Beginning at the End with Monet

When we walked into the Vancouver Art Gallery to join the line up, it was five minutes after opening. As we entered the visitors were jammed up at the beginning of the “Claude Monet’s Secret Garden” exhibition showing 38 out of 94 of his paintings that had been in his personal private collection. So we walked through the middle of the show and went to end and this is where I am going to start today. Monet’s last painting followed his cataract surgery and he was extremely excited to be able to see clearly again. The painting is listed as “Les Roses” in the exhibition but it is also known as “The Rose Bush” elsewhere online. It is huge at maybe 5 x 9 feet or 6 x 9 feet. I am not exactly sure because I couldn’t find any reference to its size either with the exhibition materials or online. But here it is.

“Les Roses” or “The Rose Bush” by Claude Monet 1925-26.

Please note: all images of Monet’s work have been shared for personal study. No image can be used for any other purpose.

Let’s take a moment and explore what we notice about this work. What stands out to you? How is this work maybe different than what you thought you knew about Monet’s paintings? How is it familiar with what you already know?

I personally had no knowledge about this painting and was so surprised to see it. My first thought was – this isn’t in my extensive reference books on Monet! But then I doubted myself until I could get home and check. However, I was right. This painting is in neither of my complete (or rather incomplete) volumes of Monet’s life’s work.

I was mesmerized and absolutely fascinated with this painting. He would have been 85 to 86 years old when he did this work during the last year of his life. What a way to finish his many years of painting!

It took four years to negotiate the exhibition between the Vancouver Art Gallery and the private Musée Marmottan Monet in Paris France.  The Vancouver exhibition is showing 38 out of 94 paintings in the collection. In 1966 Monet’s son, Michel Monet, left the Musée Marmottan Monet his own collection of his father’s work, thus creating the world’s largest collection of Monet paintings. My only complaint is that there is no catalogue sharing some of the stories I am going to retell to you here based on my notes of the guided tour for the exhibition which, if you get the chance I highly recommend you partake. First walk through and become familiar with all 38 paintings. Don’t waste time reading the chronology and notes on the wall because this can be found online and in other books later. Next do the tour. Then go through the exhibit one more time to integrate what you have learned. If you live in the Vancouver area and can go more than once – do! It is much more economical than a trip to France.

Often, we hear timing is everything. In Monet’s case there are a couple of events around his time in history worth noting.

In 1839 photograph was developed, one year before Monet born. Before this time it had been up to painters to record the realism of events and paint portraits of famous and not so famous people. Paintings were a visual record of events. Photography was expected to change all this and there was speculation that  this would be the end of painting. I mean why labour over a painting when you can have a photo-realistic image in a flash!? By the time Monet was attending art school he would have been in the thick of this debate. Now, particularly for those of us that are both photographers and painters, we better understand the limitations of photographic realism which is limited and has difficulty capturing our lived experiences due to camera distortion and limitations in rendering natural light. But photographs were all new and filled our imagined possibilities at the time. To this day, there are splits in painting approaches between high-realism, full-sensory painting impressions and expressionism abstraction. Personally, I find these splits more theoretical than directly applied to painting practice by painters (and the older I get the more I notice this) but it is worth noting these divisions just the same.

In 1841 tubes of paint were invented by American artist John Rand, one year after Monet born. Up until this time a painter had to mix the pigments with oils, grinding them together to the right consistency every day or at the very least every few days. The painter, or their assistants, had to a difficult task to accomplish before they could ever begin painting a chosen subject. Hence, most painting was done within the studio or indoors. Tube paints changed all this. They stayed usable for long periods of time and were easy to transport out of doors – hence painting en plein air became possible and popular in the years following. The invention of tube paints was a game changer for painters and painting practice – even in the studio.

But let’s go back to “Les Roses” and take in those fragrant blooming brambles one more time. Notice how the paint is mixed right on the canvas, blended and swept together in large gestural movements. Look at the painting close and then step back from your screen and see how the roses themselves disappear into the swirls of colour. Take note of how Monet leaves parts of the canvas bare near the edges. This is not because he wasn’t finished but rather because of an aesthetic of allowing the painter’s process to be visible or letting paint be paint.

In next week’s post we will speculate about how he came to this place in the last large painting rendered at the end of his long and productive life.

What impressions come to mind as you view “Les Roses” by Claude Monet?

© 2017 Terrill Welch, All rights reserved.

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

Creative Potager – Visit with painter and photographer Terrill Welch

From Mayne Island, British Columbia, Canada

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

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Another Visit with Claude Monet

I have been visiting with Claude Monet since I was a teenager, even before I knew who he was.

“Late Morning in August by the Sea” – 9 X 12 inch oil on canvas, not for sale.

So strong was Monet and the other Impressionists’ influence of our understanding of light colour that is likely true for many of us. In my first oil painting classes at 14 years old, I remember the process of underpainting and then following the light in patches and shapes of colour across a whole canvas building it up to the same level of completeness at once. I remember the joy of mixing the pigments right on the canvas as I went, layering them wet-into-wet until I was satisfied with the end result. The paintings weren’t much – the work of a child learning her craft. But the process, oh how I loved the process! These were evening classes or Saturday classes and work was created from memory or reference images mostly. At home though, I worked mostly from life, observing the fast moving light and seasonal changes. This is still a significant part of my painting practice today more than forty years later .

Finishing “Melancholy Seas” – 14 X 18 inch oil on canvas, available.

What was missing in this early education was explaining to me that the oil painting approach I was using was that of the impressionist painters and Monet in particular. Or possibly, I was too young to remember as I was too busy actually painting. Whatever the reason, it would be many years before I realized that my approach to oil painting and painting in general came from this specific school of understanding light, colour and shapes. So, in this way, I first visited with Monet without even knowing his name.

Plein air painting “Early March Snow Japanese Garden Mayne Island B.C.” Walnut oil on gessobord, available.

Since then, I have read whole books about his life and work, studied many images of his paintings, taken in talks by art historians and seen his paintings in person in Toronto, Canada and Paris, France and Basil, Switzerland. To say that his work has had a profound influence on my approach to painting may be taking it too lightly. People teasingly call me “the Monet of Mayne Island” with good reason! At one time, in the summer of 2012, I even vowed (unsuccessfully) to divorce Monet and shake his hold on my painting hand. I argued and demonstrated the strength of letting the darks be dark. I pointed my brushes towards Cezanne and the necessary strength and influence of form. But it was no use.

“Blooming Point PEI” 8 X 10 inch acrylic plein air sketch, not for sale.

In my mind’s eye, Monet lightly shrugged and went back to painting his pond, the light through the trees and the lily pads. Over time, I conceded to my love affair with light, even in the shadows. Hence, though we have an amenable separation, Monet’s painting process and sensibilities and my own painting practice will never be divorced. The confluence of history and our mutual love of light and colour has not allow it, at least not yet.

“Storytelling Arbutus Tree Bennett Bay Mayne Island B.C.” 60 X 40 inch oil on canvas, available.

So Monet and I have visited again, yesterday, at the Vancouver Art Gallery where 38 of Monet’s paintings are on exhibit. Later, I shall decide if we have more to say to each other. For now, this is enough.

What great master in your field of expertise has visited with you the longest?

© 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

 

 

On Vacation

I am off with the chickens, turkeys, a goose, horses, a tree house, large peddle car, tree house, basketball net, a swimming hole, an old farm house and two small boys. Regular programming will return next week.

 

When was the last time you skipped town without notice?

 

© 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 Arbutus Tree and an Ordinary Life

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

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

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

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

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

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

Now, my latest engagement with arbutus trees.

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

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

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

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

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

Then I come upon the perfect specimen!

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

 

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

 

© 2017 Terrill Welch, All rights reserved.

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

Creative Potager – Visit with painter and photographer Terrill Welch

From Mayne Island, British Columbia, Canada

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

Life during Hazy Days in British Columbia

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

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

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

Hazy Morning Active Pass 5 x 7 acrylic plein air sketch

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

© 2017 Terrill Welch, All rights reserved.

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

Creative Potager – Visit with painter and photographer Terrill Welch

From Mayne Island, British Columbia, Canada

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

OPEN Terrill Welch Gallery

Terrill Welch Gallery is now open!

Canadian Contemporary Artist Terrill Welch

Current show August 4 – 27: “Reaching Shore” features the seascapes of internationally collected Canadian artist Terrill Welch.

With over 100 paintings in private collections around the world in less than eight years, the next step for the independent artist was obvious – she has opened her own bricks and mortar gallery with a strong online presence.

The gallery is located at 478 Village Bay Rd in Miners Bay

Mayne Island, B.C., Canada

Open Friday, Saturday, Sunday and holiday Mondays 11 – 4

From early spring to late fall.

And by appointment at other times of the week and year.

Online 24/7 at the Terrill Welch Gallery Page on this website with a video preview and information to view the online gallery for the current show.

Our Focus – A Brush with Paint.

Our Art – Brings you moments during an ordinary day, rendered with distinction.

Our Reach – Features…

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Two Arbutus Trees Rendered One for New Gallery One Sold

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

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

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

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

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

Details and purchase information HERE.

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

© 2017 Terrill Welch, All rights reserved.

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

Creative Potager – Visit with painter and photographer Terrill Welch

From Mayne Island, British Columbia, Canada

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

Summer Paintings of Farmers Fields

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

Haying – 14 x 18 inch oil on canvas

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

Purchase information available HERE.

August Fields – 12 x 16 inch oil on canvas

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

Purchase information available HERE.

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

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

Purchase information available HERE.

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

 

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

 

© 2017 Terrill Welch, All rights reserved.

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

Creative Potager – Visit with painter and photographer Terrill Welch

From Mayne Island, British Columbia, Canada

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

New Art Gallery Has Me on My Knees

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

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

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

 

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

 

© 2017 Terrill Welch, All rights reserved.

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

Creative Potager – Visit with painter and photographer Terrill Welch

From Mayne Island, British Columbia, Canada

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

Melded Time

Try as I might, the mix of experiences this past week refuse to be organized into a meaningful story. It all feels like beautiful colours tangled into a day with no breaks in the string, no long pauses and no rest points. New projects, such as getting a gallery up and running, are often like this I think. The past seven days went something like the late ferry sunset building to a perfect moment.

With a couple of thoughts about the morning’s plein air painting time with a fellow painter and friend,

And another thought about the gyroscope jewellery coming in mail from another multi-talented painter and jeweler friend,

and it is over…

As the sun drips into the sea, we turn away preparing for night and see the almost-full moon reaching out to greet us.

In this flow of melded time, knowing one of these moments, someday, will be our last, one is often tempted to think about the strange concept of forever.

 

What moments this past week have tempted you to think about forever?

 

© 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