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

High Desert Dawn revisited

Pungent sage brush rustles with a family of wild turkeys as the heavy clouds lift up from the horizon. It is morning, early morning. Low hills glisten with the dampness of departing rains. Why not revisit? After all, it has been five years has it not?

I pick up my brush and begin reworking the canvas. After an hour or so of stepping back and forth, it seems to be coming along.

The morning light sliced through the heavy storm clouds over the high desert in Orville Washington.

High Desert Dawn – 30 x 40 inch oil on canvas

I am happier with it now I think. Those variations of blues make the photo editing program cross-eyed. You will just have to believe me when I say it is much nicer in person.  Details and purchase information is available in the on online gallery HERE.

Mostly, this week has been a time of catching up and preparing for the next show which is Art!Vancouver Fair, May 25 – 28, 2017 at the Vancouver Conference Centre, East 999 Canada Place. I am showing my paintings with three other Canadian artists in 30 feet of booth space sponsored by Artists in Canada. I would love to see you there and your friends too for that matter 😉 The details regarding advance tickets and such are on the website HERE.

Other than that it has been long walks sometimes in sun and sometimes in rain.Spring is here. Taxes were done on time. Life is good.

What are you enjoying most about your week so far?

© 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

Standing with the Sea Painting from Life

“I don’t know how she does it, but Terrill’s paintings make me feel the rush of being there, of being part of it,” comments Anita Lewis, who shared on Google Plus the following completed painting.

I wish I had an adequate answer for Anita. The truth is I am not exactly sure. I can tell you that the landscape painter must have the courage to stand in the moment with as much raw, unfiltered honesty as possible. In this case, I am standing with the sea.

At first this standing is about the grey that shifts continuously in rolling spring storms. It is about a tide that seems to neither want to come in or go out as I set up the easel.

It is about enduring the dreariest gulf islands spring since the beginning of weather records. This has followed on a winter that saw snow on the west coast during most months.

I have come to realize that we are likely to miss out on are usual warm days of spring this year. Now my endurance is settling on an early summer. But at the moment rain is coming. It is time to pack up and leave with the 22 x 28 inch canvas roughly blocked in using walnut oil paints.

The next day it rains a steady drizzle. No plein air painting is going to be possible. I sigh and move on to other tasks. The following day seems like it may be promising. But it isn’t. As the painting class and I huddle under a gazebo in the national park near the painting location, they get a good chortle. The sun is shining through the rain but it isn’t going to be enough to break the spell and let us plein air paint. We retreat to the Mayne Island Community Centre and I provide tutorial examples while answering various painting problems posed by the students. The day is salvaged through our collective flexibility.

It is a long day which becomes even longer that evening when I learn that a long-time friend has lost his gallant 20 or-so-year battle with cancer. We had spoken only a few short weeks earlier. He had basically called to say good-bye. At the time he commented that he wasn’t sure if the cancer would get him or if his heart would fail first from an unrelated issue. In the celebration of life notice his family has asked that donations be made to the Heart and Stroke foundation instead of bringing flowers. I am assuming this might be a clue to how his question was answered.

From the time we could barely call ourselves teenagers, through our wild years, into young adults, on into our mature years and finally to becoming grandparents – we never lost sight of being friends. Even if years sometimes passed without so much as a phone call, there was no question – we were friends. Though I will miss him, I cannot help thinking he suffered more than his share to remain with us as long as he did. He fulfilled one of his greatest wishes and saw his children grown and had time to enjoy his grandchildren. He knew great love and what deep caring really means through his relationship with his partner. His life was fully lived around what I feel matters most – love, family, friends, frank honesty and hard work.

The next morning has offered up the promised sun. I am standing before a grey-scale roughed in painting with a heavy heart, squinting into the sky blues. Yes, I definitely will miss him. I look across the Strait of Georgia which seems to widen with every glance. I put up the sunshade to keep my canvas neutral.

I work diligently as if without skin and bone protecting the most vulnerable parts of my being. I listen to the sea as it rolls waves forward with each passing boat and ferry. The moments are filled with frequent commas from song birds that are occasionally punctuated more heavily by seagulls and eagles. The sea lions roll up to the surface with their unmistakable breathing raising the hairs above my pinched shoulder blades. I am consumed by salt air, spring grass and exposed seaweed. The breeze lifts the branches of the fir trees behind me and the escaping sun warms my back in brief fragmented caresses. What blue? What blue do I need most? I mix and layer and release the colours onto the canvas within the rhythms of the sea, the rhythms of life…. and the rhythms of our immediate and pending death. Finally the brushes still.

I take the painting back to studio. After letting it rest for a bit, I add a few more brush marks over the afternoon and a few more the next day before calling it done.

The painting was only five days from start to finish. Yet, the world, my world, is forever changed. I am reminded of a line from a poem “The Speed of Darkness” by Muriel Rukeyser – The universe is made of stories, not of atoms.

A final photograph is still needed of course but this one will do for today.

So the “how does she do it” remains a mystery in some ways, even from me – hidden in unedited, intuitive renderings of experiences from life onto a canvas.

When was the last time you stood by the sea and asked it to share with you its greatest mystery?

© 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

Where Despair Meets Hope in Steps

Drowning in despair about our dissolving humanity on a particular day in early April, I made myself a promise – I shall post this note and go for a long walk and listen to the spring birds. I shall breathe in time with the waves on the sea. I shall inhale the scent of the blossoms on the breeze. I shall run my hands along the length of the arbutus tree. Then I shall paint. This is what a landscape painter does.

This is the beginning for Where Despair Meets Hope Edith Point – 22 x 28 inch oil on canvas landscape painting.

Several canvases are already prepared with grounds. I decide on the red one. Neither large nor medium and certainly not small, this canvas seems to be the right size for sitting with despair. I choose a simple yet powerful landscape that begins with a lengthy walk through the trees and along the ocean. On this day, the fog is thick and I am smothered in a muted grey for most of the hike. But just as I come out on Edith Point, the heavy mist moved out to sea and golden light covers the old fir tree and the edge of the cliff. In this briefest of shifts, my spirits soar and catch a patch of blue sky before coming back down the disfigured tree, thereby encompassing a lasting sense of hope.

The work is roughed in with a bit of Naples yellow to guide my brushes forward. I decide to work from the outer edges inward until the tree reveals itself and I can no longer avoid its edges.

I work on the point of the cliff, conscious of how it turns slightly towards the south. There is no room to think or worry or fuss. I am fully focused on the quickly changing light of the late morning. I can feel the dampness in my hair and coolness on one side of my face and the soft sun warming the other. My hands and heart guide the brushes across the canvas, as if I am really there.

The room darkens under the skylights as heavy rains pound down on the tin roof. I slip up to the loft and grab one of the studio lamps. I hardly notice that I have put my brush down. I pick it up again and, almost in a trance, continue to work.

Touching lightly, I place various greens into the foreground. I can feel my helplessness shrink like the stones with a rising tide on the bottom right of the canvas. My disillusionment with the larger world is replaced with confidence about the specifics of this moment – I can do this one thing.

As I continue to paint, the fir tree can no longer be avoided. I add the tree’s shadow side and start on the branches.

I reach for where the sun is touching. I am reminded of the winter’s high winds and heavy rains as I circle the gnarled and bent branches. I am reminded of long dry spells during the late summer where the moisture cannot be held in the sandstone rocks. I can feel my nose tighten against dearth of moisture while grasses crinkle under foot as I place in the dead branches on the bottom left of the thick tree trunk. I am reminded how this old fir tree has endured and gained elegance and strength through its trials. It is perfect in its imperfection.

Darkness is gathering in the corners of the room. My hips and knees are telling me that we have been standing at the easel for many hours. I must leave this work now, until tomorrow.

Rising early, I flick on the studio lamps. I put on my painting apron. I continue. Eventually, I stop to make coffee and a late breakfast. Sometime during the morning my husband has woken and made his own eggs and toast. He has closed the door to his office so as not to disturb me. He may have even spoken to me. I doubt that I answered. Living with a painter one learns not to be offended by such moments. Like me, he has learned to trust the process. He knows that eventually I will say – come have a look and see what you think…

I tell him how I wanted to be able to feel the breeze off the water in the branches and how they needed to be reaching to greet the sun and how the shade is cool in this golden light, cool enough to want your wool sweater. He replies – it is gorgeous! Privately he is crossing his fingers hoping that his remark will lead us out the door to find some supper. I am not fooled.

Well, it is resting I say.

In this case the “resting” must last for a week before I can make the final adjustments during a demonstration for an oil painting class I am teaching. But I do believe it is now done. I do believe in this place where despair meets hope, we can understand that nothing lasts. With this truth, firmly rooted on the edge of the cliff, I shall continue to walk and paint and breathe – until I can no longer, however long that is.

For now, I present to you Where Despair Meets Hope Edith Point – 22 x 28 inch oil on canvas

 

Where does despair meet with hope 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

 

Temporary Custodian – Painter

As I break through the constraints of winter into longer days with budding plum blossoms,

cracking open with the magnolia blooms,

I am reminded of a subtext,

an endless reaching for a finish which, whenever it comes, will of course be too soon.

“Searching for Colour Active Pass” 8 x 10 inch plein air acrylic on gessobord

I am but a temporary custodian of these renderings we call paintings.

“Early Spring Dinner Bay” 8 x 10 inch plein air acrylic sketch

Letting go….

a bow of gratitude for the lessons learned in their creations.

 

What lessons are you learning as a temporary custodian?

 

© 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

The Painter’s Notion of Noticing

The need and desire to summarize and dismiss information is a necessary skill for survival, comfort and freedom. Yet, the development of repeating and overlapping patterns of knowing is often my least helpful skill when painting. However, noticing repeating patterns within a specific subject and within its context is a useful skill to the painter. This second skill gets me into the overreaching and granular similarities, differences and unique aspects of my composition. In contrast, it is the layers of “knowing” the painter has for a subject that sometimes can be challenging. So though these approaches to seeing are related they are not the same. The layers of knowing collected from past observation tend to filter and distort what is actually before us. This is where trees become straight, flower petals similar in shape or skies become blue in such a way that the immediate experience of the subject fades into something quite cliché or overly familiar. In this situation the painter has lost awareness of the subject itself in favour of everything that they already think they know about it. For example, let’s look at the photograph below. Do you see these specific daffodils or do you see these specific daffodils through the filters of all the daffodils you have ever seen before?

The filters might include the daffodils in the painting above. Or possibly the daffodils you have on your own table. Or maybe even the crepe paper replica you made in your first years of school. You may like daffodils or you may have no relationship with them at all. You may be distracted from the daffodils completely and be more focused on the painting sketch of the Japanese Garden which then reminds you of a trip you once took to Japan. Thus your proposed focus on daffodils is subsumed in favour of the painting sketch. Or the yellow colour of the daffodils may remind you of a spring outfit your mother once sewed for you to wear for a spring pageant.  Yes, filters are diverse, insistent and can get messy.

I hope by now you can see how easily the painter can get tripped up and lost in repeating patterns of what they know instead of noticing repeating patterns and uniqueness in the specific subject before them. If you have also had the good fortune to be in a painting class, you might remember how differently each painter’s result becomes while viewing the same subject. As a fellow artist and friend was remarking yesterday – we are sometimes in awe as to what happens to create these differences. So the next question is of course what can we do to address this issue of filters that keep us from experiencing the subject that is directly before us? Here are three activities we can do both to increase our awareness during the process of painting and also to be more present in life in general.

First, sit and observe your subject and do nothing else for 10 – 15 minutes. In the beginning you may need to set a timer so as to keep your attention on the subject for what often seems to be – too long! At first you will want to keep your focus to the point where it passes through a point of boredom. With practice you will become familiar with a kind of internal click where your filters start to fall away. Overtime this “click” happens more quickly until you are able to do it at will. This shift is a little different for everyone but frequently you start to distinguish more variation in the sounds around you. Maybe you start to notice distinctive smells – some you can name and many others you cannot. Sometimes colour saturation and contrasts become more distinguishable. You start to notice variations and see colours you hadn’t noticed before. You begin to discern differences in shapes and textures and so on. After 10 -15 minutes of doing nothing but noticing our whole system becomes curious and we start saying to ourselves – this is important. What is it that we have here? When we become curious and we notice even more!

Secondly, write, draw, paint or do all three to capture what you have now noticed. Or if that feels too structured just create large shapes of colour that represent what you seem to be experiencing. At this stage the gathering of information should be free flowing or raw data about your experience of the subject. The purpose of the activity is to just get the information gathered in some form and if you can, get it gathered before your reductive skills can make sense out of it or begin naming it.

Thirdly, once you have recorded your own personal raw data on paper, in any form that works for you, again sit and notice. This time, look for repeating patterns and how various aspects of your subject relate to one another. Look for clues about the spaces between various elements. What is there? What is dominant and what is supportive? What sings to every cell in your body? What is changing? What is temporarily constant? What feelings are present? The process is not about finding words for an answer but just noticing. In many ways it is noticing without needing to “know” or without attachment.

Now, after these three activities are completed, you are ready to begin translating your subject into a painting language with some confidence that your filters will, for the most part, leave your subject revealed to the way you are experiencing it – on this specific day, at this specific time. If you find you are faltering or become unsure, repeat these activities again and yet again and as often as necessary to remain present to your subject.

You may remember having had this kind experience before when traveling to a new location that is very different to the one you call “home.” Or when you find yourself in a place where the people around you are speaking a different language. Or there has been a storm that took the power out and so on. These three activities I am suggesting, though more gentle, are designed to take you to this same kind of observation and sensory alertness. They are not new or revolutionary but rather old and tried methods to gain awareness. I am willing to argue, based on my own lengthy experience, that anyone, not just a painter, can gain a richness or vibrancy of experience through these practices.

 

What subject would you like to use these three practice exercises to experience more fully this week?

 

I suggest that you are unlikely to feel like “the moon is no longer there” after having applied these three activities to your subject. Let me know if you find this is so.

There is also a new round-up post on the TerrillWelchArtist.com website featuring five new painting releases, noting three recent sales and mentioning two shows coming up for May and July. If you choose, grab your beverage of choice and drop on over for a Canadian landscape painting experience HERE.

© 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

Death by Insignificance – Contemporary Landscape Easel Painter

Six inches of wet whiteness filled our long driveway. At its end there is a narrow trail down the middle of the secondary road, with mounds of molded heavy snowballs guarding each side of the single lane made by the plow truck. I power the Outback down the first part of the driveway so as to glide up and over the crest of the steep hill on the secondary road that follows. Now, if I don’t meet anyone until I get to the main road, all will be good. All is indeed good.

Reaching the Japanese garden on the other side of our small island, I notice that the snow has stopped temporarily in the -1 degree Celsius early March wintry weather. I gather a few photographs for a friend and then settle into painting after setting up my French Box easel in the bamboo shelter on the east side of the gardens. I paint feverishly for an hour. It starts to rain and then rain and snow as I am finishing up. My toes are cold from damp wool socks from when I stepped in a puddle getting out of the car. By all accounts the midday light is bleak, the weather miserable and I am thoroughly chilled. But the work is done. I feel like an explorer exhilarated by having clawed my way over a mountain to a new and promising land.

This 11 x 14 inch walnut oil sketch on a panel board is a series of half-finished sentences in a shorthand painting language that provides rough reminders for a later more thoughtful and larger painting.

Early March Snow Japanese Garden Mayne Island BC

Why do I bother I ask myself. Painting as a representational art form offers nothing new to a world that craves discovery and sensational entertainment. Easel painting has been declared dead as art with predictable frequency for the past 150 years. Yet, here I am – painting. Here you are following my adventures, saving the work to your phones, ipads and laptops and even buying a few finished works now and again. The latest of my art books As We Breathe may even grace your coffee table. So why? What is it about these representational landscape paintings and quick painting sketches that repeatedly hold your attention?

My landscape paintings are of everyday moments. They are ordinary easel paintings and the techniques are familiar contemporary impressionists’ renderings. There is nothing new or sensational or entertaining in my. In art history, the subject of landscapes has always been just a little vulgar and unrefined and uninteresting for the tastes of highbrow fine art galleries and juried exhibitions. So right from the start with my choice of subject, the work is placed at the fringes. Eugène Delacroix’s landscape paintings were painted for his own private pleasure and were only sold after his death. Delacroix was a renowned history painter but it is his landscapes that recently discovered and I most enjoy. The impressionist and post-impressionist painters used the immediacy of landscapes to render light and shadow and then to later reintroduce the importance of form before this painting approach gave way to cubism and abstraction. Though a lot of credit is given to the major breakthrough of these painters, it was only towards the end of these impressionist and post-impressionist movements that any of these artists saw what might be considered success. Some were already dead by the time recognition of their efforts, such as Van Gogh whose hard-working sister-in-law was able to successfully promote his work after his death. The history of Canadian Modernism in art exemplifies the landscape paintings of Tom Thomson, Group of Seven, Emily Carr and the Beaver Hall Group in what is touted to Canadians as a uniquely Canadian art approach. But how globally unimportant these works actually are to world art movements is obvious when reviewing a rather extensive European and North America History of Art Timeline. Canadian art is not mentioned – landscape or otherwise.

So I ask again – why? Why do I bother? Why do you bother to view, save images and purchase my work over and over again? What is it that makes you want to feel the sun on your back, the splash of the sea or the wind blowing through your hair as you look at these simple, insignificant, quiet almost meditative landscape paintings? After all, you just need to step outside into nature and notice these moments for yourselves. Possible, though you have stopped noticing as North Korea, U.S.A., Japan, South Korea and China posture on the brink of yet another war on our small planet. Or maybe you read about several famines expected in the next six month that could kill 20 million people? Or possibly you will be impacted by the U.S.A. travel ban or changes in the health care act? Or is it Brexit that is about to separate you from a country you have called home for many years? Under these circumstances, possibly mundane nature moments drift over your sensory apparatus without even a ripple of recognition – until you view one of my landscape paintings. Then you are reminded and even comforted by the work’s ordinariness. I suspect this because it is what you tell me in comments on social media and during studio visits. So it is not a wild guess but rather a plausible hypothesis. This, on some levels, is a good thing. It means there is no immediate danger by your natural surroundings. You do not need to notice the moving light or rising tide or buds on the plum trees. Basically it is safe not to notice the natural landscapes as they change around you. Your energy is free to contemplate other pressing matters.

So why might you notice and use precious minutes of your valuable time viewing these irrelevant landscape paintings? I believe the answer is as simple and uncomplicated as the paintings themselves. These hand-rendered easel paintings speak to our sensory experiences and memories. These paintings help to remind the viewer that they are alive and that this life, their life, is precious, unique and valuable. At least that is my intention and it is something you so often confirm when viewing the results.

There is the potential for this landscape painting language to be vital, fresh, and unique. These landscape easel paintings attempt to capture the essence of a particular time on a specific day. Similar to a snowflake, or a fingerprint, no two brushstrokes of an immediate moment are ever exactly the same. For an art culture, a micro-culture in a larger herd of humanity, that is obsessed with originality and progress, the immediacy of a changing landscape subject and the painter’s individual brushstrokes guarantee uniqueness (please note I am not implying that “quality” and “uniqueness” are the same thing). It would seem reasonable then that landscapes would be the highest most esteemed subject. However, such that “uniqueness” is the strength of landscape paintings, so is “uniqueness” its weakness. Value is most often created by rareness or scarcity. There is nothing rare about the landscape. Further, it is a given that it will always be changing so change is of no more interest than the ticking of a clock. It is a naked fact, that beyond our pleasure from the landscape’s sensory triggers, my paintings are of little of interest and of even less importance to ART with capital letters. For these easel paintings to become significant their subjects, the landscape, would need to become threatened or disappear. Melting ice caps, rising sea levels, or the potential a rupture in the Cascadia Subduction Zone in the next 50 years are not yet enough to declare any kind of rareness. Only once the landscape can no longer be experienced directly and no more painting of it can ever be painted, then there is a possibility, if the paintings were to survive, that they would become important or significant to art movements and human history.

On this note then, I wish for death by insignificance! Whether it is a quick painting sketch like the one above or a more thoughtful work that has been months in the making below, there is something ridiculously freeing in having the paintings overlooked – not by you of course, or by the equivalent of a small city-size of others who follow my work. But overlooked by an abstract subjective notion about what is important contemporary art.

Winter Late Afternoon Georgina Point Mayne Island BC 18 x 24 inch walnut oil on canvas

I can assure you that any description of an important contemporary artist does not include a middle-aged woman living off the southwest coast of Canada who paints the natural world around her. Nope! Her work is of no particular worth in this current context….. and, let’s hope this remains so for the sake of us all!

Besides it leaves you and I to enjoy our time by the sea, in the Japanese Gardens or along the trails under the arbutus trees without the clambering crowds. I kinda like the joy and freedom of this landscape easel painting perspective. It is fortifying, generous, kind and, for the most part, devoid of trolls.  I find it is good and simple way to live in a competitive, chaotic, globally connected world.

Happy International Women’s Day! As and independent artist with a small business, I have my red apron on in solidarity and I shall spare you the details about inequality in the Arts. Maybe another time. Though if you found the fate of landscape painters bleak, we should wait a while. 😉

What do you think? Do I have the answer to the “why” about right?

If you care to browse, new work has been released in my online gallery HERE.

What do you value that has no generalized worth in contemporary society?

© 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

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

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through intimate views of trees

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and over the edges of clouds?

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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

Painting Edges to the Edge of the Sea

The West Point Lighthouse Prince Edward Island, 30 x 24 inch oil painting, is now finished. The Storytelling Arbutus Tree Mayne Island BC, 60 x 40 oil painting, is now finished. A painting sketch was sold immediately picked up for delivery. The grounds have been painted on four blank canvases. And the edges have been painted on three medium size landscape and seascape paintings.

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This is enough for one week don’t you think?

So do you want to skip out and come with me to the gather reference material by the sea? It is sunny. We should have the shores to ourselves, along with the birds of course. Yes? Okay! Off we go for a wee short break. Don’t forget your sunglasses and windbreaker.

Well, that was invigorating!

I suppose, I might as well show you to the latest two completed paintings while you are here.

West Point Lighthouse PEI 30 x 24 inch oil on canvas

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Storytelling Arbutus Tree Bennett Bay Mayne Island BC 60 x 40 inch oil on canvas

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Yes, if you remember from previous posts, this is a good-sized painting and will need a good-sized wall.

I will get them up in the online gallery soon and let you know over on the website at TerrillWelchArtist.com. But today is a town day to get Seaside Mayne Island, the large 60 x 36 landscape painting, framed for the collector before I deliver the painting sometime in April. I will need to pick up more canvases and sleeves for the latest batch of greeting cards too. Then when I get back there are local group shows to submit work to and planning for the booth at Art! Vancouver Fair in late May where I accepted a request to be the lead artist showing in the Artists In Canada booth. Nothing too unusual really, just the rhythm of a landscape painter’s ordinary everyday life on a small island off the southwest coast of Canada.

 

What is the rhythm of your ordinary everyday life these days?

 

© 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 Start on the PEI West Point Lighthouse Painting

A warm grey ground has dried and is ready for the next work. I have decided on the West Point Lighthouse in Prince Edward Island for this 30 x 24 inch oil on canvas. I have been dancing around this work for a while. How does a painter get a lighthouse painting beyond a caricature of its own specific unique presence? Not an easy task but let’s see what we can do.

First we gather up a couple of reference images from the day at west point and a quick acrylic sketch of a location just south of the lighthouse.

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The sketch holds more sensory images than the photographs and remind me of how muggy it was that day and that the back swampy area was already starting to hatch mosquitoes. The smell of the sea and the intricate lacing of greens and reds between the sand and the grasses were pulled into focus. But what was I going to do with that large black and white monstrosity!? Because of the structure I decided that I best start with a few brief lines in yellow paint to guide my hand into the composition.

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Now what? Well, possibly the best approach is to sneak up on the lighthouse and let it fit into the environment rather than the other way around. I am going to need strong supporting actors to anchor this star subject.

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I keep working and the palette needs additional paint now and again.

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But an hour later, we are finally getting somewhere….

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The painting is now blocked in. I am going to give it a bit of a break before I dig in and complete the work as I want to use it as part of an example for an advanced colour-mixing demonstration in this week’s painting class. There are lots of other wonders still to partake in though.

Maybe we could enjoy an evening sunset to watch the full snow moon rise?

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Or how about a meditative walk on another day along shore by the sea? If you turn the sound up, there are sections where you can hear running water or the waves softly coming ashore or if you are really good at recognizing sounds, someone is cutting up firewood across Campbell bay.

My intention is to do more of these meditative walk clips from our wanderings. I find they hold much more sensory information then a simple photograph because of the addition of movement and sounds.

What natural wonders are stoking your creative fires?

© 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