Starting with Monday, this has been a week of deep connection with nature, family and friends. Nature is at my doorstep. A friend made the trip to the island for a visit and my family has been connecting via telephone across many km from a different part of the province. There is a fragile, yet unrelenting, firmness that whisks itself across the carpet of our pending autumn.
Seagulls gather in rows on the reefs.
Hearing about the death of Queen Elisabeth II at 96 years old and a 70 year reign is a good reminder for me that mortality eventually has its way with us all. This confirmation, and a northwest wind facing down a clear sunny day, slices through any illusions I may have had. Without a doubt, summer has slipped on a sweater on over her light cotton dress and Canada, as part of the commonwealth, has a new King. King Charles III who is already a sprightly 73 years old. Just like that it seems, we have turned a page in time.
However, if we look closely enough, we will notice that endings and beginnings are woven together and when done well, the broken threads pass beside each other twisting to become stronger than just one thread by itself. It could be as simple as where the sea and the shore meet.
Or, in a grander flourish, we might catch the sea, mountains and sky cresting across the horizon.
The seagulls are still conferencing on the sandstone with hardly a ruffled feather.
The next day they have moved on. But the northwesterly wind has stayed.
I try to find a place to paint but I am chilled and shivering just getting references. Unlike our intuitive summer, I have left my warm sweater at home.
After a third attempt along our Mayne Island shores, I tuck up close to the brickworks dock during the morning low tide.
I lean into the crumbly structure and make a wish. Not a wish for something. Just a wish to be present. A wish to hold the space of today. In a wonky out-of-sorts-kind-of-way, everything seems to be as it should.
I’ll take it! That long breath in and then out and in again. In nature, connecting with family and friends. This is it. All that gives us a chance in life.
Low Tide at the Brickworks Dock by Terrill Welch, 10 x 8 inch acrylic on gessobord plein air.
Artist notes: An early September northwest wind was cool even in the late summer sun. I tucked up next to the brickworks dock for shelter and then started admiring its weathered features.
And so it has been for this first week of September. How about you? How has your week been?
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The last day of December 2018 is still being lit by a low hanging sun. Yet, the break in heavy rains seem to create a resounding call to the top of the ridge at Mount Parke on Mayne Island in British Columbia, Canada. I was on my way back along the Halliday Ridge trail when I stopped to search for a way around the flooded path. The light grabbed me. I sank low and hoped for the best as the shutter clicked on my 7+ Iphone camera. References. I need painting references! I pulled out my big camera as well but instinctively knew that the difficult light may well be best captured by the phone camera – and it was.
Weeks later, back in the gallery’s winter studio I choose a 40 x 30 inch canvas and brush in a few lines to guide the development of an underpainting.
I just need a few lines to find my way into the landscape. Then I start to add in the bright warm and a few cool colours for the underpainting.
From here, I leave the canvas to dry and continue developing the painting beside this one which you have already seen in an earlier post. Sometimes, I added a few dark and light patches left over from my other canvas. But mostly I wait.
Until the day comes when it is time!
I can feel the painting is there. All I need to do is follow the light from the background to the foreground of the canvas. And so the work to build up the paint begins!
The time has come to settle in with paintbrushes over a period of two days. The hours of standing before the canvas moving back and then forward again were long and yet pleasant. Brushstroke after brushstroke the landscape trail through the trees begins to surround the viewer.
Working forward past the mid-ground, I find that the most of the reds, oranges and yellows of the underpainting have been replaced with greens, golds and violets.
I know where I am! I am among the trees. Tired but unrelenting, I continue. At one point I ask for a second and third set of eyes to wander over the canvas to see what still needs to unfolded, be discovered and revealed. Then I walk away, coming back the next day and the next to search for sparkle, mystery and lost edges. Finally, my eyes travel over the canvas with joy and ease. I am there again at the edge of the pool of water deep in the forest. Just me, the trees and the sun.
From my journal notes:
“Long sashaying switchbacks with winter run off springs near the bottom obscuring dry footing on the trails. As a gentle wind calls through golden green tree tops I surmise that this is the only low angled sun this north western slope might see today.”
WHEN I AM AMONG THE TREES “resting” by Terrill Welch
40 x 30 inch oil on canvas
The work still needs to dry, have the edges painted, and a final photograph. But for now, it will sit under the watchful corner of my eye to see if there is anything else that it wants.
What you don’t know is that, on the day I captured this incredible light for this painting, I had fallen. Hard. I was visiting with a friend at the top of the ridge. I said my good-bye and as I half turned and waved while walking away, my feet flew out from underneath me on wet rocks and moss on the trail. At first, I wasn’t even sure I would be able to stand. Once up, I cautiously took a few steps and within minutes knew I would be sore but that I could hike out. My ribs ached for days afterward and I will likely end up with a scar on my knee which was stiff and swollen for the next week. But when I saw this scene before me on my way back, not long after having slowly trekked down the steep back of the ridge, I just knew! I knew that no matter how bruised both my body and dignity were from my tumble, this was worth it! This one moment of incredible beauty was all worth it!
I will add a link here when the painting has had its final photo shoot and is released, but for now, thank you for coming on this painting adventure with me!
The curved deck and angular presence hints mysteriously as it sails through the trees. I have walked all angles, from the expanse of lawn, to ground zero, where the building towers steep above me. After musing over several possibilities, I settle on this view. There are curves of arbutus held tightly among the straight firs, all cradled by a high shore path. And of course, there is the sea. This is the view that intrigues and keeps me coming back for a second, third and even fifth time.
Except there is one problem. I want the late afternoon light kissing the face of my subject and this is a painting problem that will require some resolve or speculation. Likely it will take both. In January, the later afternoon light doesn’t reach this far. The sun slips behind a slight hill before it can make it around to this northwesterly cove. I am stuck. I am left waiting for the earth to turn itself into a longer day. What to do?
Well, I could just wait… but the canvas size has been decided… and I shall head to the city to pick the 30 x 40 inch surface tomorrow afternoon and I do so want to get started. I have ideas for this work! The brushes are splashing paint around so violently in my head that a shipwreck might occur if I don’t begin. So then, a painter must start with what she has.
I had planned to dive right in, using only my 30 or so photography references from three different shoots, for this painting. But in light of the slowly-turning-earth towards longer days and a higher sun stretching farther westward, I decide a painting sketch to study composition and imagined light effects is in order after all.
The work is raw, rough and full of exploration as I imagine where the light is going to be – eventually. Yet, it is enough to hold my initial ideas – at least until I can get an underpainting on the large canvas anyway. The small study is my “notes to self” and the brushes are now temporarily quiet in their jars. We have successfully avoided becoming marooned on a sandbar during the violent seas of my imagination. Hopefully, it is clear sailing, with just the right breeze of suggestion, from here to our destination.
House in the Trees Study – 8 x 10 inch acrylic sketch by Terrill Welch
It truly is not much of a reference but I believe it will be enough to contemplate while I work up an underpainting next week. Then I will go back each week and see how the sun is doing as it labors to set a little farther west each day. I might be asking too much of myself to wait for it. We will see. Maybe by the time the work is blocked in, the sun will be ready? Here is hoping!
What might YOU be waiting and preparing for at the same time?
This morning #NatureIsCalling me earlier than usual. I packed my plein air painting gear, made coffee and headed out. I stopped at the bakery and grabbed an egg sandwich and sweet. But as I walk to the beach I glanced at my basket of painting supplies and sighed. I had everything but a surface to paint on. Rather dejectedly I turned around and took the basket back to the car and returned with only my camera, coffee and breakfast. So here I sit in the warm morning sun. The blackbirds made themselves known in the willows. A west coast reddish mink scurried across the sandstone bank towards the water. Clams spouted near the rocks revealed in the low tide. While a north-westerly wind rippled through the leaves of a rare patch of poplar trees behind me – I sat. I listened. I took in the scent of salt and seaweed. I watched the crows feeding on small morsels and the gulls circle on the farthest outcrop from shore.
“I guess I am not going to paint this morning” I mumble with noticeable deflated slouch.
“I guess I take photographs of that Blue Heron fishing and finish my own breakfast.”
An Elegant Blue Heron fishing Reef Bay Mayne Island
Blue Heron seriously looking for breakfast…
rushing it out off sea floor in the shallows.
An hour later, I am ready to head for home having visited with an elegant Blue Heron and soaked up the morning sun and no longer feeling grumpy about forgetting my gessobord for painting.
Who in nature has graced your morning this fine day?
Note: #NatureIsCalling is the hashtag for the David Suzuki Foundation 30 minutes x 30 days in May Nature Challenge. I am outside more than 30 minutes in nature each day as a matter of work and life style but I committed to being particularly observant for the Month of May. As time allows, I will share these experiences with you here on Creative Potager.
Summer is in full-swing and you love, love LOVE to visit artists in their home studios while on vacation. As an artist with a home studio, I am equally as thrilled to have you. However, if you want to be that special home studio guest who is cherished by the artists you visit, then these tips are for you! Here are seven brilliant etiquette tips from some of my most treasured, pleasant, feel-good and please-come-back-again home studio guests.
Tip one – book an appointment at least a day but preferably three days in advance.
Home studios are living/working spaces and they can always benefit from a little organizing and prettying-up before guests arrive.
Tip two – see if there are any of your friends that want to come with you and let the artist know how many are in your party.
A prepared home studio visit is almost always enhanced when there are a few more people enjoying it.
Tip three – if it is not obvious, ask about taking your shoes off at the door.
You are going into someone’s home as well as their studio – home protocol trumps studio.
Tip four – do not be afraid to ask questions and to look closely at your favourites.
Most artists are happy to tell you about the background of a piece and show you the work in different light. I frequently move work around for guests as the light is always changing. Seeing work at its best in a home environment isn’t as easy as when there is gallery lighting. Even taking it out into natural light is no trouble at all and can be a lot of fun.
Tip five – Look as closely as you like and do not feel any pressure to buy just because you made an appointment to view.
We make appointments to view houses, test drive cars and to hold puppies without feeling obligated to purchase. We can do the same when view art in a home studio environment.
Tip Six – If you are enamored by the artist’s work feel free to come back for more than one visit.
I have new work in my studio all the time and welcome repeat visitors. This allows home studio guests to become more familiar with the depth of an artist’s work and to develop a deeper understanding of what goes into the creative process. These factors I believe contribute to the enjoyment of the art that you may purchase now or at a later date.
Tip seven – Charming studio guests find a way to communicate a meaningful thank you for the artist’s time.
Studio visits do take time. There is no way around it. The most obvious show of appreciation is when a home studio guest goes home with an original piece of art. But there are so many other ways to acknowledge the artist who has hosted you in their home studio. Some of my favourite “thank you gestures” have been:
1. buying a small handful of greeting cards of your favourite art for those special occasions,
2. bringing a small gift like a jar of homemade jam or cookies or fresh-cut flowers from the market,
3. taking the artist’s photograph with her work and sharing it with your friends along with the artist’s business card,
4. taking a photograph of your favourite work to post on your fridge as a reminder for the day you are ready to purchase,
5. sending a quick email “thank you” and telling the artist what you enjoyed most about your visit,
6. signing up to receive the artist’s blog and then send the link to all your social media “friends” telling them about your home studio visit, and
7. taking the artist out to lunch and telling everyone you see how much you loved her art and wish that you could purchase it all. Yes, this has happened, more than once actually 🙂
Let your imagination be your guide but a meaningful thank you goes a long-long way on the charming scale of being an unforgettable and cherished home studio guest.
Why bother? Or more bluntly – what is in it for you?
Most importantly, these are just a nice things to do and you will feel good about doing them – I promise. And you will get invited back. Beyond this, when an artist remembers a charming home studio guest then there are those special invitations to private viewings of yet-to-be-released work – either in person or online. The charming guest may also be given perks and consideration that are not openly shared publicly – a book, tote, throw pillow or small study of the artists work may be tucked in with a large purchase. You may receive a personal note when a work has come available that you mentioned you were interested in considering. After all, artists are no different from everyone else – we love, love, LOVE considerate and charming guests.
What is the most brilliant and charming etiquette of any guest you have received – ever!?
Postscript infomercial (you had to know it was coming): Terrill Welch welcomes guest to her Mayne Island, British Columbia, home studio by appointment. Feel free to send an email to her at tawelch AT shaw DOT ca to set up a time to drop in and be one of her charming home studio guests.
Update July 18, 2019: Terrill Welch now has the seasonal Art of Terrill Welch Gallery at 478 Village Bay Road open Spring to Fall Friday, Saturday and Sunday 11-4 or by appointment year round. Also, most of Terrill Welch’s original paintings can be viewed in detail and purchased in her online gallery at: https://www.artworkarchive.com/profile/terrill-welch With almost 150 works large and small finding homes in private collections during the past nine years it is a good idea not to dally.
Okay, that is a wrap! Now back to painting, la, la, la…… see you soon 😉
With entries from all over North America and beyond, the winner of the FOUND IT PAINTING draw for SEASIDE MAYNE ISLAND STUDY is from my birthplace. Image that! An email has been sent to the winner and I am awaiting a mailing address. Though this painting had the possibility of going to many excellent homes, this one will be perfect. I am sure it will be well-loved and very happy there.
Also, EARLY NOVEMBER SEA 14 x 18 inch oil on canvas has sold.
Thank you everyone who participated in my Canada Day Special event. Finding homes for paintings is not always an easy task and you have made it an enjoyable, fun and rewarding exercise.
As always it is a pleasure to share my work with you.
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)
CHASING OCTOBER SUN BY THE SEA 12 x 16 inch oil on canvas plein air painting
And then there is STORM WATCHING 30 x 40 inch oil on canvas
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.
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?
One of my major puzzles to solve has been – how shall I continue to paint for the three months we are traveling in Europe starting in April? Photography, no problem, even if my camera bag weighs sixteen pounds with out my toothbrush and two pairs of socks, underwear and a clean t-shirt. The limit is 22 lbs. for carry on luggage. I think I can do it. But painting, how can we make THAT light weight and practical at the same time? Here is my solution….
This is a “French Resistance” Pochade box. It is 10 x 13 x 3 inches and weighs only 3 lbs. The palette is a wee lightweight one I rounded up from another source. I have already purchased Golden Heavy acrylic paints for their drying power over my water-mixable oils and I also picked up a dozen 8 x 10 inch primed panels to get me started. The panels and the little water jar are another find along with the pochade box that I discovered at Judsons Art Outfitters. The pochade box mounts onto my camera tripod but will also sit on a table. The packaging has a little note that says “kiss your French Easel goodbye and start a whole new relationship.” I did giggle. Though wee beauty it NOT likely to lessen my love for my French Box Easel. I am however open to a wild, passionate European fling with this little “French Resistance” pochade 😉 The acrylic paints clean up easily and dry quickly. The acrylics are the best substitute for my oils I could find and though not as rich and flexible, they will do the trick for painting sketches. And their other attributes make them a necessity. This light weight and compact set up means many a painting sketch while we are on the go. I will be able to pick up larger panels up to 16 x 20 inches to use with this pochade though a larger panel will likely mean adding weights to the tripod to keep it upright if it is windy. But to start, I am going to keep it quick and small. These will be painting sketches for reference in painting larger oil paintings when I get back to our home on the southwest coast of Canada. Many of these sketches will likely be en plein air because, well, why not!
Wishing you all a fine week ahead!
What is YOUR major puzzle to solve this week?
p.s. In other news, FOUR photography prints of Mayne Island SOLD to a new collector yesterday and will take up residence in the San Francisco Bay Area. Yippee! Please feel free to have a browse your self at my Redbubble Storefront.
At 10:00 am today the morning light was not strong enough to work without the studio lamp. It is heavily overcast and last I checked there is a wee bit of snow expected. However, I was able to put the finishing brushstrokes on this large 30 x 40 inch oil on canvas painting this morning. It may be weeks before I can get a decent photograph of it so we will take a look now at the shiny-wet resting point of STORM WATCHING.
We may think that this painting began with this quick painting sketch on the canvas.
But we would be wrong. It all started on Friday December 6, 2013 at about this same time of day when the power went out. I was surprised as there was little wind at la casa de inspiracion. But then the email notifications started coming in with Ferry boat cancellation and they were for the Inside Passage which is not common at all. So I knew then that there had to be wind somewhere and took a guess that it was on the east side of the island.
Sure enough it was blowing a bit out there. But this isn’t the spot we need to be. We have to walk out to Campbell Point in the Gulf Island Park Reserve because the waves are break on the rocks in a big way. Let’s go and have a look. Dress warm and still expect to the wind to go right into a person’s bones and starts sawing away with an ice-cube.
Scrambling out onto a rock ledge the wind whips my big lens and me around with the same ferociousness as the sea. But I am determined. I hunker down low and steady myself against the roar. WILD SEAS WITH MOUNT BAKER IN THE DISTANCE
(Detailed view and quality prints available HERE.) There was no chance of using a tripod in these conditions. It was all up to my stabilizers and years of practice of framing and shooting waves. There wasn’t much time because I would get to cold to be able to work the camera and it was no place to be getting stiff and wobbly when I stood back up from where I was crouching. So steady does it. FULL STOP
(Detailed view and quality prints available HERE.) BREAKING OVER TWICE
(Detailed view and quality prints available HERE.) Sunday as in yesterday I pulled out the large canvas and placed it on the easel. I wanted the immediacy of this moment while it was still fresh to me on a cellular level.
The continuous motion of the winds and the sea stir sea-spray high up onto the cliffs above. I want that. I want that feeling of stirring and motion. I decided no underpainting so that spray would have the advantage of the white underneath. I had noticed the spray shadow in one of my reference images and took advantage of this to create additional depth. I worked on getting the painting down with as few brushstrokes as possible.
I want us to be slightly queasy from it as we are swayed in the waters and crash against the rocks within our viewing of this painting.
At the core there is a knowing and a thimble-size of silence which makes it bearable. This too shall pass. This is the stage that the painting rested overnight. This is where I started earlier this morning and finished at the first photograph which will not be its final of course. For this we must wait for better light.
UPDATE OCTOBER 13, 2014: Link to detailed viewing of the completed painting with purchase information and a link a short (less than six minutes) video where I talk about this painting can be found on the Terrill Welch Artist website HERE.
In conclusion, my Monday morning blessing is patience, admiration and determination. If we are willing to try we can most often do more than we believe we can. A large wave from a large canvas as you forge through the week ahead.
What are you determined to accomplish this week even if the winds of doubt are fierce?
We could focus on the larger threats to our coastline such as the potential for earthquakes, rising sea levels from global warming or oil spills from large tankers or the imminent risks of a task of extraordinary delicacy and danger that is about to begin at Japan’s Fukushima nuclear power station. These are all real threats and possibly inevitable outcomes – at some point. I don’t ignore them. We do keep in mind what we need for emergency preparedness in case of an earthquake. I do sign petition, share information and swear sometimes about oil and gas tanker traffic and global warming risks to our coastline, and I worry about the extraction of the fuel rods and contaminated water storage at Fukushima nuclear power station. But once I have done what I can do, then it is time to get on with my day because there are a whole host of other possibilities that could give rise to it being my last. We just never know do we? I am practicing the lesson from many elders of opening my eyes and giving thanks that I am alive and well. It is a good practice – one that serves us in both easy and hard times.
This then, in a wee patch of west coast winter sunshine and in remembrance of yesterday’s rainbow , is my Monday morning blessing to you and to me.
I give praise for this life, thanks for this body world, and remember our great universe of love. With compassion, we start another day in our week, our month and our year.
Now I am off to see if I can make a painting out of this.