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A Brush with Life - Issue #97 The Story and the Brush of Great Paintings

What if we turn towards the shadows and implicitly embrace the open-endedness of great paintings and their many facets for understanding? What would happen then? Contemporary painter, Vincent Desiderio, asks these questions and reminds us in one of his many lectures that “Great painters suggest. The
A Brush with Life - Issue #97 The Story and the Brush of Great Paintings

What if we turn towards the shadows and implicitly embrace the open-endedness of great paintings and their many facets for understanding? What would happen then? Contemporary painter, Vincent Desiderio, asks these questions and reminds us in one of his many lectures that “Great painters suggest. They don’t give you the answer because they know there is no answer.” And at this point Desiderio had my undivided attention. Within hours of watching the first video lecture, I purchased a copy of The journal of Eugène Delacroix. In fact, I tumbled so swiftly and far down a rabbit hole of exploration and research that I came a hare’s breath away from forgetting to write our current issue of the newsletter. But I didn’t. Pheewwwf! More about Vincent Desiderio below. In this issue, I will share the finished large commission of the Arbutus tree that has been accepted by the art collectors and two other painting sketches. One of these sketches is quite unusual for me. Maybe we will start there…

Detail of “Under the Red Line in Navy Channel” by Terrill Welch

New Work

I have three paintings to share. Two were done as part of my Landscape Painting Now II studies with the Vancouver Island School of Art and one is the commission that I shared in progress in the last issue.

Recently, I have been studying the work of Lisa Yuskavage, born in 1962 and who lives and works in New York City. My painting sketch is nothing like the subject material that she takes on and definitely comes from a different aesthetic for our landscape. However, in an interview from 2021 she talks about how her recent work could only be done by a mature artist because of the layers and layers of referencing to early work and points in her life. This resonated with me and I remembered back to the mid and late 70’s when I worked with a red and orange limited palettes for a while when doing underpaintings. So, I decided to take what I know now and apply it to a technique I used then. I wanted to see if it could work for an aspect of my red line series. This is the result with many pencil marks still visible from the initial sketch that I roughed in on the canvas…

Under the Red Line in Navy Channel by Terrill Welch, 11 x 14 inch linen on board.

“Under the Red Line in Navy Channel” by Terrill Welch

Artist notes: Fiery skies have return at dawn and dusk for weeks. Their glow penetrated my visual field completely, as if looking through red cellophane, as shapes loosely gather themselves up into familiar forms. I am under the red line in Navy Channel.

The work needs a little room to view to really get the feel of it.

Room view: “Under the Red Line in Navy Channel” by Terrill Welch

Yes, it is definitely a little wild but serves its purpose I think. The painting sketch is still shiny and wet and not yet released. However, inquires are welcome.

Next, let’s have a look at the large Arbutus tree painting. The approach in this painting will be much more familiar.

SOLD - Arbutus Tree View by Terrill Welch, 30 x 42 inch, walnut oil on canvas.

Sold “Arbutus Tree View” by Terrill Welch

Artist notes: Morning light rests on the warm curves of the Arbutus tree trunks that reach down over the worn sandstone to the sea in Navy Channel. Days like this lighten our step and fill our heart.

Not to be out done by the wild pink and red painting sketch, let’s give it a room view as well.

Room View of Sold “Arbutus Tree View” by Terrill Welch

Now, for the final work, which is the one that left me with my red apron painting on over my pjs on Wednesday as I worked out a new system for rending colour and light. This is the painting that almost derailed my writing of the newsletter. This painting marathon followed a couple of late nights of video watching the lectures of Vincent Desiderio. But we will get to the painter in a bit.

For now, here is the painting. I am not absolutely sure it is completed but work rests rather quietly in the easel and has asked not to be disturbed. We will just quietly slip up on it, starting with the acrylic underpainting.

On rare occasions, I will start with an underpainting in acrylic when I don’t want to take the time for an oil underpainting to dry. In this case, I painted the underpainting as if it were a grey day even though the sun is setting in Village Bay with glorious colour. This approach is inspired by one of my reference photographs and from there, I removed and changed around boats and left things out to get the composition that I wanted.

Next, I picked up the brushes at about eight o’clock in the morning on Wednesday and finished at around three in the afternoon with a tired body from standing at the easel for so long without taking appropriate breaks. Still, it was worth it!

“Evening Sun Catchers at Village Bay” by Terrill Welch, 12 x 24 inch acrylic and walnut oil on canvas. Not yet released. Inquiries always welcome though it may change some yet.

Artist notes: With longer days we find ourselves heading out to catch the last light after an early dinner. The warm light dances as it lengthens across the calm of Village Bay. The magic won’t last long before all will shift to shadows. The colourful stillness is hauntingly lifted by the calls of a Barred Owl in nearby trees.

Resting - “Evening Sun Catchers at Village Bay” by Terrill Welch
Room view - “Evening Sun Catchers at Village Bay” resting by Terrill Welch

Or maybe this room?

Room view - “Evening Sun Catchers at Village Bay” resting by Terrill Welch

I now need a half-light cloud filtered day to get a reasonable photograph. But at least these images give you the idea. The notion behind this painting is where Eugène Delacroix comes in and the approach he mentions in his journal. His observations trace back to Caravaggio and the point of reflection or incident of reflection that is viewed as the analog for the vanishing point and it was thought to reestablish a corridor between man and the divine because, at the time, it was believed that light travelled at an infinite rate of speed.

Cool, warm and neutral colours are applied like checkers on the canvas with the point of reflection becoming the vanishing point.

In the tension between colour and form, the world of half-light results in the rise of the prominence of colour and the diminishing of tonality. This shift can be traced to Eugène Delacroix’s journal entry May 5th 1852 (the journal starts when he was 24 and this note was when he was about 54 years old):

A picture should be laid-in as if one were looking at the subject on a grey day. With no sunlight or clear-cut shadows. Fundamentally, lights and shadows do not exist. Every object presents a colour mass, having different reflections on all sides. Suppose a ray of sunshine should suddenly light up the objects in this open-air scene under grey light, you will then have what are called lights and shadows but they will be pure accidents. This, strange as it may appear, is a profound truth and contains the whole meaning of colour in painting. How extraordinary that it should have been understood by so few of the great painters, even among those who are generally regarded as colourists!

The journal of Eugène Delacroix : a selection : Delacroix, Eugène, 1798-1863 : Free Download, Borrow, and Streaming : Internet Archive

xxxiv, 504 p., [16] p. of plates : 21 cm. --

This is the approach that was taken up with gusto by the impressionists and post impressionist and contemporary painters like Vincent Desiderio whose work is on the dark side both in story and technique narrative (with materials such as roofing tar included as painting medium). Desiderio’s paintings are seldom straightforward, unconcerned with being cheerful and always slightly perplexing… as all great paintings wish to be.

Contemporary Painter Vincent Desiderio

It is that time of year when I am working on getting all my papers for yearend gathered up for the accountant which means the next two commissions will be waiting for me to start on them for at least another couple of week. But I still need to do my homework for the second part of Landscape Painting Now II with the Vancouver Island School of Art. And this is when I tumbled down the rabbit hole. I have surfaced a little more dishevelled and blurry eyed than usual but with sense of almost euphoria for having found a really rich vein of thought for painting exploration.

Here is my favourite video lecture that is about two hours long if I remember correctly. The sound during the beginning few minutes of introduction is terrible but then they switch to the microphone that Vincent Desiderio is wearing and it is fine from there on until the last 20 minutes that is the question and answer. In this video Desiderio is doing a lecture review of his own work. He talks fast referencing widely to make his points which are steeped in art history and contemporary culture… and wipes his mouth constantly. But if you can set aside these very human quirks and just settle in and listen while making notes of references for further exploration, it will be a fascinating adventure.

Vincent Desiderio Lecture

Vincent Desiderio Lecture

An LCAD MFA Artist's Talk: Vincent Desiderio, Paintings: 1977-2014 Friday, February 21, 2014

I think I will leave it at this because Desiderio is truly a painter’s painter and much of what he has to say might possibly only be of interest to a painter. But if you do choose to look more closely at his paintings, the Marlborough Gallery in New York City is the best place to look at the link below and also includes his biography.

Vincent Desiderio - Artists - Marlborough New York

Marlborough is an art gallery showcasing contemporary artworks and exhibitions in New York

This issues features works by Terrill Welch and are shared in the kind of rooms they might like to enjoy.

Room view of two paintings by Terrill Welch
Room view of large seascape oil painting by Terrill Welch

The final painting shown is not yet released but this doesn’t seem to hold it back from dreaming about a feature home. What can we say? Some paintings are like this, edges not yet painted and everything. They would leave the art studio in their pyjamas if we let them! 😉

Room view of new red line painting by Terrill Welch that is not yet released.

View the full portfolio and currently available work by Terrill Welch at the link below…

Art by Terrill Welch | Artwork Archive

View the full portfolio of artwork from Terrill Welch

Arbutus Room Closing Soon

As I mentioned in our last issue, the current group show in the Arbutus Room will close on Sunday, March 6, 2022 and we will then vacate this lovely room. Take a browse online and, if you get a chance, drop into the physical gallery room before the show ends. Here are some current gallery room photographs to enjoy…

Well, almost all of the paintings in these photographs are still there. The one in front above has been sent off for a trial visit. It might not be the choice of the collectors as it is in a competition with another of my paintings. But if this is the case, it will enjoy the outing just the same.

I am going to really miss this gallery space which is extra full right now as some of the furniture and paintings were added after the closing of the Garden Room.

However, change is constant in life…. so we will just have one last enjoyable look around.

Then we shall set our focus on the development of new gallery spaces.

For one last time, here is the online link to our current group show…

Soft Belly of the West Coast | Winter Group Show | Artsy

Soft Belly of the West Coast | Winter Group Show | Artsy

Regardless of their unique differences, each painting leaves us with the feeling that this is the soft belly of the West Coast that continues to  capture the attention of Mayne Island landscape painters Jody Waldie, Glenda King, Jennifer Peers and Terrill Welch.

An Evening Out

Near the end of the day with the trees and the sea and the setting sun...

I slip out to where I know there will be the last rays on the hillside at St. John Point Park.

I am not disappointed.

A low tide means I can clamber down over the rocks and soak up the golden hour.

And then, as the earth turns, the sun slips behind Pender Island…

Until Next Time

During this extended time of transition to new venues over the next four months, I shall continue to do my best to show you new and featured work and keep you in the loop regarding our progress. I suspect it might possibly be a bit of a bumpy ride. Be prepared for newsletter issues that might possibly be a bit different in content as we are packing up paintings, hanging systems and gallery lighting and then reinstall them in new spaces. It might possibly mean coming to my home studio in between to see work you are interested in or to pick up work you have purchased. The good news with doing this is that you will be able to easily find the sweet little Gallery Pod when it is opened up at our front gate. For all this bumping and jostling around, I apologize. It is a necessary end to a new beginning.

May you enjoy our eclectic and slightly eccentric offerings in this current issue. Thank you so much for the letter length compassionate replies and your encouragement to the previous issue. I am sending a wish for warm early Spring February sun on your cheeks and a long stroll down a trail of your choosing.

All the best as always,

Terrill 👩‍🎨🎨❤️

Canadian Contemporary Terrill Welch GalleryWest Coast Landscape Paintings

Canadian landscape painter, Terrill Welch, exposes the mystery in an ordinary day, reminding us that there is only one moment – this one.