Two Arbutus Trees Rendered One for New Gallery One Sold

I am still paintings as we are rounding the last corner into the home stretch for the Terrill Welch Gallery to open Friday August 4th. This is my new normal as I learn the rhythm of both/and between studio and gallery.

Yesterday, saw the eight painting sketches arrive at the gallery for the first show.

The lights are now up and I am thrilled with the quality of luminescence I will have to work with for photographs.

Last Thursday, Friday and Sunday were painting days. The first is a plein air over two mornings of an arbutus tree caught between the sea and the road.

Morning along the Island Road Mayne Island BC 20 x 16 inch oil on canvas plein air

Details and purchase information HERE.

The second is a small study of a favourite arbutus tree from reference images.

Arbutus Tree with a View 8 x 10 inch acrylic study on gessobord

This one is sold already. Other new works are released in the online gallery HERE.

On Friday morning with a bit of luck we will have a live video of the opening of the gallery on the Art of Terrill Welch Facebook Page. If you want to be there in our virtual world head drop by the page at 10:00 am Friday August 4th. A few people who helped with the raising of the gallery and collectors will be there and the gallery will open to the public at 11:00 am.

 

How do you stay in the flow when adding something big to your life?

 

© 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 Poppy Serenity Oil Painting

The red poppy oil painting “Serenity by the Sea”

is from a specific day at the end of May in the year 2017 on the island of Galiano off the Southwest coast of British Columbia, Canada.

The mist turns to a light drizzle as I sit on a low chair looking out past the cedars to yet other islands across the sea. What can possibly cut through these west coast greys? Then I remembered.

Earlier in the day I had seen large red poppies growing in the garden near the water.

“I wonder!?” I said to myself.

Slipping on a raincoat and garden clogs I stuffed my way-too-large iphone in my hip pocket and my big camera with its rain cover over my shoulder. It is about 5:00 am and the sun is still high enough in the west to push its way through the low clouds, providing a noticeable filtered light. But it is not enough to keep the warm greys using the big camera. Those gorgeous greys were running into the blues. But the iPhone 7 plus seems to get the idea. I gather several references images with both devices and find one that I particularly like.

Six days later, I am back in the studio and have mulled the idea over long enough to pull out a canvas and get started. The method is straightforward.

Start with a ground that will pull on those muted tones and make a few modest marks to guide the composition.

Establish the relationship between the sky and the light reflecting off the water.

Drop the darks unceremoniously into place.

Leave the red ones for last and keep the brushstrokes simple, clean and decisive.

Work in the highlights, stems and texture of the lower foliage, using a painting knife as needed. Then stand back, one last time, and ensure there is a humming kind harmony of emotion and aliveness to the work.

Yes, I think we are there!

Serenity by the Sea “resting” 18 x 14 oil on canvas

As usual, the painting needs to rest and dry before it is considered finished. I intended this work to be a composition study for a larger painting. However, I may have said all I need to say in this one. Painting the subject larger won’t make for a better painting. It will just be bigger. Yet, I am not completely sure if I want to give up on splashing large amounts of red around on huge surface though. I shall think about it for a while and see. In the mean time…

What bright spots have cut through your grey moments of late?

© 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

For the Love of Landscapes Art Vancouver Fair 2017

Bringing the wild inside is the ultimate of having a landscape painting that resonates with both a room and your life. This past weekend that room was HUGE with more than 80 booths in total. Every few minutes, people would come and stand in front of my west coast landscape paintings and “sigh” these long exhales. It was like they just needed a few minutes before they could go on to even one more booth!

Often viewers would come close and then back up. Then come close again. Then they would walk slowly sideways and then back to the centre. Sometimes they would tell me that the waves were three dimensional and seemed to lift right out of the canvas. Other times it would be the tangle of the friendly arbutus tree that would hold their attention until a quick smile would appear just before they turned to talk to me. People were inspired by the movement, the brushstrokes, the colours and just the beauty of our west coast captured on the canvases. One of many precious moments was when we were all packed up with the paintings wrapped and ready to move a forklift driver in the complex stopped his machine to make a point of telling me how much he loved seeing my landscape paintings in the show.

I owe a huge thank you to the many online followers who I had never met before who showed up to see the work in person. I lost count of how many times a total stranger to me would say – I have been following your work online for years and it is great to see it in person! Now how cool is that?

Of course, there were the many people who traveled from around the lower mainland and even from Mayne Island and Victoria that made a special effort to come to see my work in person at the Art! Vancouver Fair.  I am thrilled because Paul Constable of Artists In Canada had sponsored me and three other artists to show in this booth. I felt not only fortunate to be showing in this venue but also that my special people made such a point of attending. I was bought glass of wine near the end of one of our days in appreciation. I was asked for so many photographs of the work, of me with the work (just after hanging)

and several of me with visitors with the work. Here are just a few of these….

Monica  with Terrill

Terrill with John

Katrina with Terrill

A video of me on the runway with “Southern Gulf Islands Afternoon” for The Face of Art by Amber Stace.

It was all crazy fun! Well, at least once I had that runway walk done! 😉

There is a story that goes with this next photograph.

Janet with her daughter Tracey and three other family members, including this little girl, made a special trip in from Langley to come and see my work and the art fair. They made a day out of it and came early for a special breakfast before Art! Vancouver opened. Janet asked that I post this photo for her. While I am here I might as well tell you a Sunday story….

You see, Janet has known me through her sister since I was 22 years old with 2 small children painting on the kitchen table in a 610 square foot home in a trailer park. Money was so tight that sometimes her sister and I would combine what we had in order to make supper for both of our families. However, we laughed a lot, went camping often and I always found a bit of time to do a quick sketch, mostly in watercolours. Needless to say, I wasn’t at risk of giving up my day job anytime soon. It would be another 15 years before I did my first solo show and 2010 before I became a full-time artist.

Janet said she just had to offer her support and see for herself how far this little girl from rural north central British Columbia outside of Vanderhoof had come!

There is something sacred when people connect with my work, my life and me in this way. I am humbled and filled with gratitude.

This is just a small sampling of some of the powerful interactions during the art fair but should be enough to give you a flavour of the weekend.

The Artists In Canada booth also included the work of Arnold Burrell (1924-1991) represented by Ellen Mackay.

And Janna Kumi who is right beside me with paintings and collage work.

Then on the far right of our booth space is Teyjah McAren her heavily textured rich paintings.

Or maybe this photograph works better…

Somehow I missed getting a closer portrait of Teyjah’s work. Darn! Because it is quite fascinating.

Here we are all together. Starting on the right is Ellen, Janna, Teyjah and the me!

Oh! Let me share with you my favourite painting by another artist in the Art Vancouver Fair. Wang Chen Guang is not only an extremely talented painter, currently studying at Emily Carr, he is sincere, genuine and direct both in his work and as a person. There is a vulnerability and raw, yet controlled, emotion emanating from his figurative paintings. The power of this work is difficult to experience in a photograph but it is the next best thing to standing in front of the 60 x 40 inch oil on canvas. I was very tempted to bring it home except I feel the work needs a large spacious room with few distractions – which I am unable to offer it.

Wang Chen Guang is definitely an artist to follow and see where his driving passion takes him in the future. I am pleased that we met and look forward to staying connected.

As well, special thanks to my son, Kris Welch, who is a high-end finishing carpenter and the master skill set that managed to get the paintings hung so beautifully.

His 15-year-old son got all dressed up and came to the opening too but he is rather camera-shy so we shall keep that photograph just for family.

I think this is more photographs of me at one event than you have seen all together during all my years of my posting online! I hope that this post allows you to feel at least a little like you were there, even if you weren’t.

Tomorrow morning David and I are off to the neighbouring island of Galiano for a three-day retreat together before  the next big adventure which is the Solo exhibition “West to East Coast Canadian Landscapes in Paint” opening June 30th from 3-5 pm at Shavasana Art Gallery & Café here on Mayne Island. The show will be up until August 13, 2017.

 

Have you ever been to an international fair of some kind and if so, can you share a memory?

 

© 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

Standing with the Sea Painting from Life

“I don’t know how she does it, but Terrill’s paintings make me feel the rush of being there, of being part of it,” comments Anita Lewis, who shared on Google Plus the following completed painting.

I wish I had an adequate answer for Anita. The truth is I am not exactly sure. I can tell you that the landscape painter must have the courage to stand in the moment with as much raw, unfiltered honesty as possible. In this case, I am standing with the sea.

At first this standing is about the grey that shifts continuously in rolling spring storms. It is about a tide that seems to neither want to come in or go out as I set up the easel.

It is about enduring the dreariest gulf islands spring since the beginning of weather records. This has followed on a winter that saw snow on the west coast during most months.

I have come to realize that we are likely to miss out on are usual warm days of spring this year. Now my endurance is settling on an early summer. But at the moment rain is coming. It is time to pack up and leave with the 22 x 28 inch canvas roughly blocked in using walnut oil paints.

The next day it rains a steady drizzle. No plein air painting is going to be possible. I sigh and move on to other tasks. The following day seems like it may be promising. But it isn’t. As the painting class and I huddle under a gazebo in the national park near the painting location, they get a good chortle. The sun is shining through the rain but it isn’t going to be enough to break the spell and let us plein air paint. We retreat to the Mayne Island Community Centre and I provide tutorial examples while answering various painting problems posed by the students. The day is salvaged through our collective flexibility.

It is a long day which becomes even longer that evening when I learn that a long-time friend has lost his gallant 20 or-so-year battle with cancer. We had spoken only a few short weeks earlier. He had basically called to say good-bye. At the time he commented that he wasn’t sure if the cancer would get him or if his heart would fail first from an unrelated issue. In the celebration of life notice his family has asked that donations be made to the Heart and Stroke foundation instead of bringing flowers. I am assuming this might be a clue to how his question was answered.

From the time we could barely call ourselves teenagers, through our wild years, into young adults, on into our mature years and finally to becoming grandparents – we never lost sight of being friends. Even if years sometimes passed without so much as a phone call, there was no question – we were friends. Though I will miss him, I cannot help thinking he suffered more than his share to remain with us as long as he did. He fulfilled one of his greatest wishes and saw his children grown and had time to enjoy his grandchildren. He knew great love and what deep caring really means through his relationship with his partner. His life was fully lived around what I feel matters most – love, family, friends, frank honesty and hard work.

The next morning has offered up the promised sun. I am standing before a grey-scale roughed in painting with a heavy heart, squinting into the sky blues. Yes, I definitely will miss him. I look across the Strait of Georgia which seems to widen with every glance. I put up the sunshade to keep my canvas neutral.

I work diligently as if without skin and bone protecting the most vulnerable parts of my being. I listen to the sea as it rolls waves forward with each passing boat and ferry. The moments are filled with frequent commas from song birds that are occasionally punctuated more heavily by seagulls and eagles. The sea lions roll up to the surface with their unmistakable breathing raising the hairs above my pinched shoulder blades. I am consumed by salt air, spring grass and exposed seaweed. The breeze lifts the branches of the fir trees behind me and the escaping sun warms my back in brief fragmented caresses. What blue? What blue do I need most? I mix and layer and release the colours onto the canvas within the rhythms of the sea, the rhythms of life…. and the rhythms of our immediate and pending death. Finally the brushes still.

I take the painting back to studio. After letting it rest for a bit, I add a few more brush marks over the afternoon and a few more the next day before calling it done.

The painting was only five days from start to finish. Yet, the world, my world, is forever changed. I am reminded of a line from a poem “The Speed of Darkness” by Muriel Rukeyser – The universe is made of stories, not of atoms.

A final photograph is still needed of course but this one will do for today.

So the “how does she do it” remains a mystery in some ways, even from me – hidden in unedited, intuitive renderings of experiences from life onto a canvas.

When was the last time you stood by the sea and asked it to share with you its greatest mystery?

© 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

Where Despair Meets Hope in Steps

Drowning in despair about our dissolving humanity on a particular day in early April, I made myself a promise – I shall post this note and go for a long walk and listen to the spring birds. I shall breathe in time with the waves on the sea. I shall inhale the scent of the blossoms on the breeze. I shall run my hands along the length of the arbutus tree. Then I shall paint. This is what a landscape painter does.

This is the beginning for Where Despair Meets Hope Edith Point – 22 x 28 inch oil on canvas landscape painting.

Several canvases are already prepared with grounds. I decide on the red one. Neither large nor medium and certainly not small, this canvas seems to be the right size for sitting with despair. I choose a simple yet powerful landscape that begins with a lengthy walk through the trees and along the ocean. On this day, the fog is thick and I am smothered in a muted grey for most of the hike. But just as I come out on Edith Point, the heavy mist moved out to sea and golden light covers the old fir tree and the edge of the cliff. In this briefest of shifts, my spirits soar and catch a patch of blue sky before coming back down the disfigured tree, thereby encompassing a lasting sense of hope.

The work is roughed in with a bit of Naples yellow to guide my brushes forward. I decide to work from the outer edges inward until the tree reveals itself and I can no longer avoid its edges.

I work on the point of the cliff, conscious of how it turns slightly towards the south. There is no room to think or worry or fuss. I am fully focused on the quickly changing light of the late morning. I can feel the dampness in my hair and coolness on one side of my face and the soft sun warming the other. My hands and heart guide the brushes across the canvas, as if I am really there.

The room darkens under the skylights as heavy rains pound down on the tin roof. I slip up to the loft and grab one of the studio lamps. I hardly notice that I have put my brush down. I pick it up again and, almost in a trance, continue to work.

Touching lightly, I place various greens into the foreground. I can feel my helplessness shrink like the stones with a rising tide on the bottom right of the canvas. My disillusionment with the larger world is replaced with confidence about the specifics of this moment – I can do this one thing.

As I continue to paint, the fir tree can no longer be avoided. I add the tree’s shadow side and start on the branches.

I reach for where the sun is touching. I am reminded of the winter’s high winds and heavy rains as I circle the gnarled and bent branches. I am reminded of long dry spells during the late summer where the moisture cannot be held in the sandstone rocks. I can feel my nose tighten against dearth of moisture while grasses crinkle under foot as I place in the dead branches on the bottom left of the thick tree trunk. I am reminded how this old fir tree has endured and gained elegance and strength through its trials. It is perfect in its imperfection.

Darkness is gathering in the corners of the room. My hips and knees are telling me that we have been standing at the easel for many hours. I must leave this work now, until tomorrow.

Rising early, I flick on the studio lamps. I put on my painting apron. I continue. Eventually, I stop to make coffee and a late breakfast. Sometime during the morning my husband has woken and made his own eggs and toast. He has closed the door to his office so as not to disturb me. He may have even spoken to me. I doubt that I answered. Living with a painter one learns not to be offended by such moments. Like me, he has learned to trust the process. He knows that eventually I will say – come have a look and see what you think…

I tell him how I wanted to be able to feel the breeze off the water in the branches and how they needed to be reaching to greet the sun and how the shade is cool in this golden light, cool enough to want your wool sweater. He replies – it is gorgeous! Privately he is crossing his fingers hoping that his remark will lead us out the door to find some supper. I am not fooled.

Well, it is resting I say.

In this case the “resting” must last for a week before I can make the final adjustments during a demonstration for an oil painting class I am teaching. But I do believe it is now done. I do believe in this place where despair meets hope, we can understand that nothing lasts. With this truth, firmly rooted on the edge of the cliff, I shall continue to walk and paint and breathe – until I can no longer, however long that is.

For now, I present to you Where Despair Meets Hope Edith Point – 22 x 28 inch oil on canvas

 

Where does despair meet with hope in your life?

 

© 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

 

Death by Insignificance – Contemporary Landscape Easel Painter

Six inches of wet whiteness filled our long driveway. At its end there is a narrow trail down the middle of the secondary road, with mounds of molded heavy snowballs guarding each side of the single lane made by the plow truck. I power the Outback down the first part of the driveway so as to glide up and over the crest of the steep hill on the secondary road that follows. Now, if I don’t meet anyone until I get to the main road, all will be good. All is indeed good.

Reaching the Japanese garden on the other side of our small island, I notice that the snow has stopped temporarily in the -1 degree Celsius early March wintry weather. I gather a few photographs for a friend and then settle into painting after setting up my French Box easel in the bamboo shelter on the east side of the gardens. I paint feverishly for an hour. It starts to rain and then rain and snow as I am finishing up. My toes are cold from damp wool socks from when I stepped in a puddle getting out of the car. By all accounts the midday light is bleak, the weather miserable and I am thoroughly chilled. But the work is done. I feel like an explorer exhilarated by having clawed my way over a mountain to a new and promising land.

This 11 x 14 inch walnut oil sketch on a panel board is a series of half-finished sentences in a shorthand painting language that provides rough reminders for a later more thoughtful and larger painting.

Early March Snow Japanese Garden Mayne Island BC

Why do I bother I ask myself. Painting as a representational art form offers nothing new to a world that craves discovery and sensational entertainment. Easel painting has been declared dead as art with predictable frequency for the past 150 years. Yet, here I am – painting. Here you are following my adventures, saving the work to your phones, ipads and laptops and even buying a few finished works now and again. The latest of my art books As We Breathe may even grace your coffee table. So why? What is it about these representational landscape paintings and quick painting sketches that repeatedly hold your attention?

My landscape paintings are of everyday moments. They are ordinary easel paintings and the techniques are familiar contemporary impressionists’ renderings. There is nothing new or sensational or entertaining in my. In art history, the subject of landscapes has always been just a little vulgar and unrefined and uninteresting for the tastes of highbrow fine art galleries and juried exhibitions. So right from the start with my choice of subject, the work is placed at the fringes. Eugène Delacroix’s landscape paintings were painted for his own private pleasure and were only sold after his death. Delacroix was a renowned history painter but it is his landscapes that recently discovered and I most enjoy. The impressionist and post-impressionist painters used the immediacy of landscapes to render light and shadow and then to later reintroduce the importance of form before this painting approach gave way to cubism and abstraction. Though a lot of credit is given to the major breakthrough of these painters, it was only towards the end of these impressionist and post-impressionist movements that any of these artists saw what might be considered success. Some were already dead by the time recognition of their efforts, such as Van Gogh whose hard-working sister-in-law was able to successfully promote his work after his death. The history of Canadian Modernism in art exemplifies the landscape paintings of Tom Thomson, Group of Seven, Emily Carr and the Beaver Hall Group in what is touted to Canadians as a uniquely Canadian art approach. But how globally unimportant these works actually are to world art movements is obvious when reviewing a rather extensive European and North America History of Art Timeline. Canadian art is not mentioned – landscape or otherwise.

So I ask again – why? Why do I bother? Why do you bother to view, save images and purchase my work over and over again? What is it that makes you want to feel the sun on your back, the splash of the sea or the wind blowing through your hair as you look at these simple, insignificant, quiet almost meditative landscape paintings? After all, you just need to step outside into nature and notice these moments for yourselves. Possible, though you have stopped noticing as North Korea, U.S.A., Japan, South Korea and China posture on the brink of yet another war on our small planet. Or maybe you read about several famines expected in the next six month that could kill 20 million people? Or possibly you will be impacted by the U.S.A. travel ban or changes in the health care act? Or is it Brexit that is about to separate you from a country you have called home for many years? Under these circumstances, possibly mundane nature moments drift over your sensory apparatus without even a ripple of recognition – until you view one of my landscape paintings. Then you are reminded and even comforted by the work’s ordinariness. I suspect this because it is what you tell me in comments on social media and during studio visits. So it is not a wild guess but rather a plausible hypothesis. This, on some levels, is a good thing. It means there is no immediate danger by your natural surroundings. You do not need to notice the moving light or rising tide or buds on the plum trees. Basically it is safe not to notice the natural landscapes as they change around you. Your energy is free to contemplate other pressing matters.

So why might you notice and use precious minutes of your valuable time viewing these irrelevant landscape paintings? I believe the answer is as simple and uncomplicated as the paintings themselves. These hand-rendered easel paintings speak to our sensory experiences and memories. These paintings help to remind the viewer that they are alive and that this life, their life, is precious, unique and valuable. At least that is my intention and it is something you so often confirm when viewing the results.

There is the potential for this landscape painting language to be vital, fresh, and unique. These landscape easel paintings attempt to capture the essence of a particular time on a specific day. Similar to a snowflake, or a fingerprint, no two brushstrokes of an immediate moment are ever exactly the same. For an art culture, a micro-culture in a larger herd of humanity, that is obsessed with originality and progress, the immediacy of a changing landscape subject and the painter’s individual brushstrokes guarantee uniqueness (please note I am not implying that “quality” and “uniqueness” are the same thing). It would seem reasonable then that landscapes would be the highest most esteemed subject. However, such that “uniqueness” is the strength of landscape paintings, so is “uniqueness” its weakness. Value is most often created by rareness or scarcity. There is nothing rare about the landscape. Further, it is a given that it will always be changing so change is of no more interest than the ticking of a clock. It is a naked fact, that beyond our pleasure from the landscape’s sensory triggers, my paintings are of little of interest and of even less importance to ART with capital letters. For these easel paintings to become significant their subjects, the landscape, would need to become threatened or disappear. Melting ice caps, rising sea levels, or the potential a rupture in the Cascadia Subduction Zone in the next 50 years are not yet enough to declare any kind of rareness. Only once the landscape can no longer be experienced directly and no more painting of it can ever be painted, then there is a possibility, if the paintings were to survive, that they would become important or significant to art movements and human history.

On this note then, I wish for death by insignificance! Whether it is a quick painting sketch like the one above or a more thoughtful work that has been months in the making below, there is something ridiculously freeing in having the paintings overlooked – not by you of course, or by the equivalent of a small city-size of others who follow my work. But overlooked by an abstract subjective notion about what is important contemporary art.

Winter Late Afternoon Georgina Point Mayne Island BC 18 x 24 inch walnut oil on canvas

I can assure you that any description of an important contemporary artist does not include a middle-aged woman living off the southwest coast of Canada who paints the natural world around her. Nope! Her work is of no particular worth in this current context….. and, let’s hope this remains so for the sake of us all!

Besides it leaves you and I to enjoy our time by the sea, in the Japanese Gardens or along the trails under the arbutus trees without the clambering crowds. I kinda like the joy and freedom of this landscape easel painting perspective. It is fortifying, generous, kind and, for the most part, devoid of trolls.  I find it is good and simple way to live in a competitive, chaotic, globally connected world.

Happy International Women’s Day! As and independent artist with a small business, I have my red apron on in solidarity and I shall spare you the details about inequality in the Arts. Maybe another time. Though if you found the fate of landscape painters bleak, we should wait a while. 😉

What do you think? Do I have the answer to the “why” about right?

If you care to browse, new work has been released in my online gallery HERE.

What do you value that has no generalized worth in contemporary society?

© 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

Organizing Fleeting Glances Into Painterly Consciousness

Darting, constructing, deconstructing, organizing and reorganizing patches of colour based on brief glances as the lens of my eyes send focused light to my retinas which then sends electrical impulses via the optical nerve, in an upside down image, to my brain is the first parts of seeing. After turning the images from both eyes covering the areas from my darting glances right-side up and placing them in some kind of recognizable pattern, under the influence of surrounding sound, tactile sensation, smell and memory I can SEE. I trust this visual reference to be tentatively true until such time as new information is provided. As I write this explanation, I reach out, without thinking or even really focusing my attention, and pick it up my coffee cup without hesitation and take a sip. My mind remembered exactly where the cup was placed, how far it is from my body and my glance tells me it is still there, sitting next to the two books that have been on the desk for months and on top of a few papers. My brain did not need to think about the cup, the books or the papers. It could “see” at a glance that the image it had already stored for reference was still relevant. This same process happens over and over all day long. These are the sensory clues that allow my brain to protect and engage my physical being in the world around me when primarily relying on the use of sight.

I am fascinated by this mystery of seeing and how we construct tentative realities as we go about the process of living an ordinary everyday life as a seeing person. But what happens when we see something that is so puzzling or intense that we have no immediate way to recognize what we are seeing or any reliable references to be able to categorize it? I describe these moments as – every cell in my body becomes focused on making sense out of all the information that is available to me. We all have these moments. These are the moments where you hear better, smell better, sense the temperature of the day, the direction of the breeze and the colours and shapes of everything are more vivid. These heightened sensory moments can be induced by fear, pain or pleasure. Or drugs I suppose, but I am most concerned with our natural interaction with the world around us. These temporary moments of sensory intensity are the places I most desire to capture when painting. I want to capture a landscape as if we are seeing it for the first time and need all our awareness to make sense out of what you are seeing. As you might guess this is not an easy task.

First, I must use every bit of conscious information I can discern, combined with all of my intuition and unconscious strength, when I set brush to canvas. Second, in our current overly stimulating daily lives gaining anyone’s interest in the resulting landscape painting is an almost impossible task. We so often will only see trees,

11. Plum Blossoms Japanese Garden 20 x 16 inch oil on canvas by Terrill Welch 2016-03-09 IMG_9315

and more trees.

arbutus-on-mt-parke-12-x-16-inch-oil-on-canvas-by-terrill-welch-reworked-dec-11-2016-img_9103

There will be an ocean,

catching-waves-at-georgina-point-mayne-island-bc-30-x-40-inch-oil-on-canvas-by-canadian-artist-terrill-welch-sept-20-2016-img_0760

and more ocean,

blooming-point-pei-a-meditation-on-world-peace-40-x-60-inch-oil-on-canvas-by-canadian-artist-terrill-welch-august-10-2016-img_9055

and even more ocean!

sea-and-sun-cox-bay-tofino-bc-24-x-48-inch-oil-on-canvas-by-terrill-welch-july-15-2016-img_7138

Our brains say to self – been there, done that, moving on. For many of us then, we can no longer experience our natural world in its fullness – neither in a painting nor in real life. A wave

on-the-rocks-in-tofino-24-x-30-inch-oil-on-canvas-by-terrill-welch-2016-03-30-img_2079

is just a wave.

last-view-chesterman-beach-tofino-tsunami-30-x-40-inch-oil-on-canvas-by-terrill-welch-july-15-2016-img_7167

Our brains and our memory tell us that we have no real need to know. In this situation, the metaphorical moon is no longer there. The moon becomes identifiable by a collected set of irrelevant references, unrelated to our safety, our well-being or our need for engagement with our ordinary everyday life. There is no blame. There is no fault. It is just us humans sorting out what we most currently need and what is most important to our tentative truth.

So it is a fair question then to ask – why do I bother? Why do I turn my home into a painting studio

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and spend the majority of each day following the light across vast landscapes

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through intimate views of trees

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and over the edges of clouds?

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What is it about this driving practice of observation that gets me up early, clambering over slippery rocks, kneeling in the cold water, standing barefoot on the deck in the snow or sitting shivering waiting for the moon to rise? What is it that keeps me standing at the easel for hours without noticing the strain in my lower back until I lay down to sleep at night? What is it that keeps my brush moving across the canvas recording these fleeting remembrances of sensory information when, possible, the work is irrelevant to anyone but me? I am not sure I can fully answer these questions to either of our satisfaction. However, I can still see the moon and it is magnificent!

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

What full sensory memory of our natural world do you most often revisit in your mind’s eye?

 

© 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

A Start on the PEI West Point Lighthouse Painting

A warm grey ground has dried and is ready for the next work. I have decided on the West Point Lighthouse in Prince Edward Island for this 30 x 24 inch oil on canvas. I have been dancing around this work for a while. How does a painter get a lighthouse painting beyond a caricature of its own specific unique presence? Not an easy task but let’s see what we can do.

First we gather up a couple of reference images from the day at west point and a quick acrylic sketch of a location just south of the lighthouse.

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The sketch holds more sensory images than the photographs and remind me of how muggy it was that day and that the back swampy area was already starting to hatch mosquitoes. The smell of the sea and the intricate lacing of greens and reds between the sand and the grasses were pulled into focus. But what was I going to do with that large black and white monstrosity!? Because of the structure I decided that I best start with a few brief lines in yellow paint to guide my hand into the composition.

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Now what? Well, possibly the best approach is to sneak up on the lighthouse and let it fit into the environment rather than the other way around. I am going to need strong supporting actors to anchor this star subject.

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I keep working and the palette needs additional paint now and again.

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But an hour later, we are finally getting somewhere….

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The painting is now blocked in. I am going to give it a bit of a break before I dig in and complete the work as I want to use it as part of an example for an advanced colour-mixing demonstration in this week’s painting class. There are lots of other wonders still to partake in though.

Maybe we could enjoy an evening sunset to watch the full snow moon rise?

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Or how about a meditative walk on another day along shore by the sea? If you turn the sound up, there are sections where you can hear running water or the waves softly coming ashore or if you are really good at recognizing sounds, someone is cutting up firewood across Campbell bay.

My intention is to do more of these meditative walk clips from our wanderings. I find they hold much more sensory information then a simple photograph because of the addition of movement and sounds.

What natural wonders are stoking your creative fires?

© 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

How a rainy day by the sea painting saved a west coast Christmas morning

This is a true modern-day story about how a “Rainy Day by the Sea” painting saved a west coast Christmas morning…

The shopping mall was stuffed with shiny objects, seasonal jingles and the grimaces of determined shoppers during the last weekend before the holidays. A woman stood stoically in the middle of the good cheer with her children draped casually against her side. There was one present left to get for her person, the love of her life, and the father of her children. Disappointed, she concluded that nothing in these many shops of splendour really seemed worthy of this occasion. What was she going to do?

Meanwhile, on a small southern Gulf Island, there was an artist noticing the evening settling in around her. The quiet valley was expecting another rare snowfall overnight. Despite the weather warning, she was cosy and content in their strawbale timberframe home. There were still a few presents to wrap but, the parcels that needed to be mailed had been sent. The new range had arrived that morning in time to make the seasonal shortbread. Life was peaceful and good.

The island artist has a studio home with oil paintings and acrylic painting sketches that lean two and sometimes three deep against banisters, walls and even windows. She has a great online gallery and social media presence but limited and sporadic bricks and mortar storefront exposure. Hence, holiday seasons are usually quiet for the artist. Besides, original oil paintings are often too personal and too expensive to be purchased as Christmas gifts. This is usually her reflective time, family and friends time and planning for the next year time.

However, upstairs in the studio loft was a petite oil painting, a small gem that measured a wee size of 5 x 7 inches. It was a tiny study for a larger painting from a few years earlier and had lost its place on the studio walls to later works. Now the small painting sat rather forlorn in the loft window seat. Even the resent dramatic southern west coast snow seemed to conspire against the quiet colours of a “Rainy Day by the Sea.” What was the tiny work going to do?

Just then, with all the brilliant zazzle, shouting gizmos and screaming gadgets swirling around her, the woman in the mall became calm and centred. She had an idea. Pulling out her phone, right there in the bulging shelves of opportunity, she sent a private Facebook message to an artist she knew and whose work she admired on Mayne Island.

“Hi Terrill! Hope you are well on this crisp day. I just had a last-minute brain wave of buying X a painting of yours for Christmas. However, my budget is small… $xxx. I realize this might not be possible, but thought I’d ask anyway. I think your daughter mentioned you are coming here for Christmas, so perhaps transport could happen that way. Anyway, I have other ideas if it isn’t possible, but wanted to see what you thought. I am standing here in a mall feeling depressed at my surrounding options! Let me know your thoughts and I hope I haven’t insulted you with my budget!”

The artist assured the woman that she wasn’t insulted by the budget size at all. She thought for a moment and was sure she could help. She prepared her response and gathered the specific links to a couple of tiny paintings listed in her online gallery and sent them off.

The return message from the woman with her children in the shopping mall was prompt.

“Okay! The kids and I agreed on Rainy Day By The Sea!!! Thank you so much!!!!!!!!”

“Shall I pay with an e-transfer? Or what do you prefer?”

The artist confirmed that an e-transfer was great and that gift wrapping and delivery on Christmas Eve day were also included in the price. She then went up to the studio loft window seat, where the small painting now sat in the winter darkness. Carefully, the painter lifted the painting up, selected an appropriated box, and carried both downstairs to the table with the wrapping paper. She thought she could see the little painting smile. It was wearing a badge of local, original, handmade significance. It was the “Rainy Day by the Sea” painting that would save a west coast Christmas morning for a true love, a best friend and a cherished father. The petite painting’s last wish was that the artist would choose the brightest wrapping paper so that the small box wouldn’t be missed on Christmas morning. The artist was sure this final wish could be granted.

And this is the true modern-day story about how a “Rainy Day by the Sea” painting saved a west coast Christmas morning.

SOLD! Rainy Day by the Sea, 5 X 7 inch oil on canvas.

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View other paintings and painting sketches currently available at: https://www.artworkarchive.com/artwork/terrill-welch

 

Do you have a modern-day Christmas story to share?

 

© 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

The Process of Painting Centuries of Seasons

What follows is the process of painting “Centuries of Seasons” inspired by the Currie heritage road on Prince Edward Island.

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On this day, November 11, 2016, the painting “Centuries of Seasons Heritage Road PEI” 24 x 30 inch walnut oil on wood comes to rest, overturning most of the grey disillusionment of the past few days with the curious unexpected results of the United States election and the more anticipated death of Leonard Cohen at the age of 82 years. It is also a day of remembrance for all of those who have fought for our freedom. And finally, it is my grandson’s fourth birthday. This hodgepodge of events, experiences and emotions are most fitting to brushes, paints and a painting surface.

Today, I am drawn to the words of Canadian painter Ozias Leduc (October 8, 1864 – June 16, 1955) who lived to be 90 and was born and living much of his life in Saint-Hilaire Quebec. During his career he decorated more than 30 churches and chapels in Québec, Nova Scotia and the eastern US. The last major project he accepted at the age of 76 was a request to providing the mural paintings for the Notre-Dame-de-la-Présentation, Shawinigan-Sud. The work was completed between 1943-55. Besides his religious commissions for churches, he rendered many easel paintings including portraiture, still life, and landscape paintings. The latter paintings were mainly from his intense study of the landscape that were then painted from memory and imagination in his studio home.

“Art teaches, informs. It uncovers the soul. No doubt it also has the power to sort the chaos of the unconscious into an orderly cosmos. It leads from disorder, suffering and unbalance to stability, harmony and joy.”

(Ozias Leduc, in a letter to Paul-Émile Borduas, 1943)

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“The sole mission of the artist is to express beauty. Beauty without servitude. Beauty as unconstrained as space and time.”

“If the earth were strictly utilitarian it would not be so dear to us. Our eyes seize all of its dazzling sights.”

(Ozias Leduc, sometime in the late 1920s, from the “Ozias Leduc Documentary Canadian Painter” directed by Michel Brault, 1996)

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Leduc was not influenced by contemporary Canadian artistic currents and trends, and he held only one important exposition, which was at the St-Sulpice Library in 1916. By helping to promote the career of Paul-Émile BORDUAS, he became quite popular late in his career. He also left many texts, poems and short reflections on art. His feelings about modern painting are expressed in the mystical thought that man lives searching for the paradise he hopes to regain through a knowledge of nature and the beauty of art.

(Canadian Encyclopedia.ca)

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“I do not have a style of my own and do not choose to have one. Every time I paint I am seeking something.”

(“Ozias Leduc Documentary Canadian Painter” directed by Michel Brault, 1996)

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This painting has been completed during these events and with these guiding words from a Canadian painter from before I was born. It might be said to have begun on a drive down the Currie Heritage Road on Prince Edward Island this past May.

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It might be said that I only trust my brushes today and not my own words and convictions. This is true though not uncommon I would think to seek the experience of wise counsel when processing ones own experiences.

It might be said to have begun with the first trees I ever painted. This likely equally true because to know a tree well enough to paint is to spend years in its company.

It might be said that the centuries of seasons in this painting have no beginning and no ending. This too is true as we can observe that the road has worn away from years of passage over its red dirt surface.

But the work has come to rest and this is a record of the process of its completion.

Centuries of Seasons Heritage Road PEI 24 x 30 inch on wood “resting” by Terrill Welch

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The painting will be released once it is truly considered completed, has dried and a final photograph taken.

Now my brushes shall be cleaned and the painting shall rest. Good day to you!

 

What wise counsel is guiding your day today?

 

© 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