Olive Tree en plein air

On occasion a painter is mesmerized by a subject. In this case, I have fell under the spell of a particular olive tree in the Tuscan hillsides of Florence Italy. I have added it to two previous paintings – once because it was actually there and the second time because I wanted it to be there. This morning I made a third attempt. It is our last day in Florence and the only chance I will have to set up directly in view of this prized olive tree.

olive tree in progress 2 25 x 35 cm acrylic on 185 lb coldpress archival paperby Terrill Welch 2014_05_06 038

I rough in an underpainting and settle in to work. Oh how my brush lacks the life of the moving light! I struggle with the acrylic painting, my limited ability to interpret what I experience so fully in front of this tree and the landscape that holds. The haze is heavier than I am used to on the west coast. The colours are richer and fuller in this May midday sun. I want to give up. I want to sit on the ground and toss the brushes in the air in defeat. But I don’t. I take a deep breath and I keep working. This painting will hardly be able to be called a sketch. It is already long past my self imposed 60 minute limit for a painting sketch. I care not for this limitation today. I am determined.

Finally the brushes still. I have no idea what is on the canvas really. I lost conscious track way back when the last long narrow tree was brushed into the distance. So let’s have a look together…

 

plein air painting of olive tree  25 x 35 cm acrylic on 185 lb coldpress archival paperby Terrill Welch 2014_05_06 045

Well, it isn’t what I had imagined. Nor does it fully capture my intention. But it will have to do because no further brushstroke is asking to be added. This is it. Finished.

OLIVE TREE 25 x 35 cm on 185 lb coldpress archival paper

olive tree in25 x 35 cm acrylic plein air on 185 lb coldpress archival paperby Terrill Welch 2014_05_06 052

(Art prints available in my Redbubble storefront HERE)

 

I have no question for us today… what one would you like to ask?

 

Now I really must go and pack or we shall be in a flurry tomorrow morning.

 

© 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

I Hung My Nightgown to Dry in the Tuscan Sun More Than Twice

Today the sun shines but we have had some great thunderstorms  and we were glad we could borrow umbrellas during this past week.  On a particularly miserable day, while we were tucked into our apartment that is part of an old Farmhouse on the outskirts of Florence Italy, I read advice in a travel guide on how to see four towns in a day while traveling by train in Europe.

Farmhouse courtyard Florence Italy 18 x 24 cm acrylic painting sketch on linen finished panting block by Terrill Welch 2014_04_27 004

(Farmhouse courtyard Florence Italy – acrylic plein air painting sketch.  Art Prints available HERE)

Let’s just say we are slow travelers in Europe. Our minimum stay is three nights. Our more lengthy settling-in-visits are up to fourteen days. We have done some long days on the train a couple of times but mostly a five-hour trip is enough.

What does this really mean as far as being able to say we have been someplace?

Well, it means that we actually live like we would at home in the communities we are staying. We buy  groceries, mail letters, go to the pharmacy and run out of toilet paper, garbage bags and coffee. We need to do our laundry and hang it out in the sun to dry. That is the best part. Clothes that flap in a hot breeze under the Tuscan sun can never be taken for granted again. That white cotton nightgown of mine with the tiny bit of embroidery around the neckline knows that it will be worn until there are only tatters left for painting rags.

It means we don’t make it to all of the highlights and sometimes we hardly make it to even a few. Instead, I can be found painting on a hillside.

plein air painting southern Florence Italy by Terrill Welch 2014_04_25 136

The painting sketches are a quick way to deepen my understanding of the light, the land and a place.

Galluzzo Valley in southern part of Florence Italy 18 x 24 cm acrylic sketch on linen finished paint block by Terrill Welch 2014_04_25 145

(Valley in Galluzzo southern part of Florence Italy – acrylic plein air painting sketch. Art Prints available HERE)

It means there is time to be given not only to a lemon but a cedro which is not a lemon and about the size of a grapefruit.

cedro cut in half by Terrill Welch 2014_05_01 006

There is time to find a recipe by Elizabeth in Rome on how to make a salad using the sweet pulp of this fruit while the rind and dry center are composted.

Cedro insalata Florence Italy by Terrill Welch 2014_05_01 015

There is time to do a composite painting sketch in a makeshift studio that combines five different experiences that happened over about as many days.

Spring in Tuscany 20 x 30 cm acrylic sketch on canvas board by Terrill Welch 2014_05_03 030

(Spring in Tuscany – acrylic painting sketch. Art prints available HERE)

I begin to become familiar with the changing light in the narrow stonewall-lined lanes where the walls of homes sometimes converge with the pathways.

country lane in Florence Italy by Terrill Welch 2014_04_29 056

The fields and the hills start to speak in clear notes of recognition.

rolling thunder on the Tuscan Hills by Terrill Welch 2014_05_03 001

The courtyard becomes well worn with memories of breakfast, lunch and afternoon painting.

garden pots 18 x 24 cm plein air acrylic painting sketch on linen finished painting block by Terrill Welch 2014_04_29 030

(Garden Pots – acrylic plein air painting sketch. Art Prints available HERE)

There is time to use different photography editing tools to express the light’s dramatic effect on the courtyard

storm breaks  poster edges by Terrill Welch 2014_04_30 005

or a curved building at the top of the hill on the road out of town.

ink outline on the old road to Rome by Terrill Welch 2014_05_03 042

Whether it is a villa

villa across a Tuscan Field by Terrill Welch 2014_05_03 035

or a more humble dwelling

Via Dell' Amore Italy by Terrill Welch 2014_04_29 053

Florence or Firenze is so much more than crowded streets in the old town or the lookout over the city. The Village Road painted by Italian Macchiaioli leader  Giovanni Fattori in 1904 is very little different from the village roads here today.

(Village Road by Giovanni Fattori)

We have only today and tomorrow left in our two-week visit to Florence. David has headed off on his own to do a bit of shopping. I am considering if I have time for one more painting sketch. But mostly, it is time to start packing up our belongings and our hearts. It is time to say good-bye to the Tuscan hills, the fields and the narrow village roads. We promise, as good visitors sometimes do, to return. It is a sign of our love and appreciation rather than a true commitment. That is okay too, for such a possibility will be a welcomed gift during the short daylight hours of heavy rain back at home on the west coast of Canada.

We leave for Rapallo Italy on Wednesday from which we will then do a day trip into the Cinque Terre. From May 13th – 16th we will be in Nice France. The primary intent of our stay there is to see the museums of Matisse and that of Chagall. On May 16th we will travel to Aix en Provence where we will wander (and I shall paint) in the footsteps of Paul Cezanne until May 20th. We follow this up with three days in Narbonne France which will be our last stop before Barcelona Spain and our next longer stay of ten days where we will spend time with the work of Spanish architect Antoni Gaudi who we have both long admired. This will take us to June 3rd with slightly more that three weeks left until we return home. As you can see, we have some shorter visits in this next stretch as we travel towards one of our major goals to visit Barcelona Spain. We will not know these places in between nearly as well but we can say that we gave them more than one-quarter of a day on high-speed town hopping European excursion. Yes, it is work to book trips independently, to plan each stay and each train trip and each meal that must be made. But I wouldn’t trade it for a fast trip. No that would never do. For it is not what we see with our eyes that sustains us but what we visit with our hearts. This is what drives my creative will, my desire to interpret and translate and this is what leaves me just a little sad with each good-bye.

 

Where have you most not wanted to say good-bye but instead promised – until we meet again?

 

© 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

Photography sketches of the Florence Countryside

There are times, as many of you know, when I am taking photography sketches that I will then be use as reference for paintings that I will do in the studio. It is tricky business to do these sketches as they are often a series of several photographs taken from different perspectives so that there is enough memory triggered in the later viewing to bring me back to that specific place and time. This is necessary as I need information from all of my senses to successful interpret a painting in a meaningful way onto a canvas. A few of these photographs are worthy of being considered completed works in their own right. Mostly though, they are reference work just like a charcoal drawing or quick painting sketch. That said, it was a nice walk and I thought you might like to come with me for at least part of it.

The air is full of seed pods with parachutes today. David has to keep his sneezing self indoors. So it is just you, me and the camera hiking along with a water bottle on this May 1st, national Labour Day holiday in Florence, Italy. The sky is trying to rain but just can’t work up enough gumption to deliver the goods.  We will be fine. I promise.

Florence countryside by Terrill Welch 2014_05_01 020

We will turn this way, then that way, in a maze of back streets that take us to a high road where we can look across to some place north of where we came from.

looking across from the high road in Florence by Terrill Welch 2014_05_01 029

A soccer game is playing over a mega-phone system or some such thing. At least I think it is a soccer game. Whatever it is, the sound seems fitting and odd all at the same time. The side of the road is very narrow where we are standing so we best go part way back the way we came and go in the other direction as it looked much more peaceful – quiet even.

afternoon in  narrow lane of Florence countryside by Terrill Welch 2014_05_01 141

Lucky us, the sun has come out for a few minutes and we have over an hour of these old bricked back roads to explore. There is only one problem. I need to be at least a foot taller.

over the fence in Florence Italy  by Terrill Welch 2014_05_01 188

About half of the view always remains a mystery to me. How about you? How are you making out. Oh heck, let me give you a boost and you can get a good look…. no, no! Don’t fall over the top! That sign said something about a dog. Pheeeewfff! Okay, no more of THAT! Lets just look in through the bars of the gate instead.

sun in olive tree grove  by Terrill Welch 2014_05_01 153

There will likely be fireflies in this olive tree grove this evening. If we wanted we could catch some in a jar and leave them beside our bed. In the morning the fireflies will have turned into one cent coins. It’s true! Just ask my host if you don’t believe me. Though she is pretty sure that her father had something to do with these results. However, in the whole valley all the small children would go out in the fields in the evening and catch fireflies. Then they would try to stay awake at night to see if they could see how it happened. No one ever did. But in the morning, sure as anything, there would be a few coins in the jar beside their bed and the fireflies would be gone. I saw my very-first-ever firefly two nights ago. I am going to go out tonight and see if the thousands of others have arrived yet. They are reportedly suppose to arrive in early May. A few small coins might be kinda nice don’t you think?

So….. maybe if it rains tomorrow or maybe not until I get back to Canada at the end of June but I am confident that at least a few of these photography sketches will become paintings.

 

What kind of creative sketches do you do in preparation for a final work?

 

© 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 Value of a Lemon

What might be the value of a lemon? Or two?

two lemons by Terrill Welch 2014_04_25 069

Or maybe even a whole front yard  filled with lemons?

front yard full of lemons by Terrill Welch 2014_04_25 065

Some of these lemon trees might be  growing in pots. Then there are others that might be really large and trained to grow up the side of the house.

lemon tree by Terrill Welch 2014_04_25 067

You might even be able to tell me in ways I can guess that it took four years for one of these lemon tree to get that big. What then would be the value of a lemon to someone like me who has never seen so many lemons on lemon trees before? What if you were to invite me in for a really close look? Then, what if you were to reach into your hip pocket for the pruning shears and reaching around under the leaves you grasp a huge firm most lemon-of-lemon-yellow-lemon ever. What if you went “snip!” and handed it to me as a gift?

gift of a large lemon by Terrill Welch 2014_04_25 121

 

What do you think the value of THAT lemon would be?

 

Note: For those that might think that I just have small hands which I suppose I do,  here is another comparison of my lemon with a large orange…

lemons larger than a large orange by Terrill Welch 2014_04_25 126

These lemons were growing in a front yard in the southern most reaches of Florence Italy and were spied through the fence when I was out for a walk. Anyone who has ever traveled or moved to a country where they don’t speak the language knows how exhausting it can be to do simple things like figure out where to get bus tickets or mail a letter or buy the right coffee capsules for the espresso maker when you can’t read the labeling (neither that I got were the right ones by the way). However, this conversation with a fellow gardener was almost effortless and every time I sniff the lemon – I remember how the sun shone on this exchange between complete stranger with hardly a word that could be spoken in common.

 

© 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

Pillaging Five Essentials From Florence Italy

I suggested to David that since we were walking the old road from Rome to Florence this morning we could pretend that we were Roman Soldiers sent on a mission to the city of Florence.  He replied – if we were crazy we could. Ah well, I tried but he wasn’t up to carrying all that armor clinking and clanking down the narrow echoing street. So we left as two starry-eyed Canadian tourists with two water bottles, a camera and sufficient funds to ward off starvation.

It truly is only a 30 minute into town but by the time we did our circle route and return trip four hours had passed. What did we find you might ask? Here are our five spoils from a first photography pillage of Florence Italy.

Papier – I surely cannot have been the only camera person who sat on the edge of the sidewalk listening for fading foot steps to get a clear shot of this store and side street?

Papier in Florence Italy by Terrill Welch 2014_04_26 045

Then there is the Ponte Vecchio – which even from here you can see is it is brick-to-brick bodies.

Ponte Vecchio Florence Italy by Terrill Welch 2014_04_26 059

A stretch of the city wall is a must! But which one? Did you know there are six different city walls that were constructed over the history of the city? Judging from where I was standing this is a piece of the sixth wall.

city wall in Florence Italy by Terrill Welch 2014_04_26 117

From the Piazzale Michelangiolo there is of course a great view of the city and particularly of the Piazza del Duomo.

Piazza del Duomo Florence Italy  by Terrill Welch 2014_04_26 137

Yet, the most arresting view is possibly that of a replica of David against a Florence blue sky…

replica of stature of David in Florence Italy by Terrill Welch 2014_04_26 149

Even a copy is a charming sight to behold. But it is getting near the hottest part of the day and we must slip out the back way with our bounty and then trudge up the last part of the hill out of the city.

 

We will be back – so what image of Florence do you wish we might have taken instead?

 

© 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

Arriving in Florence Italy

Our hosts, Nicoletta and Roberto, call me “Terri” just like my step-son-in-law who is from Malan, Italy. They said that the people of Florence like to welcome their guests and how true we have found this to be. They met us at a small train station in the industrial west side of the city and gave us a full tour on our way to the southern edges. We were presented with gifts of Easter cake, wine and coffee for the espresso machine. Yes, I did still sleep last night after doing some taste-testing before they took me to get a few groceries which in hindsight I should have made a bigger shop. But, oh well!

Today, when we were shopping for a larger supply of sustenance, strangers readily helped me several times until I was able to independently work the weighing machine in the produce section.  In the stores we have been to in Italy, the buyer weighs their own produce and a purchase slip is then created by the machine and you stick it on the bag of produce for the cashier. Quite handy really and efficient when you get to the checkout.

A little while after that I was enthusiastically given tips about the area by a fellow motor-bike riding local photographer. Needless to say, we are finding the people of Florence the warmest, most friendly and inviting hosts in our travels so far. Granted, we are a bit off the tourist map. Just the same – we feel we are at home in less than 24 hours. The view across the valley last evening didn’t hurt either…

view across valley in south Florence by Terrill Welch 2014_04_24 016

It is the end of the day as I walk around the yard exploring and looking.

end of the day in south Florence by Terrill Welch 2014_04_24 024

Someplace a little further to the left of this, I am told that Galileo’s observatory can be seen through the trees in the winter. I haven’t spotted it yet but it isn’t for lack of trying. It is warm here but not hot like in the summer when is common to have 40 degrees Celsius.

We are staying alongside a narrow one-way street that runs along a hill and is part of the old via Romana or old road to Rome from Florence. The street is now called via del Podesta.

old via Romana by Terrill Welch 2014_04_24 063

One of the side roads has poppies blooming along the edge of the stone wall…

poppies by a stone wall in Florence Italy  by Terrill Welch 2014_04_24 077

and a great view which I will show you on our return.

We walked over the top and down the other side to get our groceries for the next two days as tomorrow, April 25th ,  is Liberation Day in Italy, a national holiday. The country commemorates the day that the nation was liberated from Nazi Germany. This means most everything is closed.

The country commemorates the day that the nation was liberated from Nazi Germany. – See more at: http://www.florencewebguide.com/things-to-do-in-florence-in-april.html#sthash.ush8QP2p.dpuf

While shopping, I haven’t had so much fun in a long time. Our hosts had taken me the evening before with their car so I would know where to find the store. I only had a small amount of cash on me so just got enough for supper and breakfast. As we were returning they told me about the national holiday. I knew then that our main task for today was going to be to get a few more things to eat. Well, the great little store with fresh produce and oven-fired bread was packed shoppers. We jostled our way through with the locals who were laughing and joking and being helpful all at the same time. It was a hoot! When we finally got ourselves out on the street again with our pull-cart full of supplies, I told David, we couldn’t get a better experience of local life than shopping on the last day before a national holiday in a neighbourhood store. But, I assure you, now that we are back up the hill and have the provisions tucked away, anything we forgot, we are going to live without 😉

I didn’t take my camera with me but right around noon walked back to that place with the wonderful view.

landscape of churches south of Florence Italy by Terrill Welch 2014_04_24 121

This is when I ran into a fellow photographer on his motor bike and he gave me a bit of a rundown on other places to check out in the area. He was born and raised in this neighbourhood but had also made a trip to an island of the Pacific Northwest of the United States so he had some idea what it was like where I was from.

In conclusion, I have decided that my Italian name is Terri and to say it properly you have to roll the “r” just slightly – not too much and leave the emphasis on the “i” and give it more of a long “e” sound. It is very pretty said this way and I will answer to it without a moment’s hesitation.

 

What is your name in another language that you might like to be called?

 

is ‘Liberation Day’ in Italy, a national holiday.

The country commemorates the day that the nation was liberated from Nazi Germany. 

– See more at: http://www.florencewebguide.com/things-to-do-in-florence-in-april.html#sthash.ush8QP2p.dpuf

is ‘Liberation Day’ in Italy, a national holiday.

The country commemorates the day that the nation was liberated from Nazi Germany. 

– See more at: http://www.florencewebguide.com/things-to-do-in-florence-in-april.html#sthash.ush8QP2p.dpuf

is ‘Liberation Day’ in Italy, a national holiday.

The country commemorates the day that the nation was liberated from Nazi Germany. 

– See more at: http://www.florencewebguide.com/things-to-do-in-florence-in-april.html#sthash.ush8QP2p.dpuf

© 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

A Brush with Europe – an artist’s rendering coming soon

Merci, grazie, gracias, Thank you! A Brush with Europe blogging category begins for this artist who has planned a three month trip by not planning much at all. Right now the best indicator of what is going on inside my head looks something like this…

A Brush with Europe by Terrill Welch 2014_02_03 108

There is a poem in Leonard Cohen Book of Longing p. 46 that adequatly captures my misgivings and doubts.

The Moon

The moon is outside

I saw the great uncomplicated thing

when I went to take a like just now.

I should have looked at it longer.

I am a poor lover of the moon.

I see it all at once and that’s it

for me and the moon.

My fear is that I don’t want to be a poor lover of Paris, Venice, Florence and Barcelona. But right now three months in Europe seems too short to accomplish anything more. I am reading, watching videos, talking to people and learning as much as I can in advance. However, this just seems to increase my doubts rather than relieve them. What to do?

Well, anytime I feel like I am in over my head, which I am confident is a reasonable description of my current situation, I slow down and eat some greens.

Winter Salad by Terrill Welch 2014_02_03 054

Winter in a northern climate is not the easiest time to create a summer like salad but it can be done. Then with the addition of a good handful of pecans and a couple of warm hard-boiled eggs I a ready to go to work.

Salad with pecans and eggs by Terrill Welch 2014_02_03 081

First things first – revise the travel planning list. Ah yes – return tickets from Vancouver to London and medical insurance, suitcase, RFID blocker money belt, and plugin adapters are purchased. Next, sign up for AirBnB and arrange for a caretaker house sitter. See? Not so hard. Non capisco? Mi dispiace…

What is your first response when you are in over your head?

Note: I will be starting a new blogging category for this trip called “A Brush with Europe.” I thought about setting up a separate blog but that just seemed more trouble than it was worth. Since I will be doing painting sketches, photography and writing as we travel by train from London to Venice then on to Florence, the Cote D’ Azur and Barcelona (beginning in April until near the end of June) this in-progress blog should work just fine. Besides you all know how to find me here and this way I won’t be lonely 🙂

 

© 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