To Return To My Trees

There is a Welsh phrase (not a “Welch” phrase) “dod yn ôl at fy nghoed”, meaning “to return to a balanced state of mind” or the literal translation is “to return to my trees“. This, as you know, is something that I do often. But sometimes, I even surprise myself with how powerful the pull of trees can be. Take this latest tree. I walked out onto this huge expanse of hard sand and then headed directly across to where there was this amazing old fir tree whose growth seems to have split the sandstone, its top is blown off, and its roots getting salted with every winter storm. I could not easily capture its grandness in one image so I pieced a few together and relied mostly on a short video for painting references. After all the little plein air paintings, this is my first studio painting from Hornby Island. Well, let’s see what we have shall we? 

I could have used a 60 x 40 inch canvas for this painting but I resisted and decided instead to see if a smaller 36 x 24 inch could communicate the power of this tree.

We have a start as I gather up the branches lost against the westerly afternoon light of sun and sky.

These will, at first, contrast hard against the expanses of the dark trunk… until I get the reflected light from the sea and sky to the east involved.

I can now sense where the tree is in space as we look way up from the beach floor under our feet. From here, the blocking in process continues until the canvas is covered in wet oil paint.

Now, the real work begins! I build up the paint from both the lightest lights to the darkest dark and everything in between. I desperately what to keep the strength, power and movement of time and space that is already on the canvas. This is essential. I seek the most minimalist of details that all lead towards this one intention and will guide every mark I make from here forward. (Don’t hold your breath though as it will take another few hours and we don’t need any readers passing out in anticipation 😉

I take a long break, plan what we will have for supper, feeling pleasantly pleased with myself that I remembered that we would need to eat. This phenomenon doesn’t always happen when I am in the middle of a larger painting. Sometimes, when I am holding several brushes and standing before a canvas I forget such domestic requirements… until the natural light fades in my painting space. I continue painting…

Now it is late. I have lost my light and I’m too tired to walk up the stairs to the loft studio and get the studio lamp. Besides, I see some rather tricky changes I want to make that will require scraping a bit of paint and starting over. I must stop. This is it for today.

In the morning, with my body stiff and slightly sore from the hours before the canvas the day before, I begin again. As usual, sleep seems to find solutions that a tired painter would struggle with if attempted without it. The last stretch goes easily and each mark of paint finds its proper place.

The painting has come to “resting”. It still needs a final photograph and the edges painted but the majority of work is done!

I am calling this 36 x 24 inch, walnut oil on canvas, painting “Standing Below the Old Fir at Tribune Bay” but it could just as easily be called “Lost Against the Light”.

Let’s step back so you can get a wee bit of distance from it…

The work is still drying and had its edges painted so it will be a bit before I release it. I am thinking, maybe for the show that opens in July at the gallery, unless someone lays claim to it before then.

Hopefully you have enjoyed this behind the scenes development of a new work. In addition, if you are interested, at about the 18 second mark in this next video from Hornby Island, there is a segment that shows this tree in its environment.

Well, that is about it I think.

What are you losing against the light?

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Worthy of Waiting for Paint to Dry

I’ve heard the marching chant often – “When do we want it?” “Now!” I internalize as meaning something before immediate, something that demands my response, similar to the wail of a newborn. During my internal travels this week, where deeply worn paths of immediacy are noticeable, alongside my restorative practices, I am reminded of these rallying-the-troop cries. Well, try shouting this at an exquisite impasto swipe of hansa yellow. Talk about being promptly escorted over to where the sun doesn’t shine, right next to the raw umber. Okay, maybe too much oil painter’s inside humour voice for pleasant company. But you get the idea. There are two basic approaches with oil paints. The first is to apply and keep applying while it is still wet. The second is to apply and wait for it to dry and then apply some more. This week’s ground on a large  60 X 40 inch canvas is in the second category.

red-ground-drying-on-large-canvas-in-great-room-by-terrill-welch-january-22-2017-img_9235

In fact, there is a serious amount of waiting in this artist’s life. Take that gorgeous brand new hunk of beechwood easel, twenty years of contemplation before I said yes. If I had taken as much consideration with my first two marriages, there would be two less Canadian divorce statistics to count. My reasoning delaying the purchase of a new easel was that I had a perfectly good folding mast easel my parents gave me the year I graduated from high school….. and it wasn’t quite used up yet. I have to admit though that the easel had been repaired several times over the past forty years and was getting bit wobbly at the hinges. But still!

However, this next work finally tipped my scales of reasoning and I broke. My longing and desire forced open my hand from around a large wad of cash and the next thing I knew we are pulling up to the art supply store loading area.

The subject for this next canvas has been studied with regularity for about seven years. There is a particular “story telling” tree from one of our regular walks in Bennet Bay that shall grace this canvas. I know this arbutus tree in my bones.  While I am putting down that red ground I begin curling around the shapes of its branches and trunks, bathed in golden winter light and pushing up against a cobalt afternoon sky. Fifty shades of green skitter across the garish lips of that stretched canvas. But wait. The ground must dry first. Yes, wait, and so must you.

The subject is worthy of the wait. I promise.

While we are waiting, how about taking in a coastal mountain view?

coastal-mountains-and-sun-at-play-by-terrill-welch-january-20-2017-img_9183

Or maybe you would prefer to sit with a charismatic tree out on the point?

edith-point-moment-by-terrill-welch-january-24-2017-img_9274

Will this do while we wait?

What do you do while waiting for the symbolic paint in your life to dry?

© 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 the lone Tree

There are several trees on the island that I photograph over and over with the hopes to someday catch their essence with my lens. One of these trees is the one in the daffodil field. The tree has set itself in a delightful corner of the world that is often privy to dramatic or at least interesting light. Like the other day when I spotted it with the fog starting to roll up behind its naked trunk and branches.

Lone tree at a distance  by Terrill Welch 2013_01_25 040

So I wiggled my lens in a little closer to see what we could see…

lone tree in field by Terrill Welch 2013_01_25 049

But then I got distracted by its sister tree by the gate.

tree by the gate  by Terrill Welch 2013_01_25 067

By the time I looked back, the mist had really started to drift up behind the other tree.

lone tree  by Terrill Welch 2013_01_25 114

It is lovely of course but is it just right? Can we glimpse the spirit of the tree as it is revealed to the viewer’s eye. No, I think not – not quite. Almost but still I am left feeling unsatisfied. Maybe it is time to tackle it with paint brush and canvas.

Speaking of which, I have several paintings to release this week over at Terrill Welch Artist. The first post went up this morning for a 12 x 16 inc h oil on canvas “Winter Afternoon West Coast Ferry Home

Winter afternoon west coast ferry home  12 x 16 inch oil on canvasby Terrill Welch 2013_01_25 092

Drop on by if it pleases you or subscribe so you are notified of new posts as they go up.

 

What are you attempting to capture this week with you creative tools?

 

© 2013 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 Wisp of Winter

It is a painting day for me. It is an ordinary west coast November day with frequent weather changes from sun to rain. But as I looked up from the canvas, nothing seemed to warn me about what I was going to see in the valley.

(image may be purchased HERE)

A tree in snow – natural pointillism.

I wonder what tomorrow morning will bring?

Slipping out our door into the crisp air I pause. The tree dressed in a skiff of snow is decorated with morning light.

(image may be purchased HERE)

 

Now isn’t that lovely?

 

These photographs are from Friday and Saturday. But I think they still look  fresh, even as late as this Monday morning.

 

Sprout Question: What is crispy and fresh in your creative day?

 

Happy Thanksgiving to our U.S. friends!

 

P.S. The 12 X 12 oil painting is coming along too but is “resting.” I hope to be able to share it with you on Friday.

 

© 2011 Terrill Welch, All rights reserved.

 

Liberal usage granted with written permission. See “About” for details.

Purchase photography at http://www.redbubble.com/people/terrillwelch

Creative Potager – where imagination rules. Be inspired.

From Mayne Island, British Columbia, Canada

Terrill Welch online Gallery at http://terrillwelchartist.com

 

 

Waiting to be Invited

There is a part of creativity that is about showing up prepared. That means setting up your writing station and putting bum-to-chair. Or pulling out a canvas and placing it on the easel. Then putting a brush in your hand at a regularly scheduled time to paint. Or it means putting your camera bag on your shoulder and heading out everyday to take the photograph that is there to be taken. Each of us practicing our creative craft will engage in some form of preparation. If you are a musician or a dancer or a woodcarver you will know exactly what to do to show up prepared.

After doing a few warm up exercises, I find there is a second part to most creative processes. This is waiting to be invited. There is a pause or suspension of expectation or a kind of taut readiness. Mind, body and spirit seem to align and, there it is – the invitation. We know intuitively exactly what we need to do next. We proceed.

This is my intention for the week ahead. I have a half-finished painting and few canvases of various sizes that I picked up last week. I am going to set aside the time each day, be prepared, do my warm up exercises, stilling my mind and wait to be invited.

This is what happened when I took these two photographs at the Japanese garden on Friday morning. As the rain came down, I visited with a friend who is moving away. We were sitting on a sheltered bench. I had taken my camera even though the day was heavily clouded and didn’t show much promise.

First, this invite was extended to me.

And then this one.

 

I remembered my manners and said “thank you.”

 

And here are a couple of things you may find inspiring:

 

Last Tuesday, we slipped into Victoria B.C. and attended the IMAX theatre for the most impressive Van Gogh brush with Genius . Well worth seeing if you ever get the chance. Thank you Sherwin, from Shower Wisdom, for making such a compelling recommendation in your comment to last Monday’s post.

 

While we were in town we went to a couple of art galleries. At the new Madrona Gallery we saw a 3 X 4 foot acrylic painting by Karel Doruyler of a mature, dense west coast forest. His skill with light is outstanding. The work we saw was Thoughts of Summer. Doruyler has developed a heavily textured approach so that the tree trunks are significantly raised off the surface of the painting. Doruyler has been painting professionally for 40 years and is now 70 years old. His work leaves me with such a sense of possibility for my own continued development as an artist.

 

All the best in your creative endeavors!

 

Sprout question: Where are you showing up prepared to be invited?

 

© 2011 Terrill Welch, All rights reserved.

Liberal usage granted with written permission. See “About” for details.

Purchase photography at http://www.redbubble.com/people/terrillwelch

Creative Potager – where imagination rules. Be inspired.

From Mayne Island, British Columbia, Canada

 

Soft light

Today heavy clouds filter the sun into a perpetual dawn. With rain tapping the roof now and again, I sleep late. No harm done – at least none that I have noticed. I remember our walk yesterday afternoon with its scattered clouds and soft light.

Walking a coastal trail…

Often looking towards the view but not going out to admire. We are smoked in. It seems as if someone is burning brush.

It is so pleasant under the trees. The air is heavy and still as we walk quietly through the soft light.

(image may be purchased here.)

 

Sprout question: How are you embracing what the day has to offer?

 

© 2011 Terrill Welch, All rights reserved.

Liberal usage granted with written permission. See “About” for details.

Purchase photography at http://www.redbubble.com/people/terrillwelch

Creative Potager – where imagination rules. Be inspired.

From Mayne Island, British Columbia, Canada

 

Stories in Mist




Dawn creeps through the mist, stealing night’s solitude.

Mist settling in between notes of soft music drifts through the room and out into the valley.

Between now and then is the shadow of self… wavering slightly in our imagination.

Sprout question: What stories are your soft edges telling?

© 2010 Terrill Welch, All rights reserved.

Liberal usage granted with written permission. See “About” for details.

Purchase photography at http://www.redbubble.com/people/terrillwelch

Creative Potager – where imagination rules. Be inspired.

From Mayne Island, British Columbia, Canada

Sweeping

Winds come in off the water, bending and moving the tree’s branches. Even still, these branches are sweeping, catching wisp of songs on the lips of the Salish Sea.

View and purchase full resolution image here.

 

The composition of this image is unusual, bringing the eye in from the left to the silhouetted trunk and closer as it crosses the frame on the sweeping branch, dropping down on the rocks and out to sea, only to come back again onto the far hill of misty trees. The sight line is an angled backwards Z. Like a piece of complicated music, it requires time to gather in its intricacies. This type of image, like a sentence with several parts connected by commas, is often broken down into smaller bites so we can devour it more quickly. I resisted. I kept its complicated-sweeping-whole and place the image in the Mayne Island Tree Spirits calendar’s month of June. It is there for me as much as I placed it there for you.

 

Sprout question: What creative principle have you resisted recently?

 

© 2010 Terrill Welch, All rights reserved.

Liberal usage granted with written permission. See “About” for details.

Purchase photography at http://www.redbubble.com/people/terrillwelch

Creative Potager – where imagination rules. Be inspired.

From Mayne Island, British Columbia, Canada

 

Mayne Island Tree Spirits

Mayne Island is a magical place and in the rolling fog off the water it is even more magnificent. The dryads, fairies, nymphs and tree spirits are just out of sight or maybe not? Let’s have a look.

The fog is thick and little can be seen along the shore trail.

The pine seems to bend back to let us past.

One branch reaching forward with pine needles harboring hope of something special… do you see anything?

Let’s head inland for a bit.

Light in coming through the mist.

A sense of missing.

Resting.

Reflections of trees caught in webs.

Watchful. Present.

Distant beauty.

Traveling into the mist.

Together.

Trees  growing together.

Tall wonder.

Many of these images are part of Mayne Island Tree Spirits 2011 calendar.

Shall we stay awhile, wondering back through the trees to the shore? Maybe the old crone will be out on the point with her camera. She is often here – squinting when the light is bright.

Have a great weekend!

Sprout question: Do you know of a place that is filled with tree spirits?

© 2010 Terrill Welch, All rights reserved.

Liberal usage granted with written permission. See “About” for details.

Purchase photography at http://www.redbubble.com/people/terrillwelch

Creative Potager – where imagination rules. Be inspired.

From Mayne Island, British Columbia, Canada