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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Weaving Together A Weekend Through to Monday

After collecting our basket from the Farmers Market yesterday and spending most of the day putting up the harvest for winter while guests self browsed in person and online, today with the Gallery Pod open from 11-4, I am smiling. 

I am smiling AND painting edges. I would say this is almost a miracle. 😉

I think it is the second batch of oven roasted eggplant, tomatoes and peppers with herbs in olive oil.

Or maybe it is the third batch of rustic basil pesto?

But it is likely the labeled serving sizes in the freezer that is doing it. This and the fall air. Either way, you are most welcome to come self browse in the Terrill Welch Gallery Pod and stop in and see the new show in ISLAND TIME ART both today and tomorrow. I shall be around between painting edges and strolling in the early autumn sun. Plus, there are fresh flowers in the Gallery Pod to welcome you.

If you are only able to visit and browse online this works well too.

Terrill Welch Gallery Pod Private Viewing Room is available HERE.

ISLAND TIME ART “Late Summer Gold” group show can be viewed in a collection HERE

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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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Starting Fresh in September

The first Sunday in September is often like my second New Year. There is this natural pause and reflection just before we seem to roll into the rest of the year in earnest. At first glance this year, my living and work world seems indecipherable like this photograph of the forest from our side deck.

However, with a bit of effort the layers can be lifted off and separated until they make some kind of visual and memory sense. This is what we like to do isn’t it? Make sense of things when they just happen to naturally co-exist in overlapping movements of light and energy. Let’s see what we can make of it all.

Since last September, our physical living and my working spaces have shifted in rather dramatic ways under my guidance and inspiration to solve immediate and difficult challenges. Only in hindsight do they seem daunting. When I was in the middle of these changes it was just a matter of getting things done that needed doing. Now I can appreciate the monumental shifts that have taken place.

The first major project last fall was the completion of our main floor bedroom and ensuite bathroom renovation that had started in the spring and been delayed waiting for windows to arrive. The building contractor did an outstanding job and we were able to move our bed from the great room beside the kitchen table and put an end to feeling like we were camping out in our own home.

This project was taken on to meet my husband’s reduced mobility needs in the middle of the night when he would get up a little too stiff and disoriented to manage the stairs from what was our sunroom sleeping quarters.

What we couldn’t have known ahead of time is what a sanctuary this space would become and how it would change the way we actually lived in our home. The ability to have a separate bedroom closed off in our open plan strawbale timberframe home that still remained visible from other parts of the house has meant easy movement, sleeping and working space without feeling isolated from one another. In meeting a very pragmatic mobility need we greatly increased our quality of daily living in our home.

My home studio moved permanently into the sunroom below the kitchen where our bed used to be for the past twelve years. Even with the unrelenting south exposure it works because of the tall trees and our many west coast soft grey days.

The whole house now works as if it was always meant to be this way.

The second major change came last October when my commercial venue for the gallery rooms provided all the tenants in the building a year’s notice because the owner was going to return the space to residential use. Our small rural island has extremely limited commercial space options and few of those are ideal for showing paintings. However, the first solution came easy with a small room sublet within another business that also was moving. It meant a change in what was regularly being offered as the small space was only suitable for smaller paintings and usable art products.

The huge benefit of this new art room venue is that I do not need to physically be there. Thanks to modern Square payment technology a separate terminal was added for use at the counter of the main business.

The unexpected gift of this unique ISLAND TIME ART room has been the joy designing and choosing smaller useable art products for this space and the ease of curating and hanging new shows with a selected group of gallery artists. The art room is eclectic, lively and delightful. But it is not a gallery space and has difficulty managing to successfully show larger paintings like my other gallery spaces had been able to do. Which brings us to my final major change during the past year. The Gallery Pod.

The Terrill Welch Gallery Pod, that is now snuggled in at our front gate and opened this weekend, took nine months from idea to opening and is the last piece in our live/work solution that my husband and I didn’t really accept that we needed until it was in place. You see, on top of being a full-time landscape painter and running a gallery and art business, I am also a caregiver for my husband who suffered a major bleeding stroke thirteen years ago. The first few years were spent in gaining back skills and abilities. Then there were many years of stability. Now he is experiencing a gradual decline in both physical and cognitive abilities that admittedly has been aggravated by limitation imposed during the pandemic. So being able to have the new gallery space at our front gate has become a huge future planning benefit that we didn’t realize until it was here would also have immediate benefits in the quality of both of our lives and my ability to continue working.

This brings me to a place of realizing this first Sunday in September that we can look to the present as a fresh start in our future direction that has been intentionally and thoughtfully implemented for both living and working on this small rural island on the southwest coast of Canada. Now it is time to set some short term priorities for the last quarter of 2022…. and go make some breakfast before opening the Gallery Pod and the home studio for visitors today from 11-4.

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September is About to Arrive

I can feel fall nipping at my heals even as the nights remain warm and the drought conditions continue likely for at least another two weeks. It is a rambling eclectic time of year with my birthday acknowledged while aggressive wasps crowd around the outside water tap for a drink. I have the road signs up for the official Gallery Pod opening 11-4 each day starting tomorrow through to Tuesday September 6th.

The show is hung and people have been slipping for an early viewing for the last few days.

There will need to be new flowers for the desk today I think but these ones have sure been lovely.

The newsletter is written and will come out as usual on Friday. Never Miss the Good bits! Sign Up Now for “A Brush with Life” the curated editorial Terrill Welch Gallery newsletter published every second Friday. (You will receive a confirmation email. Check your spam folder if you sign up and it isn’t in your inbox. If you do not reply to confirm you are not subscribed yet). 

No painting is happening at the moment. A strong individual is coming to dig a trench for the extension cord to the gallery pod today so that it is not an eyesore. My most treasured team member is coming to clean and polish our home and the home studio. I have so much gratitude for those in my life who step up when needed!

End of summer meals are wholesome but simple. Breakfast of garden fresh local tomatoes on wood fired rye toast with mayo for breakfast.

Spanish omelettes with tomato sauce and cheese with local salad greens for supper thanks to Raven Vale Farm.

I managed a sunrise this week along with an impromptu visit with a friend who arrived for the same beach just a little earlier than me.

Life is good as I get up early and go to bed late while noticing the shorter days and that distinct scent of autumn just around the corner. I tell myself, just get through to the end of the Gallery Pod opening and it will easy up. But not likely all at once I am afraid. It is now time to get everything ready for the winter months. There are off island eye and dentist appointments to get out of the way for both of us and regular twice yearly blood work to do for my partner, along with his prescriptions that will need to be renewed. All the batteries for flashlights and emergency lamps will need to be checked. And the propane tank for the fireplace that provides emergency heat if we have a longer power outage. There! A list has been started.

How is your September shaping up?

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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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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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Sailing Through The Trees – almost a finish

So close! Almost! Or maybe even done! Yes, you guessed right. The latest 30 x 40 inch canvas of Sailing Through The Trees is “resting”. But, before we go to the end, maybe you would like to see a short video of part of the process along the way? Yes? I thought so.

And so it went, for several days, until I came close to the finish line. Then, I swore! A couple of times! Which didn’t help at all, in case you are wondering. Back to the folder of video and photograph references for the umpteenth time. Then down to the actual location, looking, searching, feeling and taking more photographs. Back to the winter studio, pick up brush and apply paint. Three more trees are added. Other trees are moved around a bit forward or back. Specific branches are added and so on. Finally, the painting shifted and came together as a completed work with all the harmony and mystery that was intended…. well, except for “resting” but I doubt it will change much from here. Lets start with a few details and work our way up to the finished painting.

We have the all important house…

We have the equally important sea…

and the lofty trees crowning the complete vista….

Now for the grand entrance, switching to the big camera, here is Sailing Through The Trees “resting” 30 x 40 inch oil on canvas still shiny and wet…

The painting will be set aside to dry and I will look at it over my shoulder while I continue working on the next painting. If, as time passes, I notice something that I just can’t resist changing, then there will be a flick of a brush loaded with paint in the appropriate spot. Most likely though, it will dry to the touch and be laid on its back to have the edges painted.

So, no more swearing as I look upon this beautiful day beside the sea where it would be a dream to live!

What are you almost ready to call done!?

Never Miss the Good bits! Sign Up Now for “A Brush with Life” the curated editorial Terrill Welch Gallery newsletter published every second Friday.

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