At the close of each year, Terrill Welch reaches back and picks up the best bits and tosses them forward, leaving stepping stones for the year ahead. In this way, she is fortunate because this year, she has so many solid and elegant gems for tossing.
In the words of the artist herself….
“Gathering a monk’s collection of polished simplicity, I find myself preparing for painting adventures with a traveling bag full of painting problems, desires, half-baked ideas and unknowns. My meager tools and methods are but a few hundred years old. Will they be enough? Am I enough?”….
After all, works of art are always the results of one’s having been in danger, of having gone through an experience all the way to the end, to where no one can go any further. (Rainer Maria Rilke – Letters on Cézanne, 1907. Published in English in 2002)
This quote opens up the introduction by Elena Maslova-Levin of the catalogue Conversations on Edge that was published in the spring of 2018 for a two-artist show with Welch and Maslova-Levin in the Terrill Welch Gallery on Mayne Island in British Columbia. Excerpts of Maslova-Levin’s introduction about my work is one of the pebbles of observation I am tossing forward…
Landscape painting might not seem like a particularly dangerous adventure: you take your easel, and paints, and a canvas, and go outside, and paint what you see. What danger can be there?
It is the danger of seeing what nobody else has seen, the danger of shattering conventional and comfortable visual reality.
Paul Cézanne once said that Claude Monet was “just an eye, but what an eye!”
This remark may seem disparaging – unless you know what it takes to see what your eyes really see. Every human being receives an infinite richness of visual information every waking moment, but the brain habitually filters out almost all of it, and builds a simplified picture of visual reality for the mind to consume, based mostly on what we already know. This mechanism is there to protect us, and it takes both courage and mastery to switch it off, and to fully open your mind to the unspeakable infinity of world’s beauty. To go through the experience of seeing all the way to the end, to where no one can go any further.
Although a student of Claude Monet’s in many ways, with an eye as attentive and discerning as his, Terrill Welch is much more than an eye. The space of her paintings is more than the familiar three-dimensional space of visual reality. It encompasses not just vision, but all sensory dimensions of human experience – the sound of silence, the smell of distant snow, the cool touch of shadows, the taste of ocean water (and, occasionally, a hearty winter lunch, too). This is how she inhabits the multidimensional space of ever-present Now. That’s how she fills with life and light what might seem like empty space to a lazy eye.
It is this multidimensional space that opens up from the deceptively two-dimensional surface of her paintings. We see not only the visible, but the invisible too. And this experience – a peak visual experience – can expand your sense of vision, your perception of reality, and ultimately, your consciousness, but only if you allow yourself to fully see how she feels her way into the space of a landscape and fuses it with her inner space.
Her paintings invite us to share in the treasure she brings back from where no one can go any further.
This excerpt is the criteria Terrill Welch shall use to select her personal, in no particular order, SEVEN out of twenty-seven BEST of 2018 paintings – these are the painting pebbles that she shall toss lightly ahead of her as she moves into the stream of a new year.
Best SEVEN Paintings of 2018
Restless Salish Sea –8 x 10 inch plein air acrylic sketch on gessobord
The day was fantastic! The waves were being whipped up by a good breeze but it was still warm enough to be comfortable standing around. A favorite kind of plein air painting day!
A small Emerald Bay Mayne Island BC – 24 x 18 inch oil on canvas – SOLD
The emerald waters in the bay sparkle with the clarity of gems as the sunlight reaches over top of the hill. I stand in the calmness for a while then cast my thoughts farther afield to the smoky skies across the water.
Oyster Bay Morning Rain – 8 x 10 inch plein air acrylic sketch – SOLD
As we stood, clouds gathered, until I had tipped my easel almost closed. Morning Rain. Oyster Bay, Mayne Island, British Columbia
Arbutus in the fog St John’s Point – 16 x 20 inch oil on canvas
The old arbutus on St. John’s Point tells the story of winds, dryness, winter rains and endurance as it curls up and back over itself for balance. The morning fog leaves its shape exposed and gathering more attention than usual.
Sea and Shore – 36 x 48 inch oil on canvas – SOLD
Arbutus Tree Reaching – 36 x 48 inch oil on canvas
Late afternoon sun catches the curves of a grand old arbutus tree reaching out into Campbell Bay on Mayne Island in British Columbia. I want not to move or even shift my gaze for a very long time.
Winter with the Old Fir on the Ridge – 48 x 24 inch oil on canvas
The snow on the north side of ridge slows my progress because I need to take several stops to catch my breath. But the climb was worth it! I have the Mt. Parke ridge with its fresh snow all to myself! Just me and this big old fir tree were there when the sun broke through the rushing clouds and warmed our backs.
This could be many places in British Columbia in the winter and certainly took me on a memory meander around the province when I later painted the moment.
Now, standing at the easel, brush in hand, Terrill Welch shall step cautiously, yet confidently, forward with the advice of Mary Oliver in verse 4 of her poem “Sometimes”
Instructions for living a life:
Tell about it.
(from page 105 in Devotions: The Selected Poems of Mary Oliver, 2017)
Happy New Year!
What about you – what stones, pebbles and gems are you tossing forward for your journey in 2019?
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