Bundles of impressions with snippets of morning light linger over the rounded forms of the cliff and ragged sun-bleached driftwood. The sweet lime-toffee-scent of new growth on cedar and fir trees mingle with the pungent sea at low tide and crest into my awareness between barking sea lions and the door-hinge screech of eagles. These fragments of observations then settle softly, next to the storm-washed, smoothness of beach pebbles I am rubbing between my fingers before setting up in the cool shade for another painting sketch. How does one make sense of this jumble of sensory information? As a landscape painter, I have a process for gathering such reference materials from the field for later use in the studio. Let’s see what we have from Hornby Island in British Columbia, Canada.
This first painting session is from 10 - 11:00 ish in the morning at Helliwell Provincial Park on Hornby Island. My partner came with me. We hiked 4 km return with the painting gear and my camera. The trek was totally worth it though I was happy to have an extra hand for the basket of paints boards and our drinking water.
This small bay drew me in again and again over the time we were here. I am suspicious that it just might end up an oil painting on a large canvas. ;)
The weather has been unseasonably warm with little breeze these last few days. I have been hiking early in the morning between 5:30 or 6:30 to 7:30 or 8:00 am. Then, I find a place to paint in the shade during the later morning or afternoon. Lovely though and as you can guess, a stunning island for nature and landscapes.
The exposed striations on this beach make it a favourite for geologists studying the land structure and history of the island. I wish I knew the name of this tree as it is not an alder or a maple tree. We have one in our backyard as well. Someone said it might be a traditional medicine tree but no one has been able to tell me it’s name. That one lone cloud just above the horizon is the only one we saw during our first three days.
There is something about standing painting at the edge of a cliff that is irresistible! This latest adventure was no exception. Helliwell is such an incredibly beautiful provincial park... though it is a 5 km round trip with the painting gear to set up plein air in this location.
On this day it was so hot that I put my sun hat on David’s wispy hair and covered noggin. Then I made a makeshift hat out of a clean painting rag held on with hair ties on my own head. We must have been quite a sight but we didn’t get heatstroke and we drank enough water that the basket for the return trip was much lighter.
I have captured this specific place from several angles and at different times of day. This first is from the same time and view as the painting sketch above.
And a view from a little farther away in the early morning shortly after sunrise.
A favourite capture is looking the other way, also first thing in the morning. A writer friend who saw this image commented on the lemonade sky - would make part of a painting title I think ;)
There are more images of this cliff of course, many more actually, and I haven’t even begun to edit the images from my big camera. But let’s move on to the final plein air painting sketch...
The weather had cooled overnight and a wind was huffing along out of the west. So I tucked in with the sunrise on the east, down near the shore where there was shelter and warmth enough to work. An upset sandpiper was screaming the grass sideways above me because I walked past her nest of four eggs in the pen field. Other that that, there were just a few gulls, the driftwood, a gentle sea and stones. A good morning for a plein air painting sketch!
Generally, Grassy Point is known for its sunsets but I can attest to the beauty of the sunrises as well. However, we did manage to stay out for one lovely sunset just the same.
It is a popular place with locals and visitors alike at in the evenings, not unlike Georgina Point on Mayne Island.
And the Camus and other wildflowers offered an extra splash of colour.
Still, I will take early mornings on the cliff in Helliwell Provincial Park as a first choice for my landscape muse.
Did we go to Tribune Bay you might ask? Yes, we did. Though, you may have guessed by now, I am not really much of a laying-on-the-sand-soaking-up-the-sun kind of gal. But we did do a low tide beach walk. I enjoyed finding whole living sand dollars...
and the rich textures of sea and sky and sandstone...
I must confess, Tribune Bay wasn’t the highlight for me as I had anticipated it would be. It IS beautiful and a grand beach but the lure of other adventures on the island overshadowed its sparkle for this trip.
There are many more images for painting references. But we shall stop there for now.
This may have been the best working trip in a long while and it’s success goes partly to our host couple, Diana and David at Hornby Island Mt. Geoffrey Bed and Breakfast. After my early morning adventures, I would come back to coffee and the smell of fresh baking muffins. Sometimes, I would still need to rouse a sleepy partner and other times he would be up looking bright and cheery waiting for me. Then, down the stairs from our private guest area we would come to devour a full heartily breakfast including egg, bacon, muffins and yogurt with local homemade raspberry/blackberry sauce to go on top.
Suppers were handled by Forage - a farm to kitchen cafe which closed at 3:00 in the afternoon. We were a little early in the season still and the main Sea Breeze restaurant was fully booked with private events and the Thatch pub/restaurant near the ferry was intermittently open. But, like much of islander life, one learns quickly to make do with what is available. We thrived on our delicious early dinners with a later evening snack, without feeling the least shortchanged. With a bit of luck, we hope to make a late fall return visit. Even with three ferries to catch from Mayne Island to Hornby Island via Vancouver Island, it is a reasonably easy day of travel.
Who has time to read?
Not I so much! Not at the moment anyway. However, there is one art world tidbit you may enjoy....
The Monet, the top lot in Sotheby’s Imp/mod sale, was a hit, but the work with the second-highest pre-sale estimate was a dramatic flop.
Also, The Tyee has a great article by Christopher Cheung in Vancouver B.C. about “Chinatown Through a Wide Angle Lens - the hidden photographs of Yucho Chow” showing May 4 – 30, 2019 at the Chinese Cultural Centre, 2nd Floor Gallery, 555 Columbia St., Vancouver. Open: Tuesdays to Sundays | 11:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
In a racist time, the photographer welcomed all to his Chinatown studio. Decades later, his work is on display.
What has sold...
A large and favourite seascape painting of Edith Point has been thoughtful purchased by a collector.
First solo show of the season opens today!
The post below gives a quick overview of the show and shares all of the paintings in “Between Here and There”. I humbly suggest it is worth checking it out...
From May 17th to July 7, 2019 Canadian contemporary landscape paintings from north central to the southwest coast of British Columbia will be showing at the Terrill Welch Gallery on Mayne Island. This solo exhibition is about a painter’s life that is lived in the landscape of a province rather than a city or village.…
If you are “on island” over the weekend, do drop into the gallery between 11-4 on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. I would love to see you!
If not, what might you be up to on this fine mid-May weekend?
Until next time!
Canadian Contemporary Artist Terrill Welch Landscapes and more by impressionist painter Terrill Welch
Canadian landscape painter, Terrill Welch, exposes the mystery in an ordinary day, reminding us that there is only one moment – this one.