Escape to the Sea

The low autumn sun has chased me into the las possible space of my less than idea south exposure painting studio. In frustration, I give up and wash my brushes.



Then I tie up my hiking shoes and escape to the sea. The familiar forest middle trail eventually leads me in a steady easy rhythm out to seashore. 


The ground is dry even though the air is humid enough to feel cool and damp in the shade while sandstone rocks have soaked up the sun’s heat. 


It is an early October day of deep contrasts.

Punctuated by open space, there is room to breathe here and no need to think. Feeling is enough. I lay on the sandstone with my eyes closed listening to the sea.


The sun must have moved behind the big fir tree on the west side of the studio by now. I head home again. Too tired to paint, I start supper instead. Tomorrow, I will continue. And now tomorrow is today. I will post this and start bringing in paintings from the new gallery pod and taking paintings out to hang for the next show. I will stop and paint for a while in the best light after this. When the sun gets in the way again, I will put new work into the inventory and release it for purchase. Somewhere in there, is lunch and after this an art related zoom call. Then supper and another art zoom call. This will be followed by watching a show on my iPad with my husband and finally sleep with big open windows under the light of the moon. Then it will be tomorrow and an art collector will come to visit for the day from Victoria. I will finish the last bits to open the new show before she arrives and work some more on the large canvas in the studio.

There will be interruptions of course. Bills need to be paid by E-transfers. The house will need to be prepared for the housecleaner. Laundry will need doing. One must shower and brush their teeth and comb their hair. Shuffling out of pyjamas into painting clothes and then into clean street clothes are a must. The boxes holding new cedar planters needing assembly will be taken from the car and the roses are gasping for a little water. Still, the bones of an artist’s life are firmly in place and will provide the structure for each hour of each day. 

What are the key elements that are organizing your days? 

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Early Autumn in the Japanese Garden

Sunshine and cooler temperatures are the perfect time for drifting between productive activity and leisurely strolls. I have sorted, cleaned and reclaimed my office space in the loft. I find it so refreshing to have it “in hand” so to speak. Now it is time to go for that stroll. 


I go off into the gorgeous early autumn weather with its warm sun and blue skies. One of my stops is our Mayne Island Japanese Memorial Garden. 


The bridge is looking more elegant than usual with its orange red boards. I smile to myself remembering bringing students to plein air paint in the garden. This bridge lovingly was referred to as “the dreaded bridge”. 


The bridge can be seen from almost anywhere in the circular walk around the garden.


It is a popular prop for photographing family and friends. 


The Japanese maples are starting to turn red.


Samaras prepare to twirl off in a gust of wind. 


I find myself sitting in the ground beside the path even though there are many comfortable benches tucked into the garden. 


I am sitting next to the new bamboo shishi odoshi that translates as “deer frightening” in English. Thankful all the deer are fences out of this beautiful garden. 


I head home to prepare supper. Before I feel ready, the day is over. The sun is setting through the trees and creating magical light across the room. 


The time on my phone says that it is just seven in the evening. I am not ready yet for the fast shortening of the days in our northern hemisphere. I want to savour the last of our late summer’s warmth, even if it is shaking hands with early autumn before its annual departure. 

Meanwhile, Russia has announced a partial mobilization. First it was for 300 reservists. Now I hear possibly one million. Nuclear weapons are mentioned. Is it a bluff? Likely they say while failing to pause before insisting that we should take this threat seriously and prepare. How does one prepare for a Nuclear war? Is an animal really cornered if they very carefully constructed the corner themselves? The analogy doesn’t seem to work somehow. I listen to the UN security talks. I check with trusted YouTube analysts for updates about changes in the Ukrainian frontline. What shall I prepare in the face of possible war? A prayer for peace? A dedicated meditation on love? Possibly. I will go to garden for a powerful potion of fresh peppermint for my tea. I will watch the bright green leaves swirl in the hot water of my favourite mung and I shall breathe. I shall breathe slowly, purposefully and with an open heart, cradled in strength and a unrelenting force. 

Such are these days of this early autumn here on the southwest coast of Canada. 

What is it like this time of year in your  neighbourhood? 

ONLINE GALLERIES include –

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Warm Sun with Cool Shadows

I have my sweater tide around my waist and my cheeks are facing the later morning sun. But there is no mistaking that it is fall. A cool breeze drifts gently through the trees and tickles up the length of my spine.

*Please note: Reader warning about challenging material and painting reference sketch for possibly my next large painting are included near the end of this post.  

I want to not much of anything on days like this. It is a good thing I got the edges on four large paintings done yesterday before heading down to sit beside the sea. 

Autumn crocuses are in full bloom. I always feel like they are playing a great hoax on us, as if wanting us to believe it is spring. 

But it was Saint John Point where I wandered yesterday. This place is intimately familiar. Yet, if I learn into that closeness and seek out something more, it always delivers. 

Again…

And again…

The Arbutus woods, the sea and the sky are never the same twice. So I keep seeking with fresh eyes and a willing spirit. 

Every twist is assessed and acknowledged, sometimes with sadness because the end of a life is so near. Maybe one more season. Hopefully. 

However, even in death Arbutus Trees seem to still have so much to offer with their elegant curves. 

I revel in the grand strength and endurance of the healthy giants. How do they do it when so many others are struggling?

At home the painting edges dry.

These three paintings have displaced us from our great room and dining table.

Not to worry, we have done this a few hundred times before. We have a temporary cozy and beautiful solution. The outside deck table is moved to the big windows in our bedroom. Now how fine is this!?

And in the evening if dinner is later, we slide everything over in front of the fireplace. One could hardly call this roughing it.

Today and tomorrow the Gallery Pod is closed. I have a friend and an art collector arriving for a day trip tomorrow though. I could start on a larger painting but I might wait. What I want to work on is dark and grim. I have a small study I did around five months ago about our tranquil place next to the Salish Sea with the devastation left behind by the Russians in the small village of Bucha village in Ukraine imposed in the foreground.

“One World, Two Places” by Terrill Welch is a small 8 x 10 inch acrylic sketch 

Artist notes: During mid April 2022 war photographers began releasing images of Bucha Ukraine following Russian retreat. The inhumane atrocities where nightmarishly haunting. I was overwhelmed by the graphic possibilities for sickly human behaviour. I went from our calm, warm, cozy home to the shores of the Salish Sea on the southwest coast of Canada where Mount Baker loomed across the waters in the United States. What if our neighbouring unit were to attack us in this way? What would we do? These lands too have witnessed atrocities by European settlers towards Indigenous communities. There is no place of virtue for how despicable humans can be to one another. The miracle might be that we have even moments of peace, compassion and caring at all. Yet, the seascape of my island home is tranquil and takes the edge off of my inner turmoil. I return home and paint “One World, Two Places” using several reference but with a specific image quote to Den Kazansky who risks his physical, mental, emotional and spiritual well-being to document the crimes in Bucha and the war in Ukraine. Kazansky’s tag line on Twitter is “For only in the grip of darkness we will shine amidst the brightest stars” This too could be the title of this painting sketch.


The subject deserves a large canvas. I am just not sure I have the stomach and the courage to paint it. I have a biting, teeth grinding and nightmare kind of concern for those civilians who are on the front lines of the war in Ukraine. I can hike the trails to take the edge off but this doesn’t change the situation. Somehow painting these experiences offers a concrete place outside of my head to record these horrors that contrast so starkly with our daily island life here on the Southwest Coast of Canada.

For now, I am going to make my coffee and see what I decide after that.

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Gifts of Sunflowers from Art Collectors

As the second day of September rolls in after a cool morning, I go to the Gallery Pod to open up for visitors between 11-4 again today. There is an ease to early September where I have chatted with a handful of people in the line up for the bakery this morning who all offered congratulations on the new gallery space. I came home and trimmed up some branches so I can see the entrance to the Gallery Pod from inside the house. Yesterday, the extension cord was placed in a conduit pipe and buried in the trench that had been dug the day before. So everything is looking sparkling and organized. I then came in and ordered two raised cedar planters for the yard. Each will have a locally made olla watering pot that I have already purchased. I liked how the first one has worked in a big clay pot this summer so I decided to see if we can at least grow some salad greens this fall or next year. The big fir trees blocking out the sunshine are the main challenge but we shall see.

In the meantime, an art collector and gallery visitor yesterday brought the most lovely local arrangement of mostly sunflowers for the Gallery Pod. Are they not just the most lovely addition?

Then a little later, another art collector suggested that I come by and see their sunflowers for inspiration. They offered to pick some for me but I knew I wasn’t going get a chance to paint them right at the moment with the opening days for the Gallery Pod that also includes the home studio and our house. So I just went over and gathered a few images to enjoy in the evening light and left the flowers to create seeds for the birds. They certainly were lovely though. They feel as big, bright and cheerful as the sun itself!

I love how much variety there is in sunflowers.

They seems to have a magic all their own as they tower over my head in the early September sky.

Speaking of September, this painting of East Point was inspired from this time of year. It is now on hold as of yesterday and a final decision will be made early next week. In the meantime it is still on the Gallery Pod wall to enjoy.

Another art collector, who is also a friend, will arrive tomorrow night to stay in a local Airbnb for a few days for a much deserved vacation. We have plans to go out for dinner and listen to live music as part of a fundraising event. I expect we might also get a morning hike or two in as well. And maybe even dinner at our house.

Over time, I have noticed that there is a lovely fluidness between serious fans and those who collect my paintings and friendship. Sometimes the art viewing and collecting comes first and sometimes the friendship comes first. I suppose it makes sense that it would be so since the paintings are so deeply personal and a significant way that I express myself in the world. Still, it is something that I am incredibly grateful for and never take for granted.

It is a Friday of counting blessing and being grateful for the pure richness in our ordinary everyday.

What is filling you with gratitude at the moment?

ONLINE GALLERIES include –

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Reopening with a Study of Oyster Bay

It has been almost three years since I have added a post to this Creative Potager Blog. There is not a reasonably way to cover such an expansive absence. So, I have decided to begin again as if it were just yesterday. If the in-between is important to you, there are many public posts to read on my personal Facebook profile and in issues of “A Brush with Life” newsletter for the gallery. Now, it is time to anchor a new beginning and a practice which includes a slight shift away from social media and back to this blog and my website. I am sure the reflective peacefulness of this specific online location will be welcomed by us both. Let’s start with a recent study of Oyster Bay, Mayne Island, on the southwest coast of British Columbia, Canada…

Today was a low tide when we quietly pulled the our Red Rosy Subaru Outback down to the shore for one of our regular picnic lunches. After a few bites, I was out and searching for possible angles to capture the sweet, warm, summer blues before us.

The Salish Sea stretches along the Straight of Georgia as we squint towards the coastal mountains and Vancouver on the far side. Do I want all of the view or just a piece of it?

Or maybe just the rippling water reflections? I can’t decide.

But whatever else, I had best step it along as the tide is definitely coming in.

Now this lengthy stretch seems to be just the right balance.

But what about possibly adding a touch of rock in the foreground from over here?

Oh! Very faintly we can see Mount Baker in the distance. I will stretch the capacity of my phone camera just a little to reach out… and there! Got it! At least I have it enough for my reference needs.

As a landscape painter exposing the mystery in an ordinary day, these are my regular photography sketches. I do not worry about getting that one perfect image but rather strive for a collection of references that I can use to enhance my memory and imagination back in the painting studio. On occasion, these studies, along with small plein air painting sketches of the same subjects, result in a painting but mostly they become foundational information that builds sometimes for years until an idea becomes compelling enough to paint.

So there you have it! Do you also have practices in your life that are as much for their own sake as anything else?

ONLINE GALLERIES include –

ArtWork Archive original paintings and acrylic sketches currently available

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Website: TerrillWelchArtist.com 

Mayne Island BC in May

The sun is shining and there are beach crawls to be done, trails to hike and wildlife to see. But first a seat in the red chair on Georgina Point.

Red Chair over looking ocean.

The waves keep rolling in relation to an off shore breeze.

Rolling sea coming ashore onto the sandstone rocks looking across towards the northeast of the Straight of Georgia.

Put your hiking shoes one and take care of any personal bodily needs as we are heading into an area without facilities. It is only 5 or 6 km with a couple of hills taking the easy route so you can get by without water or snacks… though they are nice to have if you fancy a wee picnic once you get out on the point. Yes, you guessed it. We are going on an adventure Mayne Island’s newest park – Saint John Point.

Pulling into the empty gravel parking lot, I back into the farthest available space making it easier just in case someone else decides to join us. But it is Monday and the island is still quiet with mostly only year-round residents who are busy gardening and preparing for the summer seasonal crowds that will arrive in full force for the May long weekend. But today, the forest and old road are for the birds!

Remnants of the winter storm are scattered through the trees and onto the forest floor. 

A paleated woodpecker heckles above the softer sweeter songs of the other forest birds…  even making the spotted towee sound feeble. 

The new growth on the firs leaves a toffee tang fragrance on a light breeze. 

We keep walking, over the hill and down again, until we get to the trail beside the sea.

Old fir trees beside the trail on Saint John Point Mayne Island.

The light changes swiftly as it sings through the trees and dances back from across the water.

Forest trail on St John Point beside the sea on Mayne Island.

A wee bit farther along, we come to the point itself with its exposed rocks and old arbutus tree grove. This is the prize on this walk. The point invites one to sit and stay a while.

Exposed sunny sandstone point with old arbutus trees beside the sea on Navy Channel at Saint John Point.

So we do. I pick a place on the east side of the knoll that is sheltered from the afternoon sun and sit. I wait. I get this strange sensation of being watched. I look around. Nothing. Then I catch something moving just at my peripheral vision. I turn my head slowly and focus. There are two fierce dots pointing directly out over a narrow snout in a wee red head attached to a long neck and slender body staring right at me from a crevice in the sandstone boulders. Slow and smooth I switch the settings on the camera and raise it up. But the critter is still just a bit too far away. I wait some more and take a few tentative shots as it pokes in and out of the rocks coming up the bank towards me. These are small, shy and quick animals. They only pause for a short second to get their bearings before ducking back down under the cover. A photographer must be patient and fast on the shutter. But I did it!

American Mink coming up between the sandstone rocks at Saint John Point on Mayne Island in British Columbia Canada.

Here we have an American Mink coming up between the sandstone rocks at Saint John Point on Mayne Island in British Columbia, Canada.

And there you have it! The highlight of another Mayne Island adventure during early part of the month of May in the year 2019.

WHAT IS THE MONTH OF MAY OFFERING WHERE YOU ARE?

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ONLINE GALLERIES include –

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When Morning Comes

When morning comes, I like to go down to the sea, particularly after a rain when the mist rolls across the water and slips up through the trees.

Miners Bay Mayne Island British Columbia – after the rains.

The mist is not the same as our pinkish smoke-filled days from the summer’s forest fires.

McLeese Lake, British Columbia – reflections in the heavy smoke.

I can breathe loosely, deeply and freely in the mist.

I have a thousand, at least a thousand, stories to tell but they too have slipped through the trees with the mist.

Instead, lets take a breath and release it into the autumn coolness.

What are you wanting to release today?

© 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

Life during Hazy Days in British Columbia

British Columbia is burning. The wildfires have devoured a land mass larger than the province of Prince Edward Island. The fire season is not over yet. There might be a little rain on Sunday but it won’t be enough. Air quality warnings are frequent but unnecessary. I only need to breathe in next to the open window to know how many particles there are in each square inch of smoke-filled air. The sunsets are as eerie as they are beautiful.

No long hikes for me. A casual stroll to sit by the water is all that this week can offer.

I did manage to get out to do a small plein air painting though.

Hazy Morning Active Pass 5 x 7 acrylic plein air sketch

The painting sketch is now off on an adventure of its own – the eighth painting to do so this past five weeks.

But the Terrill Welch Gallery! Now it has enjoyed the soft light from outside through the feature window.

I will be there again on Friday at 10:30 to do a live recording on my Art of Terrill Welch Facebook Page for the first Friday Art Stop feature. If you have a moment, drop on in. I did an introductory video, a sort of sample,  for this new project that you may enjoy in the meantime.

 

I suppose today’s post is my best efforts to find my way forward during uncertain times.

 

How do you process things that you cannot change? Like wildfires? Like threats of nuclear war?  

 

© 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

A Sunrise Series in May

Just as the skies started to lighten the shapes in the valley below, I rise and quickly make coffee. It is just after 4:30 am. I am ready to leave the house at 4:50 am which will put me in Reef Bay at 5:10 am. Sunrise is at 5:26 am. I park down the short trail by the beach. I am the only one here at this hour. Gathering my camera, cell phone, coffee; I meander over the sandstone as the tide slips farther out to sea. The light is still in the blue pink range.

But it warms quickly and the gulls toss themselves up in the air, before circling around and landing out on the reef beside me.

Pouring my second cup of coffee, I settle into an occasional breeze picking up salty licks and hints of seaweed as it reaches the shore.

Then the sun is up!

My heart clings to the moment as my eyes run up the beam of light across the Strait of Georgia.

Stay with it…. hold…hold…hold…

I marvel at the prisms of light on the sea. Glorious!

And now, we have started a new day!

As you are reading this I am waiting for the ferry to Vancouver with a carload of paintings and a few long days ahead of me with the Art! Vancouver Fair. However, at any moment I can check back and find my centre with this sunrise. It is like a tether anchoring me to my best self.

What tether anchors you to your best self?

Note: If you are in the city I encourage you to come down and say hello. It is not often I show my work in Vancouver and I don’t have any immediate plans to do so again anytime soon.

© 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

Until later Prince Edward Island as I leave with more painting sketches

Has the past three weeks really gone so fast that I have not intrigued you with my gallivanting from shore to hill to shore again? Well it seems so though I did share ten sketches on the website update, there has been more – so much more! But one must choose what to share I think, otherwise boredom will have you on the next global surf for website spectacular viewing. We must get on with it!

Let’s see…. oh yes, we shall start with just a few of the latest painting sketches and then a handful of photographs of subjects I find particularly fascinating.

I can never seem to get enough of the red dirt and sandstone of Prince Edward Island!

South Shores PEI study 8 x 10 inch acrylic sketch on gessobord

South Shores PEI study 8 x 10 inch acrylic sketch on gessobord by Terrill Welch IMG_5264

Cape Bear on edge study 12 x 9 inch acrylic sketch on gessobord

Cape Bear on edge study 12 x 9 inch acrylic sketch on gessobord by Terrill Welch IMG_5259

Wind Swept Murray Head PEI study  11 x 14 inch acrylic sketch on gessobord

Wind Swept Murray Head PEI study 11 x 14 inch acrylic sketch on gessobord by Terrill Welch IMG_5245

Hilltop View Above DeSable River PEI study 8 x 10 inch acrylic sketch

Hilltop View Above DeSable River PEI study 8 x 10 inch acrylic sketch by Terrill Welch IMG_5492

But in truth, it is the relationship between land, sea and sky that keeps my attention no matter if it is red or white sand and stone.

Fogged In At Basin Head PEI Study  8 x 10 inch acrylic sketch on gessobord

Fogged In At Basin Head PEI Study 8 x 10 inch acrylic sketch on gessobord by Terrill Welch IMG_5530

But there are also the lighthouses…

West Point Lighthouse 1875 PEI

West Point Lighthouse 1875 PEI by Terrill Welch IMG_4851

Colourful fishing huts…

Georgetown Harbour PEI

Georgetown Harbour PEI by Terrill Welch IMG_4896

And the churches…

This one comes with a story about its photographic capture even:

I almost didn’t get this photograph of the Roman Catholic Church of the Immaculate Conception, built 1848, in Brae, PEI. You see, there is at least one or sometimes two churches, of some sort it seems, within walking distance of pretty much every farm and fishing village on Prince Edward Island. There are large churches, small churches, plain churches, beautiful churches and unusual churches. Many, like this one, only open the doors for special occasions and eventually may be lost to more central houses of worship that can be reached easily with a vehicle. But, in a day’s adventure on this gorgeous island, we see a lot of churches!

Traveling with a landscape photographer, who is also the driver, can get more than just a little bit tedious. There is a lot of stop and go. There can be lot of turning around and going back even. So, by the time I spotted the Brae church through the trees and a ways over the fields and trees, my sweet husband was just about ready to crumble into a two-year old’s meltdown of angry despair. He is an extremely patient man but there are limits. Turning on the signal and thinking as fast as I can, I shout – LAST PHOTO OF THE DAY! while simultaneously and silently praying to the gods of fading light that I might be able to keep my word without regret. I didn’t dare look sideways at him, not even out of the corner of my eye. I just kept driving and searching for a photograph of the church from various angles as we approached. I knew I was only going to get to stop the car once without the floodgates of frustration overflowing the banks of spousal goodwill… and I was going to have to be quick about it. We were approaching the end of a long day, both of us hungry and tired.

At first I couldn’t find the shot. There were power lines everywhere and very little to use for context. Then I saw a small bridge and zipped across. Turning into the Brae Harbour Rd, I spin a slow u-turn and park. I leap out of the car and jog across the road. I had it! Last photo of the day – with nothing more than a heavy sigh and a grinning shaking of his head as he asks – did you get it!?

Phewffff! Love wins another round!

Roman Catholic Church of the Immaculate Conception 1848  Brae PEI

Roman Catholic Church of the Immaculate Conception 1848 Brae PEI by Terrill Welch IMG_4862

And then there are red dirt back roads….

Eliot River Rd PEI

Eliot River Rd PEI by Terrill Welch IMG_5362

Fresh leaves gracing Currie Rd PEI

Fresh leaves gracing Currie Rd PEI by Terrill Welch IMG_5394

Farrar Rd PEI

Farrar Rd PEI by Terrill Welch IMG_5397

No matter where we went, from North Cape to Cavendish to Summerside to St. Peters Bay, to East Point to Georgetown, to Murray Head to Rocky Point or just on the streets of Charlottetown, we were welcomed with exemplar Canadian kindness! Prince Edward Island has managed to cultivate the best of rural and urban living in its small province and it is a place that warms the heart and lifts the spirit. We will be back. We have made a promise to ourselves to have me come and work in the fall to early winter, maybe in 2017, to capture the landscape again in painting sketches and photographs during the autumn season. For now, I must go home and start working up the Prince Edward Island landscape onto larger canvases using the reference material I have gathered over the past seven weeks. I owe a huge thanks to all the islanders who have welcomed me and shared their favourite places and advice. There are too many to name but you know who you are! Thank you!!! Until we meet again!

 

I usually end with a question but I actually have not one to ask today so…

 

What question might you like to ask today?

 

P.S. Save the date for Mayne Island, B.C. – West to East Coast Art Show featuring new landscape painting sketches and recent large oil paintings by Terrill Welch on Sat. July 9th 1-4 pm and Sun. July 10th from 11 am – 4 pm at the Mayne Island Community Centre, 493 Felix Jack Road.

Terrill will be displaying over 18 of her new east coast painting sketches (prints of these works can be ordered) from her trip to Prince Edward Island this spring along with recent west coast landscape paintings that will be available to purchase.

During this pop up show, Terrill will be painting live and demonstrating how her work goes from a collection of sketches and photography reference materials to the final large oil paintings.

Come experience the magic of these landscape renderings of Canada’s west and east coasts as they are captured and translated by Terrill Welch with her brushes and paints onto medium and large canvases.

 

© 2016 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