Sailing Through The Trees – a start

The curved deck and angular presence hints mysteriously as it sails through the trees. I have walked all angles, from the expanse of lawn, to ground zero, where the building towers steep above me. After musing over several possibilities, I settle on this view.  There are curves of arbutus held tightly among the straight firs, all cradled by a high shore path. And of course, there is the sea. This is the view that intrigues and keeps me coming back for a second, third and even fifth time.

House In the trees beside the sea by Terrill Welch

Except there is one problem. I want the late afternoon light kissing the face of my subject and this is a painting problem that will require some resolve or speculation. Likely it will take both.  In January, the later afternoon light doesn’t reach this far. The sun slips behind a slight hill before it can make it around to this northwesterly cove. I am stuck. I am left waiting for the earth to turn itself into a longer day. What to do?

Well, I could just wait… but the canvas size has been decided… and I shall head to the city to pick the 30 x 40 inch surface tomorrow afternoon and I do so want to get started. I have ideas for this work! The brushes are splashing paint around so violently  in my head that a shipwreck might occur if I don’t begin. So then, a painter must start with what she has.

I had planned to dive right in, using only my 30 or so photography references from three different shoots, for this painting. But in light of the slowly-turning-earth towards longer days and a higher sun stretching farther westward, I decide a painting sketch to study composition and imagined light effects is in order after all.

painting alla prima study sketch by Terrill Welch

The work is raw, rough and full of exploration as I imagine where the light is going to be – eventually.  Yet, it is enough to hold my initial ideas – at least until I can get an underpainting on the large canvas anyway. The small study is my “notes to self” and the brushes are now temporarily quiet in their jars.  We have successfully avoided becoming marooned on a sandbar during the violent seas of my imagination. Hopefully, it is clear sailing, with just the right breeze of suggestion, from here to our destination.

House in the Trees Study – 8 x 10 inch acrylic sketch by Terrill Welch

Acrylic-Study-for-Sailing-Through-The-Trees-by-Terrill-Welch

It truly is not much of a reference but I believe it will be enough to contemplate while I work up an underpainting next week. Then I will go back each week and see how the sun is doing as it labors to set  a little farther west each day. I might be asking too much of myself to wait for it. We will see. Maybe by the time the work is blocked in, the sun will be ready? Here is hoping!

What might YOU be waiting and preparing for at the same time?

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A Short Pause During the Incompleteness of Painting

Yes, it is my first blog post of 2018. The last I wrote specifically for Creative Potager was December 21, 2017. I have been waiting for some kind of clarity or direction that I wanted to take us next. None has surfaced. Instead, I woke this morning with a desire to assess, summarize and begin again to just write notes to you as needed. A painter’s life seems to be like that. There are these short pauses during an overall incompleteness of painting, organizing, showing, and shipping paintings to new homes. Writing posts and sharing often comes in fits and starts and then ebbs away for a bit. I have learned to trust this process and let it be what it is.

The light of a resting catches a surface.

The brushes seem to linger over a canvas and then it is moved and another takes its place. The work continues for a bit and then it too is moved and yet another is set on the easel.

One brush mark after another, a new shiny wet painting begins to appear.

This morning, with its steady rain, I am feeling a little push around by the twenty paintings ready to packed up for travel to a solo exhibition a day’s drive away on next Tuesday. Then there are the two large canvases that have come to the home studio after being completed in the winter studio at the gallery. They seem to be standing at the edges of my life wondering where they are going to go.

At the moment I have no answer for them. But we will get there. They are designated for a show about trees in May. The reason they have come home of course is there is the two artist exhibition “Earth & Water: A Conversation on Edge” with Elena Maslova-Levin that will open April 13th. I am still waiting impatiently for eight of her paintings to find their way to the island. They have traveled promptly from California and then been held up between Richmond and Nanaimo for better than a week. I have cleared the gallery, put up posters around the island and done everything I can think of to open up the energy flow for their arrival. Now we wait… some more.

This 16 x 20 inch oil on canvas “Evening View Over Navy Channel” commissioned painting is ready for travel to the United States now that the new special shipping boxes has arrived.

I am also critically low on small 8 x 10 inch painting sketches as we head into the busy season. I have one left. Just one.

Then there are painting lessons to prepare and present each week to eager and dedicated students.

My husband is making his breakfast and we confirm that we will go to figure drawing in the evening. It is his area of interest but it is also good for a landscape painter to practice this kind of unforgiving drawing. And it is something we can do together with others, a date night of sorts. 😉

Easter weekend is coming up and if the weather is decent my daughter and two grandsons plan on coming to camp in the local campground and visit.

My parents have three calves on the ground already this spring in rural north central British Columbia and dad has a snow fence built as it has been a long deep snow winter up there. They are in their eighties and still farming. I phone on Saturday mornings to catch up and visit. I have to phone early or I miss catching them in the house. Rural farm life is like that.

But right this very moment, I must get the six-inch thick bundle of receipts and invoices to the city and handed over to the accountant so that our income tax will be filed on time.

As you can see, there are a whole series of projects at various stages of incompleteness between new works needed, finished works, exhibitions coming up and work to be shipped and so on. There are also various relationships that are important to me that I must make room for between the demands of a painter. But I am still here, sipping my morning coffee, listening to the rain on the tin roof and smiling into the possibilities of today. This is not a small thing. I have lost several friends, some of them fellow painters, before their 70th birthday’s this year. I will be sixty years old this summer and I know that each day I wake and then settle into the soft quite of the evening is a gift.  I assess, revisit and conclude  – I am doing what I must do as a painter and a teacher of painting. I am doing what I need to do as a partner, mother, grandmother and daughter. I am doing what I love to do in the process of being in all areas of my life. I have no desire to change a thing. It is a good feeling.

What about you? How are you?

© 2018 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 the Canadian landscape as home

I have been asking myself about what home means. The answer may or may not be surprising to you. When does a landscape become more like home than nearby dwellings and their inhabitants? My conclusion is that the landscape, along with the seasons that influence it, help us organize our daily rural life. This is when “home” is expressed most clearly by the land, water and sky. The landscape is my first home. Dwellings and their inhabitants must fit within the expanse. Let’s unpack what I mean by this through the painting process of two recent landscapes.

The first is a Mayne Island landscape and starts with this “Mount Parke Trail study”  10 x 8 inch oil on canvas

Mount Parke Trail study 10 x 8 inch oil on canvas by Terrill Welch 2014_09_19 006

I was looking for the tension in the landscape and wondering if it would be enough to hold it together on a larger canvas. The conclusion was that it would so a 30 x 24 inch canvas was set up and the work began.

work in progress 1 Trail along the Ridge 30 x 24 inch oil on canvas by Terrill Welch 2014_10_21 090

With the study for reference, it was during the beginnings of this painting process that I began to dwell on the fact that I was more at home within our natural landscape than anywhere else.

work in progress 2 Trail along the Ridge 30 x 24 inch oil on canvas by Terrill Welch 2014_10_21 092

I didn’t have a satisfactory answer at the time but it was the puzzle I was working through as I continued to shape the scene.

work in progress 3 Trail along the Ridge 30 x 24 inch oil on canvas by Terrill Welch 2014_10_21 129

The finished painting TRAIL ALONG THE RIDGE 30 x 24 inch oil on canvas has been released today on my website Canadian Contemporary Artist Terrill Welch and can be viewed HERE.

The second painting is from my childhood home and where my parents are still living on the Stuart River.

I pulled a face even in the very beginning as you can see in this photograph taken by photographer Josette DeBattista in my home studio.

Terrill Welch pulling a face in the Studio by Josette DeBattista

It is not the landscape itself I find challenging. The work started out in the familiar process of a light yellow ground to keep the later greens lively and a few quick lines for reference.

the beginning of Stuart River Kicking Leaves by Canadian landscape painter Terrill Welch 2014_11_22 043

Yet, I was overwhelmed with memories that crowded the physical elements I was meaning to render. I went outside and looked in to see if that would help to sort things out.

reflections of self by Terrill Welch 2014_11_22 048

But it didn’t really as photographer Josette DeBattista aptly captures through my concentration…

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

But the photographer leaves and I move the painting back up into the loft studio to keep working.

Stuart River Kicking leaves in progress 2 24 x 36 inch oil on canvas by Terrill Welch 2014_11_23 001

The painting is starting to shape.

Stuart River Kicking Leanves in progress 2 24 x 36 inch oil on canvas by Terrill Welch 2014_11_23 007

But I stop with nothing more than the rough shapes on the canvas.

Stuart River kicking leaves in progress 24 x 36 inch oil on canvas by Terrill Welch 2014_11_23 012

My notes for the day are as follows:

The difficulty is with the overlapping shifting of time through memories and my latest experience of this place along the river. Nothing seems to want to stay fixed long enough in my mind to complete a singular reference point. I stopped work on it at this early stage today and went for a long walk. Tomorrow I will begin again. I have decided to allow, partially because I seem to be unable to do otherwise, the layering of experience to this one specific landscape. The time frame spans about 44 years – not everyday after the first five years but at least a few times a year. This is part of the issue I believe. I have made up this scene in my mind during my absences so that it competes successfully with my physical visits. I seem not to want to paint either but some blend of the two. So, if in the end I can get something to work we may have a painting. We will just have to wait and see.

The next day it is so dark because of heavy rain I had to quit painting because I didn’t even have enough light with the daylight lamp. But shiny, wet and still incomplete and much farther along it seems…

Stuart River kicking leave in progress 2 24 x 36 inch oil on canvas by Terrill Welch 2014_11_24 077

The following day is equally as dreary and I give painting a miss while fussing over the fact that I will likely have to do some dry brush work as it is taking so long to complete.

On day four of doing not much else except either painting or thinking about painting this landscape it is Done!

STUART RIVER KICKING LEAVES 24 x 36 inch oil on canvas

Stuart River kicking leaves 24 x 36 inch oil on canvas by Canadian landscape painterTerrill Welch 2014_11_26 005

Information about detailed viewing and purchase information is available on my website by clicking the image or HERE.

And so is the story that goes with it which will not be released fully with the painting but seems appropriate to share with you here.

This is another of my mystery paintings in that its realism is mostly a deception. I have included two detail images so you can get a better idea about what is going on.

The first of the poplar trees…

detail 1 Stuart River kicking leaves 24 x 36 inch oil on canvas by Canadian landscape painter Terrill Welch 2014_11_26 005

and this second one of the water…

detail 2 Stuart River kicking leaves 24 x 36 inch oil on canvas by Canadian landscape painterTerrill Welch 2014_11_26 005

Truthfully though, it is the layering all the way back to the yellow ground that gives this painting its vitality.

I suppose it may appear to be a pretty picture but it isn’t to me. Winters are historically harsh in this area. Snow is not far off and a day of kicking leaves means there is a good stockpile of winter wood. The larder is full and the winter vegetables put down. If this was when I was young, it would soon be time to dress in layers knowing I would still be cold and take my 22 rife into my grandfather’s boat along with our little dog Charlie Brown. You see, my grandfather was a trapper. I was his sharpshooter for muskrats. If they were plentiful, we would take a few this way rather than trapping them. I had to line up a bead on the head of the small animal right at the waterline in the moving riverboat. As soon as I shot and gave the nod, the small dog would jump overboard and bring the dead muskrat back to us before it sank. My aim had to be good because if it wasn’t the little dog could get pulled under by the diving animal and drown. This risk was partly due to the fact that Charlie wouldn’t let go and give up easily. This was his favourite job and he was a determined to do it well.

I don’t remember what the muskrat hides were worth a piece once they were skinned, the hides stretched and then shipped to the fur buyers. I do know that my grandfather never really had a regular job for wages very often and trapping and guiding were the family livelihood. This cash bought necessities like flour, sugar, salt, boat motors, pickup trucks, snowmobiles, canned peaches, raisins, honey, nuts, rice, lamp gas and mantels, ammunition, maybe a new axe if it was needed or a skinning knife. Oh the shopping list could also include material to make work shirts, or brassieres or maybe even a blouse or new sheets. But you get the idea.

So kicking leaves was and is a luxury between the tasks necessary to survive another winter. Yes it is beautiful with the last heat of the sun on your back and cool northern breeze on your face. But I can hear my father say – the leaves are not real pretty yet. Next week they will be better. Mom will leave a hint of a smile between her shoulder shrug, squint slightly as if seeing a moose or bear across the water. I will look just in case she has. Then we will all turn and continue back towards the house appearing to be in no hurry but already mentally deciding what needs to be done next.

So there you have it – my understanding of how landscapes are home for me.

 

What are landscape to you?

 

P.S. Happy Thanksgiving to all my American friends and readers! May your day be filled with appreciation.

 

© 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

ONLINE GALLERIES include –

Artsy Home for most original oil paintings currently available

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Working on THE EDGE can offer some interesting possibilities

There is a sandstone bluff, battered by the wind and sea but also hosts a familiar arbutus tree on its top most tip. THE EDGE, a rare large, long-lean 48 X 24 inch oil on canvas painting to out of my studio. In fact, I almost couldn’t reach the top when it was on the easel and had to squat yoga style to paint the bottom quarter of the canvas. Further more, it was not possible to paint it upstairs on my French Box easel. This canvas called for taking over the great room with my large portable easel which I have had since graduating from high school.  Shall we have look at how it all came about?

The Edge work in progress 1

As usual I am not all that keen on sketching in my compositions and prefer either a loose underpainting or just a few paint lines to guide me. In this case, I chose a few paint lines to get started before starting to added in some blues for the sky and other patches on the canvas.

The Edge work in progress 2

It most certainly doesn’t look like much yet. But I am hopeful and the day is young.

The Edge work in progress 3

The deliberate addition of red in these specific areas of the canvas will serve two purposes. The first is to pull out the red pigment that is already part of the stones and the bottom of the trunk of the arbutus tree. The second is to gradual in a very subtle way bring in the warmth of the evening light over the whole of the scene. It is now time to start building up some colour blocks and just get that paint on the canvas!

The Edge work in progress 4

This particular stage in any painting is the most demanding. The paint catches on the dry canvas and seems to drag the paint off the brush. On a canvas this size it seems to take forever to build up the bulk of the painting so it can be completed alla prima or wet-in-wet.

The Edge work in progress 5

My body starts to physically tire from the long stretches of painting and reaching to move across the whole canvas as I work. The day moves on hour after hour. I break for lunch. I move the canvas around a bit to keep it out of the direct sun coming through the skylight. I then keep going until finally – it comes alive. Shiny and wet I can now leave it to rest.

The Edge work in progress 6

In the morning I make a few more adjustments and remove it from the great room downstairs and place it on a chair to lean against the wall in the loft studio.

The Edge 48 x 24 chilling back in loft studio E7C16EC0-1691-4E3C-82E0-32502C2CD411

I look at it for a few more days and decide it is done!

One of the hard things about a painting this size is to give it enough context that a viewer can imagine what kind of space it will take up once it is hung. So I took one last photograph before calling the work-in-progess on THE EDGE painting complete.

The Edge in the cob courtyard by Terrill Welch 2013_05_08 006

(Updated December 13, 2015 following a reworking of this painting)

After my confidence that this work was completed, done, finished, I came back to it for another painting session. Here it is in the great room following its most recent transformation.

The Edge still on the easel in the studio of Canadian Artist Ter

The Edge still on the easel in the studio of Canadian Artist Terrill Welch

The final image along with links to a detailed view and purchase information are available at Terrill Welch Artist in the post “The Edge and At The Beach Another Time – Canadian landscape paintings

The post includes the release of a second painting and a quick nod to two more that are now safely in their new homes.

 

What Edges have you contemplated recently?

 

© 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

 

Mayne Island en plein air painting morning

August is my favourite month of the year and the weather is finally spectacular – feels like summer at last. However, I am not good at beach-sitting but rather prefer to be beach-doing with either my camera or french box easel or both. Such is the case on this fine morning down on Reef Bay, Mayne Island…

I am feeling fairly pleased with myself. I have the 12 x 16 inch canvas blocked in and the sea is singing away as I work away for about 45 minutes. But after awhile I take and good look. It seems nothing is quite right.

The parts in the painting are separate and seem unrelated to each other. I frown and I stall by signing the work. I look out at the scene before me. I walk around eating a golden plum I had brought with me for a snack.  After awhile I acknowledge that I am still undecided and unsure about what to do next. But who can fuss on such a find day? I shrug and I set the canvas aside. I picked up my second blank canvas, slightly smaller at 9 x 12 inches and turn to the view just to my left.

This time I set to painting looking quickly and briefly at the scene as waves roll softly over and over again onto side of the reef. We seem as one – the sandstone, sea and me.

Swish, swish, swish. My brush responds with ease, leaving out the freighter and the driftwood as it focused on the relationship between the sandstone, the sea and the sky. After awhile, my bare arms begin to tingle from the heat of the sun and I am thankful I had decided to put a hat on my head. Stopping to take a long sip of cool water I squint at the painting.

It is done. Complete. Finished – and so am I 🙂

I pack up and head home. My en plein air morning is no longer morning.

Of course, you know, there is that other painting right? Well I sleep on it and get up in the morning to see what I can do with in the studio. Hum! I am not sure this helped much.

Though it is starting to come together, the overall painting is muted and lacks strength and conviction. Now what? I go back to my some reference images  I had taken and look closely at the first photograph that I showed you here. I walk away and do a few chores. Then I take another run at it – or rather brush at it. I am determined though unattached to the outcome.

Now let’s see – yes, there! Now I think we have it.

The day is shot. It is well after six o’clock. I missed lunch and am not up to cooking us dinner. We decide to slip out to the Green House Bar and Grill. I ask David if I had any paint on my face. He said “no darling you look fine.” Off we go.

The first thing the owner says to us as he hands out the menus is “hey Terrill, you have paint on your nose.”

Not only that, some how I had managed to get three different splashes of colour on the front of my t-shirt as well. But they let us in anyway 🙂
Once these two oil paintings are dry and I am satisfied that no further adjusting is needed they will be available in the  Artsy Home online gallery along with my other paintings that are currently available. However, if you are interested in having one of these hanging on your wall and you email me at tawelch@shaw.ca no later than 6:00 am PDST tomorrow, Friday August 17, 2012 I will cover the shipping for you to anywhere in North America. The 9 x 12 by 3/4 inch “Late morning in August by the sea” is currently $430. The 12 x 16 by 3/4 inch “August morning Reef Bay” is currently $675.

SPROUT: What keeps you coming back to  something until you get it the way you want it?

© 2012 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