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

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

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

 

The Times When We Simply Proceed

A spring cold gathered momentum on Thursday morning requiring medication to keep my fever in check. There were studio guests arriving on the island and a painting class to teach. Both pleasant activities though I was functioning far below optimum. However, I simply proceeded.

Only while doing a quick painting sketch at the edge of the pond in the Japanese Garden did I forget how miserable I was feeling.

This was likely because I did not need to talk and I was warm in the afternoon sun.

Last evening I was reminded of this moment while reading about the chemical attack in Syria. I asked myself, when do we break and crumble under the weight of adversity? When is it that we can no long simply proceed, as if it was only a common spring cold?

Earlier in the day I had read Dina Nayeri’s powerful article “The Ungrateful Refugee: ‘We have no dept to repay’” which was the long read in The Guardian on Tuesday April 4, 2016. I will share with you just her closing paragraph….

“Still, I want to show those kids whose very limbs apologise for the space they occupy, and my own daughter, who has yet to feel any shame or remorse, that a grateful face isn’t the one they should assume at times like these. Instead they should tune their voices and polish their stories, because the world is duller without them – even more so if they arrived as refugees. Because a person’s life is never a bad investment, and so there are no creditors at the door, no debt to repay. Now there’s just the rest of life, the stories left to create, all the messy, greedy, ordinary days that are theirs to squander.”

After dinner, I was reading an opinion piece in the New York Times by Ariel Dorfman bring “A Message From the end of the World” in Santiago Chile. In his climate change impact summary of events on the southern tip of the Americas, he tell us about the widening of the gap in the Antarctica ice shelf and how it will eventually crash into the sea causing a rise in seawater. Chile is the first place that will be impacted.

I leave the table with plans to come write today’s blog post. But I don’t. Instead I simple proceed to clean up the kitchen and stay with these feelings of overwhelming disgust, horror, helplessness and a kind of deep hopelessness. It is too late for a long walk which is my usual line of first defense when the world falls short of my expectations. Instead, I just sit with the feelings, unable to write until this morning.

I should be celebrating with you this week. Two paintings have left the studio for homes of their own and the small postcard size painting sketch that was sent to England for the TwitterArtExhibit sold on opening night. Over $10,000 in U.S. dollars were raised for a local charity, Molly Olly’s Wishes, in the first night. Instead, this morning these bright spots in an artist’s life seem garish, insensitive and above all, unimportant. What to do?

My answer comes easily. I shall post this note and go for a long walk and listen to the spring birds. I shall breathe in time with 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. After this is done, then I shall see if there is anything else I can do. In times like these, first we must simply proceed until we decide what else can be done.

When was the last time you asked yourself to simply proceed?

 

© 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

How a rainy day by the sea painting saved a west coast Christmas morning

This is a true modern-day story about how a “Rainy Day by the Sea” painting saved a west coast Christmas morning…

The shopping mall was stuffed with shiny objects, seasonal jingles and the grimaces of determined shoppers during the last weekend before the holidays. A woman stood stoically in the middle of the good cheer with her children draped casually against her side. There was one present left to get for her person, the love of her life, and the father of her children. Disappointed, she concluded that nothing in these many shops of splendour really seemed worthy of this occasion. What was she going to do?

Meanwhile, on a small southern Gulf Island, there was an artist noticing the evening settling in around her. The quiet valley was expecting another rare snowfall overnight. Despite the weather warning, she was cosy and content in their strawbale timberframe home. There were still a few presents to wrap but, the parcels that needed to be mailed had been sent. The new range had arrived that morning in time to make the seasonal shortbread. Life was peaceful and good.

The island artist has a studio home with oil paintings and acrylic painting sketches that lean two and sometimes three deep against banisters, walls and even windows. She has a great online gallery and social media presence but limited and sporadic bricks and mortar storefront exposure. Hence, holiday seasons are usually quiet for the artist. Besides, original oil paintings are often too personal and too expensive to be purchased as Christmas gifts. This is usually her reflective time, family and friends time and planning for the next year time.

However, upstairs in the studio loft was a petite oil painting, a small gem that measured a wee size of 5 x 7 inches. It was a tiny study for a larger painting from a few years earlier and had lost its place on the studio walls to later works. Now the small painting sat rather forlorn in the loft window seat. Even the resent dramatic southern west coast snow seemed to conspire against the quiet colours of a “Rainy Day by the Sea.” What was the tiny work going to do?

Just then, with all the brilliant zazzle, shouting gizmos and screaming gadgets swirling around her, the woman in the mall became calm and centred. She had an idea. Pulling out her phone, right there in the bulging shelves of opportunity, she sent a private Facebook message to an artist she knew and whose work she admired on Mayne Island.

“Hi Terrill! Hope you are well on this crisp day. I just had a last-minute brain wave of buying X a painting of yours for Christmas. However, my budget is small… $xxx. I realize this might not be possible, but thought I’d ask anyway. I think your daughter mentioned you are coming here for Christmas, so perhaps transport could happen that way. Anyway, I have other ideas if it isn’t possible, but wanted to see what you thought. I am standing here in a mall feeling depressed at my surrounding options! Let me know your thoughts and I hope I haven’t insulted you with my budget!”

The artist assured the woman that she wasn’t insulted by the budget size at all. She thought for a moment and was sure she could help. She prepared her response and gathered the specific links to a couple of tiny paintings listed in her online gallery and sent them off.

The return message from the woman with her children in the shopping mall was prompt.

“Okay! The kids and I agreed on Rainy Day By The Sea!!! Thank you so much!!!!!!!!”

“Shall I pay with an e-transfer? Or what do you prefer?”

The artist confirmed that an e-transfer was great and that gift wrapping and delivery on Christmas Eve day were also included in the price. She then went up to the studio loft window seat, where the small painting now sat in the winter darkness. Carefully, the painter lifted the painting up, selected an appropriated box, and carried both downstairs to the table with the wrapping paper. She thought she could see the little painting smile. It was wearing a badge of local, original, handmade significance. It was the “Rainy Day by the Sea” painting that would save a west coast Christmas morning for a true love, a best friend and a cherished father. The petite painting’s last wish was that the artist would choose the brightest wrapping paper so that the small box wouldn’t be missed on Christmas morning. The artist was sure this final wish could be granted.

And this is the true modern-day story about how a “Rainy Day by the Sea” painting saved a west coast Christmas morning.

SOLD! Rainy Day by the Sea, 5 X 7 inch oil on canvas.

rainy-day-by-the-sea-5-x-7-inch-oil-on-canvas-by-terrill-welch-img_8831

View other paintings and painting sketches currently available at: https://www.artworkarchive.com/artwork/terrill-welch

 

Do you have a modern-day Christmas story to share?

 

© 2016 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

Three Painting Secrets Shared Over Tea

Let’s light the wood cook stove in the outdoor courtyard while a gentle rain wakes nearby tree frogs.

morning with a fire in the wood cookstove by Terrill Welch 2015_02_01 018

While you are listening, I shall split some wood and set out the makings for tea.

Tea by wood stove in the outdoor courtyard by Terrill Welch 2015_02_01 004

There are a couple of cushions on the cob bench that are just right for us. Now, I mentioned a few painting secrets didn’t I? To refine this just a little – these are this particular artist’s painting secrets that I am referencing, not the generic painter from all genres and all times. Lastly, they are painting secrets only in if we haven’t yet taken the time to consider their relevance in relation to our painting language.

The first painting secret is to hold a tension between knowing and the unexpected. To clarify, I don’t really believe in divine intervention or creativity passing through me from some higher power. Admittedly, my conscious mind is seldom in control of my brush except as I begin and at the completion of a work – so possibly “belief” is irrelevant in this situation. However, I start with an intention. I choose a subject, a medium, a surface and an approach or painting problem. I decide which pigments to set out. This is the “knowing” part of the equation which is heavily influenced by frequent practice such as with this first of two acrylic painting sketches from yesterday.

“Arbutus tree  in ray of sun” 8 x 10 inch acrylic painting sketch on gessoboard (update February 6, 2015: this sketch is now sold)

Arbutus tree  in ray of sun 8 x 10 inch acrylic painting sketch on gessoboard by Terrill Welch 2015_02_01 057

This painting sketch didn’t come out of nowhere.  Even though it was painted in the middle of an indoor market day with not a glimpse of the foggy sea visible, the sketch is inspired by an experience from the day before.

Slivers of Moments by Terrill Welch 2015_01_30 022

While walking, a friend asks if I had done a painting of this particular arbutus tree. I reply – not yet – as I frame my composition – maybe tomorrow though – and the shutter releases. It is these slivers of moments overlapping one-over-another that find their way onto my canvases. How do I capture our relaxed ease which followed from lunch together and now an afternoon January stroll around a small piece of our island? What colours and brushstrokes will translate these feelings, this remembering? It is so much more than this arbutus tree hunch over the sandstone shore, where the sun catches and the fog shifts upon the sea.

This painting sketch is a first attempt to answer these questions. I really haven’t a clue what the answer is but I find I must set myself to the problem just the same. This is the “unexpected” half of the equation. I must move forward without knowing. I believe this is where some painters and creative beings feel they are merely a vessel for the work to come through. I am not convinced. The focus and full-body experience as the brushes move paint onto canvas is undeniable and yes possibly spiritual in approach. But I still claim awareness of my physical presence and leaning heavily on a large basket of experience both from painting and from life. The unpredictable combination of these elements is what is leads us to the unexpected. It is the tension between this knowing and embracing unknown possibilities that is important. To achieve results I must show up and practice my craft frequently. Relying on divine intervention will only get us so far. Then there is work to be done.

The second painting secret is finding precisely the intimate details that are essential. Then I paint these aspect with all of my senses and layers of brushstrokes to expose this specific intimacy.  For a landscape or still life painter there is always movement even when it is not at first noticeable. This is because the earth is moving. This grants us a readily identifiable intimacy in our relationship to a precise aspect of that time of day, a specific season combined with our years of experience with this spiraling cycle. These years of experience I reference are is “noticing years” rather than “birth years” which is significant. Currently, with the amount of time humans spend in artificial environments, a person can go their whole life with little conscious awareness and possibly no interest in our earthly relationship in the universe. We must notice in a conscious way in order to deepen and strengthen our painting vocabulary of movement and the interrelationship of light and our subjects. I sense this to be true even in abstract work. The paintings of Richard Diebenkorn whose work will be shown at the Royal Academy in London England March 14 to June 7 2015.

Yet, though our urban surroundings mask our awareness to nature, it takes very little to awaken these sensory experience. Repeated deliberate observation is all that is really necessary. Take this second painting sketch “Steveston morning fog” an 8 x 10 acrylic painting sketch on gessoboard.

Steveston morning fog 8 x 10 acrylic painting sketch on gessoboard by Terrill Welch 2015_02_01 051

The fishing boats are important but they do not float on their own in the morning fog. They are imbedded in their surroundings and are experienced as small against a grand sky that touches right down to the sea. I made them even smaller in relationship to the sky for this reason than my photography reference information.

Morning Fog Lifting in Steveston B.C.  by Terrill Welch 2015_01_26 231

Maybe even too small perhaps. However, in this translation of my experience it is our human smallness in relationship to the sky and the morning light coming through the fog that was the intimate detail of significance.

The third painting secret I have to share is to release any notion of importance. We must take our work seriously of course but release any investment in a particular outcome of success, recognition or fortune. This doesn’t mean we relinquish these things completely but rather that they remain outside of the painting process and, as much as possible, outside of our lives in general. Yes, well-being is important. Yes, we desire and do much better with safe secure housing and nutritious foods. Yes, we need social appreciation and connection to varying degrees depending on our own temperament. But we need much less of what is defined as success, recognition and fortune than we are led through advertizing and media to believe that we do – particularly in North America. For example, my large old tea kettle has out lasted five electric kettles which I somehow thought were necessary. I gave up on the latter about three years ago. They were costly, environmentally unsustainable due to their continued need for replacement.  But I had decided for some reason that the electric kettle was faster and easier to use. In reality not so. Water boils in about the same amount of time whether in the kettle on the stove or with the plug-in variety. There is nothing helpful about having this extra contraption on the counter. I had unwittingly replaced experience for efficiency which if I unravel brings us back to the notion of my importance. I had important things to do so the most efficient path was the one that was most desirable. Hence, I purchased a series of ill considered electric kettles.

Let’s explore what we notice if we value experience over efficiency as we prepare and drink this cup of tea because this old wood cook stove still makes a fine cup of tea though it will take us about three times as long by the time we get the fire going and the water boiling. When I am sitting here in the outdoor courtyard I have no trouble at all remembering that the earth is on its winter turn and half way to spring. I can almost feel the trees releasing the oxygen I pull deep into the bottom of my lungs. This awareness is far more valuable to my painting than the importance of a huge following on social media, a cover feature in a national paper or financial wealth. The turning of the earth, the trees, the following, the national article and financial wealth are all temporary – just as we are. Therefore, I suggest that our attention is best spent on insuring our minimal needs while affording us as much freedom to be aware of our relationship to our environment as possible. And here is the rub – insuring minimal needs may requiring marketing and selling the paintings that are rendered in these passages of freedom awareness we have created by attending to only our minimal needs. Still I will argue that success, recognition and fortune are not an adequate definition of a painter and are useless and possibly harmful aspect to attend to as an artist. They are distractions that defuse our attention from our own temporariness. Resisting mortality is futile. Success, recognition and fortune are temporary observations that spiral around through time, for only a short while. Then these observations, along with the physical paintings will disappear just a we did maybe a few hundred years before. We can’t cheat mortality and the effort to stall the inevitable interferes with what must be painted today.

With these three secrets, the waves can then roll as if moved by our breath.

detail Sea and Stones French Beach 12 x 16 inch walnut oil on wood with 1.5 inch cradle by Terrill Welch 2015_02_01 067

(detail Sea and Stones French Beach 12 x 16 inch walnut oil on wood with 1.5 inch cradle)

The sky can open up as never before remembered.

detail Sea and Sky French Beach 12 x 16 inch walnut oil on wood with 1.5 inch cradle by Terrill Welch 2015_02_01 060

(detail Sea and Sky French Beach 12 x 16 inch walnut oil on wood with 1.5 inch cradle)

Well, the last of my tea is cold and it getting dark. Time to call it a day. Before I go, I want to introduce a new blog by a fellow artist and colleague Lena Levin. Some of the ideas I have shared here Lena explores from a historical, academic as well as personal perspective at “Sonnet in Colour.” She recently introduced this new blog in her newsletter as follows:

There is this almost inevitable flavour of self-display in writing (and showing paintings) publicly, and I am extremely introverted — I really don’t want any self-display. Even now, a huge part of me would prefer to just shut up and go paint in solitude and silence. Or read something, or listen, or see. But there is also this feeling that Shakespeare, and sonnets, and paintings, and art in general — all these things often thought of as high-brow, inessential luxuries — are in fact urgently relevant to our day-to-day lives, even desperately needed. And maybe — just maybe — I might be able to share something which someone else needs; open some doors, show some pathways to what fills my own life with so much joy and happiness.

This is why I’ve decided to structure the site not just around the sonnets, or paintings, but around three themes, which — in one or another way — play a crucial role in everyone’s life: “Self and Consciousness”, “Love”, and “Time and Mortality” (with sub-headings to be added as the site grows).

I hope you enjoy reading her writing and viewing her paintings as much as I do.

Now, while I gather the tea items and carry them back to the inside kitchen…

What is one of your creative secrets?

 

© 2015 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 Ordinary and the Painter

Our attention is called to focused on the grand, the absurd and the unbelievable while our everyday ordinary life is often trivialized and overlooked.  I mean who hasn’t seen a clip about the predator who lovingly cared for dinner that was still a baby? Or a new discovery of a brilliant someone who was overlooked or found in an unexpected place?

So what is a painter’s life about anyway? Is it stylishly waving a brush across canvases in the studio? Or is it acquiring art collectors, collecting fans, preparing for solo exhibits, wishing for galleries shows and meandering museums? Is it dreaming of having work recognized and valued enough to make a thriving living? Well maybe, in a small part, it is these things. Mostly for this painter though, it is about tending to the ordinary. In my response to a long time blogging friend Laurie Buchanan’s post “A Twist on Impressionism” this morning, I said “I like to think that I am leaving an impression about the value of the ordinary – the things that we have the best chance of giving and receiving freely and in abundance like listening, laughing, kindness, caring, helping, sharing, observing, being present and being thoughtful.” But what does this really mean? As a painter how are these ideals expressed? What is it to tend to the ordinary?

Come for a walk or three with me and then we will come back to the studio and a current solo exhibit. We shall see if we can sort it out together.

First let’s ring the bell in the garden for attending to what is around us.

A bell for attending by Terrill Welch 2015_01_15 015

It could be the heavy mist hiding a view next to the trail.

grainy dampness of land next to the sea by Terrill Welch 2015_01_10 024

Or a pair of reading glasses carefully hung in a tree for their owner to come back and find.

eye level by Terrill Welch 2015_01_15 166

It might be a hand-knit mittens that warm small hands left on a picnic table.

warming small hands by Terrill Welch 2015_01_15 162

Or it could simply be the winter light taking a sideways entrance into a Japanese garden.

January sun in Mayne Island Japanese Garden by Terrill Welch 2015_01_15 028

Whatever it is that we attend to in our observation is occurring whether we notice or not. It is the ordinary everyday aspects of living. But we see them in fresh and frequently meaningful ways. The mitts reminded me of my childhood and the effort my mother put into making them for us. I desired to see them returned to their owner and placed the photograph above in a local private Facebook group. They were discovered on the post and retrieved by the owner. I have very poor eyesight without my glasses so a pair of reading glasses missing on an island where another pair can not be purchased sparked the inclusion of that image on the same post as the mittens. The image of the mist hiding a familiar view reminds me that no two days or moments are ever exactly the same and different does not mean less intriguing or valuable. This is reinforced by catching the lengths of low sun in the Japanese garden. Only for a very few minutes will it be there and then these tree too will slip into the background shadows.

But what do these experiences have to with being a painter of our natural environment?

Well, sometimes on a walk where this image was captured of the willow tree

Mayne Island winter rain by the willow tree by Terrill Welch 2015_01_05 074

I go back with my paints, paintbox and brushes to paint. But remember how I just noted that no two days are ever exactly the same?

Mayne Island willow tree in fog by Terrill Welch 2015_01_07 009

Even though the fog is so thick that it settles in damp layers on my skin, I set up anyway and go to work.

plein air painting down by the willow tree by Terrill Welch 2015_01_07 026

In fact, it the humidity is so high that the acrylic paint won’t dry enough to allow me to layer it on painting sketch. So in the end, I know without a moments worry or hesitation that it may be less than an accurate translation of my ordinary everyday experience of the willow tree. But it is still the result we have isn’t it?

“Mayne Island willow tree in winter fog” still wet plein air acrylic sketch 8 x 10 inches

Mayne Island willow tree in winter fog still wet plein air acrylic sketch 8 x 10 inches by Terrill Welch 2015_01_07 046

Back in the studio, I may visit the subject again. I will have my photography and my painting sketches for reference. Again, it may or may not lead to a successful final work but this we will both know – I have attended to an aspect of my everyday with observation, appreciation, curiosity and gratitude. It is a good day for this painter when this is so.

These collections of experience and memory are rendered in multiple layers using my full-sensory awareness of an ordinary day. This is what I wish to capture in my work. Here are three of the twenty-two paintings in my current solo exhibition at International Fine Art Collaborative – Zen Gallery curated by Sukhee Kwon that I feel are exemplary in this aspect.

Title: S t o r m . W a t c h i n g
Media: 30 x 40 inch oil on canvas

Storm Watching 30 x 40 inch oil on canvas by Terrill Welch 2013_12_11 003

Title: T h e . R o a d .t o . t h e . W o r l d
Media: 12 x 16 inch oil on canvas

The Road to the World 12 x 16 inch oil on canvas by Terrill Welch 2012_09_02 019

Title: B o w l . o f . W i n t e r . F r u i t
Media: 12 X 16 inch oil on canvas

Bowl of Winter Fruit by Terrill Welch 12 x16 inch oil on canvas 2014_02_08 099

Many of you know the stories between all of the 22 works in this collection but the sharing of these three here will do for now. My thanks to curator Sukhee Kwon for presenting my work so beautifully. Thank you for coming with me on an ordinary day, in an ordinary life of a painter.

What are you observing today in your ordinary life?

 

© 2015 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

Happy Fifth Birthday Creative Potager Blog

It has now been five years since the beginning of Creative Potager. Happy WordPress blog birthday to us!

What a journey we have had together!

OPEN STUDIO 24 x 30 inch oil on canvas by Terrill Welch 2015_01_01 267

(Open Studio is 24 x 30 inch oil on canvas and is a new work in the artist’s private collection)

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

This is the home of sharing this artist’s creative process inspired from her everyday life.

work-in-progress Villeneuve lez Avignon France 24 x 36 inch oil on canvas by Terrill Welch 2014_07_07 010

The underbelly of paintings are displayed in all their naked glory.

work in progress 1 Trail along the Ridge 30 x 24 inch oil on canvas by Terrill Welch 2014_10_21 090

The design ideas for the fabric that covers these bare-bone canvases is the substance that has graced many of the 538 posts.

Throw Pillow Breaking Patterns Large 20 x 20 inch by Terrill Welch

Photographs have captured long walks at home,

Mayne Island Christmas Arbutus Tree visit 1 by Terrill Welch 2014_12_25 006

the rise of a super-moon

And so supermoon rose May 5 2012 by Terrill Welch IMG_2001

and meandering international travel.

plein air painting by the Rhine river Basel Switzerland by Terrill Welch 2014_04_08 102

And you dear readers have been so much a unique contributor through your comments and shared links. In this way, I feel Creative Potager is a community as much as it is blog. Thank you for being you. Thank you for your support, sharing and collecting of my paintings and photographs. More than 50 paintings and many more photography prints are now in private collections around the world. So, as much as Creative Potager captures a process, it also delivers results. You are so very much a part of making this happen.

Open Studio online and in-person event Nov 8 and 9 2014 Great Room by Terrill Welch 2014_11_07 013

But how can we celebrate today? Five years are a survival milestone for a blog and for a small business as an independent artist. How might we honour and recognize this moment?

Well, just as this blog is about the everyday life and work of an artist who frequently invites you simply to sit with her –  maybe to celebrate we should do just that?

Open Studio morning by Terrill Welch 2014_11_08 002

Feel free to pour a cup of tea and dig into the cookie jar while we reflect. Thank you for pausing with me. Thank you for celebrating this milestone.

 

Do you have a special Creative Potager moment or memory you would like to share?

 

© 2015 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

Wabi-sabi Passage of Time inspired by Antoni Gaudi and Torre Bellesguard mosaic

WABI-SABI PASSAGE OF TIME AT TORRE BELLESGUARD

No matter what we create it is temporary.

Breaking patterns,

 

Throw Pillow Breaking Patterns Large 20 x 20 inch by Terrill Welch

can be repaired.

Throw Pillow Repaired Large 20 x 20 inch by Terrill Welch

But eventually they return

to fine-ground earth,

no longer resembling our original intention.

 

Throw Pillow Returning Large 20 x 20 inch by Terrill Welch

Yet, unseen, unnoticed by our human eye,

still they exist,

remaining in the subconscious of our knowing,

of our being.

Throw Pillow Breaking Patterns Large 20 x 20 inch by Terrill Welch

Throw Pillow Repaired Large 20 x 20 inch by Terrill Welch

 

Throw Pillow Returning Large 20 x 20 inch by Terrill Welch

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Breaking Patterns, Repaired and Returning are paintography images created from photographs I took at the Torre Bellesguard designed by Antoni Gaudi between 1900 and 1909 in Barcelona, Spain. The beautiful medieval-inspired castle is still owned and inhabited by The Guilera family. The grounds and home at Torre Bellesguard are exquisitely cared for and in excellent repair. However, mosaic work is an ongoing maintenance project of love and it is often necessary to complete it in stages, leaving areas where history and the wabi-sabi passage of time are evident.

These image designs are currently only available as a Tote bag and Throw Pillow.

I am not completely sure what I am want to do with them yet.  Therefore, they remain here on the works-in-progress Creative Potager blog rather than being posted as final works on the Terrill Welch Artist website. In many ways, these throw pillows and totes are quick sketches and impressions that gathered light and shadows in my creative process. I like the unfinished element, the notes that signify a kind of graffiti-ownership on the surface of the images and provide hints towards the various aspects of my internal dialogue.

These works are likely more temporary than most ;).  But for now,  you can click on the large or small images in this post and it will take you to my Redbubble storefront where Throw pillows and Totes can be purchased in various sizes for each image. So if you choose, feel free to click away. If not that is okay too. Enjoy your day and…

 

How do you most profoundly experience the wabi-sabi passage of time?

 

© 2014 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