All Seems Possible In Summer

From the tops of cliffs

To the edge of seas.

SUMMER

For me and bees.

Bees in the blackberry blossoms. Summer…… for bees and me.

It is a time when work and play are most indistinguishable for a landscape painter.

“June morning Coon Bay Study” 8 x 10 inch acrylic sketch on gessobord.

View in online gallery with purchase information HERE.

It is the bee’s knees!

I know! The craziest saying ever but I just couldn’t resist.

What seems possible to you on this first day of summer?

© 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 Poppy Serenity Oil Painting

The red poppy oil painting “Serenity by the Sea”

is from a specific day at the end of May in the year 2017 on the island of Galiano off the Southwest coast of British Columbia, Canada.

The mist turns to a light drizzle as I sit on a low chair looking out past the cedars to yet other islands across the sea. What can possibly cut through these west coast greys? Then I remembered.

Earlier in the day I had seen large red poppies growing in the garden near the water.

“I wonder!?” I said to myself.

Slipping on a raincoat and garden clogs I stuffed my way-too-large iphone in my hip pocket and my big camera with its rain cover over my shoulder. It is about 5:00 am and the sun is still high enough in the west to push its way through the low clouds, providing a noticeable filtered light. But it is not enough to keep the warm greys using the big camera. Those gorgeous greys were running into the blues. But the iPhone 7 plus seems to get the idea. I gather several references images with both devices and find one that I particularly like.

Six days later, I am back in the studio and have mulled the idea over long enough to pull out a canvas and get started. The method is straightforward.

Start with a ground that will pull on those muted tones and make a few modest marks to guide the composition.

Establish the relationship between the sky and the light reflecting off the water.

Drop the darks unceremoniously into place.

Leave the red ones for last and keep the brushstrokes simple, clean and decisive.

Work in the highlights, stems and texture of the lower foliage, using a painting knife as needed. Then stand back, one last time, and ensure there is a humming kind harmony of emotion and aliveness to the work.

Yes, I think we are there!

Serenity by the Sea “resting” 18 x 14 oil on canvas

As usual, the painting needs to rest and dry before it is considered finished. I intended this work to be a composition study for a larger painting. However, I may have said all I need to say in this one. Painting the subject larger won’t make for a better painting. It will just be bigger. Yet, I am not completely sure if I want to give up on splashing large amounts of red around on huge surface though. I shall think about it for a while and see. In the mean time…

What bright spots have cut through your grey moments of late?

© 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

For the Love of Landscapes Art Vancouver Fair 2017

Bringing the wild inside is the ultimate of having a landscape painting that resonates with both a room and your life. This past weekend that room was HUGE with more than 80 booths in total. Every few minutes, people would come and stand in front of my west coast landscape paintings and “sigh” these long exhales. It was like they just needed a few minutes before they could go on to even one more booth!

Often viewers would come close and then back up. Then come close again. Then they would walk slowly sideways and then back to the centre. Sometimes they would tell me that the waves were three dimensional and seemed to lift right out of the canvas. Other times it would be the tangle of the friendly arbutus tree that would hold their attention until a quick smile would appear just before they turned to talk to me. People were inspired by the movement, the brushstrokes, the colours and just the beauty of our west coast captured on the canvases. One of many precious moments was when we were all packed up with the paintings wrapped and ready to move a forklift driver in the complex stopped his machine to make a point of telling me how much he loved seeing my landscape paintings in the show.

I owe a huge thank you to the many online followers who I had never met before who showed up to see the work in person. I lost count of how many times a total stranger to me would say – I have been following your work online for years and it is great to see it in person! Now how cool is that?

Of course, there were the many people who traveled from around the lower mainland and even from Mayne Island and Victoria that made a special effort to come to see my work in person at the Art! Vancouver Fair.  I am thrilled because Paul Constable of Artists In Canada had sponsored me and three other artists to show in this booth. I felt not only fortunate to be showing in this venue but also that my special people made such a point of attending. I was bought glass of wine near the end of one of our days in appreciation. I was asked for so many photographs of the work, of me with the work (just after hanging)

and several of me with visitors with the work. Here are just a few of these….

Monica  with Terrill

Terrill with John

Katrina with Terrill

A video of me on the runway with “Southern Gulf Islands Afternoon” for The Face of Art by Amber Stace.

It was all crazy fun! Well, at least once I had that runway walk done! 😉

There is a story that goes with this next photograph.

Janet with her daughter Tracey and three other family members, including this little girl, made a special trip in from Langley to come and see my work and the art fair. They made a day out of it and came early for a special breakfast before Art! Vancouver opened. Janet asked that I post this photo for her. While I am here I might as well tell you a Sunday story….

You see, Janet has known me through her sister since I was 22 years old with 2 small children painting on the kitchen table in a 610 square foot home in a trailer park. Money was so tight that sometimes her sister and I would combine what we had in order to make supper for both of our families. However, we laughed a lot, went camping often and I always found a bit of time to do a quick sketch, mostly in watercolours. Needless to say, I wasn’t at risk of giving up my day job anytime soon. It would be another 15 years before I did my first solo show and 2010 before I became a full-time artist.

Janet said she just had to offer her support and see for herself how far this little girl from rural north central British Columbia outside of Vanderhoof had come!

There is something sacred when people connect with my work, my life and me in this way. I am humbled and filled with gratitude.

This is just a small sampling of some of the powerful interactions during the art fair but should be enough to give you a flavour of the weekend.

The Artists In Canada booth also included the work of Arnold Burrell (1924-1991) represented by Ellen Mackay.

And Janna Kumi who is right beside me with paintings and collage work.

Then on the far right of our booth space is Teyjah McAren her heavily textured rich paintings.

Or maybe this photograph works better…

Somehow I missed getting a closer portrait of Teyjah’s work. Darn! Because it is quite fascinating.

Here we are all together. Starting on the right is Ellen, Janna, Teyjah and the me!

Oh! Let me share with you my favourite painting by another artist in the Art Vancouver Fair. Wang Chen Guang is not only an extremely talented painter, currently studying at Emily Carr, he is sincere, genuine and direct both in his work and as a person. There is a vulnerability and raw, yet controlled, emotion emanating from his figurative paintings. The power of this work is difficult to experience in a photograph but it is the next best thing to standing in front of the 60 x 40 inch oil on canvas. I was very tempted to bring it home except I feel the work needs a large spacious room with few distractions – which I am unable to offer it.

Wang Chen Guang is definitely an artist to follow and see where his driving passion takes him in the future. I am pleased that we met and look forward to staying connected.

As well, special thanks to my son, Kris Welch, who is a high-end finishing carpenter and the master skill set that managed to get the paintings hung so beautifully.

His 15-year-old son got all dressed up and came to the opening too but he is rather camera-shy so we shall keep that photograph just for family.

I think this is more photographs of me at one event than you have seen all together during all my years of my posting online! I hope that this post allows you to feel at least a little like you were there, even if you weren’t.

Tomorrow morning David and I are off to the neighbouring island of Galiano for a three-day retreat together before  the next big adventure which is the Solo exhibition “West to East Coast Canadian Landscapes in Paint” opening June 30th from 3-5 pm at Shavasana Art Gallery & Café here on Mayne Island. The show will be up until August 13, 2017.

 

Have you ever been to an international fair of some kind and if so, can you share a memory?

 

© 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

Work Life In Progress

A great big sign at the entrance of the driveway may accurately read: PROCEED WITH CAUTION WORK LIFE IN PROGRESS. Not that this is a bad thing. The alternative is much less appealing.

It is just means that the question usually asked about how are things going will be answered by –  “Oh, round and round!”

Or – “Busier than a painter with three brushes in her hand.”

Neither of which tell us much at all.

So a better question might be – “Terrill can you tell us one thing that pleases you today?”

Yes I can. I have a new painting roughed in on the easel that I am going to muse about while I drink my morning coffee. Let me show you….

The canvas is 12 x 24 inches and started with a yellow ground and a few marks to guide the scale of the composition.

The spring morning sky brightens all in its path including the green firs on the hill across the way. Song birds sing, grass grows and an eagle cries somewhere in the distance across Active Pass.

First leaves are soft and translucent in the warm light as the blues of sea catch my breath and swing it skyward and back again. How many mornings has the Springwater Lodge, the oldest continuously operating hotel in British Columbia, seen like this one?

There is the scent of fresh coffee filling the loft with a hint of linseed oil underneath. I decide to leave the studio lamps off for just a little longer. But I will sort out the angles of lines, the relationships between objects and the spaces in between later today – one brushstroke at a time.

Update: Now as the end of the day nears and the work has come to “resting” all shiny and wet on the canvas…

Early Spring Morning at Miners Bay “resting” 12 x 24 inch oil on canvas

How about you? Can you tell us one thing that pleases you today?

Note: “The Beauty of Oils Class of 2017 Art Show” was a wonderful success. All the pieces are falling into place for the Art! Vancouver Fair at the end of May and the background material for advertising has been sent in for the six week solo show opening June 30th 3-5 pm in the afternoon. Next will be a focus on getting the last of the edges painted on the selected work for the solo show.

© 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 Beauty of Oils Class of 2017 Art Show

I have a surprise for us today but first, a little context is helpful.

In my experience most people think they have a pretty good idea what it takes to paint an oil painting of a subject from life. Most may even feel that if they had the time and desire they could dash off a Monet without too much trouble. I mean really! Look at what can be done during paint and drink night at the neighbourhood pub! However, if people have tried to paint, and found it harder than they thought, then they wrongly assume it is because they have no talent. Yes, some talent is useful but it is only about 20% of the equation to render a pleasing result. Few people consider that to become a skilled painter it takes hours and years of practice. You, my dear readers, are a small portion of art viewers who are well-informed on at least my painting process from your years of following Creative Potager. You are a knowledgeable exception to the average citizen. Most individuals have little idea about the range of skills development and study required beyond putting paint on a brush and applying it to a canvas. If they did, I would never be asked – how long did it take you to paint that? Well, none of this can be said about the four students that have completed the twelve session studio intensive oil painting class at the beginning of February. They know intimately what it takes to render an oil painting of a subject from life.

Some of these artists held their first brush in my three session pilot oil painting class a year earlier and then went on to take the eight session fall skills development oil painting class. Another artist started in the fall with previous drawing and basic painting skills in acrylic paints. Yet another painted in water colours and wanted to learn how to use oils. All painters still have painted less than 20 oil paintings in their life. All have been learning my long-hand process of solving painting problems on their own with instructional support from the very beginning of choosing their own composition, sketching and taking photographs of their ideas, making notes about their subject, observing different natural light condition, learning how to mix the colours they wanted, preparing a ground or underpainting, and painting wet-in-wet. They have painted from their own reference photograph and painting sketches in the studio classroom. They have braved the elements and painted en plein air. They have learned a method that will allow them to tackle painting any variety of subjects from everyday life. Then they went on to prepare their work to be “show ready” with painted edges or frames, titles, inventory numbers and so on. Now it is time to show the results! Each artist has six beautiful works to hang for viewing on Saturday, May 13th at the Mayne Island Community Centre between 3:00 – 7:00 pm.

Let’s briefly allow each painter to introduce themselves and share a sampling of their work so you can see what I am all excited about.

Glenda King – Living on Mayne Island allows me to have many possible beautiful compositions, whether it be a seascape, landscape or wildlife & birds. I have left my focus open until I find what my passion is….right now I am enjoying all that I have done & hope that you enjoy it also. The paintings I have done have come from my own photography or plein air, the latter being the preferred way to paint for this style.

Serenity 8 x 10 inch oil on canvas plein air – SOLD

Miners Bay Lookout 18 x 14 inch oil on canvas – AVAILABLE

Elspeth Westby – My focus has been to learn how to use the oils (I chose to use walnut oils by M. Graham and Co.), the different brushes and tools and become comfortable with an easel with the hope of doing “en plein air” painting. I really enjoy spending time observing my environment and long to paint it. To my surprise and delight, I love the oils and seem to be managing landscapes!

Springwater on Active Pass 11 x 14 inch walnut oil on canvas panel plein air – AVAILABLE

Plum Blossoms (Japanese Garden) 14 x 11 walnut oil on canvas panel – NFS

Katherine Cox Stevenson – I paint to more deeply align my soul with nature. From a young age, I craved living life from my heart. Instead due to life circumstances I lived my life from my head – I even have a PhD to prove it. I live on Mayne Island for two main reasons: the abundance of exquisite nature and sense of community. I am now becoming part of the arts communities, a rich and enlightening experience. Being able to stand in awe of the nature scene in front of me and with color, brushes, and strokes I can interpret it for the canvas. My hope for the viewers of my paintings is that they can pause and experience a moment of deep inner peace and perhaps a magical moment of connecting nature with their souls.

An Afternoon by the Sea Shore 12 x 16 inch oil on canvas – AVAILABLE

Time to Reflect 14 x 18 inch oil on canvas – AVAILABLE

Jody Waldie – After two years as a full time resident of Mayne Island I am still in awe of its natural beauty. Through my learning process as a new painter I strive to experiment and discover how to represent this beauty of nature through the use of colour and light with oil paint media. I purposefully chose to focus on colour and light to allow myself to step away from the contrived images that excess attention to detail was bringing to my painting. I am drawn to the rawness of nature and strive to capture this through my painting.

Spring at the Gardens oil on canvas 12 x 16 inch oil on canvas plein air – AVAILABLE

Pause and Gaze on Harmon Hill oil on canvas 20 x 16 inch oil on canvas  – AVAILABLE

As you can see, each artist even at these early stages of learning a new process and medium has a distinctive unique painting fingerprint. Now how exciting is that!? Hopefully over the next couple of years we can bring them back for further cameo appearances and you can see where their discipline and skill development has taken them. If you see a work you would like to purchase or if you would like to know more about a specific painter just send me an email at tawelch@shaw.ca and I will be happy to connect you up with the artist.

For now I ask all four painters to take a bow as we shout, whistle, cheer and applaud their accomplishments.

Note: If you would like to learn oil painting or the process of painting wet-in-wet both using studio reference materials or en plein air you can send me a note at this same email shared above and I will add you to my contact list for future offerings. These classes may also include three-day weekend plein air workshops over the summer in both acrylic and oil – if there is enough interest and I can find the time.

What are you spending hours and years learning to master?

© 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

One Large Painting Delivered and Hung

The car is loaded with one large 60 x 36 inch framed painting for delivery and two small bags clothes for a three day weekend trip. We catch the morning ferry and upon filling the gas tank in Ladner B.C., we head cross country up the Fraser Valley and then over the mountain summits. There is snow on the sides of the highway but the roads remain bare with only occasional light rain. There are willows deepening in crimson reds and poplars with softening off-white yellowish bark as our late spring begins to warm enough for the tree sap to start to flow. Creeks and rivers are high and winter waterfalls still tumble-down in an endless flow that will eventually lead to the Strait we have just crossed at the beginning of our journey. Rock faces and mountain peaks are mostly still white. Then we come back down to where fruit trees are beginning to bloom and the grass is starting to grow. Stopping for a late lunch and to again get gas for the car, we call my sister to say we will be there in time for supper.

There is a plan in place for tomorrow’s hanging of the painting in a tall stairwell. My brother-in-law has arranged to be free for the day and has a ten foot step-ladder tied on top of his truck. That evening we talk about the logistics. We examine the hanging hardware and gather up a level and towels to go under the ladder. I already have a big thick measuring tape and a hammer in my toolkit.

The next morning my sister drives my car and I become the co-pilot putting the exact address into the GPS when we get closer to our destination. The drive is a little over one bathroom break away. With the large painting taking up the back of the car with the seats down, there is only room for two people. My husband David is riding with my brother-in-law in the second vehicle. My sister and I catch up and visit companionably as we go through towns and small communities along the lakes. With many turns and twists and climbs we eventually reach the art collector’s home.

I go and introduce myself and take care of the necessary paperwork and hand over a small gift of my latest coffee table art book As We Breathe. The painting is carefully lifted out of the back of the car and taken into the house to be unpacked. The ladder is brought in and set into place. We measure, discuss, and measure again or rather my brother-in-law does. You see, he is 6’ 2” tall. The ladder is 10 feet tall and the painting needs to be hung about 13 feet up from the landing on the stairs.

The hanging hardware with each hook rated for 75 lbs is in place. We move the ladder out from the wall until the outside leg is just on the edge of the landing. Now for the 20-or-so pound framed painting! I ask David to get down under the ladder on the far side. I carry the painting down the first set of stairs and bring it to other side. My brother-in-law reaches it from the top. David has it from the right side in front of the ladder. My sister gives us directions as we just barely have enough room to bring the painting around the front of the ladder without bumping either the wall or the ladder. We now have the painting situated between the wall and ladder. We lift up… and up again. My brother-in-law needs to move further up onto the second from the top step on the ladder. I have to climb the two steps up from the bottom and David reaches as far as he can. My sister steps on the ladder and braces to make sure it stays stable and the art collector reaches across the railing at the top right to help balance the painting. One side of the wire is hook. Then the other side is hooked. But wait a minute! The first side has come off and has to be hooked again. I am still stretching my 5’ 3 ¾ inches as far as I can to hold up my side of the bottom of the painting. We fight back a collective giggle. We instinctively know, this would not end well if we lose focus. Finally! It is hung!

The level is passed up the ladder and placed on top of the painting. All but one of us stands back at the top of the stairs and we stare at the painting. My brother-in-law taps and tips as we shake our collective heads. No. A little more up on the left. Too far! A little more to the right.  But after a few tries, all eyes and the level bubble agree, the painting is squared and centred to its world. Phewfff!

Now, would you like to see? Of course you would. I knew you would. So I asked if it was okay to take photographs.

Seaside Mayne Island, 60 x 36 inch oil on canvas, hanging in its new home.

And one from the side because this painting can be seen from various angles in the open concept layout of this lovely home.

So next time someone asks you how many people it takes to hang a painting, the best answer is likely – it depends…. but definitely bring the small car vacuum to whisk away the dust from the ladder!

What was your last adventure where you had to enlisted the help of family and/or friends?

Note: If you love the painting process posts, be sure to stop by next week because there is a new painting on the easel and I should be ready to share images from the start to the finish. Here is a little teaser…

 

© 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 Times When We Simply Proceed

A spring cold gathered momentum on Thursday morning requiring medication to keep my fever in check. There were studio guests arriving on the island and a painting class to teach. Both pleasant activities though I was functioning far below optimum. However, I simply proceeded.

Only while doing a quick painting sketch at the edge of the pond in the Japanese Garden did I forget how miserable I was feeling.

This was likely because I did not need to talk and I was warm in the afternoon sun.

Last evening I was reminded of this moment while reading about the chemical attack in Syria. I asked myself, when do we break and crumble under the weight of adversity? When is it that we can no long simply proceed, as if it was only a common spring cold?

Earlier in the day I had read Dina Nayeri’s powerful article “The Ungrateful Refugee: ‘We have no dept to repay’” which was the long read in The Guardian on Tuesday April 4, 2016. I will share with you just her closing paragraph….

“Still, I want to show those kids whose very limbs apologise for the space they occupy, and my own daughter, who has yet to feel any shame or remorse, that a grateful face isn’t the one they should assume at times like these. Instead they should tune their voices and polish their stories, because the world is duller without them – even more so if they arrived as refugees. Because a person’s life is never a bad investment, and so there are no creditors at the door, no debt to repay. Now there’s just the rest of life, the stories left to create, all the messy, greedy, ordinary days that are theirs to squander.”

After dinner, I was reading an opinion piece in the New York Times by Ariel Dorfman bring “A Message From the end of the World” in Santiago Chile. In his climate change impact summary of events on the southern tip of the Americas, he tell us about the widening of the gap in the Antarctica ice shelf and how it will eventually crash into the sea causing a rise in seawater. Chile is the first place that will be impacted.

I leave the table with plans to come write today’s blog post. But I don’t. Instead I simple proceed to clean up the kitchen and stay with these feelings of overwhelming disgust, horror, helplessness and a kind of deep hopelessness. It is too late for a long walk which is my usual line of first defense when the world falls short of my expectations. Instead, I just sit with the feelings, unable to write until this morning.

I should be celebrating with you this week. Two paintings have left the studio for homes of their own and the small postcard size painting sketch that was sent to England for the TwitterArtExhibit sold on opening night. Over $10,000 in U.S. dollars were raised for a local charity, Molly Olly’s Wishes, in the first night. Instead, this morning these bright spots in an artist’s life seem garish, insensitive and above all, unimportant. What to do?

My answer comes easily. I shall post this note and go for a long walk and listen to the spring birds. I shall breathe in time with waves on the sea. I shall inhale the scent of the blossoms on the breeze. I shall run my hands along the length of the arbutus tree. Then I shall paint. This is what a landscape painter does. After this is done, then I shall see if there is anything else I can do. In times like these, first we must simply proceed until we decide what else can be done.

When was the last time you asked yourself to simply proceed?

 

© 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

 

Temporary Custodian – Painter

As I break through the constraints of winter into longer days with budding plum blossoms,

cracking open with the magnolia blooms,

I am reminded of a subtext,

an endless reaching for a finish which, whenever it comes, will of course be too soon.

“Searching for Colour Active Pass” 8 x 10 inch plein air acrylic on gessobord

I am but a temporary custodian of these renderings we call paintings.

“Early Spring Dinner Bay” 8 x 10 inch plein air acrylic sketch

Letting go….

a bow of gratitude for the lessons learned in their creations.

 

What lessons are you learning as a temporary custodian?

 

© 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 Painter’s Notion of Noticing

The need and desire to summarize and dismiss information is a necessary skill for survival, comfort and freedom. Yet, the development of repeating and overlapping patterns of knowing is often my least helpful skill when painting. However, noticing repeating patterns within a specific subject and within its context is a useful skill to the painter. This second skill gets me into the overreaching and granular similarities, differences and unique aspects of my composition. In contrast, it is the layers of “knowing” the painter has for a subject that sometimes can be challenging. So though these approaches to seeing are related they are not the same. The layers of knowing collected from past observation tend to filter and distort what is actually before us. This is where trees become straight, flower petals similar in shape or skies become blue in such a way that the immediate experience of the subject fades into something quite cliché or overly familiar. In this situation the painter has lost awareness of the subject itself in favour of everything that they already think they know about it. For example, let’s look at the photograph below. Do you see these specific daffodils or do you see these specific daffodils through the filters of all the daffodils you have ever seen before?

The filters might include the daffodils in the painting above. Or possibly the daffodils you have on your own table. Or maybe even the crepe paper replica you made in your first years of school. You may like daffodils or you may have no relationship with them at all. You may be distracted from the daffodils completely and be more focused on the painting sketch of the Japanese Garden which then reminds you of a trip you once took to Japan. Thus your proposed focus on daffodils is subsumed in favour of the painting sketch. Or the yellow colour of the daffodils may remind you of a spring outfit your mother once sewed for you to wear for a spring pageant.  Yes, filters are diverse, insistent and can get messy.

I hope by now you can see how easily the painter can get tripped up and lost in repeating patterns of what they know instead of noticing repeating patterns and uniqueness in the specific subject before them. If you have also had the good fortune to be in a painting class, you might remember how differently each painter’s result becomes while viewing the same subject. As a fellow artist and friend was remarking yesterday – we are sometimes in awe as to what happens to create these differences. So the next question is of course what can we do to address this issue of filters that keep us from experiencing the subject that is directly before us? Here are three activities we can do both to increase our awareness during the process of painting and also to be more present in life in general.

First, sit and observe your subject and do nothing else for 10 – 15 minutes. In the beginning you may need to set a timer so as to keep your attention on the subject for what often seems to be – too long! At first you will want to keep your focus to the point where it passes through a point of boredom. With practice you will become familiar with a kind of internal click where your filters start to fall away. Overtime this “click” happens more quickly until you are able to do it at will. This shift is a little different for everyone but frequently you start to distinguish more variation in the sounds around you. Maybe you start to notice distinctive smells – some you can name and many others you cannot. Sometimes colour saturation and contrasts become more distinguishable. You start to notice variations and see colours you hadn’t noticed before. You begin to discern differences in shapes and textures and so on. After 10 -15 minutes of doing nothing but noticing our whole system becomes curious and we start saying to ourselves – this is important. What is it that we have here? When we become curious and we notice even more!

Secondly, write, draw, paint or do all three to capture what you have now noticed. Or if that feels too structured just create large shapes of colour that represent what you seem to be experiencing. At this stage the gathering of information should be free flowing or raw data about your experience of the subject. The purpose of the activity is to just get the information gathered in some form and if you can, get it gathered before your reductive skills can make sense out of it or begin naming it.

Thirdly, once you have recorded your own personal raw data on paper, in any form that works for you, again sit and notice. This time, look for repeating patterns and how various aspects of your subject relate to one another. Look for clues about the spaces between various elements. What is there? What is dominant and what is supportive? What sings to every cell in your body? What is changing? What is temporarily constant? What feelings are present? The process is not about finding words for an answer but just noticing. In many ways it is noticing without needing to “know” or without attachment.

Now, after these three activities are completed, you are ready to begin translating your subject into a painting language with some confidence that your filters will, for the most part, leave your subject revealed to the way you are experiencing it – on this specific day, at this specific time. If you find you are faltering or become unsure, repeat these activities again and yet again and as often as necessary to remain present to your subject.

You may remember having had this kind experience before when traveling to a new location that is very different to the one you call “home.” Or when you find yourself in a place where the people around you are speaking a different language. Or there has been a storm that took the power out and so on. These three activities I am suggesting, though more gentle, are designed to take you to this same kind of observation and sensory alertness. They are not new or revolutionary but rather old and tried methods to gain awareness. I am willing to argue, based on my own lengthy experience, that anyone, not just a painter, can gain a richness or vibrancy of experience through these practices.

 

What subject would you like to use these three practice exercises to experience more fully this week?

 

I suggest that you are unlikely to feel like “the moon is no longer there” after having applied these three activities to your subject. Let me know if you find this is so.

There is also a new round-up post on the TerrillWelchArtist.com website featuring five new painting releases, noting three recent sales and mentioning two shows coming up for May and July. If you choose, grab your beverage of choice and drop on over for a Canadian landscape painting experience HERE.

© 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