Is there more than one Monet?

A Monet is a Monet is a Monet – or is it? If we only think of Claude Monet as an impressionist painter then there are paintings in his life’s work that one might be reluctant to claim as a good representation of Monet’s work. In this sense, I am going to propose that there is more than one Monet when considering his work and also that he has offered us more than he is usually given credit.

The tight small dabs of sometimes pure colour associated with the “impressionist years” and his large lily paintings come from different approaches and the latter from a mature use of all that he knew. I come to this understanding following my visit to “Claude Monet’s Secret Garden” exhibition at the Vancouver Art Gallery which has a dozen or so works from his impressionist period and then goes on to focus on his late years of painting when he was troubled by cataracts and a legitimate fear of having surgery at the time.

The impressionist paintings are of medium size, easily portable and distinctive in their approach using small short brushstrokes and dabs of colour to capture the effects of light on a landscape. Here are a couple of my favourites from the exhibition.

Snow Effect, Sunset by Claude Monet 1875

Field of Yellow Irises at Giverny by Claude Monet 1887

Later Monet lived on his garden property for 40 years. This is where he started to study light in its deeper complexities. This is where he observes light changing every seven minutes and lamented that if he didn’t finish a work one day the next could not be counted on to give him the same conditions to continue the work. To compensate, he worked on up to 20 prepared canvases at one time changing them out as the light shifted or if the day was different.

The Seine at Port-Villez, Rose Effect by Claude Monet 1894

The Seine at Port-Villez, Eventing Effect by Claude Monet 1894

The “Claude Monet Secret Garden” exhibition has many large canvases which Monet was able to work on in his 70 and 80s because he was working from home in his garden and the paintings could be moved in and out of the studio as needed.

Life can either knock the stuffing out of us at times or allow us to reach something we may not have been able to do otherwise. Sometimes it does both. During the First World War Monet could hear the fighting from his home studio as he worked. Around this time he was also grieving from the death of second wife and one of his sons. Grief and not being able to see clearly from his cataracts are both possible causes for a change in work during this period.

These rich deep hues are so different from his earlier works, yet there are clues that these are indeed by his brush. These renderings are completed with large expressive brush-marks with the colours blended right on the canvas! Clearly these paintings are something different from his early impressionist paintings and definitely leading us towards what was to come next in post-impressionism and expressionism.

Water Lilies by Claude Monet 1916-1919

“I only know that I do what I can to convey what I experience before nature and that most often, in order to succeed in conveying what I feel, I totally forget the most elementary rules of painting, if they existed that is.” – Claude Monet, 1912

What he couldn’t see he could still feel, hear and touch. Monet had been painting for so long that he had a well established habit of placing his paints in the same place on the palette. He did not need to see well to continue to paint with excellence!

Monet painted the oval lily paintings and the wisteria paintings (which were suppose to go above the lily paintings) while he had cataracts. In 1923 Monet had cataract surgery. By this time he had suffered with them for 11 years.  He destroyed some of the paintings from that time and reworked others once he could see clearly again. And yet, other paintings feel like they were left as they were – though the date of completion on this one suggests otherwise.

The Japanese Bridge by Claude Monet 1918-1924

The information card tells me that Monet completed twenty paintings of this bridge and the body of work is among his most abstract. These later works often show bare canvas in places along with these free loose and large brushstrokes. Would Monet consider the paintings finished? I believe so simply by looking at the continuation of his work during this period of his life. However, these works were in his own personal collection. They were never sold. So it does beg the question of whether he was unsatisfied with them and so didn’t put them up for sale or if he made a decision to keep them for his own appreciation.

The exhibition shows two gorgeous wisteria paintings having some 5- 15 layers of paint and still feeling like each brushstroke has been applied distinctively, accurately – alla prima! In the end, there was no room for showing these wisteria paintings with the lily pond paintings as originally planned. To honour Monet’s original intention for the wisteria paintings, the Vancouver Art Gallery did a curved display wall.

The paintings shared in these images (for personal study use only) are some of the 38 paintings out of 94 that were in Monet’s private collection at the time of his death. These paintings will be showing until October 1, 2017 at the Vancouver Art Gallery in British Columbia. The paintings are on loan from the  Musée Marmottan Monet in Paris. I feel extremely fortunate that I was able to take a half day to be with these works so close to home. If you get a chance, do go and do take the tour after spending sometime getting to know the paintings being shown. Then go through and look again with your new understanding of why these particular works were selected.

If someone was to ask if there was more than one YOU worth knowing what would you say?

© 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

Beginning at the End with Monet

When we walked into the Vancouver Art Gallery to join the line up, it was five minutes after opening. As we entered the visitors were jammed up at the beginning of the “Claude Monet’s Secret Garden” exhibition showing 38 out of 94 of his paintings that had been in his personal private collection. So we walked through the middle of the show and went to end and this is where I am going to start today. Monet’s last painting followed his cataract surgery and he was extremely excited to be able to see clearly again. The painting is listed as “Les Roses” in the exhibition but it is also known as “The Rose Bush” elsewhere online. It is huge at maybe 5 x 9 feet or 6 x 9 feet. I am not exactly sure because I couldn’t find any reference to its size either with the exhibition materials or online. But here it is.

“Les Roses” or “The Rose Bush” by Claude Monet 1925-26.

Please note: all images of Monet’s work have been shared for personal study. No image can be used for any other purpose.

Let’s take a moment and explore what we notice about this work. What stands out to you? How is this work maybe different than what you thought you knew about Monet’s paintings? How is it familiar with what you already know?

I personally had no knowledge about this painting and was so surprised to see it. My first thought was – this isn’t in my extensive reference books on Monet! But then I doubted myself until I could get home and check. However, I was right. This painting is in neither of my complete (or rather incomplete) volumes of Monet’s life’s work.

I was mesmerized and absolutely fascinated with this painting. He would have been 85 to 86 years old when he did this work during the last year of his life. What a way to finish his many years of painting!

It took four years to negotiate the exhibition between the Vancouver Art Gallery and the private Musée Marmottan Monet in Paris France.  The Vancouver exhibition is showing 38 out of 94 paintings in the collection. In 1966 Monet’s son, Michel Monet, left the Musée Marmottan Monet his own collection of his father’s work, thus creating the world’s largest collection of Monet paintings. My only complaint is that there is no catalogue sharing some of the stories I am going to retell to you here based on my notes of the guided tour for the exhibition which, if you get the chance I highly recommend you partake. First walk through and become familiar with all 38 paintings. Don’t waste time reading the chronology and notes on the wall because this can be found online and in other books later. Next do the tour. Then go through the exhibit one more time to integrate what you have learned. If you live in the Vancouver area and can go more than once – do! It is much more economical than a trip to France.

Often, we hear timing is everything. In Monet’s case there are a couple of events around his time in history worth noting.

In 1839 photograph was developed, one year before Monet born. Before this time it had been up to painters to record the realism of events and paint portraits of famous and not so famous people. Paintings were a visual record of events. Photography was expected to change all this and there was speculation that  this would be the end of painting. I mean why labour over a painting when you can have a photo-realistic image in a flash!? By the time Monet was attending art school he would have been in the thick of this debate. Now, particularly for those of us that are both photographers and painters, we better understand the limitations of photographic realism which is limited and has difficulty capturing our lived experiences due to camera distortion and limitations in rendering natural light. But photographs were all new and filled our imagined possibilities at the time. To this day, there are splits in painting approaches between high-realism, full-sensory painting impressions and expressionism abstraction. Personally, I find these splits more theoretical than directly applied to painting practice by painters (and the older I get the more I notice this) but it is worth noting these divisions just the same.

In 1841 tubes of paint were invented by American artist John Rand, one year after Monet born. Up until this time a painter had to mix the pigments with oils, grinding them together to the right consistency every day or at the very least every few days. The painter, or their assistants, had to a difficult task to accomplish before they could ever begin painting a chosen subject. Hence, most painting was done within the studio or indoors. Tube paints changed all this. They stayed usable for long periods of time and were easy to transport out of doors – hence painting en plein air became possible and popular in the years following. The invention of tube paints was a game changer for painters and painting practice – even in the studio.

But let’s go back to “Les Roses” and take in those fragrant blooming brambles one more time. Notice how the paint is mixed right on the canvas, blended and swept together in large gestural movements. Look at the painting close and then step back from your screen and see how the roses themselves disappear into the swirls of colour. Take note of how Monet leaves parts of the canvas bare near the edges. This is not because he wasn’t finished but rather because of an aesthetic of allowing the painter’s process to be visible or letting paint be paint.

In next week’s post we will speculate about how he came to this place in the last large painting rendered at the end of his long and productive life.

What impressions come to mind as you view “Les Roses” by Claude Monet?

© 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

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