Sailing Through The Trees – a start

The curved deck and angular presence hints mysteriously as it sails through the trees. I have walked all angles, from the expanse of lawn, to ground zero, where the building towers steep above me. After musing over several possibilities, I settle on this view.  There are curves of arbutus held tightly among the straight firs, all cradled by a high shore path. And of course, there is the sea. This is the view that intrigues and keeps me coming back for a second, third and even fifth time.

House In the trees beside the sea by Terrill Welch

Except there is one problem. I want the late afternoon light kissing the face of my subject and this is a painting problem that will require some resolve or speculation. Likely it will take both.  In January, the later afternoon light doesn’t reach this far. The sun slips behind a slight hill before it can make it around to this northwesterly cove. I am stuck. I am left waiting for the earth to turn itself into a longer day. What to do?

Well, I could just wait… but the canvas size has been decided… and I shall head to the city to pick the 30 x 40 inch surface tomorrow afternoon and I do so want to get started. I have ideas for this work! The brushes are splashing paint around so violently  in my head that a shipwreck might occur if I don’t begin. So then, a painter must start with what she has.

I had planned to dive right in, using only my 30 or so photography references from three different shoots, for this painting. But in light of the slowly-turning-earth towards longer days and a higher sun stretching farther westward, I decide a painting sketch to study composition and imagined light effects is in order after all.

painting alla prima study sketch by Terrill Welch

The work is raw, rough and full of exploration as I imagine where the light is going to be – eventually.  Yet, it is enough to hold my initial ideas – at least until I can get an underpainting on the large canvas anyway. The small study is my “notes to self” and the brushes are now temporarily quiet in their jars.  We have successfully avoided becoming marooned on a sandbar during the violent seas of my imagination. Hopefully, it is clear sailing, with just the right breeze of suggestion, from here to our destination.

House in the Trees Study – 8 x 10 inch acrylic sketch by Terrill Welch

Acrylic-Study-for-Sailing-Through-The-Trees-by-Terrill-Welch

It truly is not much of a reference but I believe it will be enough to contemplate while I work up an underpainting next week. Then I will go back each week and see how the sun is doing as it labors to set  a little farther west each day. I might be asking too much of myself to wait for it. We will see. Maybe by the time the work is blocked in, the sun will be ready? Here is hoping!

What might YOU be waiting and preparing for at the same time?

Never Miss the Good bits! Sign Up Now for “A Brush with Life” the curated editorial Terrill Welch Gallery newsletter published every second Friday.

ONLINE GALLERIES include –

ArtWork Archive original paintings and acrylic sketches currently available

Redbubble painting and photography prints and merchandise

Work in progress BLOG –

Creative Potager – first place new work is unveiled. Subscribe to stay current.

Sea and Shore – building up paint

Building up paint on a large canvas, after the underpainting is completed and dry, takes big brushes, time and daring or as my friend Elena Maslova-Levin says in quoting Rainer Maria Rilke – to go through the experience of seeing all the way to the end, to where no one can go any further“. *

But eventually the shapes start to appear and the painting starts to come alive.

The most challenging aspect is to stay in the energy of the original conversation with my subject. I have the painting sketch. I have the reference images and I even have a couple of video clips. But at some point I must let whatever has stuck guide me and just paint. I am at the “just paint” stage.

The only thing that can be done now – it is to simply start…

I make slight adjustments to the composition as I go…

My arm and shoulder begin to feel the strain of reaching. I keep painting!

And painting!

And painting some more.

Now it is time to build on the tensions, the life blood of the place while adding in the dancing light of this moment with is deep history of conversations between sea and shore. Can I do it? Will the painting soon be breathing on its own?

Well, we shall have to wait and see. We are not there yet… but soon!

What was the last long, exhilarating journey YOU have taken? 

* quote is from the introduction for the catalogue book CONVERSATIONS ON EDGE written and edited by Elena Maslova-Levin for the two artist show with Terrill Welch on Mayne Island during the spring of 2018. The book can be previewed and ordered HERE.

PART 1 “Sea and Shore – A beginning” can be viewed HERE.

Part 3 “Sea and Shore – Strong Finish” can be viewed HERE.

© 2018 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

Achival record or mindfulness practice: painting the southwest coast of Canada

Am I archiving our southwest coast of Canada in my paintings?

The very idea has my hands go clammy and a coolness run from tailbone up to the very crown of my head. What a strange assumption I at first thought! But then it came up a couple of more times. But the concept is no longer presented as a question.

“You are creating archival records of these beautiful trees and seascapes!”

Northeasterly Morning Strait of Georgia Mayne Island BC 20 x 40 inch oil on canvas by Terrill Welch

It is a concerning accusation, at least by definition…

“In general, archives consist of records that have been selected for permanent or long-term preservation on grounds of their enduring cultural, historical, or evidentiary value.” (Wikipedia)

I am more than a bit squeamish about the idea that my paintings might be considered historical evidence collected to preserve something that no longer exists. I have held higher hopes than this for the influence of these works! I have had no intention of creating historical records with my brush. Instead, I have wanted to create a desire to preserve and protect the land, the sea and our humanity that knowingly or unknowingly rely on them. I want to strengthen our direct relationship and connection with our natural environment, pure and yet not so simple it seems.

Have I failed if the paintings, even before I am dead, even before this fragile environment is damaged beyond repair, are being considered as important historical archival documents?

As our Canadian federal government agrees to buy an obsolete, yet-to-be-built twinning pipeline from big oil stakeholders for a whopping 4.5 billion of taxpayer dollars while the Provinces and First Nations head for the courts, I am going to go paint!

I am going to drive to my location in my 2012 Subaru Outback with my water-mixable, vegetable oil, paints that use no solvents. Yes, as you can see, I find this sustainability and transition to clean energy complicated. Yet, I trust we will get there or parish trying. (These are the only two options really.)

I am going it go paint, not as an act of creating a historical record but as a meditation, an act of mindfulness in appreciation of what is.

Therefore, I beg of you – experience these paintings as reminders of what we need to protect rather than coveted records of something that will likely disappear, through oil spills, through climate change, through our collective lack of regard! A painting is nothing, absolutely nothing, in comparison to the real thing – in comparison to you experiencing the ordinary moments in an ordinary day somewhere on the southwest coast of Canada. This I am sure of!

Summer Lowtide Morning 16 x 20 inch oil on canvas plein air by Terrill Welch Aug 17 2017 IMG_0461

May the Salish sea breeze ruffle your hair as starfish wink in the low tide, speckled with seagulls, seals, leaping orcas and children playing in the pools of warm water while grandparents watch from under the shade of an old arbutus tree.

We can do this hard thing! In this I believe.

What about you? 🙂

© 2018 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

Winter Solstice Reflections

Still congested with a winter cold, I rest against the soft light of the shortest day of the year. Having canceled any interruptions, I am free to climb under the warmth of the down duvet on the day bed in the loft studio – to think about not much at all. Ideas and thoughts drift, rollover and crumble into yet smaller fragments. An older small painting surfaces and clings to the edges of fickle concentration.

And then the end of a poem by Mary Oliver…

thank you
old daintiest,
dark wreckage,
coins of the sea
in my pockets
and plenty for the gulls
and the wind still pounding
and the sea still streaming in like a mother wild with gifts –
in this world I am as rich
as I need to be.

~ from “Winter” p. 52-53 in New And Selected Poems Volume One, 1992, Beacon Press.

The oil painting is “Receding Tide Reef Bay” 9 X 12 inches and is one of a very few small oil on canvas I have left.

Happy Winter Solstice! May we embrace the quiet light of the shortest day of year for the gift that it is.

What are your reflections about winter solstice 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

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

 

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