Throughout his 27 years as Chairman of the Art Department at Northwestern Michigan College, Paul Welch is most well known for his commitment and dedication to fostering the arts. He taught painting, drawing, design, sculpture, printmaking and art history before retiring in 1987 and has been a source of inspiration for hundreds of students involved in the arts.
Paul Welch’s vision of an arts community led him to become one of the founding members of the Traverse Area Arts Council in 1969, and his most recent endeavors have been put toward developing the Dennos Museum Center.
Graduating from Michigan State University with a Master of Arts degree, Welch was influenced by the bold coloring of the German Expressionists and the faceting of form characteristic of Picasso’s analytical cubism.
Mr. Welch’s artistic career included partnership in the Welch-Holdeman Studios, which created stained glass windows and mosaics for a variety of churches throughout the Midwest including, St. Francis in Traverse City. He has participated in numerous shows and is listed in American Artists of Renown. He has won a number of awards; served as assistant Chairman of the Michigan Academy of Science, Arts and Letters; and his works are held in both public and private collections.
In Welch’s current work, the process has become the means to ultimate expression. Captivated by the changing moods of the Alabama coastline, Welch transforms the ephemeral blues of sky and water and magnitude of the setting sun into strokes of liquid reflection. The strength of Welch’s work lies in his ability to transcend the obvious and allow for the unknown. Here is where his ideological approach is reinforced and parallels his formalism. Welch relies on colorful, gestured strokes, often accomplished with the use of a wide foam brush, to capture the effects of bayous and buildings’ surroundings. The sense of spontaneity and unfolding is clearly enhanced by the use of the watercolor medium itself, which demands a sure hand and a quick application. The momentary is further intensified by painting en plein air where the effect of sun and light upon the paper helps to create a translucent quality akin to light filtering through a stained glass window.
In his most recent work, Welch draws directly from nature to successfully capture the changing moods of a world of flux. The bayous, sunsets and storms of the Alabama shores overlooking the Gulf of Mexico have been the muse. Completed between January and September 2000, Welch’s abstract works on paper reveal a vortex of movement and bring a fresh approach to the watercolor medium.