The week has shifted from warm winter afternoon sun to stormy jade grey sea, to snow cover trees causing power outages and then back to sun with more snow on the way. What is a painter to do with such dramatic changes? Gather reference materials, write a haiku, make hedgehog biscuits and paint of course!
With the sun trapped behind a tree, I squint through the branches at the sea.
Wandering along the shore I consider the path down to the rocks and driftwood.
Afternoon low sun on the rocks, the sea and a pastel sky are my reward.
Then later on in the week the jade of high-tide seas remind me of some reference material from earlier in the year. I bring them along to the first Studio Intensive oil painting class that I am teaching for the next three months. I am enamoured by melancholy seas. I can’t seem to help myself. I am pull up to the shore with a belly full of compassion, ready to dry each of the wave’s cold tears on my damp sleeve.
I bring the painting to rest back in the studio with the week’s snow visible in the background outside the loft windows.
I have been working most of the day on the large canvas from the week before and the melancholy sea painting is my unwinding work after being corkscrewed up in the branches of that old arbutus tree.
But what about this unusual amount of snow that has lasted for days here on the southwest coast? It really isn’t much. Truly it isn’t, other than gorgeous to look at…
As night comes / the beauty of tall firs / outside my window.
Oh, the power went out a couple of times with the first heavy wet inches. But we are cozy and comfortable. In fact, we didn’t even go to get bread when we ran out. Instead, I made hedgehog biscuits.
However, I am familiar with snow, bad roads and power outages. These circumstances cause me neither concern nor stress. Yet, I am reminded that it is uncertainty and the unknown that tends to rankle most into jittery nerves. I am no exception. But snow and power outages don’t do it for me.
Yesterday, the sun came out and danced with the same big fir trees in the valley outside the window . Gorgeous!
I have, as you might expect, been reading about world events. Of most interest are a couple of articles with a broader, possibly dystopia, perspective. The first is “This is how we can fight Donald Trump’s attack on democracy” by Rob Wijnberg in The Correspondent. The second is an archeologist’s paper “History Tells Us What Will Happen Next With Brexit And Trump” by Tobias Stone in the Huffington Post. Both articles focus on current affairs from a place of context that comes when we step back from the immediacy of news feeds that surface on Facebook, Twitter or from other sources. I am reminded that though immediate situations may be of importance, they likely hold little sway within a longer measure of time. Possibly, I wonder, will we, 300 years from now, remember this era as the great democratic experiment?
This week I am also reading Behind The Beautiful Forevers: Life, death and hope in a Mumbia undercity by Katherine Boo. In addition, I watched a mini-series about Juana Ines de la Cruz , the life and work of a seventeen century nun in Mexico City who is considered one of the first great minds of the Americas.
In my collective ingestion of these articles, the book and the film, I am struck by how current stories and old stories are much the same. A few lines from the Netflix Juana Ines film series, set between 1669 and 1695 in New Spain, seem to summarize my week in totality.
“Silence is not having nothing to say. But being unable… to find words for all there is to say.”
“It is not the knowledge I don’t have. But that the desire to learn has cost me so much… This amorous torment inside my heart can be seen. I know that I feel the way I do, but I don’t know the reason why. I feel such a heavy anguish from such a successful dalliance that fills like desire and ends in melancholy.”
As always, I find that so much in this everyday life is left unanswerable or beyond my words. Thus we conclude with the “resting” painting.
Melancholy Seas on a 14 x 18 inch oil on canvas
How might melancholy and change come together in your life?
© 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