Early Autumn in the Japanese Garden

Sunshine and cooler temperatures are the perfect time for drifting between productive activity and leisurely strolls. I have sorted, cleaned and reclaimed my office space in the loft. I find it so refreshing to have it “in hand” so to speak. Now it is time to go for that stroll. 


I go off into the gorgeous early autumn weather with its warm sun and blue skies. One of my stops is our Mayne Island Japanese Memorial Garden. 


The bridge is looking more elegant than usual with its orange red boards. I smile to myself remembering bringing students to plein air paint in the garden. This bridge lovingly was referred to as “the dreaded bridge”. 


The bridge can be seen from almost anywhere in the circular walk around the garden.


It is a popular prop for photographing family and friends. 


The Japanese maples are starting to turn red.


Samaras prepare to twirl off in a gust of wind. 


I find myself sitting in the ground beside the path even though there are many comfortable benches tucked into the garden. 


I am sitting next to the new bamboo shishi odoshi that translates as “deer frightening” in English. Thankful all the deer are fences out of this beautiful garden. 


I head home to prepare supper. Before I feel ready, the day is over. The sun is setting through the trees and creating magical light across the room. 


The time on my phone says that it is just seven in the evening. I am not ready yet for the fast shortening of the days in our northern hemisphere. I want to savour the last of our late summer’s warmth, even if it is shaking hands with early autumn before its annual departure. 

Meanwhile, Russia has announced a partial mobilization. First it was for 300 reservists. Now I hear possibly one million. Nuclear weapons are mentioned. Is it a bluff? Likely they say while failing to pause before insisting that we should take this threat seriously and prepare. How does one prepare for a Nuclear war? Is an animal really cornered if they very carefully constructed the corner themselves? The analogy doesn’t seem to work somehow. I listen to the UN security talks. I check with trusted YouTube analysts for updates about changes in the Ukrainian frontline. What shall I prepare in the face of possible war? A prayer for peace? A dedicated meditation on love? Possibly. I will go to garden for a powerful potion of fresh peppermint for my tea. I will watch the bright green leaves swirl in the hot water of my favourite mung and I shall breathe. I shall breathe slowly, purposefully and with an open heart, cradled in strength and a unrelenting force. 

Such are these days of this early autumn here on the southwest coast of Canada. 

What is it like this time of year in your  neighbourhood? 

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Breaking Blue and Gold

Starting with Monday, this has been a week of deep connection with nature, family and friends. Nature is at my doorstep. A friend made the trip to the island for a visit and my family has been connecting via telephone across many km from a different part of the province. There is a fragile, yet unrelenting, firmness that whisks itself across the carpet of our pending autumn.

Seagulls gather in rows on the reefs.

Hearing about the death of Queen Elisabeth II at 96 years old and a 70 year reign is a good reminder for me that mortality eventually has its way with us all. This confirmation, and a northwest wind facing down a clear sunny day, slices through any illusions I may have had. Without a doubt, summer has slipped on a sweater on over her light cotton dress and Canada, as part of the commonwealth, has a new King. King Charles III who is already a sprightly 73 years old. Just like that it seems, we have turned a page in time.

However, if we look closely enough, we will notice that endings and beginnings are woven together and when done well, the broken threads pass beside each other twisting to become stronger than just one thread by itself. It could be as simple as where the sea and the shore meet.

Or, in a grander flourish, we might catch the sea, mountains and sky cresting across the horizon.

The seagulls are still conferencing on the sandstone with hardly a ruffled feather.

The next day they have moved on. But the northwesterly wind has stayed.

I try to find a place to paint but I am chilled and shivering just getting references. Unlike our intuitive summer, I have left my warm sweater at home.

After a third attempt along our Mayne Island shores, I tuck up close to the brickworks dock during the morning low tide.

I lean into the crumbly structure and make a wish. Not a wish for something. Just a wish to be present. A wish to hold the space of today. In a wonky out-of-sorts-kind-of-way, everything seems to be as it should.

I’ll take it! That long breath in and then out and in again. In nature, connecting with family and friends. This is it. All that gives us a chance in life.

Low Tide at the Brickworks Dock by Terrill Welch, 10 x 8 inch acrylic on gessobord plein air.

Artist notes: An early September northwest wind was cool even in the late summer sun. I tucked up next to the brickworks dock for shelter and then started admiring its weathered features.

And so it has been for this first week of September. How about you? How has your week been?

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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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Reopening with a Study of Oyster Bay

It has been almost three years since I have added a post to this Creative Potager Blog. There is not a reasonably way to cover such an expansive absence. So, I have decided to begin again as if it were just yesterday. If the in-between is important to you, there are many public posts to read on my personal Facebook profile and in issues of “A Brush with Life” newsletter for the gallery. Now, it is time to anchor a new beginning and a practice which includes a slight shift away from social media and back to this blog and my website. I am sure the reflective peacefulness of this specific online location will be welcomed by us both. Let’s start with a recent study of Oyster Bay, Mayne Island, on the southwest coast of British Columbia, Canada…

Today was a low tide when we quietly pulled the our Red Rosy Subaru Outback down to the shore for one of our regular picnic lunches. After a few bites, I was out and searching for possible angles to capture the sweet, warm, summer blues before us.

The Salish Sea stretches along the Straight of Georgia as we squint towards the coastal mountains and Vancouver on the far side. Do I want all of the view or just a piece of it?

Or maybe just the rippling water reflections? I can’t decide.

But whatever else, I had best step it along as the tide is definitely coming in.

Now this lengthy stretch seems to be just the right balance.

But what about possibly adding a touch of rock in the foreground from over here?

Oh! Very faintly we can see Mount Baker in the distance. I will stretch the capacity of my phone camera just a little to reach out… and there! Got it! At least I have it enough for my reference needs.

As a landscape painter exposing the mystery in an ordinary day, these are my regular photography sketches. I do not worry about getting that one perfect image but rather strive for a collection of references that I can use to enhance my memory and imagination back in the painting studio. On occasion, these studies, along with small plein air painting sketches of the same subjects, result in a painting but mostly they become foundational information that builds sometimes for years until an idea becomes compelling enough to paint.

So there you have it! Do you also have practices in your life that are as much for their own sake as anything else?

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Mayne Island BC in May

The sun is shining and there are beach crawls to be done, trails to hike and wildlife to see. But first a seat in the red chair on Georgina Point.

Red Chair over looking ocean.

The waves keep rolling in relation to an off shore breeze.

Rolling sea coming ashore onto the sandstone rocks looking across towards the northeast of the Straight of Georgia.

Put your hiking shoes one and take care of any personal bodily needs as we are heading into an area without facilities. It is only 5 or 6 km with a couple of hills taking the easy route so you can get by without water or snacks… though they are nice to have if you fancy a wee picnic once you get out on the point. Yes, you guessed it. We are going on an adventure Mayne Island’s newest park – Saint John Point.

Pulling into the empty gravel parking lot, I back into the farthest available space making it easier just in case someone else decides to join us. But it is Monday and the island is still quiet with mostly only year-round residents who are busy gardening and preparing for the summer seasonal crowds that will arrive in full force for the May long weekend. But today, the forest and old road are for the birds!

Remnants of the winter storm are scattered through the trees and onto the forest floor. 

A paleated woodpecker heckles above the softer sweeter songs of the other forest birds…  even making the spotted towee sound feeble. 

The new growth on the firs leaves a toffee tang fragrance on a light breeze. 

We keep walking, over the hill and down again, until we get to the trail beside the sea.

Old fir trees beside the trail on Saint John Point Mayne Island.

The light changes swiftly as it sings through the trees and dances back from across the water.

Forest trail on St John Point beside the sea on Mayne Island.

A wee bit farther along, we come to the point itself with its exposed rocks and old arbutus tree grove. This is the prize on this walk. The point invites one to sit and stay a while.

Exposed sunny sandstone point with old arbutus trees beside the sea on Navy Channel at Saint John Point.

So we do. I pick a place on the east side of the knoll that is sheltered from the afternoon sun and sit. I wait. I get this strange sensation of being watched. I look around. Nothing. Then I catch something moving just at my peripheral vision. I turn my head slowly and focus. There are two fierce dots pointing directly out over a narrow snout in a wee red head attached to a long neck and slender body staring right at me from a crevice in the sandstone boulders. Slow and smooth I switch the settings on the camera and raise it up. But the critter is still just a bit too far away. I wait some more and take a few tentative shots as it pokes in and out of the rocks coming up the bank towards me. These are small, shy and quick animals. They only pause for a short second to get their bearings before ducking back down under the cover. A photographer must be patient and fast on the shutter. But I did it!

American Mink coming up between the sandstone rocks at Saint John Point on Mayne Island in British Columbia Canada.

Here we have an American Mink coming up between the sandstone rocks at Saint John Point on Mayne Island in British Columbia, Canada.

And there you have it! The highlight of another Mayne Island adventure during early part of the month of May in the year 2019.

WHAT IS THE MONTH OF MAY OFFERING WHERE YOU ARE?

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Red Yellow and Blue for You

Autumn flashes her best colours across our small island during these last few weeks. Now that it is the first of November, I feel I must gather this late season gold together for safe keeping during the winter rains which will surely come soon.

There has been a plein air painting day in the Japanese Gardens.

There has been a morning walk by sea before an anticipated storm.

Best of all though, there has been time to just be and watch the leaves drift down from my favourite maple tree….

Ah yes! October, so many pleasant gifts you have given!

What October Gold are you tucking away?

© 2017 Terrill Welch, All rights reserved.

Liberal usage granted with written permission. See “About” for details.

Creative Potager – Visit with painter and photographer Terrill Welch

From Mayne Island, British Columbia, Canada

For gallery and purchase information about Terrill’s photographs and paintings go to http://terrillwelchartist.com

When Morning Comes

When morning comes, I like to go down to the sea, particularly after a rain when the mist rolls across the water and slips up through the trees.

Miners Bay Mayne Island British Columbia – after the rains.

The mist is not the same as our pinkish smoke-filled days from the summer’s forest fires.

McLeese Lake, British Columbia – reflections in the heavy smoke.

I can breathe loosely, deeply and freely in the mist.

I have a thousand, at least a thousand, stories to tell but they too have slipped through the trees with the mist.

Instead, lets take a breath and release it into the autumn coolness.

What are you wanting to release today?

© 2017 Terrill Welch, All rights reserved.

Liberal usage granted with written permission. See “About” for details.

Creative Potager – Visit with painter and photographer Terrill Welch

From Mayne Island, British Columbia, Canada

For gallery and purchase information about Terrill’s photographs and paintings go to http://terrillwelchartist.com

Melded Time

Try as I might, the mix of experiences this past week refuse to be organized into a meaningful story. It all feels like beautiful colours tangled into a day with no breaks in the string, no long pauses and no rest points. New projects, such as getting a gallery up and running, are often like this I think. The past seven days went something like the late ferry sunset building to a perfect moment.

With a couple of thoughts about the morning’s plein air painting time with a fellow painter and friend,

And another thought about the gyroscope jewellery coming in mail from another multi-talented painter and jeweler friend,

and it is over…

As the sun drips into the sea, we turn away preparing for night and see the almost-full moon reaching out to greet us.

In this flow of melded time, knowing one of these moments, someday, will be our last, one is often tempted to think about the strange concept of forever.

 

What moments this past week have tempted you to think about forever?

 

© 2017 Terrill Welch, All rights reserved.

Liberal usage granted with written permission. See “About” for details.

Creative Potager – Visit with painter and photographer Terrill Welch

From Mayne Island, British Columbia, Canada

For gallery and purchase information about Terrill’s photographs and paintings go to http://terrillwelchartist.com

A Sunrise Series in May

Just as the skies started to lighten the shapes in the valley below, I rise and quickly make coffee. It is just after 4:30 am. I am ready to leave the house at 4:50 am which will put me in Reef Bay at 5:10 am. Sunrise is at 5:26 am. I park down the short trail by the beach. I am the only one here at this hour. Gathering my camera, cell phone, coffee; I meander over the sandstone as the tide slips farther out to sea. The light is still in the blue pink range.

But it warms quickly and the gulls toss themselves up in the air, before circling around and landing out on the reef beside me.

Pouring my second cup of coffee, I settle into an occasional breeze picking up salty licks and hints of seaweed as it reaches the shore.

Then the sun is up!

My heart clings to the moment as my eyes run up the beam of light across the Strait of Georgia.

Stay with it…. hold…hold…hold…

I marvel at the prisms of light on the sea. Glorious!

And now, we have started a new day!

As you are reading this I am waiting for the ferry to Vancouver with a carload of paintings and a few long days ahead of me with the Art! Vancouver Fair. However, at any moment I can check back and find my centre with this sunrise. It is like a tether anchoring me to my best self.

What tether anchors you to your best self?

Note: If you are in the city I encourage you to come down and say hello. It is not often I show my work in Vancouver and I don’t have any immediate plans to do so again anytime soon.

© 2017 Terrill Welch, All rights reserved.

Liberal usage granted with written permission. See “About” for details.

Creative Potager – Visit with painter and photographer Terrill Welch

From Mayne Island, British Columbia, Canada

For gallery and purchase information about Terrill’s photographs and paintings go to http://terrillwelchartist.com

Organizing Fleeting Glances Into Painterly Consciousness

Darting, constructing, deconstructing, organizing and reorganizing patches of colour based on brief glances as the lens of my eyes send focused light to my retinas which then sends electrical impulses via the optical nerve, in an upside down image, to my brain is the first parts of seeing. After turning the images from both eyes covering the areas from my darting glances right-side up and placing them in some kind of recognizable pattern, under the influence of surrounding sound, tactile sensation, smell and memory I can SEE. I trust this visual reference to be tentatively true until such time as new information is provided. As I write this explanation, I reach out, without thinking or even really focusing my attention, and pick it up my coffee cup without hesitation and take a sip. My mind remembered exactly where the cup was placed, how far it is from my body and my glance tells me it is still there, sitting next to the two books that have been on the desk for months and on top of a few papers. My brain did not need to think about the cup, the books or the papers. It could “see” at a glance that the image it had already stored for reference was still relevant. This same process happens over and over all day long. These are the sensory clues that allow my brain to protect and engage my physical being in the world around me when primarily relying on the use of sight.

I am fascinated by this mystery of seeing and how we construct tentative realities as we go about the process of living an ordinary everyday life as a seeing person. But what happens when we see something that is so puzzling or intense that we have no immediate way to recognize what we are seeing or any reliable references to be able to categorize it? I describe these moments as – every cell in my body becomes focused on making sense out of all the information that is available to me. We all have these moments. These are the moments where you hear better, smell better, sense the temperature of the day, the direction of the breeze and the colours and shapes of everything are more vivid. These heightened sensory moments can be induced by fear, pain or pleasure. Or drugs I suppose, but I am most concerned with our natural interaction with the world around us. These temporary moments of sensory intensity are the places I most desire to capture when painting. I want to capture a landscape as if we are seeing it for the first time and need all our awareness to make sense out of what you are seeing. As you might guess this is not an easy task.

First, I must use every bit of conscious information I can discern, combined with all of my intuition and unconscious strength, when I set brush to canvas. Second, in our current overly stimulating daily lives gaining anyone’s interest in the resulting landscape painting is an almost impossible task. We so often will only see trees,

11. Plum Blossoms Japanese Garden 20 x 16 inch oil on canvas by Terrill Welch 2016-03-09 IMG_9315

and more trees.

arbutus-on-mt-parke-12-x-16-inch-oil-on-canvas-by-terrill-welch-reworked-dec-11-2016-img_9103

There will be an ocean,

catching-waves-at-georgina-point-mayne-island-bc-30-x-40-inch-oil-on-canvas-by-canadian-artist-terrill-welch-sept-20-2016-img_0760

and more ocean,

blooming-point-pei-a-meditation-on-world-peace-40-x-60-inch-oil-on-canvas-by-canadian-artist-terrill-welch-august-10-2016-img_9055

and even more ocean!

sea-and-sun-cox-bay-tofino-bc-24-x-48-inch-oil-on-canvas-by-terrill-welch-july-15-2016-img_7138

Our brains say to self – been there, done that, moving on. For many of us then, we can no longer experience our natural world in its fullness – neither in a painting nor in real life. A wave

on-the-rocks-in-tofino-24-x-30-inch-oil-on-canvas-by-terrill-welch-2016-03-30-img_2079

is just a wave.

last-view-chesterman-beach-tofino-tsunami-30-x-40-inch-oil-on-canvas-by-terrill-welch-july-15-2016-img_7167

Our brains and our memory tell us that we have no real need to know. In this situation, the metaphorical moon is no longer there. The moon becomes identifiable by a collected set of irrelevant references, unrelated to our safety, our well-being or our need for engagement with our ordinary everyday life. There is no blame. There is no fault. It is just us humans sorting out what we most currently need and what is most important to our tentative truth.

So it is a fair question then to ask – why do I bother? Why do I turn my home into a painting studio

great-room-studio-space-by-terrill-welch-img_1735

and spend the majority of each day following the light across vast landscapes

impact-on-the-reef-by-terrill-welch-img_1372

through intimate views of trees

woods-after-the-snow-by-terrill-welch-img_1759

and over the edges of clouds?

winter-morning-sky-mayne-island-bc-img_1803

What is it about this driving practice of observation that gets me up early, clambering over slippery rocks, kneeling in the cold water, standing barefoot on the deck in the snow or sitting shivering waiting for the moon to rise? What is it that keeps me standing at the easel for hours without noticing the strain in my lower back until I lay down to sleep at night? What is it that keeps my brush moving across the canvas recording these fleeting remembrances of sensory information when, possible, the work is irrelevant to anyone but me? I am not sure I can fully answer these questions to either of our satisfaction. However, I can still see the moon and it is magnificent!

Mayne Island Blue Moon rise July 31 2015 by Terrill Welch 2015_07_31 170

What full sensory memory of our natural world do you most often revisit in your mind’s eye?

 

© 2017 Terrill Welch, All rights reserved.

Liberal usage granted with written permission. See “About” for details.

Creative Potager – Visit with painter and photographer Terrill Welch

From Mayne Island, British Columbia, Canada

For gallery and purchase information about Terrill’s photographs and paintings go to http://terrillwelchartist.com