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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Sailing Through The Trees – almost a finish

So close! Almost! Or maybe even done! Yes, you guessed right. The latest 30 x 40 inch canvas of Sailing Through The Trees is “resting”. But, before we go to the end, maybe you would like to see a short video of part of the process along the way? Yes? I thought so.

And so it went, for several days, until I came close to the finish line. Then, I swore! A couple of times! Which didn’t help at all, in case you are wondering. Back to the folder of video and photograph references for the umpteenth time. Then down to the actual location, looking, searching, feeling and taking more photographs. Back to the winter studio, pick up brush and apply paint. Three more trees are added. Other trees are moved around a bit forward or back. Specific branches are added and so on. Finally, the painting shifted and came together as a completed work with all the harmony and mystery that was intended…. well, except for “resting” but I doubt it will change much from here. Lets start with a few details and work our way up to the finished painting.

We have the all important house…

We have the equally important sea…

and the lofty trees crowning the complete vista….

Now for the grand entrance, switching to the big camera, here is Sailing Through The Trees “resting” 30 x 40 inch oil on canvas still shiny and wet…

The painting will be set aside to dry and I will look at it over my shoulder while I continue working on the next painting. If, as time passes, I notice something that I just can’t resist changing, then there will be a flick of a brush loaded with paint in the appropriate spot. Most likely though, it will dry to the touch and be laid on its back to have the edges painted.

So, no more swearing as I look upon this beautiful day beside the sea where it would be a dream to live!

What are you almost ready to call done!?

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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.


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.


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.


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


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


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?


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

Conversations between Trees Recorded in a Large Painting

The earth turns and the sun comes up. The earth turns again and the sun goes down. This is one simple measure of a day. What time will it be tomorrow morning when the first light reaches the eastern side of the island? At about what time this evening will it be too dark to safely take the compost down the stairs and under the trees at the edge of yard without a flashlight? When will the snowdrops start to bloom on the southwest side of the house?  What difference does a day make, or even a few hours? These questions are possibly best answered by trees. At least, this is what I am musing about today as I continue my inner travels.

Last week I shared with you a large 60 x 40 inch canvas with a red ground. Now, on this most difficult week of racial profiling immigration orders in the United States and terrorist killings of Muslim worshipers allegedly by a white male in Canada, I shall take you through the development of this large painting to the point where it is resting.

(In the beginning a few painted lines guide the compositions on large canvas.)


I mention these two disturbing horrific North America events because I believe no painter can control their brushstrokes against the influences from within their daily lives. I am no exception. I frequently use my painting to process of everyday life with conscious deliberate acknowledgement.

(Getting somewhere on the  large canvas.)


But my end results do not often depict this struggle to make sense out of senseless acts. Instead, the canvases frequently conclude with a clear message of hope, possibility and resilience. I believe this is because our interconnectedness is the greatest gift that the landscape continues to offer me.

(Blocked in with major decisions made about large composition.)


I did have it in mind to simplify this painting and leave out the young fir tree on the bottom right and the old fir tree on the left. But the storytelling arbutus tree was having none of it. These trees need each other to create harmony and balance in their ecosystem and for that same reason they are needed in this composition. It would be a mistake to think that this ancient storytelling arbutus tree has survived on its own.

Of course, I am not the first painter, nor will I be the last, who studies the trees. A week ago, I purchased an amazing book of new sketches discovered to be by the hand of one of my mentors, Vincent Van Gogh. The sketches have remained hidden for 120 years and have created all sorts of scholarly disputes and discussions about their authenticity since the book was published in November 2016. The author, Bogomila Wesh-Ovcharov, is a Canadian art historian and specialist in Van Gogh. She is also a good writer. The book, with its 65 actual-size sketches, makes for tantalizing study.


One of the sketches in this book of four people in an olive grove has particularly captured my attention.


I am specifically reminded how in the past our daily work would often take us out into a forest or a grove of trees. Currently for me, this connection is my daily walks or plein air painting to gather reference material for larger landscape canvases. But the relatively recent changes to urban living means my experience is a much more rare. In 1800, only 3 percent of the world’s population lived in urban areas. By 1900, almost 14 percent were urbanites. In 1950, 30 percent of the world’s population resided in urban centers.  At times, in some locations this is still a routine practice. But for most of the 82 percent of urbanites in North America and 54 percent in the world, it is history, leaving large segments of our populations with no direct experience of their relationship between trees, and the landscape. These are the many individuals I believe who may have lost their ability to see the moon. Their lack of awareness, appreciation and understanding about our interconnectedness to trees, the sky, the sea and the land leaves them blind to the moon. For many our natural elements and our dependency on them for our well-being is an abstract concept, rather than an intake of breath with a thank you to a tree. For these individuals the moon is no longer there. I am guessing that with this loss comes another lost, the loss of knowledge about our interdependency and interconnectedness not only to trees but also to each other. In these conditions greed, fear and hatred can take root in the fertile ground of disconnect.

This is why I paint this grand storytelling arbutus tree on a large canvas in my home studio. I am hoping that, when a viewer sees this finished painting, they will remember and experience their connectedness to all things in our natural world. They will again be able to see the moon, the tree and each other with kindness and appreciation. This is my wish anyway. It may be a naive and foolish wish but I must try. And no I do not think a daily walk in the woods will cure all the ills of human short-comings. I do believe it can do no harm and that it has a chance of allowing us to reconnect with our own goodness and act with care and compassion in the face of hatred and greed.



The painting is not quite finished but it is close. Another couple of sessions with my brush and paints will see it complete. Here is where the painting is at this week.

Resting “Storytelling Arbutus Tree Bennett Bay Mayne Island BC” 60 x 40 inch oil on canvas.


The next time we see this storytelling arbutus tree painting it will be released in a post on the website. But for now, we can enjoy our interconnectedness to it and all that is. We have in this an opportunity to build our resilience, to gather our energies in the face of possibly some of the most difficult times in recent history in Canada and the United States.

This what I heard from the trees this week.


Have you found a storytelling tree near where you live? If so, what is it telling you?


© 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

A few painting and image snippets of Prince Edward Island

During the last two weeks, I have taken my camera and brushes to Cavendish, North Rustico, Dalvay Beach, Savage Harbour, Blooming Point and St. Peters Bay on Prince Edward Island, Canada’s smallest province. Though it is May, the weather is mostly wool-sweater cool, with the occasional breezy sunny day.  The potatoes are being planted and the daffodils and magnolias are blooming. However, it can still get down below freezing at night. But the light! It is a photographer’s and painter’s jewel-of-a-life-time in the early mornings and anytime before ten o’clock on this fine island during the month of May. Working our way along the north shore towards the east, let’s have a look and see what we have for you in the albums.

Cavendish is the setting for the fictional Anne of Green Gables stories and these stories are the most commonly referenced attribute when I mention Prince Edward Island. I found that it was impossible to resist a wee ramble up to the Cavendish cliffs with its rather tame wild rabbits (there are signs NOT to feed them but, from the behviour of the rabbits, I don’t think this is heeded).

Sitting with the view at Cavendish PEI is for my mother who deeply enjoyed “the Anne books.” I, on the other hand, humbly admit, to never turning a page in even one of these books.

Sitting with the view at Cavendish PEI by Terrill Welch May 11 2016 IMG_3745

When I whispered this to someone in a tweet, she replied “I am pretty sure you can get your Canadian citizenship revoked if this gets widely known… or get voted off the island.”

Okay, I will think about reading them… maybe this fall or winter when I am working in the studio on larger oil paintings of this area. After all, I really don’t want to get dangled off the cliffs of Cavendish.

Cliffs of Cavendish PEI by Terrill Welch May 11 2016 IMG_3816

Something to think about while I am waiting for the ground paint to dry for a quick plein air painting sketch.

waiting for the ground paint to dry Cavendish PEI by Terrill Welch IMG_3797

As you can see, in the few minutes between photographs, the clouds are moving so fast that the sea cannot settle on a colour. I love this about the sky and the sea and how they talk and sometimes even shout at each other.

quick plein air painting sketch at Cavendish PEI by Terrill Welch May 11 2016 IMG_3809

Pulling on my heavy wool sweater, sleeves rolled up, I work as quickly as I can. The waves coming ashore provide a diversion from my stiffening fingers.

Wave connecting on the shores of Cavendish PEI by Terrill Welch IMG_3757

I end my reference work with “Shores of Cavendish in May PEI” 8 x 10 inch acrylic sketch on gessobord.

Shores of Cavendish in May PEI 8 x 10 inch acrylic sketch on gessobord by Terrill Welch IMG_3821

I could stop here and it would be a complete blog post. However, this is not wise. I do not have much time for blogging. Even though the post will be long by the time I am finished, we had best continue. This is a good time for you to get a beverage of choice and snuggle right into the adventure……

Earlier on this same morning, long before it was warm enough to want to stand still and paint, I meandered around North Rustico which is just a little further to the east of Cavendish. Pleased with my reference images, I am not sure yet if I will make it back for a painting session. It was about 7:00 am or so when I took these.

North Rustico bathed in early morning sun PEI

North Rustico bathed in early morning sun PEI by Terrill Welch IMG_3688

There is nary a fishing boat in sight at the Warf because lobster season opened on the 1st of May.

Seagulls Nest Rustico Harour PEI

Seagulls Nest Rustico Harour PEI by Terrill Welch IMG_3701

North Rustico Lighthouse PEI where red sand drifts up from the shore and onto the dirt road.

North Rustico Lighthouse PEI by Terrill Welch May 11 2016 IMG_3733

Continuing east, over hill and dale along the coast, a person will eventually arrive at Dalvay Beach. On this particular day I am joined by CBC Host/Producer of Mainstreet PEI, Karen Mair, who does an interview with me for a 5-6 minute guest appearance sometime next week on her show.

Standing on Dalvay Beach cliffs plein painting PEI by Terrill Welch IMG_3869

I am a happy painter – more red sand and warm hues to work with.

Dalvay Beach PEI 9 x 12 inch acrylic sketch on gessobord

Dalvay Beach PEI 9 x 12 inch acrylic sketch on gessobord by Terrill Welch IMG_3903

I am sure that one can’t truly claim to have been to Prince Edward Island unless they have ground red sand between their teeth after being blasted by a cloud of grit on the beach or stomped the red mud from their shoes before going in doors. This was my plein air adventure on Mother’s Day.

PEI red mud by Terrill Welch May 8 2016 IMG_3373

A friend who moved to Charlottetown three years ago took me to her favourite beach at Blooming Point. It is a warm day with fog drifting in off the water. The filtered light is perfect!

Mother's Day Blooming Point Beach PEI by Terrill Welch May 8 2016 IMG_3423

My friend walked with her dog and read while I painted.

Plein air painting at Blooming Point PEI by Terrill Welch May 8 2016 IMG_3418

Blooming Point Beach PEI 8 x 10 inch acrylic sketch on gessobord

Blooming Point Beach PEI 8 x 10 inch acrylic sketch on gessobord by Terrill Welch May 8 2016 IMG_3421

There is a large painting to come from these reference materials of Blooming Point. I can feel it in my bones!

Then there is this one day where the wind howled and I had to hang onto the car door to keep it from coming off its hinges when I stepped out to take photographs. In fact, 92 % if the island’s power was generated by wind on this day. Despite the wind, the afternoon light was stunning.

The relationships between land, sky and sea has never been stronger.

Atlantic Ocean north shores PEI by Terrill Welch May 9 2016 IMG_3505

Shores to sea, Savage Harbour PEI

shores to sea Savage Harbour PEI by Terrill Welch May 9 2016 IMG_3577

St Peters Roman Catholic Church built in 1927 next to a ploughed field PEI

St Peters Roman Catholic Church 1927 ploughed field PEI by Terrill Welch May 9 2016 IMG_3618

The red field brings up the third aspect of Prince Edward Island notoriety – potatoes!

Fields of red St Peters Bay PEI.

fields of red St Peters Bay PEI by Terrill Welch May 9 2016 IMG_3646


Well, there you have it!  A few snippets from the past couple of weeks. There is more of course but it shall wait for another time. I feel as if I have collected what I came to gather. Now? I am on bonus time – with still another month left to explore! I am beaming widely and relaxing into our adventure here on the east coast of Canada. So, I leave you with this novella-length post and I am off!


What creative adventure are you relaxing into 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

Ten Days Over and Under with Nature is Calling

A deer browses outside the studio window as I ponder how much easier it is to be in nature than it is to record being in nature. Since my last post many days have past. I am reminded of weaving and the over and under of life, living and my complex relationship to nature. Let see if we can pick up the pattern and weave it together.

The rooster crows over top of the small forest birds as I try to decide whether to paint the third of three California surf paintings or write this blog post.

beginning the 3rd of 3 surf paintings by Terrill Welch 2015_05_12 062

The other two are complete and under review with other new work in the main part of the house.

early morning review of recent work by Terrill Welch 2015_05_12 057

While I should be musing over this body of work in the early morning light as I gather my apple and toasted whole-wheat raisin bread, instead I think “darn those windows need washing!”

Canadian geese announce their departure as I climb back up stairs to the studio. I am fixated on a painting problem and it goes like this – how does one paint the sound of the surf?

how does one paint the sound of the surf by Terrill Welch iphone

This problem about painting the surf took over following an Oregon and California road trip this spring. It has rooted itself into my consciousness like invasive Scotch Broom on Mayne Island – a beautiful problem but still one that there is a community desire to resolve.  But Scotch Broom is an issue that is complex and not easily addressed. Practically speaking, both my painting problem and the broom take hard work as much as anything else to resolve. This is where #NatureIsCalling and the David Suzuki Foundation 30 minutes x 30 days in May Nature Challenge gives me a boost and possibly even a reason to sidestep the second issue – getting rid of Scotch Broom.

If we propose that over and under is a repetitive motion that in weaving and nature never allows a person to return to exactly the same place twice, what have I discovered?

The Georgina Lighthouse park on Mayne Island is beautiful in the direct midday sun.

at the lighthouse Mayne Island by Terrill Welch 2015_05_07 005

or plein air painting in the early morning grey of heavy haze and cloud.

“Scotch Broom and Arbutus Tree set in grey quick study” – 8 x 10 inch acrylic plein air sketch on gessobord

Scotch Broom and Arbutus Tree set in grey quick study 8 x 10 inch acrylic plein air sketch on gessobord by Terrill Welch 2015_05_11 016

We have come back again and again these past few days for picnics and reading.

afternoon reading in the park by Terrill Welch 2015_05_12 044

Sometimes I am distracted by the sounds of ferries entering or leaving Active Pass. But mostly, the seals and sea lions surface on the water and the seagulls and eagles call from the sky while I feel free to sprawl on the grass with nothing more to do than take it all into the core of my being – even the Scotch Broom.

Scotch Broom at the lighthouse by Terrill Welch 2015_05_12 049

Scotch Broom you see is not really suppose to be here. The invasive shrub got away from gardens and has a habit of taking up any vacant space available regardless of who usually would be seeking residence – kind of like humans. It has definitely made itself permanent on Mayne Island as it has elsewhere. The best way to keep shrub out is not to disturb the ground. This patch has developed due to shore erosion. It is a tough beast with deep roots. Possibly it is a natural solution to the erosion in this case.  I am willing to entertain this idea for the moment anyway. By the way, if you look long enough and carefully enough there are two humans in this photograph sitting quietly looking out to sea.

The lighthouse park is sometimes included in our longer walk each the day which are usually five to six km long and the same equivalent as climbing eight flights of stairs. These walks frequently include trails leading to and from the sea.

nature walk by Terrill Welch iPhone

Maybe it is a low tide…

low tide Georgeson Island by Terrill Welch iPhone

or the beauty of an old fir tree curved from winter storms…

fir tree west coast curl by Terrill Welch iPhone

or the strength of light, wind in the trees and patterns of roads sometimes are best understood in a painterly paintography fashion that catches my attention.

walking close to home painterly by Terrill Welch iPhone

These last four images were taken with my iPhone as it was all I had with me. My iPhone is sometimes a secondary part about being in nature. I leave my good camera at home in order to limit the distraction of framing images. It helps a small amount but not a lot. This habit of seeing light patterns and recording compositions is like a musician playing their daily scales on the piano – it is necessary practice. I would argue it is as important to my well-being as being in nature  for its own-sake. I mean, how does one even come up with a crazy question about how to paint the sound of the surf if not from years of observation?

receding Califonia Surf  in progress 16 x 20 inch oil on canvas by Terrill Welch 2015_05_07 016

During the past ten days storms pass through…

Sky is all I can see  by Terrill Welch 2015_05_05 062

first visit with five day old grandson take place…

baby L five days old by Terrill Welch 2015_05_05 039

A Cinnabar moth is spotted (found in Europe and western and central Asia. It has been introduced into New Zealand, Australia and North America to control poisonous ragwort, on which its larvae feed.)

Cinnabar moth by Terrill Welch iPhone

and a  first Iris that hold my attention. It too is not native to this area. Like me, it is a transplant from someplace else.

first iris by Terrill Welch 2015_05_12 041

This close up is what I want to remember but it is not what I first saw in its raw awkwardness against the foundation of the lighthouse.

first iris standing tall and alone by the wall by Terrill Welch 2015_05_12 004

What I have noticed during the past ten days of #NatureIsCalling is how good I am at sorting, sanitizing and sensationalizing what are ordinary, messy and complex experiences in our natural environment. While I think that what I am deeply aware of is that the sun on my shoulder, the rumble of the jet overhead, the rain in the garden, the rise and fall of my breath I also become aware of a world where humans want to be right and to be good. It is a world where human sharing uses the shortest route to what is considered best and worst, good and evil or right and wrong. Time in nature reminds me of the complexity of our daily lives by its examples. Maybe the time and energy to eradicate Scotch Broom is ill placed? My wrenched shoulder from doing this task a few years ago agrees – today anyway.

Now, I am off to paint the sound of the surf in my third of three paintings on the subject. With a bit of luck, my next post will introduce all three completed California surf paintings.


What complexities are you musing about?


Note: #NatureIsCalling is the hashtag for the David Suzuki Foundation 30 minutes x 30 days in May Nature Challenge. I am outside more than 30 minutes in nature each day as a matter of work and life style but I committed to being particularly observant for the Month of May. As time allows, I will share these experiences with you here on Creative Potager.

© 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

Painting the Canadian landscape as home

I have been asking myself about what home means. The answer may or may not be surprising to you. When does a landscape become more like home than nearby dwellings and their inhabitants? My conclusion is that the landscape, along with the seasons that influence it, help us organize our daily rural life. This is when “home” is expressed most clearly by the land, water and sky. The landscape is my first home. Dwellings and their inhabitants must fit within the expanse. Let’s unpack what I mean by this through the painting process of two recent landscapes.

The first is a Mayne Island landscape and starts with this “Mount Parke Trail study”  10 x 8 inch oil on canvas

Mount Parke Trail study 10 x 8 inch oil on canvas by Terrill Welch 2014_09_19 006

I was looking for the tension in the landscape and wondering if it would be enough to hold it together on a larger canvas. The conclusion was that it would so a 30 x 24 inch canvas was set up and the work began.

work in progress 1 Trail along the Ridge 30 x 24 inch oil on canvas by Terrill Welch 2014_10_21 090

With the study for reference, it was during the beginnings of this painting process that I began to dwell on the fact that I was more at home within our natural landscape than anywhere else.

work in progress 2 Trail along the Ridge 30 x 24 inch oil on canvas by Terrill Welch 2014_10_21 092

I didn’t have a satisfactory answer at the time but it was the puzzle I was working through as I continued to shape the scene.

work in progress 3 Trail along the Ridge 30 x 24 inch oil on canvas by Terrill Welch 2014_10_21 129

The finished painting TRAIL ALONG THE RIDGE 30 x 24 inch oil on canvas has been released today on my website Canadian Contemporary Artist Terrill Welch and can be viewed HERE.

The second painting is from my childhood home and where my parents are still living on the Stuart River.

I pulled a face even in the very beginning as you can see in this photograph taken by photographer Josette DeBattista in my home studio.

Terrill Welch pulling a face in the Studio by Josette DeBattista

It is not the landscape itself I find challenging. The work started out in the familiar process of a light yellow ground to keep the later greens lively and a few quick lines for reference.

the beginning of Stuart River Kicking Leaves by Canadian landscape painter Terrill Welch 2014_11_22 043

Yet, I was overwhelmed with memories that crowded the physical elements I was meaning to render. I went outside and looked in to see if that would help to sort things out.

reflections of self by Terrill Welch 2014_11_22 048

But it didn’t really as photographer Josette DeBattista aptly captures through my concentration…


But the photographer leaves and I move the painting back up into the loft studio to keep working.

Stuart River Kicking leaves in progress 2 24 x 36 inch oil on canvas by Terrill Welch 2014_11_23 001

The painting is starting to shape.

Stuart River Kicking Leanves in progress 2 24 x 36 inch oil on canvas by Terrill Welch 2014_11_23 007

But I stop with nothing more than the rough shapes on the canvas.

Stuart River kicking leaves in progress 24 x 36 inch oil on canvas by Terrill Welch 2014_11_23 012

My notes for the day are as follows:

The difficulty is with the overlapping shifting of time through memories and my latest experience of this place along the river. Nothing seems to want to stay fixed long enough in my mind to complete a singular reference point. I stopped work on it at this early stage today and went for a long walk. Tomorrow I will begin again. I have decided to allow, partially because I seem to be unable to do otherwise, the layering of experience to this one specific landscape. The time frame spans about 44 years – not everyday after the first five years but at least a few times a year. This is part of the issue I believe. I have made up this scene in my mind during my absences so that it competes successfully with my physical visits. I seem not to want to paint either but some blend of the two. So, if in the end I can get something to work we may have a painting. We will just have to wait and see.

The next day it is so dark because of heavy rain I had to quit painting because I didn’t even have enough light with the daylight lamp. But shiny, wet and still incomplete and much farther along it seems…

Stuart River kicking leave in progress 2 24 x 36 inch oil on canvas by Terrill Welch 2014_11_24 077

The following day is equally as dreary and I give painting a miss while fussing over the fact that I will likely have to do some dry brush work as it is taking so long to complete.

On day four of doing not much else except either painting or thinking about painting this landscape it is Done!

STUART RIVER KICKING LEAVES 24 x 36 inch oil on canvas

Stuart River kicking leaves 24 x 36 inch oil on canvas by Canadian landscape painterTerrill Welch 2014_11_26 005

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And so is the story that goes with it which will not be released fully with the painting but seems appropriate to share with you here.

This is another of my mystery paintings in that its realism is mostly a deception. I have included two detail images so you can get a better idea about what is going on.

The first of the poplar trees…

detail 1 Stuart River kicking leaves 24 x 36 inch oil on canvas by Canadian landscape painter Terrill Welch 2014_11_26 005

and this second one of the water…

detail 2 Stuart River kicking leaves 24 x 36 inch oil on canvas by Canadian landscape painterTerrill Welch 2014_11_26 005

Truthfully though, it is the layering all the way back to the yellow ground that gives this painting its vitality.

I suppose it may appear to be a pretty picture but it isn’t to me. Winters are historically harsh in this area. Snow is not far off and a day of kicking leaves means there is a good stockpile of winter wood. The larder is full and the winter vegetables put down. If this was when I was young, it would soon be time to dress in layers knowing I would still be cold and take my 22 rife into my grandfather’s boat along with our little dog Charlie Brown. You see, my grandfather was a trapper. I was his sharpshooter for muskrats. If they were plentiful, we would take a few this way rather than trapping them. I had to line up a bead on the head of the small animal right at the waterline in the moving riverboat. As soon as I shot and gave the nod, the small dog would jump overboard and bring the dead muskrat back to us before it sank. My aim had to be good because if it wasn’t the little dog could get pulled under by the diving animal and drown. This risk was partly due to the fact that Charlie wouldn’t let go and give up easily. This was his favourite job and he was a determined to do it well.

I don’t remember what the muskrat hides were worth a piece once they were skinned, the hides stretched and then shipped to the fur buyers. I do know that my grandfather never really had a regular job for wages very often and trapping and guiding were the family livelihood. This cash bought necessities like flour, sugar, salt, boat motors, pickup trucks, snowmobiles, canned peaches, raisins, honey, nuts, rice, lamp gas and mantels, ammunition, maybe a new axe if it was needed or a skinning knife. Oh the shopping list could also include material to make work shirts, or brassieres or maybe even a blouse or new sheets. But you get the idea.

So kicking leaves was and is a luxury between the tasks necessary to survive another winter. Yes it is beautiful with the last heat of the sun on your back and cool northern breeze on your face. But I can hear my father say – the leaves are not real pretty yet. Next week they will be better. Mom will leave a hint of a smile between her shoulder shrug, squint slightly as if seeing a moose or bear across the water. I will look just in case she has. Then we will all turn and continue back towards the house appearing to be in no hurry but already mentally deciding what needs to be done next.

So there you have it – my understanding of how landscapes are home for me.


What are landscape to you?


P.S. Happy Thanksgiving to all my American friends and readers! May your day be filled with appreciation.


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