Sea and Shore – a beginning

The soft grey of morning is still settling out of my physical being as I lift the large 36 X 48 inch canvas onto the easel. Cascading light and colour roll with the waves over the shapes gathering across my inner landscape. The endless beating of sea and shore vibrates through the heartwood of an old hanging arbutus swinging above the sculptured shore. But alas, there is only whiteness reflection back at me…

I only have an hour before I must be down in the village. Can I do something with this?

“Only if you promise to remember to go open the gallery on time!” I mutter, as I squeeze the cadmium yellow and red oil paint onto a clean palette.

Those lines!  This light!

I remember my smallness…

as I looked up into the tangle of trunks.

The quick painterly notes start to multiply on the canvas…

Sweeping curves round above seal-shaped forms below.

Light and shadow intertwine in a symphonic melody.

Waves and ferry wake are fierce dance partners, bending the spine of the sandstone in its embrace.

I am standing.

I have stood painting this small 11 x 14 inch study below…

And now, on the big canvas, I am 25 steps further to the right, closer to sea. I must start again. I must hunch down and grasp all-that-was and all-that-will-be, swing it high over my head then spiral it down, until it is rooted deep into the earth, with confidence, in each brushstroke.

But this is yet to come. For now, I must wash the one-inch flat hog hair brush, take off my weathered carmine paint-splattered apron, remove any wild run-away cadmium red or yellow streaks on my face and head to the gallery.

Oh but there is more! So much more!

I must wait. We must wait. And remember, it is only paint and a canvas. 😉

What, may I ask, are YOU waiting for?

PART 2 “Sea and Shore – Building Up Paint” is now posted HERE.

Part 3 “Sea and Shore – Strong Finish” can be viewed HERE.

© 2018 Terrill Welch, All rights reserved.

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

Creative Potager – Visit with painter and photographer Terrill Welch

From Mayne Island, British Columbia, Canada

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

Intention, Composition and Underpainting are Tools of the Trade used by the Artist

Today’s work set aside to dry ….

Beginning with underpainting of Westerly Winds Victoria BC 30 x 40 inch oil on canvas

Beginning with underpainting of Westerly Winds Victoria BC 30 x 40 inch oil on canvas by Terrill Welch 2016-01-14 IMG_7555

Sometimes I am asked why do I use this tool of a flowing, rather shapeless underpainting? Wouldn’t a ground colour do? Why not just begin the painting and start with a pencil or charcoal sketch to mark the forms?

The answers to these questions are interrelated and to some extent personal and subjective to my intent. So lets start with my intent with this painting – I want my viewer to be standing along this specific shore on this specific day and be able to feel their presence within the landscape. Admittedly not a small task considering that 80% of the North American population lives in urban centres and has limited ability and time to spend watching how a specific landscape looks at different times of day and at different times in the year. Still, I believe part of my job is to provide this experience which then becomes more familiar to the viewer in the face of the actual physical environment. I make no assumption at all that the viewer is familiar with what it is I am about to paint. If we keep this in mind, it helps to understand the task I must complete with a rather simplistic landscape in order to convey the power of the universe through the sun, sea, and land.

First, in this case I began with a quick 20 minute plein air sketch yesterday.

Westerly Winds coming Ashore on the Sea 8 x 10 inch acrylic plein air sketch on panel board by Terrill Welch 206-01-13 IMG_7543

I wanted and needed that time on the shore to gather as many sensory notes as possible so that I can retrieve them for this work. So let’s unpack this underpainting process.

To proceed with a loose flowing “sketch” if you will for the underpainting is preferred in this case because the simplicity of the landscape makes it all the more difficult to render the movement and tension between the elements in the scene. This style of underpainting is preferred to a ground in this situation because the process provides a first check on the “rightness” of the composition for the intended purpose. The reds, yellows and oranges are simply a tool to bring the most movement and brilliance to the greys, blues, browns, yellows and whites of the finished landscape. Through trial and error I have found these pigments for underpaintings the most effective for capturing the significant range of lively blues in our west coast landscape. Therefore, the underpainting adds a strength to the end result that is near to impossible to replicate by beginning with the specific colours of the finished painting.

Do I always do an underpainting? No. Its use depends on my subject and my intention for the finished work. I sometimes do a quick painting sketch and work with the white canvas. I sometimes use a ground colour only. I sometimes work with wet grounds too. But this kind of underpainting, used for this work, is a favourite and there are reasons for this that go beyond any visual result and more to an intuitive remembering.

When I work a canvas up with this kind of underpainting, I begin to physically learn the window of space and the painting language that will be translated onto the canvas from my sensory information which I have gathered up to this point. My physical reference material will often include both photography and painting sketches.The sensory information is much more than what I see. It includes what I heard, smelled, tasted, and felt. There was the rolling of the stones on the shore beside me and the steps of people walking past. I could feel wind pushing cold air into my back and brushing my hair across my face. I could smell the cold dampness of snow, rain and salt. My eyelashes were cool. My hands were stiff with cold. But there was a warmth in the gray, the blue-green and the a brightness in the sky that was punctuated by the sturdy cliffs and the jut of land. It is all of this that I must translate into brushstrokes. The movement of the brushstrokes for the underpainting are like rough notes for the beginning of this painting conversation. I am intimately aware of the forcefulness between the elements of this seascape. I want this on the canvas from the very beginning.

iphone capture plein air painting Victoria BC by Terrill Welch 2016-01-13

I hope this helps to explain why I sometimes find this particular process of underpainting necessary to the rendering of my final work. Thanks for joining me and all the best of today.

Here is the finished painting:

Westerly Winter Winds Victoria BC – 30 x 40 inch oil on canvas

Details and purchase information are available HERE.

© 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 paintings showing in a new venue and other blessings

Way last fall I started posting on Mondays in response to a suggestion by Kathy Drue over at her blog Lake Superior Spirit. Kathy encouraged/challenged a Monday morning blessing post every Monday until the end of 2013. I accepted the invitation and found that it was such a pleasant routine I have kept it up… for now anyway 🙂

So here we are on another Monday morning as I count my creative blessings over the past few days.

On Friday, Anita of Camassia Café and Astrid of Astrid’s Kitchen assisted me in choosing three paintings to hang in an ongoing group show at their shared but separate new venue in the Fernhill Centre on Mayne Island.

These two could easily have been my poster women for International Women’s Day celebrated on Saturday, March 8th. They have created a seamless collaborative business model for a venue that is quickly becoming integrated into the fabric of the Mayne Island community. Their warmth and enthusiasm is contagious! Currently the Cafe is open Friday – Sunday from 10 – 4 and if you haven’t been, then make it a date!

For so many of you that visit here on my blog but are far, far away from Mayne Island.

LONG BEACH VANCOUVER ISLAND JUNE 2013 48 x 24 inch oil on canvas (this painting is also being reviewed by Sandi White this Wednesday on the Art of Terrill Welch Facebook Page)

Long Beach Vancouver Island 48 x 24 inch oil on canvas by Terrill Welch 2013_08_23 027

CHASING OCTOBER SUN BY THE SEA 12 x 16 inch oil on canvas plein air painting

Chasing October Sun by the Sea  12 x 16 oil on canvas by Terrill Welch 2013_10_18 176

And then there is STORM WATCHING 30 x 40 inch oil on canvas

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

All three of these paintings can be viewed in detail along with purchase information at my profile in the Artsy Home online gallery.

I was so pleased that Anita and Astrid were able to accommodate an early hanging of this work due to my pending travel plans at the beginning of April.

Also, just in case you are in need, there are 30 new greeting cards now available next door at the Farm Gate Store. The card rack is to the left just as you come inside the door. If you pass the wood stove and fresh coffee, you have gone to far.

New Greeting Cards at the Farm Gate Store by Terrill Welch 2014_03_09 014

Don’t worry, if you are in New York, or Toronto or even Dijon France  these same cards are available in my Redbubble storefront. Hint if you order a good handful of greeting cards there starts to be some nice discounts. The quality of these cards are excellent. Often fans purchase these as affordable small prints to frame and hang on the wall.

These kinds of local collaborations and sharing are part of what makes our little island a magical and special place to be. But collaboration and shared inspiration is not limited to face-time. Yesterday I had a wonderful unexpected surprise. My work and process were used by Californian writer, Deborah Brasket,  to demonstrate Deborah’s thoughts on art and mystery in her Living on the Edge of The Wild post “Art and the Mystery in the Midst of Things.” If you haven’t already been by due to my reblog of this post late yesterday, I encourage you to drop by and enjoy the read.

So there we have it! Another Monday morning filled with blessings of appreciation, connection, acknowledgement and sharing.

What connection or sharing would you like to notice on this fine Monday that promises spring in the northern hemisphere? 

© 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