Finding the Rhythm of the Sea in oil on canvas in the art studio

Painting en plein air is wonderful and the easiest way to feel your landscape through the paintbrush and onto the canvas. However, weather and the size of the a work does not always make this the most practical approach. So I photograph my subjects from various perspectives. Then using sometimes years of memory about a subject along with a series of reference images, I am then prepared to work on a specific landscape in my small studio. This canvas is a good size at 20 x 40 inches. Finished paintings and blank canvases are going to have to squeeze in their edges and squish together to make room for this fellow.

ipad studio shot by Terrill Welch March 12  2013

While I am getting the set up and the painting roughed in I thought I would answer a question for you. I am often asked about how I get my ideas for my photographs and paintings. The most honest answer is that the ideas find me as I observe my everyday life. I capture and paint what I notice, what I see, feel, smell and hear. I am influenced by events that are happening in my life. If I am mournful, excited or weary it will show up in what I notice. What is most relevant is my daily practice of noticing. The ideas are always there. My primary task is to notice and to act on what I notice. Today’s work comes from a moment in September a few years ago when the sea rolled itself with eloquent expression onto the shore at Edith Point. Let’s rough it in and see what we have.

in progress Rhythm of the Sea by Terrill Welch ipad studio shot March 12 2013

You may notice that I do not sketch my work onto the canvas. This is something I have never done as I prefer to make some basic marks with paint and then paint up an underpainting to guide me. Sometimes this underpainting is a complementary colour. Other times, such as this one, I stay close to the palette that will become the finished painting.

Much of the scene is in a late afternoon shadow, and the haze is heavy from the smoke of forest fires. The rhythm of the sea and the simplicity of the moment is so strong that my brush seems to know the path by heart. Hours pass with nothing but my humming and the sound of the palette knife mixing paint and the brush applying it to the canvas. The light is past its prime in the studio. I need some distance. Shall we carefully take the wet thing outside and have a look?

Rhythm of the Sea 20 x 40 inch work  in progress oil on canvas by Terrill Welch 2013_03_13 009

It is coming I think, but will have to sit until tomorrow now. My body is stiff and a bit tired from standing and reaching most of the day, but it feels good. I have intimately noticed the rhythm of the sea.

I want to continue to work wet-on-wet or alla prima on this canvas so I begin again the next afternoon and work with the studio lights until very late into the evening. Finally, the painting comes to rest.

Rhythm of the Sea Edith Point resting 20 x 40 inch oil on canvas by Terrill Welch 2013_03_14 015

Resting is an observable and intuitive state of a painting’s development. It is when the elements of the painting have found their place on the canvas in relationship to each other. Yet, they are still alive with energy and vitality. In this case, the sea is still rolling forward onto the shore. The trees are still tingling from the days sun. The rocks are releasing their summer heat as the water charges across their surface. I am there. You are there. The salt spray is moist on our skin and the rhythm of the sea matches our breath, our heartbeat, and answers a call to all that is knowable.

The resting period is also a time to critically view the painting with fresh eyes. Is there anything odd or irritating that can be corrected? Is there anything that can  strengthen the expression of the piece? Does the painting work? Is it finished? This process of evaluation can happen in a minute or it may take weeks. For this painting I left it for seven days while I was away. I came home and looked at it and decided it is done, finished. A final photograph is required and then it will be released over at Terrill Welch Artist later in the week.

First, I must get a new show ready to hang at the Green House Restaurant here on Mayne Island. Here is a short video from my home studio sharing sneak preview of the 18 paintings that will be shown…

Well, that is it for a week in the life of this artist.

What does a week in the life of your creativity include?

I so much look forward to hearing from you.

© 2013 Terrill Welch, All rights reserved.

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

Creative Potager – Visit with painter and photographer Terrill Welch

From Mayne Island, British Columbia, Canada

For gallery and purchase information about Terrill’s photographs and paintings go to

14 thoughts on “Finding the Rhythm of the Sea in oil on canvas in the art studio

  1. Thank you for inviting me into your studio, Terrill. I loved the video. And the painting is so dramatic.
    To answer…
    A week seems like a lot. Let’s go day by day, shall we?
    My bum is planted in the chair from shortly after breakfast to about 3 p.m. (I do take short breaks to stretch and do Tia Chi). At my desk, I combine working on my manuscript with work on my author platform. Both activities strengthen my author voice. After 3 pm, I go for a long walk to end my writing day. Returning home, I read for an hour to feed my muse. Work day complete, I make supper. That’s me on the fast track. Living well. And loving life. : )

    • I can easily imagine your writing day from this description Leanne. I can relate to the long walk part of your day as well. Our walks are often in the late afternoon when the light is pleasant for photography and the day’s big creative tasks have been accomplished. I am glad you liked the video as well. I only have my iPad for such purposes but it is a start.

  2. Terrill — I echo Leanne’s sentiments exactly, THANK YOU for inviting us into your studio. How darned cool!

    You asked, What does a week in the life of your creativity include?

    This past week it’s been edit, Edit, EDIT 🙂

    • Oh EDITING! Laurie, David came up stairs and went through this most recent post with me to correct some pesky little bits. I have for many years now allowed readers to read the whole post when they receive their email notifications. I am going to revisit this practice because the audience is getting to a size that I would rather they read the whole post AFTER my in-house editor has done his proof reading. Of course the easy solution would be to NOT write posts on the fly… but I know me and can say with relative confidence that it is not going to happen 🙂

  3. One reason I so enjoy stopping here is that you so beautifully express your vision and articulate your method. A delight to read your words and see your wonderful paintings reach realization.

    • Thank you Maureen! It is always a pleasure to have you drop in. I am glad that is still a pleasure. After all, it has been several years now since we have connected. Do you have one of your poem you would be willing to share with us? One that maybe has something to do with noticing?

  4. I too loved hearing about your creating process. I loved what you said about your brush seeming to know the path by heart, and also about you and the viewer being there, in the moment that inspired your painting, feeling and hearing the rythmn of the sea. Also the part about the painting coming to rest, and taking that time to make sure all the elements mesh, and seeing if anything needs to be added or changed. As a writer, I need to do that too, letting the subject matter guide my pen, being there in the moment I’m inspired to write about, bringing the reader there, and then letting it rest and seeing how it meshes–all part of my writing process too. Sometimes taking days, weeks, months or longer to get it “right.” Thankis for sharing.

  5. A wonderful tour and I so enjoy the process part of the painting experience and the various stages photos. Another show coming up – no wonder you are getting lots of folks coming by to see and share – good for you.

    It is hard when the artist is also the marketing agent and postal clerk! I know.

    I have been reading up a storm and am still about 7 books behind on my schedule, when I started the year I was 11 books behind. I have been doing detailed sorting – got rid of 5 file drawers and the actual cabinets this past season. I do so love to read and share about books. I am at the computer from 11am to 2 pm everyday and then each day has assigned tasks which are always changing. I just must get the furniture back into the rooms now freshly painted – and of course apple trees need heavy pruning this year…and my housekeeping tasks have gotten very slack in 2012 and truly need attention….

    I also do lots of research of things that interest me – like art or buildings or climate change…or now thinking about how the economy has changed so much that we are not giving our children the right kind of education…so 14 million folks in the USA have literally been left behind…they are all on disability to try and cope…That fact took me wandering for about 3 hours…

    Fascinating stuff here…wish I had an editor…every post in this new year I have had some wrong word or misspelled something! Today I had the wrong book cover up…wrong cover and link…so IT Girl did change it when the publisher complained and pointed out the error….

    I think you are having fun and that makes me smile ear to ear

    • I am having fun Patricia! A lot of fun really but let’s keep that between us 😉 Two more paintings are off to a new home this morning and it is a lovely day out there. Seems like it might be reasonably pleasant for the Easter weekend though I haven’t looked at the forecast yet. Take good care and may your reading research bring you much joy.

  6. A marvelous and altogether sensory tour of your hallowed halls Terrill, with all kinds of pleasurable eye candy, And how great to finally hear your voice, which does fit your appearance and demeanor in my own perception. I have always loved the fruit still life, and the tour amplified that and introduced me to more, including a few work in progress canvases. I love that you have broadened your manner of showing your readers these treasures with an ongoing narration. Fantastic!

  7. Pingback: Canadian Contemporary Landscape Painting Rhythm of the Sea Edith Point Released | Terrill Welch

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