed and frustrated but I must leave it to rest. I am physically tired from a full day of painting and unable to comprehend what needs to be done. Here is where the painting rested until after dinner.

4 Muir Beach Overlook California resting 18 x 24 oil on wood with cradle by Terrill Welch 2015_04_26 031

I sat and looked at it while my husband said  over and over “it was fine – just leave it alone.”

But something was very wrong. Something was bugging me. I sat on the stair steps and gave the painting that was resting on the windowsill across the room my full attention. Finally, I saw the problem. There were no switchbacks on the bottom of the hill. It was not navigable. I leaped up, scramble the stairs to the loft and my reference images. Sure enough I had moved the road! It need to go farther up the side of the hill as it didn’t lead to the beach at this point at all. With a few quick brushstrokes everything is made right in the wet paint. I can then see other work that needed to be done but I wait until the next morning.

After waiting for daylight, I turned my loose brushstrokes onto the canvas with clarity. The rocks on the foreground hill picked up their natural brightness above the trees. However the cottages remain missing by design.

detail 3 Early Spring Muir Beach Overlook California 18 x 24 inch oil on wood with 1.5 inch cradle. by Terrill Welch 2015_04_27 057

I added highlights to the sea and scaled back the far hills where San Francisco sits unnoticed in the distance.

detail 2 Early Spring Muir Beach Overlook California 18 x 24 inch oil on wood with 1.5 inch cradle. by Terrill Welch 2015_04_27 057

It is a private view for the viewer alone to savour. The road denotes a connection to civilization that does not intrude on the landscape. I feel I have been true to place and true in using all of lessons of those painters who have gone before me.  At the same time, I have registered  something of my own unique vision. This is not a small task to accomplish and one I may question both for its relevance and its success on another day. But for today, let’s enjoy the view shall we!

EARLY SPRING MUIR BEACH OVERLOOK CALIFORNIA 18 x 24 inch oil on wood with 1.5 inch cradle.

Early Spring Muir Beach Overlook California 18 x 24 inch oil on wood with 1.5 inch cradle. by Terrill Welch 2015_04_27 057

The work needs to dry and then have its final photograph but I am fairly confident that the painting is finished.

And do feel free to take a drive along that dirt road. I am sure you will find it quite satisfactory.

 

When was the last time you couldn’t see something that was right in front of you?

 

© 2015 Terrill Welch, All rights reserved.

Liberal usage granted with written permission. See “About” for details.

Creative Potager – Visit with painter and photographer Terrill Welch

From Mayne Island, British Columbia, Canada

For gallery and purchase information about Terrill’s photographs and paintings go to http://terrillwelchartist.com

March 12, 2015 / Terrill Welch

California One north from Half Moon Bay

Someplace as we left Fremont California for Half Moon Bay driving on one freeway and  merging on the right into another, the GPS said – exit left in 1.5 km. I looked at the eight lanes of traffic to my left, took a deep breath and calmly, with a firm grip on the steering, instructed our Red Rosie Outback to start moving. To her credit she stepped up on her toe-points and gracefully made her way across the mid-morning traffic as if she had been doing it all her life. Must have been all the deer she was used to watching for on the sides of our Mayne Island roads in British Columbia. We had decided to take the California One north until it connected to Highway 101. We had been warned that it was slow, windy, car-sick inducing and had great views. It was the latter that made it irresistible.

California coast from Muir Beach overlook south with San Francisco in the distance.

California coast from Muir Beach overlook south by Terrill Welch 2015_03_04 022

Though there were impressive moments before this, we didn’t stop along the shoreline until reaching the Muir Beach Overlook.

looking down Muir Beach Overlook California by Terrill Welch 2015_03_04 027

The California One is gorgeous but one must keep driving or it would take weeks to complete this section instead of two days.

The first night on California One we stayed at the Valley Ford Hotel in the middle of cow country.

We didn't ride in on a horse but Valley Ford Hotel likely would have accepted us if we did by Terrill Welch 2015_03_04 042

The hotel is more like a quaint bed and breakfast these days without the breakfast. But it’s 1864 establishment and history is most evident. We had purchased local cheese and some bread and bananas for breakfast. Coffee was available with filtered water even.  So all was just as it should be.

Besides the old barn directly behind the grocery store…

barn in Valley Ford California by Terrill Welch 2015_03_04 036

and the country commuter car…

ranching country by Terrill Welch 2015_03_04 034

there was something else that told us before any other factor that we were in serious cow country. Can you guess what it is? Nope, not the dead skunk in the middle of the road that I narrowly missed. Nope, not the cattle guards either. Yes, you got it – the unmistakable aroma of cow manure. But even so, it sure was a beautiful stretch of road.

California one evening light Valley Ford California by Terrill Welch 2015_03_04 087

The next morning we continued on galloping up, down and around the ribbon of highway on the ruffled neckline of the Pacific coast. At times, the narrow road has all the excitement of a slow roller coaster.

California One and the sea by Terrill Welch 2015_03_04 123

When we would round a corner and see nothing but the narrow curve of the highway and the blue of the sea and sky I really did need to mutter to myself – stay the course Terrill, people drive this road everyday without mishap.

slowly winding along the California one by Terrill Welch 2015_03_04 127

We did stop occasionally just to enjoy the view. One of these was at Duncan’s Cove.

Duncan's Cove California by Terrill Welch 2015_03_04 109

The other was to eat our packed lunch at Point Arena Lighthouse.

Point Arena Lighthouse California coast by Terrill Welch 2015_03_04 138

But mostly, we drove and pulled over frequently to let locals go zipping by on their way to destination that was far more urgent than ours.

We have a two night stop at Howard Creek Ranch Inn, mile 80.49 on California one.

Complete with rubber boots to cross the creek it is a little peace of sixties heaven coming from the rubble of much older roots. We are in a large room on the main floor of the carriage house – the Walden. As I sit at the desk looking out onto the courtyard this morning, I can hear the morning birds, a chatty rooster and the surf which is telling me the tide is in. Breakfast is in an hour at 9:00 am and we will walk one-at-a-time across the bridge that swings over the creek to the farm-house where I have already spotted wood smoke churning up from the chimney of the cook stove and the living room fireplace. When we checked in it was at the farmhouse and then we drove back to the quiet highway and came a cross the bridge then back down a long winding driveway, complete with a deer bounding across the field, coming to a parking place next to the large carriage house. Howard Creek is definitely a defining feature of the property and daily life.  The woodwork is an aesthetic gem in the big building and was done by the owner in what appears to have taken years and is an ongoing process. Terracotta tile floors with bits of blue and Spanish design around the bed finish our room off with comfortable warmth. The bathroom has a large open European style shower and there are patchwork curtains at the end of the bed for privacy and shelter from the morning light. I can hear little bells and looking up there is a herd of goats and sheep coming down the road towards the farm-house. Good morning world!

I have already taken my camera for an impressive walk late in the  afternoon yesterday

hazy California coast mile 80.49 by Terrill Welch 2015_03_04 239

and again at sunset.

California coastal sunset by Terrill Welch 2015_03_04 439

Today after breakfast, I hope to do some painting sketches as it looks like another fine day here on the coast.  And with my coffee cup empty, so another day begins on our coastal trip. With my painting gear on my shoulder, rubber boots on my feet I head out and cross the creek near the shore.

Howard Creek Ranch by Terrill Welch 2015_03_04 570

The blue-green of the sea is mesmerizing. I just stand there for the longest time.

blue green of the California Pacific by Terrill Welch 2015_03_04 681

Eventually the surf connecting with the shore forces my camera up.

surf connecting at Howard Creek by Terrill Welch 2015_03_04 736

I begin an hour-long reference shoot of these favourite rocks

favourite rocks at Howard Creek beach by Terrill Welch 2015_03_04 790

along with the rest of the shoreline.

surf at 80.49 California by Terrill Welch 2015_03_04 744

Words cannot explain my full-body of emotions and the rhythmic vibration of the surf in my being. Eventually, I gather enough inner calm to decide where to do a painting sketch. I am unsure of the tides direction so the decision seemed obvious enough. I went up to the lookout.

setting up to plein air paint on beach at Howard Creek Ranch by Terrill Welch 2015_03_04 887

Removing rubber boots and socks I set up to work. People come and go behind me with little attention necessary on my part. About 45 minutes later, I call it done.

calling it done morning plein air painting sketch at mile 80.49 California one by Terrill Welch 2015_03_04 935

The light has of course already changed and the sea is now slightly washed out in the mid-day light but I am happy with the results of the sketch.

plein air painting on beach at Howard Creek Ranch by Terrill Welch 2015_03_04 907

About this point a young boy of around ten years old comments behind me – great job! I turn to look into this earnest face filled with appreciation. He goes on to explain that his art teacher had asked them to paint like Monet and that it was really hard but I had done it perfectly. The fact that he absolutely meant every word that he said and that he somehow had an intuitive understanding based on his own experience as to what was involved in creating this small painting sketch, immediately established a kinship. We chatted for a while about patches of colour and moving light. His sister and father watched and listened with more curiosity than real interest. I wonder if this young lad will someday become a full-time painter? One never knows who tomorrow’s artists are among us do we?

“morning on beach at Mile 80.49 California one” 9 x 12 inch acrylic plein air painting sketch

morning on beach at Mile 80.49 California one 9 x 12 inch acrylic plein air painting sketch by Terrill Welch 2015_03_04 924

So, if you are afraid of heights, or if you truly do get car-sick or frustrated with slow travel then this is not the highway for you. Other than that, I would say do it! I do believe that this section of the California One has become one of my favourite road.

We are home again now and there are large canvases in the waiting in the loft studio to explore more of my experiences. But for the moment, this is enough, more than enough.

 

What is one of your own favourite stretches of highway?

 

 

© 2015 Terrill Welch, All rights reserved.

Liberal usage granted with written permission. See “About” for details.

Creative Potager – Visit with painter and photographer Terrill Welch

From Mayne Island, British Columbia, Canada

For gallery and purchase information about Terrill’s photographs and paintings go to http://terrillwelchartist.com

March 2, 2015 / Terrill Welch

Plein air painting with the company of fellow painter Lena Levin

Seven days and seven nights at a leisurely pace we ferried and drove down the west coast from our Mayne Island home in British Columbia, Canada until we reach Fremont California in the Untied States. The last 30 minutes coming in on the 580  and finding our way to 880 freeway were the most challenging. I do believe every cell in my body was on high-alert by the time we pulled up in front of our Airbnb rental accommodations on Thursday afternoon. There the car has stayed parked until we leave later this morning!

But this Gulf Island rural painter was gifted with rare dancing thunderclouds, early spring-green Fremont Hills and dramatic light for two days of plein air painting. Fellow artist, Lena Levin, took me to one of her plein air locations in the Quarry Lakes Regional Park both Friday and Saturday morning. While Lena worked on a couple of larger surface in oils that she will finish in the studio, I did small acrylic sketches for reference later when I get back home to my own studio. It was fine way to spend a good part of a morning and early afternoon.

Here is an early stage of Lena’s first painting on Friday with my small setup in the background.

works in progess plein air painting in Quarry Lakes Regional Park Fremont California with Lena Levin by Terrill Welch 2015_02_27 063

I took the opportunity to capture Lena as she worked.

Painter Lena Levin at work in Quarry Lake Regional Park Freomont California by Terrill Welch 2015_02_27 086

There is a steady flow from brush to palette to canvas with pauses like those in music before the rhythm begins again.

Painter Lena Levin work in progress by Terrill Welch 2015_02_27 065

At times a kind of squinting concentration, that is familiar for me from the inside, crosses Lena’s face.

Lena Levin plein air painting in Quarry Lakes Regional Park by Terrill Welch 2015_02_27 069

If you would like to learn more about painter Lena Levin and see more of her work, here is the link to her website: http://www.lenalevin.com . I deeply enjoyed the time we spent viewing and talking about her work in her home studio space. So, if you are interested in her paintings and are ever in the area, I strongly recommend connecting with Lena and scheduling a studio visit.

Looking from my easel in the other direction, we can see the first of three sketch I did over the two mornings.

Plein air painting of Fremont hills in Quarry Lakes Regiona Park with Lena Levin by Terrill Welch 2015_02_27 078

“big clouds over the green Fremont Hills in California” 9 x 12 inch acrylic plein air sketch on gessobord

big clouds over the green Fremont Hills in California 9 x 12 inch acrylic plein air sketch on gessobord by Terrill Welch 2015_02_27 133

In the second sketch from the first day, I allow myself to just simple soak up the beauty of those Fremont hills as the clouds created moving patterns across their surface.

“In their best greens Fremont Hills California” 8 x 10 inch acrylic plein air sketch on claybord

In their best greens Fremont Hills California 8 x 10 inch acrylic plein air sketch on claybord by Terrill Welch 2015_02_27 131

On the second day, I only did one sketch and I spent so much time on it, I am not sure it can be called a sketch any longer, certainly not a “quick” sketch. I was just enjoying the spaces in between and the rhythms of the moving clouds and light so much that I stayed with it.

“willows by the Quarry Lakes Fremont California” a 9 x 12 inch acrylic sketch on canvas board.

willows by the Quarry Lakes Fremont California 9 x 12 inch acrylic sketch on canvas board by Terrill Welch 2015_02_28 064

There are some disadvantages to painting in an area for only a few days. My memory of Fremont, California will forever be referenced to this fantastic dramatic light on the brilliant green early spring hills and the good company of a fellow painter, Lena Levin. It is wonderful reference but maybe not very representational of this landscape overall. But you know what? I will take it and keep it as mine :) This along with the most delicious and succulent free-range duck that we had for dinner prepared by Lena’s partner Eugene. Combined with rich conversation, walls filled with paintings, much laughter and enjoyment the memories are sustaining.

As many of you know by now, my David is NOT one for visiting. During the three weeks or so of our trip, we made plans to only meet with two people who have both in different ways been part of my online inner-circle for several years. So, I am also grateful for his participation and enjoyment of these visits.

While I pack this morning for our slow journey back up the coast of California and Oregon to our home in British Columbia, Canada – my glass of good-living is full. I have exceeded my expectations for this trip already. To those that gave us so many ideas for what to do in San Francisco and where we might like to stop in our travels along the coast, I thank you! We of course didn’t do many of these activities but in knowing what we could do it was a conscious choice. I am not sure if I will have the opportunity post again before we return home but know that we are fine and poking along someplace on a windy highway along the coast heading north.

What are one of your own road trips that remain a sustaining reference for well-being?

 

© 2015 Terrill Welch, All rights reserved.

Liberal usage granted with written permission. See “About” for details.

Creative Potager – Visit with painter and photographer Terrill Welch

From Mayne Island, British Columbia, Canada

For gallery and purchase information about Terrill’s photographs and paintings go to http://terrillwelchartist.com

February 24, 2015 / Terrill Welch

A wild lighthouse chase over on Seven Devils Road and other stuff

The sun is rising all peachy and I have only a few minutes with a low connection so this is going to be quick. Our weather is holding on the Oregon coast it looks like for a bit yet. Here are a few captures from the last few days.

Smaller rocks on Cannon Beach

Smaller rocks Cannon Beach Oregon by Terrill Welch 2015_02_21 301

The brute on Cannon Beach which I walked for 45 minutes to get on the other side of for this portrait.

The brute on Cannon Beach Oregon by Terrill Welch 2015_02_21 324

Sunset at Neskowin with a lone figure standing in awe at its beauty.

Lone figure sunset Neskowin Oregon by Terrill Welch 2015_02_21 556

First light on shore at Neskowin.

first sun in  morning Neskowin Oregon by Terrill Welch 2015_02_22 001

Plein air painting a little later in the morning.

morning plein air painting at Neskowin Oregon by Terrill Welch 2015_02_22 015

I was photographed by Penny Lulich while we were visiting and I was workin.

Terrill Welch painting at Neskowin Oregon by Penny Lulich February 22 2015

As someone commented “a nice place to have an office.” In fact, we liked it so much that we stayed an extra day and watched the sun come up again.

morning sky at Neskowin Oregon by Terrill Welch 2015_02_23 017

Threading a day at Neskowin Oregon

threading a day at Neskowin Oregon by Terrill Welch 2015_02_23 298

with a long walk up the beach.

morning beach at Neskowin Beach by Terrill Welch 2015_02_23 228

But I did promise you lighthouses and a many devils road and we are about to get to that adventure after breakfast at the Hawk Creek Cafe. Well, maybe we will slip over at Seal Rock for a gander first.

Seal Rock Oregon by Terrill Welch 2015_02_23 340

 

So as you go through Reedsport start thinking lighthouse, any lighthouse will do but maybe start with Umpqua Lighthouse. Nope it is not out on a rock with waves crashing around it but high on a cliff behind a chain-link fence. Still it is a thing of aged beauty and it was time for bread and cheese and a stretch.

Umpqua lighthouse Oregon by Terrill Welch 2015_02_23 364

It was after, just as we navigated to the scenic route through North Bend that things got a little confusing. David says “what are you looking for?”

“A lighthouse.” I reply with complete confidence.

“Which one?” he inquires looking at the map.

“The first one.” I confirm. “Someplace near Charleston.”

The GPS is sending us through the city section in a maze of turns until we finally end up at Cape Arago with no lighthouse in site. But there are sea lions on the rocks.

Sea Lions at Cape Arago Oregon by Terrill Welch 2015_02_23 377

And the view is spectacular

Cape Arago Oregon by Terrill Welch 2015_02_23 387

In fact there is a red dot on the far row of large rocks which I later believe to be the missing lighthouse. As we go back the way we came I see it once through the trees but that is it. There is no long access to it according to the section of our guide which I didn’t read until after supper last night. At this point David is weary of stop and go and is just as happy to see me punch in “Bandon” on the GPS. Off we go eventually along Seven Devils Road which I am sure was named to taunt lighthouse chasers.  David has his eyes closed and doesn’t say a word as I get close to Bandon and turn left before the bridge after spotting the sign for another lighthouse. The wind is whipping up sand that sticks to your smile as soon as the door opens. David just turns a little harder into the passenger seat and pretends I am not getting out. I take a couple of shots of the abandon Coquille River Lighthouse but nothing pleases me in the early evening light. I give up and drive us back out and over the bridge to Bandon turning into old town looking for a place to stay. I drive right through and off on a side road that gives me a good view of the lighthouse which I am sure is the reason I just had to go this way. David opens one eye but says nothing.

Coquille River Lighthouse Bandon Oregon by Terrill Welch 2015_02_23 433

I pull out the maps and seriously look for a place to stay. We decide on the Bandon Inn overlooking the old town and are not disappointed. We are given a lower than low season rate by a warm desk clerk for a lovely room with a continental breakfast. For my B.C. folks, it could just as easily be the Super 8 in Williams Lake but with a better view.

Today we should find our way through the Oregon Redwoods and maybe into Northern California. I do see a couple of lighthouses on the map at Crescent City…. shhhh! Don’t tell David. He is still sleeping and it might give him nightmares.

When was the last time you were on a wild goose – lighthouse – chase?

© 2015 Terrill Welch, All rights reserved.

Liberal usage granted with written permission. See “About” for details.

Creative Potager – Visit with painter and photographer Terrill Welch

From Mayne Island, British Columbia, Canada

For gallery and purchase information about Terrill’s photographs and paintings go to http://terrillwelchartist.com

February 10, 2015 / Terrill Welch

Today is a Wash Right up to its Painted Edges

Oh no! Is that the weight of the other being moving to the edge of bed? Fog-filled blinking tells me it is so – and is it daylight? How did that happen? My day is a wash right up to its painted edges. I am done for! Grasping for my glasses on the windowsill, I leap, hobble and half-run and then stumble past the surprised being still sitting slumped on his side of our shared nightly nest.

“Hey!” He bellows. “I was up first.” But I am already up the four steps and rounding the last corner of the curved hallway to the second most important room in our dwelling.

“No matter” I silently grumble and push the lock into place on the bathroom door. Mine first.

Returning to the kitchen the mighty he is thinking about putting the water on for coffee. I swoop in grabbing the kettle just as his fingers are about to curl around the handle. I don’t look his way. In fact, I pretend that he has vanished into the mist. Filling the kettle I slide or possibly slam it back onto the stove.

I lament “I hate it when you get up at the same time as me. It ruins my whole day!”

To his credit, this other being knows when to retreat. He also knows when not to take things too personally. He grins and goes to his study until I give the “all clear” call. My coffee is in the thermos and I am existing past the counter. It is not really okay to brush my shoulder on your way by yet but I won’t bite as you pass by.

We both know it is not his fault that I have slept until the leisurely hour of 9:00 am. We both know that it was not his idea to book a solo exhibit, design a catalog to go with it and plan a three-week trip to California and returning only two weeks before the show opens. Nope. This ill-conceived planning debacle belongs to me – the artist who has no problem imagining what is possible beyond our wildest dreams.  So help me, do my rational, conservative, though underdeveloped, personality traits have no spine at all? Don’t they know we are in this together? If one part of us is set adrift – well there goes the rest of us – castaway with the next high tide and headed for The Great Pacific Trash Vortex. And the Creative Potager blog post isn’t even written!!!! It all sucks! The whole thing sucks! For tree frogs and garden worms I have no idea how to float this boat back to my west coast shore!

Okay-okay, let’s calm down and do it by the trusted “to do list” review. It isn’t really completely a loss – yet! The twenty-two paintings for the exhibit are all done. There are only two more to set up to paint their edges like the three that I just finished.

Today is a wash right up to its painted edges - artist's lament by Terrill Welch 2015_02_10 011

If we don’t think about the fact that these last two will require an extension in the to the kitchen table and leave us eating off the coffee table, it isn’t really all that bad. The postcard announcements are printed.

West Coast Landscape as Home

The venue menu at Camassia Cafe for opening night April 4th is set. The posters and local ads have been contracted out and are on schedule. The catalog is 80% complete – even though we all know that the last 20% takes 80% of the time.

If only he had slept in later than me. If only I had those three extra hours I usual have in the morning. If only I had a separate much larger studio space so there was room for my assistant to work and me at the same time. If only my mother was a fairy godmother and I had inherited her wand. Sigh.

Welcome to my artist’s morning. Now back to work….

What is your first strategy to escape bobbing in the water of unreasonable blame when panic sets in?

 

© 2015 Terrill Welch, All rights reserved.

Liberal usage granted with written permission. See “About” for details.

Creative Potager – Visit with painter and photographer Terrill Welch

From Mayne Island, British Columbia, Canada

For gallery and purchase information about Terrill’s photographs and paintings go to http://terrillwelchartist.com

February 3, 2015 / Terrill Welch

Three Painting Secrets Shared Over Tea

Let’s light the wood cook stove in the outdoor courtyard while a gentle rain wakes nearby tree frogs.

morning with a fire in the wood cookstove by Terrill Welch 2015_02_01 018

While you are listening, I shall split some wood and set out the makings for tea.

Tea by wood stove in the outdoor courtyard by Terrill Welch 2015_02_01 004

There are a couple of cushions on the cob bench that are just right for us. Now, I mentioned a few painting secrets didn’t I? To refine this just a little – these are this particular artist’s painting secrets that I am referencing, not the generic painter from all genres and all times. Lastly, they are painting secrets only in if we haven’t yet taken the time to consider their relevance in relation to our painting language.

The first painting secret is to hold a tension between knowing and the unexpected. To clarify, I don’t really believe in divine intervention or creativity passing through me from some higher power. Admittedly, my conscious mind is seldom in control of my brush except as I begin and at the completion of a work – so possibly “belief” is irrelevant in this situation. However, I start with an intention. I choose a subject, a medium, a surface and an approach or painting problem. I decide which pigments to set out. This is the “knowing” part of the equation which is heavily influenced by frequent practice such as with this first of two acrylic painting sketches from yesterday.

“Arbutus tree  in ray of sun” 8 x 10 inch acrylic painting sketch on gessoboard (update February 6, 2015: this sketch is now sold)

Arbutus tree  in ray of sun 8 x 10 inch acrylic painting sketch on gessoboard by Terrill Welch 2015_02_01 057

This painting sketch didn’t come out of nowhere.  Even though it was painted in the middle of an indoor market day with not a glimpse of the foggy sea visible, the sketch is inspired by an experience from the day before.

Slivers of Moments by Terrill Welch 2015_01_30 022

While walking, a friend asks if I had done a painting of this particular arbutus tree. I reply – not yet – as I frame my composition – maybe tomorrow though – and the shutter releases. It is these slivers of moments overlapping one-over-another that find their way onto my canvases. How do I capture our relaxed ease which followed from lunch together and now an afternoon January stroll around a small piece of our island? What colours and brushstrokes will translate these feelings, this remembering? It is so much more than this arbutus tree hunch over the sandstone shore, where the sun catches and the fog shifts upon the sea.

This painting sketch is a first attempt to answer these questions. I really haven’t a clue what the answer is but I find I must set myself to the problem just the same. This is the “unexpected” half of the equation. I must move forward without knowing. I believe this is where some painters and creative beings feel they are merely a vessel for the work to come through. I am not convinced. The focus and full-body experience as the brushes move paint onto canvas is undeniable and yes possibly spiritual in approach. But I still claim awareness of my physical presence and leaning heavily on a large basket of experience both from painting and from life. The unpredictable combination of these elements is what is leads us to the unexpected. It is the tension between this knowing and embracing unknown possibilities that is important. To achieve results I must show up and practice my craft frequently. Relying on divine intervention will only get us so far. Then there is work to be done.

The second painting secret is finding precisely the intimate details that are essential. Then I paint these aspect with all of my senses and layers of brushstrokes to expose this specific intimacy.  For a landscape or still life painter there is always movement even when it is not at first noticeable. This is because the earth is moving. This grants us a readily identifiable intimacy in our relationship to a precise aspect of that time of day, a specific season combined with our years of experience with this spiraling cycle. These years of experience I reference are is “noticing years” rather than “birth years” which is significant. Currently, with the amount of time humans spend in artificial environments, a person can go their whole life with little conscious awareness and possibly no interest in our earthly relationship in the universe. We must notice in a conscious way in order to deepen and strengthen our painting vocabulary of movement and the interrelationship of light and our subjects. I sense this to be true even in abstract work. The paintings of Richard Diebenkorn whose work will be shown at the Royal Academy in London England March 14 to June 7 2015.

Yet, though our urban surroundings mask our awareness to nature, it takes very little to awaken these sensory experience. Repeated deliberate observation is all that is really necessary. Take this second painting sketch “Steveston morning fog” an 8 x 10 acrylic painting sketch on gessoboard.

Steveston morning fog 8 x 10 acrylic painting sketch on gessoboard by Terrill Welch 2015_02_01 051

The fishing boats are important but they do not float on their own in the morning fog. They are imbedded in their surroundings and are experienced as small against a grand sky that touches right down to the sea. I made them even smaller in relationship to the sky for this reason than my photography reference information.

Morning Fog Lifting in Steveston B.C.  by Terrill Welch 2015_01_26 231

Maybe even too small perhaps. However, in this translation of my experience it is our human smallness in relationship to the sky and the morning light coming through the fog that was the intimate detail of significance.

The third painting secret I have to share is to release any notion of importance. We must take our work seriously of course but release any investment in a particular outcome of success, recognition or fortune. This doesn’t mean we relinquish these things completely but rather that they remain outside of the painting process and, as much as possible, outside of our lives in general. Yes, well-being is important. Yes, we desire and do much better with safe secure housing and nutritious foods. Yes, we need social appreciation and connection to varying degrees depending on our own temperament. But we need much less of what is defined as success, recognition and fortune than we are led through advertizing and media to believe that we do – particularly in North America. For example, my large old tea kettle has out lasted five electric kettles which I somehow thought were necessary. I gave up on the latter about three years ago. They were costly, environmentally unsustainable due to their continued need for replacement.  But I had decided for some reason that the electric kettle was faster and easier to use. In reality not so. Water boils in about the same amount of time whether in the kettle on the stove or with the plug-in variety. There is nothing helpful about having this extra contraption on the counter. I had unwittingly replaced experience for efficiency which if I unravel brings us back to the notion of my importance. I had important things to do so the most efficient path was the one that was most desirable. Hence, I purchased a series of ill considered electric kettles.

Let’s explore what we notice if we value experience over efficiency as we prepare and drink this cup of tea because this old wood cook stove still makes a fine cup of tea though it will take us about three times as long by the time we get the fire going and the water boiling. When I am sitting here in the outdoor courtyard I have no trouble at all remembering that the earth is on its winter turn and half way to spring. I can almost feel the trees releasing the oxygen I pull deep into the bottom of my lungs. This awareness is far more valuable to my painting than the importance of a huge following on social media, a cover feature in a national paper or financial wealth. The turning of the earth, the trees, the following, the national article and financial wealth are all temporary – just as we are. Therefore, I suggest that our attention is best spent on insuring our minimal needs while affording us as much freedom to be aware of our relationship to our environment as possible. And here is the rub – insuring minimal needs may requiring marketing and selling the paintings that are rendered in these passages of freedom awareness we have created by attending to only our minimal needs. Still I will argue that success, recognition and fortune are not an adequate definition of a painter and are useless and possibly harmful aspect to attend to as an artist. They are distractions that defuse our attention from our own temporariness. Resisting mortality is futile. Success, recognition and fortune are temporary observations that spiral around through time, for only a short while. Then these observations, along with the physical paintings will disappear just a we did maybe a few hundred years before. We can’t cheat mortality and the effort to stall the inevitable interferes with what must be painted today.

With these three secrets, the waves can then roll as if moved by our breath.

detail Sea and Stones French Beach 12 x 16 inch walnut oil on wood with 1.5 inch cradle by Terrill Welch 2015_02_01 067

(detail Sea and Stones French Beach 12 x 16 inch walnut oil on wood with 1.5 inch cradle)

The sky can open up as never before remembered.

detail Sea and Sky French Beach 12 x 16 inch walnut oil on wood with 1.5 inch cradle by Terrill Welch 2015_02_01 060

(detail Sea and Sky French Beach 12 x 16 inch walnut oil on wood with 1.5 inch cradle)

Well, the last of my tea is cold and it getting dark. Time to call it a day. Before I go, I want to introduce a new blog by a fellow artist and colleague Lena Levin. Some of the ideas I have shared here Lena explores from a historical, academic as well as personal perspective at “Sonnet in Colour.” She recently introduced this new blog in her newsletter as follows:

There is this almost inevitable flavour of self-display in writing (and showing paintings) publicly, and I am extremely introverted — I really don’t want any self-display. Even now, a huge part of me would prefer to just shut up and go paint in solitude and silence. Or read something, or listen, or see. But there is also this feeling that Shakespeare, and sonnets, and paintings, and art in general — all these things often thought of as high-brow, inessential luxuries — are in fact urgently relevant to our day-to-day lives, even desperately needed. And maybe — just maybe — I might be able to share something which someone else needs; open some doors, show some pathways to what fills my own life with so much joy and happiness.

This is why I’ve decided to structure the site not just around the sonnets, or paintings, but around three themes, which — in one or another way — play a crucial role in everyone’s life: “Self and Consciousness”, “Love”, and “Time and Mortality” (with sub-headings to be added as the site grows).

I hope you enjoy reading her writing and viewing her paintings as much as I do.

Now, while I gather the tea items and carry them back to the inside kitchen…

What is one of your creative secrets?

 

© 2015 Terrill Welch, All rights reserved.

Liberal usage granted with written permission. See “About” for details.

Creative Potager – Visit with painter and photographer Terrill Welch

From Mayne Island, British Columbia, Canada

For gallery and purchase information about Terrill’s photographs and paintings go to http://terrillwelchartist.com

January 20, 2015 / Terrill Welch

The Ordinary and the Painter

Our attention is called to focused on the grand, the absurd and the unbelievable while our everyday ordinary life is often trivialized and overlooked.  I mean who hasn’t seen a clip about the predator who lovingly cared for dinner that was still a baby? Or a new discovery of a brilliant someone who was overlooked or found in an unexpected place?

So what is a painter’s life about anyway? Is it stylishly waving a brush across canvases in the studio? Or is it acquiring art collectors, collecting fans, preparing for solo exhibits, wishing for galleries shows and meandering museums? Is it dreaming of having work recognized and valued enough to make a thriving living? Well maybe, in a small part, it is these things. Mostly for this painter though, it is about tending to the ordinary. In my response to a long time blogging friend Laurie Buchanan’s post “A Twist on Impressionism” this morning, I said “I like to think that I am leaving an impression about the value of the ordinary – the things that we have the best chance of giving and receiving freely and in abundance like listening, laughing, kindness, caring, helping, sharing, observing, being present and being thoughtful.” But what does this really mean? As a painter how are these ideals expressed? What is it to tend to the ordinary?

Come for a walk or three with me and then we will come back to the studio and a current solo exhibit. We shall see if we can sort it out together.

First let’s ring the bell in the garden for attending to what is around us.

A bell for attending by Terrill Welch 2015_01_15 015

It could be the heavy mist hiding a view next to the trail.

grainy dampness of land next to the sea by Terrill Welch 2015_01_10 024

Or a pair of reading glasses carefully hung in a tree for their owner to come back and find.

eye level by Terrill Welch 2015_01_15 166

It might be a hand-knit mittens that warm small hands left on a picnic table.

warming small hands by Terrill Welch 2015_01_15 162

Or it could simply be the winter light taking a sideways entrance into a Japanese garden.

January sun in Mayne Island Japanese Garden by Terrill Welch 2015_01_15 028

Whatever it is that we attend to in our observation is occurring whether we notice or not. It is the ordinary everyday aspects of living. But we see them in fresh and frequently meaningful ways. The mitts reminded me of my childhood and the effort my mother put into making them for us. I desired to see them returned to their owner and placed the photograph above in a local private Facebook group. They were discovered on the post and retrieved by the owner. I have very poor eyesight without my glasses so a pair of reading glasses missing on an island where another pair can not be purchased sparked the inclusion of that image on the same post as the mittens. The image of the mist hiding a familiar view reminds me that no two days or moments are ever exactly the same and different does not mean less intriguing or valuable. This is reinforced by catching the lengths of low sun in the Japanese garden. Only for a very few minutes will it be there and then these tree too will slip into the background shadows.

But what do these experiences have to with being a painter of our natural environment?

Well, sometimes on a walk where this image was captured of the willow tree

Mayne Island winter rain by the willow tree by Terrill Welch 2015_01_05 074

I go back with my paints, paintbox and brushes to paint. But remember how I just noted that no two days are ever exactly the same?

Mayne Island willow tree in fog by Terrill Welch 2015_01_07 009

Even though the fog is so thick that it settles in damp layers on my skin, I set up anyway and go to work.

plein air painting down by the willow tree by Terrill Welch 2015_01_07 026

In fact, it the humidity is so high that the acrylic paint won’t dry enough to allow me to layer it on painting sketch. So in the end, I know without a moments worry or hesitation that it may be less than an accurate translation of my ordinary everyday experience of the willow tree. But it is still the result we have isn’t it?

“Mayne Island willow tree in winter fog” still wet plein air acrylic sketch 8 x 10 inches

Mayne Island willow tree in winter fog still wet plein air acrylic sketch 8 x 10 inches by Terrill Welch 2015_01_07 046

Back in the studio, I may visit the subject again. I will have my photography and my painting sketches for reference. Again, it may or may not lead to a successful final work but this we will both know – I have attended to an aspect of my everyday with observation, appreciation, curiosity and gratitude. It is a good day for this painter when this is so.

These collections of experience and memory are rendered in multiple layers using my full-sensory awareness of an ordinary day. This is what I wish to capture in my work. Here are three of the twenty-two paintings in my current solo exhibition at International Fine Art Collaborative – Zen Gallery curated by Sukhee Kwon that I feel are exemplary in this aspect.

Title: S t o r m . W a t c h i n g
Media: 30 x 40 inch oil on canvas

Storm Watching 30 x 40 inch oil on canvas by Terrill Welch 2013_12_11 003

Title: T h e . R o a d .t o . t h e . W o r l d
Media: 12 x 16 inch oil on canvas

The Road to the World 12 x 16 inch oil on canvas by Terrill Welch 2012_09_02 019

Title: B o w l . o f . W i n t e r . F r u i t
Media: 12 X 16 inch oil on canvas

Bowl of Winter Fruit by Terrill Welch 12 x16 inch oil on canvas 2014_02_08 099

Many of you know the stories between all of the 22 works in this collection but the sharing of these three here will do for now. My thanks to curator Sukhee Kwon for presenting my work so beautifully. Thank you for coming with me on an ordinary day, in an ordinary life of a painter.

What are you observing today in your ordinary life?

 

© 2015 Terrill Welch, All rights reserved.

Liberal usage granted with written permission. See “About” for details.

Creative Potager – Visit with painter and photographer Terrill Welch

From Mayne Island, British Columbia, Canada

For gallery and purchase information about Terrill’s photographs and paintings go to http://terrillwelchartist.com

January 17, 2015 / Terrill Welch

Canadian Contemporary Artist Terrill Welch solo exhibit and auction

Terrill Welch:

Just so you know…

Originally posted on Canadian Contemporary Artist Terrill Welch:

Twenty-two of Terrill Welch’s paintings open in a solo exhibit today in the International Fine Arts Collaborative (IFAC) ZEN Gallery Facebook Page curated by Sukhee Kwon.

S O L O . E X H I B I T I O N : 1 2
Collection: T E N D I N G . T O . T H E . O R D I N A R Y
Artist: Terrill Welch

IFAC Zen Gallery Solo Exhibition 12 Terrill Welch
To view the exhibit click on the image or HERE.
Intro: Terrill Welch is internationally recognized. Her paintings are sold to art collectors throughout Canada and the United States as well as in Australia, England, Norway and Switzerland. Since 2010, more than 50 of her paintings have found their way into private collections.

TENDING TO THE ORDINARY is a selection of paintings chosen for their moments of engagement with our everyday world. The brushstrokes render the light, shadow…

View original 163 more words

January 11, 2015 / Terrill Welch

Art and Landscape connecting one brushstroke at a time

Some days simply overflowing with humble gratitude. An unexpected belly laugh from your partner, child or a friend. The dampness of morning air on your cheek. Maybe it is the sounds of the tree frogs nearby that does it for you? Or an eagle hanging on a branch with a robust sea coming to shore?

detail of WEST COAST EARLY EVENING WINTER SEA 16 x 20 inch by Terrill Welch 2015_01_01 253

What are those everyday experiences that remind you of your humanness and connection to nature?

Today my Art of Terrill Welch Facebook Page has 837 followers or “Likes.” Just so you know, when it reaches 1,000 I am going to auction off an 8 x 10 inch landscape painting sketch. It will be a new adventure for me though I have seen it done many times before. The bidding is done in the comments on the post and there is a small reserved bid to start. In order to comment one must have “Liked” the page. Do be careful though as it is easy to “unlike” a page you have already liked by accident

P.s. This is a snippet from WEST COAST EARLY EVENING WINTER SEA 16 x 20 inch which will be unveiled at my solo exhibition “West Coast Landscape as Home” April 3, 2015 at Camassia Café on Mayne Island, British Columbia Canada. If you are considering traveling to come to this opening, now is the time to make plans as it is the Saturday of Easter Weekend.

All the best of a fine Sunday to you!

 

© 2015 Terrill Welch, All rights reserved.

Liberal usage granted with written permission. See “About” for details.

Creative Potager – Visit with painter and photographer Terrill Welch

From Mayne Island, British Columbia, Canada

For gallery and purchase information about Terrill’s photographs and paintings go to http://terrillwelchartist.com

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