A Tall Tale of Autumn painting resting and another Emily Carr story

With the holiday season upon us, I truly should put the paints away and get cards and presents ready for delivery. But one more I said to self, just one more to make it an even 50 paintings completed this year. That was last Thursday.

There are no work-in-progress images only this one that was taken as the painting came to rest. Forgive me if you have already seen this painting in progress, along with 8, 965 others last time I checked the post on Google plus alone.  It has now had two small edits, wee clean-up adjustments and will get its final photograph soon. But it seemed to be asking to be my Monday morning blessings image for mid December 2013 and so here we are.

Why a tall tale of such a simple autumn painting, you might ask? It is because the combination of fog and memory keep it from a cleaner truth. These are my childhood trees – popular trees growing on the riverbank. They are my first subject of paintings. I cannot pick up a brush to render them without being transported back through time with its many stops before these trees. These are trees I met before there was even a field in front of them. These are trees I introduced my first lover and later others. Then much later my now husband. These are trees I walked beside while I carried my babies and then with them while they carried theirs. These are the trees that my mother and father have walked with me since they were younger than I am today. Painting the spaces of light and shadow in between is filled with the residue of many visits. It is a tall tale that gets taller with each telling. All I intended to do was to use up the paint leftover on the palette.

A TALL TALE OF AUTUMN STUART RIVER resting 16 x 12 inch oil on canvas

A Tall Tale of Autumn Stuart River resting 16 x 12  inch oil on canvas by Terrill Welch 2013_12_12 019

This time of year is family time and I suppose in my case tree time. Which brings me to another tall tale and that is a strange happening last Friday on December 13th. I happen to notice that the Creative Potager blog views were going a bit crazy. So I looked and it was this post “Emily Carr Mystery Solved” from November 9, 2010 more than THREE years ago! What could it be I wondered? Well after a couple of hours and views were still piling up from Canada I did bit of sleuthing. It was Google.ca who was celebrating the Canadian landscape painter with a doodle on their home page. What you might ask would this have to do with my very old stale dated blog post? It had to do with what came up when a person clicked on that doodle. The image and search results included this blog post right near the top, not at the very top but near enough to entice the curious. So belated 142 happy birthday Emily Carr, another painter of trees.

For those in Vancouver, British Columbia over the holidays  an exhibition of more than 40 forest paintings by Emily Carr will open at the Vancouver Art Gallery on Dec. 21, 2013. Emily Carr: Deep Forest will run until March 9, 2014. The show spotlights works created by Carr in the 1930s, most of them depicting scenes within 25 kilometres of her Victoria home. The paintings in the show are almost all drawn from the Vancouver gallery’s permanent collection. The gallery is home to the most significant collection of Carr’s work in the world, comprising 254 paintings, drawings and other works.

So there we have it two tall tales and a blessing of trees all round!


What tree or trees might you offer a blessing on this fine winter Monday?


© 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


What do original paintings of Emily Carr, A.Y. Jackson, Lawren Harris and Terrill Welch have in common?

What do original paintings of Emily Carr, A.Y. Jackson, Lawren Harris and Terrill Welch have in common? The answer is almost beyond belief – paintings by these Canadian artists are owned by the same art collectors! There I have said it out loud. I am guessing you might want to hear more about this story, yes? I thought so….

The buyers who recently purchased my large 36 x 36 inch oil on canvas seascape, “Sea and Clouds,” had mentioned in our email exchanges that they trusted I would be impressed about the company my painting would be keeping. I made a mental note from this comment that they were art collectors. I have been selling my work to art collectors of contemporary art since I was fourteen years old. Often, my paintings sell before they are even eligible for varnishing and sometimes even before the painting is dry to the touch. So this is not something new for me. But I never suspected that my painting would be rubbing corners with other such valuable collectable paintings in Canadian art as mentioned above.  The thought never even crossed my mind. I wouldn’t even have been able to imagine it. Never! I paint. I muse and have imaginary conversations with these historic painters about painting problems, life as a Canadian artist and so on. But that is about it. It is all imaginary. Their paintings themselves seem very distant from my daily work as an artist.

When I arrive at the buyer’s home we go through the usual pleasantries and meeting of the dogs and so on. I give them a portfolio for their records with a signed copy of my art book, the receipt and a copy of the blog post where I shared the painting’s development. I then bring in the wrapped painting. I focused on meeting the new owners and getting my bearings. I am always a little nervous meeting new people and new buyers of my work. I have decided it is a perfectly normal human response. Though admittedly, the nervousness could have something to do with the days and weeks I spend working alone in my studio on an island and seeing few others in person beyond my husband.

The new owner of “Sea and Clouds” helped to take the coverings off the large painting.

“Ah!” he said, never taking his eyes off the canvas “It is just as I remembered it when we first saw it!”

Though the painting was back in my studio when the couple contacted me, it had been shown over the summer at the Bennett Bay Bistro in the Mayne Inn. This is where they had first seen and admired the work.

Sold! Sea and Clouds 36 x 36 inch oil on canvas

Then the art collector walks across the living room with the painting and leans it safely against a cabinet on the far wall.

At this point, he turns to me, loosely waves his arm around the room and says “so these are a few of the paintings in our collection. This one here, as you will know, is an Emily Carr and these….”

I didn’t hear the rest of what he said. I am stunned. I look up to the painting above where he had set my painting and there was a large Emily Carr Painting – Emily Carr! The same Emily Carr who is my personal muse and mentor. The same Emily Carr who is the painter whose art journal I read regularly whenever I feel isolated and doubtful about my work. It is the same Emily Carr who is a prominent part of Canadian Art history. It is the Emily Carr whose painting sold at auction last year for an unmentionable number of dollars. It is that Emily Carr – the same one. Emily Carr my kindred spirit. Her painting is now hanging just above my painting that is leaning against the cabinet in the art collectors’ home.

It took me several moments to gather my wits about me as the art buyers showed me other Canadian works by painters from the same period. I finally seemed to be able to engage my stunned brain by the time the buyer handed me a small A.Y. Jackson study to have a look at. At this point, we talked about painting studies, process and brushstrokes. The couple told me about the Lawren Harris painting they have and how it didn’t look like much until a person stood back from the painting. It looked like just paint up close. They tell me it is an artist’s vision not the number of brushstrokes that makes a quality painting. I could have reached out and hugged them both for that comment. I knew my painting was going to be in a good home with this lovely, warm and generous couple.

As a Canadian landscape and seascape painter, there is nothing I ever want for one of my paintings than to be bought because the buyers love it – such as it is with this painting. It is an unexpected and pleasant bonus to have one of my paintings collected by those who also love and enjoy the most prominent historical Canadian art work that also has influenced my own painting, not so much in style but as in preferred choice of subject matter – the Canadian landscape. It was a good day for this artist. A very good day indeed.

I am taking a bow for the love of Art and the Canadian Landscape. Will you join me?

Now I am back to painting and preparing the underpainting for a new 4 x 5 foot canvas. More on this in the near future.

Thank you to all of you who continue join me on my painting and photographic journey here at Creative Potager and elsewhere. You are the best and a big part of what adds value and connection to my everyday life as an artist living on a small island off the southwest coast of Canada. May your today bring with it creative abundance.

If your creative work could enjoy the company of other historical prominent mentors, in your wildest dreams, who would it be?

Update April 2015: These collectors have now added a second “Terrill Welch” original oil painting to their art collection shown below…

Sold! Point No Point Mid-storm 16 x 20 inch walnut oil on canvas

Point No Point Mid-storm 16 x 20 inch walnut oil on canvas by Terrill Welch 2015_04_25 137

© 2012 – 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

Emily Carr Mystery Solved

View and purchase full resolution image here.

Yesterday’s “Can you Guess?” post was so much fun. Yes?

It is indeed Emily Carr.

The statue is located in the Victoria, British Columbia harbour near the Empress Hotel which you can see in the back ground. The specific location is on the corner of Government and Belleville Street diagonal to the legislative buildings.

Looking up is Emily’s dog Billie. He is looking at Woo Emily’s monkey who is sitting on her shoulder.

The artist/sculptor who was commissioned to create the Emily Carr statue is Barbara Paterson.

I took these photographs the day after the unveiling of the oversized Carr statue. People were still frowning at it as they passed on their way to work in the morning. I didn’t take their pictures as they were so unguarded in there peering at this statue of a strange woman with a monkey on her shoulder. I didn’t want to embarrass anyone. I believe it is safe to say that most of them couldn’t have guessed who the statue represented either and they live in Emily’s home town.

The evening before we had seen a screening of a new documentary film Winds of Heaven: Emily Carr, Carvers and the Spirits of the Forest by Michael Ostroff which I reviewed on the “Emily Carr My Kindred Spirit” post in October. I was in full Emily Carr remembering when I took these photographs. I have read her diaries, her stories and viewed her art work for much of my life. I regard her as a mentor.

Why did I wait so long to post the photographs of the statue? It is because my heart sank when I saw the statue. I was filled with a deep sadness – not because of the statue itself. The statue is beautiful, thoughtful and skillfully created. I was sad because the location chose for the statue presented a mystery for me. Emily would hate it. I just know she would. Stuck in the buzz of city traffic and tourists, with people peering at her while she is left sketching one miserly branch of the great forest she loved would have been torture.

Why would anyone choose to put a statue of Emily Carr in such a counter position to her whole being? I thought and mused as I invited Emily to walk with me out of the noise and commotion down a path along the harbour shore. I am sure her feelings were hurt as much as she was angry.

I know because as we stopped to look up at the totem pole along the path, she seemed to be saying:

“Why couldn’t they have just tucked me a little ways into the peace of the rose garden where at least the birds visit?”

“Why didn’t they put me in Beacon Hill Park where it is quiet and the glorious big pines still stand?”

“Oh bother! Why didn’t they just forget about this old fool?”

I feel compelled to tell her that she is important to art history in Canada and especial in British Columbia. Though people may have not chosen the best spot for her statue in relation to her love of the woods, their hearts were in the right place. They loved her. She sagged a bit under the weight of it all and seemed to weary to fight the mistake… for surely it had to be a mistake, wasn’t it?

After weeks of considering, my conclusion is no, it is not a mistake. It was the right decision even as heartbreaking as it is to think of Emily sitting there stuck so far from the peace of her woods. It is the right decision because the statue isn’t for Emily Carr. She lived her life, created her art, wrote her stories and her spirit is free to be where it chooses – which is not on the corner of Government and Belleville Street I can assure you. The statue is for those of us who have yet to discover Emily Carr. For those that do not know of her great art and her books. The statue is a clue to a mystery that waits to be discovered by tourists, workers going to work and the three year old on a walk with her dad who draws him into the world of Emily as the child pets Billie and they both smile up at Woo. Maybe then they will seek out Carr’s paintings and wander into the great forest to see the trees as she saw them. I hope so because this is where they will find her spirit joins them as they sit on a log in wonder at one of the greatest mystery of all – the forest.

The statue is only a clue to solving a great mystery. Maybe someday the world will know Emily Carr and her woods well enough that this clue can be removed deep into the forest where we can sit together with her as kindred spirits around a small fire discussing other creative mysteries.

Sprout question: How do you resolve creative sadness and disappointment?

Or an even better sprout question offered to us by Leanne Dyck: What artist of the past would you like others to discover today?

Thank you Leanne:)

© 2010 Terrill Welch, All rights reserved.

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

Purchase photography at http://www.redbubble.com/people/terrillwelch

Creative Potager – where imagination rules. Be inspired.

From Mayne Island, British Columbia, Canada

Emily Carr my kindred spirit

It is morning on Wednesday October 13, 2010. We pack quickly to leave our Mayne Island home and stay overnight in Victoria. We are going to see a screening of a new documentary film Winds of Heaven: Emily Carr, Carvers and the Spirits of the Forest by Michael Ostroff. The write up about the film was one of the few items noteworthy in our withering Saturday addition of the Globe and Mail national paper –which recently went glossy and appears to have dumped the last of its journalistic content. Finding reference to my kindred spirit, Emily Carr, has however, saved one of its pages from the recycling box.

Emily Carr, a larger-than-life icon of Canadian west coast art was born in 1871 and died at age 74 in 1945. How dare I be brass enough to call her my kindred spirit? It is because of her ordinariness along with her greatness. She often speaks in humble frustration in her reflections about her paintings and writing.  There are only a few exceptions in diary entries when she allows herself a quiet moment of pride for her accomplishments. One glance at her paintings tells another story. She held nothing back in her paintings.

Carr’s powerful strokes and clarity of vision bring large cedars and western landscapes to their knees at the feet of her brush, only to release them again to push skyward across the breadth of her canvas. It is within my experience of this contradiction, and her visceral struggle with her art, that I call her my kindred spirit.

“If the work of an isolated little old woman on the edge of nowhere, is too modern for the Canadian National Gallery, it seems it cannot be a very progressive institution.” Emily Carr, On the Edge of Nowhere Gallery quote

When doubts and fears about my ability as an artist threaten to keep my brushes from the paint or my fingers from pressing the camera shutter down, I read the diary pages of Carr. I know if my tears leave stains on the pages she will understand and that we will both be out of bed again in the morning, giving it another go – together.

I now have a new reference point to breathe vitality into Carr’s life and work. It is Michael Ostroff’s documentary film Winds of Heaven. Michael spoke about the difficulty of finding a fresh approach within the many fingerprints that traipse across all primary source documents of Carr’s writing and the many eyes that have critically gazed at her sketches and paintings. Well, in my opinion, he has brought the spirit of Emily Carr alive with the same strong powerful impressions, skillfully tethered together, as Carr did in her paintings. The documentary is being screened across the country and will be released in March. I plan to add one of the DVD’s to my library shortly thereafter. I want it close by so it is within reach when doubts raise their sneering heads in the corners of my studio. Then I will then count my blessings.

“I think I have gone further this year, have lifted a little. I see things a little more as a whole, a little more complete. I am always watching for fear of getting feeble and passé in my work. I want to pour till the pail is empty, the last bit going out in a gush, not drops.” Emily Carr, On the Edge of Nowhere Gallery quote.

Carr had no digital camera and sketched quickly with oil on paper before working up her paintings back at the studio. I can both sketch and take a photograph for reference. Carr had no community of contemporary artists to muse with her through her blog, twitter and facebook. She had to write letters and send them by post to her friend Lawren Harris. He had to reply in the same manner. Something I would find too tedious for daily inspiration. In poetry she had Walt Whitman where I have both Whitman on Mary Oliver. She was isolated in her work as much as she was in her geography.

When, even now women represented in museums around the world is only about 5%, she would not likely have called herself a feminist or a ground breaker for women’s art. She would likely have said that she was an artist who just happened to be a woman. Indeed, if a showing a few years ago at the Vancouver Art Gallery of women artists who were her peers are any indication, she would be right. Her work left those of other women artists in a shadow of insignificance. To be fair, gender may not be the deciding factor of what art work is left in her shadow.

Next, I will give thanks for each diary entry, and each story in the 893 pages of her writings. Finally, I will bow my head in gratitude for the dedicated work of Ira Dilworth, Doris Shadbolt, and now Michael Ostroff for ensuring that I have these unique views and access to the life and work of Emily Carr.

After the screening, Michael Ostroff commented during the discussion, that he wanted to “put Carr in the context of her time.” He has done more than that. He has put British Columbia in the context of its time. He shared her struggle to create a vision as it took him five years to find the funding and complete this incredible film which includes our experience with rugged wilderness and history of unsettled land claims.

Through my life as an artist going right back to childhood, Carr has always been just out of sight, leaving me marks to follow as I forge my own artistic path. I feel Carr’s kindred spirit as I work – not in her brush stroke but in the strength and reverence for her west. I am not a scribe for what is before my eyes but rather that which is before my heart. My Emily understands this. I can tell you facts about her life – such as her breakdown while going to art school in Europe or the 15 fallow years when she lost her will and only painted seven works and stopped writing in her diary. I can tell you that her best work came after this time while she was in 50’s. I can tell you that she was loved but never married. I can tell you these things but it will be far more meaningful if you read her writings for yourself and if you browse the pages of Doris Shadbolt’s The Art of Emily Carr or if you go to The Greater Victoria Art Gallery and stand in front of her paintings and see the trees swaying as they reach skyward or if you watch Winds of Heaven by Michael Gostroff – a documentary that adds value and depth to all other experiences of a Canadian artist, a great artist, a woman artist, Emily Carr. May you also know the life and art of the Emily who sits beside me as I work.

References are linked within the post.

Sprout question: What great artist encourages you while you work?

And you might like this later post as well “Emily Carr Mystery-solved” https://creativepotager.wordpress.com/2010/11/09/emily-carr-mystery-solved

© 2010 Terrill Welch, All rights reserved.

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

Purchase photography at http://www.redbubble.com/people/terrillwelch

Creative Potager – where imagination rules. Be inspired.

From Mayne Island, British Columbia, Canada

Painterly Challenge

I have been doing underpainting on two canvases. I like to paint on site but that is not always possible so I gather photographic reminders. I rarely sketch or draw on my canvas except to capture rudimentary placement of forms. I do however routinely start with an underpainting which gives me the beginnings of depth and positioning for the development of the painting. Underpaintings are kind of like looking at an ultrasound of a baby in the womb when you don’t know the parents… not very interesting. So if you find this post rather boring – I won’t be offended. Come back tomorrow. It will be something different.

You may wonder how I choose what to paint (besides the obvious of a theme for solo Exhibition Sea, Land and Time at the beginning of September). Long ago I decided that rarely would I paint something that I felt I had fully captured with photography. My painting in is an intuitive relationship with my subject. I want to give to the painting something beyond what is in the seeing. In addition to a compelling subject, I also decide what to paint by choosing a painterly challenge – something I want to explore or a skill I want to strengthen.

For “Sea” my challenge is to be able to create depth in the water while capturing the waves on the surface… I want the viewer to be able to look at the painting and feel as if the water is still moving, wave after wave. Starting with an almost blank canvas, I begin.

Stopping as the underpainting becomes too saturated to allow new colours and shapes to emerge without erasing earlier ones.

With paint still palette, I decide to begin a second underpainting for “rocks and mussels” to address the challenge of giving bulk to something that is dark on the top and light on the middle and bottom… the mussels are added in to keep me amused and give me a break when the rocks become tiresome and frustrating.

I am reminded of a passage in Emily Carr’s painting journal on July 27, 1933 where she writes:

“Oh, these mountains! They won’t bulk up. They are thin and papery. They won’t brood like great sitting hens, squatting immovable, unperturbed, staring, guarding their precious secrets till something happens. At ‘em again, old girl, they’re worth the big struggle.”

My rocks are only little sitting hens – but getting them to “sit” is still my end goal. We shall see over the weeks ahead what we can do with them.

Sprout Question: What specific creative challenges are you setting for yourself right now?

Bonus: An interview with me posted today by Stacey Curnow at Midwife For Your Life Blog “Walking in the Sunshine of My Soul: Special Shoes Not Required.” http://www.staceycurnow.com/blog/2010/03/walking-in-the-sunshine-of-my-soul-special-shoes-not-required

© 2010 Terrill Welch, All rights reserved.

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

Purchase photography at http://www.redbubble.com/people/terrillwelch

Creative Potager – where imagination rules. Be inspired.

From Mayne Island, British Columbia, Canada