Painting Spring

Something happened yesterday on the official first day of a late west coast spring. At the end of last week I was still in my contemplative winter mental attire. My grey, northern, rain forest interior is filled with homemade soup warmth, maybe a touch red-wine melancholy, smoothed over with by woolen thoughtfulness and a sparkle from a waterproof jacket garnish. It is a savory mix best served hot. During this time I often explore the underbelly of my daily life both in painting and in words. But the garment of winter fell free as easily as the first night of hearing the frogs in the pond in the valley below. Consequently, I had something intricate and dense simmering about the language of painting for this post. But it is not to be, at least not for this week. The joyous zealous brushstrokes of spring are here. Who can ponder at a time like this!?

So I dug through the archives and have chosen seven springtime paintings or painting sketches representing a variety of locations I have been over the past four years. There is a spring work to enjoy for each day of week. Happy spring!

Spring in Tuscany 20 x 30 cm acrylic sketch on canvas board and a rare painting where I have overtly included the painter in this Florence, Italy countryside.

Prints available HERE.

Villeneuve lez Avignon France 24 x 36 inch oil on canvas with its layers of memories and visible history.

Original painting available HERE.

Fremont Hills California Early Spring 18 x 24 inch walnut oil on canvas. Painted from a plein air day of reference material with a colleague and friend, Lena Levin.  We were just talking last week about how our paintings were so different even though we were standing almost right beside each other.

Original painting available HERE.

Cherry Blossoms Mayne Island Japanese Garden 20 x 24 inch oil on canvas. The gardens are a divine place to be in spring and a local year-around treasure.

Original painting available HERE.

Sea and Sun Cox Bay Tofino BC 24 x 48 inch oil on canvas. Know as our real west coast, spring is the time that the sun breaks through the winter rains and spirits are lifted as high as the rollers coming in from the open sea.

Original painting available HERE.

Rolling Spring Storms Rocky Point PEI 20 x 40 inch walnut oil on canvas. Bit of weather out there today, someone will likely comment. Collars of light jackets will be turned up and tightened at the neck but the smiles, they tell us one thing – spring!

Original painting available HERE.

Blooming Point PEI 8 x 10 inch acrylic plein air sketch on gessobord. Spring comes a little later to Prince Edward Island. So on this particular year we had two springs! The first on the west coast Canada and then a most lovely second on the east coast.

Prints available HERE.

Now that we have been to Florence Italy and Avignon France in Europe, Fremont California in the United States, Mayne Island and Tofino on the southwest coast of Canada and finally to Prince Edward Island on the East coast of Canada, what about you?

Is it spring yet where you are?

And yes, I am publishing a day early this week. Why not, it is spring after all.

© 2017 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

For the Record I am Still Very Much a Living Artist

The other day I had a long-time friend ask if I had any health problems. I was a bit puzzled about what prompted this inquiry but answered that I was fine other than being slightly rounder than I would like.

He continues “Oh, I was just wondering if I could cash in on those paintings of yours anytime soon. But I think you have to be dead first.”

He was teasing but it is not such an odd question to ask about an artist as I first thought. At a recent international art fair this was a common curiosity for art buyers – was the artist still alive and are they in the mature or later stages of their career? This is all a polite way of asking if the artist is dead yet or how much longer until we can expect them to be dead. Of course, then the collector or potential purchaser has to decide if they have a chance of outliving that artist in order to cash in on their holdings. This is the rather lifeless, dark side of the whole art business which I am not so fond of thinking about.

I admit to being a little weirded out by this whole line of decision-making or checking up on your art investment. So I just want to say, for the record, I am in good health, eat well, exercise regularly, do not smoke, spend ample time in nature breathing clean air and sometimes have a glass of red wine with my dinner. Chances are fairly good that I have several years of painting left in me yet and I shall be around for a long, long time. No quick return on your investment is reasonably expected here. Then again we never really know do we?  After all, I am closer to 60 than 50 years old now. But I provide you with summary this  information and leave it with you to calculated your odds.

Now that we have that out-of-the-way, there is another kind of being dead as an artist that is far more dangerous than a last breath. This is the death of risk taking. Playing it safe, in whatever creative medium an artist uses, is not recommended. Sometimes the worst thing for an artist is to figure out something that works and is appreciated by viewers and collectors. Under these circumstances, we can lose focus, desire, drive and passion quicker than the heart can skip a beat. We must keep ask – I wonder? and – what if? and then go for it! The life in our work depends on this risk taking as much as our body relies on fresh organic fruit and vegetables. Yes, we can stop asking the questions for a short-while. But we will develop artistic scurvy if it goes on for too long. Let me show you an example of the kind of risk taking I am talking about….

My paintings don’t just appear on the canvas with each bit perfectly formed. They are coerced, poked and enticed into existence. I start with an idea about how I want to handle a particular subject and gradually it starts to take shape as the layers of paint and brushstrokes are moved onto the canvas. Bell Towers of Florence Countryside – 16 x 20 inch walnut oil on canvas has been more than a year in the musing and thinking process.

I start the landscape with my usual warm underpainting …

Bell Towers of Florence Countryside 16 x 20 inch walnut oil on canvas in progress 1 by Terrill Welch 2015_07_30 002

I began working right on top of the wet underpainting. I wanted this warmth to be come integral to the later stages of the painting.

Bell Towers of Florence Countryside 16 x 20 inch walnut oil on canvas in progress 2 by Terrill Welch 2015_07_30 003

The main themes and compositional elements of the painting are still fluid and transitory. It is coming along nicely.

Bell Towers of Florence Countryside 16 x 20 inch walnut oil on canvas in progress 3 by Terrill Welch 2015_07_30 011

Slowly my ideas start to solidify – just a bit…

Bell Towers of Florence Countryside 16 x 20 inch walnut oil on canvas in progress 4 by Terrill Welch 2015_07_30 014

I begin building up what seems to be working…

Bell Towers of Florence Countryside 16 x 20 inch walnut oil on canvas in progress 5 by Terrill Welch 2015_07_31 001

I keep going…

Bell Towers of Florence Countryside 16 x 20 inch walnut oil on canvas in progress 6 by Terrill Welch 2015_07_31 008

There is some variation in colour between stages because of the lighting condition at different times of day. But you get the idea. Finally the painting is getting close.

Bell Towers of Florence Countryside 7 resting 16 x 20 inch walnut oil on canvas by Terrill Welch 2015_08_01 070

If you are walking from Florence south via del Podesta which is part of the old road to Rome take via del Portico to the right that is above Galluzzo. It is the medieval Chiesa di Santa Lucia in the foreground. The church has two bells from the 14th century. The Monastero della Certosa del Galluzzio founded by Niccolò Acciaiuoli in 1342 is on the hillside in the background. Today there are cars and freeways running lengthwise between these two places but from this view one can imagine there being only foot traffic moving along the narrow roads between stone walls from one place to the other. Thinking about what it was like standing in this spot, I make a few more changes and then I am ready to leave the painting to “rest” and decide if it needs anything else.

Bell Towers of Florence Countryside 7 resting 16 x 20 inch walnut oil on canvas 8 still resting by Terrill Welch 2015_08_02 002

Well, I slept on it and I thought about this place some more. I then thought about the state of the world and so on. I could have left this most pleasant, idealized scene just as it is. The painting is fine. No risk taking is necessary really. But what would be the use of that? Do we really just need one more perfect picture of a grand view? No we don’t. I know we don’t. I have more to say than that and I had best figure out how to say it. We are often dazzled by dramatic light and memories that deny an imperfect past. This is even more pronounced to me when looking at these old churches, monasteries and bell towers in the Florence countryside. The whining hornet-sounds of motorcycles on the narrow road are an invisible reminder of our fossil-fuel reliant present. The young olive trees on the hill are young because of a hard frost a number of years ago that was attributed to changes in weather patterns. We seem to be wiping out our past and our present even as we observe this magnificent view. Like cataract suffers, we keep focusing on the bright spots and missing the rest. We are slowly going blind and this beautiful view will soon be lost to us. How can I possibly show this with paint and my brush?

Bell Towers of Florence Countryside  16 x 20 inch walnut oil on canvas by Terrill Welch 2015_08_02 062

Risk taken. I believe we now have more than simply a beautiful landscape and one that is very much alive, just like the artist who painted it.

 

What risk are you currently taking in order to be very much alive?

 

© 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

When the Creative Mind Creates a New Opportunity

Sometimes Terrill Welch’s enthusiastic creativity is so incomprehensible that it creates a new opportunity. This is one of those times.

Canadian Contemporary Artist Terrill Welch

20% savings on all original Terrill Welch paintings until Friday, November 14th  midnight Pacific Time of 2014.

Go to Terrill’s online Artsy Home Gallery HERE

Click on the “Make an Offer” button located on the top right under the price for the painting you want.

Put in the code 20%savings

This will send an email to Terrill and she will adjust the price and assist you with delivery and purchase arrangements.

Open Studio Great Room contemporary landscape paintings by Canadian artistTerrill Welch 2014_11_07 013

Sometimes Terrill Welch’s enthusiastic creativity is so incomprehensible that it creates a new opportunity. This is one of those times. During the Nov 8th & 9th online and in-person Open Studio event Terrill learned that her numbers game was so creative and unclear that no one understood what she was talking about. Since this was not her intention. This time she is keeping it straightforward.

There is a new opportunity of 20% savings on original paintings in her Artsy…

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An Artist’s visit to Paris in June

What remains in my mind’s eye is the soft champagne and pearly whites of morning

Good Morning Paris  by Terrill Welch 2014_06_15 056

with the occasional splashes of reds.

Chez Marie by Terrill Welch 2014_06_15 059

But there is much more to Paris France than this isn’t there?

Up by the Basilique du Sacré-Cœur and through the trees is Paris.

A Paris morning through the trees by Terrill Welch 2014_06_15 044

She is a grand city that the world loves with a passion befitting its status.

Paris June 2014 by Terrill Welch 2014_06_15 049

Even if a visitor skips going to see the Eiffel Tower and prefers to remember the flights of spiral stairs as I did.

Stairs to 1st floor studio in Paris France by Terrill Welch 2014_06_15 084

Paris will steel our hearts even if we are reluctant lovers.

What artist can resist plein air painting of double courtyard on Rue Rodier in Paris France

plein air painting of double courtyard Rue Rodier Paris France by Terrill Welch 2014_06_17 086
The day before I promised myself that I would photograph and paint this double courtyard. After a full day at Musée d’Orsay, I had little time, light or energy left but decided to make a go of it anyway. To me, Paris is not just about the Louvre, D’Orsay, Jardin Tuileries, Eiffel Tower and street-side cafes. It is not about high fashion either. In fact, I have seen very little evidence of that. Nor is it just good food. What Paris is to me is the ability to share small amounts of private space with such regard and politeness for each other. During the 45 minutes or so I worked on this painting more than twenty people came and went in the courtyard. Some just said Bonjour Madame or Bonsoir Madame but most stopped to say a few words and they did not give me a hard time about not being able to understand everything and were more than willing to switch to English once I asked – in French of course. These courtyards are an intimate connection between neighbours… not quite friends for the most part and not as close as family but more familiar than the street, or the cafe and much more familiar than most North American neighbours are with each other. Once the outside door closes, this is home and it is treated as such even if it is shared with probably more than a hundred people. This is Paris to me. In fact, this is very much France to me. This I know I will remember – fondly.

Double courtyard Rue Rodier Paris France 25 x 35 cm plein air acrylic painting sketch

Double courtyard Rue Rodier Paris France 25 x 35 cm plein air acrylic painting sketch by Terrill Welch 2014_06_17 080

 But we did go to Louvre too. Looking out from one of the upstairs windows we can feel its magnificence.

Louvre Paris France June 2014  by Terrill Welch 2014_06_16 048
Walking the halls leaves a person with shivers running down their spine.
walking the halls of the Louvre by Terrill Welch 2014_06_16 008
Morning sun rolled into Napoleon III apartments and splashed against the ceiling.
morning sun on Napoleon III Apartments ceiling Louvre France by Terrill Welch 2014_06_16 021
This painted wedding-cake style room in the Louvre is so outrageously over-the-top it almost made me laugh but I couldn’t pick my bottom jaw up fast enough to get out even one “ha-ha.” I just kept turning in circles saying unbelievable, look at that, unbelievable! It seemed most appropriate that we happened upon this room shortly after visiting the queen of the Louvre herself… you know, the one with the smile 😉 We hadn’t actually planned on giving her any courtly attention but the morning was reasonably quiet so we followed the entourage along and dropped in for a few minutes. In case you wanted to know, Mona Lisa is doing well for her age and is still smiling. I didn’t take her portrait as I knew the light wouldn’t do her justice.

Where the Musée d’Orsay  does not allow photographs, the Louvre does. So I took just a few photographs of paintings for my own study. These are shared with you for the same personal use study purpose.

A favourite artist of mine was Camille Corot. His landscape from Avignon called “Villeneuve-lez-Avignon La Tour Philippe le Bel” from 1843 struck a significantcord with me as I had stood in about the same place painting 171 years later.

Villeneuve-lez-Avignon La Tour Philippe le Bel 1843 by Camille Corot photo for study by Terrill Welch 2014_06_16 033
Across the Way Villeneuve lez Avignon France 25 x 35 cm acrylic painting sketch was a work I had completed just days earlier.
Across the Way Villeneuve lez Avignon France 25 x 35 cm acrylic painting sketch by Terrill Welch 2014_06_012 106
I now have a completed larger studio painting…
VILLENEUVE LEZ AVIGNON FRANCE 24 x 36 inch oil on canvas
Villeneuve lez Avignon France 24 x 36 inch oil on canvas by Terrill Welch 2014_08_08 069
Camille Corot is mostly known as a landscape painter but it is a few of his portraits of women that are having a lasting impression. This detail of La Dame en Bleu is from the last figurative painting that Corot painting in 1874.
detail La Dame en Bleu 1874 by Camille Corot by Terrill Welch 2014_06_16 118
They are so melancholy while holding a solid kind of inner-defiance that has surfaced for me only after careful observation. I wonder – how did he do this? What was his relationship to these women? Below is a detail from “Zingara au tambour de basque” that he painted between 1865 to 1870.
detail Zingara au tambour de basque 1865 to 1870 by Camille Corot photo by Terrill Welch 2014_06_16 110
Corot would have been about 74 years old when this work was finished. Is the answer to my question in his biographical information? I have ordered a book this morning from Amazon called “The Secret Armoire: Corot’s Figure Paintings and the World of Reading” by Mariantonia Reinhard-Felice to help me answer this question.

But there is more the Louvre than Corot and so much more to Paris than the Louvre isn’t there?

Well, we shall have to save it for another day. It is time for this artist to get ready for an afternoon of unrelated meetings on this September afternoon back in Canada off the southwest coast of British Columbia.

What does Paris in June mean to you?

© 2014 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

The Diamond on the hill is Villeneuve lez Avignon France

What is it that has us gasp in awe when we look across an expansive vista? I believe it is because we are able to find ourselves within a much larger context. We experience our relationship to our surroundings in a different way than when inclosed by trees or buildings. This experience is a challenge to capture in a painting or photography without separating the viewer from the view and leaving them standing outside of a landscape. You will know this from your own, sometimes disappointing, photography efforts when you say to yourself – but that wasn’t what it was like at all! If you have been having conversations with me for a while, you know that I like to have my viewers experience my paintings from inside the landscape or seascape. I believe I may have succeeded in this desire in my latest painting which has us looking down onto the Rhone River at Pont D’ Avignon and across the view to Villeneuve lez Avignon, France.  Before I explain further let’s look at the painting and you can experience it for yourself.

Villeneuve lez Avignon France – 24 x 36 inch oil on canvas

Villeneuve lez Avignon France 24 x 36 inch oil on canvas by Terrill Welch 2014_07_16 030

If you just want to experience the painting for its own sake I suggest that you read no further. However, if you are curious about what happened in this canvas please feel free to join me by reading the rest of the post.

This is a good-sized painting so let’s look at it again with a bit of context around it.

on the stairs for context - Villeneuve lez Avignon France 24 x 36 inch oil on canvas  by Terrill Welch

Even though the painting is harder to see at this second angle in the early morning light, it does give us a feel for its size and how it looks relative to its surroundings. This is the same idea as what viewing a distant vista does for us. In the second photograph I want to move around and maybe get closer for a clearer view. The same thing happens when looking across a valley. How many times have you walked out on a viewpoint and then moved from spot-to-spot to make sure you were viewing it from the best vantage point? I believe this action of searching is what keeps us inside a landscape rather than viewing it as a spectator. So you might ask – how did I attempt to replicate this exercise for just our eyes in the painting above?

First, I stood on the very hillside that the viewer does when looking at this painting. I personally did the act of searching for that “best vantage point” by moving around the top of the hillside. Then I did a painting sketch. It was during the act of doing that painting sketch that I became familiar with the forms and structure of the landscape. We can read more about this in my earlier post “Artists Camille Corot and Terrill Welch Visit Avignon France 171 Years Apart” but for ease of comparison, I will post again the painting sketch

Across the Way Villeneuve lez Avignon France
plein air 25 × 35 cm acrylic painting sketch on 185 lb paper.

Across the Way Villeneuve lez Avignon France 25 x 35 cm acrylic painting sketch by Terrill Welch 2014_06_012 106

In the earlier post I talk about crunching the landscape slightly in my mind’s eye to fit the canvas shape. But now I am not so sure that is the only reason it was adjusted. Let’s have another look at the underpainting with bits of masking tap marking lines of intersection and tension.

compositional tension in Villeneuve lez Avignon France 24 x 36 inch oil on canvas by Terrill Welch 2014_07_07 005

If we look at the plein air sketch and the larger canvas these same lines of intersection and tension exist. Whereas in reality, if one was a surveyor and painted to measure this tension is stretched out much further. So what happened? I believe it is the process of walking around the vantage point for the best view. In doing this we gather information about the expanse and reconstruct it in our mind’s eye to provide us with the best view of all aspects. In this case, the elements of interest are brought closer together adjusted in size and clarity exaggerating the tensions and lines of intersection. The diamond shape of Villeneuve les Avignon is our eye’s anchor but we do not look at it closely do we? At least I didn’t. By having these conversations with myself while I painted I began to unravel how we can experience a landscape painting from inside of the view rather than as a spectator. The result is that the view is created as one might do for themselves if they were to be standing on the hillside gathering the experience in their own mind’s eye. We the viewer are therefore inside the painting through the intentional design and execution of the work. To do this I first had to understand the compositional intersections and tensions and then combine three different painting techniques from the realism of the arches on the bridge to the impressionism of the morning light hitting the trees to the abstract expressionism of the buildings on the hillside. This combination of technique is not evident in the plein air sketch however.  I developed this deliberate conscious use of brush and paint as I began working up the underpainting.

work-in-progress Villeneuve lez Avignon France 24 x 36 inch oil on canvas by Terrill Welch 2014_07_07 010

I started to see the results though about here nearer to the end of the painting.

work-in-progress 2 Villeneuve lez Avignon France 24 x 36 inch oil on canvas by Terrill Welch 2014_07_07 021

I knew what I needed to do but I wasn’t sure I could make it work because culturally we have stripped these approaches into separate schools of practice. We have learned to understand paintings as if these are three separate painting languages. But from my recent visits through many European museums I find that artists are often multilingual. They will often find the perfect brush stroke using whatever painting language they have access to through their experience. This separation of painting languages is to some extent the work of art historians generalizing major movements in art and our understanding of  painting over time – which is directly influenced by our world experience as it intersects with our internal self. So I made a deliberate attempt to break these separation rules and stretch across as much painting history is covered by the Pont D’ Avignon itself. I wanted the viewer to view the painting as if they were standing on the hillside constructing the view within their own mind’s eye. This was much more important to me than conforming to painting schools of style and technique. I think that the strength of this approach is evident if we revisit the plein air sketch and then final painting. The same life and vitality of a quick sketch was carried over into the larger painting but the visual strength that the larger painting has is missing from the earlier painting sketch. At least that is what I experience. I would love to hear what you experience as well because the risk of mixing several languages of any sort is to be miss-understood.

 

Can you tell us about a time when you consciously merged separate approaches or languages to achieve a desired result?

 

Please note that the larger painting will be release at a later date – it is still resting 🙂

 

© 2014 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

Why Paint a Landscape of Avignon France?

 

Fingers pressed to lips and on tiptoes I invite you to quietly join me in the loft studio this morning. You see, I don’t believe that my page full of “to do” items including paintings to be shipped to their new homes and time management will exactly approve of this diversion. But if we keep it quiet, maybe no one will notice us. So come on up. It is a little early so we will need to turn on the studio lamp.

With all the gorgeous west coast landscapes to paint you might wonder why I would travel half way around the world to paint a landscapes in France. The truth is I wanted the tension of a shorter, but still substantial, span of time. We might say that North America offers this with its more recent European occupation. However, what I experience on the southwest coast of Canada is thousands of years evident in the landscape and then the present interruption of humankind. Most buildings and such on the west coast still standing are less than two hundred years old. Yes, aboriginal people have been here for a few thousand years but they have left few footprints on the landscape. Europe and France in particular are different. We can still see evidence for easily over 600 years in one gaze looking across the Rhone River in Avignon France. This is somehow important to me as I intuit the tension in a landscape. We live in environmentally parlous times of exponentially climate change. In 2012 about half the world’s population lived in urban areas and this percentage is expected to continue to increase – quickly. the result is that our agrarian sensibilities and relationships to our natural surrounding on the whole are weak. For those populations that survive the next few hundred years, I believe this must become a strength. Yet, as we abstract our way through internal and external elements of our human creations, the natural landscape appears to hold little interest other than a thing of beauty and a place of recreation. This objectification of our natural surroundings places us and it at great risk through our false sense of possession or proprietary combined with ever-decreasing regard and understanding of the lines of tension and intersection of our relationship. These are my musings anyway and is the backdrop for my most resent painting MORNING BY PONT D’ AVIGNON (24 x 36 inch oil on canvas)   and its cousin below of the same size which is still in its underpainting state with bits of masking tap marking lines of intersection and tension.

 

compositional tension in Villeneuve lez Avignon France 24 x 36 inch oil on canvas by Terrill Welch 2014_07_07 005

Judging from the plein air acrylic painting sketch I did, once the painting is completed these tensions will be mostly felt rather than seen (though now that I have so explicitly shown them to you, I am sure you will notice them more readily.) I anticipate that our eyes will keep roaming the scene searching for something until it unravels these tensions to the mind’s satisfaction. My desire is that we will know that it is more than a beautiful view, someplace to gaze,  to sit, to stroll or to sail. I want us to  intuitively sense the strength and fragility of this landscape – after all there are hundreds of years of human intersection with the environment visible in this painting and my intention is to inviting us to take the time for such an exploration.  Our west coast of Canada has a much harder time offering this same invitation. It is much more immediate, wild and possibly even too forgiving of our ignorance – until possibly it is too late. So I have called on a morning in Avignon France with her abandon bridge across the Rhone to give us a hand.

I know! Here you thought I was on vacation and this was all about just painting another pretty picture.  It could be I suppose. But I intend to instill such strength and tension in my brushstrokes that you will stay long enough to get past the beauty and to the substance behind this work. The act of painting is a spiritual exercise, a meditation, a recital of a poem and possibly even a practice of prayer. The subject in this case, in most cases, has to do with our fragile, temporary and continued existence.

Now, if you will excuse me, I must do a wee bit of painting before that  “to do” list comes charging up the stairs and demands to know where I have been.

 

What invitations are you accepting to strengthen your relationship to our natural environment?

 

© 2014 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

Artists Camille Corot and Terrill Welch Visit Avignon France 171 Years Apart

The Pont D’Avignon or Pont Saint-Bénézet once had 22 arches. The bridge was eventually abandoned as the arches took too much upkeep due to being damaged when the Rhone River would flood. The four remaining arches are believed to have been built around 1345. My morning started with a 45 minute walk along the outside of the city walls to this landmark. The bridge was the inspiration for the song Sur le pont d’Avignon which is impossible not to hum while I decide on a spot to settle and paint by the river for another 45 minutes.

 

I want to paint this composition but cannot find just the right shelter for my canvas from the morning sun that will then also offer enough footing for me to stand.

 

Guard House Pont D' Avignon by Terrill Welch 2014_06_011 016

 

So I move a little farther along the bank and settle close to this vantage point.

 

morning by the Pont D' Avignon by Terrill Welch 2014_06_011 026

My intention with this acrylic painting sketch is to capture a first glimpse when our mind is still constructing the relationships between the various parts. I like to call this process painting the spaces in between. As always, the morning light changes quickly and even in 45 minutes there is this blending of time.

 

June morning by Pont D’ Avignon
25 × 35 cm plein air acrylic painting sketch on 185 lb. archival paper

 

June morning by Pont D' Avignon 25 x 35 cm acrylic painting sketch by Terrill Welch 2014_06_011 046

Art prints available HERE.

 

A good mornings work but I want to go up high tomorrow and try another painting sketch.

 

Climbing up into the gardens to the westerly viewpoint in Avignon early on a June morning is magic and mystery. Across the way there is the Villeneuve lez Avignon with the broken Pont D’ Avignon below falling short of the reach across the Rhone River. The scene is not as easy to compose as I had initially thought. I move here and then there and then back to here and finally set up the easel and paint.

 

plein air morning in Avignon by Terrill Welch 2014_06_012 087

 

What I was struggling with is my desire to have the castle looking monastery which I have brought in closer in this photograph for us to enjoy it in more detail.

 

Over by Villeneuve lez Avignon France by Terrill Welch 2014_06_012 093

 

and the tower in the same frame and at the same time not have the bridge lost by the trees along the bank.

 

Villeneuve-lez-Avignon La Tour Terrill Welch 2014  by Terrill Welch 2014_06_012 076

 

In the end I crunched my composition slightly in my mind’s eye to accommodate the canvas dimensions and my desires. Then I pick up the brush to see what will happen.

The light is changing quickly but there is still time for my eyes to rest on the scene. They do not. Fluttering across the landscape, with the same sweeping loops as the swallows above, I do not hover or allow my gaze to settle. I search for…. something and maybe nothing at all in the vast countryside – where last evening’s gypsy music and the chiming clink of hands moving to mouths along the narrow streets of the old-city still echoes in the sleeper passages of my consciousness.
Across the Way Villeneuve lez Avignon France
plein air 25 × 35 cm acrylic painting sketch on 185 lb paper

 

Across the Way Villeneuve lez Avignon France 25 x 35 cm acrylic painting sketch by Terrill Welch 2014_06_012 106

Art prints available HERE.
There it is with the painting compositional problem only partially resolved. I commit to finding a larger lengthier canvas when I get back in the studio so that I can give it another attempt.

 

Days pass as swiftly as spring to summer and we are in Paris walking the halls of the Louvre. I stop. Completely stunned I stare unblinking at…

 

Villeneuve-lez-Avignon. La Tour Phillippe le Bel. 1843 by Camille Corot

 

Villeneuve-lez-Avignon La Tour Philippe le Bel 1843 by Camille Corot photo for study by Terrill Welch 2014_06_16 033

(Note: this photograph of the painting is on I took for study purposes only)

The Avignon landscape is unmistakable even 171 years later.

On the way to his third trip to Italy, Camille Corot stopped at Avignon in May 1843. Foremost among the ruins of Saint-Benezet bridge, beyond the Rhone, Villeneuve clearing by the Philippe le Bel tower. This painting was donated to the Louvre by Etienne Moreaue-Nelaton in 1906.

 

I had not seen images of this painting by Corot before nor did I know of its existence but I knew at a glance where it was painted and said to self – he must have painted it from up by the church to get that angle. All I wanted to do at that very moment is catch then next train back to Avignon and climb the hill and look for the exact spot that he would have stood to paint as the compositional challenge I had been struggling with was resolved by this placement of artist and easel. This is the beauty of combining studies of painting location with visits to the work of old masters! Our learning as painters never ends as it is picked up and looped through time and place with our brushes.

 

Camille Corot was born in 1796 Paris and died there in 1875. He traveled a few times from France to Italy to study the work of masters as was common for artists then and to some extent even now – hence my own trip to Europe. Corot is credited as bridging a shift between the neo-classical tradition of landscape painting and plein air painting, which lead the way towards impressionism. Camille Pissarro (1830 – 1903) was supposedly briefly one of his students. But where did the Italian painter Giovanni Fattori (1825 – 1908) fit in? I see similarities in this particular painting by Corot and the work of Fattori whose paintings I became familiar with during our time in Florence Italy. Had Fattori ever met Corot or been his student? I didn’t find the answer to my question but I did discover a detailed write up by Jeanne Willette on the Barbizon School and landscape painting which both artists are associated.

 

So as you can see, I have months and even years of continued discovery, exploration and painting to do as I unpack and breathe familiarity into our travel adventures. I think it is obvious that more than the trees have changed since Corot painted in Avignon. Painting itself has been through a few revolutions and I believe this process continues. I must in fact as I have two 26 x 36 inch canvas ready on this Canada Day weekend to begin the process of revisiting my painting sketches and references images.

 

two 24 x 36 inch canvases ready for Avignon France by Terrill Welch 2014_06_29 039

 

I think I will take Corot, Fattori and Pissarro with me. They just might enjoy peering over my shoulder as much as you do 😉

 

What have you seen with fresh perspective through the eyes of an old master recently?

 

© 2014 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

Wabi-sabi Passage of Time inspired by Antoni Gaudi and Torre Bellesguard mosaic

WABI-SABI PASSAGE OF TIME AT TORRE BELLESGUARD

No matter what we create it is temporary.

Breaking patterns,

 

Throw Pillow Breaking Patterns Large 20 x 20 inch by Terrill Welch

can be repaired.

Throw Pillow Repaired Large 20 x 20 inch by Terrill Welch

But eventually they return

to fine-ground earth,

no longer resembling our original intention.

 

Throw Pillow Returning Large 20 x 20 inch by Terrill Welch

Yet, unseen, unnoticed by our human eye,

still they exist,

remaining in the subconscious of our knowing,

of our being.

Throw Pillow Breaking Patterns Large 20 x 20 inch by Terrill Welch

Throw Pillow Repaired Large 20 x 20 inch by Terrill Welch

 

Throw Pillow Returning Large 20 x 20 inch by Terrill Welch

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Breaking Patterns, Repaired and Returning are paintography images created from photographs I took at the Torre Bellesguard designed by Antoni Gaudi between 1900 and 1909 in Barcelona, Spain. The beautiful medieval-inspired castle is still owned and inhabited by The Guilera family. The grounds and home at Torre Bellesguard are exquisitely cared for and in excellent repair. However, mosaic work is an ongoing maintenance project of love and it is often necessary to complete it in stages, leaving areas where history and the wabi-sabi passage of time are evident.

These image designs are currently only available as a Tote bag and Throw Pillow.

I am not completely sure what I am want to do with them yet.  Therefore, they remain here on the works-in-progress Creative Potager blog rather than being posted as final works on the Terrill Welch Artist website. In many ways, these throw pillows and totes are quick sketches and impressions that gathered light and shadows in my creative process. I like the unfinished element, the notes that signify a kind of graffiti-ownership on the surface of the images and provide hints towards the various aspects of my internal dialogue.

These works are likely more temporary than most ;).  But for now,  you can click on the large or small images in this post and it will take you to my Redbubble storefront where Throw pillows and Totes can be purchased in various sizes for each image. So if you choose, feel free to click away. If not that is okay too. Enjoy your day and…

 

How do you most profoundly experience the wabi-sabi passage of time?

 

© 2014 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

 

Barcelona Spain through the Eyes of a Traveling Artist

Where we are staying in Barcelona is intimate, warm and relatively safe. But this is one huge and sometimes stressed city. People often do not make eye contact and are in a world of their own with a kind of pinched expression that comes from longstanding worries. It is not uncommon for middle age women to flinch at the sound of my footsteps on the sidewalk behind them. It is every-so-slightly but I know I am not mistaken when they turn and look directly at me – a safety practice I learned myself many years ago. When our host dropped by to change over the propane tank to a fresh bottle he warned – keep the front door locked at all times. This is a safe neighbourhood but we are in a crisis. I had been doing this already as the door only has a deadbolt and no other latch. Still his concern matched my impression of the Barcelona. Some might quibble that Spain is in a crisis and not Barcelona but like it or not Barcelona is an important part of Spain.

 

The European Union elections were held while we were here and there is talk of another bailout for Spain. Unemployment is high in the city and even higher in other parts of Spain. As a visitor and as a guest in this country, I find it a valuable warning because this is not a city or country issue but a global one which is fraying its edges more visibly here than in other places we have been in Europe or in our home country of Canada.

 

There is one place where people let their shoulders rest easy and their stride loosens. It is in the Jardins del Turó del Putget. The people living near the gardens walk with their dogs, family and visit with friends on the benches sprinkled along the climb and at the top of the park. I walk here often. It is where one can view the city with a bit of circumspect.

 

Barcelona Spain through the trees by Terrill Welch 2014_05_25 050

 

The gardens are simple and natural with tough herb shrubs such as rosemary and lavender added to the ground cover. It is not a place noticeable on the tourist maps. Rather, it is just an ordinary functional green space with designated dog and children play areas. Here, one can read a book or a newspaper or do nothing at all. There are no work expectations on the hill of steps, trails and trees. It is a place of rest – a place to build resilience.

 

These are the underlying currents and observations that create part of the interpretative lens for my photography and painting in Barcelona Spain. Following is my round-up of our time here. It is not all-encompassing – just a few quick impressionistic brushstrokes.

 

Community and park spaces are extremely limited. Our neighbourhood playgrounds are on spears of land beside major thoroughfares. Our ground-floor apartment has a most prized private courtyard in the middle of tall apartment buildings. Its value did not register with me when we arrived but now I more fully appreciate its rare pleasure. One morning I set up my paints.

 

Painting in a Barcelona Courtyard by Terrill Welch 2014_05_25 111

 

I want to capture courtyards private beauty and mystery. To do so means painting the spaces between the actual forms using light and colour to guide the construction of a meaningful composition. The results are an abstraction of sorts but the energy of the space after the morning rain remains.
Small Courtyard in Barcelona Spain

10 × 12 inch acrylic painting sketch on canvas board

 

Small Courtyard in Barcelona Spain 10 x 12 inch acrylic painting sketch on canvas board by Terrill Welch 2014_05_25 144

 

(Art prints are available at Redbubble HERE.)

 

One of our most pressing reasons for coming to Barcelona was to see Antoni Gaudi’s work in person. What we didn’t realize was how mainstream and popular his work had become with visitors. After we assessed the potential for crowds, lineups and disappointment we took a circular approach. This involved a few scouting trips before actually making a commitment to a more engaging visit to Park Güell.

A prized seat in Barcelona

A prized seat in Barcelona by Terrill Welch 2014_05_27 245

That invites us repeatedly to stroll its length and look out over the city.

try done Reaching out to the Barcelona Park uell by Terrill Welch 2014_05_27 262

Sometimes Gaudi’s buildings seem to be cloud to cloud.

Cloud to Cloud Park Guell by Terrill Welch 2014_05_27 165

Yet, from other vantage points they are tucked right into the city.

At the edge of Park Guell by Terrill Welch 2014_05_27 068

Whether walking tree to tree

Tree to Tree in Park Guell Barcelona Spain by Terrill Welch 2014_05_27 102

or admiring the stretching supports

Stretching Park Guell Barcelona Spaint by Terrill Welch 2014_05_27 119

or the details of water collection at the front or back of the mosaic seating,

Water collection Park Guell 1 by Terrill Welch 2014_05_27 205

there is no denying the creative thought, care and vision of Gaudi’s work. It wasn’t designed to be a public park but it makes a good one! Some, including Gaudi feel that the church is his most important work but it is this park that most speaks to me.

 

In the end, we decided not to visit Sagrada Familia at all and nor did we stand in line to visit Casa Mila. Instead, we saw only its roof top

 

roof top of Casa Mila by Terrill Welch 2014_05_29 012

 

in favour of a few walk-by visits to the summer home – Casa Vicens

over the top on Carrer De Les Carolines by Terrill Welch 2014_05_29 004

with its point of interest (yes, I am being cheeky).

point of interest on Casa Vicens by Terrill Welch 2014_05_29 024

We trekked over to the private school, Colegio de las Teresianas, but I didn’t even take one photograph as the angle and size of the buildings was resisting my framing eye.

 

However, the medieval castle – Torre Bellesguard,

Torre Bellesguard 3 by Terrill Welch 2014_05_30 018

was ours alone late on Friday afternoon. We indulged our need for all-things Gaudi

repaired at Torre Bellesguard by Terrill Welch 2014_05_30 029

while noting the amount of upkeep required for keeping mosaic work in good repair.

breaking patterns at Torre Bellesguard by Terrill Welch 2014_05_30 034

This morning I thought about our time in Barcelona and what one thing I truly wanted to paint on our last full day. Can you guess where I went?

 

Jardins del Turó del Putget Barcelona Spain

25 x 35 cm plein air acrylic painting sketch

Jardins del  Turó del Putget Barcelona Spain 25 x 35 cm plein air acrylic painting sketch by Terrill Welch 2014_06_02 028

(Art prints are available at Redbubble HERE.)

 

I did not take my camera with me as even though it feels safe in the park, I am unable to keep an adequate on its whereabouts and it would interfere with my painting if I was to wear it while working. This time you will have to be content with just the finished work and the comparison of an image from last evening at the top of a park where a four-legged friend made us laugh with his pure joy.

 

Top of Dog Park Barcelona by Terrill Welch 2014_06_02 004

 

Tomorrow morning we will leave and return to France with the first stop being Avignon for three days. I am more than ready to leave Barcelona but this rather stoic city has grown on me and shall remember it and its people fondly.

 

© 2014 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

Ancient Lapidary Blocks Stacked in Our Lady of Lamourguier of Narbonne France

Struggling through Sunday morning sleep, I blink into the weak rays of sun touching the outer walls of the courtyard and fingering their way into the chest cavity of our ground-floor apartment in Barcelona Spain. What is that noise? Ah, nothing more than a tour-bus-load of guests dragging their train of luggage up the pave-covered cobblestone street. They are likely on their way to the small hotel just around the corner. Stretching, I push back the blankets and step lightly into a day where dark coffee stings my nostrils as I prepare bread with butter and jam that still has lumps of tangy fruit and a few seeds. As an after thought, I add a small glass of orange juice and a couple of pieces of Gennaro Auricchio Collesardo Classicoa hard, delicate and nutty sheep cheese age between 45 and 60 days.

 

Padding in my still-bare feet and nightgown, sheltered by the privacy of my warn sweater, I tentatively slip into the courtyard and settle on the edge of a chair at the table in the covered area. What a pleasant morning I conclude. Then follow it up with sweeping the courtyard and the apartment, doing some hand-washing, have a shower and finish off by scrubbing and drying the dishes in the kitchen. It is my way of living in a place I am visiting – a way where I anchor the sounds of the birds, whose names I don’t know,  sing in the trees overhead and the size of the courtyard, the kitchen and bathroom are measured and remembered  by the steps that I took around each. Possibly this information isn’t necessary but what comes with these solid knots of information is colours, forms and the quality of the light. These are important to a painter and a photographer. These must be remembered and recalled for later work.

 

Once the chores are completed, I begin to reminisce about Narbonne France and its 2,500 years of history yet again. Oh, not the medieval town itself so much but the rows of ruins stacked high in Our Lady of Lamourguier. Since 1868, the 11th century church has been used as a warehouse to hold various carved elements removed from Narbonne’s walls during demolition and it contains approximately 2000 ancient Roman lapidary blocks. Since cameras were allowed during my visit I can take us inside. Shall we go have a look?

 

The church completes her warehouse status with grit settled thickly on the grainy foundation and only an outer shell of her religious history remaining.

 

 

Lapidary Blocks in Our Lady of Lamourguier Narboone France 2 by Terrill Welch 2014_05_22 103

 

I am mesmerized by the pure abundance of carved blocks.

 

Lapidary Blocks in Our Lady of Lamourguier Narboone France 1 by Terrill Welch 2014_05_22 098

 

 

They are all numbered but not necessarily stack in order.

 

Lapidary Blocks in Our Lady of Lamourguier Narboone France 3 by Terrill Welch 2014_05_22 104

 

 

Possibly, they have even been moved for aesthetic pleasure.

 

Lapidary Blocks in Our Lady of Lamourguier Narboone France 5 by Terrill Welch 2014_05_22 114

Or maybe it is just my artist and photographer’s eye that is doing the organizing?

 

 

Lapidary Blocks in Our Lady of Lamourguier Narboone France 6 by Terrill Welch 2014_05_22 117

 

Sometimes my attention settles on individual blocks.

 

Lapidary Blocks in Our Lady of Lamourguier Narboone France 4 1695 by Terrill Welch 2014_05_22 110

 

Other times, it is an oddity that catches my attention.

 

Lapidary Blocks in Our Lady of Lamourguier Narboone France 8 by Terrill Welch 2014_05_22 125

 

What are these over-sized clay pots doing in here amongst the blocks?

 

Lapidary Blocks in Our Lady of Lamourguier Narboone France 9 by Terrill Welch 2014_05_22 136

 

They seem out-of-place somehow.

 

Then there are the angels with their perfect child-like portioned bodies. If we watch closely they seem to move around and around the remains of  this column, neither hurried nor stilled by time.

 

Lapidary Blocks in Our Lady of Lamourguier Narboone France 12 by Terrill Welch 2014_05_22 154

 

A guide book for a tour of the city states that the Romans arrived to Narbonne in 118 BC. The place that called Narbo Martius has been known as Rome’s first daughter ever since.

 

Walking the rows I begin to ponder.

 

Lapidary Blocks in Our Lady of Lamourguier Narboone France 10 by Terrill Welch 2014_05_22 145

 

What from this century might survive for the same period of time into the future? What structure might it be housed in?

 

Who will visit and will they know who we are?

 

Lapidary Blocks in Our Lady of Lamourguier Narboone France 14 by Terrill Welch 2014_05_22 161

 

Will they wonder what we ate? Or what it was that woke us on a Sunday morning? Or who it was that we loved? Did we live to be old, die in childbirth or in a protest against our government or sacking another city? Will a sword that tore through your heart remain all those years later with your DNA still on its blade?

 

Lapidary Blocks in Our Lady of Lamourguier Narboone France13 by Terrill Welch 2014_05_22 158

 

If you could whisper one thing in the ear of a visitor hundreds of years from now as they walked pass an artifact that you had made or that you had used – what would you say to them?

No let’s not go out into the sunlight. Let’s stay here just a while longer….

© 2014 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