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 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