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, Evening 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

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

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

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

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


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



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

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

False Gargoyles removed from Church of Notre Dame of Dijon after fatal accident

Early evening in Dijon France is as inspiring as the early morning. Our adventure started out seeking a wee bite of sustenance. Following what-has-become-after-three-days our usual path, we enter the far side of Park Darcy and follow the path to the top by the trees.

top area of Park Darcy warm April evening  by Terrill Welch 2014_04_08 Dijon France 008

We walk along the top of the fountain and I stop to sigh a small regret as I had hoped to spend the afternoon painting from this vantage point.

Park Darcy view from above the fountain by Terrill Welch 2014_04_08 Dijon France 012

Instead I spent most of the day in the Dijon Fine Arts Museum which was wonderful but meant no time for painting. I shall keep this photography sketch for later reference.

The April light in Dijon already has the harsh sharp contrasts that I generally associate with summer on the west coast of Canada. The sun is warm but the shade is still cool. Though we were in just our light sweaters, others had layered up in winter coats.

April Evening on The Streets of Dijon France by Terrill Welch 2014_04_08 Dijon France 020

We eventually found a plat du jour to our liking and after including a glass of wine, a shared peach tart and expresso doppio I convinced David we should go find that great church we had seen on our first walk through the city when we had been looking for the Les Halles market. The last light was leaving golden trails across the tops of the building and I wanted to pocket a little of that to take home with us.

It is the Church of Notre Dame of Dijon that we were seeking and it was just around a couple of corners and a little more to the north from where we had dinner. Let’s see. Yes, there it is!

Church of Notre Dame of Dijon by Terrill Welch 2014_04_08 Dijon France 035

A person might reasonably think it was the evening light coming through the stain glass windows that I found inspiring.

westerly evening sun back lighting Church of Notre Dame of Dijon by Terrill Welch 2014_04_08 Dijon France 084

They are lovely enough but it not what caught my eye and curiosity. It was these!

false Gargoyles from the side by Terrill Welch 2014_04_08 Dijon France 061

These are false gargoyles and there are 51 on the west side of the Church. There were false gargoyles to the left of where I was standing.

false Gargoyles to the left by Terrill Welch 2014_04_08 Dijon France 050

There were false gargoyles to right and the clock with its jacquemart above

false Gargoyles to the right Terrill Welch 2014_04_08 Dijon France 055

and false gargoyles in the middle. Let’s just say 51 false gargoyles is a lot of gargoyles.

false Gargoyles in the middle by Terrill Welch 2014_04_08 Dijon France 058

They are false gargoyles because they do not have a spout that is designed to convey water from a roof and away from the side of a building thereby preventing rainwater from running down masonry walls and eroding the mortar between. Oh but they are curious intriguing things! I had to know more.

The wikipedia story for the Church of Notre-Dame of Dijon’s false or dummy gargoyles goes like this:

According to the account of the monk Étienne de Bourbon, the original gargoyles were in place for only a short time: they were removed around 1240, following a fatal accident. A usurer was killed on the church forecourt as he was about to get married: a stone figure representing a usurer became detached and fell on him. His colleagues organised the destruction of all the dummy gargoyles on the façade, except for one at the upper right corner that survived until the 1960s, when it was replaced. Some 19th-century engravings do not show this gargoyle, but it can be seen in photos taken before 1880. The gargoyles at the sides and the back of the façade remain.

The dummy gargoyles which today decorate the façade, and which represent human beings, animals and monsters, were made in 1880-1882, during the restoration of the church. According to the archives, they were the work of seven Parisian sculptors: Chapot, Corbel, Geoffroy, Lagoule (also known as Delagoule), Pascal, Thiébault and Tournier.

Note: a usurer is a person who lends money and requires the borrower to pay a high amount of interest.

If you were to name one of your least favourite relatives (dead or alive) after a false gargoyle – what human being, animal or monster would they be?

Oh! Please do NOT disclose the name of the relative or leave any identifying clues. In this case, anonymity is a must 😉

Now, far too soon,  it is time to start packing our belonging and say good-bye to this beautiful city. Tomorrow we continue on to Basel Switzerland where I am not sure I will have internet access so you might not receive another post from me until we get to Venice, Italy.


© 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

April morning in Dijon France

We made it from London England to Dijon France yesterday but arrived a little later than planned after missing our first connection in Paris and ended up on a later train. What an adventure! I don’t think I have been so confused in a very long time. Lesson number one – Ask. Lesson number two -Ask again. Lesson number three – keep asking.

Good people to ask in the Paris metro and train stations are the people at the small snack shops. They were the most skilled at giving clear directions. Better than the information centre. Who would have thought it? My assessment of RER Transit across Paris is mixed. I believe it  is only for the brave foreign traveler or those that play video games and who are willing to keep trying to get through the doors and passages which appear to be hidden. I took us on a wrong turn someplace getting off the RER and after about half an hour of asking and searching I popped up like a gopher halfway down the loading area for the trains. This would have been fine if our two month continuous train pass had been activated but wasn’t and this is where we lost any hope of catching our first possible connection to Dijon. Since we didn’t come in the main entrance and we didn’t know the layout of the Gare de Lyon train station, we had no idea where the ticket office was located. I tried information and received some rough idea which didn’t seem to lead to anything resembling a ticket office. Then I asked someone else who worked in another part of the building but she didn’t know either.

After waving us off the same direction as the information counter David said  “You poor darling. You have no idea where to go and I can’t keep following you.”

This experience and the five minutes to catch our train later when transferring in Sens almost finished him. When I didn’t see Dijon Ville on the list of destinations after we disembarked, I went and checked with the ticket counter. The service person had little English and of course I had about the same amount of French. But I had written out the train number, time and our destination in a little black pocket note book. This enabled her read my notes and not be distracted with my feeble attempts at speaking her beautiful language. She checked the schedule and let me know that we had five minutest to get to Platform one (voice raised hands making appropriate references to be sure I understood as she spoke her English words perfectly). This required quickly zipping across to a middle platform in the underground stairs with our luggage. I gathered David up and pointed him down a steep set of stairs and grabbed the end of our bag so we could  go quickly. We then went about 20 feet and I pointed for him to go up an equally steep set of stairs.


Yes, I do believe he shouted in dismay. But we made our way up the stairs with a whole two minutes to spare.
As we whisk across the French countryside he is deciding what in the suitcase he is going to send home. But the yellow rapeseed fields are stunning and the regional train is quiet like the ferry home from Victoria. He is recovering. I hope anyway. Looking out the window I see trees with doctor Zeus like balls on them that must be a vine growing up the tree and forming these shapes. Dusk is falling and, even if I have almost no idea what the conductor is saying, the stillness of the end of the day is comforting.

But that was yesterday. This morning we woke early in our old walk up apartment with its French balcony and many tastefully added modern touches. The task was to find the Les Halles market.

early morning Les Halles Market by Terrill Welch 2014_04_08 Dijon France 003

Many streets in Dijon are pedestrian and bicycle only making it a pleasant city to walk both day and night. The market starts early and Tuesday is the local shopping day. As we slipped along the quiet streets with locals going to work it was easy to think we are just part of another ordinary day in Dijon.

morning in Dijon by Terrill Welch 2014_04_08 Dijon France 013

The salt cod or morue caught my eye but only for its natural display beauty.

salt cod or morue in Les Halles market Dijon France by Terrill Welch 2014_04_08 Dijon France 007

I would have taken more photographs to show you but I found an amazing food blog post by the Food Gypsy last evening when I was searching for where we could get groceries nearby. It is worth the read and the food photographs are stunning.

Instead, we went for coffee and croissants at the small cafe next to the market. We had taken a browse and wanted to carefully consider what we would purchase. This task needed a wee bit of fortification so as not to get more than we could eat in a couple days. After, we picked up a few items and started back to our apartment. The day was starting to pick up and the local shops were getting prepared for business.

April morning in Dijon France by Terrill Welch 2014_04_08 Dijon France 019

The day tours were just arriving from Paris as strolled home and unpacked our provisions.

a few Les Halles market provision by Terrill Welch 2014_04_08 Dijon France 042

David turned on the French radio and we served up a late breakfast of strawberries drizzled with creme fraiche, parsley ham, sweet pears, ripened goat cheese and a chunk off a wood oven baked baguette.

I then went off to paint a block away in Park Darcy while David took a nap.

plein air sketching Park Darcy in April Dijon France by Terrill Welch 2014_04_08 Dijon France 058

I chose the park because I wasn’t sure how people would react to my painting on the streets. However, I quickly discovered that painting is considered serious work in Dijon and many people stopped to comment, visit, ask questions and give their thumbs up of approval. My French is improving by the hour out of the pure delight and pleasure of warm conversation. The only slightly awkward moment was when a couple of oriental tourists stage-set a photograph with me. I should have seen it coming but only had enough time to look up and smile as the woman laughed and put her arm around my shoulders and her husband’s face disappeared behind his iPad to frame the shot. I am not sure if one short night’s sleep can even remotely qualify me as the local Dijon artist painting in Park Darcy.

But here we have it – APRIL MORNING PARK DARCY 8 x 10 inch acrylic sketch on tempered hardboard.

Park Darcy in April Dijon France 8 x 10 acrylic plein air sketch gessobord  by Terrill Welch 2014_04_08 Dijon France 063

Getting tangled in the unknown and unfamiliar yesterday was worth it for the sweet welcome of the April streets of Dijon this morning. There is something extremely humbling about being at the mercy of others to find our way. It is only equaled by the release of finding we have succeeded and all do to the kind and open hearts and minds of others.


As an adult, what is a time you most needed to rely on the help of others to find your way?


© 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