Finding the Rhythm of the Sea in oil on canvas in the art studio

Painting en plein air is wonderful and the easiest way to feel your landscape through the paintbrush and onto the canvas. However, weather and the size of the a work does not always make this the most practical approach. So I photograph my subjects from various perspectives. Then using sometimes years of memory about a subject along with a series of reference images, I am then prepared to work on a specific landscape in my small studio. This canvas is a good size at 20 x 40 inches. Finished paintings and blank canvases are going to have to squeeze in their edges and squish together to make room for this fellow.

ipad studio shot by Terrill Welch March 12  2013

While I am getting the set up and the painting roughed in I thought I would answer a question for you. I am often asked about how I get my ideas for my photographs and paintings. The most honest answer is that the ideas find me as I observe my everyday life. I capture and paint what I notice, what I see, feel, smell and hear. I am influenced by events that are happening in my life. If I am mournful, excited or weary it will show up in what I notice. What is most relevant is my daily practice of noticing. The ideas are always there. My primary task is to notice and to act on what I notice. Today’s work comes from a moment in September a few years ago when the sea rolled itself with eloquent expression onto the shore at Edith Point. Let’s rough it in and see what we have.

in progress Rhythm of the Sea by Terrill Welch ipad studio shot March 12 2013

You may notice that I do not sketch my work onto the canvas. This is something I have never done as I prefer to make some basic marks with paint and then paint up an underpainting to guide me. Sometimes this underpainting is a complementary colour. Other times, such as this one, I stay close to the palette that will become the finished painting.

Much of the scene is in a late afternoon shadow, and the haze is heavy from the smoke of forest fires. The rhythm of the sea and the simplicity of the moment is so strong that my brush seems to know the path by heart. Hours pass with nothing but my humming and the sound of the palette knife mixing paint and the brush applying it to the canvas. The light is past its prime in the studio. I need some distance. Shall we carefully take the wet thing outside and have a look?

Rhythm of the Sea 20 x 40 inch work  in progress oil on canvas by Terrill Welch 2013_03_13 009

It is coming I think, but will have to sit until tomorrow now. My body is stiff and a bit tired from standing and reaching most of the day, but it feels good. I have intimately noticed the rhythm of the sea.

I want to continue to work wet-on-wet or alla prima on this canvas so I begin again the next afternoon and work with the studio lights until very late into the evening. Finally, the painting comes to rest.

Rhythm of the Sea Edith Point resting 20 x 40 inch oil on canvas by Terrill Welch 2013_03_14 015

Resting is an observable and intuitive state of a painting’s development. It is when the elements of the painting have found their place on the canvas in relationship to each other. Yet, they are still alive with energy and vitality. In this case, the sea is still rolling forward onto the shore. The trees are still tingling from the days sun. The rocks are releasing their summer heat as the water charges across their surface. I am there. You are there. The salt spray is moist on our skin and the rhythm of the sea matches our breath, our heartbeat, and answers a call to all that is knowable.

The resting period is also a time to critically view the painting with fresh eyes. Is there anything odd or irritating that can be corrected? Is there anything that can  strengthen the expression of the piece? Does the painting work? Is it finished? This process of evaluation can happen in a minute or it may take weeks. For this painting I left it for seven days while I was away. I came home and looked at it and decided it is done, finished. A final photograph is required and then it will be released over at Terrill Welch Artist later in the week.

First, I must get a new show ready to hang at the Green House Restaurant here on Mayne Island. Here is a short video from my home studio sharing sneak preview of the 18 paintings that will be shown…

Well, that is it for a week in the life of this artist.

What does a week in the life of your creativity include?

I so much look forward to hearing from you.

© 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

In the PINKS and other rose painting efforts

When I blinked my eyes open just before 5:00 am they met the moon smiling down on us in the soft hues of a clear dawn. I could have gone and got my camera to capture its deep yellow-orange but instead we just gazed at each other until the moment passed.

Now, still early, the day is well underway and I believe with a bit of luck it will be a painting day. Yesterday, in a 20 minute window, I did up this quick 5 x 7 inch study “in the pinks.”

The study is to assist me with what I need to do on a larger 24 x 36 inch canvas “Always Roses” that is in progress.

I wanted to try a new red that I thought might make a better pink for my roses. But I am not sure I am convinced. None the less, my sweetie is taken with this study so I thought I would share it with you.

Each colour has its own learning curve and it seems an infinite set of possibilities as we often discover when we go to paint a wall. I remember watching Mr. Blandings Builds his Dream House (1948) a few years ago and the wife in the movie was trying explain to the painters the colour she wanted in the kitchen or something. She is going on and on about how it was the yellow of fresh butter she was looking for but not quite. She gets more and more specific with her description in her attempt to request the exact colour she is wanting. The lead contractor final turns to his side kick who has the pencil and paper and says “you got that!” The other guy is looking at his paper and nodding as he replies “uh-um, yellow!”

In this painting I feel like the wife in the movie in search of just the right pink and my palette is recording my desire about the same as the guy with the pen and paper in the movie “uh-um pink!”

For the larger painting, I had found the perfect light one afternoon but of course the day I started painting it  is different and my squished studio space doesn’t offer anything close. So I did the best I could in combining my painting day  with the light from the day before. The lighting is completely backwards. However, I wanted to paint so we just went with it.

I decided on an approach of working from the outside in until my subject revealed itself out of necessity. You can get an idea about how this works in these two images.

But is there anything left to say about a still life vase of flowers with roses? After hundreds of years of paintings of this subject it doesn’t seem like there is much. Yet, I cannot resist. I must! In fact all of the other “to do” items have been shoved aside – including getting some food in the house to eat. Well I did find a chunk of cheese and a pear. Not starving – just limited in choices.







I notice now how I shifted the shape of the vase to fit the compositional differences in the frame dimensions I am for the painting. That definitely wasn’t a conscious choice.











Let’s see what the painting in process looks like now though the glow of wet paint is making some parts look lighter than what is actually on the canvas. I am fascinated how the image changed perspective so that the viewer is looking slightly down down on the arrangement. This is not the case with my set up. However, the canvas is so tall that I had to reach way above me to paint.

So here is a canvas that rest while humming an old familiar song of roses and other flowers arranged in a vase. It was painted just for the joy of it and to please me. Thanks for tagging along with me 🙂

Now I am off to see if I can find us the perfect pinks and see if I can finish it with some measure of success!

SPROUT: What colour have you most wanted for something and had the least ability to describe?

© 2012 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

Terrill Welch online Gallery at