Golden Plums Summer Flowers with Rilke Cezanne and Matisse

August golden plums and a large arrangement of local flowers provide sensual release in the abating summer of paint and canvas. Yet, it is not so much the canvases where the study and work is occurring. I have been reading Rainer Marie Rilke‘s LETTERS ON CEZANNE that he wrote to his wife in 1907 while viewing an exhibition of Paul Cezanne’s paintings shown one year after the painter’s death. This master painter, along with Henri Matisse, has cast a distinct hue and influence over these most recent canvases – none of which are released as I am not sure of their completeness. Maybe they will remain studio studies or maybe just a few brushes of paint and they will separate from the creative process and stand on their own. But complete or not it is time to bring you my dear friends into my painterly space.

I start arranging and exploring the possibilities for the still life with my usual camera sketches.

Should it be this way?

Cezanne comes to visit by Terrill Welch 2013_08_12 023

Or maybe this way?

Flowers on a chair painterly by Terrill Welch 2013_08_12 007

And then of course there is just the plums…

Golden Plums and an Apple painterly by Terrill Welch 2013_08_12 134

What would Paul Cezanne have to say? Well, very little probably. He certainly wasn’t know for his eloquent oratory. Rilke on the other hand and to our good fortune gifted with words:

It’s as if every part were aware of all the others – it participates that much; that much adjustment and rejection is happening in it; that’s how each daub plays its part in maintaining equilibrium and in producing it: just as the whole picture finally keeps reality in equilibrium.

(Paris Vie, 29, Rue Cassette, October 22, 1907)

Shall we begin?

The first challenge is to get the still life up to a desired level for painting so that the view-point is similar to that of the photographs. This is likely not all that common an issue but it is one I have discovered to be a significant difference between painting from life and using my photographs for reference – I often photograph on my knees and almost always paint standing. I like the low angle so how might we do this with this chair and still life arrangement?

Coffee Table still life set up by Terrill Welch 2013_08_13 039

By setting it on the coffee table of course. I set three framed and finished paintings behind the set up not for any other purpose than to leave me room in another part of the room for the wet canvases. But after I did it I liked the effect and added a few cushions under the chair to pull everything together. Now it is time to paint.

Beginnings August still life with Cezanne and Matisse by Terrill Welch 2013_08_13 083

I feel very much alone in the studio. With the ground on the two new canvas I will be painting today, I wait for a little more natural light to reach the great room where I am painting. While I wait, I review yesterday’s work in progress images looking for clues that can possibly be brought forward in an even more conscious way into today’s work. It is interesting to me that one day can feel so different from the next. Well, there is only one thing to do – paint.

I am happily painting and visiting with Paul Cezanne when Henri Matisse shows up.

Visiting with Cezanne when Matisse arrived by Terrill Welch 2013_08_13 104

There are distinctive elements of Cezanne work that go far beyond his use of colour to represent form. He had a way of presenting different viewpoints in his compositions that was and is exciting. This is something that Henri Matisse continued to explore while allowing the paint to become colour fields of flat surfaces. At this point of the development of this work I had a choice. I could continue to build up the colour fields or I could continue to follow the light and movement within the landscape. Matisse of course was arguing for letting paint be paint in its colour and simplicity. Cezanne was slowly working his way into the tension of form and structure of the still life using colour as his guide. I observed. I thanked the masters. Then I picked up my brush and continued to paint the light and movement between the forms until the painting came to rest.

AUGUST STILL LIFE WITH CEZANNE AND MATISSE  resting 24 x 36 inch oil on canvas

August Stilllife with Cezanne and Matisse resting II 24 x 36 inch oil on canvasby Terrill Welch 2013_08_13 132

I have done more on this painting now but it is not significantly changed.

But I am not done. I start on another canvas and move more towards form. Hovering between representation and abstract I bring us in close to the still life setup.

GOLDEN PLUMS AN APPLE AND GREEN VASE resting 12 x 16 inch oil on canvas

golden plums an apple and green vase resting 12 x 16 inch oil on canvas by Terrill Welch 2013_08_14 075

I am left wanting for a chance to peer over his shoulder as he painted and I assume paced his way through long periods of time constructing the structure and rendering his still life paintings. How did he decide to have falling fruit, and tilted vases, tables, paintings or twisted warped, walls and furniture with more than one view-point in a single painting? What was it that brought him to these considerations? The results are of course a still life that is anything but still.

I set up a third canvas

PLUMS APPLES AND MOSTLY SUNFLOWERS – resting 20 x 24 inch oil on canvas

Plums Apples and mostly sunflowers resting 20 x 24 inch oil on canvas by Terrill Welch 2013_08_14 058


The light IS filtered for most of my painting session this morning. Hence the contrasts are minimal as I paint the spaces in between enjoying the colours and the tension in the relationships.

I set up a four and small 8 x 10 inch canvas.

one canvas still on the easel for still life set up by Terrill Welch 2013_08_14 091

But after looking at it for a few moments I realize I am done. I have exhausted my drive to capture this particular still life. So with a room full of colour I begin to muse about these three works.

These three paintings are “resting” and they are still very much attached to the process of their painting. I have left them here in the window so that I may look at them unintentionally as I go about other tasks. I am checking to see that I truly feel they are complete. Sometimes this process takes hours before I am sure and other times it takes months. While I am doing this evaluation, a question came to mind:

Which room in a home or office would be best suited to hang these paintings?


which room for these still life oil paintings by Terrill Welch 2013_08_14 102

You might think this is an odd question but many people who buy my paintings and photography prints hang the work in their bedrooms or in their private office space. I see these as the two most intimate places for people to choose to hang the pieces. Much of my work is in quieter colours with lots of natural blues, greens and earth shades. The paintings and photographs are full of movement yet the compositions are simple and spacious. Hence, it is easy for me to understand why the work might enhance restful and thoughtful spaces.

But these three are possibly not as visually quiet so it got me to wondering where they will most likely be hung. What do you think? If you were going to choose one or all three where would you hang them?

To help with size needs the smallest is 12 x 16 inches, the middle painting is 20 x 24 inches and the large painting is 24 x 36 inches.

So my curious mind wants to know – if you had a choice and these paintings arrived at your home, in what room would you hang them?


© 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

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13 thoughts on “Golden Plums Summer Flowers with Rilke Cezanne and Matisse

  1. Hi Terrill I love you painterly renditions As you Muse through your thought processes and sensuality!!

    I am just wondering why you have ads on the bottom of your blog??

    Love & Blessings Shakeira

    • Thanks Shakeira. I don’t believe I have a lot of choice about the ads at the bottome of the blog posts. They are unfortunately part of what wordpress uses to pay for the platform. Kind of what facebook does with those “suggested posts.” I don’t like it much but it seems to be how it is these days.

  2. Terrill – You know that your virtual tours and deep descriptions are my favorite. I love when you said, “…they will separate from the creative process and stand on their own.” It made me think of cutting the umbilical cord.

    Beautiful work, thank you for sharing it.

    • You are most welcome Laurie. I am finding that with facebook, Google plus and twitter there is less need to blog other than to pull together these more lengthy summary posts. It is okay – just a shift in my preferred platform for exchange of what is happening in my everyday. And yes the separation from the painting process is very much like cutting an umbilical cord.

  3. I’m head over heels in love with ‘August’–and would happily hang it in my bedroom or a country kitchen or a formal dining room. Such a happy painting that demands to be admired.
    Thank you, Terrill. It was fun visiting with you in your painterly place
    Keep smiling…

    • You to Leanne – I read someplace today that a smile is the sexiest curve on our body so we should flaunt it. Works for me! 🙂 These are happy bright paintings and they have been a real joy to work on. Kitchens and dining rooms are likely the perfect place for these but I have heard people say that they had the perfect spot in an entry way or a staircase too. But not bedrooms. These are too busy and bright to sleep with.

  4. I love your Cezanne and Matisse musings and your paintinga are exquisite. I’d hang them in the kitchen area or dining room too.

  5. Pingback: Plums Apples and Mostly Sunflowers still life painting | Terrill Welch

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