Rubbing Shoulders with Art Ghosts

Down this historic alley in Victoria, British Columbia, there is a door to my past. Yesterday, I strolled along on a quiet January Monday rubbing shoulders with the ghosts of time. 

 

Fan-Tan-Alley-Victoria-BC-by-Terrill-Welch

Sure enough, the name of my favourite art teacher is still on the door of his old studio. For a moment, the door opens in my mind. 

We shuffle up the steep steps with our portfolios, arrange ourselves elbow to elbow on the easels provided. We take off layers and visit companionably while we wait for the model. I search the room to see if I can discern what this brilliant teacher has been painting this week. The room is crowded but organized for working. There is the scent of charcoal dust, oil paint, wax and old brick building. Warm lights shine on the platform in the middle of the room and the space heater glows. Then, just as the model takes her first short pose and the teacher gives us his instructions in brief, often unfinished, sentences… the image fades. 

The door reappears. Solid. Closed as a tomb entrance to a treasure buried in a past life. 

Glenn Howarth 1946 – 2009 

Glenn Howarth taught seminars and courses at art schools and universities across Canada after he graduated from UVic’s Visual Arts program. In 1987, he began the Victoria Drawing Academy in his studio in Fan Tan Alley. Howarth participated in both group and solo shows across the country and represented Canada at the Sao Paulo Biennale in 1982 and at Expo 86. (UVic legacy gallery)

I am so ever grateful to have taken several classes with him in the early 2000s. He refined my understanding of what happens between our subject, our bodies as the artist and that of the viewer in profound ways that I am still exploring. 

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Art Studio Gossip

Gossip overheard in the artist’s studio this afternoon…

Standing on end and shouldering themselves into a rough order along the curved hallway, these landscape paintings whisper loudly to each other.

Gossip overheard in the the artist's studio by Terrill Welch

“What are we doing here? I don’t even have my edges painted yet!”

“Me either but I hear that is happening tomorrow. Apparently, we have a big gig coming up for September and October.”

“Yeah, I heard eight of us large ones will be showing in Victoria, BC ” says Seaside Mayne Island, as he heaves himself to a slightly better angle to be heard, without actually shouting, from the great room.

Then Evening And The Arbutus Tree leans over the railing from the loft.

“She told me that she wants to call the show ‘Above The Stacks’ because we are going to be in a new library and most of us will be way up high above the books. I said she had to add ‘Land and Sea’ to the title or no one will know that it is going to be us.”

Long Beach Vancouver Island sighs as the tide recedes farther up her midriff.

“You know” she comments patiently while stretching out one long sandy leg, and then the other “it is way too soon to be getting excited. There are still a couple of weeks to wait. No use wearing out all our shine in the studio.”

Then she winks and the light sparkles off of her sea “I do believe Emily Carr is somehow involved again.”

All the paintings in the studio start whispering at once. In fact one little fellow gets so excited that he falls over flat on his face in the magazine article he had been trying to read upside down.

Sea and Sun Cox Bay Tofino BC grumbles “You had to go and wake the little ones didn’t you!? You know they are too small to go in this show.”

“There will be other shows” Long Beach Vancouver Island replies. “After all, there are not many place that can handle the eight of us.”

The late summer afternoon warmth starts to make all the paintings drowsy – large ones, middle-sized ones and small ones. Sssshhhh!

The studio is quiet.

 

What are you whispering about today?

 

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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