The Essence of Things

“You should paint the essence of things” Pissarro instructs a younger artist.

“Where we are separate” quick water-colour painting sketch by Terrill Welch

Last evening I was having a love affair with the work of  Camille Pissarro (1830-1903). I have often had comments on my work about its impressionist style. However, having not formally studied art, or the history of art, my self-taught-ways left me replying “I don’t know much about the principles of impressionism. I just like to capture the light and the essence of my subject. The energy in a work should be alive and vibrant even if it means sacrificing correctness.”  Last night when I read The Life and Works of C. Pissarro by Linda Doeser (1994) I understood why people smiled knowingly at my comment and said no more.

“sitting” quick water-colour painting sketch by Terrill Welch

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

Sprout Question: Is there a particular method you use to capture the essence of things?

Note: Due to Easter Creative Potager will post Monday to Thursday this week and Tuesday to Friday next week.

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From Mayne Island, British Columbia, Canada

12 thoughts on “The Essence of Things

  1. Terrill – I especially love your piece, “Where we are separate” and when you said, “The energy in a work should be alive and vibrant even if it means sacrificing correctness.”

    Sprout Question: Is there a particular method you use to capture the essence of things?

    I use “stillness.” I sit with something quietly for a while to capture (absorb the feeling of) its essence.

    • Thanks Laurie. Your approach of stillness is what I use as well… sometimes it is a split second of clarity that moves me to action and sometimes it is a more slow process.

      I’ve had the honour of spending hours drawing and painting both male and female nude beings under the direction of a seasoned artist and teacher Glenn Howarth (1947-2009). There is a transition or passage way from street clothes, robe, to nudity that a model must make and then return when the session is complete. Each model and artist had their own ritual and practices for how they take this journey together. Regardless of the variations, Glenn created a studio element for working in sacred space for both the models and the artists. His ability for long pauses mid sentence… The practice of inner stillness and openness was inspired throughout the three hour sessions. These paintings are from two these sessions.

  2. Terrill – You point to a vital element when you say, ” …for working in sacred space for both the models and the artists.” SACRED SPACE

    And you shed light on stillness when you said, INNER stillness. That is it – exactly.

  3. I once was a minimalist writer. I thought it was enough to say, it was a foggy day. Or there was a mountain. Until I spoke with a writer friend. She said she likes to go for long walks. She explained that as she walked she would try to capture the essence of what she saw. Sometimes she wrote with pen and paper, sometimes she wrote in her mind. Now, I follow her advice. Now try to capture the essence of things… fog…Lady Mayne swirles her gossamer viels as she dances — concealing and revealing her beauty. Now I try to help my reader see.

    • ewwww sweet Leanne! Yes it is about that showing rather than telling that engages us… is true of both painting and writing and I suspect other creative forms as well. I found these same element you speak about here in your post today about Earth hour at Leanneisms.

  4. Seeing, listening, sometimes touching, sometimes waiting… Whatever the ‘essence’ is in the end, first of all it is my own essence that I express capturing things. So I will exercise all my senses – physical or not – to capture the essence of what and who I am ‘in the face of things’, the most important thing to me that might be meaningful to others too. It’s about conversation, and to me it doesn’t matter whether or not I’m aware of the ‘essence’. Some part of me will be, in the end. Sometimes I only know after I created something, being surprised myself 😉

    • Jonahh I too find myself being surprised… such a wonderful thing to work on something and then discover other things that you didn’t even purposefully uncover. Thank you so much for stopping in an tackling today’s Sprout question. Great response and most appreciated.

  5. I think getting beyond the top layers of things and to the essence is a struggle that requires patience and thought. If I am not willing to invest the time necessary to learn about essence, than I am quickly disappointed.

    • Slamdunk I couldn’t agree with you more. You have eloquently captured the challenge. Thank you:)

      I figure it this way… there is no rush because death is part of life and so I am in no hurry. And I am not making this statement lightly – it is merely a fact we cannot afford to overlook. Going below the top layers and asking 2nd and 3rd level questions is a means for rich living that has nothing to do with our bank account. Where we need to be decisive is in determining what is right for us when it comes to simplifying… so that we can invest the time to explore be patient and thoughtful. I have mentioned John Daido Loori (June 14, 1931 – October 9, 2009) before but his book The Zen of Creativity:Cultivating Your Artistic Life is a great resource to help us figure out how to do this.

      What really makes everyday pop with possibility is when we have communities that come together like yourselves here on Creative Potager leaving such generous and gracious sprout responses. It makes my heart sing that so many people take the time to ask themselves “what is the essence?” Warm virtual hugs… all the way from another rainy night here on Mayne Island on the southwest coast of Canada….. Mmmmaaaaawwwwhhhhhh!

  6. Pingback: Creative Community « Creativepotager's Blog

  7. I am enjoying seeing the orderly progression in your garden of blogs and see the essence intended in these two pieces.

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