The Adventure of Visiting Parents

We are halfway home again this morning and I am still thinking about how wonderful it was to get a good visit with both of my parents. It is not easy to catch them in the same photograph as they tend to be like bees and busy working away on their separate tasks until mealtime or if one or the other needs help with something. But this morning I caught them having a brief conference about something or other that needed doing. This is mom (Nell) and dad (Jack) who are now in their early 80’s and still farming with a large garden, hay fields and 40 head of beef cattle in rural north central British Columbia. They were getting a bit pained with my snapping at this point as I had already taken a few with my big camera.

Dad got the last of the hay turned and baled in the field before the rain settled in. We had our first feed of corn without the frost getting it. The car is loaded with a large bag of potatoes, a few beets, carrots, tomatoes and cucumbers for snacks. We also ate farm beef and more vegetables from the garden while we were there and even a few peas and raspberries that were hanging on. But it is definitely fall. I couldn’t help but be able to imagine the fields full of snow and the warmth of the wood stove keeping the cold out.

Dad turning the last of the hay in the field closet to the river. There was still a small amount right by the house to finish up when we left. But he has to wait for another chance to get it, if he gets it. The fall rains, heavy dew and fog sometimes have a different idea.

Mom is puttering as she calls it, watering her various flower containers. Everything is reused including this old car and many other items that I will do a separate post about in the next few days.

The view from the top field looking back down to the farm house and buildings by the river is always a pleasure. I had bear spray on my camera belt (just in case) and kept singing and making noise (which is a practice we had as kids as we had no bear spray).

The next day, we looked back up in the field and a beautiful big black bear was standing right where I am now taking this photograph. I think it was the same one we saw at the top of the hill on our way out as well but they do live there and it always something to keep in mind when out hiking or poking around. Mostly, they are shy and will scoot off when they see you. But just in case they don’t, well, mom suggested I take the bear spray.

The greenhouse my cousin did for my mom and dad now has the old windows from the house in it. There is tomatoes, herbs, cucumbers eggplant and a few other things in there with more herbs in the the old watering troughs at the back.

These beauties are the large brandy wine and small chocolate tomatoes on a platter ready to go to the house for supper.

This morning, I make my own coffee, instead of dad handing me a cup, and I tuck into my own daybed, instead of curling up under a blanket on my parent’s couch or at the end of their bed. I am home again. My Mayne Island home. But this childhood home, a full 900 km away, is not far from my thoughts as I gather together images to see if I can give you a wee taste of what it is like go the last 10 km or so before I get to the river.

The last half of the 40 km from Vanderhoof is a well cared for gravel road that can get mucky after a rain (Red Rosie can tell that story this morning) as it has that stuff on it to keep the dust down. There are farms and rural homes on the way out. But, once we are this far, they are set way back off the main road. I always think when I make it to here – not long now!

And it isn’t long at all before we are heading down a narrow track of a road for another 3 km and a bit. This is where we saw a black bear on our way out at the end of our visit. We thought it might have been the same one we saw in the field a couple of days earlier. No photos. The bear ran away as all bears should when they hear you coming.

We keep going down the sand hill and up the pipeline hill until we get to the beginning of the property.

I can smell the over-ripe high bush cranberries in the stand of poplar. I ask my husband David if he can smell them. He says – no. I am a bit puzzled because the aroma was strong. Then I realized he didn’t know what he was smelling. So I tell him that they smelled a little like a wet dog (my mother corrected me later and said more like a wet bear ;). David says – then yes, I can smell them!

We cross the big fields I showed you above.

I pay little mind to the haystack as we pass by.

I pay no attention to the tractor either and pull up to the house, watching for mom and dad to come out to greet us and help carry things in. There are hugs all round first of course!

I hardly glance at the large garden and save it for exploring later. Now that I have said hello to my parents, I have one thing in mind.

We head for the house with our bags and up the steps.

Past the onions drying for winter.

I drop my bag in what I still think of as “my bedroom” though I am sure my baby sister feels the same way. We shared this southwest bright bedroom for a few years after she was born while I was still at home. After that, she had it to herself until she left home. There is a solar light beside the tissue box and a regular flashlight on the windowsill. There is no electricity on the farm but, things are so well set up, one hardly notices.

Then, as soon as things are quiet enough, I gather my camera and head back out the door. I squeeze through a gap in the fence, just beyond the apple trees, and take the last few steps to the banks of the river. It is what one might anticipate from a landscape painter I suppose.

This is the Stuart River and this is Sturgeon Point Farm. The point is visible on almost any map if you know where to look. Two days of driving and, halfway up the province of British Columbia, this spot seems to settle the gritty edges of travel immediately!

Now back at the beginning of my journey, I shall go for a long hike with a friend this afternoon and do this same kind of “settling practice” here on Mayne Island.

This annual trip is like stitching up holes in a favourite well-used sweater of my life. There are still likely a lot of good years left in it yet, if I take care of it! Life is like that isn’t it? We never know its length but the richness of its depth is ours to deepen and to discover the mysteries in each day, from the time we open our eyes until we close them again.

May you have an ordinary day filled with small discoveries that remind you of just what a special miracle you are in this beautiful world we live in!

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Lost in the Light Edith Point Mayne Island work in progress

The day delivered breadth and inspiring beauty as so often happens on my walks. I came home with a much clearer mind and a lighter heart than when I left. Just how I like it! 🙂

Now to render those same fingers of light and sea onto a canvas. This particular Sunday in the Terrill Welch Gallery was quieter than usual so I set up on the little patio to paint.

Just a few paint marks on the yellow ground should get us started.

Then the blocking in begins.

I keep painting but it is slow going and pretty soon the day is over and I need to bring the work into the gallery and close up shop.

The very next day, I move the wet painting to the home studio and continue working on it there. Finally! The blocking in process is complete. This might be it for today… the 24 x 30 inch walnut oil on canvas landscape painting is covered in wet paint indicating its major elements. Though things are still rather fluid, I have a fairly good idea where all bits are located. Now comes my favourite part of finding all the light and shadows. But this might be tomorrow’s work. I still have the brushes out though so anything is possible. 😉

Steady goes it as patches of light and shadow move across the landscape. There is still a ways to go before the first hints of light shift the forms into place. But for now a break.

Done! Well, maybe resting. Nope it is done!… I suppose you don’t need to listen to me arguing with myself 😉

Now for some distance so it is easier to see what we have here.

Ah well, it really was only resting. I have made a few minor changes to address a small visual tangent. If you know what such a thing is, see if you can find the change I made.

“Lost in the Light Edith Point Mayne Island” by Terrill Welch
24 x 30 inch walnut oil on canvas

The edges are now painted and drying. A hanging wire must still be added, a final photograph taken and the work added to the inventory program. But almost there!

When was the last time you had a tangent – visual or otherwise? 😉

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To Return To My Trees

There is a Welsh phrase (not a “Welch” phrase) “dod yn ôl at fy nghoed”, meaning “to return to a balanced state of mind” or the literal translation is “to return to my trees“. This, as you know, is something that I do often. But sometimes, I even surprise myself with how powerful the pull of trees can be. Take this latest tree. I walked out onto this huge expanse of hard sand and then headed directly across to where there was this amazing old fir tree whose growth seems to have split the sandstone, its top is blown off, and its roots getting salted with every winter storm. I could not easily capture its grandness in one image so I pieced a few together and relied mostly on a short video for painting references. After all the little plein air paintings, this is my first studio painting from Hornby Island. Well, let’s see what we have shall we? 

I could have used a 60 x 40 inch canvas for this painting but I resisted and decided instead to see if a smaller 36 x 24 inch could communicate the power of this tree.

We have a start as I gather up the branches lost against the westerly afternoon light of sun and sky.

These will, at first, contrast hard against the expanses of the dark trunk… until I get the reflected light from the sea and sky to the east involved.

I can now sense where the tree is in space as we look way up from the beach floor under our feet. From here, the blocking in process continues until the canvas is covered in wet oil paint.

Now, the real work begins! I build up the paint from both the lightest lights to the darkest dark and everything in between. I desperately what to keep the strength, power and movement of time and space that is already on the canvas. This is essential. I seek the most minimalist of details that all lead towards this one intention and will guide every mark I make from here forward. (Don’t hold your breath though as it will take another few hours and we don’t need any readers passing out in anticipation 😉

I take a long break, plan what we will have for supper, feeling pleasantly pleased with myself that I remembered that we would need to eat. This phenomenon doesn’t always happen when I am in the middle of a larger painting. Sometimes, when I am holding several brushes and standing before a canvas I forget such domestic requirements… until the natural light fades in my painting space. I continue painting…

Now it is late. I have lost my light and I’m too tired to walk up the stairs to the loft studio and get the studio lamp. Besides, I see some rather tricky changes I want to make that will require scraping a bit of paint and starting over. I must stop. This is it for today.

In the morning, with my body stiff and slightly sore from the hours before the canvas the day before, I begin again. As usual, sleep seems to find solutions that a tired painter would struggle with if attempted without it. The last stretch goes easily and each mark of paint finds its proper place.

The painting has come to “resting”. It still needs a final photograph and the edges painted but the majority of work is done!

I am calling this 36 x 24 inch, walnut oil on canvas, painting “Standing Below the Old Fir at Tribune Bay” but it could just as easily be called “Lost Against the Light”.

Let’s step back so you can get a wee bit of distance from it…

The work is still drying and had its edges painted so it will be a bit before I release it. I am thinking, maybe for the show that opens in July at the gallery, unless someone lays claim to it before then.

Hopefully you have enjoyed this behind the scenes development of a new work. In addition, if you are interested, at about the 18 second mark in this next video from Hornby Island, there is a segment that shows this tree in its environment.

Well, that is about it I think.

What are you losing against the light?

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Plein Air Painting on Hornby Island in British Columbia

Bundles of impressions with snippets of morning light linger over the rounded forms of the cliff and ragged sun-bleached driftwood. The sweet lime-toffee-scent of new growth on cedar and fir trees mingle with the pungent sea at low tide and crest into my awareness between barking sea lions and the door-hinge screech of eagles. These fragments of observations then settle softly, next to the storm-washed, smoothness of beach pebbles I am rubbing between my fingers before setting up in the cool shade for another painting sketch. How does one make sense of this jumble of sensory information? As a landscape painter, I have a process for gathering such reference materials from the field for later use in the studio. Let’s see what we have from Hornby Island in British Columbia, Canada.

This first painting session is from 10 – 11:00 ish in the morning at Helliwell Provincial Park on Hornby Island. My partner came with me. We hiked 4 km return with the painting gear and my camera. The trek was totally worth it though I was happy to have an extra hand for the basket of paints boards and our drinking water. 

“The Bay at the Peterson Bench” 8 x 10 inch acrylic plein air by Terrill Welch.

This small bay drew me in again and again over the time we were here. I am suspicious that it just might end up an oil painting on a large canvas. 😉

Small Bay in Helliwell Provincial Park

The weather has been unseasonably warm with little breeze these last few days. I have been hiking early in the morning between 5:30 or 6:30 to 7:30 or 8:00 am. Then, I find a place to paint in the shade during the later morning or afternoon. Lovely though and as you can guess, a stunning island for nature and landscapes. 

“Sandpiper Beach Community Park” 8 x10 plein air acrylic sketch by Terrill Welch

The exposed striations on this beach make it a favourite for geologists studying the land structure and history of the island. I wish I knew the name of this tree as it is not an alder or a maple tree. We have one in our backyard as well. Someone said it might be a traditional medicine tree but no one has been able to tell me it’s name. That one lone cloud just above the horizon is the only one we saw during our first three days.

Sandpiper Beach on Hornby Island

There is something about standing painting at the edge of a cliff that is irresistible! This latest adventure was no exception. Helliwell is such an incredibly beautiful provincial park… though it is a 5 km round trip with the painting gear to set up plein air in this location.

“Helliwell Cliff on Hornby Island” 8 x10 plein air acrylic sketch by Terrill Welch

On this day it was so hot that I put my sun hat on David’s wispy hair and covered noggin. Then I made a makeshift hat out of a clean painting rag held on with hair ties on my own head. We must have been quite a sight but we didn’t get heatstroke and we drank enough water that the basket for the return trip was much lighter. I have captured this specific place from several angles and at different times of day. This first is from the same time and view as the painting sketch above.

Cliff in afternoon at Helliwell Provincial Park

And a view from a little farther away in the early morning shortly after sunrise.

Early morning cliff walk in Helliwell Provincial Park

A favourite capture is looking the other way, also first thing in the morning. A writer friend who saw this image commented on the lemonade sky – would make part of a painting title I think 😉

Lemonade sky morning in Helliwell Provincial Park

There are more images of this cliff of course, many more actually, and I haven’t even begun to edit the images from my big camera. But let’s move on to the final plein air painting sketch…

Plein air painting in the early morning at Grassy Point on Hornby Island

The weather had cooled overnight and a wind was huffing along out of the west. So I tucked in with the sunrise on the east, down near the shore where there was shelter and warmth enough to work. An upset sandpiper was screaming the grass sideways above me because I walked past her nest of four eggs in the pen field. Other that that, there were just a few gulls, the driftwood, a gentle sea and stones. A good morning for a plein air painting sketch! 

“A Grassy Point Morning on Hornby Island” 8 x10 inch acrylic by Terrill Welch

Generally, Grassy Point is known for its sunsets but I can attest to the beauty of the sunrises as well. However, we did manage to stay out for one lovely sunset just the same.

Sunset at Grassy Point on Hornby Island

It is a popular place with locals and visitors alike at in the evenings, not unlike Georgina Point on Mayne Island.

Gathering to witness the close of day at Grassy Point on Hornby Island

And the Camus and other wildflowers offered an extra splash of colour.

Camus wildflowers grandstanding at Grassy Point.

Still, I will take early mornings on the cliff in Helliwell Provincial Park as a first choice for my landscape muse.

Cliff at dawn in Helliwell Provincial Park

And again…

rock outcrop at Helliwell

Did we go to Tribune Bay you might ask? Yes, we did. Though, you may have guessed by now, I am not really much of a laying-on-the-sand-soaking-up-the-sun kind of gal. But we did do a low tide beach walk. I enjoyed finding whole living sand dollars…

Sand dollar at Tribune Bay on Hornby Island

and the rich textures of sea and sky and sandstone…

Tribune Bay on Hornby Island

I must confess, Tribune Bay wasn’t the highlight for me as I had anticipated it would be. It IS beautiful and a grand beach but the lure of other adventures on the island overshadowed its sparkle for this trip. That said, the first larger studio oil painting is of an old fir tree that is on this beach. I will share the process for this painting in the next post soon.

There are many more images for painting references. But we shall stop there for now.

This may have been the best working trip in a long while and it’s success goes partly to our host couple, Diana and David at Hornby Island Mt. Geoffrey Bed and Breakfast. After my early morning adventures, I would come back to coffee and the smell of fresh baking muffins. Sometimes, I would still need to rouse a sleepy partner and other times he would be up looking bright and cheery waiting for me. Then, down the stairs from our private guest area we would come to devour a full heartily breakfast including egg, bacon, muffins and yogurt with local homemade raspberry/blackberry sauce to go on top. 

Suppers were handled by Forage – a farm to kitchen cafe which closed at 3:00 in the afternoon. We were a little early in the season still and the main Sea Breeze restaurant was fully booked with private events and the Thatch pub/restaurant near the ferry was intermittently open. But, like much of islander life, one learns quickly to make do with what is available. We thrived on our delicious early dinners with a later evening snack, without feeling the least shortchanged. With a bit of luck, we hope to make a late fall return visit. Even with three ferries to catch from Mayne Island to Hornby Island via Vancouver Island, it is a reasonably easy day of travel.

What has been your most favourite working trip in the past while?

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Mayne Island BC in May

The sun is shining and there are beach crawls to be done, trails to hike and wildlife to see. But first a seat in the red chair on Georgina Point.

Red Chair over looking ocean.

The waves keep rolling in relation to an off shore breeze.

Rolling sea coming ashore onto the sandstone rocks looking across towards the northeast of the Straight of Georgia.

Put your hiking shoes one and take care of any personal bodily needs as we are heading into an area without facilities. It is only 5 or 6 km with a couple of hills taking the easy route so you can get by without water or snacks… though they are nice to have if you fancy a wee picnic once you get out on the point. Yes, you guessed it. We are going on an adventure Mayne Island’s newest park – Saint John Point.

Pulling into the empty gravel parking lot, I back into the farthest available space making it easier just in case someone else decides to join us. But it is Monday and the island is still quiet with mostly only year-round residents who are busy gardening and preparing for the summer seasonal crowds that will arrive in full force for the May long weekend. But today, the forest and old road are for the birds!

Remnants of the winter storm are scattered through the trees and onto the forest floor. 

A paleated woodpecker heckles above the softer sweeter songs of the other forest birds…  even making the spotted towee sound feeble. 

The new growth on the firs leaves a toffee tang fragrance on a light breeze. 

We keep walking, over the hill and down again, until we get to the trail beside the sea.

Old fir trees beside the trail on Saint John Point Mayne Island.

The light changes swiftly as it sings through the trees and dances back from across the water.

Forest trail on St John Point beside the sea on Mayne Island.

A wee bit farther along, we come to the point itself with its exposed rocks and old arbutus tree grove. This is the prize on this walk. The point invites one to sit and stay a while.

Exposed sunny sandstone point with old arbutus trees beside the sea on Navy Channel at Saint John Point.

So we do. I pick a place on the east side of the knoll that is sheltered from the afternoon sun and sit. I wait. I get this strange sensation of being watched. I look around. Nothing. Then I catch something moving just at my peripheral vision. I turn my head slowly and focus. There are two fierce dots pointing directly out over a narrow snout in a wee red head attached to a long neck and slender body staring right at me from a crevice in the sandstone boulders. Slow and smooth I switch the settings on the camera and raise it up. But the critter is still just a bit too far away. I wait some more and take a few tentative shots as it pokes in and out of the rocks coming up the bank towards me. These are small, shy and quick animals. They only pause for a short second to get their bearings before ducking back down under the cover. A photographer must be patient and fast on the shutter. But I did it!

American Mink coming up between the sandstone rocks at Saint John Point on Mayne Island in British Columbia Canada.

Here we have an American Mink coming up between the sandstone rocks at Saint John Point on Mayne Island in British Columbia, Canada.

And there you have it! The highlight of another Mayne Island adventure during early part of the month of May in the year 2019.

WHAT IS THE MONTH OF MAY OFFERING WHERE YOU ARE?

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All In One Reef Bay Mayne Island oil painting in progress

The winds had howled for days. It was the second storm in just a few weeks and though not as bad as the first we were still without out power for 36 hours. As the storm edged its way back from our shores I headed for the shores and gathered several images for later painting references. The breaking light was stunning and the waves were still smashing up against the rocks with gusto.

Now it is time to pull out a large 36 x 48 inch canvas for the first in what will likely be a handful of seascapes…

I often use no ground with these large wave painting because I want to take full advantage of the white of the canvas.

There is only one place to begin and it is to start adding paint.

Brushstroke after brushstroke the Canadian west coast seascape starts to develop.

Eventually the work is blocked-in and it is time to wash the brushes for today.

This morning saw me back in the gallery winter studio, brush in hand, palette knife at the ready to continue the work to a point of “resting”.

ALL IN ONE, REEF BAY, MAYNE ISLAND “resting”  36 x 48 inch oil on canvas by Terrill Welch

I will leave it for a few days now as I begin working on yet another canvas. Maybe a smaller one this time. Once I am satisfied that it is done and the canvas has dried to the touch, a final photograph will be take and the work will be release.

For now though, this is a wrap! All the best of a fine Sunday to you!

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Among The Trees Oil Painting in Progress

The last day of December 2018 is still being lit by a low hanging sun. Yet, the break in heavy rains seem to create a resounding call to the top of the ridge at Mount Parke on Mayne Island in British Columbia, Canada. I was on my way back along the Halliday Ridge trail when I stopped to search for a way around the flooded path. The light grabbed me. I sank low and hoped for the best as the shutter clicked on my 7+ Iphone camera. References. I need painting references! I pulled out my big camera as well but instinctively knew that the difficult light may well be best captured by the phone camera – and it was.

Weeks later, back in the gallery’s winter studio I choose a 40 x 30 inch canvas and brush in a few lines to guide the development of an underpainting.

I just need a few lines to find my way into the landscape. Then I start to add in the bright warm and a few cool colours for the underpainting.

From here, I leave the canvas to dry and continue developing the painting beside this one which you have already seen in an earlier post. Sometimes, I added a few dark and light patches left over from my other canvas. But mostly I wait.

Until the day comes when it is time!

I can feel the painting is there. All I need to do is follow the light from the background to the foreground of the canvas. And so the work to build up the paint begins!

The time has come to settle in with paintbrushes over a period of two days. The hours of standing before the canvas moving back and then forward again were long and yet pleasant. Brushstroke after brushstroke the landscape trail through the trees begins to surround the viewer.

Working forward past the mid-ground, I find that the most of the reds, oranges and yellows of the underpainting have been replaced with greens, golds and violets.

I know where I am! I am among the trees. Tired but unrelenting, I continue. At one point I ask for a second and third set of eyes to wander over the canvas to see what still needs to unfolded, be discovered and revealed. Then I walk away, coming back the next day and the next to search for sparkle, mystery and lost edges. Finally, my eyes travel over the canvas with joy and ease. I am there again at the edge of the pool of water deep in the forest. Just me, the trees and the sun.

From my journal notes:

“Long sashaying switchbacks with winter run off springs near the bottom obscuring dry footing on the trails. As a gentle wind calls through golden green tree tops I surmise that this is the only low angled sun this north western slope might see today.”

WHEN I AM AMONG THE TREES “resting” by Terrill Welch
40 x 30 inch oil on canvas

The work still needs to dry, have the edges painted, and a final photograph. But for now, it will sit under the watchful corner of my eye to see if there is anything else that it wants.

What you don’t know is that, on the day I captured this incredible light for this painting, I had fallen. Hard. I was visiting with a friend at the top of the ridge. I said my good-bye and as I half turned and waved while walking away, my feet flew out from underneath me on wet rocks and moss on the trail. At first, I wasn’t even sure I would be able to stand. Once up, I cautiously took a few steps and within minutes knew I would be sore but that I could hike out. My ribs ached for days afterward and I will likely end up with a scar on my knee which was stiff and swollen for the next week. But when I saw this scene before me on my way back, not long after having slowly trekked down the steep back of the ridge, I just knew! I knew that no matter how bruised both my body and dignity were from my tumble, this was worth it! This one moment of incredible beauty was all worth it!

I will add a link here when the painting has had its final photo shoot and is released, but for now, thank you for coming on this painting adventure with me!

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Sailing Through The Trees – almost a finish

So close! Almost! Or maybe even done! Yes, you guessed right. The latest 30 x 40 inch canvas of Sailing Through The Trees is “resting”. But, before we go to the end, maybe you would like to see a short video of part of the process along the way? Yes? I thought so.

And so it went, for several days, until I came close to the finish line. Then, I swore! A couple of times! Which didn’t help at all, in case you are wondering. Back to the folder of video and photograph references for the umpteenth time. Then down to the actual location, looking, searching, feeling and taking more photographs. Back to the winter studio, pick up brush and apply paint. Three more trees are added. Other trees are moved around a bit forward or back. Specific branches are added and so on. Finally, the painting shifted and came together as a completed work with all the harmony and mystery that was intended…. well, except for “resting” but I doubt it will change much from here. Lets start with a few details and work our way up to the finished painting.

We have the all important house…

We have the equally important sea…

and the lofty trees crowning the complete vista….

Now for the grand entrance, switching to the big camera, here is Sailing Through The Trees “resting” 30 x 40 inch oil on canvas still shiny and wet…

The painting will be set aside to dry and I will look at it over my shoulder while I continue working on the next painting. If, as time passes, I notice something that I just can’t resist changing, then there will be a flick of a brush loaded with paint in the appropriate spot. Most likely though, it will dry to the touch and be laid on its back to have the edges painted.

So, no more swearing as I look upon this beautiful day beside the sea where it would be a dream to live!

What are you almost ready to call done!?

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Rubbing Shoulders with Art Ghosts

Down this historic alley in Victoria, British Columbia, there is a door to my past. Yesterday, I strolled along on a quiet January Monday rubbing shoulders with the ghosts of time. 

 

Fan-Tan-Alley-Victoria-BC-by-Terrill-Welch

Sure enough, the name of my favourite art teacher is still on the door of his old studio. For a moment, the door opens in my mind. 

We shuffle up the steep steps with our portfolios, arrange ourselves elbow to elbow on the easels provided. We take off layers and visit companionably while we wait for the model. I search the room to see if I can discern what this brilliant teacher has been painting this week. The room is crowded but organized for working. There is the scent of charcoal dust, oil paint, wax and old brick building. Warm lights shine on the platform in the middle of the room and the space heater glows. Then, just as the model takes her first short pose and the teacher gives us his instructions in brief, often unfinished, sentences… the image fades. 

The door reappears. Solid. Closed as a tomb entrance to a treasure buried in a past life. 

Glenn Howarth 1946 – 2009 

Glenn Howarth taught seminars and courses at art schools and universities across Canada after he graduated from UVic’s Visual Arts program. In 1987, he began the Victoria Drawing Academy in his studio in Fan Tan Alley. Howarth participated in both group and solo shows across the country and represented Canada at the Sao Paulo Biennale in 1982 and at Expo 86. (UVic legacy gallery)

I am so ever grateful to have taken several classes with him in the early 2000s. He refined my understanding of what happens between our subject, our bodies as the artist and that of the viewer in profound ways that I am still exploring. 

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Sailing Through The Trees – a start

The curved deck and angular presence hints mysteriously as it sails through the trees. I have walked all angles, from the expanse of lawn, to ground zero, where the building towers steep above me. After musing over several possibilities, I settle on this view.  There are curves of arbutus held tightly among the straight firs, all cradled by a high shore path. And of course, there is the sea. This is the view that intrigues and keeps me coming back for a second, third and even fifth time.

House In the trees beside the sea by Terrill Welch

Except there is one problem. I want the late afternoon light kissing the face of my subject and this is a painting problem that will require some resolve or speculation. Likely it will take both.  In January, the later afternoon light doesn’t reach this far. The sun slips behind a slight hill before it can make it around to this northwesterly cove. I am stuck. I am left waiting for the earth to turn itself into a longer day. What to do?

Well, I could just wait… but the canvas size has been decided… and I shall head to the city to pick the 30 x 40 inch surface tomorrow afternoon and I do so want to get started. I have ideas for this work! The brushes are splashing paint around so violently  in my head that a shipwreck might occur if I don’t begin. So then, a painter must start with what she has.

I had planned to dive right in, using only my 30 or so photography references from three different shoots, for this painting. But in light of the slowly-turning-earth towards longer days and a higher sun stretching farther westward, I decide a painting sketch to study composition and imagined light effects is in order after all.

painting alla prima study sketch by Terrill Welch

The work is raw, rough and full of exploration as I imagine where the light is going to be – eventually.  Yet, it is enough to hold my initial ideas – at least until I can get an underpainting on the large canvas anyway. The small study is my “notes to self” and the brushes are now temporarily quiet in their jars.  We have successfully avoided becoming marooned on a sandbar during the violent seas of my imagination. Hopefully, it is clear sailing, with just the right breeze of suggestion, from here to our destination.

House in the Trees Study – 8 x 10 inch acrylic sketch by Terrill Welch

Acrylic-Study-for-Sailing-Through-The-Trees-by-Terrill-Welch

It truly is not much of a reference but I believe it will be enough to contemplate while I work up an underpainting next week. Then I will go back each week and see how the sun is doing as it labors to set  a little farther west each day. I might be asking too much of myself to wait for it. We will see. Maybe by the time the work is blocked in, the sun will be ready? Here is hoping!

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ArtWork Archive original paintings and acrylic sketches currently available

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