Mountain Stands Alone

It was a good weekend for art sales here at Creative Potager but I will tell you more about that later. Right now I am going to share with you how I use photography as study for future painting. When I tell people I sometimes take up to 150 reference images for one painting and that I use them in place of sketches, I can see the confusion slip into the corners of their eyes as they try and understand what I am talking about. Let’s use my fascination with Mount Baker for an example.

In fact, Mount Baker may be the single most motivating factor for me to buy a 70 – 300 mm lens with an image stabilizer. I do alright with my 17-85 mm lens which also has an image stabilizer for most things. But that mountain is too far away from Mayne Island and I don’t think it is going to get any closer anytime soon – at least I hope not.

A photo study of a subject for a future painting is not about standing fixed in one spot taking one shot after another. It is about getting to know the subject in its context. It is about feeling my way into the frame. It is intuitive observation. This is what I call discovering a realism of subject rather than of object. There is a difference and I will expand on this in a future post.

Most times I go back to the same places at different times of day, during different seasons. Each time these memories and images get stockpiled as internal references for the work that will come later with paint on canvas.

I am finding that these studies seem to offer more in-depth of understanding of my subject  than en plein air painting which I had assumed would be the ultimate in painting my subject in its context. This is a surprise to me. Maybe it is that I haven’t done enough en plein air painting recently. I would love to hear from other painters about what their experience as been.

Of this particular photo engagement with Mount Baker, this is my personal favourite frame.

(image available for purchase here.)

I like the soft focused foreground drawing our attention to Mount Baker yet somehow still reminding us that a pile of rocks – is still just a pile of rocks.

So there you have it. A few images from my latest study of Mount Baker and the mountain stands alone.

Oh I didn’t forget – you want to know about the art sales over the weekend.

The first of the large original oil paintings KEEPING WATCH in the STUDY of BLUE solo exhbition has sold to a collector inVictoriaB.C.Canada. This means six of the fifteen paintings in this show are now sold.

Also, large canvas print of the photograph of GOING, a medium canvas print of FOGGED IN and eight cards of photographs and paintings sold to an unknown buyer on redbubble. Thank you whoever you are. Your support and interest in my work is most appreciated.

And thank you to all of you who are part of my creative journey.

Sprout question: What mountain in your creativity stands alone?

STUDY OF BLUE  solo exhibition open until Wednesday July 27, 2011.

© 2011 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.

FromMayne Island,British Columbia,Canada

Terrill Welch online Gallery at

30 times Same, Same

View Karl Isakson’s 1918 painting “Nature morte” as part of Wikimedia Commons.

I posted the process I used to paint my first oil painting in 30 years yesterday. “East Point Cliffs” is a rugged painting and rough around the edges, however, it is done. I need to begin again as I trust that not all learning is accomplished on one canvas. Yet, I couldn’t even consider painting the exact same image again, and then again. It is just not in my nature. It is an esteemed practice though. I have on my bookshelf from many years ago Complete Course in Oil Painting: Combined Edition – Four Volumes in One (1960) by Olle Nordmark. On page 123 he states the following:

“Beginners are inclined to think that experienced painters get their effects easily, without travail. This is not so. Great masters are great because they are willing to take infinite pains and do the work over again an indefinite number of times at any stage of the painting. Willingness to erase, or to start all over again on a clean painting surface is essential to good painting, whether you are a beginner or an artist of established reputation.”

Nordmark provides an example of Swedish painter Karl Isakson (1878-1922) known for his exact precision of tone. Isakson often discarded as many as 30 paintings of one subject before he was willing to show anyone his canvas. Thirty times. Thirty times painting the same subject again and again until the artist felt he had mastered his subject. As someone who loves colour, the results take my breath away. The pieces are timeless.

View Karl Isakson’s  1919 Udsigt över Svaneke at ArtNet.

I have provided two examples. To see some of Isakson’s other work explore this Google image search here. I even noticed more than one painting that has survive of the same subject.

So… I am publicly making a commitment to paint 30 paintings by the end of 2010 on the theme of Sea, Land and Time. I will, as much as my vulnerability will allow, let you look over my shoulder as I do so.

Sprout Question: Whose creative work before 1940 do you admire and what have you learned from them?

Note: If you, as some of you I know do, have a practice of creating from the same subject many times please feel free to provide a link to your work and tell us what you have learned in the process.

Best of the weekend to you:) Terrill

© 2010 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