Ten Days Over and Under with Nature is Calling

A deer browses outside the studio window as I ponder how much easier it is to be in nature than it is to record being in nature. Since my last post many days have past. I am reminded of weaving and the over and under of life, living and my complex relationship to nature. Let see if we can pick up the pattern and weave it together.

The rooster crows over top of the small forest birds as I try to decide whether to paint the third of three California surf paintings or write this blog post.

beginning the 3rd of 3 surf paintings by Terrill Welch 2015_05_12 062

The other two are complete and under review with other new work in the main part of the house.

early morning review of recent work by Terrill Welch 2015_05_12 057

While I should be musing over this body of work in the early morning light as I gather my apple and toasted whole-wheat raisin bread, instead I think “darn those windows need washing!”

Canadian geese announce their departure as I climb back up stairs to the studio. I am fixated on a painting problem and it goes like this – how does one paint the sound of the surf?

how does one paint the sound of the surf by Terrill Welch iphone

This problem about painting the surf took over following an Oregon and California road trip this spring. It has rooted itself into my consciousness like invasive Scotch Broom on Mayne Island – a beautiful problem but still one that there is a community desire to resolve.  But Scotch Broom is an issue that is complex and not easily addressed. Practically speaking, both my painting problem and the broom take hard work as much as anything else to resolve. This is where #NatureIsCalling and the David Suzuki Foundation 30 minutes x 30 days in May Nature Challenge gives me a boost and possibly even a reason to sidestep the second issue – getting rid of Scotch Broom.

If we propose that over and under is a repetitive motion that in weaving and nature never allows a person to return to exactly the same place twice, what have I discovered?

The Georgina Lighthouse park on Mayne Island is beautiful in the direct midday sun.

at the lighthouse Mayne Island by Terrill Welch 2015_05_07 005

or plein air painting in the early morning grey of heavy haze and cloud.

“Scotch Broom and Arbutus Tree set in grey quick study” – 8 x 10 inch acrylic plein air sketch on gessobord

Scotch Broom and Arbutus Tree set in grey quick study 8 x 10 inch acrylic plein air sketch on gessobord by Terrill Welch 2015_05_11 016

We have come back again and again these past few days for picnics and reading.

afternoon reading in the park by Terrill Welch 2015_05_12 044

Sometimes I am distracted by the sounds of ferries entering or leaving Active Pass. But mostly, the seals and sea lions surface on the water and the seagulls and eagles call from the sky while I feel free to sprawl on the grass with nothing more to do than take it all into the core of my being – even the Scotch Broom.

Scotch Broom at the lighthouse by Terrill Welch 2015_05_12 049

Scotch Broom you see is not really suppose to be here. The invasive shrub got away from gardens and has a habit of taking up any vacant space available regardless of who usually would be seeking residence – kind of like humans. It has definitely made itself permanent on Mayne Island as it has elsewhere. The best way to keep shrub out is not to disturb the ground. This patch has developed due to shore erosion. It is a tough beast with deep roots. Possibly it is a natural solution to the erosion in this case.  I am willing to entertain this idea for the moment anyway. By the way, if you look long enough and carefully enough there are two humans in this photograph sitting quietly looking out to sea.

The lighthouse park is sometimes included in our longer walk each the day which are usually five to six km long and the same equivalent as climbing eight flights of stairs. These walks frequently include trails leading to and from the sea.

nature walk by Terrill Welch iPhone

Maybe it is a low tide…

low tide Georgeson Island by Terrill Welch iPhone

or the beauty of an old fir tree curved from winter storms…

fir tree west coast curl by Terrill Welch iPhone

or the strength of light, wind in the trees and patterns of roads sometimes are best understood in a painterly paintography fashion that catches my attention.

walking close to home painterly by Terrill Welch iPhone

These last four images were taken with my iPhone as it was all I had with me. My iPhone is sometimes a secondary part about being in nature. I leave my good camera at home in order to limit the distraction of framing images. It helps a small amount but not a lot. This habit of seeing light patterns and recording compositions is like a musician playing their daily scales on the piano – it is necessary practice. I would argue it is as important to my well-being as being in nature  for its own-sake. I mean, how does one even come up with a crazy question about how to paint the sound of the surf if not from years of observation?

receding Califonia Surf  in progress 16 x 20 inch oil on canvas by Terrill Welch 2015_05_07 016

During the past ten days storms pass through…

Sky is all I can see  by Terrill Welch 2015_05_05 062

first visit with five day old grandson take place…

baby L five days old by Terrill Welch 2015_05_05 039

A Cinnabar moth is spotted (found in Europe and western and central Asia. It has been introduced into New Zealand, Australia and North America to control poisonous ragwort, on which its larvae feed.)

Cinnabar moth by Terrill Welch iPhone

and a  first Iris that hold my attention. It too is not native to this area. Like me, it is a transplant from someplace else.

first iris by Terrill Welch 2015_05_12 041

This close up is what I want to remember but it is not what I first saw in its raw awkwardness against the foundation of the lighthouse.

first iris standing tall and alone by the wall by Terrill Welch 2015_05_12 004

What I have noticed during the past ten days of #NatureIsCalling is how good I am at sorting, sanitizing and sensationalizing what are ordinary, messy and complex experiences in our natural environment. While I think that what I am deeply aware of is that the sun on my shoulder, the rumble of the jet overhead, the rain in the garden, the rise and fall of my breath I also become aware of a world where humans want to be right and to be good. It is a world where human sharing uses the shortest route to what is considered best and worst, good and evil or right and wrong. Time in nature reminds me of the complexity of our daily lives by its examples. Maybe the time and energy to eradicate Scotch Broom is ill placed? My wrenched shoulder from doing this task a few years ago agrees – today anyway.

Now, I am off to paint the sound of the surf in my third of three paintings on the subject. With a bit of luck, my next post will introduce all three completed California surf paintings.


What complexities are you musing about?


Note: #NatureIsCalling is the hashtag for the David Suzuki Foundation 30 minutes x 30 days in May Nature Challenge. I am outside more than 30 minutes in nature each day as a matter of work and life style but I committed to being particularly observant for the Month of May. As time allows, I will share these experiences with you here on Creative Potager.

© 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 http://terrillwelchartist.com

14 thoughts on “Ten Days Over and Under with Nature is Calling

  1. Thank you for this inspirational post with treasures for the eye. (Such an adorable grandson)
    What complexities am I musing about?
    I am finishing revising a manuscript. Manuscript after manuscript, I grow as a writer. Each writing project teaches me something. This one has taught me lessons within it and around it. Within it, I’ve learned how to write more effectively. Around it, I’ve learned how to pace myself. Throughout the growth of this manuscript I’ve felt the tug of other projects. The trick was to give this project the time and attention it deserved while also giving myself permission to play with the possibility of the birth of other projects. And I’m happy to report that I was (mainly) successful on this goal.

  2. Terrill — I love it when you verbalize your musings. Oh, and by the way — I don’t think you need to spend much time pondering how to paint the sound of the surf. I always, without fail, hear it when I admire your beautifully captured, surf and sea paintings…

    • Thanks for that Laurie and of course there always seems to be more to be discovered when painting. The approach seems to have loosened up some my last underlying ties to visual supremacy over my other senses. But good to hear that the sound of the surf is already there for you. I am imagining you and Len heading out for a game of bocci ball or some other kind of play in nature. Whatever it is I know you will enjoy your time.

  3. Well that was one heck of a journey ! Thank for sharing all of your process once. I am going to come back to read this in the morning. I may have more to share. or a least another good viewing!
    Is how to paint the sound of the surf, like the how do you catch a moonbeam like Maria?

    • Thank you Shirley Ann! It was so nice to see you at my live painting session even if it was just for a few minutes. You and Sherwin will have to come by the home studio one of these days. I am so enjoying working on the California One and Pacific coast pieces. It will likely take me a couple more months to do all the paintings that are itching to get translated onto a canvas but I believe it will happen. I will then focus on the European work again with more west coast B.C. paintings mixed in as we go into the fall. Except for family visits I anticipate being mostly at home in the studio for the next while. Feels good!

  4. I always love following your meandering thoughts on life and painting and nature. It’s like having a lovely chat with a friend who is deep and wise. I love the yellow underpainting of the piece you are working on now and look forward to seeing what you do with it, and how.

    • Deborah the work with the yellow still showing is now completed but I have to retake what I thought was the final photograph because I was in too much of a hurry and still had a bib it more work to do once I had left it resting overnight. I enjoy our meandering chats as well. It is one of the great gifts of this blog getting to know people like you. All the best of today!

    • Grandchildren are an awesome part of assisting in a very personal and unique way in this project we call humanity. I do love hanging out with them whenI can. I am not an everyday grandma but very hands on when the opportunity presents itself.

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