Mountain Stands Alone

It was a good weekend for art sales here at Creative Potager but I will tell you more about that later. Right now I am going to share with you how I use photography as study for future painting. When I tell people I sometimes take up to 150 reference images for one painting and that I use them in place of sketches, I can see the confusion slip into the corners of their eyes as they try and understand what I am talking about. Let’s use my fascination with Mount Baker for an example.

In fact, Mount Baker may be the single most motivating factor for me to buy a 70 – 300 mm lens with an image stabilizer. I do alright with my 17-85 mm lens which also has an image stabilizer for most things. But that mountain is too far away from Mayne Island and I don’t think it is going to get any closer anytime soon – at least I hope not.

A photo study of a subject for a future painting is not about standing fixed in one spot taking one shot after another. It is about getting to know the subject in its context. It is about feeling my way into the frame. It is intuitive observation. This is what I call discovering a realism of subject rather than of object. There is a difference and I will expand on this in a future post.

Most times I go back to the same places at different times of day, during different seasons. Each time these memories and images get stockpiled as internal references for the work that will come later with paint on canvas.

I am finding that these studies seem to offer more in-depth of understanding of my subject  than en plein air painting which I had assumed would be the ultimate in painting my subject in its context. This is a surprise to me. Maybe it is that I haven’t done enough en plein air painting recently. I would love to hear from other painters about what their experience as been.

Of this particular photo engagement with Mount Baker, this is my personal favourite frame.

(image available for purchase here.)

I like the soft focused foreground drawing our attention to Mount Baker yet somehow still reminding us that a pile of rocks – is still just a pile of rocks.

So there you have it. A few images from my latest study of Mount Baker and the mountain stands alone.

Oh I didn’t forget – you want to know about the art sales over the weekend.

The first of the large original oil paintings KEEPING WATCH in the STUDY of BLUE solo exhbition has sold to a collector inVictoriaB.C.Canada. This means six of the fifteen paintings in this show are now sold.

Also, large canvas print of the photograph of GOING, a medium canvas print of FOGGED IN and eight cards of photographs and paintings sold to an unknown buyer on redbubble. Thank you whoever you are. Your support and interest in my work is most appreciated.

And thank you to all of you who are part of my creative journey.

Sprout question: What mountain in your creativity stands alone?

STUDY OF BLUE  solo exhibition open until Wednesday July 27, 2011.

© 2011 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.

FromMayne Island,British Columbia,Canada

Terrill Welch online Gallery at

16 thoughts on “Mountain Stands Alone

  1. Excellent post, Terrill. Many of the artists I know use photography as study. I like what you say about “feeling my way into the frame” and conceiving subject, not object. I’ll look forward to your future post on the latter.

    Writers also use images in writing ekphrastic poetry. Last Friday I used Lucian Freud’s “The Brigadier” as my source of inspiration for a sestina in which the general is holding an imagined conversation with his interviewer. I sat with that image for a while but once I felt my way into it (and I think with Freud’s work that’s essential), I was able to write the poem over several hours.

  2. Terrill – In addition to the photographs, your words that hovered off the page for me are: “It is about getting to know the subject in its context. It is about feeling my way into the frame. It is intuitive observation.”

    Sprout question: What mountain in your creativity stands alone?

    You’ve used Mount Baker as something you hold in high esteem. So with that in mind…

    The “mountain” in my creativity that stands alone is space. By that I mean spartan, non-clutter, cleared area, as little as possible and still get the job done.

  3. Well, when I look out my windows on a clear day I see Mt. Rainier floating across the lake…this weekend with a lovely pink glow and cloud cap… I crossed over Snoqualmine Pass for a wedding and thus saw it from the other side.

    this coming weekend I will see Mt. Baker because I am headed to Birch Bay – closer to you, to see family and celebrate my 34th wedding anniversary..

    The weekend after that, I will see Rainier, Adams, Baker, Hood and St. Helen’s as my airplane takes off for a wedding in the Rockies – Montana

    My partner loves the mountains and is going to spend 5 weeks biking the Mountain Passes from Canada to the Mexican Border – August and September…he is thinking about his legs and not so much about his creativity for vacation!

    I am drawn to water…I love how the Olympics just float over the bay as you have captured here in several of your pictures. Aren’t we lucky with this beauty to behold? I am grateful on an hourly basis for this beauty we enjoy.

    I seem to be dealing with a financial mountain today and it is taking a lot of creativity, but I am climbing upwards to some success. I have also torn the ligament in my heel and so I am truly limited to baby steps right now.

    Gorgeous pictures thank you for sharing

    • Thank you Patricia for your trips through the mountains! Wonderful story-telling and visual word tapestry. I had a friend that feel on hard times once. He put his bills in a bag and keep drawing them out until he ran out of money to pay the minimum amount on each. Then he would phone the parties whose statements were still in the bag and let them know that they didn’t win the draw but would be the first up the next month. It took several years but he finally dug himself back to solvency without going bankrupt – which may have been simpler but something he couldn’t live with. So I am very confident Patricia that you will take that financial mountain and bring it down a manageable size.

  4. Pingback: Sophie Cayless – Selected for exhibit “Ring of Green” | Brecksville Arts

  5. “Small and functional studio space” and “A place to read in my loft” are my two favorites — they really capture the feel — the essence — of your space. I love it!

    • Laurie I can see you reading in that reading corner,
      while I worked on a painting and,
      suddenly looking up,
      you would say
      “Terrill did you ever consider……?”
      And of course I wouldn’t have.
      Then you would need to tell me more about what your were reading and thinking.
      which would lead to a couple blog posts,
      with several others joining in,
      until pretty soon the studio loft would be bursting with creative beings and….
      we would have to move on to your place.

  6. Yup, I agree the longer/larger lens is the PRIZE for the totally awesome shot. Did you know that you can go to your local ‘lens shop’ and ask them to let you ‘try out’ the lens of your choice for a day (24 hours, that’s all – leave them a copy of your drivers lisence and they’re usually good w/that) AND inteject that you have a WORLD WIDE ‘following’ on the web who is partial to commentary and whose response to your ‘shots’ is helping you choose which new equipment to purchase – some of whom MAY be interested in WHERE you purchased it so as they can follow suit!! Ya, you can do this. . . .I’m lookin forward to those pictures of Mt Baker – as I am yes indeed, partial to that Mt.

    • Alison you are so clever… what a crazy wonderful idea. But being on an island does have its disadvantages… we don’t borrow anything for 24 or even 36 hours from off island locations…. and the only thing you can borrow on the island is a movie from the gas station or the neighbour’s post hole digger. But it is a great idea. I am so very close to being ready to go buy that lens though. Maybe in the next few weeks even. Then I get to enjoy a whole new learning curve and the wonders of having that longer reach for Mount Baker and birds and other wildlife. Somethings are worth waiting for.

  7. First off Terrill, congratulations on the sale of “Keeping Watch” for $2,400. I just looked again on it and must say it’s a treasure and worth every last penny. Your trademark blue backround provides a rapturous perspective for the beautiful foreground figure of the tree. Whatever room that buyer selects to showcase this gem will be enhanced immeasurably.

    Your photo presentation again has many of us dreaming that we aren’t where we are but have slipped into this nature oasis. I love the one you selected as your favorite, though to be honest all of them are stunning. I guess my personal favorite is the very first one. As blue is my favorite color, I can always look forward to your latest visual glorification of it in these mesmerizing photos and painting creations.

    That mountain you speak of is as applicable to me and would have more to do with a stubborn resilience, which manifests itself in just about everything I do, for good bad or indifferent. ha!

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