Bravely going off in another direction

Does it ever happen to you where you set an intention to do something only to find that you have done something else? That is what happened to me yesterday. I was all set to start writing up some story cards from the source material for Mona’s Work. As I turned around to pick up the material, I locked attention on my oil painting in progress.

(18″ X24″ 1.5″ canvas)

That was it. Next thing I know my creative energy was thrumming at a low hum and hours had disappeared as follows…

I paint the sandstone cliffs with their heavy underbelly colours. The sea rushes towards my brush – pushing and pulling. I witness the internal tension.

Exactness is not the same as expressing the exact emotion in your work.

I knew I needed the cadmium underpainting to hold the seascape together – I did not know it would also hold me together as I painted.

I remind my self to breathe through my nose as the sea air catches me – yet the only sound is the swish, swish, swish of my brush on the canvas. Stretched tight under my enthusiasm every now and again there is throng drum before the swish. Linseed oil seeps through where there had been the smell of the salt from the sea.

I haven’t forgotten, I know the spring of the canvas, I know that sandstone needs a hint of crimson in its tan mix, I know – yes I know. Ohhhhh! I know nothing! What is this tangle paint scrapping it out on the canvas? Time to stop.

Will it make a painting? Yes, it already is a painting. Will it make a gallery painting? This is never my painterly question.

Swish, swish, swish – brush on canvas – a sound as soothing as the surf coming ashore.

Mona’s Work is pushed forward into tomorrow, March 2, 2010 (the painting will take a few days to get tacky enough to work on again anyway).

Sprout Question: Have you ever felt like you cheated on your creative intention?

Oil painting is very different from my usual medium of water colour painting. With water colours I go from light to my darkest colours at the very end. I still block in my composition with underpainting but I have to be able to “live with” what shows through. With oil painting, I start with a contrasting underpainting colour to block in the composition. Because of the strong divergence of colour that will be in this finished painting, I stayed with one range of colour in the underpainting. In both mediums, I build the painting up over a series of sittings. However, it has been over 30 years since I have painted with oils. My brain feels the stretch from working the colours from dark to light, as I had been taught by an Australian trained artist, Sheila Timmins, when I was about fourteen years old. The water miscible oils paints I’m using now are a little different but I’m not sure exactly how yet.

Bonus: Here is a photo of a finished oil painting “The Cow” by my sister Sue Wiebe whose work some of you had asked to see. Excellent control of shadow and light.

And here is a close up of Sue Wiebe’s “Water Lilies” that shows the layering of paint which allows the water to flatten on the canvas and the lily pads to float on top.

Thank you sis for sending me these images to share. Artist Sue Wiebe lives in Armstrong, British Columbia, Canada. With an undergraduate degree in English, she has also completed a year at Emily Carr University of Art and Design. Every once in a long while she finds a free moment to sprout on Creative Potager.

© 2010 Terrill Welch, All rights reserved.

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

Purchase photography at

Creative Potager – where imagination rules. Be inspired.

From Mayne Island, British Columbia, Canada

18 thoughts on “Cheating

  1. Oh, yes, I feel like I’m cheating when I find a poem going through me and I have to write it down instead of editing my next chapter, but the feeling soon passes. The thrill of the new creation fills me up and I’m in love with the words and all they convey. I guess that makes me fickle!!
    And one more thing, Terrill. I have a question for you. How did your family produce two such talented sisters? I love what both of you do. Thanks for sharing it with us.

    • Amber delighted you have come by! I don’t think that cheating on an intention is “fickle” at all. I am sort of playing with us all with this question because in the moment I feel terribly guilty. No lets be really frank here. I’m do not feel guilty at all in-the-moment but directly afterward when I realize that I have done other than I intended. When it comes to creativity, my heart wins every time over my head. Hands down. Let the records state zero to a zillion for my heart. Glenn Howarth an art teacher I took figure drawing with used to say: “Sometimes to get the shoulder to find its place in the drawing you need to work on the foot or the chin.” To find my way into a concerted effort on Mona’s Work I have entered by way of the seascape painting. So rather than being fickle… maybe you are finding your way in the story you are writing?

      And as for the family with two artist. We were given the opportunity with materials, few distractions in our rural life and encouragement from our mother who also has an affinity for drawing and painting. My grandmother had a whole collection of cutout horses my mother had drawn and painted with poster paints on cardboard when she was young. My mom had made little stands for them so they would stand up. They were drawings of real horses that were her friends. Each had a name. With this kind of exposure, I can’t ever remember not believing I could create the things that were vivid in my imagination.

      Sue might have things to add from her experience when she gets a chance to come by. She is twelve years younger than I am and though we grew up similar there are some significant difference. For example, our parents moved a lot while I was growing up. Sue lived in the same place and went to school with the same children until she left home.

  2. “I paint the sandstone cliffs with their heavy underbelly colours. The sea rushes towards my brush – pushing and pulling. I witness the internal tension.”


    Thank you for sharing your sister’s work. It’s obvious that Spirit was extremely generous to your family when handing out creative genes!

    Sprout Question: Have you ever felt like you cheated on your creative intention?

    Let’s just say there has been an occasion (or 23) where I’ve allowed myself to be derailed …

    • Laurie, only 23 you say? You have been counting? Thank you for your sprout Laurie and I’m glad you enjoyed my sister’s work.

      I have often wondered what took people 10 years to finish a novel. I don’t wonder so much anymore. I started Mona’s Work in 2007. Things take as long as they take sometimes. I have found the same thing with paintings. Some seem to come easy and in only a few sittings they are finished and others take years from start to the final brush stroke.

  3. Yes, definitely feel the cheat coming on when I flit back and forth between something I’m writing and a music piece – if I focus too much on one, the other suffers. There are, though, the rare occasions where they feed one another and manage to compliment. Unfortunately, a decade usually has to pass for this to happen!

    Great article – love reading how other artists create and what they go through.

    • Thanks DJ for coming by and answering today’s sprout question. I am starting to understand that decade thing better more recently. Glad you liked the article. I am hoping that Creative Potager will keep growing connections between creative individuals so we can cook up the most delicious things to share with each other.

      P.S. to readers: I just heard from Kathy over at Lake Superior Spirit Her words of advice for blogging excellence in her new post “How to write a WordPress blog & get a zillion hits” is being featured on WordPress and she has received over 1400 views so far today and had 80 comments the last time I looked. You may want to go over and see what all the fuss is about.

  4. Oh my yes! I think I ‘cheat’ most every day. 🙂
    I start out with the best of intentions then next thing I know I’m hopping over to another project that is begging for my attention.
    Love how you put it…’cheating’. Sometimes I get frustrated with myself and other times I just go with it and enjoy. Like you said…it takes as long as it takes. Each creation is a total process and one I thoroughly enjoy. 🙂

    Love your sister’s paintings btw! Two awesome artists in one family!

    • Thanks Itaya for the kind words and the sprout. I’m so glad you came by. I like how you have accepted that “each creation is a total process” which brings me to share one of your recent success stories where you sold 70 copies of this note card design from an original painting! 🙂 Do you know what lead the buyer to your work or how they “discovered” you?

  5. This is as stunning a post as I’ve yet seen from this island paradise. The entire painting experience-and what crosses your mind-as you process your inspiration into brush strokes, and allow the sounds of nature to find expression in your visuals. Yes indeed on the control of shadow and light in that amazing painting THE COW, and I was glued to those two gorgeous oils of the seashore. This is Class A stuff! Wow!

    Anyway, yeah I always cheat with the creative process, but I still don’t find I save much time. I’m referring of course to blogging and the preparation of posts at my own site. Ha!

    • And an outstanding blog site Wonders In the Dark is Sam. Your reviews have personally been responsible for many new zip requests for movies. Also there are always these keen and knowledgeable ready to state an opinion and then defend it. Makes for a great read.

      Thank you for your thoughtful and appreciative feedback. Means a lot. Glad you found a moment to come by and leave a sprout.

  6. It’s a Fantastic Artist break to come visit the Beautiful work, and sharing of thoughts here, Terrill! You and your sister are gifted, indeed!

    Hmmmm… cheating, you ask? On myself? Never! 😉 hehe Okay, perhaps a couple of times temptation to delve into a Creation when other intentions were in play for the day.. 😉

    • Just a couple of times Antonia? You are amongst friends Antonia (and thousands of readers, whom I’m sure are friendly and just waiting for an opportunity to be friends:) Thank you for answering today’s sprout question and for your appreciation of the paintings. Nice to see/read you!

  7. Cheating creativity … hmmmm … that feeling comes when I have allowed the activities of every day life (groceries, laundry, running kids to events or bus, etc.) to squish the creative time and energy. Balancing and editing what needs to be done in order for our lives to function and be enjoyable for all, allows creative time for me. And everyone in our household is always excited to see what has happened on the canvas if it has been a painting day.

    Art was always a part of my life, as it was Terrill’s. We were blessed by parents who believed in us and, as Terrill said, gave us opportunity and materials. I had the added bonus of not just our mom for inspiration, but Terrill as well. I also had a great art teacher in high school who encouraged and made art courses work within my academic schedule whether I could actually be in the classroom or not. I still hear her voice in my head, “make your darks dark and your lights light.” Something my thirteen year old daughter now hears from me as she sketches.

    Thanks for all the nice comments.

    And Terrill, I sent the up close pics to show you details but I kinda like the idea, for the pond picture , of framing the piece of the painting I like best which was the lilies. Food for thought, editing a finished canvas. Ever done that?

    • Hi Sue I have been keeping an eye out for you. I figured you’d make it by at some point. Thanks for responding the the sprout and other questions that have come up through the comments. And thank you ever so much for accepting my invitation to have your work shown on Creative Potager. It was such a pleasure to do this together.

      Now for the issue of cropping a finished stretched oil painting. I have no I idea how to do that. I’ve done it with my watercolour paintings many times but not a stretched canvas. Lets leave it out there and see if anyone responds.

      Does anyone know how to edit or crop a finished oil painting?

    • I am laughing this morning Coffee Messiah because your sprout is a very happy shoot in our “Cheating” creativity bed. This has certainly been the case for me these last months where I have given the muse a loose rain and followed my own inspiration. What a ride! Thank you for coming by:)

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