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

great-room-studio-space-by-terrill-welch-img_1735

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

impact-on-the-reef-by-terrill-welch-img_1372

through intimate views of trees

woods-after-the-snow-by-terrill-welch-img_1759

and over the edges of clouds?

winter-morning-sky-mayne-island-bc-img_1803

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

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.

centuries-of-seasons-heritage-road-pei-24-x-30-inch-on-wood-resting-by-terrill-welch-nov-11-2016-img_2653

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)

1-centuries-of-seasons-at-the-start-in-the-studio-by-terrill-welch

“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)

2-centuries-of-seasons-at-the-beginning-in-the-studio-by-terrill-welch-img_2551

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)

3-centuries-of-seasons-at-the-beginning-by-terrill-welch-img_2547

“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)

4-centuries-of-seasons-in-process-by-terrill-welch

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.

5-centuries-of-seasons-heritage-road-pei-24-x-30-inch-on-wood-almost-done-by-terrill-welch-nov-9-2016-img_2563

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

centuries-of-seasons-heritage-road-pei-24-x-30-inch-on-wood-resting-by-terrill-welch-nov-11-2016-img_2653

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

In the Words of Strangers

By now you may have guessed, as a Canadian artist, I often have conversations strangers about my work when I am traveling. It comes with geographic proximity to my landscape subjects and other human beings. These engagements are frequently brief and fleeting in nature but this does not diminish their impact as a kind of concrete gentle-kindness to fortify my solitude as I put brush to canvas over and over again.

detail wave Sea and Sun Cox Bay Tofino BC 24 x 48 inch oil on canvas by Terrill Welch July 15 2016 IMG_7009

This same kind of engagement also happens through the vast and complex inter-connectedness of the world-wide-web.

Oh, I suppose could tell you about new works painted, several art shows and painting sales in the month since I have been home (my website has this information if it is desired). But, it has also been an unprecedented time of quiet recognition of my work. Complete strangers often contacted me to make requests about sharing my work elsewhere online. In the process, they frequently articulated why they wish to do so. Sometimes their words leave me rather stunned and deeply humbled with gratitude. Here are a couple of brief snippets as examples…

Received in my inbox today:

“I discovered your paintings from a Google image search of paintings of the Canadian coast. I grew up in ….. BC and spent much time sailing through Desolation Sound and the Gulf Islands. You’re paintings truly capture much of the beauty inherent in the
region. I was wondering if I could share one….”

Fog Inside Passage 12 x 24 inch oil on canvas

fog-inside-passage-12-x-24-inch-oil-on-canvas-by-terrill-welch-2013_02_03-064

Details and purchase information available HERE.

What do you think my answer was to this request!?

And here is part of a public comment this week on my TerrillWelchArtist.com website contact page:

“I have to tell you –though I hesitated to write this because I did not want to provoke anything which might disturb whatever wonderful thing it is that enables you to produce these works–I have spent numerous hours at the Musée du Quai d’Orsay fixed on one or another impressionist painting–usually one by Van Gogh. Your paintings have a similar effect. Your artistic sensibilities, while uniquely yours, seem to have a resonance with what I see communicated through Van Gogh’s pieces. Please don’t take offense at a comparison. Your work is truly original and beautiful–as is his. No mere imitator of Van Gogh, however talented, could ever hope to match this peculiar sensibility. I’m convinced that it must be something innately shared and, for me, your work expresses it in a way that’s of course your own. But these works could easily hang beside anything in the Orsay’s permanent collection.

It is no wonder to me that collectors snap up your paintings as soon as you finish them. If I had a fortune or was a curator at a major museum, I’d be collecting your paintings with the same interest that I’d have for any work by Van Gogh or Matisse or Raoul Dufy.”

Signed “P.”

One of the paintings of particular interest to this individual is Spring Tea, 16 x 20 inch oil on canvas, one of three paintings showing this weekend on Mayne Island at “La Vida Rústica” — multi-disciplinary reflections on the rustic life.

Spring Tea 16 x 20 inch oil on canvas plein air by Canadian Artist Terrill Welch 2015_04_25 140

Well, I must say, I really don’t know what to say when faced with such frank remarks…. except thank you, thank you – Thank You!

What is particularly powerful and meaningful to me is the clarity with which the paintings moved these commenters – it is as if the brushstrokes were felt even more than they were seen. There is no higher compliment or recognition as a painter I could ever wish for my work. This is a clean and perfect match to my intention and the driving force that brings me back to the studio again and again.

May the painting continue, without interference, and yet gently supported by the words of strangers!

On that note, I think we shall conclude with one of the latest paintings and the first large works from Prince Edward Island the East Coast of Canada.

In Studio placing last brushstroke on first large East Coast #PEI painting by Terrill Welch  IMG_6453

 

Can you share a time when you were moved by the insight and kindness of a stranger?

 

© 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

For the Record I am Still Very Much a Living Artist

The other day I had a long-time friend ask if I had any health problems. I was a bit puzzled about what prompted this inquiry but answered that I was fine other than being slightly rounder than I would like.

He continues “Oh, I was just wondering if I could cash in on those paintings of yours anytime soon. But I think you have to be dead first.”

He was teasing but it is not such an odd question to ask about an artist as I first thought. At a recent international art fair this was a common curiosity for art buyers – was the artist still alive and are they in the mature or later stages of their career? This is all a polite way of asking if the artist is dead yet or how much longer until we can expect them to be dead. Of course, then the collector or potential purchaser has to decide if they have a chance of outliving that artist in order to cash in on their holdings. This is the rather lifeless, dark side of the whole art business which I am not so fond of thinking about.

I admit to being a little weirded out by this whole line of decision-making or checking up on your art investment. So I just want to say, for the record, I am in good health, eat well, exercise regularly, do not smoke, spend ample time in nature breathing clean air and sometimes have a glass of red wine with my dinner. Chances are fairly good that I have several years of painting left in me yet and I shall be around for a long, long time. No quick return on your investment is reasonably expected here. Then again we never really know do we?  After all, I am closer to 60 than 50 years old now. But I provide you with summary this  information and leave it with you to calculated your odds.

Now that we have that out-of-the-way, there is another kind of being dead as an artist that is far more dangerous than a last breath. This is the death of risk taking. Playing it safe, in whatever creative medium an artist uses, is not recommended. Sometimes the worst thing for an artist is to figure out something that works and is appreciated by viewers and collectors. Under these circumstances, we can lose focus, desire, drive and passion quicker than the heart can skip a beat. We must keep ask – I wonder? and – what if? and then go for it! The life in our work depends on this risk taking as much as our body relies on fresh organic fruit and vegetables. Yes, we can stop asking the questions for a short-while. But we will develop artistic scurvy if it goes on for too long. Let me show you an example of the kind of risk taking I am talking about….

My paintings don’t just appear on the canvas with each bit perfectly formed. They are coerced, poked and enticed into existence. I start with an idea about how I want to handle a particular subject and gradually it starts to take shape as the layers of paint and brushstrokes are moved onto the canvas. Bell Towers of Florence Countryside – 16 x 20 inch walnut oil on canvas has been more than a year in the musing and thinking process.

I start the landscape with my usual warm underpainting …

Bell Towers of Florence Countryside 16 x 20 inch walnut oil on canvas in progress 1 by Terrill Welch 2015_07_30 002

I began working right on top of the wet underpainting. I wanted this warmth to be come integral to the later stages of the painting.

Bell Towers of Florence Countryside 16 x 20 inch walnut oil on canvas in progress 2 by Terrill Welch 2015_07_30 003

The main themes and compositional elements of the painting are still fluid and transitory. It is coming along nicely.

Bell Towers of Florence Countryside 16 x 20 inch walnut oil on canvas in progress 3 by Terrill Welch 2015_07_30 011

Slowly my ideas start to solidify – just a bit…

Bell Towers of Florence Countryside 16 x 20 inch walnut oil on canvas in progress 4 by Terrill Welch 2015_07_30 014

I begin building up what seems to be working…

Bell Towers of Florence Countryside 16 x 20 inch walnut oil on canvas in progress 5 by Terrill Welch 2015_07_31 001

I keep going…

Bell Towers of Florence Countryside 16 x 20 inch walnut oil on canvas in progress 6 by Terrill Welch 2015_07_31 008

There is some variation in colour between stages because of the lighting condition at different times of day. But you get the idea. Finally the painting is getting close.

Bell Towers of Florence Countryside 7 resting 16 x 20 inch walnut oil on canvas by Terrill Welch 2015_08_01 070

If you are walking from Florence south via del Podesta which is part of the old road to Rome take via del Portico to the right that is above Galluzzo. It is the medieval Chiesa di Santa Lucia in the foreground. The church has two bells from the 14th century. The Monastero della Certosa del Galluzzio founded by Niccolò Acciaiuoli in 1342 is on the hillside in the background. Today there are cars and freeways running lengthwise between these two places but from this view one can imagine there being only foot traffic moving along the narrow roads between stone walls from one place to the other. Thinking about what it was like standing in this spot, I make a few more changes and then I am ready to leave the painting to “rest” and decide if it needs anything else.

Bell Towers of Florence Countryside 7 resting 16 x 20 inch walnut oil on canvas 8 still resting by Terrill Welch 2015_08_02 002

Well, I slept on it and I thought about this place some more. I then thought about the state of the world and so on. I could have left this most pleasant, idealized scene just as it is. The painting is fine. No risk taking is necessary really. But what would be the use of that? Do we really just need one more perfect picture of a grand view? No we don’t. I know we don’t. I have more to say than that and I had best figure out how to say it. We are often dazzled by dramatic light and memories that deny an imperfect past. This is even more pronounced to me when looking at these old churches, monasteries and bell towers in the Florence countryside. The whining hornet-sounds of motorcycles on the narrow road are an invisible reminder of our fossil-fuel reliant present. The young olive trees on the hill are young because of a hard frost a number of years ago that was attributed to changes in weather patterns. We seem to be wiping out our past and our present even as we observe this magnificent view. Like cataract suffers, we keep focusing on the bright spots and missing the rest. We are slowly going blind and this beautiful view will soon be lost to us. How can I possibly show this with paint and my brush?

Bell Towers of Florence Countryside  16 x 20 inch walnut oil on canvas by Terrill Welch 2015_08_02 062

Risk taken. I believe we now have more than simply a beautiful landscape and one that is very much alive, just like the artist who painted it.

 

What risk are you currently taking in order to be very much alive?

 

© 2015 Terrill Welch, All rights reserved.

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

Creative Potager – Visit with painter and photographer Terrill Welch

From Mayne Island, British Columbia, Canada

For gallery and purchase information about Terrill’s photographs and paintings go to http://terrillwelchartist.com

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

© 2015 Terrill Welch, All rights reserved.

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

Creative Potager – Visit with painter and photographer Terrill Welch

From Mayne Island, British Columbia, Canada

For gallery and purchase information about Terrill’s photographs and paintings go to http://terrillwelchartist.com

The Diamond on the hill is Villeneuve lez Avignon France

What is it that has us gasp in awe when we look across an expansive vista? I believe it is because we are able to find ourselves within a much larger context. We experience our relationship to our surroundings in a different way than when inclosed by trees or buildings. This experience is a challenge to capture in a painting or photography without separating the viewer from the view and leaving them standing outside of a landscape. You will know this from your own, sometimes disappointing, photography efforts when you say to yourself – but that wasn’t what it was like at all! If you have been having conversations with me for a while, you know that I like to have my viewers experience my paintings from inside the landscape or seascape. I believe I may have succeeded in this desire in my latest painting which has us looking down onto the Rhone River at Pont D’ Avignon and across the view to Villeneuve lez Avignon, France.  Before I explain further let’s look at the painting and you can experience it for yourself.

Villeneuve lez Avignon France – 24 x 36 inch oil on canvas

Villeneuve lez Avignon France 24 x 36 inch oil on canvas by Terrill Welch 2014_07_16 030

If you just want to experience the painting for its own sake I suggest that you read no further. However, if you are curious about what happened in this canvas please feel free to join me by reading the rest of the post.

This is a good-sized painting so let’s look at it again with a bit of context around it.

on the stairs for context - Villeneuve lez Avignon France 24 x 36 inch oil on canvas  by Terrill Welch

Even though the painting is harder to see at this second angle in the early morning light, it does give us a feel for its size and how it looks relative to its surroundings. This is the same idea as what viewing a distant vista does for us. In the second photograph I want to move around and maybe get closer for a clearer view. The same thing happens when looking across a valley. How many times have you walked out on a viewpoint and then moved from spot-to-spot to make sure you were viewing it from the best vantage point? I believe this action of searching is what keeps us inside a landscape rather than viewing it as a spectator. So you might ask – how did I attempt to replicate this exercise for just our eyes in the painting above?

First, I stood on the very hillside that the viewer does when looking at this painting. I personally did the act of searching for that “best vantage point” by moving around the top of the hillside. Then I did a painting sketch. It was during the act of doing that painting sketch that I became familiar with the forms and structure of the landscape. We can read more about this in my earlier post “Artists Camille Corot and Terrill Welch Visit Avignon France 171 Years Apart” but for ease of comparison, I will post again the painting sketch

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

In the earlier post I talk about crunching the landscape slightly in my mind’s eye to fit the canvas shape. But now I am not so sure that is the only reason it was adjusted. Let’s have another look at the underpainting with bits of masking tap marking lines of intersection and tension.

compositional tension in Villeneuve lez Avignon France 24 x 36 inch oil on canvas by Terrill Welch 2014_07_07 005

If we look at the plein air sketch and the larger canvas these same lines of intersection and tension exist. Whereas in reality, if one was a surveyor and painted to measure this tension is stretched out much further. So what happened? I believe it is the process of walking around the vantage point for the best view. In doing this we gather information about the expanse and reconstruct it in our mind’s eye to provide us with the best view of all aspects. In this case, the elements of interest are brought closer together adjusted in size and clarity exaggerating the tensions and lines of intersection. The diamond shape of Villeneuve les Avignon is our eye’s anchor but we do not look at it closely do we? At least I didn’t. By having these conversations with myself while I painted I began to unravel how we can experience a landscape painting from inside of the view rather than as a spectator. The result is that the view is created as one might do for themselves if they were to be standing on the hillside gathering the experience in their own mind’s eye. We the viewer are therefore inside the painting through the intentional design and execution of the work. To do this I first had to understand the compositional intersections and tensions and then combine three different painting techniques from the realism of the arches on the bridge to the impressionism of the morning light hitting the trees to the abstract expressionism of the buildings on the hillside. This combination of technique is not evident in the plein air sketch however.  I developed this deliberate conscious use of brush and paint as I began working up the underpainting.

work-in-progress Villeneuve lez Avignon France 24 x 36 inch oil on canvas by Terrill Welch 2014_07_07 010

I started to see the results though about here nearer to the end of the painting.

work-in-progress 2 Villeneuve lez Avignon France 24 x 36 inch oil on canvas by Terrill Welch 2014_07_07 021

I knew what I needed to do but I wasn’t sure I could make it work because culturally we have stripped these approaches into separate schools of practice. We have learned to understand paintings as if these are three separate painting languages. But from my recent visits through many European museums I find that artists are often multilingual. They will often find the perfect brush stroke using whatever painting language they have access to through their experience. This separation of painting languages is to some extent the work of art historians generalizing major movements in art and our understanding of  painting over time – which is directly influenced by our world experience as it intersects with our internal self. So I made a deliberate attempt to break these separation rules and stretch across as much painting history is covered by the Pont D’ Avignon itself. I wanted the viewer to view the painting as if they were standing on the hillside constructing the view within their own mind’s eye. This was much more important to me than conforming to painting schools of style and technique. I think that the strength of this approach is evident if we revisit the plein air sketch and then final painting. The same life and vitality of a quick sketch was carried over into the larger painting but the visual strength that the larger painting has is missing from the earlier painting sketch. At least that is what I experience. I would love to hear what you experience as well because the risk of mixing several languages of any sort is to be miss-understood.

 

Can you tell us about a time when you consciously merged separate approaches or languages to achieve a desired result?

 

Please note that the larger painting will be release at a later date – it is still resting 🙂

 

© 2014 Terrill Welch, All rights reserved.

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

Creative Potager – Visit with painter and photographer Terrill Welch

From Mayne Island, British Columbia, Canada

For gallery and purchase information about Terrill’s photographs and paintings go to http://terrillwelchartist.com

The Painter’s Horizon Is Seldom Visible

Most days I have little idea what direction my painting is taking me. I like to think I do. However, it is a myth. What I have are intentions. My intention is to explore how my specific historical experience impacts my work with more conscious awareness.

Setting Intentions  by Terrill Welch 2013_09_03

But right now, I have a long list of tasks that must be accomplished in preparation for three months travel in Europe beginning in April 2014. The round trip tickets are purchased. We are committed. I updated the most urgent items that must be accomplished to a separate list on Sunday morning. Then I set it aside.

You see, a request had come in from a fellow artist and friend for me to donate a postcard size work to Twitter Art Exhibit: Orlando. I usually do donate to this fundraiser and this was just the nudge I needed. The deadline is February 21, 2014 and I need 10 days travel time for the work to arrive in time. If I wanted to work in oil on canvas paper, the work needed to be completed now. Besides, the cause is compelling:

Twitter Art Exhibit: Orlando is an international exhibition of original postcard art benefiting The Center for Contemporary Dance, Special Needs Classes, a nonprofit (501)©3 organization dedicated to dance education and outreach. The Special Needs Classes include customized exercises that expand the student’s range of motion, creativity and social skills. Class work is further designed to enhance skills in memorization, problem solving and communication. Belinda Balleras, whose son takes classes every week, says: “He has a new sense of creative fulfillment and an additional pathway to productively express emotions.”

This is the fourth Twitter Art Exhibition, a concept founded by founder David Sandum, a Swedish-born artist living in Moss Norway, who conceived Twitter Art Exhibit as a vehicle for doing good through social media and online community-building. The idea is simple: artists around the globe receive a call through Twitter social media to create original postcard-sized art, which they mail to a local curator, who then exhibits and sells them to benefit a local charity.

Here is my 4 x 6 inch oil on canvas paper contribution set aside to rest and dry before submitting it to this event.

WALKING AN AUTUMN ROAD

Walking an Autumn Road 4 x 6 inch oil on canvas paper by Terrill Welch 2014_01_19 045

The postcard size works will be sold for $35 a piece and ones that do not sell on the opening night of the event will become available for online purchase. If you want to know more or would like to participate follow the hyperlink above or go HERE.

After this, I picked up my list of urgent tasks…. well, not exactly. What can I say? There was paint on my palette? The sun hadn’t come out? I just couldn’t leave the easel?

Choosing a 12 x 16 inch canvas with a dark purple ground I began to contemplate quiet despair, broken promises and how some moments are too sad for tears. Why this aspect of our human experience had surfaced was a blog post by Deborah Brasket “Some Tragic Falling off” into Difference and Desire. This post and our west coast weather.

A January west coast afternoon.

A January west coast afternoon  by Terrill Welch 2014_01_18 025

We haven’t seen much of the sun during the past few weeks. In fact, the fog has been hesitant to raise her skirts much above her knees on the island ridges. We can’t really blame her. After all, we have been gawking without shame, seeking even the tiniest glimpse of blue sky and sunlight between her cottony ruffles. Today though, within the deep winter quiet, we are given brief moments of reprieve from her dowdy grey garments. It was not a dazzling display but enough to leave us momentarily content, hopeful even.

So I set to work. I like to think that I know my approach to a canvas and I am reasonably sure of the outcome. But I mostly just fool myself. My stubborn, overbearing intuition regularly slips the brush and palette knife from between my conscious breath and finds its own way across the canvas.

PROMISE – resting

Promise resting 16 x 20 oil on canvas by Terrill Welch 2014_01_20 004

The painting has a feeling all its own. My husband came in and said softly – oh, it is quiet. Then he smiled, satisfied, content even.

More about this painting and links to purchase information on my website Terrill Welch Artist HERE.

What might represent your idea of “some tragic falling off from a first world
of undivided light” as in Robert Robert Hass’s poem “Meditation at Lagunitas” posted by Deborah Brasket?

Now, before I dare pick up the brushes, that list. Where did I put that list?

© 2014 Terrill Welch, All rights reserved.

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

Creative Potager – Visit with painter and photographer Terrill Welch

From Mayne Island, British Columbia, Canada

For gallery and purchase information about Terrill’s photographs and paintings go to http://terrillwelchartist.com

Storm Watching and its progress on a large canvas

At 10:00 am today the morning light was not strong enough to work without the studio lamp. It is heavily overcast and last I checked there is a wee bit of snow expected. However, I was able to put the finishing brushstrokes on this large 30 x 40 inch oil on canvas painting this morning. It may be weeks before I can get a decent photograph of it so we will take a look now at the shiny-wet resting point of STORM WATCHING. Storm Watching 30 x 40 inch oil on canvas still on easel by Terrill Welch 2013_12_09 034

We may think that this painting began with this quick painting sketch on the canvas. Not really the beginning of Storm Watching 30 x 40 inch oil on canvas by Terrill Welch 2013_12_08 001

But we would be wrong. It all started on Friday December 6, 2013 at about this same time of day when the power went out. I was surprised as there was little wind at la casa de inspiracion. But then the email notifications started coming in with Ferry boat cancellation and they were for the Inside Passage which is not common at all. So I knew then that there had to be wind somewhere and took a guess that it was on the east side of the island. Sea View Mayne Island by Terrill Welch 2013_12_06 024

Sure enough it was blowing a bit out there. But this isn’t the spot we need to be. We have to walk out to Campbell Point in the Gulf Island Park Reserve because the waves are break on the rocks in a big way. Let’s go and have a look. Dress warm and still expect to the wind to go right into a person’s bones and starts sawing away with an ice-cube. Rough Sea  by Terrill Welch 2013_12_06 142

Scrambling out onto a rock ledge the wind whips my big lens and me around with the same ferociousness as the sea. But I am determined. I hunker down low and steady myself against the roar. WILD SEAS WITH MOUNT BAKER IN THE DISTANCE

(Detailed view and quality prints available HERE.) There was no chance of using a tripod in these conditions. It was all up to my stabilizers and years of practice of framing and shooting waves. There wasn’t much time because I would get to cold to be able to work the camera and it was no place to be getting stiff and wobbly when I stood back up from where I was crouching. So steady does it. FULL STOP

(Detailed view and quality prints available HERE.) BREAKING OVER TWICE

(Detailed view and quality prints available HERE.) Sunday as in yesterday I pulled out the large canvas and placed it on the easel. I wanted the immediacy of this moment while it was still fresh to me on a cellular level. Choosing the overall colour of the filtered air with seaspray by Terrill Welch 2013_12_08 004

The continuous motion of the winds and the sea stir sea-spray high up onto the cliffs above. I want that. I want that feeling of stirring and motion. I decided no underpainting so that spray would have the advantage of the white underneath. I had noticed the spray shadow in one of my reference images and took advantage of this to create additional depth. I worked on getting the painting down with as few brushstrokes as possible. Building up the movement in paint Storm Watching 30 x 40 inch oil on canvas by Terrill Welch 2013_12_08 007

I want us to be slightly queasy from it as we are swayed in the waters and crash against the rocks within our viewing of this painting.

Storm Watching resting 30 x 40 inch oil on canvas by Terrill Welch 2013_12_08 021

At the core there is a knowing and a thimble-size of silence which makes it bearable. This too shall pass. This is the stage that the painting rested overnight. This is where I started earlier this morning and finished at the first photograph which will not be its final of course. For this we must wait for better light.

UPDATE OCTOBER 13, 2014: Link to detailed viewing of the completed painting with purchase information and a link a short (less than six minutes) video where I talk about this painting can be found on the Terrill Welch Artist website HERE.

In conclusion, my Monday morning blessing is patience, admiration and determination. If we are willing to try we can most often do more than we believe we can. A large wave from a large canvas as you forge through the week ahead.

What are you determined to accomplish this week even if the winds of doubt are fierce?

© 2013 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