Le Petit Show of original Terrill Welch paintings

Who loves the little paintings, the small works, the pieces that are always perfect to hang or rest or prop in your modest space? Maybe one like this small 8 x 10 inch acrylic sketch on gessobord? Yes?

Or maybe this wee work is more to your liking?

Or possibly this one?

The online Le Petit Show opens Thursday, October 25th for International Artist Day and will close Saturday, November 10th. The show will include the available work in the  Acrylic Painting Sketch collection and the Small Oil painting collection and the small works is easy to browse in the latest TerrillWelchArtist.com website post.

If you happen to be “on island” for the Remembrance Day weekend the Terrill Welch Gallery is open Friday evening November 9th from 4 – 5 and Saturday November 10th during the day from 11-4 at 478 Village Bay Rd in Miners Bay on Mayne Island in British Columbia, Canada. The gallery is also open by appointment during the winter months any day or time that is mutually agreeable.

Do enjoy this  small works, Le Petit Show, opportunity to add to your art collection with a Terrill Welch original painting and support an artist for International Artist Day.

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Sea and Shore – Strong Finish

As a painter, I must “hold space” for a work from the first moments of standing before my subject, gathering information and feeling my way into the painting, right up until the final brushstroke that says – done! It is not a linear process but rather a series of sparse markers that move in and out of my awareness. The large “Sea and Shore” landscape oil painting is a good example of this.

Yes, there are methods and tools, that are picked up and put down as needed, but much of the work of painting is done without what we understand as “knowing.” For me, it is more of an exploration or a trying out of things until something “seems and feels right”.

How do you DO that!? This is a question that is frequently asked in relation to viewers finding themselves inside one of my paintings – such as smelling the sea or feeling the warmth of the sun on their back. So, I will try to explain….

At this point, the process of painting is kind of like driving a race car for me. You know  how you don’t usually need to think about driving to the corner store unless there is something really unusual, like a fallen tree on the road or you have sprained your wrist and you must be careful when you are shifting gears? When we have been driving for years, we can usually just navigate to where we want to go and not think too much about steering, breaking, obeying the speed limit or putting on our turn signal and such. We have become accustom to monitoring all the various aspects of  being able to drive successfully from one place to another. Well, painting wet-into-wet is a little like developing the skills of an endurance race car driver. One must plan ahead, be quick, precise, accurate and have extensive training while practice regularly… and the painting still might crash and burn! The painter must be courageous, step into the risk of failure, and use her split-second decision-making skills to save the painting and possibly even herself. And when it works, then it is magic! Then you can hear the waves, smell the sea or feel the breeze coming across the landscape.

As you may guess, the intention for a work must be clear and yet held lightly as I pick up the brushes and proceeds into the unexpected. The unknowns can parallelize painters or have them work safely so that they make no mistakes or only use approaches that are already familiar. The results when this happens are often dismal. To successfully paint a vibrant work, using all of our sensory information, that then comes alive on a canvas, means being willing to risk – everything! I must confront what is raw and uncomfortable within myself before the inner beauty of the landscape can become visible on the canvas. There are no shortcuts. There are no easy wins or formulas. But there are practices, intentions and mark-making that will start us out in the right direction. From there, we must be willing to step beyond what we already know. Painters must be ready to figuratively die on a canvas before the painting can fully live.

That said, and out of the way, let’s have a look and see what happened with “Sea and Shore” since the last post. Sometimes it is easier to see in black and white.

Sometimes, we just want to look at the work from a different angle.  Yes, it was dinner on the deck for several days while the painted edges are left to dry. 😉

Sometimes, we just want to explore and trace the lines of movement. Though I was visually aware of my composition choice and I had knowingly chose the structure of the spiral, it was only after the painting was completed that I roughly traced it out over top of an image – revealing one of its secrets.

Then comes the final test. The painting is hung on the gallery wall for the viewer to scrutinize and ponder.

The painting must now stand on its own. It is separated from the painter and has its own relationships to build, its own stories to tell and its own journeys to take. The painter, after all, is only a temporary custodian once the work is completed. The painter’s efforts tend to dissolve somehow once the work is seen through the eyes of the viewer. It is the viewer who is now in first-relationship with the work – not, the painter. If there is a connection at all, after this, to the painter, it is only by curiosity and the invitation of the viewer. Maybe we can understand it better this way – the painting itself believes it was born of its own freewill and is unaware of the painter, the paint, the brush marks, the canvas or even its supporting frame. It is not that the painting is unappreciative of its reason for existing, it is just that the painting has know way of knowing. The painting just trusts that it has always existed. Therefore, the painter has a sacred obligation to never break this trust by inserting themselves prominently into the work – because if they do, the magic of the painting might be broken. The work itself must always lead.

The large “Sea and Shore” landscape painting hangs for one-day-only in the gallery before it is scooped up by an art collector.

SOLD! Sea and Shore – 36 x 48 inch oil on canvas by Terrill Welch.

And there it goes…. off on an adventure of its own, hopefully keeping its magic for several hundred years to come.

Thank you for sharing its journey into the world that has been captured in these three recent posts.

What risks do you take so that your creations can fully live?

PART 1 “Sea and Shore – A beginning” can be viewed HERE.

PART 2 “Sea and Shore – Building Up Paint” can be viewed HERE.

© 2018 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 Your Hometown is the Province of British Columbia

Road trips! Long or short, they always leave me with a sense of living in a bigger place that is much smaller than I often realize. What do I mean by this? Well, the best way to explain is to provide an example of traveling from Mayne Island to Williams Lake British Columbia in 9 hours including ferry, big horn sheep, two large herds of deer and too many cows and calves to count.

I was delivering 20 paintings to The Station House Gallery for a solo exhibition of my work. My “thank you” note after the opening evening says it all…

I would like to thank the Board Members and Executive Director, Diane E Toop, and Clayton of The Station House Gallery and the sponsors (Community Arts Council of Williams Lake) for a beautiful opening evening and their warm welcome for the “Light of Place Exposed” solo exhibition.

I also want to thank Terri and her mom who traveled down from Vanderhoof and Sue who came up from Armstrong B.C. today. Both directions are 4-4.5 hours of driving time.

It was a pleasure to meet many new people, including someone who had lived on Mayne Island for six years and to visit with everyone in general.

Below are a few photographs of the show before the opening. Enjoy!

When you first enter the room, its spaciousness for viewing large contemporary impressionist paintings is immediately apparent.  Later I appreciated how many guests it would hold during the opening.

Yesterday, when I was driving back down the Province I remember someone looking at at the painting on the left and saying “that is the Stuart River” without even a glance at the title for any other clue than my brushstrokes. The viewer knew the area well.

There were lunches with old friends and cousins and a long visit or two with my aunt and my sister.

There were people who knew where I went to school and lived beside the remote area of the McIntosh Lakes outside of Williams Lake.

There were people who knew my parents and the paintings from the farm were immediately recognized… even though this place is about a 5 hour drive away from where the show is located.

I lost track of the number of times I was asked if I knew so-and-so who now lives in such-and-such a place.

There was a friend who honked her horn at my sister and I walking down the street (which we didn’t hear as we were deep in conversation) who was in the area working but lives in Langley, British Columbia.

So you see, though I was born in Vanderhoof B.C., I moved with my parents often to various rural areas outside of Williams Lake starting when I was three years old and then back to the farm they still have outside of Vanderhoof the summer I turned twelve years old. But once I graduated from high school, I continued to travel the province from one end to the other for work and school. Some of these connections have lasted and others keep getting added. Our province is large and this recent trip didn’t even take me as far as the geographical middle. Consequently, we will travel a long ways to meet up with each other and always want to pass along “hellos” to those we might know in common. So, it occurred to as I was driving through the snow, sleet and rain yesterday, that my hometown is actually the Province of British Columbia.

Do you too ever feel like your “hometown” is as large as a Province or State and as small as a village?

“Light of Place Exposed, Landscapes by Terrill Welch” can be viewed in the main gallery at The Station House Gallery in Williams Lake, British Columbia from Thursday, April 5th to Saturday, April 28th of 2018.

The Station House Gallery Hours: Monday – Saturday 10:00 am to 5:00 pm and Closed Sundays. More information and directions to the gallery at: https://terrillwelchartist.com/2018/03/05/light-of-place-exposed-landscapes-by-terrill-welch/

© 2018 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 Short Pause During the Incompleteness of Painting

Yes, it is my first blog post of 2018. The last I wrote specifically for Creative Potager was December 21, 2017. I have been waiting for some kind of clarity or direction that I wanted to take us next. None has surfaced. Instead, I woke this morning with a desire to assess, summarize and begin again to just write notes to you as needed. A painter’s life seems to be like that. There are these short pauses during an overall incompleteness of painting, organizing, showing, and shipping paintings to new homes. Writing posts and sharing often comes in fits and starts and then ebbs away for a bit. I have learned to trust this process and let it be what it is.

The light of a resting catches a surface.

The brushes seem to linger over a canvas and then it is moved and another takes its place. The work continues for a bit and then it too is moved and yet another is set on the easel.

One brush mark after another, a new shiny wet painting begins to appear.

This morning, with its steady rain, I am feeling a little push around by the twenty paintings ready to packed up for travel to a solo exhibition a day’s drive away on next Tuesday. Then there are the two large canvases that have come to the home studio after being completed in the winter studio at the gallery. They seem to be standing at the edges of my life wondering where they are going to go.

At the moment I have no answer for them. But we will get there. They are designated for a show about trees in May. The reason they have come home of course is there is the two artist exhibition “Earth & Water: A Conversation on Edge” with Elena Maslova-Levin that will open April 13th. I am still waiting impatiently for eight of her paintings to find their way to the island. They have traveled promptly from California and then been held up between Richmond and Nanaimo for better than a week. I have cleared the gallery, put up posters around the island and done everything I can think of to open up the energy flow for their arrival. Now we wait… some more.

This 16 x 20 inch oil on canvas “Evening View Over Navy Channel” commissioned painting is ready for travel to the United States now that the new special shipping boxes has arrived.

I am also critically low on small 8 x 10 inch painting sketches as we head into the busy season. I have one left. Just one.

Then there are painting lessons to prepare and present each week to eager and dedicated students.

My husband is making his breakfast and we confirm that we will go to figure drawing in the evening. It is his area of interest but it is also good for a landscape painter to practice this kind of unforgiving drawing. And it is something we can do together with others, a date night of sorts. 😉

Easter weekend is coming up and if the weather is decent my daughter and two grandsons plan on coming to camp in the local campground and visit.

My parents have three calves on the ground already this spring in rural north central British Columbia and dad has a snow fence built as it has been a long deep snow winter up there. They are in their eighties and still farming. I phone on Saturday mornings to catch up and visit. I have to phone early or I miss catching them in the house. Rural farm life is like that.

But right this very moment, I must get the six-inch thick bundle of receipts and invoices to the city and handed over to the accountant so that our income tax will be filed on time.

As you can see, there are a whole series of projects at various stages of incompleteness between new works needed, finished works, exhibitions coming up and work to be shipped and so on. There are also various relationships that are important to me that I must make room for between the demands of a painter. But I am still here, sipping my morning coffee, listening to the rain on the tin roof and smiling into the possibilities of today. This is not a small thing. I have lost several friends, some of them fellow painters, before their 70th birthday’s this year. I will be sixty years old this summer and I know that each day I wake and then settle into the soft quite of the evening is a gift.  I assess, revisit and conclude  – I am doing what I must do as a painter and a teacher of painting. I am doing what I need to do as a partner, mother, grandmother and daughter. I am doing what I love to do in the process of being in all areas of my life. I have no desire to change a thing. It is a good feeling.

What about you? How are you?

© 2018 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 Quieter Time

For much of the year,  I thrive on a creative rhythm of quick short inhales with repeated exhales of joy and possibility in our ordinary day. Blogs are posted weekly. Classes are taught spring and fall. Solo art shows are proposed and curated. Requested application deadlines are met for the following year. I take us on hikes, painting trips, studio views of work in progress and this year into the new gallery. Then it is November. The days are short. Winter storms arrive. My internal rhythm shifts. The inhales are longer, deeper and the exhales reveal little to outside world until early spring. This is my restorative time. Social media posts become sparse. I always announce that I am taking a break during this time. I am not though. Not really.

Road to Everyday – 36 X 24 inch oil on canvas by Terrill Welch (available)

What I am doing is diving deep into my own creative well and wandering the trails, reading books, visiting with friends and neighbours and, with few interruptions, covering canvases with paint! This time of year I need this just as the rest of the year there is a steady flow of engagement outward. I know and trust we will all be better for it. Or, at least I will.

So, just so you know, posts of all sorts will be unscheduled from now until early in the new year. They will still happen but on my internal whim rather than a schedule.

What does your winter schedule look like?

© 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

 

November Studio Tour held at the Terrill Welch Gallery

For several years now, I have participated in the Mayne Island November Studio Tour. This year I will host the open studio event in the Terrill Welch Gallery at 478 Village Bay Rd. from 11 – 4 on Fri. Sat. and Sun. November 10th  to 12th 2017. This morning I zipped down and gave everything a little tidying up after hefting, with help, a new approximately 350 year old addition to the gallery room. Can you spot it?

Let’s get a little closer and see if that helps….

Yes! It is a 1660s wooden trunk or more accurately a Charles II oak coffer complete with iron loop hinges.

It will be used to store smaller paintings that are 16-18 inches on one side. And this weekend there will a few 2018 Mayne Island Landscape calendars, tote bags and throw pillows gracing the plank top.  I have brought these items in, along with a refreshed collection of greeting cards,  special for the studio tour from my Redbubble storefront that you are also most welcome to visit and place your orders from directly. But back to the wooden trunk! I tried to find out what it may have originally be used. It seems it could have held many household items as it was the storage of choice before the dresser bureau was designed. They were made everywhere at the time by carpenters and not cabinet makers – think strong and sturdy rather than elegant, decorative and finely finished.

I am absolute fascinated with old working pieces of furniture! I can spend hours imagining where this coffer was first made and the many adventures it had before we purchased it in Victoria British Columbia some 350 years later. Can you imagine the conversations it has heard? The secrets and confessions? The laughter and tears? Oh! I get shivers just thinking about it!

What story might this wooden trunk tell about you in another 350 years?

© 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

Feeling The Joy of Complete

In recent years, I have not asked myself to be “out there” on the stage of public life as much as in the past few months.

There are oil painting classes to teach in person and online each week.

There are new art shows to curate and hang in the gallery every few weeks.

There are new paintings to paint, edges to finish, hanging wire to add and get into the inventory to be released.

There are paintings that sell and must be packaged and funds deposited using new technology. Here are two recent works off to new homes….

I can now do  “SQUARE” with a whole new meaning.

In between there are the usual life necessities and yet we still find time for a long lunch after buying art supplies in nearby Sidney.

And there are still the daily walks, though often later in the day.

Walks with the trees and the sea of course.

Always the Trees…

Then it is back to the gallery the next morning again, refreshed, grounded and ready for another day.

What feels complete in your life at the moment?

© 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

Show Time for Beauty of Oils Painters

After a summer of chasing the morning light painting en plein air, three students from the Beauty of Oils Painting class and myself are ready for a fall group show in our local Mayne Island Library. Details are in the poster below. The featured painting in the poster is by Jody Waldie.

These fellow painters carved out time on most Thursday mornings from May to September to brush in patches of colour on canvas from various vantage points around Mayne Island in British Columbia, Canada. Here are just a few of the paintings that will grace the freshly renovated walls the library for local or visiting viewer’s pleasure.

House on Stilts – Active Pass, 11 x 14 inch oil on canvas by Katherine Cox Stevenson

Spring at the Lighthouse, 11 x 14 inch oil on canvas by Glenda King

Summer Tide, 10 x 8 inch oil on canvas by Jody Waldie

Morning Along the Island Road Mayne Island BC, 20 x 16 inch oil on the canvas by Terrill Welch

For anyone who has ever attempted painting with oils out in the open air, it goes without saying that we know it takes years of practice and skill-building to render a proficient canvas. Still, from the very beginning, using some basic methods and processes, there is an aliveness, a deep pleasure of the moment, a delight in colour and movement captured on the canvases that is worthy of sharing.  I am honoured to have had the opportunity to have provided some of these basics in oil painting lessons and to have been invited to paint side-by-side with these fellow painters as our brushes flew across the canvases capturing our glorious island summer landscapes. There comes a point when nothing can replace regular practice, and more practice. At this juncture a painter has only one reasonable choice – get out there and do it! And we did. I am thrilled to not only having been invited to paint but also to be asked to include a couple of paintings with this group for the fall show. Seeing a selection of our summer’s paintings hung together will warm the chill off the months ahead like winter preserves.

How do you like to render your summer joy for winter preserves?

P.S. With a  bit of luck, we shall have another spring show from the Beauty of Oils Painters at the Mayne Island Community Centre following our winter/spring Studio Intensive oil painting class. The fall class is full with 10 in-person students for the skill building Beauty of Oils painting class and the online sister class is also at its maximum for the pilot class. I do not do much marketing of these classes and it is mostly by word of mouth or if a person happens to catch a Facebook post where I mention the offering. If this is something you think you would like to do either in-person or online you are welcome to let me know via email or messenger on Facebook and I will add your name to the list to be notified of future classes.

© 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

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 http://terrillwelchartist.com

Beginning at the End with Monet

When we walked into the Vancouver Art Gallery to join the line up, it was five minutes after opening. As we entered the visitors were jammed up at the beginning of the “Claude Monet’s Secret Garden” exhibition showing 38 out of 94 of his paintings that had been in his personal private collection. So we walked through the middle of the show and went to end and this is where I am going to start today. Monet’s last painting followed his cataract surgery and he was extremely excited to be able to see clearly again. The painting is listed as “Les Roses” in the exhibition but it is also known as “The Rose Bush” elsewhere online. It is huge at maybe 5 x 9 feet or 6 x 9 feet. I am not exactly sure because I couldn’t find any reference to its size either with the exhibition materials or online. But here it is.

“Les Roses” or “The Rose Bush” by Claude Monet 1925-26.

Please note: all images of Monet’s work have been shared for personal study. No image can be used for any other purpose.

Let’s take a moment and explore what we notice about this work. What stands out to you? How is this work maybe different than what you thought you knew about Monet’s paintings? How is it familiar with what you already know?

I personally had no knowledge about this painting and was so surprised to see it. My first thought was – this isn’t in my extensive reference books on Monet! But then I doubted myself until I could get home and check. However, I was right. This painting is in neither of my complete (or rather incomplete) volumes of Monet’s life’s work.

I was mesmerized and absolutely fascinated with this painting. He would have been 85 to 86 years old when he did this work during the last year of his life. What a way to finish his many years of painting!

It took four years to negotiate the exhibition between the Vancouver Art Gallery and the private Musée Marmottan Monet in Paris France.  The Vancouver exhibition is showing 38 out of 94 paintings in the collection. In 1966 Monet’s son, Michel Monet, left the Musée Marmottan Monet his own collection of his father’s work, thus creating the world’s largest collection of Monet paintings. My only complaint is that there is no catalogue sharing some of the stories I am going to retell to you here based on my notes of the guided tour for the exhibition which, if you get the chance I highly recommend you partake. First walk through and become familiar with all 38 paintings. Don’t waste time reading the chronology and notes on the wall because this can be found online and in other books later. Next do the tour. Then go through the exhibit one more time to integrate what you have learned. If you live in the Vancouver area and can go more than once – do! It is much more economical than a trip to France.

Often, we hear timing is everything. In Monet’s case there are a couple of events around his time in history worth noting.

In 1839 photograph was developed, one year before Monet born. Before this time it had been up to painters to record the realism of events and paint portraits of famous and not so famous people. Paintings were a visual record of events. Photography was expected to change all this and there was speculation that  this would be the end of painting. I mean why labour over a painting when you can have a photo-realistic image in a flash!? By the time Monet was attending art school he would have been in the thick of this debate. Now, particularly for those of us that are both photographers and painters, we better understand the limitations of photographic realism which is limited and has difficulty capturing our lived experiences due to camera distortion and limitations in rendering natural light. But photographs were all new and filled our imagined possibilities at the time. To this day, there are splits in painting approaches between high-realism, full-sensory painting impressions and expressionism abstraction. Personally, I find these splits more theoretical than directly applied to painting practice by painters (and the older I get the more I notice this) but it is worth noting these divisions just the same.

In 1841 tubes of paint were invented by American artist John Rand, one year after Monet born. Up until this time a painter had to mix the pigments with oils, grinding them together to the right consistency every day or at the very least every few days. The painter, or their assistants, had to a difficult task to accomplish before they could ever begin painting a chosen subject. Hence, most painting was done within the studio or indoors. Tube paints changed all this. They stayed usable for long periods of time and were easy to transport out of doors – hence painting en plein air became possible and popular in the years following. The invention of tube paints was a game changer for painters and painting practice – even in the studio.

But let’s go back to “Les Roses” and take in those fragrant blooming brambles one more time. Notice how the paint is mixed right on the canvas, blended and swept together in large gestural movements. Look at the painting close and then step back from your screen and see how the roses themselves disappear into the swirls of colour. Take note of how Monet leaves parts of the canvas bare near the edges. This is not because he wasn’t finished but rather because of an aesthetic of allowing the painter’s process to be visible or letting paint be paint.

In next week’s post we will speculate about how he came to this place in the last large painting rendered at the end of his long and productive life.

What impressions come to mind as you view “Les Roses” by Claude Monet?

© 2017 Terrill Welch, All rights reserved.

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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