A Quieter Time

For much of the year,  I thrive on a creative rhythm of quick short inhales with repeated exhales of joy and possibility in our ordinary day. Blogs are posted weekly. Classes are taught spring and fall. Solo art shows are proposed and curated. Requested application deadlines are met for the following year. I take us on hikes, painting trips, studio views of work in progress and this year into the new gallery. Then it is November. The days are short. Winter storms arrive. My internal rhythm shifts. The inhales are longer, deeper and the exhales reveal little to outside world until early spring. This is my restorative time. Social media posts become sparse. I always announce that I am taking a break during this time. I am not though. Not really.

Road to Everyday – 36 X 24 inch oil on canvas by Terrill Welch (available)

What I am doing is diving deep into my own creative well and wandering the trails, reading books, visiting with friends and neighbours and, with few interruptions, covering canvases with paint! This time of year I need this just as the rest of the year there is a steady flow of engagement outward. I know and trust we will all be better for it. Or, at least I will.

So, just so you know, posts of all sorts will be unscheduled from now until early in the new year. They will still happen but on my internal whim rather than a schedule.

What does your winter schedule look like?

© 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

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Red Yellow and Blue for You

Autumn flashes her best colours across our small island during these last few weeks. Now that it is the first of November, I feel I must gather this late season gold together for safe keeping during the winter rains which will surely come soon.

There has been a plein air painting day in the Japanese Gardens.

There has been a morning walk by sea before an anticipated storm.

Best of all though, there has been time to just be and watch the leaves drift down from my favourite maple tree….

Ah yes! October, so many pleasant gifts you have given!

What October Gold are you tucking away?

© 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

Happy International Artist Day 2017

Started in 2004  on Pablo Picasso’s birthday, October 25th,  by my fellow Canadian painter, Chris MacClure, in White Rock, British Columbia, today is International Artist Day! What is this day all about?

“To celebrate the contribution all artists make to society by promoting and raising their credibility and visibility locally and around the world.” Mandate on Official International Artist Day Website

Tell us, what artists would you like to celebrate 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

Figuring Out What Appears Impossible

You know the old saying “She comes from hardy stock”? Apparently, before 1200 “hardy” was attributed to boldness and daring in battle. In this sense I have never had to look far to find examples of boldness and daring, though “the battle” was one of ordinary everyday living rather than war. Let me share a photograph I took this fall when I was up at my parents’ farm in rural British Columbia.

Now, it is not a very exciting photograph and possibly not even very interesting. There is the farm dog  and rows upon rows of covered round bales of hay. But, if you look closely, there is a smallish man who on a good day stands about 5’5″ and weighs about 145 lbs made up of sinewy muscle. He is on no medication and is closer to his 81st birthday than his 80th. These hay bales got here with one tractor, haying equipment and this one man. Though getting the fields planted, cut, baled and stacked for the 30 head of cattle is enough of a job, it is not the most dangerous of strategic tasks in the plan. That label belongs to getting the hay covered with those huge tarps. What he must do is put the tarp on the forks of the tracker and lift it up to the top of the stack. Then he gets off the tractor and scrambles up a ladder to get himself up on the last top narrow shelf. From there, he is able to situate the tarp so he can unroll it over the haystack. The tarp is heavy and awkward. If it slides off, or the wind catches it and blows it off, he has to start over again. But, feeling most pleased with himself, he has developed a way of folding the tarp so that its own weight will unfold it into place as he steadily opens it across the top of haystack. There isn’t much to hang onto so the work must be done with caution and dexterity. I helped him a couple of years ago and then, with the help of my daughter, got him a climbing harness and rope that he could anchor to the tractor for this part of the job. But it didn’t work. This would require two people. One on the tractor moving it along and one unfolding the tarp. So back to plan “A” he goes.

Now he didn’t just one day decide to climb along the top of a haystack at 80 years old. This man was a hand feller of trees for much of his young adulthood – and a good one. This is a job not only requires quick thinking and the physical ability of an athlete but also being able to anticipate and plan ahead. In fact, your life depends on these abilities. Later on, he operated a line skidder and so on. He has never stopped asking flexibility and strength from his body. I see him crawling under equipment and up the sides and then down again and I still get tired just watching. On top of all this, my parents still grow a huge garden and beef. They spend about half the year being able to say that their dinner was “0” distance from farm to table. So, over all with no smoking and very little drinking,  he has done the maximum to keep his health.

Is this life hard? Is it difficult? Is it a worry should he get hurt or fall? Yes, to all three. However, the quality of living is of high value. If you suggested maybe he should be thinking about selling the farm and moving to an apartment in town, he would ask with a shrug “Then what would I do!?”

I feel the same way about painting!

This man is great at figuring out how to do what appears impossible. How about you?

 

What have you recently figured out that at first appeared impossible?

 

© 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

Show Time for Beauty of Oils Painters

After a summer of chasing the morning light painting en plein air, three students from the Beauty of Oils Painting class and myself are ready for a fall group show in our local Mayne Island Library. Details are in the poster below. The featured painting in the poster is by Jody Waldie.

These fellow painters carved out time on most Thursday mornings from May to September to brush in patches of colour on canvas from various vantage points around Mayne Island in British Columbia, Canada. Here are just a few of the paintings that will grace the freshly renovated walls the library for local or visiting viewer’s pleasure.

House on Stilts – Active Pass, 11 x 14 inch oil on canvas by Katherine Cox Stevenson

Spring at the Lighthouse, 11 x 14 inch oil on canvas by Glenda King

Summer Tide, 10 x 8 inch oil on canvas by Jody Waldie

Morning Along the Island Road Mayne Island BC, 20 x 16 inch oil on the canvas by Terrill Welch

For anyone who has ever attempted painting with oils out in the open air, it goes without saying that we know it takes years of practice and skill-building to render a proficient canvas. Still, from the very beginning, using some basic methods and processes, there is an aliveness, a deep pleasure of the moment, a delight in colour and movement captured on the canvases that is worthy of sharing.  I am honoured to have had the opportunity to have provided some of these basics in oil painting lessons and to have been invited to paint side-by-side with these fellow painters as our brushes flew across the canvases capturing our glorious island summer landscapes. There comes a point when nothing can replace regular practice, and more practice. At this juncture a painter has only one reasonable choice – get out there and do it! And we did. I am thrilled to not only having been invited to paint but also to be asked to include a couple of paintings with this group for the fall show. Seeing a selection of our summer’s paintings hung together will warm the chill off the months ahead like winter preserves.

How do you like to render your summer joy for winter preserves?

P.S. With a  bit of luck, we shall have another spring show from the Beauty of Oils Painters at the Mayne Island Community Centre following our winter/spring Studio Intensive oil painting class. The fall class is full with 10 in-person students for the skill building Beauty of Oils painting class and the online sister class is also at its maximum for the pilot class. I do not do much marketing of these classes and it is mostly by word of mouth or if a person happens to catch a Facebook post where I mention the offering. If this is something you think you would like to do either in-person or online you are welcome to let me know via email or messenger on Facebook and I will add your name to the list to be notified of future classes.

© 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 Deeper Change Of Season

Under the heavy warmth of blankets, I can hear my alarm twittering loudly from across the room. It is 5:30 am and dark. Sleep has a stranglehold on all of my sensory facilities. I really don’t want to wake up and I certainly am not going to leap cheerfully to the floor to greet the day! Stiffly, I sit up and reach for my glasses. Somehow during the night I misplaced the exact location of my nose and ears and must fumble to sort out lenses, arms and facial parts. I suppose, I should go turn that little pest of a clock off. My half-awake brain reminds me that this early start is my choice. I am choosing to get up before daylight, just like I chose to buy a new jar of honey even though there is still a third left in the old jar and just like I chose to put two extra leaves in the kitchen table for six even though only David and I shall be eating at it. The quick, almost nonsensical, answer for these seasonal choices is that the evenings are shorter and the days are cooler.

The longer deeper answer is that there is still some part of me that gathers the equivalent of a squirrel’s nuts for the winter months. It is irrational behavior really. I tell myself that the honey will keep for years… but so will the dark brown sugar I already have. I do not need to start cooking dinner earlier and go to bed earlier but I do. So much so, that when the track lighting in the kitchen quit working six years ago we have neglected to replace it. Oh, we think about fixing it alright. We have even pick out new lights and talked to the electrician.  But mostly we hardly notice. Dinner is made and cleaned up before dark year round or we move a lamp over to the kitchen counter if we have guests and are eating later. Then we notice. But this doesn’t happen very often. So we forget again.

The thing is, we tend to live naturally in harmony with the way of the seasons – most days without even conscious reasoning. Let’s put the extra leaves in the table this week we say. We do not have a specific reason. But within a few hours books we are reading creep onto the surface and there is a notebook for writing down fragments of ideas. A sketchbook is then added and then a few drawing pencils. I think about the candles up in the loft and how nice they would look with the large table-cloth. They are idle thoughts. Nothing is rushed, orderly or precise. One minute I am considering whether we need more flashlight batteries and the next about picking up a bag of local apples to make crisp. There is seemingly no connection between these two fragments of seasonal activities. Yet, they linger, waiting for to respond. Like the low golden light that lasts thorough the autumn afternoon, there is comfort in their presence.

Other parts of my life are more rushed, scheduled and structured. There are new fall oil painting classes to teach, someone wants private painting lessons and another person schedules a personal visit to the gallery midweek before the latest show changes. These things squeeze up against my precious painting time – time that has to puff out its chest just to be able to reach the brushes between all the other demands.

But the painting still holds, still reaches and most weeks still happens. Two new works are ready to have their edges painted later this afternoon. One of them is this one….

Just Before Sunset Mayne Island BC “resting” 30 x 24 inch oil on canvas

This is the reason I am writing a blog post, the 616th blog post since late December 2009, before daylight. It is because this afternoon is reserved for painting! Painting edges, painting grounds and just painting…. and then maybe a long walk.

What natural rhythms of autumn seasonal changes do you notice in your own life?

P.S. Remind me to write early next week about a new group art show coming up with The Beauty of Oils Painters.

© 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

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

Is there more than one Monet?

A Monet is a Monet is a Monet – or is it? If we only think of Claude Monet as an impressionist painter then there are paintings in his life’s work that one might be reluctant to claim as a good representation of Monet’s work. In this sense, I am going to propose that there is more than one Monet when considering his work and also that he has offered us more than he is usually given credit.

The tight small dabs of sometimes pure colour associated with the “impressionist years” and his large lily paintings come from different approaches and the latter from a mature use of all that he knew. I come to this understanding following my visit to “Claude Monet’s Secret Garden” exhibition at the Vancouver Art Gallery which has a dozen or so works from his impressionist period and then goes on to focus on his late years of painting when he was troubled by cataracts and a legitimate fear of having surgery at the time.

The impressionist paintings are of medium size, easily portable and distinctive in their approach using small short brushstrokes and dabs of colour to capture the effects of light on a landscape. Here are a couple of my favourites from the exhibition.

Snow Effect, Sunset by Claude Monet 1875

Field of Yellow Irises at Giverny by Claude Monet 1887

Later Monet lived on his garden property for 40 years. This is where he started to study light in its deeper complexities. This is where he observes light changing every seven minutes and lamented that if he didn’t finish a work one day the next could not be counted on to give him the same conditions to continue the work. To compensate, he worked on up to 20 prepared canvases at one time changing them out as the light shifted or if the day was different.

The Seine at Port-Villez, Rose Effect by Claude Monet 1894

The Seine at Port-Villez, Eventing Effect by Claude Monet 1894

The “Claude Monet Secret Garden” exhibition has many large canvases which Monet was able to work on in his 70 and 80s because he was working from home in his garden and the paintings could be moved in and out of the studio as needed.

Life can either knock the stuffing out of us at times or allow us to reach something we may not have been able to do otherwise. Sometimes it does both. During the First World War Monet could hear the fighting from his home studio as he worked. Around this time he was also grieving from the death of second wife and one of his sons. Grief and not being able to see clearly from his cataracts are both possible causes for a change in work during this period.

These rich deep hues are so different from his earlier works, yet there are clues that these are indeed by his brush. These renderings are completed with large expressive brush-marks with the colours blended right on the canvas! Clearly these paintings are something different from his early impressionist paintings and definitely leading us towards what was to come next in post-impressionism and expressionism.

Water Lilies by Claude Monet 1916-1919

“I only know that I do what I can to convey what I experience before nature and that most often, in order to succeed in conveying what I feel, I totally forget the most elementary rules of painting, if they existed that is.” – Claude Monet, 1912

What he couldn’t see he could still feel, hear and touch. Monet had been painting for so long that he had a well established habit of placing his paints in the same place on the palette. He did not need to see well to continue to paint with excellence!

Monet painted the oval lily paintings and the wisteria paintings (which were suppose to go above the lily paintings) while he had cataracts. In 1923 Monet had cataract surgery. By this time he had suffered with them for 11 years.  He destroyed some of the paintings from that time and reworked others once he could see clearly again. And yet, other paintings feel like they were left as they were – though the date of completion on this one suggests otherwise.

The Japanese Bridge by Claude Monet 1918-1924

The information card tells me that Monet completed twenty paintings of this bridge and the body of work is among his most abstract. These later works often show bare canvas in places along with these free loose and large brushstrokes. Would Monet consider the paintings finished? I believe so simply by looking at the continuation of his work during this period of his life. However, these works were in his own personal collection. They were never sold. So it does beg the question of whether he was unsatisfied with them and so didn’t put them up for sale or if he made a decision to keep them for his own appreciation.

The exhibition shows two gorgeous wisteria paintings having some 5- 15 layers of paint and still feeling like each brushstroke has been applied distinctively, accurately – alla prima! In the end, there was no room for showing these wisteria paintings with the lily pond paintings as originally planned. To honour Monet’s original intention for the wisteria paintings, the Vancouver Art Gallery did a curved display wall.

The paintings shared in these images (for personal study use only) are some of the 38 paintings out of 94 that were in Monet’s private collection at the time of his death. These paintings will be showing until October 1, 2017 at the Vancouver Art Gallery in British Columbia. The paintings are on loan from the  Musée Marmottan Monet in Paris. I feel extremely fortunate that I was able to take a half day to be with these works so close to home. If you get a chance, do go and do take the tour after spending sometime getting to know the paintings being shown. Then go through and look again with your new understanding of why these particular works were selected.

If someone was to ask if there was more than one YOU worth knowing what would you say?

© 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

Beginning at the End with Monet

When we walked into the Vancouver Art Gallery to join the line up, it was five minutes after opening. As we entered the visitors were jammed up at the beginning of the “Claude Monet’s Secret Garden” exhibition showing 38 out of 94 of his paintings that had been in his personal private collection. So we walked through the middle of the show and went to end and this is where I am going to start today. Monet’s last painting followed his cataract surgery and he was extremely excited to be able to see clearly again. The painting is listed as “Les Roses” in the exhibition but it is also known as “The Rose Bush” elsewhere online. It is huge at maybe 5 x 9 feet or 6 x 9 feet. I am not exactly sure because I couldn’t find any reference to its size either with the exhibition materials or online. But here it is.

“Les Roses” or “The Rose Bush” by Claude Monet 1925-26.

Please note: all images of Monet’s work have been shared for personal study. No image can be used for any other purpose.

Let’s take a moment and explore what we notice about this work. What stands out to you? How is this work maybe different than what you thought you knew about Monet’s paintings? How is it familiar with what you already know?

I personally had no knowledge about this painting and was so surprised to see it. My first thought was – this isn’t in my extensive reference books on Monet! But then I doubted myself until I could get home and check. However, I was right. This painting is in neither of my complete (or rather incomplete) volumes of Monet’s life’s work.

I was mesmerized and absolutely fascinated with this painting. He would have been 85 to 86 years old when he did this work during the last year of his life. What a way to finish his many years of painting!

It took four years to negotiate the exhibition between the Vancouver Art Gallery and the private Musée Marmottan Monet in Paris France.  The Vancouver exhibition is showing 38 out of 94 paintings in the collection. In 1966 Monet’s son, Michel Monet, left the Musée Marmottan Monet his own collection of his father’s work, thus creating the world’s largest collection of Monet paintings. My only complaint is that there is no catalogue sharing some of the stories I am going to retell to you here based on my notes of the guided tour for the exhibition which, if you get the chance I highly recommend you partake. First walk through and become familiar with all 38 paintings. Don’t waste time reading the chronology and notes on the wall because this can be found online and in other books later. Next do the tour. Then go through the exhibit one more time to integrate what you have learned. If you live in the Vancouver area and can go more than once – do! It is much more economical than a trip to France.

Often, we hear timing is everything. In Monet’s case there are a couple of events around his time in history worth noting.

In 1839 photograph was developed, one year before Monet born. Before this time it had been up to painters to record the realism of events and paint portraits of famous and not so famous people. Paintings were a visual record of events. Photography was expected to change all this and there was speculation that  this would be the end of painting. I mean why labour over a painting when you can have a photo-realistic image in a flash!? By the time Monet was attending art school he would have been in the thick of this debate. Now, particularly for those of us that are both photographers and painters, we better understand the limitations of photographic realism which is limited and has difficulty capturing our lived experiences due to camera distortion and limitations in rendering natural light. But photographs were all new and filled our imagined possibilities at the time. To this day, there are splits in painting approaches between high-realism, full-sensory painting impressions and expressionism abstraction. Personally, I find these splits more theoretical than directly applied to painting practice by painters (and the older I get the more I notice this) but it is worth noting these divisions just the same.

In 1841 tubes of paint were invented by American artist John Rand, one year after Monet born. Up until this time a painter had to mix the pigments with oils, grinding them together to the right consistency every day or at the very least every few days. The painter, or their assistants, had to a difficult task to accomplish before they could ever begin painting a chosen subject. Hence, most painting was done within the studio or indoors. Tube paints changed all this. They stayed usable for long periods of time and were easy to transport out of doors – hence painting en plein air became possible and popular in the years following. The invention of tube paints was a game changer for painters and painting practice – even in the studio.

But let’s go back to “Les Roses” and take in those fragrant blooming brambles one more time. Notice how the paint is mixed right on the canvas, blended and swept together in large gestural movements. Look at the painting close and then step back from your screen and see how the roses themselves disappear into the swirls of colour. Take note of how Monet leaves parts of the canvas bare near the edges. This is not because he wasn’t finished but rather because of an aesthetic of allowing the painter’s process to be visible or letting paint be paint.

In next week’s post we will speculate about how he came to this place in the last large painting rendered at the end of his long and productive life.

What impressions come to mind as you view “Les Roses” by Claude Monet?

© 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

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