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,  singing in the trees overhead, and the size of the courtyard, the kitchen and bathroom are measured and remembered  by the steps that I take 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 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

 

Raining in Narbonne France

 

We didn’t know what to expect in Narbonne France as we knew very little about the city. We knew it had been a port before the river changed course and silt made it an inland city. We knew it was a medieval city at its heart and that there were ancient Roman ruins and a University. This was about it.

 

We climbed or rather crawled up the spiral stairs hefting the largest of our suitcases which I am sure has crept over its 50 pound airline limit (it is a good thing it separates into two parts for the return trip). The spiraling white piece in the middle is the hand-railing.

 

3rd floor crawl up by Terrill Welch 2014_05_21 021

 

I wonder about what we will discover during three-day visit. We are on the third floor of a sweet small apartment. The bathroom with its small blue tiles is separated by a white cotton curtain from the rest of the low-ceiling one room dwelling. A short kitchenette runs along part of one wall with its stoic folding table wedged into the remaining space between the bathroom and the old wooden door. The real bonus is two good-sized windows that open wide and look out onto the piazza. This and the warm ochre carpet splashed between milk-white walls combine to make for a most pleasing short-term residence.

 

We cautiously proceed back down the stairs to get groceries for morning. Then exhausted, eat the rest of the day’s lunch and call it an early evening.

 

At about 4:00 am the day is beginning in our little square in Narbonne. The Patisserie is opening up to set out its outdoor table and chairs directly out front and also in a corner of the square. The rolling up of metal storefront blinds and the rhythmic movement of a hand-trolley pulled by the storekeeper lull me back to sleep.

 

By seven in the morning it is raining – hard.

 

four am set up rained out by Terrill Welch 2014_05_21 012

 

I feel bad for the Patisserie as his early morning start has been a wash. Only a few students brave the wet and huddle in the doorway waiting for a break in the downpour.

 

waiting out the rain in Narbonne France by Terrill Welch 2014_05_21 019

 

I decide to go exploring but David being of the cat temperament decides to wait for drier weather. The streets are empty.

 

rain in streets of Narbonne France by Terrill Welch 2014_05_21 034

 

The late 12th century Cathedral Saint-Just et Saint-Pasteur with its flying buttresses is near so I decide to start there.

The inside is a no-photograph zone but it is so dark one almost needs a flashlight to see the aisle let alone anything on the walls. However, the courtyard is beautiful

 

12th century Cathedrale courtyard Narbonne by Terrill Welch 2014_05_21 043

 

and the roses along one of the walkways to enter the inner sanctum are not in the least put out by the rain.

 

roses at the Cathedrale in Narbonne France by Terrill Welch 2014_05_21 053

Walking along the corridors of the courtyard it is easy to have hundreds of years slip away and find oneself in another time, one where meditative prayer and silence are common maybe.

arches to the past by Terrill Welch 2014_05_21 083

I like to look up in places like this. It is like something remembered but just out of reach of conscious articulation. Do ever get that feeling when you go new places?

something remembered by Terrill Welch 2014_05_21 085

 

Having found a most appropriate frame of reference for my visit in Narbonne I head out the side exit and across the narrow street into the wet marble courtyard leading to the Narbonne Museum of Art and History. A staff person tiptoed very carefully across the glistening surface. I took to the approach to heart and followed in the same manner.

 

Musee d' art et d'histoire de Narbonne marble courtyard by Terrill Welch 2014_05_21 111

 

There is a sad-looking angel on a pottery bowl at the top of the stairs

sad angel museum stairs in Narbonne by Terrill Welch 2014_05_21 119

 

and I wonder what is John’s Club that can be seen out of the tall stairway windows that rattle loudly in wind from the storm outside.

 

John's Club paintography by Terrill Welch 2014_05_21 123

 

The museum offered a pass for seven sites for nine Euros or it was four Euros for just the Art Museum. On a whim I purchased the pass to the seven sites and succeeded in setting the course of discovery for our time in Narbonne.

 

After a lengthy exploration of the excellent permanent and special exhibition including several rooms of 17 – 18 century dishes, including some in a most stunning pale green dinning room, I am ready to see if David wants to come back again for the afternoon and so he could get his seven site pass as well of course. There were many great works to see but there was one that I knew he would love as much as me. It isn’t a large painting but rather about a middle size at 55 x 68 cm. The work is by an Italian painter Gaspare Traversi (1732-1769) and is called Mendiant accroupi or A Beggar

image

 

It is the emotion and compositional strength of this image as well as pure skill in foreshortening that had me coming back to this painting several times. Every centimeter of this canvas is in full use and allows you no room to shrink from the image. The beggar has seen us. We must respond in some way and whatever that way is he and the world will know. It is our human condition we are facing in this painting.  This image, courtesy of the Narbonne art museum and published in La Tribune de l’Art does not really fully speak to the power of this piece of course.  But it was the only image I could find to share with you.  Other than that – off to Narbonne and the art museum with you!

The weather is breaking and there is a warm glow in the jute carpeted stairway as I descend.

 

stairway Musee d' art et d'histoire de Narbonne by Terrill Welch 2014_05_21 125

 

I wonder what the ruins will be like? Well, that is the next post and we shall get to see at least some of them because one of the sites allows photographs!

If it was a rainy day and you could be in any museum in the world, what painting would you want to be standing in front of with your inquiring gaze?

 

© 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

Painting from the White Room in Aix en Provence

Sometimes two means three and this is often the case with counting the floors is to a walk-up apartment in France. The ground floor with its entrance and coffee bar is frequently not considered the first floor. So up and then up again we go to our one room plus bathroom apartment in Aix en Provence that is a soft egg-white with two large opening shutter-clad windows to the streets – busy streets even though it is single-lane and heavy with foot traffic. Oh, did I mention motorcycles – lots and lots of motorcycles. But we grew to love this simple, clean and sparsely decorated space particularly after visiting the art museums and walking through the outdoor market. The lack of stimulus in this room gave our overloaded sensory systems a chance to rest.

On our first evening, exhausted from travel, we went to bed early and fell asleep even with the street noises thumping, banging, drumming, hollering and honking in the background. At 5:45 am I awoke to the smell of fresh croissants coming out of the oven in the café below us while safety-clad men with leaf-blowers bellowed ahead of two street cleaning machines with a group of twenty-something year olds staggered past munching large hamburgers and yelling in drunken good-natured French to each other. To add to the commotion there are these funny blackbird-like birds that sound like our flickers slapping out their good-morning song against this background of foreign confusion assaulting my sleepy senses. This is Aix en Provence, the cleanest streets anywhere and a cacophony of sounds and colours.

From the vantage point of this room I often stood and observed the interactions and comings and goings of locals and tourists as they passed on the street below. It was a delicious bird-like view where few looked up and noticed my prying inquires.

window to Le Forbin by Terrill Welch 2014_05_18 012

One afternoon while David was taking a long nap I set up my makeshift easel by the open window,

window of possibility by Terrill Welch 2014_05_18 029

pulled out some paint

daubs of paint by Terrill Welch 2014_05_18 046

and gave it my best effort to capture the full richness of this city.

plein air window in Aix en Provence by Terrill Welch 2014_05_18 062

I am happy with the results. The movement and vitality feels like Aix to me with its young university students mixed liberally with business people, city maintains workers and tourists.

FROM THE WHITE ROOM IN AIX EN PROVENCE

25 X 35 cm acrylic painting sketch on archival 185lb paper

From the White Room Aix en Provence 25 x 35 cm acrylic painting sketch by Terrill Welch 2014_05_18 069

(Art Prints are available in my Redbubble Storefront HERE)

 If you were to sleep above a busy street on what city street corner would you like it to be?

© 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

 

Aix en Provence with Cezanne and photographer Mme Miceli Brigitte on the Painters Ground

I rose only sort-of-early in a French city that overlaps its evening and day crowds. It is Aix en Provence at 7:45 am and I am headed up to the Painters’ Ground with my small painting box, tripod and camera.  The morning is pleasant and, though the walk takes about an hour, I enjoy the climb out of the old city center and into the more tranquil edges of the city. As I walk, I stop to rest on a bench just before the street reaches Paul Cezanne’s historic studio. But it is much too early to visit. Maybe we will stop in on our way back.

While I am climbing I am thinking about what it must have been like for Cezanne as a painter. What might he have been thinking about as he climbed this hill in the 1880’s? This was a time when he had separated himself from the ideas of impressionism. It was a time when Cezanne was working mostly on his own, developing a unique painting language that would later become a key plank and supporting strut in a bridge that eventually lead towards abstract painting. We often think of Matisse and Picasso in this regard but there are others that came later like Diebenkorn, an American expressionist and figurative painter, who also sites the influence of Cezanne. We could spend the whole of our climb discussing the relationships and the strengths and weaknesses of focusing on light, colour, form, realism and abstraction in the painting process. But we won’t. Let’s just say that Cezanne added some powerful and unique painting language to these conversations.

The street becomes quieter as I continue to climb and turn around meandering bends that lead me higher up the hill. I spot Cezanne’s mountain at an opening and stop to give it my full attention. Though a prominent outcrop on the horizon, in some ways it doesn’t really look like much. What was it that had him paint this landscape of the Sainte-Victoire mountain more than 87 times?

I keep walking until I see a sign on my right pointing across the road to the left indicating a trail to the Painters’ Ground. The path is rough-laid stones and though uneven, it is not difficult. I suspect that these are a newish addition – maybe to keep the ground from wearing away as admirers and painters such as myself trek up and down repeatedly. According to the little pocket-size walking tour brochure I picked up at the tourist office, “Cezanne’s most famous pictures were painted from this marvellous vantage point on Chemin de la Marguerite on the Lauves hill.”

Slightly flushed with the climb and excitement, I stop almost at the top and turn. This is it. This is the spot. There are places on this earth where the ground hums with a heartbeat of stillness, an energy that settles and becomes observable on the inhale and exhale of a breath. This spot is one of those places. This is what I believe brought Cezanne here to paint again and again. It was a place where he could work uninterrupted on his painting problems and the mountain became a convenient tool to this end. Oh, who knows if this is true or not. We both know I just made it up on the spot but I believe it could be true so I take a few reference images.

May morning on the Painter Ground by Terrill Welch 2014_05_18 092

Then I go about the task of attaching my small painting box to the top of my camera tripod and maneuvering the tools around in the less than ideal conditions of facing the direct morning light. Just as I am about to start to apply paint to canvas an elderly couple wave and come down from the very top of the hill to greet me. We quickly establish that it was going to be a dramatic signing and gesturing conversation with bits of French and English Language thrown in for good measure. Believe me, this approach is often extremely effective when human-beings are determined to have a conversation that just MUST be had. The woman searches her pockets for her phone and made a long face. The fellow asked why she wants her phone and she said, for a photo. I thought she just wanted to be able to remember who I was so I reached into the top of my camera case and pulled out a business card. Her face lit up like halogen bulb but it wasn’t at my business card. It was because of my camera. With unrestrained enthusiasm she asks if she can use my camera to take photographs of me. What could I say? Yes, of course. I set the camera on automatic, put the cord over her head and, as best I can, indicate that it is ready to go and where it is she needs to press the shutter. She nodded repeatedly, pulled the camera down where she could see the dials and started turning them.

Well, my face must have given me away because the fellow said – its okay (hand up in the calming position). She is a professional.

Satisfied that she had the camera set the way she wanted it, Mme Miceli Brigitte directed me to start painting. What does a painter with a professional photographer at her disposal, up on the Painters Ground, in Aix en Provence, facing Cezanne’s mountain do with such an instruction? There is only one thing that can be done. I pick up the brush and go to work.

In the Zone on Painters Ground by Mme Miceli Brigitte 2014_05_18 102

While I painted, the photographer moved around making satisfying and comforting comments in French that told me that she was having as good a time as I was. Among a few others, there was this moment…

Terrill Welch plein air on Painters Ground by Mme Miceli Brigitte  2014_05_18 103

and then this one…

taking on Cezanne's Mountain by Mme Miceli Brigitte 2014_05_18 107

and finally this one, which is likely one of my favourite photographs of me.

Plein Air pinting in Aix en Provence by Mme Miceli Brigitte 2014_05_18 109

It is a favourite because at this point I had relaxed and was able to focus on my painting. I was aware of the photographer but she had lulled me into a place of comfort with her soft voice and slow deliberate movements. She had become part of my work rather than an entity capturing it. She was deeply inside my painting space which is something only I usually get to experience. The man was standing back a little, quiet and waiting in an unhurried kind of way. I had stopped noticing him all together. It was a beautiful moment at 9:08 am on May 18, 2014 between three individuals up on a hill with the most important language of all in common between them – the language of appreciation and respect.

The photographer hands me back my camera and both of them encourage me to keep a close eye on it and tuck it under the easel so that it doesn’t get stolen. I make a promise to comply. I have the good sense to ask the photographer to write down her name and address so I can send her a copy of the photographs. We say our good-byes and they continue on with their morning walk and I finish up the painting in the few minutes that I have left before I need to pack up and start back down the hill and into town.

plein air of Cezanne's Mountain 25 x 35 cm acrylic painting sketch by Terrill Welch 2014_05_18 123

We can take a quick snoop into Cezanne’s Studio garden. Do you want to?

The Garden at Cezanne's Studio by Terrill Welch 2014_05_18 160

Yes, I did go into Cezanne’s studio where no photographs are allowed. There is the dutiful splash of open turpentine for authenticity.  However, on this day anyway,  I do believe the painter was still up on the Painters’ Ground where we met the photographer this morning. But not to disappoint, one of most intriguing features of Cezanne’s studio is the opening he had built into the wall to bring large paintings in and out of the studio. I climbed all the way back up in the early evening to get an outside view of this for you…

Evening outside Cezanne's Studio by Terrill Welch 2014_05_20 012

and another photograph of Sainte-Victoire mountain.

Sainte Victoire Aix en Provence by Terrill Welch 2014_05_20 024

Generally, I like to work in the morning but this spot would be most interesting in the afternoon and early evening. Yes, I am sure I saw a quick glimpse of Cezanne heading down the path by some tall bushes with his painting gear resting heavily on the shoulder of his weary frame that had  put in a long day’s work figuring and painting slowly and methodically.

CEZANNE’S MOUNTAIN – 25 x 35 cm, 20 minute acrylic plein air painting sketch

Cezanne's Mountain 25 x 35 cm 20 minute acrylic plein air painting sketch by Terrill Welch 2014_05_18 139

(Art Prints are available in my Redbubble storefront HERE)

 

When was the last time you were totally blow away by the positive serendipity of a series events?

 

© 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

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The Riviera

From north-western Italy to Southern France it is The Riviera and stunningly beautiful.

It could be an afternoon in Manarola

Manarola Cinque Terre Italy by Terrill Welch 2014_05_09 052

with “lady of the grapes”

La Donna Dell'UVA in Manarola Italy by Terrill Welch 2014_05_09 186

or sipping local wine by half-bottle

afternoon lunch by sea in Rapallo Italy by Terrill Welch 2014_05_08 099

next the sea in Rapallo

Castello sul Mare 1550 Rapallo Italy by Terrill Welch 2014_05_08 092

Then again, it could be a small Italian working fishing village

Italian fishing village Festival rain or shine  by Terrill Welch 2014_05_11 182

before coming to the big city host of Nice France

Roof Tops in Nice France by Terrill Welch 2014_05_15 076

with its amazing square

Square in Nice France by Terrill Welch 2014_05_15 029

no matter which way you happen to look…

morning in square Nice France by Terrill Welch 2014_05_15 035

It is all good, fantastic and delicious! There is however, only one painting sketch and it is not of these grand views but rather a humble still life.

Basic Essentials – 25 x 35 cm acrylic on archival 185 lb paper.

Basic Essentials 25 x 35 cm acrylic painting sketch by Terrill Welch 2014_05_12 110

Yet, it seems just right. Enough. Maybe even more than enough.

This is our last of three days in Nice France. Tomorrow we will be leaving for Aix en Provence and then Narbonne as we travel along the south of France. We will have no internet in the next places we are staying. Therefore, you may or may not hear from us again until we reach Barcelona Spain on May 23, 2014. So don’t worry. We are fine – just a little disconnected 😉

If you were to summarize the basic essentials of one of your favourite places what would be included?

 

© 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

Good Morning Rapallo Italy

With oranges picked from a tree and sliced to eat to lemons, fresh eggs from the hen-house and an enthusiastic young niece to our host to greet us we felt right at home in our tiny house style apartment up in the hills of Rapallo Italy.

orange from the tree in Rapallo Italy by Terrill Welch 2014_05_08 001

This morning before walking down the hill to get groceries I walked up a ways until I could see the Mediterranean Sea.

May morning in Rapallo Italy by Terrill Welch 2014_05_08 037

We are surrounded by hills with little spots of inhabitants scattered around.

From the hillside in Rapallo Italy by Terrill Welch 2014_05_08 030

I believe there is a bus that goes around to the area across from us. I hope so because it would fun to have a closer look at this hilltop.

Hilltop near Rapallo Italy by Terrill Welch 2014_05_08 048

But it is the sea that is calling me right now.

over the palm tree is Rapallo Italy by Terrill Welch 2014_05_08 039

The Bird of Paradise blooming outside our door

Bird of Paradise in Rapallo Italy by Terrill Welch 2014_05_08 007

nor the abundant number of prickly beauties

prickly beauties by Terrill Welch 2014_05_08 019

and not even the roses will keep me on the hillside today.

A rosy kinda morning by Terrill Welch 2014_05_08 057

We are off on the twenty or thirty minute walk to see the sea and get a feel for this place.

 

What is holding your attention today?

 

© 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

Olive Tree en plein air

On occasion a painter is mesmerized by a subject. In this case, I have fell under the spell of a particular olive tree in the Tuscan hillsides of Florence Italy. I have added it to two previous paintings – once because it was actually there and the second time because I wanted it to be there. This morning I made a third attempt. It is our last day in Florence and the only chance I will have to set up directly in view of this prized olive tree.

olive tree in progress 2 25 x 35 cm acrylic on 185 lb coldpress archival paperby Terrill Welch 2014_05_06 038

I rough in an underpainting and settle in to work. Oh how my brush lacks the life of the moving light! I struggle with the acrylic painting, my limited ability to interpret what I experience so fully in front of this tree and the landscape that holds. The haze is heavier than I am used to on the west coast. The colours are richer and fuller in this May midday sun. I want to give up. I want to sit on the ground and toss the brushes in the air in defeat. But I don’t. I take a deep breath and I keep working. This painting will hardly be able to be called a sketch. It is already long past my self imposed 60 minute limit for a painting sketch. I care not for this limitation today. I am determined.

Finally the brushes still. I have no idea what is on the canvas really. I lost conscious track way back when the last long narrow tree was brushed into the distance. So let’s have a look together…

 

plein air painting of olive tree  25 x 35 cm acrylic on 185 lb coldpress archival paperby Terrill Welch 2014_05_06 045

Well, it isn’t what I had imagined. Nor does it fully capture my intention. But it will have to do because no further brushstroke is asking to be added. This is it. Finished.

OLIVE TREE 25 x 35 cm on 185 lb coldpress archival paper

olive tree in25 x 35 cm acrylic plein air on 185 lb coldpress archival paperby Terrill Welch 2014_05_06 052

(Art prints available in my Redbubble storefront HERE)

 

I have no question for us today… what one would you like to ask?

 

Now I really must go and pack or we shall be in a flurry tomorrow morning.

 

© 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

I Hung My Nightgown to Dry in the Tuscan Sun More Than Twice

Today the sun shines but we have had some great thunderstorms  and we were glad we could borrow umbrellas during this past week.  On a particularly miserable day, while we were tucked into our apartment that is part of an old Farmhouse on the outskirts of Florence Italy, I read advice in a travel guide on how to see four towns in a day while traveling by train in Europe.

Farmhouse courtyard Florence Italy 18 x 24 cm acrylic painting sketch on linen finished panting block by Terrill Welch 2014_04_27 004

(Farmhouse courtyard Florence Italy – acrylic plein air painting sketch.  Art Prints available HERE)

Let’s just say we are slow travelers in Europe. Our minimum stay is three nights. Our more lengthy settling-in-visits are up to fourteen days. We have done some long days on the train a couple of times but mostly a five-hour trip is enough.

What does this really mean as far as being able to say we have been someplace?

Well, it means that we actually live like we would at home in the communities we are staying. We buy  groceries, mail letters, go to the pharmacy and run out of toilet paper, garbage bags and coffee. We need to do our laundry and hang it out in the sun to dry. That is the best part. Clothes that flap in a hot breeze under the Tuscan sun can never be taken for granted again. That white cotton nightgown of mine with the tiny bit of embroidery around the neckline knows that it will be worn until there are only tatters left for painting rags.

It means we don’t make it to all of the highlights and sometimes we hardly make it to even a few. Instead, I can be found painting on a hillside.

plein air painting southern Florence Italy by Terrill Welch 2014_04_25 136

The painting sketches are a quick way to deepen my understanding of the light, the land and a place.

Galluzzo Valley in southern part of Florence Italy 18 x 24 cm acrylic sketch on linen finished paint block by Terrill Welch 2014_04_25 145

(Valley in Galluzzo southern part of Florence Italy – acrylic plein air painting sketch. Art Prints available HERE)

It means there is time to be given not only to a lemon but a cedro which is not a lemon and about the size of a grapefruit.

cedro cut in half by Terrill Welch 2014_05_01 006

There is time to find a recipe by Elizabeth in Rome on how to make a salad using the sweet pulp of this fruit while the rind and dry center are composted.

Cedro insalata Florence Italy by Terrill Welch 2014_05_01 015

There is time to do a composite painting sketch in a makeshift studio that combines five different experiences that happened over about as many days.

Spring in Tuscany 20 x 30 cm acrylic sketch on canvas board by Terrill Welch 2014_05_03 030

(Spring in Tuscany – acrylic painting sketch. Art prints available HERE)

I begin to become familiar with the changing light in the narrow stonewall-lined lanes where the walls of homes sometimes converge with the pathways.

country lane in Florence Italy by Terrill Welch 2014_04_29 056

The fields and the hills start to speak in clear notes of recognition.

rolling thunder on the Tuscan Hills by Terrill Welch 2014_05_03 001

The courtyard becomes well worn with memories of breakfast, lunch and afternoon painting.

garden pots 18 x 24 cm plein air acrylic painting sketch on linen finished painting block by Terrill Welch 2014_04_29 030

(Garden Pots – acrylic plein air painting sketch. Art Prints available HERE)

There is time to use different photography editing tools to express the light’s dramatic effect on the courtyard

storm breaks  poster edges by Terrill Welch 2014_04_30 005

or a curved building at the top of the hill on the road out of town.

ink outline on the old road to Rome by Terrill Welch 2014_05_03 042

Whether it is a villa

villa across a Tuscan Field by Terrill Welch 2014_05_03 035

or a more humble dwelling

Via Dell' Amore Italy by Terrill Welch 2014_04_29 053

Florence or Firenze is so much more than crowded streets in the old town or the lookout over the city. The Village Road painted by Italian Macchiaioli leader  Giovanni Fattori in 1904 is very little different from the village roads here today.

(Village Road by Giovanni Fattori)

We have only today and tomorrow left in our two-week visit to Florence. David has headed off on his own to do a bit of shopping. I am considering if I have time for one more painting sketch. But mostly, it is time to start packing up our belongings and our hearts. It is time to say good-bye to the Tuscan hills, the fields and the narrow village roads. We promise, as good visitors sometimes do, to return. It is a sign of our love and appreciation rather than a true commitment. That is okay too, for such a possibility will be a welcomed gift during the short daylight hours of heavy rain back at home on the west coast of Canada.

We leave for Rapallo Italy on Wednesday from which we will then do a day trip into the Cinque Terre. From May 13th – 16th we will be in Nice France. The primary intent of our stay there is to see the museums of Matisse and that of Chagall. On May 16th we will travel to Aix en Provence where we will wander (and I shall paint) in the footsteps of Paul Cezanne until May 20th. We follow this up with three days in Narbonne France which will be our last stop before Barcelona Spain and our next longer stay of ten days where we will spend time with the work of Spanish architect Antoni Gaudi who we have both long admired. This will take us to June 3rd with slightly more that three weeks left until we return home. As you can see, we have some shorter visits in this next stretch as we travel towards one of our major goals to visit Barcelona Spain. We will not know these places in between nearly as well but we can say that we gave them more than one-quarter of a day on high-speed town hopping European excursion. Yes, it is work to book trips independently, to plan each stay and each train trip and each meal that must be made. But I wouldn’t trade it for a fast trip. No that would never do. For it is not what we see with our eyes that sustains us but what we visit with our hearts. This is what drives my creative will, my desire to interpret and translate and this is what leaves me just a little sad with each good-bye.

 

Where have you most not wanted to say good-bye but instead promised – until we meet again?

 

© 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

Photography sketches of the Florence Countryside

There are times, as many of you know, when I am taking photography sketches that I will then be use as reference for paintings that I will do in the studio. It is tricky business to do these sketches as they are often a series of several photographs taken from different perspectives so that there is enough memory triggered in the later viewing to bring me back to that specific place and time. This is necessary as I need information from all of my senses to successful interpret a painting in a meaningful way onto a canvas. A few of these photographs are worthy of being considered completed works in their own right. Mostly though, they are reference work just like a charcoal drawing or quick painting sketch. That said, it was a nice walk and I thought you might like to come with me for at least part of it.

The air is full of seed pods with parachutes today. David has to keep his sneezing self indoors. So it is just you, me and the camera hiking along with a water bottle on this May 1st, national Labour Day holiday in Florence, Italy. The sky is trying to rain but just can’t work up enough gumption to deliver the goods.  We will be fine. I promise.

Florence countryside by Terrill Welch 2014_05_01 020

We will turn this way, then that way, in a maze of back streets that take us to a high road where we can look across to some place north of where we came from.

looking across from the high road in Florence by Terrill Welch 2014_05_01 029

A soccer game is playing over a mega-phone system or some such thing. At least I think it is a soccer game. Whatever it is, the sound seems fitting and odd all at the same time. The side of the road is very narrow where we are standing so we best go part way back the way we came and go in the other direction as it looked much more peaceful – quiet even.

afternoon in  narrow lane of Florence countryside by Terrill Welch 2014_05_01 141

Lucky us, the sun has come out for a few minutes and we have over an hour of these old bricked back roads to explore. There is only one problem. I need to be at least a foot taller.

over the fence in Florence Italy  by Terrill Welch 2014_05_01 188

About half of the view always remains a mystery to me. How about you? How are you making out. Oh heck, let me give you a boost and you can get a good look…. no, no! Don’t fall over the top! That sign said something about a dog. Pheeeewfff! Okay, no more of THAT! Lets just look in through the bars of the gate instead.

sun in olive tree grove  by Terrill Welch 2014_05_01 153

There will likely be fireflies in this olive tree grove this evening. If we wanted we could catch some in a jar and leave them beside our bed. In the morning the fireflies will have turned into one cent coins. It’s true! Just ask my host if you don’t believe me. Though she is pretty sure that her father had something to do with these results. However, in the whole valley all the small children would go out in the fields in the evening and catch fireflies. Then they would try to stay awake at night to see if they could see how it happened. No one ever did. But in the morning, sure as anything, there would be a few coins in the jar beside their bed and the fireflies would be gone. I saw my very-first-ever firefly two nights ago. I am going to go out tonight and see if the thousands of others have arrived yet. They are reportedly suppose to arrive in early May. A few small coins might be kinda nice don’t you think?

So….. maybe if it rains tomorrow or maybe not until I get back to Canada at the end of June but I am confident that at least a few of these photography sketches will become paintings.

 

What kind of creative sketches do you do in preparation for a final work?

 

© 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