Conversations between Trees Recorded in a Large Painting

The earth turns and the sun comes up. The earth turns again and the sun goes down. This is one simple measure of a day. What time will it be tomorrow morning when the first light reaches the eastern side of the island? At about what time this evening will it be too dark to safely take the compost down the stairs and under the trees at the edge of yard without a flashlight? When will the snowdrops start to bloom on the southwest side of the house?  What difference does a day make, or even a few hours? These questions are possibly best answered by trees. At least, this is what I am musing about today as I continue my inner travels.

Last week I shared with you a large 60 x 40 inch canvas with a red ground. Now, on this most difficult week of racial profiling immigration orders in the United States and terrorist killings of Muslim worshipers allegedly by a white male in Canada, I shall take you through the development of this large painting to the point where it is resting.

(In the beginning a few painted lines guide the compositions on large canvas.)

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I mention these two disturbing horrific North America events because I believe no painter can control their brushstrokes against the influences from within their daily lives. I am no exception. I frequently use my painting to process of everyday life with conscious deliberate acknowledgement.

(Getting somewhere on the  large canvas.)

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But my end results do not often depict this struggle to make sense out of senseless acts. Instead, the canvases frequently conclude with a clear message of hope, possibility and resilience. I believe this is because our interconnectedness is the greatest gift that the landscape continues to offer me.

(Blocked in with major decisions made about large composition.)

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I did have it in mind to simplify this painting and leave out the young fir tree on the bottom right and the old fir tree on the left. But the storytelling arbutus tree was having none of it. These trees need each other to create harmony and balance in their ecosystem and for that same reason they are needed in this composition. It would be a mistake to think that this ancient storytelling arbutus tree has survived on its own.

Of course, I am not the first painter, nor will I be the last, who studies the trees. A week ago, I purchased an amazing book of new sketches discovered to be by the hand of one of my mentors, Vincent Van Gogh. The sketches have remained hidden for 120 years and have created all sorts of scholarly disputes and discussions about their authenticity since the book was published in November 2016. The author, Bogomila Wesh-Ovcharov, is a Canadian art historian and specialist in Van Gogh. She is also a good writer. The book, with its 65 actual-size sketches, makes for tantalizing study.

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One of the sketches in this book of four people in an olive grove has particularly captured my attention.

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I am specifically reminded how in the past our daily work would often take us out into a forest or a grove of trees. Currently for me, this connection is my daily walks or plein air painting to gather reference material for larger landscape canvases. But the relatively recent changes to urban living means my experience is a much more rare. In 1800, only 3 percent of the world’s population lived in urban areas. By 1900, almost 14 percent were urbanites. In 1950, 30 percent of the world’s population resided in urban centers.  At times, in some locations this is still a routine practice. But for most of the 82 percent of urbanites in North America and 54 percent in the world, it is history, leaving large segments of our populations with no direct experience of their relationship between trees, and the landscape. These are the many individuals I believe who may have lost their ability to see the moon. Their lack of awareness, appreciation and understanding about our interconnectedness to trees, the sky, the sea and the land leaves them blind to the moon. For many our natural elements and our dependency on them for our well-being is an abstract concept, rather than an intake of breath with a thank you to a tree. For these individuals the moon is no longer there. I am guessing that with this loss comes another lost, the loss of knowledge about our interdependency and interconnectedness not only to trees but also to each other. In these conditions greed, fear and hatred can take root in the fertile ground of disconnect.

This is why I paint this grand storytelling arbutus tree on a large canvas in my home studio. I am hoping that, when a viewer sees this finished painting, they will remember and experience their connectedness to all things in our natural world. They will again be able to see the moon, the tree and each other with kindness and appreciation. This is my wish anyway. It may be a naive and foolish wish but I must try. And no I do not think a daily walk in the woods will cure all the ills of human short-comings. I do believe it can do no harm and that it has a chance of allowing us to reconnect with our own goodness and act with care and compassion in the face of hatred and greed.

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The painting is not quite finished but it is close. Another couple of sessions with my brush and paints will see it complete. Here is where the painting is at this week.

Resting “Storytelling Arbutus Tree Bennett Bay Mayne Island BC” 60 x 40 inch oil on canvas.

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The next time we see this storytelling arbutus tree painting it will be released in a post on the website. But for now, we can enjoy our interconnectedness to it and all that is. We have in this an opportunity to build our resilience, to gather our energies in the face of possibly some of the most difficult times in recent history in Canada and the United States.

This what I heard from the trees this week.

 

Have you found a storytelling tree near where you live? If so, what is it telling 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

Worthy of Waiting for Paint to Dry

I’ve heard the marching chant often – “When do we want it?” “Now!” I internalize as meaning something before immediate, something that demands my response, similar to the wail of a newborn. During my internal travels this week, where deeply worn paths of immediacy are noticeable, alongside my restorative practices, I am reminded of these rallying-the-troop cries. Well, try shouting this at an exquisite impasto swipe of hansa yellow. Talk about being promptly escorted over to where the sun doesn’t shine, right next to the raw umber. Okay, maybe too much oil painter’s inside humour voice for pleasant company. But you get the idea. There are two basic approaches with oil paints. The first is to apply and keep applying while it is still wet. The second is to apply and wait for it to dry and then apply some more. This week’s ground on a large  60 X 40 inch canvas is in the second category.

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In fact, there is a serious amount of waiting in this artist’s life. Take that gorgeous brand new hunk of beechwood easel, twenty years of contemplation before I said yes. If I had taken as much consideration with my first two marriages, there would be two less Canadian divorce statistics to count. My reasoning delaying the purchase of a new easel was that I had a perfectly good folding mast easel my parents gave me the year I graduated from high school….. and it wasn’t quite used up yet. I have to admit though that the easel had been repaired several times over the past forty years and was getting bit wobbly at the hinges. But still!

However, this next work finally tipped my scales of reasoning and I broke. My longing and desire forced open my hand from around a large wad of cash and the next thing I knew we are pulling up to the art supply store loading area.

The subject for this next canvas has been studied with regularity for about seven years. There is a particular “story telling” tree from one of our regular walks in Bennet Bay that shall grace this canvas. I know this arbutus tree in my bones.  While I am putting down that red ground I begin curling around the shapes of its branches and trunks, bathed in golden winter light and pushing up against a cobalt afternoon sky. Fifty shades of green skitter across the garish lips of that stretched canvas. But wait. The ground must dry first. Yes, wait, and so must you.

The subject is worthy of the wait. I promise.

While we are waiting, how about taking in a coastal mountain view?

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Or maybe you would prefer to sit with a charismatic tree out on the point?

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Will this do while we wait?

What do you do while waiting for the symbolic paint in your life to dry?

© 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

KEEPING WATCH original oil painting by Terrill Welch

Here it is! The last painting, KEEPING WATCH, of the 15 that will be in my solo exhibition, STUDY OF BLUE  solo exhibition opening June 30, 2011 is complete.

The painting started out in the usual Terrill-Welch-fashion with an underpainting ready to start working up into a painting.

The large upright canvas did not fit on my easel so I painted down in the sun room which is a deliciously bright place to work.

The canvas had held the movement in the scene from the beginning of the underpainting and I can see that one of my jobs will be to retain that energy right through to completion.

You may guess by now that I am painting my very most favourite arbutus tree overlooking the Strait of Georgia by the light house at Georgina Point. This tree will be featured in one of my photographs on the front cover of this year’s Mayne Island Community Chamber of Commerce brochure and be distributed up and down parts of the west coast of Canada and the United States.

The painting is now starting to breathe on its own, talking back quietly to me as I work.

Now I am close. It is not finished but I am undecided as to what to do next.

I let it rest for a few days and then I finish it up.

KEEPING WATCH 36 X 24  by 1.5 inch original oil painting by Terrill Welch

If you want you can use your inspection skills and see if you can discover what I changed. One change is particularly obvious. The others not so much so.

Please NOTE: I am taking a week off from blogging. The next Creative Potager post will be Friday May 27, 2011. It is time for a little creative downtime before shifting gears into the final preparations for the opening.

Sprout question: What does creative downtime mean to you?

STUDY OF BLUE  solo exhibition opens Thursday June 30, 2011.

© 2011 Terrill Welch, All rights reserved.

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

Purchase photography at http://www.redbubble.com/people/terrillwelch

Creative Potager – where imagination rules. Be inspired.

From Mayne Island, British Columbia, Canada

Terrill Welch online Gallery at http://terrillwelchartist.com

Good Luck Creativity

View image and purchase of “Arbutus in the Fog”  here.

My partner of many years (and the lovely man who has recently become my husband – December 10, 2009) and I have a banter that goes something like this…

I ask with raised eyebrows and a tone of dismay “how did you ever end up with a wild and crazy woman like me?”

With his eyes snapping, he responds “just lucky I guess.”

The truth is my wildness is not of the usual kind – having mostly to do with my vivid imagination and free spirit. And his “good luck” has mostly to do with acting on his preparedness when the opportunity presented itself. But we shall not be entertaining you with our love story today.

What I want to talk about is good luck and creativity. Some time ago, I read Deepak Chopra’s definition of “good luck” in The Seven Spiritual laws of Success (1994). Every since reading his description, it has embodied much of my perceptual understanding about what constitutes good luck. His exact passage reads:

You can look at every problem you have in your life as an opportunity for some greater benefit. You can stay alert to opportunities by being grounded in the wisdom of uncertainty. When your preparedness meets opportunity, the solution will spontaneously appear. What comes out of that is often called “good luck.” Good luck is nothing but preparedness and opportunity coming together.

So there you have it. Now what does this mean when it comes to our creativity? If we are writing, drawing, painting, taking photographs and enhancing our skills daily we are more likely to be prepared when the opportunity arises. When we have “good luck” by this definition we are overjoyed by the unexpected success that befalls us. This is certainly the case with these two images (one above and one below) that I share with you today. In each of these photos the exact coming together of the elements in the images are not likely to repeat themselves readily. In both cases I was prepared. I had my camera with me on my daily walk. I was watching, searching the beauty and the mundane around me. Then as if by magic the image was there – waiting for me, inviting me to capture it.

View and purchase “Holding the Moon” here.

Sprout Question: What part does “good luck” play in your creativity?

© 2010 Terrill Welch, All rights reserved.

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

Purchase photography at http://www.redbubble.com/people/terrillwelch

Creative Potager – where imagination rules. Be inspired.