Artists Camille Corot and Terrill Welch Visit Avignon France 171 Years Apart

The Pont D’Avignon or Pont Saint-Bénézet once had 22 arches. The bridge was eventually abandoned as the arches took too much upkeep due to being damaged when the Rhone River would flood. The four remaining arches are believed to have been built around 1345. My morning started with a 45 minute walk along the outside of the city walls to this landmark. The bridge was the inspiration for the song Sur le pont d’Avignon which is impossible not to hum while I decide on a spot to settle and paint by the river for another 45 minutes.


I want to paint this composition but cannot find just the right shelter for my canvas from the morning sun that will then also offer enough footing for me to stand.


Guard House Pont D' Avignon by Terrill Welch 2014_06_011 016


So I move a little farther along the bank and settle close to this vantage point.


morning by the Pont D' Avignon by Terrill Welch 2014_06_011 026

My intention with this acrylic painting sketch is to capture a first glimpse when our mind is still constructing the relationships between the various parts. I like to call this process painting the spaces in between. As always, the morning light changes quickly and even in 45 minutes there is this blending of time.


June morning by Pont D’ Avignon
25 × 35 cm plein air acrylic painting sketch on 185 lb. archival paper


June morning by Pont D' Avignon 25 x 35 cm acrylic painting sketch by Terrill Welch 2014_06_011 046

Art prints available HERE.


A good mornings work but I want to go up high tomorrow and try another painting sketch.


Climbing up into the gardens to the westerly viewpoint in Avignon early on a June morning is magic and mystery. Across the way there is the Villeneuve lez Avignon with the broken Pont D’ Avignon below falling short of the reach across the Rhone River. The scene is not as easy to compose as I had initially thought. I move here and then there and then back to here and finally set up the easel and paint.


plein air morning in Avignon by Terrill Welch 2014_06_012 087


What I was struggling with is my desire to have the castle looking monastery which I have brought in closer in this photograph for us to enjoy it in more detail.


Over by Villeneuve lez Avignon France by Terrill Welch 2014_06_012 093


and the tower in the same frame and at the same time not have the bridge lost by the trees along the bank.


Villeneuve-lez-Avignon La Tour Terrill Welch 2014  by Terrill Welch 2014_06_012 076


In the end I crunched my composition slightly in my mind’s eye to accommodate the canvas dimensions and my desires. Then I pick up the brush to see what will happen.

The light is changing quickly but there is still time for my eyes to rest on the scene. They do not. Fluttering across the landscape, with the same sweeping loops as the swallows above, I do not hover or allow my gaze to settle. I search for…. something and maybe nothing at all in the vast countryside – where last evening’s gypsy music and the chiming clink of hands moving to mouths along the narrow streets of the old-city still echoes in the sleeper passages of my consciousness.
Across the Way Villeneuve lez Avignon France
plein air 25 × 35 cm acrylic painting sketch on 185 lb paper


Across the Way Villeneuve lez Avignon France 25 x 35 cm acrylic painting sketch by Terrill Welch 2014_06_012 106

Art prints available HERE.
There it is with the painting compositional problem only partially resolved. I commit to finding a larger lengthier canvas when I get back in the studio so that I can give it another attempt.


Days pass as swiftly as spring to summer and we are in Paris walking the halls of the Louvre. I stop. Completely stunned I stare unblinking at…


Villeneuve-lez-Avignon. La Tour Phillippe le Bel. 1843 by Camille Corot


Villeneuve-lez-Avignon La Tour Philippe le Bel 1843 by Camille Corot photo for study by Terrill Welch 2014_06_16 033

(Note: this photograph of the painting is on I took for study purposes only)

The Avignon landscape is unmistakable even 171 years later.

On the way to his third trip to Italy, Camille Corot stopped at Avignon in May 1843. Foremost among the ruins of Saint-Benezet bridge, beyond the Rhone, Villeneuve clearing by the Philippe le Bel tower. This painting was donated to the Louvre by Etienne Moreaue-Nelaton in 1906.


I had not seen images of this painting by Corot before nor did I know of its existence but I knew at a glance where it was painted and said to self – he must have painted it from up by the church to get that angle. All I wanted to do at that very moment is catch then next train back to Avignon and climb the hill and look for the exact spot that he would have stood to paint as the compositional challenge I had been struggling with was resolved by this placement of artist and easel. This is the beauty of combining studies of painting location with visits to the work of old masters! Our learning as painters never ends as it is picked up and looped through time and place with our brushes.


Camille Corot was born in 1796 Paris and died there in 1875. He traveled a few times from France to Italy to study the work of masters as was common for artists then and to some extent even now – hence my own trip to Europe. Corot is credited as bridging a shift between the neo-classical tradition of landscape painting and plein air painting, which lead the way towards impressionism. Camille Pissarro (1830 – 1903) was supposedly briefly one of his students. But where did the Italian painter Giovanni Fattori (1825 – 1908) fit in? I see similarities in this particular painting by Corot and the work of Fattori whose paintings I became familiar with during our time in Florence Italy. Had Fattori ever met Corot or been his student? I didn’t find the answer to my question but I did discover a detailed write up by Jeanne Willette on the Barbizon School and landscape painting which both artists are associated.


So as you can see, I have months and even years of continued discovery, exploration and painting to do as I unpack and breathe familiarity into our travel adventures. I think it is obvious that more than the trees have changed since Corot painted in Avignon. Painting itself has been through a few revolutions and I believe this process continues. I must in fact as I have two 26 x 36 inch canvas ready on this Canada Day weekend to begin the process of revisiting my painting sketches and references images.


two 24 x 36 inch canvases ready for Avignon France by Terrill Welch 2014_06_29 039


I think I will take Corot, Fattori and Pissarro with me. They just might enjoy peering over my shoulder as much as you do 😉


What have you seen with fresh perspective through the eyes of an old master recently?


© 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

Looking Over My Shoulder in the Studio

There isn’t too much to see yet but I thought you might like to peer over my shoulder this morning and see what is happening. I have started on the larger 16 x 20 inch gessobord  following yesterday’s study.

I do not expect to end up with many process shots for this painting just because of how absorbed I become when working on it. There is no ground or underpainting as I felt this would interfere with the flat heavily filtered light on this rainy day. Also, unlike most of my paintings I have built up areas near the top more than usual before getting the whole painting roughed in. I may regret this meddling in my own approach but it felt right and the paint was the right consistency for working when I applied it last night so I didn’t interrupt my intuition.

The blank areas are the rocks in the foreground which have a much deeper value than the repeating of the same colours in the background. The dabs you see there are what I call “markers” for future reference and to guide my work in the background. Once the whole painting is rough in, this one is going to require repeated building of paint to get to the end result I am seeking. This is what the study was mostly about yesterday.

SEED: Alfred Sisley ((October 30, 1839 – January 29, 1899) and English Impressionist Painter born in Paris to English parents may be of help with this particular painting. Though he has been overshadowed by Monet his work is really quite stunning and much more attuned the the same sensibilities as Camille Pissarro – who I feel more akin to than Monet even though I am sometimes called the Monet of Mayne Island. If you look at the link I provided you will see many paintings where he has created depth and interest with little value change on a gray or winter day. This is what I am after – depth with only subtle difference in values in the picture plane. This is not a new exercise but with this scene it is a complex study of light, time and spacial relationships. We shall see what happens!

Today I must also go out on a photo shoot for a client. So the work on this painting will need to happen in the next couple of hours and then we will be into Easter weekend. All the best of the holiday weekend to you and may you enjoy a renewed sense of resilience with the arrival of spring.

© 2012 Terrill Welch, All rights reserved.

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

Purchase photography at

Creative Potager – where imagination rules. Be inspired.

From Mayne Island, British Columbia, Canada

Terrill Welch online Gallery at

Waving at you from Mayne Island with Monet

My morning is very French here off the southwest coast of Canada. I slept late (9:00 am) hand ground my coffee beans, made espresso and baked the chocolate croissants. The sun is shining.

Wave photographs are almost the equivalent of my warm up sketches in a figure drawing session. The process gets me stretched down low to the ground in odd angles and into that place where my eye starts to relentlessly compose and frame the world around me. Waves also feed an acceleration that pulls up any lazy cells in my being that thought they might just coast along through the photo shoot. NOT! We are here to capture the movement of light. Time to get to work.

Good morning and Happy Thursday to you!

SEED:  Speaking of the French, I made a most treasured purchase a few days ago. It is the 282 catalogue (or catalog) published  by The Art Institute of  Chicago for the 1995 exhibition of Claude Monet‘s (1860-1946) art work. Did you know that he used to get angry and slash his canvases and may have personally destroyed over 500 paintings? His art career was 60 years long but he is best known for his earlier paintings during the impressionism hay-day and of course his lilies. Though my paintings and even my photography have often been said to remind people of Monet I have never studied his work – rather I reclined into embarrassment and pride at being compared to such a great artist, too scared to even give it serious consideration. I personally had felt my work may have more in common with Camille Pissarro but that is another story. But over the next few weeks and months I am going to read about and study Monet’s work closely and see if I can see what it is that has people so often making this connection.

© 2012 Terrill Welch, All rights reserved.

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

Purchase photography at

Creative Potager – where imagination rules. Be inspired.

From Mayne Island, British Columbia, Canada

Terrill Welch online Gallery at

The Essence of Things

“You should paint the essence of things” Pissarro instructs a younger artist.

“Where we are separate” quick water-colour painting sketch by Terrill Welch

Last evening I was having a love affair with the work of  Camille Pissarro (1830-1903). I have often had comments on my work about its impressionist style. However, having not formally studied art, or the history of art, my self-taught-ways left me replying “I don’t know much about the principles of impressionism. I just like to capture the light and the essence of my subject. The energy in a work should be alive and vibrant even if it means sacrificing correctness.”  Last night when I read The Life and Works of C. Pissarro by Linda Doeser (1994) I understood why people smiled knowingly at my comment and said no more.

“sitting” quick water-colour painting sketch by Terrill Welch

Exactness is not the same as expressing the exact emotion in your work.

Sprout Question: Is there a particular method you use to capture the essence of things?

Note: Due to Easter Creative Potager will post Monday to Thursday this week and Tuesday to Friday next week.

© 2010 Terrill Welch, All rights reserved.

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

Purchase photography at

Creative Potager – where imagination rules. Be inspired.

From Mayne Island, British Columbia, Canada