Warm Sun with Cool Shadows

I have my sweater tide around my waist and my cheeks are facing the later morning sun. But there is no mistaking that it is fall. A cool breeze drifts gently through the trees and tickles up the length of my spine.

*Please note: Reader warning about challenging material and painting reference sketch for possibly my next large painting are included near the end of this post.  

I want to not much of anything on days like this. It is a good thing I got the edges on four large paintings done yesterday before heading down to sit beside the sea. 

Autumn crocuses are in full bloom. I always feel like they are playing a great hoax on us, as if wanting us to believe it is spring. 

But it was Saint John Point where I wandered yesterday. This place is intimately familiar. Yet, if I learn into that closeness and seek out something more, it always delivers. 

Again…

And again…

The Arbutus woods, the sea and the sky are never the same twice. So I keep seeking with fresh eyes and a willing spirit. 

Every twist is assessed and acknowledged, sometimes with sadness because the end of a life is so near. Maybe one more season. Hopefully. 

However, even in death Arbutus Trees seem to still have so much to offer with their elegant curves. 

I revel in the grand strength and endurance of the healthy giants. How do they do it when so many others are struggling?

At home the painting edges dry.

These three paintings have displaced us from our great room and dining table.

Not to worry, we have done this a few hundred times before. We have a temporary cozy and beautiful solution. The outside deck table is moved to the big windows in our bedroom. Now how fine is this!?

And in the evening if dinner is later, we slide everything over in front of the fireplace. One could hardly call this roughing it.

Today and tomorrow the Gallery Pod is closed. I have a friend and an art collector arriving for a day trip tomorrow though. I could start on a larger painting but I might wait. What I want to work on is dark and grim. I have a small study I did around five months ago about our tranquil place next to the Salish Sea with the devastation left behind by the Russians in the small village of Bucha village in Ukraine imposed in the foreground.

“One World, Two Places” by Terrill Welch is a small 8 x 10 inch acrylic sketch 

Artist notes: During mid April 2022 war photographers began releasing images of Bucha Ukraine following Russian retreat. The inhumane atrocities where nightmarishly haunting. I was overwhelmed by the graphic possibilities for sickly human behaviour. I went from our calm, warm, cozy home to the shores of the Salish Sea on the southwest coast of Canada where Mount Baker loomed across the waters in the United States. What if our neighbouring unit were to attack us in this way? What would we do? These lands too have witnessed atrocities by European settlers towards Indigenous communities. There is no place of virtue for how despicable humans can be to one another. The miracle might be that we have even moments of peace, compassion and caring at all. Yet, the seascape of my island home is tranquil and takes the edge off of my inner turmoil. I return home and paint “One World, Two Places” using several reference but with a specific image quote to Den Kazansky who risks his physical, mental, emotional and spiritual well-being to document the crimes in Bucha and the war in Ukraine. Kazansky’s tag line on Twitter is “For only in the grip of darkness we will shine amidst the brightest stars” This too could be the title of this painting sketch.


The subject deserves a large canvas. I am just not sure I have the stomach and the courage to paint it. I have a biting, teeth grinding and nightmare kind of concern for those civilians who are on the front lines of the war in Ukraine. I can hike the trails to take the edge off but this doesn’t change the situation. Somehow painting these experiences offers a concrete place outside of my head to record these horrors that contrast so starkly with our daily island life here on the Southwest Coast of Canada.

For now, I am going to make my coffee and see what I decide after that.

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Latest Progress on Arbutus and Salish Sea

“Arbutus and Salish Sea” is the latest painting completed in my Red Line Series. Since its beginnings during the last week of August, I knew this work was going it be part of this red line body of work. I started the painting in the usual manner with a yellow ground with a few pencil marks on the canvas to guide the composition and design.

From there, I started painting the background first because it was going to be the strongest visual balance to the rest of the composition.

Adjustments were made to simply the design of the painting even more as I completed the blocking in stage and moved on to building up the paint. Now let’s step down into the home studio and have a look at the resting painting…

This work has happened during the opening days of the new gallery pod while we have also had the home studio open to walk in visitors. It has been a bit tricky to work between guests but I managed. I was able to get it to this stage and added the red line yesterday.

Now it is resting and the painting still needs the edges painted and a final photograph. However, I have popped it into a digital room view to take away the busyness of the home studio and so I can better decide if it needs anything else. I thought you might like to see as well.

“resting” Arbutus and Salish Sea by Terrill Welch (not yet released though inquires are still welcome) 20 x 36 inch walnut oil on canvas

Artist notes: Recent years of drought and an over population of deer eating the seedlings has been challenging for Mayne Island Arbutus Trees. The red line in this painting is there to remind us of the impacts of climate change even as the natural beauty of these trees next to the sea persists.

The painting will be set aside as I believe it is complete and another canvas will be placed on the easel.

This is how it goes in the art studio and I am so looking forward to more painting time this fall.

May our Autumn be filled with quiet abundance!

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Gifts of Sunflowers from Art Collectors

As the second day of September rolls in after a cool morning, I go to the Gallery Pod to open up for visitors between 11-4 again today. There is an ease to early September where I have chatted with a handful of people in the line up for the bakery this morning who all offered congratulations on the new gallery space. I came home and trimmed up some branches so I can see the entrance to the Gallery Pod from inside the house. Yesterday, the extension cord was placed in a conduit pipe and buried in the trench that had been dug the day before. So everything is looking sparkling and organized. I then came in and ordered two raised cedar planters for the yard. Each will have a locally made olla watering pot that I have already purchased. I liked how the first one has worked in a big clay pot this summer so I decided to see if we can at least grow some salad greens this fall or next year. The big fir trees blocking out the sunshine are the main challenge but we shall see.

In the meantime, an art collector and gallery visitor yesterday brought the most lovely local arrangement of mostly sunflowers for the Gallery Pod. Are they not just the most lovely addition?

Then a little later, another art collector suggested that I come by and see their sunflowers for inspiration. They offered to pick some for me but I knew I wasn’t going get a chance to paint them right at the moment with the opening days for the Gallery Pod that also includes the home studio and our house. So I just went over and gathered a few images to enjoy in the evening light and left the flowers to create seeds for the birds. They certainly were lovely though. They feel as big, bright and cheerful as the sun itself!

I love how much variety there is in sunflowers.

They seems to have a magic all their own as they tower over my head in the early September sky.

Speaking of September, this painting of East Point was inspired from this time of year. It is now on hold as of yesterday and a final decision will be made early next week. In the meantime it is still on the Gallery Pod wall to enjoy.

Another art collector, who is also a friend, will arrive tomorrow night to stay in a local Airbnb for a few days for a much deserved vacation. We have plans to go out for dinner and listen to live music as part of a fundraising event. I expect we might also get a morning hike or two in as well. And maybe even dinner at our house.

Over time, I have noticed that there is a lovely fluidness between serious fans and those who collect my paintings and friendship. Sometimes the art viewing and collecting comes first and sometimes the friendship comes first. I suppose it makes sense that it would be so since the paintings are so deeply personal and a significant way that I express myself in the world. Still, it is something that I am incredibly grateful for and never take for granted.

It is a Friday of counting blessing and being grateful for the pure richness in our ordinary everyday.

What is filling you with gratitude at the moment?

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We Now Have A New Gallery

The past few days have been a bit of a whirlwind. However, everything has come together and today, being as it is my birthday and it is Sunday, will be a quieter day so I thought I would catch us up….

First, I started working a new 20 x 36 inch oil on canvas of arbutus trees this week. The canvas is just blocked in but I think it is possible to see where it going. It will be another in my Red Line Series. I anticipate this series being the second show in the gallery pod but it might be the third. We shall see.

On that note, let’s go to the gallery pod. On Friday, my trusted builder, Jean-Daniel Cusin owner of Mayne Island Kitchen and Bath, dropped by to give me a hand getting the track lighting and the hanging system in. This is the third gallery space we have worked on together and I had tagged him way back in December for assistance.

You would think it would get easier since we have done this twice before but there is still a lot of fiddling finding studs, cutting things to length and running to the hardware store a couple of times to get things we needed. Still, we got it done in a few hours and the next morning I twisted in all the lights into place and put the hanging wires up to get ready for paintings.

The anchor painting for this show went up first.

Then the other two large paintings that will keep it company.

From there, the hanging went fairly quickly and now the paintings are all in place, including the guest painting by Jody Waldie. Every few weeks, there will be one larger guest painting by one of the local Mayne Island artists who show in the other Terrill Welch Gallery adventure – ISLAND TIME ART. This gallery space shows their smaller work in the blue building with Dragonfly at the ferry but it is just not quite large enough to put in many bigger work. The gallery pod can handle them though!

I will write an announcement for the website to publish later today or tomorrow that is specifically about what is in this first show and more about visiting. I still have a few wrinkles to work out. Like, do I want labels or just a list sheet of the paintings that people can take away with them? How much signage do I need if this is going to function as a self browsing location with assistance as desired or requested? How much landscaping should I try and get done right away around the gallery pod? Who needs a personal invite to feel like they have really been invited? Just a few things like this! I still have time. The official opening is 11-4 Thursday, September 1st through Tuesday September 6th, when we will have both the gallery pod and the home studio open for walk in visitors. After that time, it will be just the gallery pod that will be open during the fall shoulder season for walk-in 11-4 Thursday through Monday or by arrangement on other days. The home studio will remain open by advance arrangement or impromptu visits if it is possible. However, if you are in the neighbourhood between now and the official opening, it is possible to visit the gallery pod. I will turn the lights on and put the open sign out from 11-4 each day. The road signs will be put up as well. Almost! We are almost ready after nine months since I started planning. I am totally thrilled with the outcome so far but you will have to come see for yourself or get me to do a video or FaceTime visit for you.

So this is it for the moment. How is your day going?

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Pulling Canvases Off The Easel

Done and done! Ta-da! For weeks these two very different paintings had been languishing on two of my easels. Neither needed much but I still procrastinated and refused to stand in front of them and finish up. So, in a moment of clarity and gumption yesterday, I picked up my brushes and did the necessary work. Then, without ceremony, I yanked them from the easel and rested them on the stairs for one last peruse before taking final photographs and setting them aside to dry. Upon reflection, they are both early morning paintings. They do have this in common.

The first painting is part of a Red Line Series I am working on to depict the challenges of climate change on our treasured landscapes. If we look at the painting by itself, it is easier to discover.

Red Line Emerald Lake in Yoho National Park by Terrill Welch, 20 x 30 inch, walnut oil on canvas.

For more details and my artists notes click HERE.

Or we could place it in a room view with a floating frame just to give us an idea…

The second painting is primarily a memory that is revisited every year or so when I go home to spend time with my parents. This is a landscape of my childhood and the first that I drew and then started painting in oils when I was fourteen years old.

Early Morning Mist by Terrill Welch 16 x 20 inch, oil on canvas.

For more details and my artists notes click HERE.

And this one really does appreciate a little distance. Breakfast anyone?

Normally, I will place posts about new releases on my website. I was just so pleased to finally get these two completed and into the inventory that it seemed they should be posted with the art practice records. I also worked on a third painting but it was too late in the day for photographs. Another time. Now I can start on something new! Grounds are dry and waiting but I might have changed my mind about what O want to put on them. They had been prepared for a few more mountain Red Line paintings. However, the one I just did could possible have said all I want to say. We shall see.

I do not expect to be writing a post here everyday even though it will happen at times. I thought about setting a specific schedule and decided it wasn’t necessary. I am fairly good about documenting my work process which includes hikes, walks, reading about art and art history, watching art videos as well as painting. I have been doing it for years now. Some thoughts and activities are gathered into “A Brush with Life” newsletters and some will only be shared here. Creative Potager is my everything-out-on-the-tables-and-counters kind of working space. Thoughts and musings are mixed in with my commentary and missteps. I tend to need to document my process to some degree so that I can let go and have room for new ideas and new learning. It is just my way of being in the world. I suspect at times that my ramblings will make little sense at all and at other times, you will be comfortably nodding at my shoulder. Either way, this missives will be a touch point for starting to understand the paintings that come off of my easel.

Do you also tend to find that writing things out or saying them to a friend is useful?

Thanks for listening! 😉

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Plein Air Painting Adventures

I have just released six new plein or painting sketches for the November 1-10, 2019 “Paintings of the Salish Sea” solo show. What adventures are are captured in these brushstrokes! Would you like to wander through just a few of the summer plein air adventures with me? Let’s do it!

Yes, you are seeing correctly. I used my new e-bike to transport my plein air gear to the painting location in Miners Bay in Mayne Island.

E-bike transportation to plein air paint on Mayne Island

And this small 8 x10 inch acrylic painting sketch is one of the new works released.

Miners Bay Mayne Island study by Terrill Welch

This is the start and what might be next? What an evening this was with an 11 x 14 inch walnut oil on linen board. Though released over the summer, this work is also in the current show.

The evening sunset eventually influenced both the subject and the canvas to such an extent that it was difficult to see the work until the next morning…

Then there was the evening that I painted in the shadows using a light for assistance.

The results made the effort worthwhile and the little light is now part of my toolkit.

Cotton Park Evening study by Terrill Welch

Oh why not! How about just one more? I hike in about 30 minutes with all of my plein air gear in a backpack to paint at Saint John’s Point on Mayne Island. An old stump became my painting table beside the easel.

I used a larger 12 x 16 inch gessobord since I knew it was going to be an effort just to get to the location to paint.

Definitely worth it, don’t you think?

Arbutus Tree Morning St John’s Point study by Terrill Welch

There are many more adventures to share of course but we will need to save them for another time. These plein air painting sketches and the other new works released for this next November show can be viewed in detail on my website at https://terrillwelchartist.com/2019/10/28/paintings-of-the-salish-sea/

Enjoy and all the best, as always! Terrill 🙂

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Lost in the Light Edith Point Mayne Island work in progress

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

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

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

Then the blocking in begins.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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To Return To My Trees

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Well, that is about it I think.

What are you losing against the light?

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All In One Reef Bay Mayne Island oil painting in progress

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Among The Trees Oil Painting in Progress

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

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

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

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

Until the day comes when it is time!

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

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

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

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

From my journal notes:

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

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

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

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

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

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