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.
The other two are complete and under review with other new work in the main part of the house.
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?
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.
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
We have come back again and again these past few days for picnics and reading.
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 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.
Maybe it is a low tide…
or the beauty of an old fir tree curved from winter storms…
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.
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?
During the past ten days storms pass through…
first visit with five day old grandson take place…
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.)
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.
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.
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 http://terrillwelchartist.com