Escape to the Sea

The low autumn sun has chased me into the las possible space of my less than idea south exposure painting studio. In frustration, I give up and wash my brushes.



Then I tie up my hiking shoes and escape to the sea. The familiar forest middle trail eventually leads me in a steady easy rhythm out to seashore. 


The ground is dry even though the air is humid enough to feel cool and damp in the shade while sandstone rocks have soaked up the sun’s heat. 


It is an early October day of deep contrasts.

Punctuated by open space, there is room to breathe here and no need to think. Feeling is enough. I lay on the sandstone with my eyes closed listening to the sea.


The sun must have moved behind the big fir tree on the west side of the studio by now. I head home again. Too tired to paint, I start supper instead. Tomorrow, I will continue. And now tomorrow is today. I will post this and start bringing in paintings from the new gallery pod and taking paintings out to hang for the next show. I will stop and paint for a while in the best light after this. When the sun gets in the way again, I will put new work into the inventory and release it for purchase. Somewhere in there, is lunch and after this an art related zoom call. Then supper and another art zoom call. This will be followed by watching a show on my iPad with my husband and finally sleep with big open windows under the light of the moon. Then it will be tomorrow and an art collector will come to visit for the day from Victoria. I will finish the last bits to open the new show before she arrives and work some more on the large canvas in the studio.

There will be interruptions of course. Bills need to be paid by E-transfers. The house will need to be prepared for the housecleaner. Laundry will need doing. One must shower and brush their teeth and comb their hair. Shuffling out of pyjamas into painting clothes and then into clean street clothes are a must. The boxes holding new cedar planters needing assembly will be taken from the car and the roses are gasping for a little water. Still, the bones of an artist’s life are firmly in place and will provide the structure for each hour of each day. 

What are the key elements that are organizing your days? 

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Four Day Installation For Truth and Reconciliation

Mayne Island / S,KTAK artists Johnny Aitken, Bill Jamison and Wayne Thomas took on the monumental task of hosting a four day art installation with the intention of inviting deep observation, thought and conversation about the past, present and future of colonialism, genocide and the unsettled coexistence of Indigenous and white settlers in what is called British Columbia and Canada by the British Empire. Even to outline this installation in such a way is to be more forward or provocative and less inviting to question than the artworks actually offers to us. I pause. Have I already said too much?

“7000+ Spirits” by Johnny Aitken 

Yet, these few words seem necessary as I share images from last evening that I have gathered with permission during my visit to a quiet corner on these lands of the Coast Salish people just after sunset.

“7000+ Spirits” by Johnny Aitken 


My husband and I wait for fifteen minutes in the gloaming under the trees at the edge of the road where there was just enough room to park our car. It is not quite 7:30 pm. Talking in a hushed voice, I spoke about my maternal grandmother who loved this time of day best. I spoke about how she would resist lighting the gas lamp just a little longer until all we could see was the lit end of her cigarette that seemed to hold the invisible shape of her angular body hunched over a tall step stool at the back of the round wooden kitchen table. My grandmother had been born in Norway and came to Canada at the age of six with her parents and they made their way across the country to north central British Columbia to homestead. She grew up, married and raised her family within a six mile radius of that first cleared and plowed field, living with her husband on the Stuart River some 25 miles outside of Vanderhoof. My parents still live up river from there about two miles as the crow files or four miles by road. They are in their mid eighties and live off the grid with only wood heat and the help of a generator. I share this because more than many white Canadian folks, I am solidly from white settler stock without even the separation of a generation. I went to high school with young adults who had gone to residential school up to grade seven and then, with difficulty, entered the white mainstream system. I heard and observed overt racism and, sometimes much more painful, subtle disrespect first hand. Later I worked with many Indigenous families as a young white woman and felt the overwhelming pain of their displacement in their own homeland. But then I could go home to my own two children in a small mobile home in a trailer park. I would be thankful for the wholeness of my family and the stability of my housing which I could own. I would appreciate my potable water. I would acknowledge the whiteness of my skin that allowed me respect without proof of my worth. I could order a birthday cake for my child at a local bakery without paying up front. I didn’t know until I was standing at the counter with an Indigenous mother ordering a cake for her child that she could not. Even when I mentioned to the clerk this discrepancy, the clerk and the mother both just shrugged and she handed over the money in advance. This is how white privilege can blind us. This is how we come to a place of uttering the foolish words “why don’t they just….” or telling ourselves it is all in the past. It is not.

“7000+ Spirits” by Johnny Aitken 


There are lessons from the past of course and at the same time, if we can pause and stand within ourselves and observe and share and engage in deep humble conversations, there are still many more lesson and opportunity today that have the potential to create a new and better future. But it won’t happen quickly and it won’t happen at all if we do not take the time to grieve and acknowledge the crimes and losses in our past and in our present.

Little Red Dress by Bill Jamison


These are my reflections and thoughts after our visit to the last evening’s art installation and my all-to-brief conversations with Johnny Aitken who I consider a friend as well as an amazing artist and outstanding host of difficult and necessary conversations. I am not going to give you too much background on these various works by these three artists because they are design and intended to be interactive in their interpretation. I encourage you to go and see for yourself this evening or next from 7:30 – 9:00 pm on Sunday October 2nd or Monday October 3rd, 2022 at 450 Mill Rd, Mayne Island, B.C. After all, a conversation cannot happen if you do not show up to have one.

Honouring Lantern by Wayne Thomas


You can also learn more about the work of:

Johnny Aitken: agent for change using many methods HERE.

Bill Jamison: every glass project begins with a conversation HERE.

Wayne Thomas: gifting opportunities for growth and change through wood and silver carvings HERE.

I am honoured to have been given permission to photograph and share their latest art installations with you and to have these three in my local community of artists. Thank you Johnny, Bill and Wayne for all that you do and for being you!

ONLINE GALLERIES include –

ArtWork Archive original paintings and acrylic sketches currently available

Redbubble painting and photography prints and merchandise

Website: TerrillWelchArtist.com 

Early Autumn in the Japanese Garden

Sunshine and cooler temperatures are the perfect time for drifting between productive activity and leisurely strolls. I have sorted, cleaned and reclaimed my office space in the loft. I find it so refreshing to have it “in hand” so to speak. Now it is time to go for that stroll. 


I go off into the gorgeous early autumn weather with its warm sun and blue skies. One of my stops is our Mayne Island Japanese Memorial Garden. 


The bridge is looking more elegant than usual with its orange red boards. I smile to myself remembering bringing students to plein air paint in the garden. This bridge lovingly was referred to as “the dreaded bridge”. 


The bridge can be seen from almost anywhere in the circular walk around the garden.


It is a popular prop for photographing family and friends. 


The Japanese maples are starting to turn red.


Samaras prepare to twirl off in a gust of wind. 


I find myself sitting in the ground beside the path even though there are many comfortable benches tucked into the garden. 


I am sitting next to the new bamboo shishi odoshi that translates as “deer frightening” in English. Thankful all the deer are fences out of this beautiful garden. 


I head home to prepare supper. Before I feel ready, the day is over. The sun is setting through the trees and creating magical light across the room. 


The time on my phone says that it is just seven in the evening. I am not ready yet for the fast shortening of the days in our northern hemisphere. I want to savour the last of our late summer’s warmth, even if it is shaking hands with early autumn before its annual departure. 

Meanwhile, Russia has announced a partial mobilization. First it was for 300 reservists. Now I hear possibly one million. Nuclear weapons are mentioned. Is it a bluff? Likely they say while failing to pause before insisting that we should take this threat seriously and prepare. How does one prepare for a Nuclear war? Is an animal really cornered if they very carefully constructed the corner themselves? The analogy doesn’t seem to work somehow. I listen to the UN security talks. I check with trusted YouTube analysts for updates about changes in the Ukrainian frontline. What shall I prepare in the face of possible war? A prayer for peace? A dedicated meditation on love? Possibly. I will go to garden for a powerful potion of fresh peppermint for my tea. I will watch the bright green leaves swirl in the hot water of my favourite mung and I shall breathe. I shall breathe slowly, purposefully and with an open heart, cradled in strength and a unrelenting force. 

Such are these days of this early autumn here on the southwest coast of Canada. 

What is it like this time of year in your  neighbourhood? 

ONLINE GALLERIES include –

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Warm Sun with Cool Shadows

I have my sweater tide around my waist and my cheeks are facing the later morning sun. But there is no mistaking that it is fall. A cool breeze drifts gently through the trees and tickles up the length of my spine.

*Please note: Reader warning about challenging material and painting reference sketch for possibly my next large painting are included near the end of this post.  

I want to not much of anything on days like this. It is a good thing I got the edges on four large paintings done yesterday before heading down to sit beside the sea. 

Autumn crocuses are in full bloom. I always feel like they are playing a great hoax on us, as if wanting us to believe it is spring. 

But it was Saint John Point where I wandered yesterday. This place is intimately familiar. Yet, if I learn into that closeness and seek out something more, it always delivers. 

Again…

And again…

The Arbutus woods, the sea and the sky are never the same twice. So I keep seeking with fresh eyes and a willing spirit. 

Every twist is assessed and acknowledged, sometimes with sadness because the end of a life is so near. Maybe one more season. Hopefully. 

However, even in death Arbutus Trees seem to still have so much to offer with their elegant curves. 

I revel in the grand strength and endurance of the healthy giants. How do they do it when so many others are struggling?

At home the painting edges dry.

These three paintings have displaced us from our great room and dining table.

Not to worry, we have done this a few hundred times before. We have a temporary cozy and beautiful solution. The outside deck table is moved to the big windows in our bedroom. Now how fine is this!?

And in the evening if dinner is later, we slide everything over in front of the fireplace. One could hardly call this roughing it.

Today and tomorrow the Gallery Pod is closed. I have a friend and an art collector arriving for a day trip tomorrow though. I could start on a larger painting but I might wait. What I want to work on is dark and grim. I have a small study I did around five months ago about our tranquil place next to the Salish Sea with the devastation left behind by the Russians in the small village of Bucha village in Ukraine imposed in the foreground.

“One World, Two Places” by Terrill Welch is a small 8 x 10 inch acrylic sketch 

Artist notes: During mid April 2022 war photographers began releasing images of Bucha Ukraine following Russian retreat. The inhumane atrocities where nightmarishly haunting. I was overwhelmed by the graphic possibilities for sickly human behaviour. I went from our calm, warm, cozy home to the shores of the Salish Sea on the southwest coast of Canada where Mount Baker loomed across the waters in the United States. What if our neighbouring unit were to attack us in this way? What would we do? These lands too have witnessed atrocities by European settlers towards Indigenous communities. There is no place of virtue for how despicable humans can be to one another. The miracle might be that we have even moments of peace, compassion and caring at all. Yet, the seascape of my island home is tranquil and takes the edge off of my inner turmoil. I return home and paint “One World, Two Places” using several reference but with a specific image quote to Den Kazansky who risks his physical, mental, emotional and spiritual well-being to document the crimes in Bucha and the war in Ukraine. Kazansky’s tag line on Twitter is “For only in the grip of darkness we will shine amidst the brightest stars” This too could be the title of this painting sketch.


The subject deserves a large canvas. I am just not sure I have the stomach and the courage to paint it. I have a biting, teeth grinding and nightmare kind of concern for those civilians who are on the front lines of the war in Ukraine. I can hike the trails to take the edge off but this doesn’t change the situation. Somehow painting these experiences offers a concrete place outside of my head to record these horrors that contrast so starkly with our daily island life here on the Southwest Coast of Canada.

For now, I am going to make my coffee and see what I decide after that.

ONLINE GALLERIES include –

ArtWork Archive original paintings and acrylic sketches currently available

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Website: TerrillWelchArtist.com 

Weaving Together A Weekend Through to Monday

After collecting our basket from the Farmers Market yesterday and spending most of the day putting up the harvest for winter while guests self browsed in person and online, today with the Gallery Pod open from 11-4, I am smiling. 

I am smiling AND painting edges. I would say this is almost a miracle. 😉

I think it is the second batch of oven roasted eggplant, tomatoes and peppers with herbs in olive oil.

Or maybe it is the third batch of rustic basil pesto?

But it is likely the labeled serving sizes in the freezer that is doing it. This and the fall air. Either way, you are most welcome to come self browse in the Terrill Welch Gallery Pod and stop in and see the new show in ISLAND TIME ART both today and tomorrow. I shall be around between painting edges and strolling in the early autumn sun. Plus, there are fresh flowers in the Gallery Pod to welcome you.

If you are only able to visit and browse online this works well too.

Terrill Welch Gallery Pod Private Viewing Room is available HERE.

ISLAND TIME ART “Late Summer Gold” group show can be viewed in a collection HERE

ONLINE GALLERIES include –

ArtWork Archive original paintings and acrylic sketches currently available

Redbubble painting and photography prints and merchandise

Website: TerrillWelchArtist.com 

Late Summer

We are now solidly into what islanders call “the shoulder season”. It is the time of year that we book our eye and dentist appointments and check all our batteries and fill the pantries for winter storm power outages. Those that have wood stoves are stacking and splitting and those of us with propane back up heat check the gauges and determine when we will need to ask that the tanks be refilled. Sunflowers and other late summer flowers shine brightly. Our tomatoes and cucumbers are in abundance and various apples are ripening. I always like to do a little extra for winter this time of year.

A pan of tomatoes, eggplant and peppers with garlic, African basil and rosemary are roasted for toast and frozen in small packages for mid winter with the taste of summer pasta.

I do up a basic pickle brine and stuff two jars with a cucumber, carrots and apple. These brine pickles will last unsealed and refrigerated in their sterilized jars for over two months and are ready to start using after two days. Besides, they look so pretty. A person can add dill and garlic if they wish but I didn’t.

We made a trip to Victoria on Monday for my new lenses and had time to stop in Sidney for supper and then a walk window shopping to the pier.

The late ferry arrived at dusk and the ride was uneventful and on schedule.

Yesterday, I worked with our gallery artists to pull together a new show for ISLAND TIME ART and we used the new gallery pod that was closed for the day as a handover for work returning and a staging area for the new show that was going up. Look at that colour!

Then a couple of hours later, it now looks like this and will open tomorrow Thursday, Sept 15, 2022 at 492 Dalton Dr., Mayne Island, B.C. in the ISLAND TIME ART room within Dragonfly above the ferry terminal. I invite you to drop by and see for yourself. Browsing is welcomed and encouraged.

Day trips from Victoria are relatively easy now that we are in the shoulder season and visitors even come for the day from Vancouver sometimes. The ISLAND TIME ART room is generally open 10-5 Wednesday through Monday though it is closed this Wednesday for some electrical work in the building. The Terrill Welch Gallery Pod at 428 Luff Rd also on Mayne Island is open 11-4 Thursday through Monday for the shoulder season and by arrangement at other times.

And speaking of large still life paintings, “August Still Life with Cezanne and Matisse”, a 36 x 24 inch oil on canvas, has found its forever home and is now sold.

I have always loved this painting and had hung it in our hallway for the open home studio days that accompanied the opening of the new Terrill Welch Gallery Pod. One of the gallery’s art collectors took this painting home on trial to consider purchasing and decided to make their relationship permanent. Many of my paintings have a specific job to do in the home of art collectors and this one is no exception. I am honoured that it was chosen for the important work it has been assigned in rememberance of a very special human being I have also had the pleasure to know.

I do believe this catches us up for now and I am off to work on the next issue of our “A Brush With Life” newsletter and get the wall labels ready for the new show in ISLAND TIME ART. Take good care and we shall chat again soon.

ONLINE GALLERIES include –

ArtWork Archive original paintings and acrylic sketches currently available

Redbubble painting and photography prints and merchandise

Website: TerrillWelchArtist.com 

Breaking Blue and Gold

Starting with Monday, this has been a week of deep connection with nature, family and friends. Nature is at my doorstep. A friend made the trip to the island for a visit and my family has been connecting via telephone across many km from a different part of the province. There is a fragile, yet unrelenting, firmness that whisks itself across the carpet of our pending autumn.

Seagulls gather in rows on the reefs.

Hearing about the death of Queen Elisabeth II at 96 years old and a 70 year reign is a good reminder for me that mortality eventually has its way with us all. This confirmation, and a northwest wind facing down a clear sunny day, slices through any illusions I may have had. Without a doubt, summer has slipped on a sweater on over her light cotton dress and Canada, as part of the commonwealth, has a new King. King Charles III who is already a sprightly 73 years old. Just like that it seems, we have turned a page in time.

However, if we look closely enough, we will notice that endings and beginnings are woven together and when done well, the broken threads pass beside each other twisting to become stronger than just one thread by itself. It could be as simple as where the sea and the shore meet.

Or, in a grander flourish, we might catch the sea, mountains and sky cresting across the horizon.

The seagulls are still conferencing on the sandstone with hardly a ruffled feather.

The next day they have moved on. But the northwesterly wind has stayed.

I try to find a place to paint but I am chilled and shivering just getting references. Unlike our intuitive summer, I have left my warm sweater at home.

After a third attempt along our Mayne Island shores, I tuck up close to the brickworks dock during the morning low tide.

I lean into the crumbly structure and make a wish. Not a wish for something. Just a wish to be present. A wish to hold the space of today. In a wonky out-of-sorts-kind-of-way, everything seems to be as it should.

I’ll take it! That long breath in and then out and in again. In nature, connecting with family and friends. This is it. All that gives us a chance in life.

Low Tide at the Brickworks Dock by Terrill Welch, 10 x 8 inch acrylic on gessobord plein air.

Artist notes: An early September northwest wind was cool even in the late summer sun. I tucked up next to the brickworks dock for shelter and then started admiring its weathered features.

And so it has been for this first week of September. How about you? How has your week been?

ONLINE GALLERIES include –

ArtWork Archive original paintings and acrylic sketches currently available

Redbubble painting and photography prints and merchandise

Website: TerrillWelchArtist.com 

September is About to Arrive

I can feel fall nipping at my heals even as the nights remain warm and the drought conditions continue likely for at least another two weeks. It is a rambling eclectic time of year with my birthday acknowledged while aggressive wasps crowd around the outside water tap for a drink. I have the road signs up for the official Gallery Pod opening 11-4 each day starting tomorrow through to Tuesday September 6th.

The show is hung and people have been slipping for an early viewing for the last few days.

There will need to be new flowers for the desk today I think but these ones have sure been lovely.

The newsletter is written and will come out as usual on Friday. Never Miss the Good bits! Sign Up Now for “A Brush with Life” the curated editorial Terrill Welch Gallery newsletter published every second Friday. (You will receive a confirmation email. Check your spam folder if you sign up and it isn’t in your inbox. If you do not reply to confirm you are not subscribed yet). 

No painting is happening at the moment. A strong individual is coming to dig a trench for the extension cord to the gallery pod today so that it is not an eyesore. My most treasured team member is coming to clean and polish our home and the home studio. I have so much gratitude for those in my life who step up when needed!

End of summer meals are wholesome but simple. Breakfast of garden fresh local tomatoes on wood fired rye toast with mayo for breakfast.

Spanish omelettes with tomato sauce and cheese with local salad greens for supper thanks to Raven Vale Farm.

I managed a sunrise this week along with an impromptu visit with a friend who arrived for the same beach just a little earlier than me.

Life is good as I get up early and go to bed late while noticing the shorter days and that distinct scent of autumn just around the corner. I tell myself, just get through to the end of the Gallery Pod opening and it will easy up. But not likely all at once I am afraid. It is now time to get everything ready for the winter months. There are off island eye and dentist appointments to get out of the way for both of us and regular twice yearly blood work to do for my partner, along with his prescriptions that will need to be renewed. All the batteries for flashlights and emergency lamps will need to be checked. And the propane tank for the fireplace that provides emergency heat if we have a longer power outage. There! A list has been started.

How is your September shaping up?

ONLINE GALLERIES include –

ArtWork Archive original paintings and acrylic sketches currently available

Redbubble painting and photography prints and merchandise

Website: TerrillWelchArtist.com 

Reopening with a Study of Oyster Bay

It has been almost three years since I have added a post to this Creative Potager Blog. There is not a reasonably way to cover such an expansive absence. So, I have decided to begin again as if it were just yesterday. If the in-between is important to you, there are many public posts to read on my personal Facebook profile and in issues of “A Brush with Life” newsletter for the gallery. Now, it is time to anchor a new beginning and a practice which includes a slight shift away from social media and back to this blog and my website. I am sure the reflective peacefulness of this specific online location will be welcomed by us both. Let’s start with a recent study of Oyster Bay, Mayne Island, on the southwest coast of British Columbia, Canada…

Today was a low tide when we quietly pulled the our Red Rosy Subaru Outback down to the shore for one of our regular picnic lunches. After a few bites, I was out and searching for possible angles to capture the sweet, warm, summer blues before us.

The Salish Sea stretches along the Straight of Georgia as we squint towards the coastal mountains and Vancouver on the far side. Do I want all of the view or just a piece of it?

Or maybe just the rippling water reflections? I can’t decide.

But whatever else, I had best step it along as the tide is definitely coming in.

Now this lengthy stretch seems to be just the right balance.

But what about possibly adding a touch of rock in the foreground from over here?

Oh! Very faintly we can see Mount Baker in the distance. I will stretch the capacity of my phone camera just a little to reach out… and there! Got it! At least I have it enough for my reference needs.

As a landscape painter exposing the mystery in an ordinary day, these are my regular photography sketches. I do not worry about getting that one perfect image but rather strive for a collection of references that I can use to enhance my memory and imagination back in the painting studio. On occasion, these studies, along with small plein air painting sketches of the same subjects, result in a painting but mostly they become foundational information that builds sometimes for years until an idea becomes compelling enough to paint.

So there you have it! Do you also have practices in your life that are as much for their own sake as anything else?

ONLINE GALLERIES include –

ArtWork Archive original paintings and acrylic sketches currently available

Redbubble painting and photography prints and merchandise

Website: TerrillWelchArtist.com 

Melded Time

Try as I might, the mix of experiences this past week refuse to be organized into a meaningful story. It all feels like beautiful colours tangled into a day with no breaks in the string, no long pauses and no rest points. New projects, such as getting a gallery up and running, are often like this I think. The past seven days went something like the late ferry sunset building to a perfect moment.

With a couple of thoughts about the morning’s plein air painting time with a fellow painter and friend,

And another thought about the gyroscope jewellery coming in mail from another multi-talented painter and jeweler friend,

and it is over…

As the sun drips into the sea, we turn away preparing for night and see the almost-full moon reaching out to greet us.

In this flow of melded time, knowing one of these moments, someday, will be our last, one is often tempted to think about the strange concept of forever.

 

What moments this past week have tempted you to think about forever?

 

© 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