Painting Melancholy Seas and other events

The week has shifted from warm winter afternoon sun to stormy jade grey sea, to snow cover trees causing power outages and then back to sun with more snow on the way. What is a painter to do with such dramatic changes? Gather reference materials, write a haiku, make hedgehog biscuits and paint of course!

With the sun trapped behind a tree, I squint through the branches at the sea.


Wandering along the shore I consider the path down to the rocks and driftwood.


Afternoon low sun on the rocks, the sea and a pastel sky are my reward.


Then later on in the week the jade of high-tide seas remind me of some reference material from earlier in the year. I bring them along to the first Studio Intensive oil painting class that I am teaching for the next three months. I am enamoured by melancholy seas. I can’t seem to help myself. I am pull up to the shore with a belly full of compassion, ready to dry each of the wave’s cold tears on my damp sleeve.


I bring the painting to rest back in the studio with the week’s snow visible in the background outside the loft windows.


I have been working most of the day on the large canvas from the week before and the melancholy sea painting is my unwinding work after being corkscrewed up in the branches of that old arbutus tree.


But what about this unusual amount of snow that has lasted for days here on the southwest coast? It really isn’t much. Truly it isn’t, other than gorgeous to look at…

As night comes / the beauty of tall firs / outside my window.


Oh, the power went out a couple of times with the first heavy wet inches. But we are cozy and comfortable. In fact, we didn’t even go to get bread when we ran out. Instead, I made hedgehog biscuits.


However, I am familiar with snow, bad roads and power outages. These circumstances cause me neither concern nor stress. Yet, I am reminded that it is uncertainty and the unknown that tends to rankle most into jittery nerves. I am no exception. But snow and power outages don’t do it for me.

Yesterday, the sun came out and danced with the same big fir trees in the valley outside the window . Gorgeous!


I have, as you might expect, been reading about world events. Of most interest are a couple of articles with a broader, possibly dystopia, perspective. The first is “This is how we can fight Donald Trump’s attack on democracy” by Rob Wijnberg in The Correspondent. The second is an archeologist’s paper “History Tells Us What Will Happen Next With Brexit And Trumpby Tobias Stone in the Huffington Post. Both articles focus on current affairs from a place of context that comes when we step back from the immediacy of news feeds that surface on Facebook, Twitter or from other sources. I am reminded that though immediate situations may be of importance, they likely hold little sway within a longer measure of time. Possibly, I wonder, will we, 300 years from now, remember this era as the great democratic experiment?

This week I am also reading Behind The Beautiful Forevers: Life, death and hope in a Mumbia undercity by Katherine Boo. In addition, I watched a mini-series about Juana Ines de la Cruz , the life and work of a seventeen century nun in Mexico City who is considered one of the first great minds of the Americas.

In my collective ingestion of these articles, the book and the film, I am struck by how current stories and old stories are much the same. A few lines from  the Netflix Juana Ines film series, set between 1669 and 1695 in New Spain, seem to summarize my week in totality.

“Silence is not having nothing to say. But being unable… to find words for all there is to say.”


“It is not the knowledge I don’t have. But that the desire to learn has cost me so much… This amorous torment inside my heart can be seen. I know that I feel the way I do, but I don’t know the reason why. I feel such a heavy anguish from such a successful dalliance that fills like desire and ends in melancholy.”

As always, I find that so much in this everyday life is left unanswerable or beyond my words. Thus we conclude with the “resting” painting.

Melancholy Seas on a 14 x 18 inch oil on canvas


How might melancholy and change come together in your life?

© 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

The Melancholy of Fall or a Painter’s Depression

The first days of September have rumbled past Mayne Island in thunder, lighting, rain and sun. Unsettled weather I believe they call it. As many of you know, I usually focus on the sun and let the rest slide off like rivers of water on our tin roof and escapes along the bedrock to the valley floor. But today not so much. There is nothing specific that has cast a shadow on my optimism but rather a clutter of small bits, hanging at about head-height, making it hard for the light to get through.

impending darkness by Terrill Welch 2013_09_04 193

As I mentioned today over on Kathy Drue’s Lake Superior Spirit blog post “the sun’s egg yolk eye in late summer” this is my favourite time of year. There isn’t much time to read though. Even so, I am working my way through I’m Your Man: The Life of Leonard Cohen by Sylvie Simons and several art books on the life and work of the American Abstract Expressionist Richard Diebenkorn. This and having recently finished watching the T.V. series Mad Men on Netflix. Hence, I have spent much of the summer in the North American time of my childhood learning about events, art and music that was not really part of my rural experience at all. It seems most of this didn’t reach me until the late 70s.

Of course, I have painted as usual these past months. Late summer is the time when my love affair with still life painting comes into full blossom.

golden plums an apple and green vase 12 x 16 inch oil on canvas by Terrill Welch 2013_08_23 058

(GOLDEN PLUMS AN APPLE AND GREEN VASE – 12 x 16 inch oil on canvas released today HERE)

But the midday light is starting to become rich and warm again so I shall be back to my camera expeditions along the sea.

Cattle Point with iPad by Terrill Welch 2013_09_03

(Cattle Point with iPad is a photography sketch from Tuesday for future painting reference.)

This then is the beginning of the bitter, savory and sweet times of brilliant tangerine, lemon and rose flickering colours in front of the brooding and impending darkness of winter.

Sliced with a Tear 36 x 60 inch oil on canvas by Terrill Welch 2013_04_16 052

(SLICE WITH A TEAR 36 x 60 inch oil on canvas yet to be released but soon I promise)

Evening and the Arbutus Tree 36 x 60 inch oil on canvas by Terrill Welch 2013_04_16 092

(EVENING AND THE ARBUTUS TREE 36 x 60 inch oil on canvas available HERE)

So we could blame this darkness of spirit on Leonard Cohen for light is only as visible as the shadows allow. Therefore, in order to live in the light one must know the shadows.

Rhythm of the Sea Edith Point 20 x 40 inch oil on canvas by Terrill Welch 2013_04_16 069

(RHYTHM OF THE SEA EDITH POINT 20 x 40 inch oil on canvas will also be released soon)

Who better to guide such a journey than Leonard Cohen.  Undeniably, Cohen offers a well-worn path into the grey and the bleak. But that is not it – not really.

Could it be the daily browsing and musing over the paintings of Richard Diebenkorn who, even with his brighter moments, leaves me with a mysterious sense of lose? A lose that is likely unintended on his part from what I have read?

(image credit de Young e-cards HERE)

So no, it is not these abstract expressions of Diebenkorn with their occasional years of figurative and representational works. But possibly the blues has something do with the hope and optimism that was dashed when a world became driven by materialism such as is so cleverly shared in the series Mad Men. Today, Diebenkorn’s paintings can be viewed on the imagined glossy magazine pages of the previous advertizing thrones of Madison Avenue while our noses are currently pressed up against the calving glaciers of impending climate change and Cohen brings us to our knees during a more resent poised rendering of his song “Hallelujah.”

Not a comfortable or perky image if I do say so. Possibly at this point, there is only one direction left for this artist to go and that is up. Yet, I stay awhile. Such hard fought drilling into the underbelly of darkness should not be wasted. Last evening we watch the 2010 Chilean film “Old Cats” written and directed by Sebastián Silva and Pedro Peirano. This film is an endevour to bring us full force into the mess of living at the ends of our life, and possibly the universe as we know it, with its unraveling unfinished and often unresolvable finality which must be accepted as it is – a work-in-progress.

Now, once again, I ask myself in my best Mary Oliver voice “Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?”

At this very moment as I write, my honest answer is – I haven’t a clue. Are you surprised? The woman, the painter, the photographer and the writer who always seems to have some plan or other hasn’t a clue? True.

Once in a long while you see, I realize that most of what I am doing will matter not within hours, days or weeks of having done it. Yet, I persist in my delusions that it does matter and it is important. Why, we might ask, do I do this? Because to meet the reality face-on that it is all for no reason at all makes it hard to get up and then do what I am compelled to do. Therefore, in my normal altered state, I must believe what I do does matter and it is important – if only to me.

Featured work being shown from September 3 – 3o, 2013 at the Island Blue Art Store in Sidney B.C. Canada. These four paintings are the Feature Paintings this month and available with detailed viewing and purchase links at Terrill Welch Artist.

Four paintings Sept 2013 Island Blue Art Store in Sidney B C by Terrill Welch 2013_09_04 014

Also, thank you to everyone who commented, shared and voted on my three landscape paintings in the Arabella Competition for the People’s Choice Award. Due to a late change in the contest rules, these paintings have been eliminated from the possibility of being selected for this award. The change in the rules allow for only paintings selected for the semi-finals to be considered for the People’s Choice Award. My three paintings were not among the Canadian landscape paintings selected for the semi-finals. Disheartened, I remember those who have come before me and who have failed on numerous occasions to capture acceptance for their work. The list is long and I know I am in good company. However, this disappointing competition result does not lessen my humble gratitude for those who do collect and appreciate my work. Thank you all again for your unrelenting encouragement and support. I am reminded…

reach for what you want by Terrill Welch 2013_08_28 155

(my youngest grandson on the beach at New Castle Island)

I wish all the Canadian Landscape artists whose paintings are moving forward in this competition all the best and much success.

Because of all this, with these unraveling, unfinished and unresolvable marks on the canvas of my life, I shall continue to work on what will always be – a work-in-progress.

Spare no pigment on the palette and pass the brushes please.

Who accompanies you into your darkest places?

© 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

Winter Sun Oil Painting

There is something about the late dawn of winter sun, a bruised heaviness that seeps across the sky. I started this painting thinking it might be abstract and lighter, maybe even cheerful, but my subconscious seems to know where to take the brush. Though the quick marks of paint give impressions rather than detail… it is clearly not an abstract painting. And though colourful, I am not sure it is cheerful. In fact, I’m sure this painting is deeply melancholy with bittersweet recognition that the sun is rising… lifting, lifting, lifting us into another, and possibly, better day.

I started by brushing water (it would have been spirits but I’m using water miscible oils) and linseed oil onto the canvas. Then I began adding colour, an underpainting of sorts…

I never let it completely dry but kept working the paint into the canvas as I added more colour.

Using a good sized brush (10) I swished the sky and clouds on and softened them with a cloth and feathery brush. Then I flipped the rocks and sea loosely into place and left them like that.

I came back yesterday and tidied up a bit … as I listened to kd lang’s performance of Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” at the Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame induction of Leonard Cohen in 2006.

You might want to do that too as you take in “Winter Sun

18X24″ by 1 3/4″ water miscible oil painting on 100% natural cotton canvas

There are a few more small edits which I will make and then replace this last image, but it is close enough to complete to share with you.

Sprout Question: What has been your latest personal discovery through your creativity?

© 2010 Terrill Welch, All rights reserved.

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

Purchase photography at

Creative Potager – where imagination rules. Be inspired.

From Mayne Island, British Columbia, Canada


Often, the underlying effect of wabi-sabi is melancholy beauty in its worn simplicity. Yet nature, as our life, is often a messy. Eco-systems thrive on an untidy tangle of old, new and diverse growth (particularly here in the west coast rain forest). The old saying of “not being able to see the forest for the trees” describes how easy it is to become overwhelmed and to lose our centre or still-point in the face of all that is. There are only a few vistas in my travels that have captured my imagination with their beautiful simplicity. A building on a hill at East Point on Saturna Island is one of these places. I have not yet researched to know if this grassy knoll is caused by human intervention or if it is natural. However, the minimalist coming together of nature and construction sang to me. The delight and challenge then becomes composition.

Here are my various efforts over two days to capture “a building on a hill at East Point.”

And finally “window” , my personal favourite, and a featured image today in redbubble group  The Woman Photographer. This is a great honour as there are 2,527 members in this group and 79,986 images.

View and purchase full resolution image here.

Sprout Question: What principles of composition help you to create simplicity?

© 2010 Terrill Welch, All rights reserved.

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

Purchase photography at

Creative Potager – where imagination rules. Be inspired.