The Arbutus Tree and an Ordinary Life

I am about to share how discovering the arbutus tree is a great metaphor for living an ordinary life in a series of photographs from a recent walk. But before I do, I have an update for us on “The Moon Is No Longer There” series of work.

My extended leave to travel is drawing to a close. My purpose has been to bring you “the moon” in a way you will remember and notice for all time. In order to do this, I am living my best life. I am traveling deeper and even more focused than ever before. My intention remains clarified. My inner compass set. My resources and research materials are in full use. I continue my journey to capture something unforgettable, rare and valuable – our ordinary, everyday, natural world.  When I started in January, I didn’t know if this new series of work “The Moon Is No Longer There” would take a year or a life time. Only one thing was absolutely clear – my spiritual, emotional and physical bags were packed. I was ready.

The Moon Is No Longer There” series has led me to some of my best work like the “Storytelling Arbutus Tree Bennett Bay Mayne Island BC.”

In addition, this intention has also set me on a path that has allowed me to share paintings from as far back as 2012 in my brand new Terrill Welch Gallery. In just two weekends, for 5 hours each day, I have confirmed a most compelling personal discovery.

The moon is always visible in my work and most viewers can see it even if they wish not to do so – like the “Last View Chesterman Beach Tofino Tsunami” painting.

What has changed since last January you might ask? Well, since the international art fair in Vancouver in late May and opening the gallery on Mayne Island a couple of weeks ago, I have had the pleasure of watching viewers respond to my work before they can edit their body language or even realize I have seen them. These observations are not just at a brief opening that is hectic and I occupied with hosting. These observations have taken place over several hours on a specific day. It is a fascinating, almost voyeuristic, observation practice I do not get from sharing my work online. I know, you do tell me how you experience my work. This is true but it is not the same as seeing your unedited responses for my own self. This has given me confidence, not just in the work but also in the viewer. The essence of the moon is always there for those that are present and to my profound delight – you are all, for the most, part present! A deep relishing pleasure in an ordinary day in nature is a common desire and a treasured experience. Painter and viewer are most often one and the same in front of the finished work. We understand each other’s language as presented on the canvas. Oh, I will always keep striving to go deeper, to refine the engagement to its purest most intense form but I shall never again doubt my ability to render its significance – nor the viewer’s ability to receive its strength. I have discovered that moon is always there for those that wish to see it and we do!

Now, my latest engagement with arbutus trees.

At first, there is just a massive tangle of branches that confront the sensory apparatus with its confusion.

Eventually, a branch comes into focus but it is not clear yet what is of importance.

I walk on and sink close to the ground observing a whole arbutus tree beside the path.

I look way up at another, naked to the waist, in the cool August evening shadows.

Another juts out into a swiftly moving patch of sun. By now my brain can quickly categories and name even a partial branch of an arbutus tree. The unorganized tangle and variation of each tree is recognizable.

Then I come upon the perfect specimen!

My search is complete. I continue along the path in the fading light, knowing I will never be finished with these special trees… but it is enough for today.

 

How do you learn a subject that gets under your skin and refuses to let go of your attention?

 

© 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

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Life during Hazy Days in British Columbia

British Columbia is burning. The wildfires have devoured a land mass larger than the province of Prince Edward Island. The fire season is not over yet. There might be a little rain on Sunday but it won’t be enough. Air quality warnings are frequent but unnecessary. I only need to breathe in next to the open window to know how many particles there are in each square inch of smoke-filled air. The sunsets are as eerie as they are beautiful.

No long hikes for me. A casual stroll to sit by the water is all that this week can offer.

I did manage to get out to do a small plein air painting though.

Hazy Morning Active Pass 5 x 7 acrylic plein air sketch

The painting sketch is now off on an adventure of its own – the eighth painting to do so this past five weeks.

But the Terrill Welch Gallery! Now it has enjoyed the soft light from outside through the feature window.

I will be there again on Friday at 10:30 to do a live recording on my Art of Terrill Welch Facebook Page for the first Friday Art Stop feature. If you have a moment, drop on in. I did an introductory video, a sort of sample,  for this new project that you may enjoy in the meantime.

 

I suppose today’s post is my best efforts to find my way forward during uncertain times.

 

How do you process things that you cannot change? Like wildfires? Like threats of nuclear war?  

 

© 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

Two Arbutus Trees Rendered One for New Gallery One Sold

I am still paintings as we are rounding the last corner into the home stretch for the Terrill Welch Gallery to open Friday August 4th. This is my new normal as I learn the rhythm of both/and between studio and gallery.

Yesterday, saw the eight painting sketches arrive at the gallery for the first show.

The lights are now up and I am thrilled with the quality of luminescence I will have to work with for photographs.

Last Thursday, Friday and Sunday were painting days. The first is a plein air over two mornings of an arbutus tree caught between the sea and the road.

Morning along the Island Road Mayne Island BC 20 x 16 inch oil on canvas plein air

Details and purchase information HERE.

The second is a small study of a favourite arbutus tree from reference images.

Arbutus Tree with a View 8 x 10 inch acrylic study on gessobord

This one is sold already. Other new works are released in the online gallery HERE.

On Friday morning with a bit of luck we will have a live video of the opening of the gallery on the Art of Terrill Welch Facebook Page. If you want to be there in our virtual world head drop by the page at 10:00 am Friday August 4th. A few people who helped with the raising of the gallery and collectors will be there and the gallery will open to the public at 11:00 am.

 

How do you stay in the flow when adding something big to 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

Summer Paintings of Farmers Fields

The weather is fine and a tractor was making the rounds in the field below us yesterday. It was likely the last day for a while because we have entered extreme fire hazard. All day equipment ban in effect Wed. July 26. No spark producing tools. However, I am still inspired to share a few of my summer paintings of farmers’ fields with you, just for fun as we wait for the Terrill Welch Gallery to open on August 4, 2017. No heavy equipment or spark producing tools were used in the making of these paintings or in posting them for your viewing today.

Haying – 14 x 18 inch oil on canvas

Haying time signifies summer and this impressionist style painting holds the desire for coolness in the deep shade of the big tree. This is one of the Deacon Vale Farm fields on Mayne Island in B.C. where I was doing a photo shoot of the harvest and later completed this work in the studio.

Purchase information available HERE.

August Fields – 12 x 16 inch oil on canvas

An ever-changing view with eagles and turkey vultures often at eye level as they glide by – fields and hills changing with the season and the passing of each hour. This is the Meadowmist Farm field below us on Mayne Island and it was painted plein air from our outside deck.

Purchase information available HERE.

Road to the World – 12 x 16 inch oil on canvas

This painting was completed in two plein air painting sessions on my parents’ farm outside of Vanderhoof  B.C.

Purchase information available HERE.

I have painted other summer fields but these are three of my favourites.

 

Do you have a favourite farmer’s field near you?

 

© 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

New Art Gallery Has Me on My Knees

There are times when I deliberately choose the long way around. I would say it is for the pure pleasure of physical engagement but that wouldn’t be entirely true and my left shoulder would agree. Mostly, I suppose, it is about getting to know a place that has me on my knees – with knee-pads, screwdriver, old palette knife, steel wool, a couple of rags and the most important ingredient – paste wax.

It all began when I was taking off some old duct tape glue left behind on the 1925 fir flooring. Can guess what happened? Well, that spot looked so nice, I started in the far corner and started working my way across the room. This morning I am about three-quarters of the way finished and hope to be done by noon. We shall see what my shoulder and wrists have to say about the timeline, may take until Friday. But it does feel good! As I work I draft things in my head like a page on the website for the new Terrill Welch Gallery. I think about how the hanging gear is going to go up. I muse about all the people who have shared this little piece of land in the past… it is a long list and mostly unrecorded. I watch how the light moves around the room and know I am not the first and hopefully won’t be the last to enjoy it. I make mental notes on the other artists whose work I would to see having a conversation with mine in the months to come. These are good enough reasons to rub the wax on and rub the excess wax off the floor, by hand.

Oh, I still wonder off for our walks most days. Dinners still need to be cooked and clean laundry is hung out to dry. Plein air painting still happens and the bills get paid. Yet, part of me feels like this arbutus tree who has out grown its bark and the underside is green and fresh. I am still the same tree but a new skin is surfacing.

 

If you were to outgrow your current skin, what would be underneath?

 

© 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

Coming Soon Terrill Welch Gallery

Yes, you read correctly and I shall tell you more shortly. But first let’s catch up. I started writing this series of blog posts a little less than seven months ago following a conversation about how everything has been done before that we can no longer see the moon for all its representation in painting, sculpture, installation, film, writing and song. My purpose has been to bring you “the moon” in a way you will remember and notice for all time. In order to do this, I knew I must live my best life. I have been required to travel deeper and even more focused than ever before. My intention was clear. My inner compass set. But how are we faring so far? Is the actual and symbolic “moon” more noticeable in your daily adventures? Please tell me, I truly would like to know because I am about to approach this moon seeing challenge from a slightly different perspective.

These past couple of weeks have been invigorating, focused, exhilarating and short on sleep. You may have noticed from last week’s shared post from the website “West to East Coast Canadian Landscapes in Paint” solo exhibition is up at Shavasana Art Gallery & Café on Mayne Island. Two painting sketches have sold already and I am working on a request for a small arbutus tree painting sketch that may result in a new series of arbutus tree paintings before “their” work is rendered. Here is the first release as part of exploring where mine and the collector’s vision may meet.

Arbutus Ridge 10 x 8 inch acrylic plein air sketch on gessobord

Details and purchase information available HERE.

This past Sunday morning, following the opening, I worked on a plein air painting in oils standing looking out on the view at the gallery.

I went back for a second and final painting session the next morning and it is now released and will be on display at the gallery by this coming Friday.

Summer Seas, 14 x 18 inch oil on canvas

Details and purchase information available HERE.

“But what about this Terrill Welch Gallery business?” you ask.

Well, I have rented a modest commercial space in a 1928 house where there are other retailers and small businesses in the central area of Miners Bay on Mayne Island. I have a vision for this gallery space that will focus on current art and painting conversations – such as “the moon is no longer there.” I anticipate, because of my own placement in exploring these intriguing questions, this will take on a global or international flavour. Selling work to collectors will likely be more of an afterthought or value-added option for in-person and online gallery visitors. The intention and focus instead will be on meeting and getting to know specific pieces of art, including the work of a small number of other artists, through conversations with possibly art historians, art teachers, art students, art collectors, art fans and maybe even art critics. The art in the gallery will primarily represent painters because this is what I am interested in and know the most about. There will be an intimacy and simplicity by design. The Terrill Welch Gallery will focus on depth and meaning rather than breadth and wall coverings. There will always be an online component as well as the bricks and mortar gallery space. Less is more, will be uniquely configured in this fresh (or refreshing) gallery approach. The opening is anticipated for early August. Seasons, days and the hours of the gallery will reflect island life and the needs of a working artist. For now, with the help of friends, I must tackle a different kind of painting – walls! Do I need to say that I how I feel about painting walls is similar to how I feel about painting edges on paintings? No? I didn’t think so.

So there you have it – the adventures of one artist off the southwest coast of Canada. I am fired-up with ideas and blowing purposefully, softly, on the flames of possibilities. There are at least a thousands good and rational reasons to say – no. The calculated risks are that I can fail miserable in front of a very public audience. Still, my heart says – you must do this hard thing. You have no time to stand shy on the sidelines of your own life’s adventure. Get in there and give it your best! Who can argue common wisdom with one’s heart and hope to hold sway? Not I.

For now, the Terrill Welch Gallery will be presented within my usual online platforms. It will receive specific mention in the Creative Potager posts and in my current website at TerrillWelchArtist.com.

 

What about you? What is your heart’s advice to you today?

 

© 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 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