Dear readers, I know you are used to regular posts about my work-in-progress and I admittedly have been more than a little tardy in supplying them.
However, I am hoping that this rather vulnerable, revealing exposure of the painting process for my latest large 36 x 72 inch oil on canvas WEST COAST BLUES ROLLING WAVES OYSTER BAY will make up for this.
I find it hard to define where a painting really begins as each work is usually in the middle of a longer artistic exploration and painterly discussion. But for the sake of starting somewhere let us start with March 3, 2013.
The waves are rolling midnight blue on one of those rare days when the winter sky is just right and the west coast mountains remain visible across the Strait of Georgia.
(Quality prints of this photograph in various formats are available HERE.)
Not long after this day a small 12 x 16 inch painting WEST COAST BLUES STUDY is completed.
(Quality unlimited prints of this painting study are available in various formats HERE.)
The painting SOLD still wet and “resting’ in less than 24 hours after it is completed. Fortunately, I am able to make arrangements to keep the painting in the studio as I prepare to work on the larger canvas. Sadly though, my external hard drive fails at this point and all but one other reference image of this scene are lost. I usually work with about 20 – 150 captures of a scene I want to paint but must now settle for two which includes this one…
Driven by the movement of the sea which is far greater than the camera can capture, I choose a primary composition to guide the large painting…
Several months after painting the small study, I begin to work up the underpainting and with modern technology I am going to take you with me.
Oh to get that energy on the canvas from the very beginning! We now must leave the underpainting to dry for a few days before, with bare feet and all, I am ready to start building the whole canvas up at once – mostly working wet-on-wet or alla prima.
I paint for several hours at a time as the canvas is mammoth to cover, even with using large brushes.
I am always happiest at this stage of any painting because the possibilities feel limitless and exhilarating. There are often smiling moments of gems like this detail that will eventually disappear as the painting progresses.
As always I am conscious of the light direction, the season and also the movement and energy resistances within a landscape. My desire is to have the viewer inside the painting rather than sitting comfortably as an observer of the scene. This next video clip hints at how I go about accomplishing this.
At this point I want to caution that what I am sharing here is how I paint and my painting process. It is not “the right way” or “the only way” but rather it is my way. Other artists have their own well-developed approaches and techniques that works for them just fine. So this sharing of my process is NOT a “how to” sharing but rather an intimate personal sharing of my own painting process. I am allowing you into my artist’s head and heart as I work.
I am now to the point where the painting is at risk of the painting tightening up more than I want…
I keep working adding some studio lighting to try to even out the light hitting the canvas.
I continue and time passes until my physical ability becomes fatigued and yet I am reluctant to quit.
I must eventually leave it and walk away until the next day when, with some help, I get the painting down the stairs of the loft studio and outside for a good look.
Now is as good a time as any to tell you that between the first painting study that I did as part of the reference work for this large painting I also painted fifteen other smaller works and of these seven or almost half are already in private collections.
In a moment, I will share two of these smaller paintings that I feel are most relevant to this specific work and that are still available for purchase. But first let’s set up the iPad again for one last video clip…
A nifty new use for my French Box easel 😉
My disappointment is almost overwhelming. The painting is not measuring up and I am unsure as to what to do about it. This is the hardest part of the process for me both in experience and to share. All the hours, days, weeks and months have left me with what I feel at this stage is an unsatisfactory result. This moment is not new to me as I mention in the video. It is a common experience I have at or near the end of a painting. What to do? I wait it out by placing the painting where I look at it while working on other paintings.
This leaves me with one of the two other significant small studies that I mentioned early.
END OF STORM GEORGINA POINT MAYNE ISLAND 8 x 10 inch oil on canvas was painted midway through.
Update July 16, 2017: This painting is now SOLD and is in a private collection in Norway.
THE MT. BAKER REACH 8 x 10 inch oil on canvas was painted during that difficult resting period of uncertainty.
Update October 8, 2013: This painting is now SOLD to a private art collector in California U.S. A.
Somehow, unknown to even me I was able to determine what I needed to do on the larger canvas because of the work on particularly the second of these two small landscapes of the sea. After several days of letting the painting “rest” I went back in and did another day’s work and came away much more satisfied with the final results. The relationship between these smaller works and the large painting is best observed in these details from the larger work.
Detail one and each of the following details are about 15 X 20 inch portions of the overall 36 x 72 inch canvas.
Detail 2 with a good slice of the land, sea, sky relationship.
Detail 3 with an up close view of the water movement.
Detail 4 showing the largest rolling wave.
Recently a studio visitor asked how had I learned to paint water. I gave my best effort to explain that in order to paint something with its energy and with conviction I become that element and I feel the tension that surrounds it in relation to other aspects of its environment. This is a process of painting the light and space between the forms evident in a painting rather than painting the forms themselves.
Detail 5 showing a small piece of the sky.
Now I must leave for 10 days. I will not look at the painting and with a wee bit of luck I won’t even think about it.
Okay, here we are. It is August 3, 2013, five months after I began formulating the reference material for this painting and a total of sixteen smaller paintings and two larger paintings have been completed besides this largest of the large work. I have walked around the painting and allowed it to surprise me. I have had more than a handful of individuals through my home studio and I have seen the impact the work has as its presence reaches them.
Finally, though I may privately wish the painting was more, I am ready to say it is complete. Done. Ready to stand on its own.
Please allow me to introduce you to WEST COAST BLUES ROLLING WAVES OYSTER BAY 36 x 72 inch oil on canvas
Update January 16, 2014: This painting has now been release on my website Terrill Welch Artist post “Sea Tree and Fruit – new paintings by Terrill Welch”
What creative process has held your attention over the past five months?
© 2013 Terrill Welch, All rights reserved.
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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