Salish Sea 3 original oil painting by Terrill Welch

From start to finish a painting often has many pauses. Salish Sea 3 is a prime example as this small 8 X 10 inch seascape oil painting took two weeks from start to finish – mostly “resting.”

I begin as usual by working the underpainting.

In this series of paintings I have been inspired to paint the sky first and work into the picture from this vantage point. This isn’t a usual approach from me but it is what has been happening for the past two paintings. So we will go with it.

Next I start building up the blues.

As I continue to work a context is created for the painting to begin to breathe on its own.

Sorry about the bad photograph. I was having trouble with some glare from the light coming through the window of  the studio. Note to self: holding a painting and photographing it is not a useful strategy to resolve glare.

I begin to find my way into the painting – it is like running your hands over your bedding in the half-light of early dawn. You know where you are but there isn’t enough light to see beyond a few vague familiar shadows.

This is most often the place I pause. There is an excitement that rises from my bones and spreads up to the hairs on top of my head. I watch and wait sometimes only for a moment, sometimes stopping for tea and sometimes stopping until the paint dries. Today it was only long enough for tea. I wanted to work in the waves wet on wet.

Now it is time for a rest. It is a rest that last for nine days. I puzzle and muse. I move the painting around to different locations. I sleep on it. I glower at it. The painting is “okay… I guess” but it doesn’t have the SNAP I would like it to have. Finally, I decide what it is and what I need to do. A couple of small changes really. I will leave you to discover them if you choose. Or you can simply enjoy the finished work.

Salish Sea 3,  8 X 10 inch cotton canvas  original oil painting by Terrill Welch.

This painting will be shown as part of solo summer exhibition opening at the end of June. If you are interested in purchasing in advance of the show please contact me directly via email at tawelch AT shaw DOT ca . The price of this work is $280 Canadian unframed.

As for my other intentions, I started another underpainting but the taxes and tune up for Miss Prissy had to be rescheduled for next week. As my father would say “it’s just the way the cookie crumbles sometimes.”

But this is far too light-hearted as I pause for a moment send light to Japan and all areas experiencing the impact of the 8.9 quake and tsunami. This post was written before I heard the news last night on twitter about an hour after the earthquake off the northeast coast of Japan.

Sprout question: Where might your creativity need a pause?

© 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

14 thoughts on “Salish Sea 3 original oil painting by Terrill Welch

    • Thanks wolfsrosebud. Somethings do seem easier in hindsight but it is very intuitive work that requires that I set aside my thinking head and allow my creativity freedom to respond. I take these photos as I paint but do not reconstruct the process for you until I am finished the work. My body tingles with tension and awareness as I respond to my creative vision during the painting process – each journey into a painting is new, fresh and only marginally familiar. Hope that helps to expand on what after-the-fact looks easy 🙂

  1. Terrill – I love this descriptive sentence that you used, “I begin to find my way into the painting – it is like running your hands over your bedding in the half-light of early dawn. You know where you are but there isn’t enough light to see beyond a few vague familiar shadows”–it really made the process come alive for me.

    For me, the difference between the last two paintings is that in the second one, the white of the waves has “kick-butt-and-take-names.” They make you stand up and pay attention.

    I join my intent with yours in sending light to Japan and all areas experiencing the impact of the 8.9 quake and tsunami.

    Sprout question: Where might your creativity need a pause?

    I’m at that place right now with my manuscript. I’m deciding whether to go with my gut and ignore a suggestion that my editor made, or simply flow with her suggestion. It does give one major pause for thought.

    Have yourself a fantastic weekend!

  2. I never tire of watching this progression of your art work from start to finish Terrill.

    I’ve looked back and forth from the done piece to the one above and I find I actually like the UNdone (the one above the last one) the best. It’s softer and has a more ‘real’ feel to me. Of course the truth is they are both ‘done’ – just done differently!!

    • Good to hear Alison, because I was just thinking that people must be getting tired of seeing the progression and I maybe should stop sharing it. But if people are still enjoying it I will keep it up.

      Having a viewer like the second to last over the last is always a risk an artist takes when sharing the process of a work. Sometimes people even like the middle painting just after it starts to take shape best 🙂 In fact, the artist may even end up liking an earlier part of the progression. Each painting adds to our learning. There will be another. Overtime we build on our ability to decide when is our best stopping point.

      Part of the difference you are noticing Alison is the second to last painting was taken on a cloudy day and the last one was in full sun. Because I paint and photograph in natural light these variations are common. I checked the two images and rephotographed the last one twice before accepting the tonal difference between the two was simple going to have to “be.” That said, the feedback you provide is still accurate. In the final painting I pushed the water over the farthest out rocks to create more movement in the painting and lighted up the rocks on the shore in the middle on the right side for additional reflection. These are small changes but it does change the over all feel of the painting. Like you say – both are ‘done’ – just done differently. Thank you for taking the time to muse and share Alison.

  3. This post (and many other works-in-progress here that preceed it) is better than an art lesson, as it informs the process with the personal feel and the passion that suffuses every addition, every progression. My own 11 year-old son Danny (who’s dyslectic) is art-talented, and I’ve been showing him some of the posts here at Creativepotager, where I suspect they will rub off on him. In any case, another beauty is on the way!

    • Sam, I hope your son Danny knows that often times people who are dyslectic – like me and a few others who visit here – have a few talents that go beyond the average human – including the ability to put different pieces of unrelated information together in new ways and to hold multiple piece of non-linear information and connect them in a meaningful manner. It is our gem for having to mess up all those spelling tests. Thank heavens for computers or I would have been toast a long time ago. A tip for Danny – Google can find the right word for one of my creative spelling challenges faster than spell check and way faster than I can figure it out using a dictionary. And tell Danny there is nothing stopping him from doing anything he wants to do – he just has to figure out how it will work best for him. Thankfully he has an inherent creative advantage to figure that out.

      Here is the short version of my story for Danny: I did “okay” in school but was always told I could do better if I “applied” myself. I used to just want to cry when I read these words because I was applying myself. I wasn’t tested for dyslexia until I was 28 years old. A school psychologist that was on a board of directors for a Society I was working for had read some of my hand written reports (no computers then). I had just finished my first year of university transfer courses at the local college. He asked if he could test me to provide some specific support for my studies. I was moving a full days drive away that fall to go to university – a single parent with two young children in tow. So I agreed. He tested me. He then recommended that I not go to university because of my test scores. He said it was way harder than college and it would be too difficult for me. I told him I had made it that far and I needed to do this to be able to have a career that would allow me to adequately support my children. I was going. Three years letter I was very pleased to write him a letter to say not only had I got my undergraduate degree but that I had received a B+ average – while working half time and raising my two children. Was it hard? Yes. Was it possible? Yes. I have never doubted my ability to figure out how to do what I wanted to do again. I went on to do graduate level work with A and A+ marks.

      I am happy to share my personal secret study habits if anyone is interested but remember each person is different. My biggest tip was to never miss a lecture and listen as if I was the person writing the test. I took notes (filled with miss spellings and doodles) and I wrote “exam” beside the material I believed I would be tested on by the cues the teacher was giving me – I was right about 70-80 percent of the time – then I studied my notes because they were written in the way that I learn – by me. My second tip was to read to find the answer to a question. I did not read all the material – only what is critical…. If you can, find an audio book for the material you are studying or a movie of a the story you are studying. Learning isn’t about how fast you can read but how quickly and easily you can understand the content. Make it as easy as you can on yourself to understand the content – then read for pleasure… the really good stuff that you enjoy. Your reading gets better when you can relax and enjoy something rather than reading to understand a complex issue or under a deadline. Think a lot about how you learn and what works for you – then do it.

      Oh my that was long… 🙂

  4. Pingback: The People of Japan and our excellent friend’Murderous Ink,’ DVD giveaway, Stage Play ‘Iphigenia at Aulis,’ and films ‘Certified Copy’ and ‘Black Death’ on Monday Morning Diary (March 14) &laqu

    • For those of you who haven’t yet visited Sam Juliano’s regular Monday Morning Dairy posts please drop in. You are in for a real treat both in reading his post but also in reading the comments that are a reflection of a rich community of readers.

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

  6. Pingback: The People of Japan and our excellent friend’Murderous Ink,’ DVD giveaway, Stage Play ‘Iphigenia at Aulis,’ and films ‘Certified Copy’ and ‘Black Death’ on Monday Morning Diary (March 14) &laqu

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.