rocks and mussels

"rocks and mussels" oil painting by Terrill Welch

11X14 by 1.5 inches water miscible oil painting.

View full resolution image here.

rocks and mussels” is inspired by a piece of remote the beach at Point No Point on south western Vancouver Island. It is a rugged area close to the end of the Strait of Juan de Fuca and open sea. The rocks are of mixed texture and form. Some are large hard slate black stones rubbed smoothed from the surf and others are smaller, rounded and warm ochre and cream in colour. Seaweed seems to drape themselves over either. Though the when you look closely mussels appear to like the darker rocks. But since they are sometimes clustered together it is often hard to tell.

I have been coming to this area for over twenty years, sometimes for lunch and a stroll through the trails and other times to stay for a few days in one of the cabins. The last time I was there was in December 2009 for our honeymoon.

I had set a challenge when painting this piece to be able to paint the darker seaweed on top of the lighter rocks. However when I look closely, the light was the dark seaweed just at the crest of the rocks. Which made much more sense to me but the painting was still very challenging. I wanted us to feel like we were the sea about to wash over the mussels, the rocks and the seaweed. I also came to understand that the rocks are often washed away from the bottom quicker than the top as the sea pushes its way over the sand and withdraws back into itself. This leaves the stones with overhangs where there is no sand and the shadows seep in.

At some point this painting took on a life of its own and became separate from my reference images and slide down a path that was more about remembering how it felt, the smell of seaweed, the salt air, and the roar of the surf on distant rocks with the sun on my back lifting the mist off the trees on the bank above me.

Sprout Question: Have you ever discovered something different than what you thought you knew while creating?

© 2010 Terrill Welch, All rights reserved.

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

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Creative Potager – where imagination rules. Be inspired.

From Mayne Island, British Columbia, Canada

20 thoughts on “rocks and mussels

  1. “… and slid down a path that was more about remembering how it felt …”

    Terrill – I find it fascinating that your painting morphed while you were working on it.

    Sprout Question: Have you ever discovered something different than what you thought you knew while creating?

    In crafting the proposal for my book, I learned that the manuscript is really more about generating abundance for the heart and unleashing one’s potential than it is about dropping baggage (although it’s that too). While writing the book I thought it was the other way around, but it became a changeling in the process.

    • Ah yes Laurie, the form of creativity doesn’t seem to matter does it? Changelings seem to show up in any creative process it seems – or at least mine. I sometimes feel I am not very skilled at keeping them in check so to speak. But it is just way to much fun to go whizzing along for the ride and then come back to do “tweaking” once the creative flow eddies into slower waters.

      Your rocks in your post today “Being Still” are similar to the ones I was trying to describe that are at Point No Point but not as large as these. What a magnificent photo! I am greatly enjoying your “University of Life” series of post.

  2. Terrill – I like how you said, “But it is just way to much fun to go whizzing along for the ride and then come back to do “tweaking” once the creative flow eddies into slower waters.”

    I’m glad you’re enjoying the University of Life series. The trip to Nova Scotia not only netted lots of rest and relaxation, but a boon of nature photographs as well. Standing on those MASSIVE rocks was an amazing experience! They do a great job of portraying “Being Still.”

  3. Your question: Have you ever discovered something different than what you thought you knew while creating…
    My answer: In 2006 I thought I was setting off on a journey to write one story. Now four years later, I have finished untangling that one story. The result was the completion of one story and the beginning of another.
    The not knowing…that is the journey…that is the delight.

  4. I like how your picture turned out, even though it proved challenging.

    I so often have no idea what I’m going to write–or what photographs will present themselves. Therefore, I am almost always surprised to read/view what has surfaced.

  5. learning something different than what i thought i knew is always the goal of my creative process, and i like to think i am successful on occasion. learning is one of the things that keep me engaged in life amd making marks is always a learning process. Each mark can be a unique opportunity to learn something if I am open to it.

    • Jerry, do you ever notice patterns of marks in your drawing and painting? I was noticing that I had some patterns of making marks lately. I don’t seem to remember that from before.

      Oh! Thank you for the sprout as well:))) I didn’t mean to just jump right in with a question but it came up faster than protocol.

      I tend to work a whole surface at once until I get down to tweaking and doing what I call cleaning up the rough edges (if I’m writing this is where editing happens). It was in working the whole canvas trying to get enough paint down to make it move as I wanted that I began to discover this whole series of brush strokes not unlike musical notes or a zippy little tune with several verses and the odd repeating line.

  6. On your question, sometimes while writing first drafts of papers, I look at my main points and decide they better support a different version of the argument. Discoveries like that are good reminders for me of the importance of organization.

    • Slamdunk your sprout reminds me of the conversation Laurie had with me about underpainting in the “More Painting” post last week. I was trying to explain that underpainting in painting is similar to what you just describe about writing. Thank you for dropping by and leaving a sprout for us:)

  7. yes patterns of line and brush strokes always appear when there is any kind of repetition that is one of really fun parts about drawing and painting for me. Just as with music or poetry what makes pattern, or the repetitive marks, interesting is the breaks or stops.
    The silence makes everything seem louder.

  8. I love how when you describe the process I can feel the ebb and flow of the sea, like I was there. As to your question, I will often set out to do one thing, but as I work the art will decide to go in a different direction. I just have to follow.

    • Bobbi in having a wee browse of your blog I must say I like how you follow! I am not sure how good I am at following… when I use watercolour paints there is little choice but I think I have more of an ongoing dialogue with my creative muse and though she is usually very convincing – not always. These are the times when I usually fall on my head trying to reach something that is outside my grasp. Yet the learning is worth it. Thank you so much for stopping in Bobbi and for your sprout response.

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