Plein air painting with the company of fellow painter Lena Levin

Seven days and seven nights at a leisurely pace we ferried and drove down the west coast from our Mayne Island home in British Columbia, Canada until we reach Fremont California in the Untied States. The last 30 minutes coming in on the 580  and finding our way to 880 freeway were the most challenging. I do believe every cell in my body was on high-alert by the time we pulled up in front of our Airbnb rental accommodations on Thursday afternoon. There the car has stayed parked until we leave later this morning!

But this Gulf Island rural painter was gifted with rare dancing thunderclouds, early spring-green Fremont Hills and dramatic light for two days of plein air painting. Fellow artist, Lena Levin, took me to one of her plein air locations in the Quarry Lakes Regional Park both Friday and Saturday morning. While Lena worked on a couple of larger surface in oils that she will finish in the studio, I did small acrylic sketches for reference later when I get back home to my own studio. It was fine way to spend a good part of a morning and early afternoon.

Here is an early stage of Lena’s first painting on Friday with my small setup in the background.

works in progess plein air painting in Quarry Lakes Regional Park Fremont California with Lena Levin by Terrill Welch 2015_02_27 063

I took the opportunity to capture Lena as she worked.

Painter Lena Levin at work in Quarry Lake Regional Park Freomont California by Terrill Welch 2015_02_27 086

There is a steady flow from brush to palette to canvas with pauses like those in music before the rhythm begins again.

Painter Lena Levin work in progress by Terrill Welch 2015_02_27 065

At times a kind of squinting concentration, that is familiar for me from the inside, crosses Lena’s face.

Lena Levin plein air painting in Quarry Lakes Regional Park by Terrill Welch 2015_02_27 069

If you would like to learn more about painter Lena Levin and see more of her work, here is the link to her website: . I deeply enjoyed the time we spent viewing and talking about her work in her home studio space. So, if you are interested in her paintings and are ever in the area, I strongly recommend connecting with Lena and scheduling a studio visit.

Looking from my easel in the other direction, we can see the first of three sketch I did over the two mornings.

Plein air painting of Fremont hills in Quarry Lakes Regiona Park with Lena Levin by Terrill Welch 2015_02_27 078

“big clouds over the green Fremont Hills in California” 9 x 12 inch acrylic plein air sketch on gessobord

big clouds over the green Fremont Hills in California 9 x 12 inch acrylic plein air sketch on gessobord by Terrill Welch 2015_02_27 133

In the second sketch from the first day, I allow myself to just simple soak up the beauty of those Fremont hills as the clouds created moving patterns across their surface.

“In their best greens Fremont Hills California” 8 x 10 inch acrylic plein air sketch on claybord

In their best greens Fremont Hills California 8 x 10 inch acrylic plein air sketch on claybord by Terrill Welch 2015_02_27 131

On the second day, I only did one sketch and I spent so much time on it, I am not sure it can be called a sketch any longer, certainly not a “quick” sketch. I was just enjoying the spaces in between and the rhythms of the moving clouds and light so much that I stayed with it.

“willows by the Quarry Lakes Fremont California” a 9 x 12 inch acrylic sketch on canvas board.

willows by the Quarry Lakes Fremont California 9 x 12 inch acrylic sketch on canvas board by Terrill Welch 2015_02_28 064

There are some disadvantages to painting in an area for only a few days. My memory of Fremont, California will forever be referenced to this fantastic dramatic light on the brilliant green early spring hills and the good company of a fellow painter, Lena Levin. It is wonderful reference but maybe not very representational of this landscape overall. But you know what? I will take it and keep it as mine 🙂 This along with the most delicious and succulent free-range duck that we had for dinner prepared by Lena’s partner Eugene. Combined with rich conversation, walls filled with paintings, much laughter and enjoyment the memories are sustaining.

As many of you know by now, my David is NOT one for visiting. During the three weeks or so of our trip, we made plans to only meet with two people who have both in different ways been part of my online inner-circle for several years. So, I am also grateful for his participation and enjoyment of these visits.

While I pack this morning for our slow journey back up the coast of California and Oregon to our home in British Columbia, Canada – my glass of good-living is full. I have exceeded my expectations for this trip already. To those that gave us so many ideas for what to do in San Francisco and where we might like to stop in our travels along the coast, I thank you! We of course didn’t do many of these activities but in knowing what we could do it was a conscious choice. I am not sure if I will have the opportunity to post again before we return home but know that we are fine and poking along someplace on a windy highway along the coast heading north.

What are one of your own road trips that remain a sustaining reference for well-being?


© 2015 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

2 thoughts on “Plein air painting with the company of fellow painter Lena Levin

  1. Terrill — Oh me. Oh my. I love the delicious combination of verbiage and photos in this post. What a fun way to capture your most recent adventure and share it with your readers! Your getting a real treat for the eyes as you travel the coastlines of California, Oregon, and Washington — back home to Mayne Island, Canada. It boasts some of the most beautiful sights on this continent.

    In answer to your question, I think one of my favorite road trips was our move last April from Crystal Lake, Illinois to Boise, Idaho. And though it was white-knuckle tense at moments, it was gorgeous country to pass through.

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