Working on THE EDGE can offer some interesting possibilities

There is a sandstone bluff, battered by the wind and sea but also hosts a familiar arbutus tree on its top most tip. THE EDGE, a rare large, long-lean 48 X 24 inch oil on canvas painting to out of my studio. In fact, I almost couldn’t reach the top when it was on the easel and had to squat yoga style to paint the bottom quarter of the canvas. Further more, it was not possible to paint it upstairs on my French Box easel. This canvas called for taking over the great room with my large portable easel which I have had since graduating from high school.  Shall we have look at how it all came about?

The Edge work in progress 1

As usual I am not all that keen on sketching in my compositions and prefer either a loose underpainting or just a few paint lines to guide me. In this case, I chose a few paint lines to get started before starting to added in some blues for the sky and other patches on the canvas.

The Edge work in progress 2

It most certainly doesn’t look like much yet. But I am hopeful and the day is young.

The Edge work in progress 3

The deliberate addition of red in these specific areas of the canvas will serve two purposes. The first is to pull out the red pigment that is already part of the stones and the bottom of the trunk of the arbutus tree. The second is to gradual in a very subtle way bring in the warmth of the evening light over the whole of the scene. It is now time to start building up some colour blocks and just get that paint on the canvas!

The Edge work in progress 4

This particular stage in any painting is the most demanding. The paint catches on the dry canvas and seems to drag the paint off the brush. On a canvas this size it seems to take forever to build up the bulk of the painting so it can be completed alla prima or wet-in-wet.

The Edge work in progress 5

My body starts to physically tire from the long stretches of painting and reaching to move across the whole canvas as I work. The day moves on hour after hour. I break for lunch. I move the canvas around a bit to keep it out of the direct sun coming through the skylight. I then keep going until finally – it comes alive. Shiny and wet I can now leave it to rest.

The Edge work in progress 6

In the morning I make a few more adjustments and remove it from the great room downstairs and place it on a chair to lean against the wall in the loft studio.

The Edge 48 x 24 chilling back in loft studio E7C16EC0-1691-4E3C-82E0-32502C2CD411

I look at it for a few more days and decide it is done!

One of the hard things about a painting this size is to give it enough context that a viewer can imagine what kind of space it will take up once it is hung. So I took one last photograph before calling the work-in-progess on THE EDGE painting complete.

The Edge in the cob courtyard by Terrill Welch 2013_05_08 006

(Updated December 13, 2015 following a reworking of this painting)

After my confidence that this work was completed, done, finished, I came back to it for another painting session. Here it is in the great room following its most recent transformation.

The Edge still on the easel in the studio of Canadian Artist Ter

The Edge still on the easel in the studio of Canadian Artist Terrill Welch

The final image along with links to a detailed view and purchase information are available at Terrill Welch Artist in the post “The Edge and At The Beach Another Time – Canadian landscape paintings

The post includes the release of a second painting and a quick nod to two more that are now safely in their new homes.


What Edges have you contemplated recently?


© 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


10 thoughts on “Working on THE EDGE can offer some interesting possibilities

  1. Terrill – I love it when you share step-by-step photos with us! And I feel tickled to know — without seeing a picture — the arbutus tree you speak of. That’s telling in that we’ve known each other so long.

    You asked, “What Edges have you contemplated recently?”

    As you know from today’s post, Len and I are full on in preparations to sell our home. The “edginess” comes in the not knowing WHERE we’re going to move. It feels free and liberating!

    • It doesn’t always work out that way Deb but sometimes a painting will roll onto a canvas with no more effort than staying with it to the last stroke. In this case with such a large canvas it is exhausting physically, emotionally and mentally. However, as you can see, it can be done with acknowledgement that a few tweaks were done over the next couple of days before it was truly complete.

  2. I feel honoured to be one of a few that has seen this intriguing painting in person. : ) See the benefits of living on Mayne Island, Laurie. Have you considered moving to Canada?
    On the edge…on the very edge of selling my manuscript to a traditional publisher. I’ve self-published. I’ve sold a manuscript to an ebook publisher. And my writing has been traditionally published in newspapers, magazines and literary journals. But I’m looking forward to diving into the next stage of my career. : ) Until then I living on the edge…and loving it. : )

    • Leanne it is true. You are the first person besides David to have seen this painting first hand. I can hardly wait until the day arrives when you can tell us that your book has been published by a traditional publisher. Seems like that day might be soon 🙂

  3. Following the complete process is always a special insight into what spurs on the development of a particular strain or style. This kind of interactive connect with art lovers enhances the appreciation and immersion in a work that is still highly personal. It’s a gorgeous work brimming with physical movement. Edges? Ha! We are presently trying to get our own proper edge on airline to tickets for the entire family in August to visit London and the U.K.

    Terrill, your work gets better and better and better. And everyone must count themselves lucky to watch it happening!

  4. Terrill, I waited with bated breath (almost too near the edge of my imagination) wondering how in the world you would flesh that out into a real painting. It feels like magic that you can do that!

    • Sometimes I think it might be magic Kathy. I never really know what is going to happen until it is already on the canvas… Just trusting an feeling or glimpse of an idea and following it through.

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