Working on THE EDGE can offer some interesting possibilities

There is a sandstone bluff, battered by the wind and sea but also hosts a familiar arbutus tree on its top most tip. THE EDGE, a rare large, long-lean 48 X 24 inch oil on canvas painting to out of my studio. In fact, I almost couldn’t reach the top when it was on the easel and had to squat yoga style to paint the bottom quarter of the canvas. Further more, it was not possible to paint it upstairs on my French Box easel. This canvas called for taking over the great room with my large portable easel which I have had since graduating from high school.  Shall we have look at how it all came about?

The Edge work in progress 1

As usual I am not all that keen on sketching in my compositions and prefer either a loose underpainting or just a few paint lines to guide me. In this case, I chose a few paint lines to get started before starting to added in some blues for the sky and other patches on the canvas.

The Edge work in progress 2

It most certainly doesn’t look like much yet. But I am hopeful and the day is young.

The Edge work in progress 3

The deliberate addition of red in these specific areas of the canvas will serve two purposes. The first is to pull out the red pigment that is already part of the stones and the bottom of the trunk of the arbutus tree. The second is to gradual in a very subtle way bring in the warmth of the evening light over the whole of the scene. It is now time to start building up some colour blocks and just get that paint on the canvas!

The Edge work in progress 4

This particular stage in any painting is the most demanding. The paint catches on the dry canvas and seems to drag the paint off the brush. On a canvas this size it seems to take forever to build up the bulk of the painting so it can be completed alla prima or wet-in-wet.

The Edge work in progress 5

My body starts to physically tire from the long stretches of painting and reaching to move across the whole canvas as I work. The day moves on hour after hour. I break for lunch. I move the canvas around a bit to keep it out of the direct sun coming through the skylight. I then keep going until finally – it comes alive. Shiny and wet I can now leave it to rest.

The Edge work in progress 6

In the morning I make a few more adjustments and remove it from the great room downstairs and place it on a chair to lean against the wall in the loft studio.

The Edge 48 x 24 chilling back in loft studio E7C16EC0-1691-4E3C-82E0-32502C2CD411

I look at it for a few more days and decide it is done!

One of the hard things about a painting this size is to give it enough context that a viewer can imagine what kind of space it will take up once it is hung. So I took one last photograph before calling the work-in-progess on THE EDGE painting complete.

The Edge in the cob courtyard by Terrill Welch 2013_05_08 006

(Updated December 13, 2015 following a reworking of this painting)

After my confidence that this work was completed, done, finished, I came back to it for another painting session. Here it is in the great room following its most recent transformation.

The Edge still on the easel in the studio of Canadian Artist Ter

The Edge still on the easel in the studio of Canadian Artist Terrill Welch

The final image along with links to a detailed view and purchase information are available at Terrill Welch Artist in the post “The Edge and At The Beach Another Time – Canadian landscape paintings

The post includes the release of a second painting and a quick nod to two more that are now safely in their new homes.


What Edges have you contemplated recently?


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Creative Potager – Visit with painter and photographer Terrill Welch

From Mayne Island, British Columbia, Canada

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