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

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Painting Melancholy Seas and other events

The week has shifted from warm winter afternoon sun to stormy jade grey sea, to snow cover trees causing power outages and then back to sun with more snow on the way. What is a painter to do with such dramatic changes? Gather reference materials, write a haiku, make hedgehog biscuits and paint of course!

With the sun trapped behind a tree, I squint through the branches at the sea.

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Wandering along the shore I consider the path down to the rocks and driftwood.

afternoon-sun-on-the-bank-at-georgina-point-mayne-island-by-terrill-welch-img_9565

Afternoon low sun on the rocks, the sea and a pastel sky are my reward.

strait-of-georgia-on-a-winter-afternoon-by-terrill-welch-img_9581

Then later on in the week the jade of high-tide seas remind me of some reference material from earlier in the year. I bring them along to the first Studio Intensive oil painting class that I am teaching for the next three months. I am enamoured by melancholy seas. I can’t seem to help myself. I am pull up to the shore with a belly full of compassion, ready to dry each of the wave’s cold tears on my damp sleeve.

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I bring the painting to rest back in the studio with the week’s snow visible in the background outside the loft windows.

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I have been working most of the day on the large canvas from the week before and the melancholy sea painting is my unwinding work after being corkscrewed up in the branches of that old arbutus tree.

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But what about this unusual amount of snow that has lasted for days here on the southwest coast? It really isn’t much. Truly it isn’t, other than gorgeous to look at…

As night comes / the beauty of tall firs / outside my window.

tall-firs-outside-my-window-by-terrill-welch-iphone-capture-feb-5-2017

Oh, the power went out a couple of times with the first heavy wet inches. But we are cozy and comfortable. In fact, we didn’t even go to get bread when we ran out. Instead, I made hedgehog biscuits.

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However, I am familiar with snow, bad roads and power outages. These circumstances cause me neither concern nor stress. Yet, I am reminded that it is uncertainty and the unknown that tends to rankle most into jittery nerves. I am no exception. But snow and power outages don’t do it for me.

Yesterday, the sun came out and danced with the same big fir trees in the valley outside the window . Gorgeous!

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I have, as you might expect, been reading about world events. Of most interest are a couple of articles with a broader, possibly dystopia, perspective. The first is “This is how we can fight Donald Trump’s attack on democracy” by Rob Wijnberg in The Correspondent. The second is an archeologist’s paper “History Tells Us What Will Happen Next With Brexit And Trumpby Tobias Stone in the Huffington Post. Both articles focus on current affairs from a place of context that comes when we step back from the immediacy of news feeds that surface on Facebook, Twitter or from other sources. I am reminded that though immediate situations may be of importance, they likely hold little sway within a longer measure of time. Possibly, I wonder, will we, 300 years from now, remember this era as the great democratic experiment?

This week I am also reading Behind The Beautiful Forevers: Life, death and hope in a Mumbia undercity by Katherine Boo. In addition, I watched a mini-series about Juana Ines de la Cruz , the life and work of a seventeen century nun in Mexico City who is considered one of the first great minds of the Americas.

In my collective ingestion of these articles, the book and the film, I am struck by how current stories and old stories are much the same. A few lines from  the Netflix Juana Ines film series, set between 1669 and 1695 in New Spain, seem to summarize my week in totality.

“Silence is not having nothing to say. But being unable… to find words for all there is to say.”

and

“It is not the knowledge I don’t have. But that the desire to learn has cost me so much… This amorous torment inside my heart can be seen. I know that I feel the way I do, but I don’t know the reason why. I feel such a heavy anguish from such a successful dalliance that fills like desire and ends in melancholy.”

As always, I find that so much in this everyday life is left unanswerable or beyond my words. Thus we conclude with the “resting” painting.

Melancholy Seas on a 14 x 18 inch oil on canvas

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How might melancholy and change come together in your life?

© 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

Without a moment to spare and arbutus trees on the ridge

I tell you, sometimes blessings require running shoes and a sweater as one tries to keep up and keep warm to their cool wisps as they streak across the surface of our everyday life. This week shall be met with abandon and somewhat reckless pleasure between the art studio and grandmother duties. Without a doubt, it will be a “yeeeeehaaaaawwww!” kind of week with Thursday being filled with crazy creatures wandering in the night asking for treats.

Of course, the light and shadows will still move unruffled by my daily activities. This 12 x 16 inch oil on canvas landscape which appeared in the studio under my brushes over the weekend reminds me of this.

ARBUTUS ON MT. PARKE

Arbutus on Mt. Park  12 x 16 inch oil on canvas by Terrill Welch 2013_10_26 059

The painting will likely be released sometime next week when I get a moment to put it up. But it is done and I am happy with it as it makes a wonderful grounding reference point for the week ahead. Many Monday blessing to you!

What will be your grounding reference point this week?

P.S. I am keeping a secret that I am just  barely able to keep from telling you! Stay tuned because soon we are in for a real treat and addition to sharing my paintings and photographs.

Also, a notice is up on my website about the online and physical November 9th and 10th Open Studio event ANYTHING BUT NEUTRAL. Do drop by for more information.

© 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

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

 

Doing a Henri Matisse in three new paintings

There is some much pressure on artists to be consistent in their body of work. Galleries like it as it is easy to show. Patrons like it because it is familiar with other work by the artist that they love. But artists, at least this artist, do not necessarily  like it. There is something awkward and unfamiliar with limiting palette and stylistic expression to such a narrow range that the work is immediately recognized as coming from the same creative process. Somehow the painting process often unfolds in quite a different manner.

Today, I did what I refer to as “doing a Henri Matisse” which is the process of digging as deeply as possible in a variety of directions to find what best way to interpret my subject, my desire and my intention.

It started with a reworking of “At The Beach” a plein air painting that had fallen out of my favour.

At The Beach 12 x12 inch oil on canvas by Terrill Welch  IMG_1121

There wasn’t anything particularly wrong with this painting but again, there wasn’t anything particularly right either. So I used it a foundation for today’s warm up which was no small task since I had taken a lengthy painting break during the seasonal holidays. Here is the resting results of my efforts.

“At the Beach another Time” 12 x 12 inch oil on canvas resting.

At the Beach another time resting 12 x 12 inch oil on canvas by Terrill Welch 2013_01_02 050

I now am much happier with how the light bounces across the canvas. I like the deep contrasts and the mystery the painting evokes as the sun rests off to my right shoulder on this August day.

Next, I took on a late December sunrise. I wanted to use bold decisive strokes that would give the sense of a colours woven together by sea, sky and the morning sun.

“Late December West Coast Sunrise” resting 6 x 6 inch oil on gessobord resting.

Late December Westcoast Sunrise resting 6 x 6 inch oil on gessobord by Terrill Welch 2013_01_02 059

The change in palette and foundation from canvas to gessobord  gives me the freedom to devour the winter sky with my brush. It is not about getting it right but rather about getting it live.

Then the final painting of the day came with yet another change in how I use my tools. The palette knife edged and sculptured my subject while the brush smoothed it back into its environment.

“Pear Trees in Winter First Light” 8 x 10 inch oil on canvas resting.

Pear Trees in winter first light resting 8 x 10 inch oil o canvas by Terrill Welch 2013_01_02 040

So there you have it. Today’s work in all its alla prima glory. Are they finished paintings? Maybe or maybe not. It matters not. This artist’s curiosity has been has been satisfied, at least for today.

Henri Matisse would be pleased I think.  Matisse’s vast oeuvre encompassed painting, drawing, sculpture, graphic arts (as diverse as etchings, linocuts, lithographs, and aquatints), paper cutouts, and book illustration. His varied subjects comprised landscape, still life, portraiture, domestic and studio interiors, and particularly focused on the female figure. In fact, it might be easier to show the range and diversity of his work than to lump it together into a gallery and patron series. This is not to say he did not do several paintings of the same subject. Indeed he did paint the same subject sometimes several times. But each time he handled it with sometimes significant differences in his search of “true painting.”

Matisse’s career can be divided into several periods that changed stylistically, but his underlying aim always remained the same: to discover “the essential character of things” and to produce an art “of balance, purity, and serenity,” as he himself put it in his “Notes of a Painter” in 1908.

Reverence: The Metropolitan Museum of Art – Henri Matisse (1869 – 1954).

I can resonate with this underlying aim and if a painter is to discover “the essential character of things” it stands to reason that the approach, the palette of pigments and the tools will vary. It would also make sense I would think that the subject of inquiry would not be rendered at the same time of day or year and that a viewer might possibly be able to intuit the specifics of light and season if they were familiar with such subtleties.  Therefore, at no time in the near future are you likely to see 20 or 30 of my paintings that look like they were spawn by the same in-bred tribe of pigments, canvases and brushstrokes.

Henri Matisse’s paintings are now showing at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. This exhibition, which curator Rebecca Rabinow has 49 paintings that Matisse made in pairs or trios between 1899-1948. As mentioned, he often painted and repainted the same theme in multiple styles, sometimes halting work on one painting only to continue on another, and preserving much of his own process along the way.

When was the last time that you did a Henri Matisse?

© 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

Emily Carr my kindred spirit

It is morning on Wednesday October 13, 2010. We pack quickly to leave our Mayne Island home and stay overnight in Victoria. We are going to see a screening of a new documentary film Winds of Heaven: Emily Carr, Carvers and the Spirits of the Forest by Michael Ostroff. The write up about the film was one of the few items noteworthy in our withering Saturday addition of the Globe and Mail national paper –which recently went glossy and appears to have dumped the last of its journalistic content. Finding reference to my kindred spirit, Emily Carr, has however, saved one of its pages from the recycling box.

Emily Carr, a larger-than-life icon of Canadian west coast art was born in 1871 and died at age 74 in 1945. How dare I be brass enough to call her my kindred spirit? It is because of her ordinariness along with her greatness. She often speaks in humble frustration in her reflections about her paintings and writing.  There are only a few exceptions in diary entries when she allows herself a quiet moment of pride for her accomplishments. One glance at her paintings tells another story. She held nothing back in her paintings.

Carr’s powerful strokes and clarity of vision bring large cedars and western landscapes to their knees at the feet of her brush, only to release them again to push skyward across the breadth of her canvas. It is within my experience of this contradiction, and her visceral struggle with her art, that I call her my kindred spirit.

“If the work of an isolated little old woman on the edge of nowhere, is too modern for the Canadian National Gallery, it seems it cannot be a very progressive institution.” Emily Carr, On the Edge of Nowhere Gallery quote

When doubts and fears about my ability as an artist threaten to keep my brushes from the paint or my fingers from pressing the camera shutter down, I read the diary pages of Carr. I know if my tears leave stains on the pages she will understand and that we will both be out of bed again in the morning, giving it another go – together.

I now have a new reference point to breathe vitality into Carr’s life and work. It is Michael Ostroff’s documentary film Winds of Heaven. Michael spoke about the difficulty of finding a fresh approach within the many fingerprints that traipse across all primary source documents of Carr’s writing and the many eyes that have critically gazed at her sketches and paintings. Well, in my opinion, he has brought the spirit of Emily Carr alive with the same strong powerful impressions, skillfully tethered together, as Carr did in her paintings. The documentary is being screened across the country and will be released in March. I plan to add one of the DVD’s to my library shortly thereafter. I want it close by so it is within reach when doubts raise their sneering heads in the corners of my studio. Then I will then count my blessings.

“I think I have gone further this year, have lifted a little. I see things a little more as a whole, a little more complete. I am always watching for fear of getting feeble and passé in my work. I want to pour till the pail is empty, the last bit going out in a gush, not drops.” Emily Carr, On the Edge of Nowhere Gallery quote.

Carr had no digital camera and sketched quickly with oil on paper before working up her paintings back at the studio. I can both sketch and take a photograph for reference. Carr had no community of contemporary artists to muse with her through her blog, twitter and facebook. She had to write letters and send them by post to her friend Lawren Harris. He had to reply in the same manner. Something I would find too tedious for daily inspiration. In poetry she had Walt Whitman where I have both Whitman on Mary Oliver. She was isolated in her work as much as she was in her geography.

When, even now women represented in museums around the world is only about 5%, she would not likely have called herself a feminist or a ground breaker for women’s art. She would likely have said that she was an artist who just happened to be a woman. Indeed, if a showing a few years ago at the Vancouver Art Gallery of women artists who were her peers are any indication, she would be right. Her work left those of other women artists in a shadow of insignificance. To be fair, gender may not be the deciding factor of what art work is left in her shadow.

Next, I will give thanks for each diary entry, and each story in the 893 pages of her writings. Finally, I will bow my head in gratitude for the dedicated work of Ira Dilworth, Doris Shadbolt, and now Michael Ostroff for ensuring that I have these unique views and access to the life and work of Emily Carr.

After the screening, Michael Ostroff commented during the discussion, that he wanted to “put Carr in the context of her time.” He has done more than that. He has put British Columbia in the context of its time. He shared her struggle to create a vision as it took him five years to find the funding and complete this incredible film which includes our experience with rugged wilderness and history of unsettled land claims.

Through my life as an artist going right back to childhood, Carr has always been just out of sight, leaving me marks to follow as I forge my own artistic path. I feel Carr’s kindred spirit as I work – not in her brush stroke but in the strength and reverence for her west. I am not a scribe for what is before my eyes but rather that which is before my heart. My Emily understands this. I can tell you facts about her life – such as her breakdown while going to art school in Europe or the 15 fallow years when she lost her will and only painted seven works and stopped writing in her diary. I can tell you that her best work came after this time while she was in 50’s. I can tell you that she was loved but never married. I can tell you these things but it will be far more meaningful if you read her writings for yourself and if you browse the pages of Doris Shadbolt’s The Art of Emily Carr or if you go to The Greater Victoria Art Gallery and stand in front of her paintings and see the trees swaying as they reach skyward or if you watch Winds of Heaven by Michael Gostroff – a documentary that adds value and depth to all other experiences of a Canadian artist, a great artist, a woman artist, Emily Carr. May you also know the life and art of the Emily who sits beside me as I work.

References are linked within the post.

Sprout question: What great artist encourages you while you work?

And you might like this later post as well “Emily Carr Mystery-solved” https://creativepotager.wordpress.com/2010/11/09/emily-carr-mystery-solved

© 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