Though the daylight hours are limited, it is the winter light that is most promising to my painter’s aesthetic. It is that moody warmth and abundance of soft edges that grasp my brushes into its clutches.
From morning to the end of the afternoon, there are days that only seem to have a glow through the fog.
This was my yesterday. I did work in the studio but by 3:30 not even the studio lamp helped much. It is on my to-do list to make arrangements for a track lighting bar to be installed. Soon I tell myself. Soon. In the meantime, I was painting a night scene from a late ferry ride on our much loved Mayne Queen on Monday. The Mayne Queen will be retired from service on November 20, 2022. There is a farewell gathering at the terminal but I am not sure I will go. In fact, I am pretty sure I won’t. Public goodbyes are really close to being beyond my capacity at the best of times. So instead, I put all my memories into one quick painting sketch from our last ride starting with a few swift brush marks to find my way into the composition.
And here is “Last Ride on the Mayne Queen” by Terrill Welch, 11 x 14 inch acrylic on gessobord.
Artist notes: We got our own private goodbye with the Mayne Queen this evening. There was no cake but the Big Dipper was present and the steady rumble of that diesel engine gently lulling us across the calm water. I will miss this old gal and the views she offered up with humble assurance. Good night she whispers softly just ahead of the crackling of the announcement – This is Village Bay Mayne Island, Village Bay… and the deck lights come on. Safely home on this sturdy old ferry boat for the final ride. Thank you for your many years of service Mayne Queen as your November 20th 2022 retirement day draws near. ❤️🥂🍾
This reminds me to tell you about a stormy winter day when the wind was whistling a wild tune. All the big ferries were holding and waiting out the weather. We didn’t think we were going to make it home. But after a slight delay, we were loaded on the Mayne Queen. The deck hands told us to put on our parking breaks and go upstairs and sit down. After a few minutes the captain came on the loud speaker and repeated the same message. Make sure the parking break is on. Stay up stairs and do not walk around unless it is necessary. To say the least, that was some ride!
But getting back to painting, in order to sympathetically render such winter day or night light, one must be a colourist. This is because all of the greys and darks are leaning towards some other colour and it is not the same colour they are leaning towards everywhere. Once a painter starts to understand this, and paints with this in mind, then the paintings seem to come alive on their own within the directional brushstrokes. Yes, painting takes practice but also study, knowledge, applied understanding and then finally forgetting so that the painter can work intuitively from a solid foundation. Rendering a subject in paint is not particularly challenging. A painter can be like a copy printer from life or some photographic image. Yes, you still have to understand colour and composition to make a decent replica but it is usually not particularly difficult and requires limited investment of the painter’s vulnerable self. However, to render a subject with vitality and inner feeling racing across the surface in a way that engages a viewer who has no experience with the subject, that there is magic! There is a barely controlled expressive rawness to such work. Even quiet peaceful paintings can have this. It is the secret something that allows a work to stand strongly on its own once it comes off of the easel and is removed from its creative context. The moodiness of soft winter light gives a painter an advantage in being able to access this special magic. At least, this is how I experience winter light.
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