California One north from Half Moon Bay

Someplace as we left Fremont California for Half Moon Bay driving on one freeway and  merging on the right into another, the GPS said – exit left in 1.5 km. I looked at the eight lanes of traffic to my left, took a deep breath and calmly, with a firm grip on the steering, instructed our Red Rosie Outback to start moving. To her credit she stepped up on her toe-points and gracefully made her way across the mid-morning traffic as if she had been doing it all her life. Must have been all the deer she was used to watching for on the sides of our Mayne Island roads in British Columbia. We had decided to take the California One north until it connected to Highway 101. We had been warned that it was slow, windy, car-sick inducing and had great views. It was the latter that made it irresistible.

California coast from Muir Beach overlook south with San Francisco in the distance.

California coast from Muir Beach overlook south by Terrill Welch 2015_03_04 022

Though there were impressive moments before this, we didn’t stop along the shoreline until reaching the Muir Beach Overlook.

looking down Muir Beach Overlook California by Terrill Welch 2015_03_04 027

The California One is gorgeous but one must keep driving or it would take weeks to complete this section instead of two days.

The first night on California One we stayed at the Valley Ford Hotel in the middle of cow country.

We didn't ride in on a horse but Valley Ford Hotel likely would have accepted us if we did by Terrill Welch 2015_03_04 042

The hotel is more like a quaint bed and breakfast these days without the breakfast. But it’s 1864 establishment and history is most evident. We had purchased local cheese and some bread and bananas for breakfast. Coffee was available with filtered water even.  So all was just as it should be.

Besides the old barn directly behind the grocery store…

barn in Valley Ford California by Terrill Welch 2015_03_04 036

and the country commuter car…

ranching country by Terrill Welch 2015_03_04 034

there was something else that told us before any other factor that we were in serious cow country. Can you guess what it is? Nope, not the dead skunk in the middle of the road that I narrowly missed. Nope, not the cattle guards either. Yes, you got it – the unmistakable aroma of cow manure. But even so, it sure was a beautiful stretch of road.

California one evening light Valley Ford California by Terrill Welch 2015_03_04 087

The next morning we continued on galloping up, down and around the ribbon of highway on the ruffled neckline of the Pacific coast. At times, the narrow road has all the excitement of a slow roller coaster.

California One and the sea by Terrill Welch 2015_03_04 123

When we would round a corner and see nothing but the narrow curve of the highway and the blue of the sea and sky I really did need to mutter to myself – stay the course Terrill, people drive this road everyday without mishap.

slowly winding along the California one by Terrill Welch 2015_03_04 127

We did stop occasionally just to enjoy the view. One of these was at Duncan’s Cove.

Duncan's Cove California by Terrill Welch 2015_03_04 109

The other was to eat our packed lunch at Point Arena Lighthouse.

Point Arena Lighthouse California coast by Terrill Welch 2015_03_04 138

But mostly, we drove and pulled over frequently to let locals go zipping by on their way to destination that was far more urgent than ours.

We have a two night stop at Howard Creek Ranch Inn, mile 80.49 on California one.

Complete with rubber boots to cross the creek it is a little peace of sixties heaven coming from the rubble of much older roots. We are in a large room on the main floor of the carriage house – the Walden. As I sit at the desk looking out onto the courtyard this morning, I can hear the morning birds, a chatty rooster and the surf which is telling me the tide is in. Breakfast is in an hour at 9:00 am and we will walk one-at-a-time across the bridge that swings over the creek to the farm-house where I have already spotted wood smoke churning up from the chimney of the cook stove and the living room fireplace. When we checked in it was at the farmhouse and then we drove back to the quiet highway and came a cross the bridge then back down a long winding driveway, complete with a deer bounding across the field, coming to a parking place next to the large carriage house. Howard Creek is definitely a defining feature of the property and daily life.  The woodwork is an aesthetic gem in the big building and was done by the owner in what appears to have taken years and is an ongoing process. Terracotta tile floors with bits of blue and Spanish design around the bed finish our room off with comfortable warmth. The bathroom has a large open European style shower and there are patchwork curtains at the end of the bed for privacy and shelter from the morning light. I can hear little bells and looking up there is a herd of goats and sheep coming down the road towards the farm-house. Good morning world!

I have already taken my camera for an impressive walk late in the  afternoon yesterday

hazy California coast mile 80.49 by Terrill Welch 2015_03_04 239

and again at sunset.

California coastal sunset by Terrill Welch 2015_03_04 439

Today after breakfast, I hope to do some painting sketches as it looks like another fine day here on the coast.  And with my coffee cup empty, so another day begins on our coastal trip. With my painting gear on my shoulder, rubber boots on my feet I head out and cross the creek near the shore.

Howard Creek Ranch by Terrill Welch 2015_03_04 570

The blue-green of the sea is mesmerizing. I just stand there for the longest time.

blue green of the California Pacific by Terrill Welch 2015_03_04 681

Eventually the surf connecting with the shore forces my camera up.

surf connecting at Howard Creek by Terrill Welch 2015_03_04 736

I begin an hour-long reference shoot of these favourite rocks

favourite rocks at Howard Creek beach by Terrill Welch 2015_03_04 790

along with the rest of the shoreline.

surf at 80.49 California by Terrill Welch 2015_03_04 744

Words cannot explain my full-body of emotions and the rhythmic vibration of the surf in my being. Eventually, I gather enough inner calm to decide where to do a painting sketch. I am unsure of the tides direction so the decision seemed obvious enough. I went up to the lookout.

setting up to plein air paint on beach at Howard Creek Ranch by Terrill Welch 2015_03_04 887

Removing rubber boots and socks I set up to work. People come and go behind me with little attention necessary on my part. About 45 minutes later, I call it done.

calling it done morning plein air painting sketch at mile 80.49 California one by Terrill Welch 2015_03_04 935

The light has of course already changed and the sea is now slightly washed out in the mid-day light but I am happy with the results of the sketch.

plein air painting on beach at Howard Creek Ranch by Terrill Welch 2015_03_04 907

About this point a young boy of around ten years old comments behind me – great job! I turn to look into this earnest face filled with appreciation. He goes on to explain that his art teacher had asked them to paint like Monet and that it was really hard but I had done it perfectly. The fact that he absolutely meant every word that he said and that he somehow had an intuitive understanding based on his own experience as to what was involved in creating this small painting sketch, immediately established a kinship. We chatted for a while about patches of colour and moving light. His sister and father watched and listened with more curiosity than real interest. I wonder if this young lad will someday become a full-time painter? One never knows who tomorrow’s artists are among us do we?

“morning on beach at Mile 80.49 California one” 9 x 12 inch acrylic plein air painting sketch

morning on beach at Mile 80.49 California one 9 x 12 inch acrylic plein air painting sketch by Terrill Welch 2015_03_04 924

So, if you are afraid of heights, or if you truly do get car-sick or frustrated with slow travel then this is not the highway for you. Other than that, I would say do it! I do believe that this section of the California One has become one of my favourite road.

We are home again now and there are large canvases in the waiting in the loft studio to explore more of my experiences. But for the moment, this is enough, more than enough.

 

What is one of your own favourite stretches of highway?

 

 

© 2015 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 wild lighthouse chase over on Seven Devils Road and other stuff

The sun is rising all peachy and I have only a few minutes with a low connection so this is going to be quick. Our weather is holding on the Oregon coast it looks like for a bit yet. Here are a few captures from the last few days.

Smaller rocks on Cannon Beach

Smaller rocks Cannon Beach Oregon by Terrill Welch 2015_02_21 301

The brute on Cannon Beach which I walked for 45 minutes to get on the other side of for this portrait.

The brute on Cannon Beach Oregon by Terrill Welch 2015_02_21 324

Sunset at Neskowin with a lone figure standing in awe at its beauty.

Lone figure sunset Neskowin Oregon by Terrill Welch 2015_02_21 556

First light on shore at Neskowin.

first sun in  morning Neskowin Oregon by Terrill Welch 2015_02_22 001

Plein air painting a little later in the morning.

morning plein air painting at Neskowin Oregon by Terrill Welch 2015_02_22 015

I was photographed by Penny Lulich while we were visiting and I was workin.

Terrill Welch painting at Neskowin Oregon by Penny Lulich February 22 2015

As someone commented “a nice place to have an office.” In fact, we liked it so much that we stayed an extra day and watched the sun come up again.

morning sky at Neskowin Oregon by Terrill Welch 2015_02_23 017

Threading a day at Neskowin Oregon

threading a day at Neskowin Oregon by Terrill Welch 2015_02_23 298

with a long walk up the beach.

morning beach at Neskowin Beach by Terrill Welch 2015_02_23 228

But I did promise you lighthouses and a many devils road and we are about to get to that adventure after breakfast at the Hawk Creek Cafe. Well, maybe we will slip over at Seal Rock for a gander first.

Seal Rock Oregon by Terrill Welch 2015_02_23 340

 

So as you go through Reedsport start thinking lighthouse, any lighthouse will do but maybe start with Umpqua Lighthouse. Nope it is not out on a rock with waves crashing around it but high on a cliff behind a chain-link fence. Still it is a thing of aged beauty and it was time for bread and cheese and a stretch.

Umpqua lighthouse Oregon by Terrill Welch 2015_02_23 364

It was after, just as we navigated to the scenic route through North Bend that things got a little confusing. David says “what are you looking for?”

“A lighthouse.” I reply with complete confidence.

“Which one?” he inquires looking at the map.

“The first one.” I confirm. “Someplace near Charleston.”

The GPS is sending us through the city section in a maze of turns until we finally end up at Cape Arago with no lighthouse in site. But there are sea lions on the rocks.

Sea Lions at Cape Arago Oregon by Terrill Welch 2015_02_23 377

And the view is spectacular

Cape Arago Oregon by Terrill Welch 2015_02_23 387

In fact there is a red dot on the far row of large rocks which I later believe to be the missing lighthouse. As we go back the way we came I see it once through the trees but that is it. There is no long access to it according to the section of our guide which I didn’t read until after supper last night. At this point David is weary of stop and go and is just as happy to see me punch in “Bandon” on the GPS. Off we go eventually along Seven Devils Road which I am sure was named to taunt lighthouse chasers.  David has his eyes closed and doesn’t say a word as I get close to Bandon and turn left before the bridge after spotting the sign for another lighthouse. The wind is whipping up sand that sticks to your smile as soon as the door opens. David just turns a little harder into the passenger seat and pretends I am not getting out. I take a couple of shots of the abandon Coquille River Lighthouse but nothing pleases me in the early evening light. I give up and drive us back out and over the bridge to Bandon turning into old town looking for a place to stay. I drive right through and off on a side road that gives me a good view of the lighthouse which I am sure is the reason I just had to go this way. David opens one eye but says nothing.

Coquille River Lighthouse Bandon Oregon by Terrill Welch 2015_02_23 433

I pull out the maps and seriously look for a place to stay. We decide on the Bandon Inn overlooking the old town and are not disappointed. We are given a lower than low season rate by a warm desk clerk for a lovely room with a continental breakfast. For my B.C. folks, it could just as easily be the Super 8 in Williams Lake but with a better view.

Today we should find our way through the Oregon Redwoods and maybe into Northern California. I do see a couple of lighthouses on the map at Crescent City…. shhhh! Don’t tell David. He is still sleeping and it might give him nightmares.

When was the last time you were on a wild goose – lighthouse – chase?

© 2015 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

An Artist’s visit to Paris in June

What remains in my mind’s eye is the soft champagne and pearly whites of morning

Good Morning Paris  by Terrill Welch 2014_06_15 056

with the occasional splashes of reds.

Chez Marie by Terrill Welch 2014_06_15 059

But there is much more to Paris France than this isn’t there?

Up by the Basilique du Sacré-Cœur and through the trees is Paris.

A Paris morning through the trees by Terrill Welch 2014_06_15 044

She is a grand city that the world loves with a passion befitting its status.

Paris June 2014 by Terrill Welch 2014_06_15 049

Even if a visitor skips going to see the Eiffel Tower and prefers to remember the flights of spiral stairs as I did.

Stairs to 1st floor studio in Paris France by Terrill Welch 2014_06_15 084

Paris will steel our hearts even if we are reluctant lovers.

What artist can resist plein air painting of double courtyard on Rue Rodier in Paris France

plein air painting of double courtyard Rue Rodier Paris France by Terrill Welch 2014_06_17 086
The day before I promised myself that I would photograph and paint this double courtyard. After a full day at Musée d’Orsay, I had little time, light or energy left but decided to make a go of it anyway. To me, Paris is not just about the Louvre, D’Orsay, Jardin Tuileries, Eiffel Tower and street-side cafes. It is not about high fashion either. In fact, I have seen very little evidence of that. Nor is it just good food. What Paris is to me is the ability to share small amounts of private space with such regard and politeness for each other. During the 45 minutes or so I worked on this painting more than twenty people came and went in the courtyard. Some just said Bonjour Madame or Bonsoir Madame but most stopped to say a few words and they did not give me a hard time about not being able to understand everything and were more than willing to switch to English once I asked – in French of course. These courtyards are an intimate connection between neighbours… not quite friends for the most part and not as close as family but more familiar than the street, or the cafe and much more familiar than most North American neighbours are with each other. Once the outside door closes, this is home and it is treated as such even if it is shared with probably more than a hundred people. This is Paris to me. In fact, this is very much France to me. This I know I will remember – fondly.

Double courtyard Rue Rodier Paris France 25 x 35 cm plein air acrylic painting sketch

Double courtyard Rue Rodier Paris France 25 x 35 cm plein air acrylic painting sketch by Terrill Welch 2014_06_17 080

 But we did go to Louvre too. Looking out from one of the upstairs windows we can feel its magnificence.

Louvre Paris France June 2014  by Terrill Welch 2014_06_16 048
Walking the halls leaves a person with shivers running down their spine.
walking the halls of the Louvre by Terrill Welch 2014_06_16 008
Morning sun rolled into Napoleon III apartments and splashed against the ceiling.
morning sun on Napoleon III Apartments ceiling Louvre France by Terrill Welch 2014_06_16 021
This painted wedding-cake style room in the Louvre is so outrageously over-the-top it almost made me laugh but I couldn’t pick my bottom jaw up fast enough to get out even one “ha-ha.” I just kept turning in circles saying unbelievable, look at that, unbelievable! It seemed most appropriate that we happened upon this room shortly after visiting the queen of the Louvre herself… you know, the one with the smile 😉 We hadn’t actually planned on giving her any courtly attention but the morning was reasonably quiet so we followed the entourage along and dropped in for a few minutes. In case you wanted to know, Mona Lisa is doing well for her age and is still smiling. I didn’t take her portrait as I knew the light wouldn’t do her justice.

Where the Musée d’Orsay  does not allow photographs, the Louvre does. So I took just a few photographs of paintings for my own study. These are shared with you for the same personal use study purpose.

A favourite artist of mine was Camille Corot. His landscape from Avignon called “Villeneuve-lez-Avignon La Tour Philippe le Bel” from 1843 struck a significantcord with me as I had stood in about the same place painting 171 years later.

Villeneuve-lez-Avignon La Tour Philippe le Bel 1843 by Camille Corot photo for study by Terrill Welch 2014_06_16 033
Across the Way Villeneuve lez Avignon France 25 x 35 cm acrylic painting sketch was a work I had completed just days earlier.
Across the Way Villeneuve lez Avignon France 25 x 35 cm acrylic painting sketch by Terrill Welch 2014_06_012 106
I now have a completed larger studio painting…
VILLENEUVE LEZ AVIGNON FRANCE 24 x 36 inch oil on canvas
Villeneuve lez Avignon France 24 x 36 inch oil on canvas by Terrill Welch 2014_08_08 069
Camille Corot is mostly known as a landscape painter but it is a few of his portraits of women that are having a lasting impression. This detail of La Dame en Bleu is from the last figurative painting that Corot painting in 1874.
detail La Dame en Bleu 1874 by Camille Corot by Terrill Welch 2014_06_16 118
They are so melancholy while holding a solid kind of inner-defiance that has surfaced for me only after careful observation. I wonder – how did he do this? What was his relationship to these women? Below is a detail from “Zingara au tambour de basque” that he painted between 1865 to 1870.
detail Zingara au tambour de basque 1865 to 1870 by Camille Corot photo by Terrill Welch 2014_06_16 110
Corot would have been about 74 years old when this work was finished. Is the answer to my question in his biographical information? I have ordered a book this morning from Amazon called “The Secret Armoire: Corot’s Figure Paintings and the World of Reading” by Mariantonia Reinhard-Felice to help me answer this question.

But there is more the Louvre than Corot and so much more to Paris than the Louvre isn’t there?

Well, we shall have to save it for another day. It is time for this artist to get ready for an afternoon of unrelated meetings on this September afternoon back in Canada off the southwest coast of British Columbia.

What does Paris in June mean to you?

© 2014 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

Saturna Island and rendering overlapping memories

Mid-August brings blackberries, hanging fruit and puffs of dust as our sandal clad feet catch the spots where grass has given way to daily meanderings. The farm geese play watch dog and the cows search for shade under a large maple. As we find our way up on the large porch, floor planks register the weight of our human presence.

the country porch by Terrill Welch 2014_08_16 028

The main part of the house is about 125 years old. It is the oldest dwelling remaining on Saturna Island off the southwest coast of Canada. My eldest grandson and I are staying four nights at the Breezy Bay Bed and Breakfast on a co-operative farm.  Our hosts, Erin and Jamie, appear to be in their early thirties and are youngsters amongst the mostly graying heads of about 300 full-time inhabitants. This our third summer visit to the Saturna Island. We have come to revisit favourite places and to simply be together in a home-away-from-home.

We slip our shoes off at the door and pad into our introduction of the polished patina of a place that bridges the past and present with grace and warmth equal to that of its caregiver. The library up stairs is just off our bedroom and its books seem oblivious to the “hotspot” it offers for a wifi connection.

the library by Terrill Welch 2014_08_16 015

The working country kitchen though is where I can truly feel my shoulders relax. This a home. It is our home for the next four days. We can do this. This could by my grandmother’s kitchen. This can be a place where memories last.

working country kitchen by Terrill Welch 2014_08_16 024

The breakfast room confirms my observations about rendering memories.

breakfast room by Terrill Welch 2014_08_16 019

When on the last day we leave this room filled on all-you-can-eat crepes, my grandson quietly comments – I am going to miss these guys.

And indeed we will. For though this is the first time we have stayed in this particular place on Saturna Island, Erin and Jamie have a way of making us feel like we are family. For reasons beyond both my grandson’s and my control, we must make a-home-away-from-home, or at least away from my home. Though this is often a raw emotional place of frustration and loss for me, I have come to accept that, for now, there is no other choice. We must rely on others to create the intimacy of home for our vacation time together. In this respect, we have been lucky and this year has been extra special, a healing suave on my unfulfillable expectations.

I want to embed my memories for long-term retrieval and one way to this is to do quick painting sketches. So as the smell of banana bread warms the morning sun I find a spot to set up on the porch looking out towards Boot Cove.

Plein Air painting at Breezy Bay BnB by Terrill Welch 2014_08_15 213

The plein air painting isn’t exactly what I want for composition but it will do. I have the energy and of the moment. It is all I need for now.

BREEZY BAY BANANA BREAD MORNING – 8 x 10 inch plein air acrylic painting sketch

Breezy Bay Banana Bread morning 8 x 10 inch plein air acrylic painting sketch by Terrill Welch 2014_08_15 219

A week later, back in the studio I decide on a 36 x 36 inch canvas that has a lemon yellow ground and set to work on a large oil painting.

in progress Breezy Bay morning 36 x 36 inch oil on canvas by Terrill Welch 2014_08_24 009

I wanted space to walk into the painting by leaving ample room on the deck. I liked the idea of creating this kind of depth using the square canvas. It is intriguing to me how we can visually create this illusion on a flat surface. But it is not the only illusion is it? There is also the illusion that this is the life we seek – the life we deserve for our hard work. I will probably always think of this painting as “the myth of capitalism.” There is a luxury of time we have been conditions to strive and put in front for our paid labour. We will someday get to sit on a deck like this as a reward. This is not why I painted this but rather it is an after thought – one that curiously lessens my loss for my first choice which would have been to have my grandson with me at home while making my own banana bread and sitting on my own porch. I remind myself to count my blessings instead of bemoaning my inability to reach an ideal.

The painting is now finished.

It is released for sale over on my website at “New Painting Squared with a Breezy Bay Morning on Saturna Island.”

 

What blessings have you recently noticed in the midst of reflecting on deeply felt loss?

 

© 2014 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

Artists Camille Corot and Terrill Welch Visit Avignon France 171 Years Apart

The Pont D’Avignon or Pont Saint-Bénézet once had 22 arches. The bridge was eventually abandoned as the arches took too much upkeep due to being damaged when the Rhone River would flood. The four remaining arches are believed to have been built around 1345. My morning started with a 45 minute walk along the outside of the city walls to this landmark. The bridge was the inspiration for the song Sur le pont d’Avignon which is impossible not to hum while I decide on a spot to settle and paint by the river for another 45 minutes.

 

I want to paint this composition but cannot find just the right shelter for my canvas from the morning sun that will then also offer enough footing for me to stand.

 

Guard House Pont D' Avignon by Terrill Welch 2014_06_011 016

 

So I move a little farther along the bank and settle close to this vantage point.

 

morning by the Pont D' Avignon by Terrill Welch 2014_06_011 026

My intention with this acrylic painting sketch is to capture a first glimpse when our mind is still constructing the relationships between the various parts. I like to call this process painting the spaces in between. As always, the morning light changes quickly and even in 45 minutes there is this blending of time.

 

June morning by Pont D’ Avignon
25 × 35 cm plein air acrylic painting sketch on 185 lb. archival paper

 

June morning by Pont D' Avignon 25 x 35 cm acrylic painting sketch by Terrill Welch 2014_06_011 046

Art prints available HERE.

 

A good mornings work but I want to go up high tomorrow and try another painting sketch.

 

Climbing up into the gardens to the westerly viewpoint in Avignon early on a June morning is magic and mystery. Across the way there is the Villeneuve lez Avignon with the broken Pont D’ Avignon below falling short of the reach across the Rhone River. The scene is not as easy to compose as I had initially thought. I move here and then there and then back to here and finally set up the easel and paint.

 

plein air morning in Avignon by Terrill Welch 2014_06_012 087

 

What I was struggling with is my desire to have the castle looking monastery which I have brought in closer in this photograph for us to enjoy it in more detail.

 

Over by Villeneuve lez Avignon France by Terrill Welch 2014_06_012 093

 

and the tower in the same frame and at the same time not have the bridge lost by the trees along the bank.

 

Villeneuve-lez-Avignon La Tour Terrill Welch 2014  by Terrill Welch 2014_06_012 076

 

In the end I crunched my composition slightly in my mind’s eye to accommodate the canvas dimensions and my desires. Then I pick up the brush to see what will happen.

The light is changing quickly but there is still time for my eyes to rest on the scene. They do not. Fluttering across the landscape, with the same sweeping loops as the swallows above, I do not hover or allow my gaze to settle. I search for…. something and maybe nothing at all in the vast countryside – where last evening’s gypsy music and the chiming clink of hands moving to mouths along the narrow streets of the old-city still echoes in the sleeper passages of my consciousness.
Across the Way Villeneuve lez Avignon France
plein air 25 × 35 cm acrylic painting sketch on 185 lb paper

 

Across the Way Villeneuve lez Avignon France 25 x 35 cm acrylic painting sketch by Terrill Welch 2014_06_012 106

Art prints available HERE.
There it is with the painting compositional problem only partially resolved. I commit to finding a larger lengthier canvas when I get back in the studio so that I can give it another attempt.

 

Days pass as swiftly as spring to summer and we are in Paris walking the halls of the Louvre. I stop. Completely stunned I stare unblinking at…

 

Villeneuve-lez-Avignon. La Tour Phillippe le Bel. 1843 by Camille Corot

 

Villeneuve-lez-Avignon La Tour Philippe le Bel 1843 by Camille Corot photo for study by Terrill Welch 2014_06_16 033

(Note: this photograph of the painting is on I took for study purposes only)

The Avignon landscape is unmistakable even 171 years later.

On the way to his third trip to Italy, Camille Corot stopped at Avignon in May 1843. Foremost among the ruins of Saint-Benezet bridge, beyond the Rhone, Villeneuve clearing by the Philippe le Bel tower. This painting was donated to the Louvre by Etienne Moreaue-Nelaton in 1906.

 

I had not seen images of this painting by Corot before nor did I know of its existence but I knew at a glance where it was painted and said to self – he must have painted it from up by the church to get that angle. All I wanted to do at that very moment is catch then next train back to Avignon and climb the hill and look for the exact spot that he would have stood to paint as the compositional challenge I had been struggling with was resolved by this placement of artist and easel. This is the beauty of combining studies of painting location with visits to the work of old masters! Our learning as painters never ends as it is picked up and looped through time and place with our brushes.

 

Camille Corot was born in 1796 Paris and died there in 1875. He traveled a few times from France to Italy to study the work of masters as was common for artists then and to some extent even now – hence my own trip to Europe. Corot is credited as bridging a shift between the neo-classical tradition of landscape painting and plein air painting, which lead the way towards impressionism. Camille Pissarro (1830 – 1903) was supposedly briefly one of his students. But where did the Italian painter Giovanni Fattori (1825 – 1908) fit in? I see similarities in this particular painting by Corot and the work of Fattori whose paintings I became familiar with during our time in Florence Italy. Had Fattori ever met Corot or been his student? I didn’t find the answer to my question but I did discover a detailed write up by Jeanne Willette on the Barbizon School and landscape painting which both artists are associated.

 

So as you can see, I have months and even years of continued discovery, exploration and painting to do as I unpack and breathe familiarity into our travel adventures. I think it is obvious that more than the trees have changed since Corot painted in Avignon. Painting itself has been through a few revolutions and I believe this process continues. I must in fact as I have two 26 x 36 inch canvas ready on this Canada Day weekend to begin the process of revisiting my painting sketches and references images.

 

two 24 x 36 inch canvases ready for Avignon France by Terrill Welch 2014_06_29 039

 

I think I will take Corot, Fattori and Pissarro with me. They just might enjoy peering over my shoulder as much as you do 😉

 

What have you seen with fresh perspective through the eyes of an old master recently?

 

© 2014 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

Ancient Lapidary Blocks Stacked in Our Lady of Lamourguier of Narbonne France

Struggling through Sunday morning sleep, I blink into the weak rays of sun touching the outer walls of the courtyard and fingering their way into the chest cavity of our ground-floor apartment in Barcelona Spain. What is that noise? Ah, nothing more than a tour-bus-load of guests dragging their train of luggage up the pave-covered cobblestone street. They are likely on their way to the small hotel just around the corner. Stretching, I push back the blankets and step lightly into a day where dark coffee stings my nostrils as I prepare bread with butter and jam that still has lumps of tangy fruit and a few seeds. As an after thought, I add a small glass of orange juice and a couple of pieces of Gennaro Auricchio Collesardo Classicoa hard, delicate and nutty sheep cheese age between 45 and 60 days.

 

Padding in my still-bare feet and nightgown, sheltered by the privacy of my warn sweater, I tentatively slip into the courtyard and settle on the edge of a chair at the table in the covered area. What a pleasant morning I conclude. Then follow it up with sweeping the courtyard and the apartment, doing some hand-washing, have a shower and finish off by scrubbing and drying the dishes in the kitchen. It is my way of living in a place I am visiting – a way where I anchor the sounds of the birds, whose names I don’t know,  sing in the trees overhead and the size of the courtyard, the kitchen and bathroom are measured and remembered  by the steps that I took around each. Possibly this information isn’t necessary but what comes with these solid knots of information is colours, forms and the quality of the light. These are important to a painter and a photographer. These must be remembered and recalled for later work.

 

Once the chores are completed, I begin to reminisce about Narbonne France and its 2,500 years of history yet again. Oh, not the medieval town itself so much but the rows of ruins stacked high in Our Lady of Lamourguier. Since 1868, the 11th century church has been used as a warehouse to hold various carved elements removed from Narbonne’s walls during demolition and it contains approximately 2000 ancient Roman lapidary blocks. Since cameras were allowed during my visit I can take us inside. Shall we go have a look?

 

The church completes her warehouse status with grit settled thickly on the grainy foundation and only an outer shell of her religious history remaining.

 

 

Lapidary Blocks in Our Lady of Lamourguier Narboone France 2 by Terrill Welch 2014_05_22 103

 

I am mesmerized by the pure abundance of carved blocks.

 

Lapidary Blocks in Our Lady of Lamourguier Narboone France 1 by Terrill Welch 2014_05_22 098

 

 

They are all numbered but not necessarily stack in order.

 

Lapidary Blocks in Our Lady of Lamourguier Narboone France 3 by Terrill Welch 2014_05_22 104

 

 

Possibly, they have even been moved for aesthetic pleasure.

 

Lapidary Blocks in Our Lady of Lamourguier Narboone France 5 by Terrill Welch 2014_05_22 114

Or maybe it is just my artist and photographer’s eye that is doing the organizing?

 

 

Lapidary Blocks in Our Lady of Lamourguier Narboone France 6 by Terrill Welch 2014_05_22 117

 

Sometimes my attention settles on individual blocks.

 

Lapidary Blocks in Our Lady of Lamourguier Narboone France 4 1695 by Terrill Welch 2014_05_22 110

 

Other times, it is an oddity that catches my attention.

 

Lapidary Blocks in Our Lady of Lamourguier Narboone France 8 by Terrill Welch 2014_05_22 125

 

What are these over-sized clay pots doing in here amongst the blocks?

 

Lapidary Blocks in Our Lady of Lamourguier Narboone France 9 by Terrill Welch 2014_05_22 136

 

They seem out-of-place somehow.

 

Then there are the angels with their perfect child-like portioned bodies. If we watch closely they seem to move around and around the remains of  this column, neither hurried nor stilled by time.

 

Lapidary Blocks in Our Lady of Lamourguier Narboone France 12 by Terrill Welch 2014_05_22 154

 

A guide book for a tour of the city states that the Romans arrived to Narbonne in 118 BC. The place that called Narbo Martius has been known as Rome’s first daughter ever since.

 

Walking the rows I begin to ponder.

 

Lapidary Blocks in Our Lady of Lamourguier Narboone France 10 by Terrill Welch 2014_05_22 145

 

What from this century might survive for the same period of time into the future? What structure might it be housed in?

 

Who will visit and will they know who we are?

 

Lapidary Blocks in Our Lady of Lamourguier Narboone France 14 by Terrill Welch 2014_05_22 161

 

Will they wonder what we ate? Or what it was that woke us on a Sunday morning? Or who it was that we loved? Did we live to be old, die in childbirth or in a protest against our government or sacking another city? Will a sword that tore through your heart remain all those years later with your DNA still on its blade?

 

Lapidary Blocks in Our Lady of Lamourguier Narboone France13 by Terrill Welch 2014_05_22 158

 

If you could whisper one thing in the ear of a visitor hundreds of years from now as they walked pass an artifact that you had made or that you had used – what would you say to them?

No let’s not go out into the sunlight. Let’s stay here just a while longer….

© 2014 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

 

Painting from the White Room in Aix en Provence

Sometimes two means three and this is often the case with counting the floors is to a walk-up apartment in France. The ground floor with its entrance and coffee bar is frequently not considered the first floor. So up and then up again we go to our one room plus bathroom apartment in Aix en Provence that is a soft egg-white with two large opening shutter-clad windows to the streets – busy streets even though it is single-lane and heavy with foot traffic. Oh, did I mention motorcycles – lots and lots of motorcycles. But we grew to love this simple, clean and sparsely decorated space particularly after visiting the art museums and walking through the outdoor market. The lack of stimulus in this room gave our overloaded sensory systems a chance to rest.

On our first evening, exhausted from travel, we went to bed early and fell asleep even with the street noises thumping, banging, drumming, hollering and honking in the background. At 5:45 am I awoke to the smell of fresh croissants coming out of the oven in the café below us while safety-clad men with leaf-blowers bellowed ahead of two street cleaning machines with a group of twenty-something year olds staggered past munching large hamburgers and yelling in drunken good-natured French to each other. To add to the commotion there are these funny blackbird-like birds that sound like our flickers slapping out their good-morning song against this background of foreign confusion assaulting my sleepy senses. This is Aix en Provence, the cleanest streets anywhere and a cacophony of sounds and colours.

From the vantage point of this room I often stood and observed the interactions and comings and goings of locals and tourists as they passed on the street below. It was a delicious bird-like view where few looked up and noticed my prying inquires.

window to Le Forbin by Terrill Welch 2014_05_18 012

One afternoon while David was taking a long nap I set up my makeshift easel by the open window,

window of possibility by Terrill Welch 2014_05_18 029

pulled out some paint

daubs of paint by Terrill Welch 2014_05_18 046

and gave it my best effort to capture the full richness of this city.

plein air window in Aix en Provence by Terrill Welch 2014_05_18 062

I am happy with the results. The movement and vitality feels like Aix to me with its young university students mixed liberally with business people, city maintains workers and tourists.

FROM THE WHITE ROOM IN AIX EN PROVENCE

25 X 35 cm acrylic painting sketch on archival 185lb paper

From the White Room Aix en Provence 25 x 35 cm acrylic painting sketch by Terrill Welch 2014_05_18 069

(Art Prints are available in my Redbubble Storefront HERE)

 If you were to sleep above a busy street on what city street corner would you like it to be?

© 2014 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

 

Aix en Provence with Cezanne and photographer Mme Miceli Brigitte on the Painters Ground

I rose only sort-of-early in a French city that overlaps its evening and day crowds. It is Aix en Provence at 7:45 am and I am headed up to the Painters’ Ground with my small painting box, tripod and camera.  The morning is pleasant and, though the walk takes about an hour, I enjoy the climb out of the old city center and into the more tranquil edges of the city. As I walk, I stop to rest on a bench just before the street reaches Paul Cezanne’s historic studio. But it is much too early to visit. Maybe we will stop in on our way back.

While I am climbing I am thinking about what it must have been like for Cezanne as a painter. What might he have been thinking about as he climbed this hill in the 1880’s? This was a time when he had separated himself from the ideas of impressionism. It was a time when Cezanne was working mostly on his own, developing a unique painting language that would later become a key plank and supporting strut in a bridge that eventually lead towards abstract painting. We often think of Matisse and Picasso in this regard but there are others that came later like Diebenkorn, an American expressionist and figurative painter, who also sites the influence of Cezanne. We could spend the whole of our climb discussing the relationships and the strengths and weaknesses of focusing on light, colour, form, realism and abstraction in the painting process. But we won’t. Let’s just say that Cezanne added some powerful and unique painting language to these conversations.

The street becomes quieter as I continue to climb and turn around meandering bends that lead me higher up the hill. I spot Cezanne’s mountain at an opening and stop to give it my full attention. Though a prominent outcrop on the horizon, in some ways it doesn’t really look like much. What was it that had him paint this landscape of the Sainte-Victoire mountain more than 87 times?

I keep walking until I see a sign on my right pointing across the road to the left indicating a trail to the Painters’ Ground. The path is rough-laid stones and though uneven, it is not difficult. I suspect that these are a newish addition – maybe to keep the ground from wearing away as admirers and painters such as myself trek up and down repeatedly. According to the little pocket-size walking tour brochure I picked up at the tourist office, “Cezanne’s most famous pictures were painted from this marvellous vantage point on Chemin de la Marguerite on the Lauves hill.”

Slightly flushed with the climb and excitement, I stop almost at the top and turn. This is it. This is the spot. There are places on this earth where the ground hums with a heartbeat of stillness, an energy that settles and becomes observable on the inhale and exhale of a breath. This spot is one of those places. This is what I believe brought Cezanne here to paint again and again. It was a place where he could work uninterrupted on his painting problems and the mountain became a convenient tool to this end. Oh, who knows if this is true or not. We both know I just made it up on the spot but I believe it could be true so I take a few reference images.

May morning on the Painter Ground by Terrill Welch 2014_05_18 092

Then I go about the task of attaching my small painting box to the top of my camera tripod and maneuvering the tools around in the less than ideal conditions of facing the direct morning light. Just as I am about to start to apply paint to canvas an elderly couple wave and come down from the very top of the hill to greet me. We quickly establish that it was going to be a dramatic signing and gesturing conversation with bits of French and English Language thrown in for good measure. Believe me, this approach is often extremely effective when human-beings are determined to have a conversation that just MUST be had. The woman searches her pockets for her phone and made a long face. The fellow asked why she wants her phone and she said, for a photo. I thought she just wanted to be able to remember who I was so I reached into the top of my camera case and pulled out a business card. Her face lit up like halogen bulb but it wasn’t at my business card. It was because of my camera. With unrestrained enthusiasm she asks if she can use my camera to take photographs of me. What could I say? Yes, of course. I set the camera on automatic, put the cord over her head and, as best I can, indicate that it is ready to go and where it is she needs to press the shutter. She nodded repeatedly, pulled the camera down where she could see the dials and started turning them.

Well, my face must have given me away because the fellow said – its okay (hand up in the calming position). She is a professional.

Satisfied that she had the camera set the way she wanted it, Mme Miceli Brigitte directed me to start painting. What does a painter with a professional photographer at her disposal, up on the Painters Ground, in Aix en Provence, facing Cezanne’s mountain do with such an instruction? There is only one thing that can be done. I pick up the brush and go to work.

In the Zone on Painters Ground by Mme Miceli Brigitte 2014_05_18 102

While I painted, the photographer moved around making satisfying and comforting comments in French that told me that she was having as good a time as I was. Among a few others, there was this moment…

Terrill Welch plein air on Painters Ground by Mme Miceli Brigitte  2014_05_18 103

and then this one…

taking on Cezanne's Mountain by Mme Miceli Brigitte 2014_05_18 107

and finally this one, which is likely one of my favourite photographs of me.

Plein Air pinting in Aix en Provence by Mme Miceli Brigitte 2014_05_18 109

It is a favourite because at this point I had relaxed and was able to focus on my painting. I was aware of the photographer but she had lulled me into a place of comfort with her soft voice and slow deliberate movements. She had become part of my work rather than an entity capturing it. She was deeply inside my painting space which is something only I usually get to experience. The man was standing back a little, quiet and waiting in an unhurried kind of way. I had stopped noticing him all together. It was a beautiful moment at 9:08 am on May 18, 2014 between three individuals up on a hill with the most important language of all in common between them – the language of appreciation and respect.

The photographer hands me back my camera and both of them encourage me to keep a close eye on it and tuck it under the easel so that it doesn’t get stolen. I make a promise to comply. I have the good sense to ask the photographer to write down her name and address so I can send her a copy of the photographs. We say our good-byes and they continue on with their morning walk and I finish up the painting in the few minutes that I have left before I need to pack up and start back down the hill and into town.

plein air of Cezanne's Mountain 25 x 35 cm acrylic painting sketch by Terrill Welch 2014_05_18 123

We can take a quick snoop into Cezanne’s Studio garden. Do you want to?

The Garden at Cezanne's Studio by Terrill Welch 2014_05_18 160

Yes, I did go into Cezanne’s studio where no photographs are allowed. There is the dutiful splash of open turpentine for authenticity.  However, on this day anyway,  I do believe the painter was still up on the Painters’ Ground where we met the photographer this morning. But not to disappoint, one of most intriguing features of Cezanne’s studio is the opening he had built into the wall to bring large paintings in and out of the studio. I climbed all the way back up in the early evening to get an outside view of this for you…

Evening outside Cezanne's Studio by Terrill Welch 2014_05_20 012

and another photograph of Sainte-Victoire mountain.

Sainte Victoire Aix en Provence by Terrill Welch 2014_05_20 024

Generally, I like to work in the morning but this spot would be most interesting in the afternoon and early evening. Yes, I am sure I saw a quick glimpse of Cezanne heading down the path by some tall bushes with his painting gear resting heavily on the shoulder of his weary frame that had  put in a long day’s work figuring and painting slowly and methodically.

CEZANNE’S MOUNTAIN – 25 x 35 cm, 20 minute acrylic plein air painting sketch

Cezanne's Mountain 25 x 35 cm 20 minute acrylic plein air painting sketch by Terrill Welch 2014_05_18 139

(Art Prints are available in my Redbubble storefront HERE)

 

When was the last time you were totally blow away by the positive serendipity of a series events?

 

© 2014 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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The Riviera

From north-western Italy to Southern France it is The Riviera and stunningly beautiful.

It could be an afternoon in Manarola

Manarola Cinque Terre Italy by Terrill Welch 2014_05_09 052

with “lady of the grapes”

La Donna Dell'UVA in Manarola Italy by Terrill Welch 2014_05_09 186

or sipping local wine by half-bottle

afternoon lunch by sea in Rapallo Italy by Terrill Welch 2014_05_08 099

next the sea in Rapallo

Castello sul Mare 1550 Rapallo Italy by Terrill Welch 2014_05_08 092

Then again, it could be a small Italian working fishing village

Italian fishing village Festival rain or shine  by Terrill Welch 2014_05_11 182

before coming to the big city host of Nice France

Roof Tops in Nice France by Terrill Welch 2014_05_15 076

with its amazing square

Square in Nice France by Terrill Welch 2014_05_15 029

no matter which way you happen to look…

morning in square Nice France by Terrill Welch 2014_05_15 035

It is all good, fantastic and delicious! There is however, only one painting sketch and it is not of these grand views but rather a humble still life.

Basic Essentials – 25 x 35 cm acrylic on archival 185 lb paper.

Basic Essentials 25 x 35 cm acrylic painting sketch by Terrill Welch 2014_05_12 110

Yet, it seems just right. Enough. Maybe even more than enough.

This is our last of three days in Nice France. Tomorrow we will be leaving for Aix en Provence and then Narbonne as we travel along the south of France. We will have no internet in the next places we are staying. Therefore, you may or may not hear from us again until we reach Barcelona Spain on May 23, 2014. So don’t worry. We are fine – just a little disconnected 😉

If you were to summarize the basic essentials of one of your favourite places what would be included?

 

© 2014 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

Good Morning Rapallo Italy

With oranges picked from a tree and sliced to eat to lemons, fresh eggs from the hen-house and an enthusiastic young niece to our host to greet us we felt right at home in our tiny house style apartment up in the hills of Rapallo Italy.

orange from the tree in Rapallo Italy by Terrill Welch 2014_05_08 001

This morning before walking down the hill to get groceries I walked up a ways until I could see the Mediterranean Sea.

May morning in Rapallo Italy by Terrill Welch 2014_05_08 037

We are surrounded by hills with little spots of inhabitants scattered around.

From the hillside in Rapallo Italy by Terrill Welch 2014_05_08 030

I believe there is a bus that goes around to the area across from us. I hope so because it would fun to have a closer look at this hilltop.

Hilltop near Rapallo Italy by Terrill Welch 2014_05_08 048

But it is the sea that is calling me right now.

over the palm tree is Rapallo Italy by Terrill Welch 2014_05_08 039

The Bird of Paradise blooming outside our door

Bird of Paradise in Rapallo Italy by Terrill Welch 2014_05_08 007

nor the abundant number of prickly beauties

prickly beauties by Terrill Welch 2014_05_08 019

and not even the roses will keep me on the hillside today.

A rosy kinda morning by Terrill Welch 2014_05_08 057

We are off on the twenty or thirty minute walk to see the sea and get a feel for this place.

 

What is holding your attention today?

 

© 2014 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