If a painter decides to paint a recognizable hill with a road then it best be drivable

I do think it is important that regardless of an approach that a painting is plausible or maybe it becomes plausible with time as we begin to experience the work as the artist did in its creation. This means if there is a recognizable hill in a painting that has a recognizable road then it is reasonable to expect that it would be drivable.

detail 1 Early Spring Muir Beach Overlook California 18 x 24 inch oil on wood with 1.5 inch cradle. by Terrill Welch 2015_04_27 057

Hence came about the resolution to a recent painting problem when I was working on EARLY SPRING MUIR BEACH OVERLOOK CALIFORNIA. I had about 20 reference images and I printed four before I started working.

I was nervous about my intuition for this painting. The landscape is hardly known to me. Though I stood there for a long time trying soak in all the information I could. Though I had my photography sketch type images, I still wasn’t really sure if I understood or if I knew this place in my bones. I had not witnessed year after year of subtle seasonal changes. But also I question my ability because the California landscape does not have the cool clear blues of its northern sisters. The haze and atmosphere are warm and rich – almost buttery, even in early spring. There is a constant taste of chalk with a hint of salt on the air in this drought-ridden geography. I must learn a new palette, possibly even a new approach. I do not know this landscape even as my rain forest hair registers a more waif-like wisp on the sea breeze. I want to know it though. I listen and peer as if learning a foreign language. I am hypersensitive a I prepare to paint All my sensory recorders on high alert. What I can not discern, I must guess. I am doubtful of my ability to read the body language of this landscape with my brush where words and understanding fail me. But I must try. I painted the ground a week ago and this morning I start.

1 outline for Early Spring Muir Beach Overlook California 18 x 24 oil on wood with cradle by Terrill Welch 2015_04_26 004

After a few quick lines to help guide me through the composition I start blocking the painting in. I knew there was a strong underlying difference between sky and sea. They were not the same family of blue though a slight reflective element on the sea connected them on the surface. So I started there.

2 beginning to block in Early Spring Muir Beach Overlook California 18 x 24 oil on wood with cradleby Terrill Welch 2015_04_26 010

For future reference there is a dirt road on the first hill above the beach. At this point, it is not so bad for being accurate. So far so good. I finish blocking in the landscape. That blob of white is just a reminder to put in a sea stack later on.  But look what happened to the road. In my mind’s eye I wanted the road to go to the beach. I am not aware of my mistake and continue on with this lively work which is already breathing on its own.

3 Blocked in Muir Beach Overlook California 18 x 24 oil on wood with cradle by Terrill Welch 2015_04_26 016

Several hours later, I am disappointed and frustrated but I must leave it to rest. I am physically tired from a full day of painting and unable to comprehend what needs to be done. Here is where the painting rested until after dinner.

4 Muir Beach Overlook California resting 18 x 24 oil on wood with cradle by Terrill Welch 2015_04_26 031

I sat and looked at it while my husband said  over and over “it was fine – just leave it alone.”

But something was very wrong. Something was bugging me. I sat on the stair steps and gave the painting that was resting on the windowsill across the room my full attention. Finally, I saw the problem. There were no switchbacks on the bottom of the hill. It was not navigable. I leaped up, scramble the stairs to the loft and my reference images. Sure enough I had moved the road! It need to go farther up the side of the hill as it didn’t lead to the beach at this point at all. With a few quick brushstrokes everything is made right in the wet paint. I can then see other work that needed to be done but I wait until the next morning.

After waiting for daylight, I turned my loose brushstrokes onto the canvas with clarity. The rocks on the foreground hill picked up their natural brightness above the trees. However the cottages remain missing by design.

detail 3 Early Spring Muir Beach Overlook California 18 x 24 inch oil on wood with 1.5 inch cradle. by Terrill Welch 2015_04_27 057

I added highlights to the sea and scaled back the far hills where San Francisco sits unnoticed in the distance.

detail 2 Early Spring Muir Beach Overlook California 18 x 24 inch oil on wood with 1.5 inch cradle. by Terrill Welch 2015_04_27 057

It is a private view for the viewer alone to savour. The road denotes a connection to civilization that does not intrude on the landscape. I feel I have been true to place and true in using all of lessons of those painters who have gone before me.  At the same time, I have registered  something of my own unique vision. This is not a small task to accomplish and one I may question both for its relevance and its success on another day. But for today, let’s enjoy the view shall we!

EARLY SPRING MUIR BEACH OVERLOOK CALIFORNIA 18 x 24 inch oil on wood with 1.5 inch cradle.

Early Spring Muir Beach Overlook California 18 x 24 inch oil on wood with 1.5 inch cradle. by Terrill Welch 2015_04_27 057

The work needs to dry and then have its final photograph but I am fairly confident that the painting is finished.

And do feel free to take a drive along that dirt road. I am sure you will find it quite satisfactory.

 

When was the last time you couldn’t see something that was right in front of 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

Plein air painting with the company of fellow painter Lena Levin

Seven days and seven nights at a leisurely pace we ferried and drove down the west coast from our Mayne Island home in British Columbia, Canada until we reach Fremont California in the Untied States. The last 30 minutes coming in on the 580  and finding our way to 880 freeway were the most challenging. I do believe every cell in my body was on high-alert by the time we pulled up in front of our Airbnb rental accommodations on Thursday afternoon. There the car has stayed parked until we leave later this morning!

But this Gulf Island rural painter was gifted with rare dancing thunderclouds, early spring-green Fremont Hills and dramatic light for two days of plein air painting. Fellow artist, Lena Levin, took me to one of her plein air locations in the Quarry Lakes Regional Park both Friday and Saturday morning. While Lena worked on a couple of larger surface in oils that she will finish in the studio, I did small acrylic sketches for reference later when I get back home to my own studio. It was fine way to spend a good part of a morning and early afternoon.

Here is an early stage of Lena’s first painting on Friday with my small setup in the background.

works in progess plein air painting in Quarry Lakes Regional Park Fremont California with Lena Levin by Terrill Welch 2015_02_27 063

I took the opportunity to capture Lena as she worked.

Painter Lena Levin at work in Quarry Lake Regional Park Freomont California by Terrill Welch 2015_02_27 086

There is a steady flow from brush to palette to canvas with pauses like those in music before the rhythm begins again.

Painter Lena Levin work in progress by Terrill Welch 2015_02_27 065

At times a kind of squinting concentration, that is familiar for me from the inside, crosses Lena’s face.

Lena Levin plein air painting in Quarry Lakes Regional Park by Terrill Welch 2015_02_27 069

If you would like to learn more about painter Lena Levin and see more of her work, here is the link to her website: http://www.lenalevin.com . I deeply enjoyed the time we spent viewing and talking about her work in her home studio space. So, if you are interested in her paintings and are ever in the area, I strongly recommend connecting with Lena and scheduling a studio visit.

Looking from my easel in the other direction, we can see the first of three sketch I did over the two mornings.

Plein air painting of Fremont hills in Quarry Lakes Regiona Park with Lena Levin by Terrill Welch 2015_02_27 078

“big clouds over the green Fremont Hills in California” 9 x 12 inch acrylic plein air sketch on gessobord

big clouds over the green Fremont Hills in California 9 x 12 inch acrylic plein air sketch on gessobord by Terrill Welch 2015_02_27 133

In the second sketch from the first day, I allow myself to just simple soak up the beauty of those Fremont hills as the clouds created moving patterns across their surface.

“In their best greens Fremont Hills California” 8 x 10 inch acrylic plein air sketch on claybord

In their best greens Fremont Hills California 8 x 10 inch acrylic plein air sketch on claybord by Terrill Welch 2015_02_27 131

On the second day, I only did one sketch and I spent so much time on it, I am not sure it can be called a sketch any longer, certainly not a “quick” sketch. I was just enjoying the spaces in between and the rhythms of the moving clouds and light so much that I stayed with it.

“willows by the Quarry Lakes Fremont California” a 9 x 12 inch acrylic sketch on canvas board.

willows by the Quarry Lakes Fremont California 9 x 12 inch acrylic sketch on canvas board by Terrill Welch 2015_02_28 064

There are some disadvantages to painting in an area for only a few days. My memory of Fremont, California will forever be referenced to this fantastic dramatic light on the brilliant green early spring hills and the good company of a fellow painter, Lena Levin. It is wonderful reference but maybe not very representational of this landscape overall. But you know what? I will take it and keep it as mine 🙂 This along with the most delicious and succulent free-range duck that we had for dinner prepared by Lena’s partner Eugene. Combined with rich conversation, walls filled with paintings, much laughter and enjoyment the memories are sustaining.

As many of you know by now, my David is NOT one for visiting. During the three weeks or so of our trip, we made plans to only meet with two people who have both in different ways been part of my online inner-circle for several years. So, I am also grateful for his participation and enjoyment of these visits.

While I pack this morning for our slow journey back up the coast of California and Oregon to our home in British Columbia, Canada – my glass of good-living is full. I have exceeded my expectations for this trip already. To those that gave us so many ideas for what to do in San Francisco and where we might like to stop in our travels along the coast, I thank you! We of course didn’t do many of these activities but in knowing what we could do it was a conscious choice. I am not sure if I will have the opportunity to post again before we return home but know that we are fine and poking along someplace on a windy highway along the coast heading north.

What are one of your own road trips that remain a sustaining reference for well-being?

 

© 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