Sea and Shore – a beginning

The soft grey of morning is still settling out of my physical being as I lift the large 36 X 48 inch canvas onto the easel. Cascading light and colour roll with the waves over the shapes gathering across my inner landscape. The endless beating of sea and shore vibrates through the heartwood of an old hanging arbutus swinging above the sculptured shore. But alas, there is only whiteness reflection back at me…

I only have an hour before I must be down in the village. Can I do something with this?

“Only if you promise to remember to go open the gallery on time!” I mutter, as I squeeze the cadmium yellow and red oil paint onto a clean palette.

Those lines!  This light!

I remember my smallness…

as I looked up into the tangle of trunks.

The quick painterly notes start to multiply on the canvas…

Sweeping curves round above seal-shaped forms below.

Light and shadow intertwine in a symphonic melody.

Waves and ferry wake are fierce dance partners, bending the spine of the sandstone in its embrace.

I am standing.

I have stood painting this small 11 x 14 inch study below…

And now, on the big canvas, I am 25 steps further to the right, closer to sea. I must start again. I must hunch down and grasp all-that-was and all-that-will-be, swing it high over my head then spiral it down, until it is rooted deep into the earth, with confidence, in each brushstroke.

But this is yet to come. For now, I must wash the one-inch flat hog hair brush, take off my weathered carmine paint-splattered apron, remove any wild run-away cadmium red or yellow streaks on my face and head to the gallery.

Oh but there is more! So much more!

I must wait. We must wait. And remember, it is only paint and a canvas. 😉

What, may I ask, are YOU waiting for?

PART 2 “Sea and Shore – Building Up Paint” is now posted HERE.

Part 3 “Sea and Shore – Strong Finish” can be viewed HERE.

© 2018 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 Arbutus Tree and an Ordinary Life

I am about to share how discovering the arbutus tree is a great metaphor for living an ordinary life in a series of photographs from a recent walk. But before I do, I have an update for us on “The Moon Is No Longer There” series of work.

My extended leave to travel is drawing to a close. My purpose has been to bring you “the moon” in a way you will remember and notice for all time. In order to do this, I am living my best life. I am traveling deeper and even more focused than ever before. My intention remains clarified. My inner compass set. My resources and research materials are in full use. I continue my journey to capture something unforgettable, rare and valuable – our ordinary, everyday, natural world.  When I started in January, I didn’t know if this new series of work “The Moon Is No Longer There” would take a year or a life time. Only one thing was absolutely clear – my spiritual, emotional and physical bags were packed. I was ready.

The Moon Is No Longer There” series has led me to some of my best work like the “Storytelling Arbutus Tree Bennett Bay Mayne Island BC.”

In addition, this intention has also set me on a path that has allowed me to share paintings from as far back as 2012 in my brand new Terrill Welch Gallery. In just two weekends, for 5 hours each day, I have confirmed a most compelling personal discovery.

The moon is always visible in my work and most viewers can see it even if they wish not to do so – like the “Last View Chesterman Beach Tofino Tsunami” painting.

What has changed since last January you might ask? Well, since the international art fair in Vancouver in late May and opening the gallery on Mayne Island a couple of weeks ago, I have had the pleasure of watching viewers respond to my work before they can edit their body language or even realize I have seen them. These observations are not just at a brief opening that is hectic and I occupied with hosting. These observations have taken place over several hours on a specific day. It is a fascinating, almost voyeuristic, observation practice I do not get from sharing my work online. I know, you do tell me how you experience my work. This is true but it is not the same as seeing your unedited responses for my own self. This has given me confidence, not just in the work but also in the viewer. The essence of the moon is always there for those that are present and to my profound delight – you are all, for the most, part present! A deep relishing pleasure in an ordinary day in nature is a common desire and a treasured experience. Painter and viewer are most often one and the same in front of the finished work. We understand each other’s language as presented on the canvas. Oh, I will always keep striving to go deeper, to refine the engagement to its purest most intense form but I shall never again doubt my ability to render its significance – nor the viewer’s ability to receive its strength. I have discovered that moon is always there for those that wish to see it and we do!

Now, my latest engagement with arbutus trees.

At first, there is just a massive tangle of branches that confront the sensory apparatus with its confusion.

Eventually, a branch comes into focus but it is not clear yet what is of importance.

I walk on and sink close to the ground observing a whole arbutus tree beside the path.

I look way up at another, naked to the waist, in the cool August evening shadows.

Another juts out into a swiftly moving patch of sun. By now my brain can quickly categories and name even a partial branch of an arbutus tree. The unorganized tangle and variation of each tree is recognizable.

Then I come upon the perfect specimen!

My search is complete. I continue along the path in the fading light, knowing I will never be finished with these special trees… but it is enough for today.


How do you learn a subject that gets under your skin and refuses to let go of your attention?


© 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

Ten Days Over and Under with Nature is Calling

A deer browses outside the studio window as I ponder how much easier it is to be in nature than it is to record being in nature. Since my last post many days have past. I am reminded of weaving and the over and under of life, living and my complex relationship to nature. Let see if we can pick up the pattern and weave it together.

The rooster crows over top of the small forest birds as I try to decide whether to paint the third of three California surf paintings or write this blog post.

beginning the 3rd of 3 surf paintings by Terrill Welch 2015_05_12 062

The other two are complete and under review with other new work in the main part of the house.

early morning review of recent work by Terrill Welch 2015_05_12 057

While I should be musing over this body of work in the early morning light as I gather my apple and toasted whole-wheat raisin bread, instead I think “darn those windows need washing!”

Canadian geese announce their departure as I climb back up stairs to the studio. I am fixated on a painting problem and it goes like this – how does one paint the sound of the surf?

how does one paint the sound of the surf by Terrill Welch iphone

This problem about painting the surf took over following an Oregon and California road trip this spring. It has rooted itself into my consciousness like invasive Scotch Broom on Mayne Island – a beautiful problem but still one that there is a community desire to resolve.  But Scotch Broom is an issue that is complex and not easily addressed. Practically speaking, both my painting problem and the broom take hard work as much as anything else to resolve. This is where #NatureIsCalling and the David Suzuki Foundation 30 minutes x 30 days in May Nature Challenge gives me a boost and possibly even a reason to sidestep the second issue – getting rid of Scotch Broom.

If we propose that over and under is a repetitive motion that in weaving and nature never allows a person to return to exactly the same place twice, what have I discovered?

The Georgina Lighthouse park on Mayne Island is beautiful in the direct midday sun.

at the lighthouse Mayne Island by Terrill Welch 2015_05_07 005

or plein air painting in the early morning grey of heavy haze and cloud.

“Scotch Broom and Arbutus Tree set in grey quick study” – 8 x 10 inch acrylic plein air sketch on gessobord

Scotch Broom and Arbutus Tree set in grey quick study 8 x 10 inch acrylic plein air sketch on gessobord by Terrill Welch 2015_05_11 016

We have come back again and again these past few days for picnics and reading.

afternoon reading in the park by Terrill Welch 2015_05_12 044

Sometimes I am distracted by the sounds of ferries entering or leaving Active Pass. But mostly, the seals and sea lions surface on the water and the seagulls and eagles call from the sky while I feel free to sprawl on the grass with nothing more to do than take it all into the core of my being – even the Scotch Broom.

Scotch Broom at the lighthouse by Terrill Welch 2015_05_12 049

Scotch Broom you see is not really suppose to be here. The invasive shrub got away from gardens and has a habit of taking up any vacant space available regardless of who usually would be seeking residence – kind of like humans. It has definitely made itself permanent on Mayne Island as it has elsewhere. The best way to keep shrub out is not to disturb the ground. This patch has developed due to shore erosion. It is a tough beast with deep roots. Possibly it is a natural solution to the erosion in this case.  I am willing to entertain this idea for the moment anyway. By the way, if you look long enough and carefully enough there are two humans in this photograph sitting quietly looking out to sea.

The lighthouse park is sometimes included in our longer walk each the day which are usually five to six km long and the same equivalent as climbing eight flights of stairs. These walks frequently include trails leading to and from the sea.

nature walk by Terrill Welch iPhone

Maybe it is a low tide…

low tide Georgeson Island by Terrill Welch iPhone

or the beauty of an old fir tree curved from winter storms…

fir tree west coast curl by Terrill Welch iPhone

or the strength of light, wind in the trees and patterns of roads sometimes are best understood in a painterly paintography fashion that catches my attention.

walking close to home painterly by Terrill Welch iPhone

These last four images were taken with my iPhone as it was all I had with me. My iPhone is sometimes a secondary part about being in nature. I leave my good camera at home in order to limit the distraction of framing images. It helps a small amount but not a lot. This habit of seeing light patterns and recording compositions is like a musician playing their daily scales on the piano – it is necessary practice. I would argue it is as important to my well-being as being in nature  for its own-sake. I mean, how does one even come up with a crazy question about how to paint the sound of the surf if not from years of observation?

receding Califonia Surf  in progress 16 x 20 inch oil on canvas by Terrill Welch 2015_05_07 016

During the past ten days storms pass through…

Sky is all I can see  by Terrill Welch 2015_05_05 062

first visit with five day old grandson take place…

baby L five days old by Terrill Welch 2015_05_05 039

A Cinnabar moth is spotted (found in Europe and western and central Asia. It has been introduced into New Zealand, Australia and North America to control poisonous ragwort, on which its larvae feed.)

Cinnabar moth by Terrill Welch iPhone

and a  first Iris that hold my attention. It too is not native to this area. Like me, it is a transplant from someplace else.

first iris by Terrill Welch 2015_05_12 041

This close up is what I want to remember but it is not what I first saw in its raw awkwardness against the foundation of the lighthouse.

first iris standing tall and alone by the wall by Terrill Welch 2015_05_12 004

What I have noticed during the past ten days of #NatureIsCalling is how good I am at sorting, sanitizing and sensationalizing what are ordinary, messy and complex experiences in our natural environment. While I think that what I am deeply aware of is that the sun on my shoulder, the rumble of the jet overhead, the rain in the garden, the rise and fall of my breath I also become aware of a world where humans want to be right and to be good. It is a world where human sharing uses the shortest route to what is considered best and worst, good and evil or right and wrong. Time in nature reminds me of the complexity of our daily lives by its examples. Maybe the time and energy to eradicate Scotch Broom is ill placed? My wrenched shoulder from doing this task a few years ago agrees – today anyway.

Now, I am off to paint the sound of the surf in my third of three paintings on the subject. With a bit of luck, my next post will introduce all three completed California surf paintings.


What complexities are you musing about?


Note: #NatureIsCalling is the hashtag for the David Suzuki Foundation 30 minutes x 30 days in May Nature Challenge. I am outside more than 30 minutes in nature each day as a matter of work and life style but I committed to being particularly observant for the Month of May. As time allows, I will share these experiences with you here on Creative Potager.

© 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