Another Visit with Claude Monet

I have been visiting with Claude Monet since I was a teenager, even before I knew who he was.

“Late Morning in August by the Sea” – 9 X 12 inch oil on canvas, not for sale.

So strong was Monet and the other Impressionists’ influence of our understanding of light colour that is likely true for many of us. In my first oil painting classes at 14 years old, I remember the process of underpainting and then following the light in patches and shapes of colour across a whole canvas building it up to the same level of completeness at once. I remember the joy of mixing the pigments right on the canvas as I went, layering them wet-into-wet until I was satisfied with the end result. The paintings weren’t much – the work of a child learning her craft. But the process, oh how I loved the process! These were evening classes or Saturday classes and work was created from memory or reference images mostly. At home though, I worked mostly from life, observing the fast moving light and seasonal changes. This is still a significant part of my painting practice today more than forty years later .

Finishing “Melancholy Seas” – 14 X 18 inch oil on canvas, available.

What was missing in this early education was explaining to me that the oil painting approach I was using was that of the impressionist painters and Monet in particular. Or possibly, I was too young to remember as I was too busy actually painting. Whatever the reason, it would be many years before I realized that my approach to oil painting and painting in general came from this specific school of understanding light, colour and shapes. So, in this way, I first visited with Monet without even knowing his name.

Plein air painting “Early March Snow Japanese Garden Mayne Island B.C.” Walnut oil on gessobord, available.

Since then, I have read whole books about his life and work, studied many images of his paintings, taken in talks by art historians and seen his paintings in person in Toronto, Canada and Paris, France and Basil, Switzerland. To say that his work has had a profound influence on my approach to painting may be taking it too lightly. People teasingly call me “the Monet of Mayne Island” with good reason! At one time, in the summer of 2012, I even vowed (unsuccessfully) to divorce Monet and shake his hold on my painting hand. I argued and demonstrated the strength of letting the darks be dark. I pointed my brushes towards Cezanne and the necessary strength and influence of form. But it was no use.

“Blooming Point PEI” 8 X 10 inch acrylic plein air sketch, not for sale.

In my mind’s eye, Monet lightly shrugged and went back to painting his pond, the light through the trees and the lily pads. Over time, I conceded to my love affair with light, even in the shadows. Hence, though we have an amenable separation, Monet’s painting process and sensibilities and my own painting practice will never be divorced. The confluence of history and our mutual love of light and colour has not allow it, at least not yet.

“Storytelling Arbutus Tree Bennett Bay Mayne Island B.C.” 60 X 40 inch oil on canvas, available.

So Monet and I have visited again, yesterday, at the Vancouver Art Gallery where 38 of Monet’s paintings are on exhibit. Later, I shall decide if we have more to say to each other. For now, this is enough.

What great master in your field of expertise has visited with you the longest?

© 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

 

 

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 http://terrillwelchartist.com

Unraveling the artistic influences and intentions behind the painting EVENING AND THE ARBUTUS TREE

The time has come to try to write about what happened on the canvas of EVENING AND THE ARBUTUS TREE 36 x 60 inch oil on canvas.

Evening and the Arbutus Tree 36 x 60 inch oil on canvas by Terrill Welch 2013_01_07 018

(Detailed viewing and purchase information available HERE)

We can begin with the first hand experience on the evening of November 10, 2012 and the resulting reference images with the primary one being this one simply called “The Arbutus Tree.”

The Arbutus Tree by Terrill Welch 2012_11_10 036

We can refer back to November 23, 2012 and the early beginnings of this painting, where we can still see parts of the underpainting, and the hard lines of the tree and foreground developing.

Evening and the Arbutus Tree in progress by Terrill Welch 2012_11_23 009

We can examine the six paintings I painted in between this stage and completing the painting on January 4, 2013 for any hints of what was to come.

“Storm Clouds over Strait of Georgia” postcard size oil on paper

Storm Clouds over Strait of Georgia postcard size oil on paper by Terrill Welch 2012_11_29 008

“Evening Thunderclouds over the Strait of Georgia” 20 x 20 inch oil on canvas

Evening Thunderclouds over the Strait of Georiga 20 x 20 inch oil on canvas by Terrill Welch 2012_12_20 025

“Reef Bay morning experienced” 14 x 18 inch oil on canvas

Reef Bay morning experienced 11 x 14 inch oil on canvas by Terrill Welch 2012_12_20 016

And these three that were painting on the same morning as I returned to work on the larger canvas bringing mostly to completion by the end of the day.

“At the Beach another time” resting 12 x 12 inch oil on canvas

At the Beach another time resting 12 x 12 inch oil on canvas by Terrill Welch 2013_01_02 050

Late December West Coast Sunrise resting 6 x 6 inch oil on gessobord

Late December Westcoast Sunrise resting 6 x 6 inch oil on gessobord by Terrill Welch 2013_01_02 059

Pear Trees in winter first light resting 8 x 10 inch oil on canvas

Pear Trees in winter first light resting 8 x 10 inch oil o canvas by Terrill Welch 2013_01_02 040

We can review my contemporary colleagues whose work is often part of my daily artistic exposure. The list is long with more than 300 in my network but a few may be worthwhile considering in relation to this particular work.

The first of these colleagues being Lena Levin for her skill in using and splitting colours into intricate tensions within her paintings.

Montara Beach 16 x 20 oil on canvas panel by Lena Levin

But there are also Gabriel Boray for his boldness and commitment to exaggeration

The Fields by Gabriel Boray

 

 

Shell Rummel and her attention to design so much so that it is now being made into fabric

Water’s Edge by Shell Rummel

 

This is not everyone of course but just a few of my peers whose landscape paintings come to mind.

Yet, there is also my long-term and recent study and musing of historic landscape works by Emily Carr

The Shoreline by Emily Carr

and The Group of Seven

as well as the landscapes of  Edward Hopper

New York, New Haven and Hartford by Edward Hopper

and Gustav Klimt

Farm House with Birch Trees by Gustav Klimt

Of course, it would be impossible not to mention the French Impressionist painters with particular attention to Claude Monet and Camille Pissarro when listing those whose work I spend time digesting.

Yes, we can do this referring, reviewing and examining of influences and though these are all relevant aspect, they are not the nub of importance. What is, I believe, most important is my conscious effort to divorce the impressionist influences of Claude Monet and the other French Impressionist painters that are so predominantly relevant and internalized in my own painting process. This notice of separation was given on or about August 5, 2012.

However, the intention of my work both in painting and photography has not changed.

What is this intention you might ask. It is roughly as follows:

To demonstrate our relationship to our natural environment and the continuity of time. What is the season? What time is it? Where is the sun? Where am I? Where are you? Where shall we meet in this canvas? How is it intended to influence us?  How does it influence us? The underlying tension is that if we do not address this connection and relationship in a deep and profound way in our daily lives, humanity will parish in a spiral of its own self-destruction.

(Reference: art journal March 21, 2012)

If the intention of my work holds then I must define the problem:

I was taught to start a painting from the farthest point from me. In a landscape this is often the sky. Also, I was to establish my darkest value somewhere in the foreground (though I often forget to do this until part way through a painting). Once the composition is blocked in then, when using oils I was told to work from my darkest areas towards my lightest areas while building the whole painting up at the same time. The reverse process was recommended for water colours for obvious reasons. The intent was to paint what was there or what was seen by following the light source with more detail in the foreground and less in the back ground – a rule I break repeatedly. Further, it was recommended to paint into the shadows in search of colour, light and shapes – noting the difference between cast shadows and form shadows.

But what if this isn’t so? What if even cast shadows are part of form – a continuation of the relationship between visual and energetic space of an object? What if Form is more than Shape, more than composition and cast shadows are part of understanding the elements and there relationships in the painting – beyond position and time of day.

I have primarily set my painting intention on painting light, movement, relationship and connection. Form has been a back drop for the other actors in my paintings. Hence, at times, I have never felt I was successful in providing adequate contrast between light and dark. To be frank, I have trouble seeing the shape or form of shadow even though I understand shadow intimately due to the significant amount of time I spend in natural light. I have had no concept to explore its strength until this idea came to me.

My proposition: The form shadow and the cast shadow are both in a primary relationship with the form. They should be painted and understood as one. Both continue to be attached to our understanding and experience of the Form – and not just with the light source and the underlying subject in the shadow of the form. For example, the grass is NOT understood as grass in the shadow of the tree but rather the tree’s shadow (possessive intentional) is spread across the grass. (Reference: art journal August 5, 2012)

This proposition is what I am exploring in current paintings and this is what is behind the shift we see in EVENING AND THE ARBUTUS TREE. It is this that is the impetus for my primary separation between my impressionist foundations in recent paintings. It is not an approach that consistently holds because I find it is so easy to follow the light into the shadows and represent how it softly plays on the grass instead of letting the shadow stand on its own, sometimes harshly against the light in the evening sky or the edge of the tree trunk. What this painting is saying is that the shadows can speak for themselves in relation to the light land the form. It is a complex language but can intuitively be understood. These harsher edges are part of the stillness that comes with the beginnings of silhouettes that will soon follow as time takes us steadily towards the approaching night. This is an important voice to record in the conversation of this landscape.

In this painting the caste shadow is from the lighthouse. It is this shadow that creates the strongest bridge between the foreground and the mist in the background and the rich hues on the right where the last vestiges of the evening sun are slammed against the sandstone and shrubbery before spilling across the sea and the mist. Therefore, I did not paint a tree that was half cast in shadow. I understood that the cast shadow was important to understanding the form shadow of the tree, of this landscape’s foreground and of its relationship to the background.

detail 1 Evening and the Arbutus Tree by Terrill Welch 2013_01_07 033

These tensions would have become unintelligible if I had followed the light into the shadows to such an extent that the relationship of the caste shadow lost its importance.

So if we can now hold all of these aspects of influences in one brush stroke and then another we possibly might have some idea as to what happened on this canvas that has brought about a notable shift from previous work. Yes, the work, as some have already confirmed, is still recognizable as my painting. It is still following the same intention as earlier work. Yet, I think we might agree that the language of expression has become more refined and complex in its simplification.

What now? Will it mean that this shift becomes consistent in future work? I do not know. If we go back to the previous six paintings that were painted in between starting and completing this painting, I would guess that there will continue to be this flip-flopping between the practice of following the light and that of letting the shadows stand on their own as part of the tension and expression of the relationships in the landscape. We shall have to wait and see.

What are your own most recent attempts to discern your creative influences and intentions?

© 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 http://terrillwelchartist.com