New original oil painting THE VIEW

This painting shall be a bit of a surprise I suspect. As I mentioned on Monday, I have only one 15 minute sketch of a figure, a few passages from The Underpainter by Jane Urquahart and an image for a painting that wouldn’t leave me along.

I set up my palette and haphazardly mix a couple of colours in the usual loose Terrill Welch fashion.

You may have noticed before, I do not usually sketch in my paintings but prefer to use an underpainting to guide the development of my work. However, I did put in just a view pencil lines on this 24 X 18 inch canvas for this one.

A few quick strokes with a large brush as the story begins to unfold…

“Still it moved me, this wildness, and so I drew Sara standing by windows, looking out towards the frantic lake, the hectic sky. I drew her stillness in the face of torn clouds and rain – I wanted that contrast. Also, I was attracted by the muted light that came into a room when the sun is buried under blankets of heavy clouds, the soft-blue tinge in lends to the skin.” (p,167)

Using my sketch as reference I create the composition – not standing as in the story but sitting and unlike the sketch, she is leaning slightly out a window. Neither the story, nor the sketch is a perfect fit. I am on my own with mostly the image of the woman in my mind’s eye for guidance.

The underpainting is complete. I need to let the painting rest and set up. If you look carefully you can see that the figure is clearly looking left as in the sketch and as I intended.

“The next day the storm had finally worn itself out. The sky was a piercing shade of blue, and not a tree, not a leaf was moving. But the upheaval in the lake, the thunderous noise, was worse than ever; the water inkier, the whitecaps whiter…. In the middle of the morning – there was sunlight now, coaxing an impression of pastel colours from under her skin – Sara leaned her forehead against the glass of the window and said, “I can’t do this I can’t stand her any more.” (p. 169)

I start to build up the image. The colours are harsh and seem like they will never come together. I am tired. I have been painting for a long while. I didn’t notice at this point but she is starting to come alive on the canvas and has turned her head slightly to the right.

“I put my brush down on the ledge of the easel. “All right, we’ll take a break then, “I said, though nothing in wanted to stop.

“No, it’s not that…” she said. “I can’t look at the lake any more. I can’t bear it.”

I stared silently at her familiar back. I never thought about what Sara would be doing while she was posing. I was interested in anything that belonged to her in the immediate vicinity, felt that knowledge of the objects around her would enrich my drawings and paintings. But while I was working I believed that the gesture I ha prescribed was absolute; her pose, my line, the contour of her shoulder working its way into the composition on the page. I believed that I was drawing – deliberately drawing space around me so completely there would be no other impressions possible beyond the impression I controlled.” (p. 170)

I am happy with how far I have come with the painting. But you can now see that she has turned her head completely and is looking out at the view on the right. Who am I to argue? Not that it would have done much good I am sure. This is one refined and determined woman.

“There full days of staring at a seething lake, larger and wilder than some oceans, a man seated behind you concentrating on the seventh vertebra of your spine or the blue veins at the back of your knees, the dispassionate scratch of the pencil reproducing the creases in you flesh. What did I know of that?” (p.170)

My body aches with the fatigue of painting. My mind plays with that of the woman I am painting. “Who are you?” I ask. But she does not answer. I listen to her essence as it slips between me and the canvas. Finally, I can do no more. I must leave it until morning.

“It would be years before I could admit that although I wanted every detail of her in my painting – her body, her ancestry, her landscape, her house – wanted the kind of intimacy that involved not just the rendering of her physical being but also the smell of her skin and hair, the way she moved around her kitchen, the sounds at the back of her throat when she made love, I would have preferred not to have been known by her at all.” (p.170)

I wake a five a.m. anxious for daily light. I write, I tweet and I fuss until there is enough light to paint. I switch my white paint out from the faster drying titanium to zinc. I review my blue paint. I fix my mind’s eye on the light and the reflected light. The room is lit by another window we can’t see. And there is the light from the sky and sea which we know is there but we only know this through the muscles of her back as she sighs into each wave and each bit of breeze coming off the water. The day goes on like this – one brush stroke over another. Then without warning, the painting is finished.

Oh, there are still a few things, possibly, to tidy up. But, for the most part, it is done.

I put down my brushes. I search THE VIEW.  Have I allowed her to know me?

Note: all excerpts in bold quotes are from The Underpainter (1998 paperback edition) by Jane Urquhart.

And THE VIEW is not for sale at this time.

Sprout question: Can you tell us about something your muse aches create?

NEWS FLASH: Knock me over with a feather! I have just discovered that I am on this international list of 21 Artist to watch in 2011 published by Skinny Artist.

© 2011 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

36 thoughts on “New original oil painting THE VIEW

    • You are welcome Kim. I wasn’t sure before I started posting the progress if people would be interested or not. However, it seems to fascinate our imagination to see things go from a blank canvas to a finished painting. I just have to remember to take the photographs when I take a break from painting or at the end of each day.

    • Monti it is true I am, for the first time ever, able to dedicate myself almost full time to my art. I do treat it like a sacred gift. Part of sharing is being in community with other creative beings like yourself. This week I thoroughly enjoyed your guest post “Creative Convergence” over on Daisy’s wonderful Sunny Room Studio blog. Your post about kindred spirits on the link you left us has me smiling. Thanks for sharing.

  1. i love seeing the progression of your work.
    I find it always a thrill to see which direction my work will take.
    I avoid having any pre conceived notions as to how a piece should look once done.

    • Jerry I am envious of your ability to “avoid having any pre conceived notions as to how a piece should look once done.” I sometimes wish that was the case. I usually start with an idea even if I am settling in during a sketching class. I pause for a few moments observing, waiting and then something seems to click and I am off. There isn’t a lot of detail at this point but I do have a vision, an intention, an approach or a glimpse as to what it is I am working towards. Other times I paint the painting in my head or in my dreams making edits and corrections as I go. Then I feel forced to pick up the brush and make it happen. This internal editing often has “no preconceived notions” as you have described it but by the time I pick up the brush I have a pretty good idea the direction I want to take a painting. I am open to changes during the painting but they are always the kind of changes that move me forward in the direction I feel compelled to take the work.

      I have heard other artists and writers speak of this kind of openness about their creative process as well. It seems so empowering and mysterious to me. I am wondering if it is a basic personality difference? I tend to be an internal processor in all aspects of my being. I sometimes edit so much before I speak that I have nothing left to say. There are times that a piece of writing or a painting or a photograph will simply seem to appear but usually, if I look, there has been a long and subtle thread of personal discovery related to its creation.

      Good to have you stop in Jerry!

      Dear readers, I have featured Jerry a couple of times here on Creative Potager but if you want to see some of his new self portraits or if you have never seen his incredible work, please stop in to his profile on The whole9.

  2. Terrill, you do amaze me with your grace, humility, and incredible passion for your work — your art and photography and writing. Creating something out of nothing is truly an experience of the divine. My congratulations, as well, for making “the list” of artists to watch 2011. Savor the limelight! 🙂

    • Daisy thank you for you kind words and appreciation. I am a little overwhelmed to be on the 2011 artists watch list for Skinny Artist – not just because it is a great honour but because of the important work Drew is doing in helping support recognition of a community of artists and creative beings. As any of us who create know, there is much time that is spent in isolation. Creating is vulnerable work that sometimes leaves the essence of our being exposed, raw and susceptible to the pain of external criticism but most often it is self-criticism that bites us in the bum. The work that Drew of Skinny Artist is doing goes a long way to counter-without-interference the necessary risk and vulnerability that come with creating.

      • Excellent thought re the vulnerability of the artist — glad to know more about Drew, sounds like another kindred spirit in our midst. Artists definitely need support from the outside world. As you say, we also need to support ourselves, and that can be the most challenging aspect of the process in many ways. One of my favorite books on writing says, one part of the brain wants to write, the other part doesn’t … so it’s always a struggle to get the 2 working hand-in-hand! Amen, and again, bravo, Terrill. Enjoy a nice weekend.

        • You too Daisy!

          Dear readers, Leanne and I are off tonight to see the No Sh!t Shirleys tonight where there is an open microphone (Leanne is reading) and ART on the wall (I’ve contributed two original framed water colour paintings to the one night show). If you click on the Shhhh listen page you can listen to their six outstanding voices. Own Two Hands is one of my favourites.

  3. I was so drawn to the 4th photo of the under painting in yellow with nothing else on the canvas – I just rested there for awhile

    Very interesting process – I do not think if picked up brush and paint I could accomplish the same with any effort. I am going to try to think of under painting though as I work on a short story I have in mind…what a concept

    • Patricia, I like was saying to Jerry, are marks are like fingerprints, each are different. You might be pleasantly surprised at how it turns out. I will be very curious to see how your short story works out. Please stop back and leave us a link when it is done.

  4. Terrill – Just a quick note between clients to let you know that I’ve been here admiring, Admiring, ADMIRING. I promise to come back and leave a proper comment when the opportunity presents itself.

    And CONGRATULATIONS on your News Flash — that’s F-A-N-T-I-S-T-I-C!

  5. Terrill, this may be my favorite. You have a wonderful way of allowing the image to come forth, and to see it realized from sketch to completed painting through these “process” photos is wonderful. I put the word in quotes because to me how you create seems so intuitive that process just seems to imply something that is mechanical, not a word I’d ever use to describe your work. Your mind’s eye brings your vision to life.

    • Maureen thank you so much for your reflections. It is always a bonus to get this kind of musing on a persons creativity from another creative being. Your words feel just right. I think you have captured the essential aspects.

  6. Terrill – I love what you’ve done here: shown the creation of “The View” in tandem with sharing from Jane Urquahart’s “The Underpainter.” This is a spectacular “twofer!”

    A woman who actually turns her head on canvas — I could see it take place! She is, indeed, “one refined and determined woman” (much like somebody else we all know and love)…

    CONGRATULATIONS on your news flash — That’s HUGE!

    Sprout question: Can you tell us about something your muse aches to create?

    Fluid stillness. I would like to write a piece that’s mercurial — like quicksilver; a piece that causes the reader to pause while simultaneously, taking them to great heights.

    • Laurie I can sense that you are about to write what you ache to create. I can almost taste and smell the paragraphs. Oops! I just touched one – that is how close it is.

      Thank you so much Laurie and it is HUGE!

  7. Wonderful post Terrill! Congrats on your mention by the Skinny Artist too. Quite an accomplishment! 🙂

    My sprout question answer: I don’t know what my muse aches to create right now. New things are being generated inside though, I can feel them building, but they haven’t started to “ache” yet.

    • Thanks Kat. I am very honoured to be included and yes I take it as a delightful, unexpected accomplishment that is a result of just doing what I do. Nice when that happens.

      Hasn’t started to ache yet Kat? Well, it is still developing, give it time and whatever you need to create next will burst forth like spring grass.

  8. This is one of the most extraordinary posts ever published at the Creativepotager’s blog, and not only because it showcases a maturation in artsitry, but rather because it intricately examines the work in progress and brings in an acute literary inspiration that guides and inspires the step by step creation of this masterful work. I found the fusion of words and image breathtaking, and feel like I have been giving a rare insight into the mind of the artist. To say that you’ve come a long way would be practically an insult. I think the results here speak far louder than that.

    • Sam, I am glad you have enjoyed the piece. This new painting is a slightly different style than most of my resent work and I don’t know if and when it shall show up again. Who knows, it my become a new way of painting but I doubt it. I have never been much of a realist in any of my creative work. My photography comes the closest.

      Dear readers, Sam is off to a wonderful adventure this weekend. You can find out more on his latest Wonders in the Dark post.

  9. Congratulations, on making the list, Terrill!
    Will the lady make an appearance tonight?
    My muse, ah, my muse, she is so fickle, but currently she is running wild with Turning. I have to slow her down, encourage her to ponder–in the writing of our book.
    Thank you for the passages, Jane Urquhart is one of my favourite authors. Away one of my favourite novels.

    • Ah yes Leanne you are on stage tonight at the Agricultural Hall. I will be in the audience cheering you on. Break a leg! I haven’t read AWAY. Must look it up. See you tonight Leanne!

      By the way, congratulations on your success with the relatively new The Sweater Curse blog! I was just by and 4,265 views – congratulations! Well done.

  10. What an Amazing process, and you’ve detailed it so well! You are so talented, Terrill, and your site is always such an exhilarating and inspirational space. Congrats on your latest accomplishments, and thank you for sharing the Beautiful journey.

  11. Hello Terrill!!!!
    It has been WAY too long since I’ve last been on here but life seems to take me away for a bit and then bring me back. As I Pieces, I seem to just go with the flow of it. To answer your Sprout question, I still want to write that perfect play or novel, I just can’t seem to satisfy myself. If I can’t make myself happy with it, I know it would fail if I released it from the private place I keep it with me to the world, never again able to protect it and myself from the failure I fear so much. When will I find myself on the right path to where I want my stories to go? It bothers me…

    • Joseph so good to see you! I read your comment twice and gave it some thought. I think the centre of the are the words “the perfect” anything. I believe we need to create and create again going as far as we can with each piece and building our creative strength as we go. Each piece needs to be released in a place and manner we feel supported and in a way that allows us to continue to grow as creative beings. That is what Creative Potager is about – have a safe community in which to share our creative successes, our challenges and even the things that do not work. I encourage you Joseph (and others) to release your creativity to the world in a manner where its strengths will be supported. Then move on to the next piece and the piece after that letting go of the idea of “perfect” and replacing it with “this is my very best with what I know today.”

  12. Congratulations on being on the 21 artist list!

    I love these posts where you share the stages of painting. It is fascinating & informative. I like the way you intermingled with text from Jane Urquhart’s book. I read & loved her book “A Map of Glass” – have you read this?

    Kat 🙂

  13. Just discovered your blog. Great stuff. I particularly love this piece and the way you have documented your process. It’s a pleasure to get inside the mind of a true artist for a few minutes. Do you sell your original sketches? I love the “15 minute sketch”!!

    • Welcome to Creative Potager Ally. I don’t know about being any truer than any other artist but I appreciate your feedback. Yes I do sell my original sketches from time-to-time. It is not so easy as they are charcoal drawings and very fragile when it comes to transporting. I have found that if I can get a photograph I like these are more durable – but not the same as the original of course. I will email you directly and we can chat further. Thank you kindly for your interest in my work.

  14. Pingback: STORM COMING oil painting in progress « Creativepotager's Blog

  15. Pingback: HEAVY CLOUD original oil painting by Terrill Welch « Creativepotager's Blog

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