Plein Air Painting on Hornby Island in British Columbia

Bundles of impressions with snippets of morning light linger over the rounded forms of the cliff and ragged sun-bleached driftwood. The sweet lime-toffee-scent of new growth on cedar and fir trees mingle with the pungent sea at low tide and crest into my awareness between barking sea lions and the door-hinge screech of eagles. These fragments of observations then settle softly, next to the storm-washed, smoothness of beach pebbles I am rubbing between my fingers before setting up in the cool shade for another painting sketch. How does one make sense of this jumble of sensory information? As a landscape painter, I have a process for gathering such reference materials from the field for later use in the studio. Let’s see what we have from Hornby Island in British Columbia, Canada.

This first painting session is from 10 – 11:00 ish in the morning at Helliwell Provincial Park on Hornby Island. My partner came with me. We hiked 4 km return with the painting gear and my camera. The trek was totally worth it though I was happy to have an extra hand for the basket of paints boards and our drinking water. 

“The Bay at the Peterson Bench” 8 x 10 inch acrylic plein air by Terrill Welch.

This small bay drew me in again and again over the time we were here. I am suspicious that it just might end up an oil painting on a large canvas. 😉

Small Bay in Helliwell Provincial Park

The weather has been unseasonably warm with little breeze these last few days. I have been hiking early in the morning between 5:30 or 6:30 to 7:30 or 8:00 am. Then, I find a place to paint in the shade during the later morning or afternoon. Lovely though and as you can guess, a stunning island for nature and landscapes. 

“Sandpiper Beach Community Park” 8 x10 plein air acrylic sketch by Terrill Welch

The exposed striations on this beach make it a favourite for geologists studying the land structure and history of the island. I wish I knew the name of this tree as it is not an alder or a maple tree. We have one in our backyard as well. Someone said it might be a traditional medicine tree but no one has been able to tell me it’s name. That one lone cloud just above the horizon is the only one we saw during our first three days.

Sandpiper Beach on Hornby Island

There is something about standing painting at the edge of a cliff that is irresistible! This latest adventure was no exception. Helliwell is such an incredibly beautiful provincial park… though it is a 5 km round trip with the painting gear to set up plein air in this location.

“Helliwell Cliff on Hornby Island” 8 x10 plein air acrylic sketch by Terrill Welch

On this day it was so hot that I put my sun hat on David’s wispy hair and covered noggin. Then I made a makeshift hat out of a clean painting rag held on with hair ties on my own head. We must have been quite a sight but we didn’t get heatstroke and we drank enough water that the basket for the return trip was much lighter. I have captured this specific place from several angles and at different times of day. This first is from the same time and view as the painting sketch above.

Cliff in afternoon at Helliwell Provincial Park

And a view from a little farther away in the early morning shortly after sunrise.

Early morning cliff walk in Helliwell Provincial Park

A favourite capture is looking the other way, also first thing in the morning. A writer friend who saw this image commented on the lemonade sky – would make part of a painting title I think 😉

Lemonade sky morning in Helliwell Provincial Park

There are more images of this cliff of course, many more actually, and I haven’t even begun to edit the images from my big camera. But let’s move on to the final plein air painting sketch…

Plein air painting in the early morning at Grassy Point on Hornby Island

The weather had cooled overnight and a wind was huffing along out of the west. So I tucked in with the sunrise on the east, down near the shore where there was shelter and warmth enough to work. An upset sandpiper was screaming the grass sideways above me because I walked past her nest of four eggs in the pen field. Other that that, there were just a few gulls, the driftwood, a gentle sea and stones. A good morning for a plein air painting sketch! 

“A Grassy Point Morning on Hornby Island” 8 x10 inch acrylic by Terrill Welch

Generally, Grassy Point is known for its sunsets but I can attest to the beauty of the sunrises as well. However, we did manage to stay out for one lovely sunset just the same.

Sunset at Grassy Point on Hornby Island

It is a popular place with locals and visitors alike at in the evenings, not unlike Georgina Point on Mayne Island.

Gathering to witness the close of day at Grassy Point on Hornby Island

And the Camus and other wildflowers offered an extra splash of colour.

Camus wildflowers grandstanding at Grassy Point.

Still, I will take early mornings on the cliff in Helliwell Provincial Park as a first choice for my landscape muse.

Cliff at dawn in Helliwell Provincial Park

And again…

rock outcrop at Helliwell

Did we go to Tribune Bay you might ask? Yes, we did. Though, you may have guessed by now, I am not really much of a laying-on-the-sand-soaking-up-the-sun kind of gal. But we did do a low tide beach walk. I enjoyed finding whole living sand dollars…

Sand dollar at Tribune Bay on Hornby Island

and the rich textures of sea and sky and sandstone…

Tribune Bay on Hornby Island

I must confess, Tribune Bay wasn’t the highlight for me as I had anticipated it would be. It IS beautiful and a grand beach but the lure of other adventures on the island overshadowed its sparkle for this trip. That said, the first larger studio oil painting is of an old fir tree that is on this beach. I will share the process for this painting in the next post soon.

There are many more images for painting references. But we shall stop there for now.

This may have been the best working trip in a long while and it’s success goes partly to our host couple, Diana and David at Hornby Island Mt. Geoffrey Bed and Breakfast. After my early morning adventures, I would come back to coffee and the smell of fresh baking muffins. Sometimes, I would still need to rouse a sleepy partner and other times he would be up looking bright and cheery waiting for me. Then, down the stairs from our private guest area we would come to devour a full heartily breakfast including egg, bacon, muffins and yogurt with local homemade raspberry/blackberry sauce to go on top. 

Suppers were handled by Forage – a farm to kitchen cafe which closed at 3:00 in the afternoon. We were a little early in the season still and the main Sea Breeze restaurant was fully booked with private events and the Thatch pub/restaurant near the ferry was intermittently open. But, like much of islander life, one learns quickly to make do with what is available. We thrived on our delicious early dinners with a later evening snack, without feeling the least shortchanged. With a bit of luck, we hope to make a late fall return visit. Even with three ferries to catch from Mayne Island to Hornby Island via Vancouver Island, it is a reasonably easy day of travel.

What has been your most favourite working trip in the past while?

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Rubbing Shoulders with Art Ghosts

Down this historic alley in Victoria, British Columbia, there is a door to my past. Yesterday, I strolled along on a quiet January Monday rubbing shoulders with the ghosts of time. 

 

Fan-Tan-Alley-Victoria-BC-by-Terrill-Welch

Sure enough, the name of my favourite art teacher is still on the door of his old studio. For a moment, the door opens in my mind. 

We shuffle up the steep steps with our portfolios, arrange ourselves elbow to elbow on the easels provided. We take off layers and visit companionably while we wait for the model. I search the room to see if I can discern what this brilliant teacher has been painting this week. The room is crowded but organized for working. There is the scent of charcoal dust, oil paint, wax and old brick building. Warm lights shine on the platform in the middle of the room and the space heater glows. Then, just as the model takes her first short pose and the teacher gives us his instructions in brief, often unfinished, sentences… the image fades. 

The door reappears. Solid. Closed as a tomb entrance to a treasure buried in a past life. 

Glenn Howarth 1946 – 2009 

Glenn Howarth taught seminars and courses at art schools and universities across Canada after he graduated from UVic’s Visual Arts program. In 1987, he began the Victoria Drawing Academy in his studio in Fan Tan Alley. Howarth participated in both group and solo shows across the country and represented Canada at the Sao Paulo Biennale in 1982 and at Expo 86. (UVic legacy gallery)

I am so ever grateful to have taken several classes with him in the early 2000s. He refined my understanding of what happens between our subject, our bodies as the artist and that of the viewer in profound ways that I am still exploring. 

What might YOU be waiting and preparing for at the same time?

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Website: TerrillWelchArtist.com 

 

When Your Hometown is the Province of British Columbia

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

© 2018 Terrill Welch, All rights reserved.

Liberal usage granted with written permission. See “About” for details.

Creative Potager – Visit with painter and photographer Terrill Welch

From Mayne Island, British Columbia, Canada

For gallery and purchase information about Terrill’s photographs and paintings go to http://terrillwelchartist.com

Figuring Out What Appears Impossible

You know the old saying “She comes from hardy stock”? Apparently, before 1200 “hardy” was attributed to boldness and daring in battle. In this sense I have never had to look far to find examples of boldness and daring, though “the battle” was one of ordinary everyday living rather than war. Let me share a photograph I took this fall when I was up at my parents’ farm in rural British Columbia.

Now, it is not a very exciting photograph and possibly not even very interesting. There is the farm dog  and rows upon rows of covered round bales of hay. But, if you look closely, there is a smallish man who on a good day stands about 5’5″ and weighs about 145 lbs made up of sinewy muscle. He is on no medication and is closer to his 81st birthday than his 80th. These hay bales got here with one tractor, haying equipment and this one man. Though getting the fields planted, cut, baled and stacked for the 30 head of cattle is enough of a job, it is not the most dangerous of strategic tasks in the plan. That label belongs to getting the hay covered with those huge tarps. What he must do is put the tarp on the forks of the tracker and lift it up to the top of the stack. Then he gets off the tractor and scrambles up a ladder to get himself up on the last top narrow shelf. From there, he is able to situate the tarp so he can unroll it over the haystack. The tarp is heavy and awkward. If it slides off, or the wind catches it and blows it off, he has to start over again. But, feeling most pleased with himself, he has developed a way of folding the tarp so that its own weight will unfold it into place as he steadily opens it across the top of haystack. There isn’t much to hang onto so the work must be done with caution and dexterity. I helped him a couple of years ago and then, with the help of my daughter, got him a climbing harness and rope that he could anchor to the tractor for this part of the job. But it didn’t work. This would require two people. One on the tractor moving it along and one unfolding the tarp. So back to plan “A” he goes.

Now he didn’t just one day decide to climb along the top of a haystack at 80 years old. This man was a hand feller of trees for much of his young adulthood – and a good one. This is a job not only requires quick thinking and the physical ability of an athlete but also being able to anticipate and plan ahead. In fact, your life depends on these abilities. Later on, he operated a line skidder and so on. He has never stopped asking flexibility and strength from his body. I see him crawling under equipment and up the sides and then down again and I still get tired just watching. On top of all this, my parents still grow a huge garden and beef. They spend about half the year being able to say that their dinner was “0” distance from farm to table. So, over all with no smoking and very little drinking,  he has done the maximum to keep his health.

Is this life hard? Is it difficult? Is it a worry should he get hurt or fall? Yes, to all three. However, the quality of living is of high value. If you suggested maybe he should be thinking about selling the farm and moving to an apartment in town, he would ask with a shrug “Then what would I do!?”

I feel the same way about painting!

This man is great at figuring out how to do what appears impossible. How about you?

 

What have you recently figured out that at first appeared impossible?

 

© 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 Potpourri of Painting Adventures

In getting ready for the “West to East Canadian Landscapes in Paint” solo exhibition opening on June 30, 2017, I have inhaled the passionate fragrances from many rendered experiences of the last few years.  From climbing along the bluffs recently of Galiano Island

to painting with umbrella rattling in the breeze

while rain, sun and mist tumbling endlessly across the horizon

(The Bluffs Galiano Island 8 x 10 inch acrylic plein air sketch)

to maneuvering carefully on the narrow  red cliffs of Prince Edward Island last May,

Canada has an exhilarating and engaging topography!

(Cap Egmont Lighthouse PEI 18 x 24 inch oil on canvas)

From one crashing sea on the west coast

(plein air painting on Chesterman Beach in Tofino, B.C.)

to another on the east coast,

( plein air painting sketch at Cavendish PEI)

my brushes are hardly every still. There is more to capture the heart and imagination then there are tubes of paint to feverishly brush onto a surface. Still, I give it my best!

(Sea and Sun Cox Bay Tofino BC 24 x 48 inch oil on canvas)

Though this solo exhibition of 25 works is inspired by Canada 150 celebrations (and it will open on the Canada Day long weekend), there is so much more influencing these canvases, thousands of years more!

What natural environments bring your own heart to crescendo of emotion?

Note: Specifics about the solo exhibition are now available in a recent post on TerrillWelchArtist.com 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

Red Poppy Serenity Oil Painting

The red poppy oil painting “Serenity by the Sea”

is from a specific day at the end of May in the year 2017 on the island of Galiano off the Southwest coast of British Columbia, Canada.

The mist turns to a light drizzle as I sit on a low chair looking out past the cedars to yet other islands across the sea. What can possibly cut through these west coast greys? Then I remembered.

Earlier in the day I had seen large red poppies growing in the garden near the water.

“I wonder!?” I said to myself.

Slipping on a raincoat and garden clogs I stuffed my way-too-large iphone in my hip pocket and my big camera with its rain cover over my shoulder. It is about 5:00 am and the sun is still high enough in the west to push its way through the low clouds, providing a noticeable filtered light. But it is not enough to keep the warm greys using the big camera. Those gorgeous greys were running into the blues. But the iPhone 7 plus seems to get the idea. I gather several references images with both devices and find one that I particularly like.

Six days later, I am back in the studio and have mulled the idea over long enough to pull out a canvas and get started. The method is straightforward.

Start with a ground that will pull on those muted tones and make a few modest marks to guide the composition.

Establish the relationship between the sky and the light reflecting off the water.

Drop the darks unceremoniously into place.

Leave the red ones for last and keep the brushstrokes simple, clean and decisive.

Work in the highlights, stems and texture of the lower foliage, using a painting knife as needed. Then stand back, one last time, and ensure there is a humming kind harmony of emotion and aliveness to the work.

Yes, I think we are there!

Serenity by the Sea “resting” 18 x 14 oil on canvas

As usual, the painting needs to rest and dry before it is considered finished. I intended this work to be a composition study for a larger painting. However, I may have said all I need to say in this one. Painting the subject larger won’t make for a better painting. It will just be bigger. Yet, I am not completely sure if I want to give up on splashing large amounts of red around on huge surface though. I shall think about it for a while and see. In the mean time…

What bright spots have cut through your grey moments of late?

© 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

One Large Painting Delivered and Hung

The car is loaded with one large 60 x 36 inch framed painting for delivery and two small bags clothes for a three day weekend trip. We catch the morning ferry and upon filling the gas tank in Ladner B.C., we head cross country up the Fraser Valley and then over the mountain summits. There is snow on the sides of the highway but the roads remain bare with only occasional light rain. There are willows deepening in crimson reds and poplars with softening off-white yellowish bark as our late spring begins to warm enough for the tree sap to start to flow. Creeks and rivers are high and winter waterfalls still tumble-down in an endless flow that will eventually lead to the Strait we have just crossed at the beginning of our journey. Rock faces and mountain peaks are mostly still white. Then we come back down to where fruit trees are beginning to bloom and the grass is starting to grow. Stopping for a late lunch and to again get gas for the car, we call my sister to say we will be there in time for supper.

There is a plan in place for tomorrow’s hanging of the painting in a tall stairwell. My brother-in-law has arranged to be free for the day and has a ten foot step-ladder tied on top of his truck. That evening we talk about the logistics. We examine the hanging hardware and gather up a level and towels to go under the ladder. I already have a big thick measuring tape and a hammer in my toolkit.

The next morning my sister drives my car and I become the co-pilot putting the exact address into the GPS when we get closer to our destination. The drive is a little over one bathroom break away. With the large painting taking up the back of the car with the seats down, there is only room for two people. My husband David is riding with my brother-in-law in the second vehicle. My sister and I catch up and visit companionably as we go through towns and small communities along the lakes. With many turns and twists and climbs we eventually reach the art collector’s home.

I go and introduce myself and take care of the necessary paperwork and hand over a small gift of my latest coffee table art book As We Breathe. The painting is carefully lifted out of the back of the car and taken into the house to be unpacked. The ladder is brought in and set into place. We measure, discuss, and measure again or rather my brother-in-law does. You see, he is 6’ 2” tall. The ladder is 10 feet tall and the painting needs to be hung about 13 feet up from the landing on the stairs.

The hanging hardware with each hook rated for 75 lbs is in place. We move the ladder out from the wall until the outside leg is just on the edge of the landing. Now for the 20-or-so pound framed painting! I ask David to get down under the ladder on the far side. I carry the painting down the first set of stairs and bring it to other side. My brother-in-law reaches it from the top. David has it from the right side in front of the ladder. My sister gives us directions as we just barely have enough room to bring the painting around the front of the ladder without bumping either the wall or the ladder. We now have the painting situated between the wall and ladder. We lift up… and up again. My brother-in-law needs to move further up onto the second from the top step on the ladder. I have to climb the two steps up from the bottom and David reaches as far as he can. My sister steps on the ladder and braces to make sure it stays stable and the art collector reaches across the railing at the top right to help balance the painting. One side of the wire is hook. Then the other side is hooked. But wait a minute! The first side has come off and has to be hooked again. I am still stretching my 5’ 3 ¾ inches as far as I can to hold up my side of the bottom of the painting. We fight back a collective giggle. We instinctively know, this would not end well if we lose focus. Finally! It is hung!

The level is passed up the ladder and placed on top of the painting. All but one of us stands back at the top of the stairs and we stare at the painting. My brother-in-law taps and tips as we shake our collective heads. No. A little more up on the left. Too far! A little more to the right.  But after a few tries, all eyes and the level bubble agree, the painting is squared and centred to its world. Phewfff!

Now, would you like to see? Of course you would. I knew you would. So I asked if it was okay to take photographs.

Seaside Mayne Island, 60 x 36 inch oil on canvas, hanging in its new home.

And one from the side because this painting can be seen from various angles in the open concept layout of this lovely home.

So next time someone asks you how many people it takes to hang a painting, the best answer is likely – it depends…. but definitely bring the small car vacuum to whisk away the dust from the ladder!

What was your last adventure where you had to enlisted the help of family and/or friends?

Note: If you love the painting process posts, be sure to stop by next week because there is a new painting on the easel and I should be ready to share images from the start to the finish. Here is a little teaser…

 

© 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 Spring

Something happened yesterday on the official first day of a late west coast spring. At the end of last week I was still in my contemplative winter mental attire. My grey, northern, rain forest interior is filled with homemade soup warmth, maybe a touch red-wine melancholy, smoothed over with by woolen thoughtfulness and a sparkle from a waterproof jacket garnish. It is a savory mix best served hot. During this time I often explore the underbelly of my daily life both in painting and in words. But the garment of winter fell free as easily as the first night of hearing the frogs in the pond in the valley below. Consequently, I had something intricate and dense simmering about the language of painting for this post. But it is not to be, at least not for this week. The joyous zealous brushstrokes of spring are here. Who can ponder at a time like this!?

So I dug through the archives and have chosen seven springtime paintings or painting sketches representing a variety of locations I have been over the past four years. There is a spring work to enjoy for each day of week. Happy spring!

Spring in Tuscany 20 x 30 cm acrylic sketch on canvas board and a rare painting where I have overtly included the painter in this Florence, Italy countryside.

Prints available HERE.

Villeneuve lez Avignon France 24 x 36 inch oil on canvas with its layers of memories and visible history.

Original painting available HERE.

Fremont Hills California Early Spring 18 x 24 inch walnut oil on canvas. Painted from a plein air day of reference material with a colleague and friend, Lena Levin.  We were just talking last week about how our paintings were so different even though we were standing almost right beside each other.

Original painting available HERE.

Cherry Blossoms Mayne Island Japanese Garden 20 x 24 inch oil on canvas. The gardens are a divine place to be in spring and a local year-around treasure.

Original painting available HERE.

Sea and Sun Cox Bay Tofino BC 24 x 48 inch oil on canvas. Know as our real west coast, spring is the time that the sun breaks through the winter rains and spirits are lifted as high as the rollers coming in from the open sea.

Original painting available HERE.

Rolling Spring Storms Rocky Point PEI 20 x 40 inch walnut oil on canvas. Bit of weather out there today, someone will likely comment. Collars of light jackets will be turned up and tightened at the neck but the smiles, they tell us one thing – spring!

Original painting available HERE.

Blooming Point PEI 8 x 10 inch acrylic plein air sketch on gessobord. Spring comes a little later to Prince Edward Island. So on this particular year we had two springs! The first on the west coast Canada and then a most lovely second on the east coast.

Prints available HERE.

Now that we have been to Florence Italy and Avignon France in Europe, Fremont California in the United States, Mayne Island and Tofino on the southwest coast of Canada and finally to Prince Edward Island on the East coast of Canada, what about you?

Is it spring yet where you are?

And yes, I am publishing a day early this week. Why not, it is spring after all.

© 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

Practice is a Painter’s Preparedness

Practice risk taking, practice discipline, practice different methods, practice boredom, practice not practicing but practice – insists the imagined studio master. Leading lines, point of view, colour harmony, rule of thirds, breaking rules, painting from life, painting from memory, painting wet-in-wet, using a dry brush method, starting with grounds or underpaintings, studying moving light, noticing the cool and warm shadows…… practice!

But for what does a painter practice?

“Now, the answer to that” says the imagined studio master with a wink “is good luck.”

Not just any kind of “good luck” but “good luck” as described by Deepak Chopra where “Good luck is nothing but preparedness and opportunity coming together.”

 If we accept for the moment, that this is a workable definition, then what is preparedness to the painter? Practice! If we are enhancing our skills daily, we are more likely to be prepared when an opportunity arises. We will be able to recognize the possibilities in an ordinary and yet unexpected, profound moment.

By way of example I am going to share a story I reread recently in The Zen of Creativity by John Daido Loori on page 153-154… Ryokan, a Zen master and poet, lived in a simple thatched hut. He was born around 1758 and ordained at the age of eighteen. Shortly after receiving dharma transmission, Ryokan’s teacher died. The poet went to live in a hermitage on Mount Kugami, where he spent his time sitting zazen, talking to visitors and writing poetry. Many stories of Ryokan’s simplicity and his love of children have come down to us, as well as of his indifference for worldly honor. In fact Ryokan called himself Daigo (Great Fool)….. One evening, when Ryokan returned to his hut, he surprised a thief who was naively trying to rob the hermit. There was nothing to steal in the hut. Yet Ryokan, feeling sorry for him, gave him his clothes, and the thief, shocked, ran away as fast as he could. Ryokan, shivering as he sat naked by the window, wrote the following haiku:

The burglar – neglected to take – the window’s moon.

In the next paragraph by Loori continues… To be simple means to make a choice about what’s important and to let go of all the rest. When we are able to do this, our vision expands, our head clears, and we can better see the details of our lives in all their incredible wonder and beauty.

This kind of simplicity and daily practice are what I seek for this next intention or project of The Moon is No Longer There. I believe it requires that I make a few changes in order to gain the perspective and rigor that is necessary. The moon is just an anchor and symbol of this intention, an everyday reminder.

But we know this don’t we? One of our greatest pianists today, Mitsuko Uchida, was recently quoted in an interview by The Telegraph as saying “It is not enough to play the piano – it takes a lifetime to understand music.” As I listened to her release each note of Mozart’s Concerto No. 20 in D minor K.466, with such preciseness, passion and excellence, I hear the music for the first time – every time that I listen. Her rigorous practice is visceral. I am, in that moment of listening, the breath between the notes. This same quality of practice is required for painting our natural world as well. It is not enough to paint a tree or a mountain or the sea – it takes a lifetime to understand our ordinary, everyday natural environment and translate these sensory experiences onto a surface. Painting from life by itself is not enough – it takes a lifetime to understand our universe. I can only hope that I may paint someday in the same way as Uchida plays! It is in the preparing or the daily practice, that I may possibly find an opportunity which provides me with the tools to render the essence of the universe in say – a single tulip.

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Why am I so compelled by this project? I suppose it is an action that is driven by despair. I believe humanity has broken a sacred trust with nature. We are consciously destroying our natural world and ourselves in the process because of a pervasive character flaw – GREED. Our survival and the survival of our planet depend on our ability to understand and recognize our interconnectedness within the universe. We each have a responsibility to do whatever we can to address this situation. We are the only hope for one another and a large number of plants and animals. By our very breath, we depend on each other. Unfortunately, as an urban populous, we tend to be alienated from this simple fact. We can no longer see the moon and nor do wish to seek out its presence. For far too many of us, we have become intellectually and emotionally blind to nature and so the moon is no longer there.

This is why I must practice until I can bring you “the moon.” I must practice rendering our ordinary everyday with the best tools that I know how to use – my paints. I must practice until humanity collectively changes its ways. This is not work for a hero. It is work for the humble, the simple and possibly the fool. I find it comforting that I am not alone. This is work that is done with the companionship of many. It is collaborative work, as survival always is.

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Paul Cezanne, shortly before his death in 1906, asked himself “whether the short time given us would be better used to understand the whole of the universe or to assimilate what is within our reach.” He goes on to say “I have to work all the time. I must strive for perfection, only for the satisfaction of becoming truer and wiser.” (The Life and Art of Paul Cezanne, May 5, 2014, Film, PBBS)

I find Cezanne to be an excellent companion to take with me on my travels.

The small slice of the moon or my practice that I bring you this week is…

Tulips in the Studio 18 x 14 inch oil on canvas

This is an alla prima work completed in the quiet warmth of a January afternoon in the loft studio. When I saw these beauties at the grocery store, I knew I would bring a few home as a reminder of our pending spring. Even on Mayne Island, there are no tulips this time of year. These flowers have been imported from some unknown location. Our natural world has traveled far to reach me this week and undoubtedly precious fossil fuels were burned in the process. So with this acknowledgement, and some guilt, I am determined that the sacrifice is not wasted. The elegant vase is on loan from a good friend. These kinds of colourful winter still life painting days warm my heart and keep my spirit light.

 

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What practice is your preparedness?

As always, I would deeply love to hear from you and feel free to include links to your work. If this is your first time commenting on the blog, be patient, I will need to approve your comment this one time only.

If nothing comes immediately to mind, one simply practice that will engage others is in this project is to thoughtfully share this post and my work. By thoughtful, I mean introducing the post with a sentence or a paragraph of your own considerations and then invite others into conversation with you by hosting a question or an idea related to the post. Because together, we can do this hard thing – because we must! Our natural world, which includes humanity, is worthy of our efforts and is depending on us. In this I am hopeful!

And welcome to all the new Creative Potager blog followers! Thank you for joining me in my inward travels.

 

© 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 Moon is No Longer There – notice of extended travel

Dear friends, colleagues, fans, collectors, followers and random connections, starting immediately, I shall be on an extended leave to travel. My purpose is to bring you “the moon” in a way you will remember and notice for all time.

Mayne Island Blue Moon rise July 31 2015 by Terrill Welch 2015_07_31 170

In order to do this, I must live my best life. I am required to travel deeper and even more focused than ever before. My intention is clarified. My inner compass is set. My resources and research materials are organized. I am about to begin my journey to capture something unforgettable, rare and valuable – our ordinary, everyday, natural world.  The new series of work “The Moon Is No Longer There” may take a year or a life time. Only one thing is absolutely clear – my spiritual, emotional and physical bags are packed. I am ready.

Christmas Day Full Moonrise 2015 20 x 16 inch oil on canvas

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To my 780 friends and family and the 190 followers of my personal profile and the 1,360 likes of my Art of Terrill Welch Page on Facebook, you are important, generous and supportive individuals. You have been significant and instrumental in getting 90 or so of my paintings out in the world since 2010. As I begin traveling this quiet and sacred inward journey, I shall keep you in touch by sharing links to weekly posts on my Creative Potager blog  HERE.

To the over 100,000 followers of my West Coast Landscape collection and the more than 47,000 followers of my Artist in the Art Studio collection on Google Plus, once a week postings will continue. Or, you may want to join the over 5,000 direct and indirect followers of my Creative Potager blog  HERE.

To my 4,100 tweet friends on Twitter, my experience tells me that you will most likely miss my weekly tweets completely. If you are truly deeply connected to my paintings and photographs, I suggest subscribing directly to my Creative Potager blog  HERE.

For all other social platforms such as Instigram or Ello, please be advised via this shared post that I shall only infrequently send a signal in a new post to let you know I am alive and well. You are great. You are even awesome and this is not about you. It is all about me. If you are still reading this, I am sure you have figured out what to do if you desire to come traveling with me. Yep! Follow my Creative Potager blog HERE.

For those that only wish to be notified when new paintings are released, the best option is to follow my website posts on TerrillWelchArtist.com  HERE. If you are looking for something in particular or want to see if you have missed a recent painting release just go to the Galleries page on this website and head on over to my Artwork Archives online gallery  HERE. This online gallery will always have the most current released work and let you know what is sold.

So, that is it my lovely fellow human beings. Having captured a spray of tulips in the studio this morning, I am sending them along with compassion, love and humility! I am traveling light, with conviction, trust, integrity and a small measure of reckless abandon!

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If, for any reason, you do need to contact me, email, painting inquires in the online gallery, private messaging or telephone calls and text messages will still be monitored and answered along with comments on posts.

I wish you all the best in living your very own best life!

Terrill

p.s. I understand that this is going to be different and a little strange for both of us. And it will be fine, it may even be great.

p.s.s. The Beauty of Oil Paints class and its private Facebook group are not impacted by my travel schedule.

What arrangements are you making to live your best 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