To Return To My Trees

There is a Welsh phrase (not a “Welch” phrase) “dod yn ôl at fy nghoed”, meaning “to return to a balanced state of mind” or the literal translation is “to return to my trees“. This, as you know, is something that I do often. But sometimes, I even surprise myself with how powerful the pull of trees can be. Take this latest tree. I walked out onto this huge expanse of hard sand and then headed directly across to where there was this amazing old fir tree whose growth seems to have split the sandstone, its top is blown off, and its roots getting salted with every winter storm. I could not easily capture its grandness in one image so I pieced a few together and relied mostly on a short video for painting references. After all the little plein air paintings, this is my first studio painting from Hornby Island. Well, let’s see what we have shall we? 

I could have used a 60 x 40 inch canvas for this painting but I resisted and decided instead to see if a smaller 36 x 24 inch could communicate the power of this tree.

We have a start as I gather up the branches lost against the westerly afternoon light of sun and sky.

These will, at first, contrast hard against the expanses of the dark trunk… until I get the reflected light from the sea and sky to the east involved.

I can now sense where the tree is in space as we look way up from the beach floor under our feet. From here, the blocking in process continues until the canvas is covered in wet oil paint.

Now, the real work begins! I build up the paint from both the lightest lights to the darkest dark and everything in between. I desperately what to keep the strength, power and movement of time and space that is already on the canvas. This is essential. I seek the most minimalist of details that all lead towards this one intention and will guide every mark I make from here forward. (Don’t hold your breath though as it will take another few hours and we don’t need any readers passing out in anticipation 😉

I take a long break, plan what we will have for supper, feeling pleasantly pleased with myself that I remembered that we would need to eat. This phenomenon doesn’t always happen when I am in the middle of a larger painting. Sometimes, when I am holding several brushes and standing before a canvas I forget such domestic requirements… until the natural light fades in my painting space. I continue painting…

Now it is late. I have lost my light and I’m too tired to walk up the stairs to the loft studio and get the studio lamp. Besides, I see some rather tricky changes I want to make that will require scraping a bit of paint and starting over. I must stop. This is it for today.

In the morning, with my body stiff and slightly sore from the hours before the canvas the day before, I begin again. As usual, sleep seems to find solutions that a tired painter would struggle with if attempted without it. The last stretch goes easily and each mark of paint finds its proper place.

The painting has come to “resting”. It still needs a final photograph and the edges painted but the majority of work is done!

I am calling this 36 x 24 inch, walnut oil on canvas, painting “Standing Below the Old Fir at Tribune Bay” but it could just as easily be called “Lost Against the Light”.

Let’s step back so you can get a wee bit of distance from it…

The work is still drying and had its edges painted so it will be a bit before I release it. I am thinking, maybe for the show that opens in July at the gallery, unless someone lays claim to it before then.

Hopefully you have enjoyed this behind the scenes development of a new work. In addition, if you are interested, at about the 18 second mark in this next video from Hornby Island, there is a segment that shows this tree in its environment.

Well, that is about it I think.

What are you losing against the light?

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Among The Trees Oil Painting in Progress

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!

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Cherry Blossom walk in Mayne Island Japanese Garden

Clouds of pink blossoms fill the morning sky with petals drifting slowly onto the garden paths. It is Cherry blossom season in Mayne Island’s Japanese Garden. Come with me and we can stroll along together!

Walking the paths Mayne Island Japanese Garden IMG_2227

Or we can also say: the season of sakura is here! Want to go hanami? Shall we go over the bridge?

Bridge Mayne Island Japanese Garden by Terrill Welch IMG_2224

We turn around in wonder until our gaze settles, just for a moment.

ink outline standing together in Japanese Garden by Terrill Welch IMG_2298

However, there are so many other supporting actors besides these pastel-crinoline-petticoat-wearing drama queens.  Take this dapper Dove Tree blossom for instance. Elegant and handsome as they come.

Dove Tree blossom from China by Terrill Welch IMG_2343

Or maybe Rhododendron blossoms that are as large as my hand.

Rhododendron blossoms by Terrill Welch IMG_2284

Then there are the weeping Crabapple blooms.

weeping crabapple blossoms by Terrill Welch IMG_2350

But if we are honest with each other, I am sure we would agree that all we really want to see are Cherry blossoms!

Japanese Garden Cherry Blossoms Mayne Island by Terrill Welch IMG_2247

Of course, we could sit in the hut and contemplate the question.

ink outline of Hut in Mayne Island Japanese Garden by Terrill Welch IMG_2232

We could study the pond for a while as we debate the issue. But my best guess is that all we are likely to notice is the reflections of….. Cherry Blossoms!

Cherry Blossom reflections Mayne Island Japanese Garden by Terrill Welch IMG_2256

So, Cherry blossoms it is!

Cherry Blossoms by Terrill Welch IMG_2400

We close our eyes and what do we see?

Well, I don’t know about you but I see a cheese sandwich with a hot cup of peppermint tea. I am famished after all this walking, looking, composing images and then photo-editing Cherry blossoms!

What do you see if you close your eyes?

© 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

A Narrow Artistic Perspective on a Mayne Island Morning

Let’s count them. There are eighteen photography sketches taken within 45 minutes of each other and no further apart than fifty steps along a chunk of the Mayne Island shoreline. It is a painter’s morning for gathering reference material. Why bother you might ask? Well, it is about seeing and mostly about how we see and choose to construct our world using sensory information.

I woke just before daylight. After blinking several times and making coffee I decide to go and see how the sun is making out.

Mayne Island late August morning 1 by Terrill Welch 2015_08_25 001

She is getting a little slower to rise on this late August morning but still beat to the shore.

Mayne Island late August morning 2 by Terrill Welch 2015_08_25 016

It is a gentle rising with a soft elegance that never fails to release the last bit of tension between my shoulder blades.

Mayne Island late August morning 3 by Terrill Welch 2015_08_25 033

I gather myself together and glance narrow and long… searching.

Mayne Island late August morning 4 by Terrill Welch 2015_08_25 039

And searching again.

Mayne Island late August morning 5 by Terrill Welch 2015_08_25 046

Low clouds play with the light as I look south.

Mayne Island late August morning 6 by Terrill Welch 2015_08_25 057

Back around I turn and venture deeper into exploring just this one aspect of the shoreline.

Mayne Island late August morning 7  by Terrill Welch 2015_08_25 060

Which composition is most satisfying?

Mayne Island late August morning 8  by Terrill Welch 2015_08_25 065

Which elements do we see most clearly?

Mayne Island late August morning 9  by Terrill Welch 2015_08_25 073

Is it the sea or the land we most sympathize with?

Mayne Island late August morning 10 by Terrill Welch 2015_08_25 094

I want to reach into the camera and pluck out my own secrets!

Mayne Island late August morning 11 by Terrill Welch 2015_08_25 097

But I cannot.

Mayne Island late August morning 12 by Terrill Welch 2015_08_25 100

Like the blue heron I can only keep fishing using my past experience and best guesses. Maybe this one!?

Mayne Island late August morning 13 by Terrill Welch 2015_08_25 106

No not that one replies the heron.

Mayne Island late August morning 14 by Terrill Welch 2015_08_25 112

The sandstone chortles and then hefts a sigh, as if in commiseration, about this endless seeking.

Mayne Island late August morning 15 by Terrill Welch 2015_08_25 133

Calm but slightly dejected I turn around yet again. I haven’t unraveled this dawn yet.

Mayne Island late August morning 16 by Terrill Welch 2015_08_25 148

After a few steps, I turn slowly and then crouch low… there…

Mayne Island late August morning 17 by Terrill Welch 2015_08_25 155

and then again here….

Mayne Island late August morning 18 by Terrill Welch 2015_08_25 157

Morning has broken and the landscape is shattered by my viewer’s eye! I must leave now with my quick photography sketches. I must take these fragments and make something of them just as we do with every image we created in our mind’s eye. these are my few soft gestures of contemplation before picking up my brushes and rushing them over a canvas with heaps of expectation and too much substance to do any of it justice.

 

What has your morning brought to you?

 

© 2015 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

Once In a Blue Moon 2015

Though we are well into August, my heart often drifts back to the evening of July 31st and the rising of our second full moon or the blue moon. The sun is setting very close to the moon rising. I wasn’t the only one settling in for the wait. A small group has gathered at the Seaview Rd beach access on Mayne Island. We wait and we watch until the first sliver becomes visible and then a substantial slice of the moon can be seen on the horizon.

Tip of Blue Moon rising from Mayne island by Terrill Welch 2015_07_31 052

I sigh and click away. It has the promise of being a real beauty!

Seagulls on a log and Blue Moon rising by Terrill Welch 2015_07_31 065

Even the seagulls seemed to have stopped flapping about and sit still on a log for a few minutes as the not-so-blue-moon appears to slide up into the sky.

Mayne Island Blue Moon rise July 31 2015 by Terrill Welch 2015_07_31 170

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Eventually, the sky is dark enough and the moon is high enough to give us a one of those good old moon reflections.

Blue Moon Reflections Mayne Island July 2015 by Terrill Welch 2015_07_31 216

Prints and products available HERE.

Darkness settles as Blue Moon rises. I am glad I brought a jacket as I watch and savour the wonder.

 

Darkness settles as Blue Moon rises by Terrill Welch 2015_07_31 227

Prints and products available HERE.

Then it is time to pack up the camera and the moment but the memory is one that will be revisited many times – way more times than once in a blue moon!

 

What is going to be YOUR next once-in-a-blue-moon experience?

 

Note: all of these images are available in high-resolution. I have chosen three to release at this time. But if one of the others takes your fancy just let me know and I can make it available.

 

© 2015 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

 

Mayne Island Christmas Arbutus Tree Visit

I have a large wonderful family.  At the same time, Christmas day is often about taking a long walk and visiting with the arbutus trees. Like my family,  they are quirky, intelligent, talented, fun and precious to me. Early in January and the first part of February I expect to be focusing my attention, canvas and brushes on these beauty. So today I set about doing a few photography sketches.

Notice how they have found enough support to secure themselves over the bare sandstone rocks.

Mayne Island Christmas Arbutus Tree visit 1 by Terrill Welch 2014_12_25 006

In this soft warm south exposure winter sunlight my eyes scale their length.

Mayne Island Christmas Arbutus Tree visit 2 by Terrill Welch 2014_12_25 010

I walk along the ridges on the backs of the large stone surfaces marveling at how they have made space for each other.

Mayne Island Christmas Arbutus Tree visit 3 by Terrill Welch 2014_12_25 016

The leaning and reaching for the sun is so pronounced in the character of an arbutus tree grove.

Mayne Island Christmas Arbutus Tree visit 4 by Terrill Welch 2014_12_25 029

I sense that these beautiful trees understand belonging in a most comfortable and companionable way.

These are my Christmas Trees, naturally decorated and lightly lit with sunshine.

 

What is putting a glow on your Christmas Day?

 

© 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

All the Canvases are Taken but One

I woke this morning to do a review of my art supplies. I am down to one blank square canvas and I am out of lemon yellow paint and seriously low on a few other pigments. All the other canvases are taken and stacked several layers deep around the rooms – a few more than sixty of them in total.

All the canvases are taken but one by Terrill Welch 2014_11_22 075

You see, yesterday I finalized my commitment to a two month solo exhibition during the months of April and May at the Camassia Café on Mayne Island, British Columbia Canada. The relatively new venue is quickly becoming popular for its art and music shows as well as tasty, carefully prepared foods. The theme of my exhibition is “West Coast Landscapes as Home” and though I have plenty of work available for this adventure, I want to do a few specific and surprise pieces. I have at least six or so in mind. But these lack of supplies in the studio has me pacing the floor and trying to decide if I want to catch a ferry tomorrow and go to the city or see if I can find the canvases I need locally and manage with the pigments that I have. For a few brief moments I am frustrated with living on an island which feels like being stuck in the middle of nowhere when I haven’t carefully planned enough to keep my supplies well-stocked. I suppose this isn’t exactly true. What it really means is I have been putting off going to the city again for far too long.

But enough about this! I stopped my rant of private whining immediately following my reading of this letter sent from Vétheuil on the 17th of August 1879 to the doctor and art collector Georges De Bellio:

For a long time I have been hoping for better days ahead, but alas, I believe the time has come for me to abandon all hope. My poor wife is in increasing pain and I cannot imagine that she could be any weaker than she is now. Not only does she not have the strength to stand up or walk one step, but she cannot hold down the slightest bit of nourishment, although she has an appetite. One has to be at her bedside continually attending to her smallest wish, in the hope of relieving her suffering, and the saddest thing is that we cannot always satisfy these immediate needs for lack of money. For a month now I have not been able to paint because I lack the colours; but that is not important. Right now it is the sight of my wife’s life in jeopardy that terrifies me, and it is unbearable to see her suffering so much and not be able to provide relief… But I would ask another favour of you, dear M. de Bellio, which is to help us out from your own pocket. We have no resources whatsoever. I have a few canvases in the rue Vintimille; take them for whatever price you like; but please respond to my call for help and send us what you can. Two or three hundred francs now would save us from hardship and anxiety: with a hundred francs more I could procure the canvas and paints I need to work. Do what you can, in short; I told our landlady to let you in: so look at my paintings and buy them for whatever you like.

Awaiting your reply, I send you my best wishes.

Yours, Claude Monet

(reference: MONET by himself p.31 edited by Richard Kendall (1989)

A few short weeks later Claude Monet’s wife Camille died leaving Monet to care for their two sons and extended family members which included Alice Hoschedé and her six children. He was to turn forty years old on November 14th of the following year. By the end of this next decade Monet’s fortune did start to take a turn for the better and he was able to buy the house at Giverny and be free of financial worries. We also see his paintings during this period take up the themes that will remain part of his work throughout the rest of his career.

On this hopeful note, with not a health, financial or career worry of any notable concern, I shall be off to see what our local Dragonfly Gallerypurveyors of fine art supplies, craft materials, quilting needs, cards, gifts and faerie glamour –  has for canvases.

 

What letters from writers or painters or other artists do you read for perspective and inspiration?

 

© 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

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Artsy Home for most original oil paintings currently available

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