Winter Solstice Reflections

Still congested with a winter cold, I rest against the soft light of the shortest day of the year. Having canceled any interruptions, I am free to climb under the warmth of the down duvet on the day bed in the loft studio – to think about not much at all. Ideas and thoughts drift, rollover and crumble into yet smaller fragments. An older small painting surfaces and clings to the edges of fickle concentration.

And then the end of a poem by Mary Oliver…

thank you
old daintiest,
dark wreckage,
coins of the sea
in my pockets
and plenty for the gulls
and the wind still pounding
and the sea still streaming in like a mother wild with gifts –
in this world I am as rich
as I need to be.

~ from “Winter” p. 52-53 in New And Selected Poems Volume One, 1992, Beacon Press.

The oil painting is “Receding Tide Reef Bay” 9 X 12 inches and is one of a very few small oil on canvas I have left.

Happy Winter Solstice! May we embrace the quiet light of the shortest day of year for the gift that it is.

What are your reflections about winter solstice today?

 

© 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

Uninterrupted Day


Uninterrupted Day

Only poets settle the irritable edges of an uninterrupted day:

Rukeyser, Oliver, Whitman.

Questions posed with audacious retorts.

Words liminal.

The mind’s blank titanium whites transcend their dazzling brilliance,

leaving dawn’s uninterruptible, curious, confusion

for the sanctity of coffee, fruit and yogurt.

 

Sprout question: What might settle an irritable edge on your creative day?

 

STUDY OF BLUE solo exhibition opens Thursday June 30, 2011.

 

© 2011 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

Terrill Welch online Gallery at 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

A Compliment Nothing Special

This past Saturday, October 2, 2010, Creative Potager was written up as “nothing special” in the best possible way by Dr. Peter Renner (dashin) a practicing Zen lay-monk and a delightful, engaging and thoughtful host of Living and Dying with Eyes Wide Open. He muses about what he calls amazing photographs about the ordinary around her. He concludes “perhaps that’s what I find most comforting in Terrill’s posts: she directs attention to that which is there all the time, just being, waiting for us to see.” He goes on to quote Marcel Proust’s observation that “The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes.”

This past Sunday, October 3, 2010 Annie Q. Syed wrote about one of Creative Potager’s sprout questions as part of her “Still Sunday” post. She tells of amazing photographs and paintings in a safe harbor drenched in creative magic.

In addition, my paintings were featured yesterday on Art of Day in “Impressionist Painting of Nature by Terrill Welch” Go ahead and drop by. Leave a comment if you are so inspired.

Thank you, dear readers for your continued support and encouragement. I hope you leave with the same sense of value and commitment to your work as what I receive from you.

Sprout Question: What is your favourite story about someone who has admired your work?

Important: If you want gift cards, calendars, photographic prints before Christmas, October is the time to place your order at http://www.redbubble.com/people/terrillwelch.

Original oil paintings can be purchased directly from me by sending an emailing to tawelch@shaw.ca .

© 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

Taking photos of the moon

I dreamt I was taking photographs of the moon last night. But when I awoke, this is the image I was musing about.

It is the late evening flight of a great blue heron to its fishing hole where there is still a slight shine on the water.

I thought of this image rather than this one of the moon over Georgeson Island I took a little over a years ago.

Or this one of the moon at the waters edge.

I have always been a low-light or fall and winter photographer. Having extremely light sensitive eyes, it is in this light that my eyes are most relaxed – and my being is most receptive to what is going on around me. Still, I haven’t spent a lot of time setting up to shoot at night. Yes, setting up is required because a tripod is almost an essential. I did take these moonlight photographs without one – it is not recommended.

Every night

the owl

with his wild monkey-face

calls through the black branches,

and the mice freeze

in the snowy fields —

and then there is the long, deep trough of silence

when he stops singing, and steps

into the air.

From “Lonely, White Fields” by Mary Oliver

Sprout Question: Do you create using both your day and your night experiences?

© 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

Opening Up

In the deep peace of early dawn I wonder, dear readers, have you already seen enough images of flowers? I think you may have had enough. Yet, that is what I am working on – texture, colour, and composition of flowers blooming in my garden and other gardens.

How do I experience this African daisy?

Or this red hot poker?

Mid-summer sun does not inspire me to take photos of great vistas but the bright petals of flowers draw me close to earth’s surface, dancing provocatively with me.

Waves of light caught in gently moving petals bring my nose close. My eyes check for small guests before framing the shots.

What is it about the tight fist of a day lily that gives us the distinct impression that it will open tomorrow?

Rustling brush of wind whispers through the soft foliage… I must wait. There. Now slowly squeeze the shutter.

How many times can we look down the throat of an iris and still come away mesmerized by its intricate and sensual beauty?

But also I say this: that light

is an invitation

to happiness,

when it’s done right,

palpable and redemptive.

Inside the bright fields,

touched by their rough and spongy gold,

I am washed and washed

in the river

of earthly delight —

and what are you going to do —

what can you do

about it —

deep, blue night?

From Poppies by Mary Oliver

Sprout Question: What subject has most recently besieged your creative will?

© 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