A Quieter Time

For much of the year,  I thrive on a creative rhythm of quick short inhales with repeated exhales of joy and possibility in our ordinary day. Blogs are posted weekly. Classes are taught spring and fall. Solo art shows are proposed and curated. Requested application deadlines are met for the following year. I take us on hikes, painting trips, studio views of work in progress and this year into the new gallery. Then it is November. The days are short. Winter storms arrive. My internal rhythm shifts. The inhales are longer, deeper and the exhales reveal little to outside world until early spring. This is my restorative time. Social media posts become sparse. I always announce that I am taking a break during this time. I am not though. Not really.

Road to Everyday – 36 X 24 inch oil on canvas by Terrill Welch (available)

What I am doing is diving deep into my own creative well and wandering the trails, reading books, visiting with friends and neighbours and, with few interruptions, covering canvases with paint! This time of year I need this just as the rest of the year there is a steady flow of engagement outward. I know and trust we will all be better for it. Or, at least I will.

So, just so you know, posts of all sorts will be unscheduled from now until early in the new year. They will still happen but on my internal whim rather than a schedule.

What does your winter schedule look like?

© 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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November Studio Tour held at the Terrill Welch Gallery

For several years now, I have participated in the Mayne Island November Studio Tour. This year I will host the open studio event in the Terrill Welch Gallery at 478 Village Bay Rd. from 11 – 4 on Fri. Sat. and Sun. November 10th  to 12th 2017. This morning I zipped down and gave everything a little tidying up after hefting, with help, a new approximately 350 year old addition to the gallery room. Can you spot it?

Let’s get a little closer and see if that helps….

Yes! It is a 1660s wooden trunk or more accurately a Charles II oak coffer complete with iron loop hinges.

It will be used to store smaller paintings that are 16-18 inches on one side. And this weekend there will a few 2018 Mayne Island Landscape calendars, tote bags and throw pillows gracing the plank top.  I have brought these items in, along with a refreshed collection of greeting cards,  special for the studio tour from my Redbubble storefront that you are also most welcome to visit and place your orders from directly. But back to the wooden trunk! I tried to find out what it may have originally be used. It seems it could have held many household items as it was the storage of choice before the dresser bureau was designed. They were made everywhere at the time by carpenters and not cabinet makers – think strong and sturdy rather than elegant, decorative and finely finished.

I am absolute fascinated with old working pieces of furniture! I can spend hours imagining where this coffer was first made and the many adventures it had before we purchased it in Victoria British Columbia some 350 years later. Can you imagine the conversations it has heard? The secrets and confessions? The laughter and tears? Oh! I get shivers just thinking about it!

What story might this wooden trunk tell about you in another 350 years?

© 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

Red Yellow and Blue for You

Autumn flashes her best colours across our small island during these last few weeks. Now that it is the first of November, I feel I must gather this late season gold together for safe keeping during the winter rains which will surely come soon.

There has been a plein air painting day in the Japanese Gardens.

There has been a morning walk by sea before an anticipated storm.

Best of all though, there has been time to just be and watch the leaves drift down from my favourite maple tree….

Ah yes! October, so many pleasant gifts you have given!

What October Gold are you tucking away?

© 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

Happy International Artist Day 2017

Started in 2004  on Pablo Picasso’s birthday, October 25th,  by my fellow Canadian painter, Chris MacClure, in White Rock, British Columbia, today is International Artist Day! What is this day all about?

“To celebrate the contribution all artists make to society by promoting and raising their credibility and visibility locally and around the world.” Mandate on Official International Artist Day Website

Tell us, what artists would you like to celebrate today?

© 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

Feeling The Joy of Complete

In recent years, I have not asked myself to be “out there” on the stage of public life as much as in the past few months.

There are oil painting classes to teach in person and online each week.

There are new art shows to curate and hang in the gallery every few weeks.

There are new paintings to paint, edges to finish, hanging wire to add and get into the inventory to be released.

There are paintings that sell and must be packaged and funds deposited using new technology. Here are two recent works off to new homes….

I can now do  “SQUARE” with a whole new meaning.

In between there are the usual life necessities and yet we still find time for a long lunch after buying art supplies in nearby Sidney.

And there are still the daily walks, though often later in the day.

Walks with the trees and the sea of course.

Always the Trees…

Then it is back to the gallery the next morning again, refreshed, grounded and ready for another day.

What feels complete in your life at the moment?

© 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

Show Time for Beauty of Oils Painters

After a summer of chasing the morning light painting en plein air, three students from the Beauty of Oils Painting class and myself are ready for a fall group show in our local Mayne Island Library. Details are in the poster below. The featured painting in the poster is by Jody Waldie.

These fellow painters carved out time on most Thursday mornings from May to September to brush in patches of colour on canvas from various vantage points around Mayne Island in British Columbia, Canada. Here are just a few of the paintings that will grace the freshly renovated walls the library for local or visiting viewer’s pleasure.

House on Stilts – Active Pass, 11 x 14 inch oil on canvas by Katherine Cox Stevenson

Spring at the Lighthouse, 11 x 14 inch oil on canvas by Glenda King

Summer Tide, 10 x 8 inch oil on canvas by Jody Waldie

Morning Along the Island Road Mayne Island BC, 20 x 16 inch oil on the canvas by Terrill Welch

For anyone who has ever attempted painting with oils out in the open air, it goes without saying that we know it takes years of practice and skill-building to render a proficient canvas. Still, from the very beginning, using some basic methods and processes, there is an aliveness, a deep pleasure of the moment, a delight in colour and movement captured on the canvases that is worthy of sharing.  I am honoured to have had the opportunity to have provided some of these basics in oil painting lessons and to have been invited to paint side-by-side with these fellow painters as our brushes flew across the canvases capturing our glorious island summer landscapes. There comes a point when nothing can replace regular practice, and more practice. At this juncture a painter has only one reasonable choice – get out there and do it! And we did. I am thrilled to not only having been invited to paint but also to be asked to include a couple of paintings with this group for the fall show. Seeing a selection of our summer’s paintings hung together will warm the chill off the months ahead like winter preserves.

How do you like to render your summer joy for winter preserves?

P.S. With a  bit of luck, we shall have another spring show from the Beauty of Oils Painters at the Mayne Island Community Centre following our winter/spring Studio Intensive oil painting class. The fall class is full with 10 in-person students for the skill building Beauty of Oils painting class and the online sister class is also at its maximum for the pilot class. I do not do much marketing of these classes and it is mostly by word of mouth or if a person happens to catch a Facebook post where I mention the offering. If this is something you think you would like to do either in-person or online you are welcome to let me know via email or messenger on Facebook and I will add your name to the list to be notified of future classes.

© 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 Deeper Change Of Season

Under the heavy warmth of blankets, I can hear my alarm twittering loudly from across the room. It is 5:30 am and dark. Sleep has a stranglehold on all of my sensory facilities. I really don’t want to wake up and I certainly am not going to leap cheerfully to the floor to greet the day! Stiffly, I sit up and reach for my glasses. Somehow during the night I misplaced the exact location of my nose and ears and must fumble to sort out lenses, arms and facial parts. I suppose, I should go turn that little pest of a clock off. My half-awake brain reminds me that this early start is my choice. I am choosing to get up before daylight, just like I chose to buy a new jar of honey even though there is still a third left in the old jar and just like I chose to put two extra leaves in the kitchen table for six even though only David and I shall be eating at it. The quick, almost nonsensical, answer for these seasonal choices is that the evenings are shorter and the days are cooler.

The longer deeper answer is that there is still some part of me that gathers the equivalent of a squirrel’s nuts for the winter months. It is irrational behavior really. I tell myself that the honey will keep for years… but so will the dark brown sugar I already have. I do not need to start cooking dinner earlier and go to bed earlier but I do. So much so, that when the track lighting in the kitchen quit working six years ago we have neglected to replace it. Oh, we think about fixing it alright. We have even pick out new lights and talked to the electrician.  But mostly we hardly notice. Dinner is made and cleaned up before dark year round or we move a lamp over to the kitchen counter if we have guests and are eating later. Then we notice. But this doesn’t happen very often. So we forget again.

The thing is, we tend to live naturally in harmony with the way of the seasons – most days without even conscious reasoning. Let’s put the extra leaves in the table this week we say. We do not have a specific reason. But within a few hours books we are reading creep onto the surface and there is a notebook for writing down fragments of ideas. A sketchbook is then added and then a few drawing pencils. I think about the candles up in the loft and how nice they would look with the large table-cloth. They are idle thoughts. Nothing is rushed, orderly or precise. One minute I am considering whether we need more flashlight batteries and the next about picking up a bag of local apples to make crisp. There is seemingly no connection between these two fragments of seasonal activities. Yet, they linger, waiting for to respond. Like the low golden light that lasts thorough the autumn afternoon, there is comfort in their presence.

Other parts of my life are more rushed, scheduled and structured. There are new fall oil painting classes to teach, someone wants private painting lessons and another person schedules a personal visit to the gallery midweek before the latest show changes. These things squeeze up against my precious painting time – time that has to puff out its chest just to be able to reach the brushes between all the other demands.

But the painting still holds, still reaches and most weeks still happens. Two new works are ready to have their edges painted later this afternoon. One of them is this one….

Just Before Sunset Mayne Island BC “resting” 30 x 24 inch oil on canvas

This is the reason I am writing a blog post, the 616th blog post since late December 2009, before daylight. It is because this afternoon is reserved for painting! Painting edges, painting grounds and just painting…. and then maybe a long walk.

What natural rhythms of autumn seasonal changes do you notice in your own life?

P.S. Remind me to write early next week about a new group art show coming up with The Beauty of Oils Painters.

© 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

Is there more than one Monet?

A Monet is a Monet is a Monet – or is it? If we only think of Claude Monet as an impressionist painter then there are paintings in his life’s work that one might be reluctant to claim as a good representation of Monet’s work. In this sense, I am going to propose that there is more than one Monet when considering his work and also that he has offered us more than he is usually given credit.

The tight small dabs of sometimes pure colour associated with the “impressionist years” and his large lily paintings come from different approaches and the latter from a mature use of all that he knew. I come to this understanding following my visit to “Claude Monet’s Secret Garden” exhibition at the Vancouver Art Gallery which has a dozen or so works from his impressionist period and then goes on to focus on his late years of painting when he was troubled by cataracts and a legitimate fear of having surgery at the time.

The impressionist paintings are of medium size, easily portable and distinctive in their approach using small short brushstrokes and dabs of colour to capture the effects of light on a landscape. Here are a couple of my favourites from the exhibition.

Snow Effect, Sunset by Claude Monet 1875

Field of Yellow Irises at Giverny by Claude Monet 1887

Later Monet lived on his garden property for 40 years. This is where he started to study light in its deeper complexities. This is where he observes light changing every seven minutes and lamented that if he didn’t finish a work one day the next could not be counted on to give him the same conditions to continue the work. To compensate, he worked on up to 20 prepared canvases at one time changing them out as the light shifted or if the day was different.

The Seine at Port-Villez, Rose Effect by Claude Monet 1894

The Seine at Port-Villez, Eventing Effect by Claude Monet 1894

The “Claude Monet Secret Garden” exhibition has many large canvases which Monet was able to work on in his 70 and 80s because he was working from home in his garden and the paintings could be moved in and out of the studio as needed.

Life can either knock the stuffing out of us at times or allow us to reach something we may not have been able to do otherwise. Sometimes it does both. During the First World War Monet could hear the fighting from his home studio as he worked. Around this time he was also grieving from the death of second wife and one of his sons. Grief and not being able to see clearly from his cataracts are both possible causes for a change in work during this period.

These rich deep hues are so different from his earlier works, yet there are clues that these are indeed by his brush. These renderings are completed with large expressive brush-marks with the colours blended right on the canvas! Clearly these paintings are something different from his early impressionist paintings and definitely leading us towards what was to come next in post-impressionism and expressionism.

Water Lilies by Claude Monet 1916-1919

“I only know that I do what I can to convey what I experience before nature and that most often, in order to succeed in conveying what I feel, I totally forget the most elementary rules of painting, if they existed that is.” – Claude Monet, 1912

What he couldn’t see he could still feel, hear and touch. Monet had been painting for so long that he had a well established habit of placing his paints in the same place on the palette. He did not need to see well to continue to paint with excellence!

Monet painted the oval lily paintings and the wisteria paintings (which were suppose to go above the lily paintings) while he had cataracts. In 1923 Monet had cataract surgery. By this time he had suffered with them for 11 years.  He destroyed some of the paintings from that time and reworked others once he could see clearly again. And yet, other paintings feel like they were left as they were – though the date of completion on this one suggests otherwise.

The Japanese Bridge by Claude Monet 1918-1924

The information card tells me that Monet completed twenty paintings of this bridge and the body of work is among his most abstract. These later works often show bare canvas in places along with these free loose and large brushstrokes. Would Monet consider the paintings finished? I believe so simply by looking at the continuation of his work during this period of his life. However, these works were in his own personal collection. They were never sold. So it does beg the question of whether he was unsatisfied with them and so didn’t put them up for sale or if he made a decision to keep them for his own appreciation.

The exhibition shows two gorgeous wisteria paintings having some 5- 15 layers of paint and still feeling like each brushstroke has been applied distinctively, accurately – alla prima! In the end, there was no room for showing these wisteria paintings with the lily pond paintings as originally planned. To honour Monet’s original intention for the wisteria paintings, the Vancouver Art Gallery did a curved display wall.

The paintings shared in these images (for personal study use only) are some of the 38 paintings out of 94 that were in Monet’s private collection at the time of his death. These paintings will be showing until October 1, 2017 at the Vancouver Art Gallery in British Columbia. The paintings are on loan from the  Musée Marmottan Monet in Paris. I feel extremely fortunate that I was able to take a half day to be with these works so close to home. If you get a chance, do go and do take the tour after spending sometime getting to know the paintings being shown. Then go through and look again with your new understanding of why these particular works were selected.

If someone was to ask if there was more than one YOU worth knowing what would you say?

© 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

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

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