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

 

Nuzzling into Seasonal Art Studio Quiet Time

November and December and even sometimes the first two weeks of January are my quiet time of year in my art studio. Part of this is that after the Open Studio event I kind of turn off my marketing and sales efforts. Yes there is still the new 2014 Calendar available (click on the image to check it out further)

and new photographs and paintings continue to be released. But it is more a time of enjoying friends and family. It is a time of gathering and having a good visit. I love this time of year. These are Monday morning blessing in the largest grandest sense.

It is also a time of year when I reflect on what has worked and not worked and plan for the year ahead. These include my donations of both work and money because this is how the energy of receiving and giving is revitalized – at least for me. This weekend I received two requests I am happy to consider. One is for a commissioned work for auction to a wood recycling association and the other is for a donation to a private school fundraising auction. These are the touch-stones of balance in a material world that has gone somewhat mad in its need for acquisition of property – original art included. As much as I live a life of simple abundance, just by the sheer reality of being a painter and photographer, I create stuff that is purchased and contributes to this global material addition plaguing the current human condition. My only defense seems to be to ensure that the work is expensive enough that it will be well-cared-for once purchased. Odd isn’t it? But it is the only a few strategies I have come up with so far. Another is to donate my time, work and sometimes cash to others that are seeking and need support. Sometimes, I find this tension between materialism and simple abundance excruciating, particularly if there is a run of sales on my paintings where they are selling as fast as I can paint them. I think – oh know! Now what!? So, these quieter times in November and December of sales and my ongoing practice of giving provide a balance and resilience to this inner panic.  These are my acknowledgements when considering my blessings this Monday morning.

In other studio news, part 2 and the core of the interview that writer and author Charles van Heck did with me and is published today in Life as Human online magazine. The painting featured in the first part of the article is a newer painting:

ARBUTUS ON MT. PARK 12 x 16 inch oil on canvas

Arbutus on Mt. Park  12 x 16 inch oil on canvas by Terrill Welch 2013_10_26 059

(click on the image for more information)

There is also a new smaller painting that I did last week while the studio assistant was painting edges and putting work into the inventory program. I am waiting for it to dry in order to get a proper photograph but here is a sneak-peek and I will let you know when it is released over at Terrill Welch Artist (where there is currently a new post about another painting I released last week).

ARBUTUS BY THE TRAIL 8 x 10 inch oil on canvas

Arbutus by the Trail 8 x 10 inch oil on canvas by Terrill Welch 2013_11_16 007

The Art of Terrill Welch facebook Page continues to grow and is now has over 200 “likes” as you can see there on your right. The Art Review comments by writers that are posted every Wednesday seems to be going well. This week is a review of the painting EARLY NOVEMBER SEA by Sandi White. I know she would be most delighted if you had a moment to drop in and leave a few words.

As you can see, though the surface of my studio life seems quiet and it feels this way to me as well, there is an undercurrent of activity that somehow is happening with little energy or attention on my part. I am in a time of dormancy and rest but the roots of my work are still being well nourished. Thank you universe for these ongoing blessing during a time in the world that seems to be in warp-speed chaos.

 

What is nourishing your roots this time of year?

 

© 2013 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

 

Remembered Untold Mystery for World Environment Day

The beauty of trees, rocks and the angle of the sun have their untold stories we are forever wanting to tell. These stories are some of the eyes and ears for World Environment Day.

Remembered Untold Mystery – 10 x 10 inch oil on canvas

Remembered Untold Mystery 10 x 10 inch oil on canvas by Terrill Welch 2013_06_01 009

Detailed viewing and purchase information is available HERE.

We need to tell these stories over and over until not a decision is made without our understanding the fragile interconnectedness between ourselves and the world as a whole. How do we do this? By feeling our way into our natural environment until the very cells of this exchange is expressed through our camera lens, our paintings, our writings, our songs, our dance, and our prayers.

This painting reminds me of a very strong memory I have from grade three when a boy in the next row looked at my drawing of “the bush” with a fawn next to it looking longingly at a garden and said with absolute disgust “What a mess! You didn’t draw anything. It is all just scribbles!” So I took him and my hurt feelings farther down the row of desks from where all the drawings were pinned on the classroom wall. Then I said “look again.” He did and though still not terribly impressed he could see how all those lines gave the impressions of trees, grasses, the fawn and the garden.

I am sure if this, now 55-year-old, man was to see this work today he might say the same thing. This is the difference between suggesting the essence of a scene or subject by light and shadow and representing a form with paint or lines. It is far easier as a painter to get caught up in the details than it is to skip happily across the canvas suggesting the breath of the light and relationships between the elements in a landscape. This second approach is an invitation to the viewer to complete the painting using their own visual mapping abilities. Some viewers like to do this and others do not. My classmate did not. It was all just scribbles to him until he stood far enough back that the forms became more visible. There is nothing right or wrong about this painting approach nor in the liking or not liking of the painting. It is just one way of having a conversation with painting.

The reference for this paintings comes from a powerful experience when I found an intriguing visual path along the top of a cliff. I had to lay on my side and schooch out onto a rock ledge to capture the reference image. The amazing thing was that the scene had always been there but I hadn’t noticed it before this particular walk when its beauty was revealed in the angle of the evening light.

untold mystery by Terrill Welch

Prints of this image are available on redbubble HERE.

But just as trees, rocks and the angle of the sun have untold mysteries so does ice. In fact, ice may be able to tell the story of our world better than any other element. Last evening we watched CHASING ICE – a documentary film directed and produced by JEFF ORLOWSKI about  the incredible work of National Geographic photographer James Balog and his team. The story of our world and its demise is in the ice or rather in what is left of the ice. I am including the film’s trailer and also wanted to let you know that it is available on Netflix.

After watching this film I was overwhelmed and close to feeling totally distraught. So, as I told Laurie Buchanan over at her Speaking from the Heart yesterday, I take my worries to the sea. It was a gorgeous warm early June evening with still seas that still a troubled heart.

Tree June evening by Terrill Welch 2013_06_04 003

I did nothing much but sit and scowl about the mess we are in for two hours. I listened to the sea, the breeze in the grass. I notice the warmth of the sandstone and how everything was doing what it must. The sandstone cliff was strong in its presence.

Sandstone Rock Face Mayne island by Terrill Welch 2013_06_04 276

And so must I be in mine. I must continue my work of photographing and painting the stories of our natural world so that we believe and know our connectedness – like in Chasing Ice and the Extreme Ice Survey. Maybe just maybe we will reach a tipping point of understanding before it is too late. I can work with that. I must.

 

What creative ice are you chasing on today’s World Environment day?

 

© 2013 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 Story of the Swamp Lantern

Swamp lantern is a beautiful name for our wild western skunk cabbage or Lysichiton americanus. My first experience with this smelly beauty was when I was five years old and I was walking with my mother in the early evening along a logging skid trail.

Swamp Lantern by Terrill Welch 2013_03_23 408

We were living in our small portable bunk house right on the edge of the logging landing where the cats skidded the logs in and the loaders loaded them up on the logging trucks for their long trip from the middle-of-no-where in Cariboo country British Columbia to the sawmill in Williams Lake. The close proximity to the working logging area meant that we had to stay inside the small two room cabin on skids during working hours. How my mother did this with two young children and a baby I can’t even begin to image.

Skunk Cabbage by Terrill Welch 2013_03_23 392

My mother loved to be outside as much as we did so when the whistle blew and the last machine shut down we were out the door and walking the nearest skid trail that went through the swamp area behind the landing and then beyond. In the low light of the heavily treed forest, infused with dank freshly turned earth, next to the pungent swamp, is where I encountered my first swamp lantern. Gorgeous!

skunk cabbage early spring by Terrill Welch 2013_03_23 386

The blossom petals are an unbelievably bright, almost opaque yellow accompanied by cabbage-like exotic tropical foliage. Each plant also has a distinctively phallic stamen that is somehow unavoidable more pronounced in any compositional photograph than when in the presence of  the plant itself. However, all in all, this is a most beautiful native announcement of early spring. But after these beauties have been blooming for a while – the smell! Once it has traveled up your nasal passages, you will never, ever forget – skunk cabbage!

swamp beauty by Terrill Welch 2013_03_23 357

Our western variety is not good to eat because as it contains calcium oxalate crystals which would be much like eating crushed glass. This caution does not apply if you are a bear. The swamp lantern or skunk cabbage is an important part of bear’s spring laxative tonic when it come out of hibernation.

The plants large, waxy leaves were important to indigenous people for food preparation and storage. They were commonly used to line berry baskets and to wrap around whole salmon and other foods when baked under a fire. It is also used to cure sores and swelling.

reference: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lysichiton_americanus

 

What wild spring flowers are powerful connections to one of your childhood memories?

 

P.S. Three more paintings have sold over the weekend but I will tell you more about this in another post soon. All the best of Easter Monday to you!

 

© 2013 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 Feng Shui Nature and Photography

Sometimes the grand seascapes of the west coast winter are just too gray and flat to hold my attention.

Break in storm Strait of Georgia bnw by Terrill Welch 2013_02_25 074

When this happens I look elsewhere to see what I can feel and see by the sea. This is when I am most often consciously drawn to beauty that is “imperfect, impermanent, and incomplete” or the wabi-sabi nature of our natural environment.

Characteristics of the wabi-sabi aesthetic include asymmetry, asperity (roughness or irregularity), simplicity, economy, austerity, modesty, intimacy and appreciation of the ingenuous integrity of natural objects and processes. Andrew Juniper in Wabi Sabi: The Japanese Art of Impermanence describes wabi-sabi this way: “if an object or expression can bring about, within us, a sense of serene melancholy and a spiritual longing, then that object could be said to be wabi-sabi.” Reference: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wabi-sabi

Feng Shui on the other hand comes from the discipline of Kan Yu or the Tao of heaven and earth. The term feng shui literally translates as “wind-water” in English. Reference: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Feng_shui

In both wabi-sabi and feng shui there is an element of human use or organization to replicate and appreciate our natural world. So, when the view on the horizon is less than inspiring, I sometimes seek to photograph these natural relationships between feng shui elements with their full embodiment of characteristics of wabi-sabi at sources – without human use or organization.

These wabi-sabi, feng shui nature photographs seldom make it to my blogs or my online galleries for purchase. They are a meditation or spiritual practice rather than an end result. However, today I am going to share a few of these images with you.

In the trees…

Arbutus Splendor

Looking into the deep woods on Henderson Hill gives way to the splendor of the the arbutus trees. Their tangle of light-seeking branches reach elegantly under and around in search of the sky.

Arbutus Splendor by Terrill Welch 2013_02_08 096

A new conversation

Though it is just the end of February there are many signs that a new spring season is beginning here on Mayne Island. One of these is the shedding of the bark on the arbutus trees and the revealing of the fresh new skin on of these sensual trees. It is such a tactile sensory visual experience that I walk along running my hands over their smooth exposed trunks.

a new conversation by Terrill Welch 2013_02_25 114

Arbutus Bark Natural Design

The pealing and curling captures natural the movement of time in its everyday way of being.

Arbutus bark natural design by Terrill Welch 2013_02_25 147

Out on a limb

Trees seem to have invented the strength of the spiral. In our occasional high winds I am often amazed that so few trees are blown to the ground. This spiraling is I believe part of the mystery.

Out on a Limb by Terrill Welch 2013_02_08 165

On the forest floor…

While, when the big landscapes fail to impress on a heavy overcast west coast afternoon, the little things sometimes become more beautiful than ever. This is fresh new moss growing on the rocks. So very soft and lovely on the eyes and to the touch.

Take time to notice the little things by Terrill Welch 2013_02_08 233

By the Sea…

A Dance through Time

Over and over they tango the sea and the shore until they are shaped as one. I am squished between the land and sea begging the sky to intervene. Have you been there?

A dance through time by Terrill Welch 2013_02_25 185

Shell Sand Sea – a love story

The tide is going out. As the water leaves in a wave of salty tears, the shell of a varnish clam remains, embracing the sand.

shell sand sea a love story by Terrill Welch 2013_02_01 365

Butter Clam 1

The round butter clam brings vitality to the gray and the stones by the sea.

butter clam 1 by Terrill Welch 2013_02_01 297

Mussels and Seaweed

The connected and passage of relationships crush and sweep away any sense of isolation. Yet, the inner scream of longing cries out to be heard, noticed and cherished.

mussels and seaweed by Terrill Welch 2013_02_01 248

Plump Oyster

What belly can grumble with such nourishing abundance for the taking?

plump oyster by Terrill Welch 2013_02_01 246

Another Layer

There is yet another layer of temporary impermanence. We know in this continuation we are but a moment of moments lost to infinity.

another layer by Terrill Welch 2013_02_01 444

Drifting

Our live bits drifting with the dead, the dying and such shall we become.

Drifting by Terrill Welch 2013_02_01 452

Such is the nature of wab-sabi feng shui in my natural world of photography. May this imperfect, impermanent, and incomplete Tao of heaven and earth bring you a sense of serene melancholy and a spiritual longing.

 

What wabi-sabi feng shui nature influences your life?

 

© 2013 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