Practice is a Painter’s Preparedness

Practice risk taking, practice discipline, practice different methods, practice boredom, practice not practicing but practice – insists the imagined studio master. Leading lines, point of view, colour harmony, rule of thirds, breaking rules, painting from life, painting from memory, painting wet-in-wet, using a dry brush method, starting with grounds or underpaintings, studying moving light, noticing the cool and warm shadows…… practice!

But for what does a painter practice?

“Now, the answer to that” says the imagined studio master with a wink “is good luck.”

Not just any kind of “good luck” but “good luck” as described by Deepak Chopra where “Good luck is nothing but preparedness and opportunity coming together.”

 If we accept for the moment, that this is a workable definition, then what is preparedness to the painter? Practice! If we are enhancing our skills daily, we are more likely to be prepared when an opportunity arises. We will be able to recognize the possibilities in an ordinary and yet unexpected, profound moment.

By way of example I am going to share a story I reread recently in The Zen of Creativity by John Daido Loori on page 153-154… Ryokan, a Zen master and poet, lived in a simple thatched hut. He was born around 1758 and ordained at the age of eighteen. Shortly after receiving dharma transmission, Ryokan’s teacher died. The poet went to live in a hermitage on Mount Kugami, where he spent his time sitting zazen, talking to visitors and writing poetry. Many stories of Ryokan’s simplicity and his love of children have come down to us, as well as of his indifference for worldly honor. In fact Ryokan called himself Daigo (Great Fool)….. One evening, when Ryokan returned to his hut, he surprised a thief who was naively trying to rob the hermit. There was nothing to steal in the hut. Yet Ryokan, feeling sorry for him, gave him his clothes, and the thief, shocked, ran away as fast as he could. Ryokan, shivering as he sat naked by the window, wrote the following haiku:

The burglar – neglected to take – the window’s moon.

In the next paragraph by Loori continues… To be simple means to make a choice about what’s important and to let go of all the rest. When we are able to do this, our vision expands, our head clears, and we can better see the details of our lives in all their incredible wonder and beauty.

This kind of simplicity and daily practice are what I seek for this next intention or project of The Moon is No Longer There. I believe it requires that I make a few changes in order to gain the perspective and rigor that is necessary. The moon is just an anchor and symbol of this intention, an everyday reminder.

But we know this don’t we? One of our greatest pianists today, Mitsuko Uchida, was recently quoted in an interview by The Telegraph as saying “It is not enough to play the piano – it takes a lifetime to understand music.” As I listened to her release each note of Mozart’s Concerto No. 20 in D minor K.466, with such preciseness, passion and excellence, I hear the music for the first time – every time that I listen. Her rigorous practice is visceral. I am, in that moment of listening, the breath between the notes. This same quality of practice is required for painting our natural world as well. It is not enough to paint a tree or a mountain or the sea – it takes a lifetime to understand our ordinary, everyday natural environment and translate these sensory experiences onto a surface. Painting from life by itself is not enough – it takes a lifetime to understand our universe. I can only hope that I may paint someday in the same way as Uchida plays! It is in the preparing or the daily practice, that I may possibly find an opportunity which provides me with the tools to render the essence of the universe in say – a single tulip.


Why am I so compelled by this project? I suppose it is an action that is driven by despair. I believe humanity has broken a sacred trust with nature. We are consciously destroying our natural world and ourselves in the process because of a pervasive character flaw – GREED. Our survival and the survival of our planet depend on our ability to understand and recognize our interconnectedness within the universe. We each have a responsibility to do whatever we can to address this situation. We are the only hope for one another and a large number of plants and animals. By our very breath, we depend on each other. Unfortunately, as an urban populous, we tend to be alienated from this simple fact. We can no longer see the moon and nor do wish to seek out its presence. For far too many of us, we have become intellectually and emotionally blind to nature and so the moon is no longer there.

This is why I must practice until I can bring you “the moon.” I must practice rendering our ordinary everyday with the best tools that I know how to use – my paints. I must practice until humanity collectively changes its ways. This is not work for a hero. It is work for the humble, the simple and possibly the fool. I find it comforting that I am not alone. This is work that is done with the companionship of many. It is collaborative work, as survival always is.


Paul Cezanne, shortly before his death in 1906, asked himself “whether the short time given us would be better used to understand the whole of the universe or to assimilate what is within our reach.” He goes on to say “I have to work all the time. I must strive for perfection, only for the satisfaction of becoming truer and wiser.” (The Life and Art of Paul Cezanne, May 5, 2014, Film, PBBS)

I find Cezanne to be an excellent companion to take with me on my travels.

The small slice of the moon or my practice that I bring you this week is…

Tulips in the Studio 18 x 14 inch oil on canvas

This is an alla prima work completed in the quiet warmth of a January afternoon in the loft studio. When I saw these beauties at the grocery store, I knew I would bring a few home as a reminder of our pending spring. Even on Mayne Island, there are no tulips this time of year. These flowers have been imported from some unknown location. Our natural world has traveled far to reach me this week and undoubtedly precious fossil fuels were burned in the process. So with this acknowledgement, and some guilt, I am determined that the sacrifice is not wasted. The elegant vase is on loan from a good friend. These kinds of colourful winter still life painting days warm my heart and keep my spirit light.




What practice is your preparedness?

As always, I would deeply love to hear from you and feel free to include links to your work. If this is your first time commenting on the blog, be patient, I will need to approve your comment this one time only.

If nothing comes immediately to mind, one simply practice that will engage others is in this project is to thoughtfully share this post and my work. By thoughtful, I mean introducing the post with a sentence or a paragraph of your own considerations and then invite others into conversation with you by hosting a question or an idea related to the post. Because together, we can do this hard thing – because we must! Our natural world, which includes humanity, is worthy of our efforts and is depending on us. In this I am hopeful!

And welcome to all the new Creative Potager blog followers! Thank you for joining me in my inward travels.


© 2017 Terrill Welch, All rights reserved.

Liberal usage granted with written permission. See “About” for details.

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


On location in Black Park England

With the forest a twitter with Flickers, Magpies, and Wood Pigeons, the dullness of the early spring morning did little to suppress our imaginations as we strolled through part of the 530 acres in Black Park, Buckinghamshire  England.

Wood Pigeons Black Park by Terrill Welch 2014_04_04 004

I whisper, feels like Robin Hood and his merry men are going to come rushing out at any moment.

Places in movies near Pinwood Film Studios in Black Park England by Terrill Welch 2014_04_04 039

However, we are a wee bit south of Robin’s Sherwood Forest in Nottinghamshire. I can be forgiven such geographical dislocation I suppose since parts of the 2010 Robin Hood movie are reported to have been filmed in this location, along with Harry Potter, Sleepy Hollow, Dracula and James Bond.

Near the Pinewood Film Studio in Black Park England by Terrill Welch 2014_04_04 043

So can you forgive me now for not zipping in an hour on the tube to London for our first full day in the United Kingdom?

Maybe if I share a patch of wild Forget-me-nots?

Forget-me-nots in Black Park by Terrill Welch 2014_04_04 063


Blossoms in Black Park England by Terrill Welch 2014_04_04 056

Tall Pines?

Tall Pines in Black Park England by Terrill Welch 2014_04_04 031

How about a Silver Birch?

Birch in Black Park England by Terrill Welch 2014_04_04 009

Okay, hum… what about a brick house near the edge of the park?

Hint of a brick house at the edge of Black Park England by Terrill Welch 2014_04_04 065

Well, I guess I could have got a little farther out of the bush and you might have been able to see something. Next time.

In the mean while, watch out for Robin Hood and his band of merry men…

Early morning on a gray day in Black Park England by Terrill Welch 2014_04_04 005

next I was going to go and explore an old church nearby with my easel and paints in hand but it looks like it might rain. We will have to wait and see I guess. The other option is to go to the Stag and Hounds Pub. Left to the church and right to pub. I wonder how often that choice has been made in this particular neck of the woods?


What is it YOU most first like to do when traveling some place new?


© 2014 Terrill Welch, All rights reserved.

Liberal usage granted with written permission. See “About” for details.

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

The Song of Waves

The waves – their energy sings to me as they come to shore. The melodies may change but the music is as recognizable as my favourite band.

Sometimes I just roll with it…

Rock or Sea

Seaweed or Wave

Swish splash!

Sing to me, I say – sing to me!


SPROUT: What sound in nature is as familiar to you as your favourite music? 


© 2012 Terrill Welch, All rights reserved.

Liberal usage granted with written permission. See “About” for details.

Purchase photography at

Creative Potager – where imagination rules. Be inspired.

From Mayne Island, British Columbia, Canada


Sitting on My Ordinary

It is an ordinary quiet week here at la casa de inspiracion. In fact it has been quieter and more ordinary than usual. With only a few outside commitments, I have even been sitting on my ordinary – well, backside. Shhhhhhh! Don’t tell anyone.


Oh I did dive in and order new print stock, clean the studio and get a few other household chores out of the way… but only worked at these pesky necessaries for a short while each day. Mostly it was a week of relaxing and the easiest route to an end goal. Do you ever take a few days to do this?


Sitting on my ordinary is about being with the everyday in an unhurried fashion.


It is about quietly observing and nurturing and replenishing my inner strength and resilience.

(image may be purchased HERE)

It is about honouring and reflecting on – exactly where am I anyway and what is it I really want to be doing?

(image may be purchased HERE)

Most often it means time in nature feeding my soul.

(image may be purchased HERE)

These four images are a result of  “sitting on my ordinary” this week. So as you can see, it doesn’t mean doing nothing but rather doing what you love in a way that gives back.


Best of the weekend everyone!



Sprout Question: How do you sit on your ordinary?



© 2011 Terrill Welch, All rights reserved.


Liberal usage granted with written permission. See “About” for details.

Purchase photography at

Creative Potager – where imagination rules. Be inspired.

From Mayne Island, British Columbia, Canada

Terrill Welch online Gallery at


The everyday with photographer Jeff Stroud

Photographer Jeff Stroud has been a regular reader and engaging participant from the beginning here on Creative Potager. In fact, our connection goes back to an earlier community where Jeff introduced me to his online storefront at redbubble. I trust that you shall enjoy this feature interview with Jeff and the opportunity to get to know him better.

Jeff Stroud’s photography is one of common everyday nature, places we walk, places we drive by, our garden, our local park, and our neighbor’s front lawn. Yet there is nothing common about Jeff’s photography itself which is imbued with a sense of nature’s essences in all its purest forms.

Eight years ago after attending a Shamanic workshop and the practice of Reiki, a nature-based healing process, Jeff picked up a camera and has followed his bliss ever since. His approach to photography is one of gentle reverence, beauty, and honoring of nature as a life force. The purpose of Jeff’s nature photography is to share the beauty that is all around us – the beauty and life of trees, flowers, water, and sky.

(image may be purchased Here)

It is with great pleasure I bring you my interview with Jeff and a few images from this talented photographer.

What is the one thing that you would like readers to leave with after reading your interview?

What I would like readers to leave with is a deeper sense of what creativity can be for us in our lives.

What is your best kept secret (s) of creative success?

I don’t think it is a secret, but creative success is just allowing ourselves to be creative. Creative with our everyday lives. I create publicly with the exhibits of photography that I have the honor of being able to pursue.

What is your first creative memory?

Drawing, when I was a child I drew.

Where or when do feel most inspired?

I feel most inspired in nature, yet I can be and will be inspired when I get out of my head and come from my heart or spirit.

(image may be purchased Here)

Who are your creative mentors?

You! Terrill, you inspire me by your constancy in your expression of your art, and your ability to promote through your blog and other sources that are always stimulating.  Also, Neale Donald Walsch, who has used words in the form of a book to create change in our world. This has given me a whole new perspective on the way I approach life and living. I am just discovering photographers and artist, and their influence has begun to express itself in my work. I hope.

Geesh thanks Jeff! It appears we are mutual fans of each other’s work.

What are you celebrating today?

I am celebrating today, right now, this moment!

If we could assist you with one thing this week that would make a difference in promoting your creative work – what would it be?

Follow my blog, join my redbubble site.
What is next?

I am hoping to get another First Friday exhibit which will be in a gallery in Old City Philadelphia. I have two pieces into the Philadelphia Photographic Society’s 149th year members’ exhibit, which is held at the historic Plastic Club in Philadelphia. I will also have at least 5 pieces in Deptford NJ Galleria exhibit in December 2011.

How are you going to get there?

By producing the best work/art I can. By being part of the art community, attending gallery openings and meeting other artists.

Tell us – what headline will we be reading in the New York Times about you five years from now?

If it is the New York Times, I must be true! Ha! That Photographer Jeff Stroud has a month long exhibit in such-and-such gallery. Jeff’s photography captures moments in nature and in everyday life as if it is blessed with spirit, and from the photographs we have seen he does just that.

Who and what would you like to give thanks?

I am grateful to you for hearing my call, for asking me to do this interview. I am greatly honored. I am grateful to my muse Nature spirit who allows me to “make” photographs that express the beauty even in the dying!

(image may be purchased Here)

Jeff’s Sprout Question: How do YOU feel about promoting your art?

Ah, you offer us a good tough question Jeff. Thank you Jeff for allowing Creative Potager to shine a light on you and your photographer. I wish you a much success in the future.

Dear readers speaking of promoting my art work, this coming Sunday October 16th from 3:00 – 4:00 pm P.D.T. is the second of three Salish Sea Sunday Savings events here at Creative Potager. A special post announcing a draw for those who subscribe and spread the word will go up on Thursday October 16, 2011.

Our regular Creative Potager blog will be posted on Friday.

Best of the week everyone and I look forward to having you drop by.

© 2011 Terrill Welch, All rights reserved.

Liberal usage granted with written permission. See “About” for details.

Purchase photography at

Creative Potager – where imagination rules. Be inspired.

From Mayne Island, British Columbia, Canada

Terrill Welch online Gallery at

Calm before the Storm

There is a wind warning put out by Environment Canada for Mayne Island:


Southeast winds up to 100 km/h expected today for North Vancouver Island, central coast, north coast and Haida Gwaii. Southeast winds 70 to 90 km/h expected to develop this morning over the south coast. This is a warning that potentially damaging winds are expected or occurring in these regions. Monitor weather conditions. Listen for updated statements.


It has been posted and revised since Saturday – last updated at 4:43 am PDT this morning. Just now the winds and more rain have arrived. While they have been delayed I am reminded of the calm before the storm. The wild birds and farm animals have been unusually quiet. My wish now is to get this up before the power is interrupted. I am thinking about calm and tranquility. I am thinking about my last visit to Narvaez Bay on Saturna Island. The humidity was at 100 % with the earth softly releasing its breath across my skin as I gazed into the stillness, the mist and the soft light.

Today’s post is a poem-like meditation with words and photographs….

The bull whips in Echo Bay softly roll on the gentle swells

as the sea flows around what remains of a temporary monument, with its puppy-dog resemblance.

There is perfect in imperfection of one red leaf.

Heavy clouds lift off the Straight of Georgia as I crouch next to the cliffs.

Reminded of the unyielding strength of nature,

such as this large ragged-edged clump of collected bits.

Chosen seashore pebbles and sea-glass remain as if for evidence.

Down by the rocks in Little Bay.

Mist rolls on the quiet sea.

The threaded sea.

The calm sea.

On the last day of summer.



Sprout question: Where does your gaze soften into the stillness that is today?


CELEBRATION: It happened yesterday – my redbubble account went over 100,000 views and I have a celebration journal entry HERE with my thanks and a few of my favourite images.


New: Check out my coffee table book PRECIOUS SECONDS – Mayne Island in paintings and photographs


© 2011 Terrill Welch, All rights reserved.

Liberal usage granted with written permission. See “About” for details.

Purchase photography at

Creative Potager – where imagination rules. Be inspired.

FromMayne Island,British Columbia,Canada

Terrill Welch online Gallery at

Saturna Island in September

Even though the islands are neighbours with only a short distance of water between them, we had to take the Queen of Cumberland ferry, leaving at 7:20 am, from Mayne Island to Swartz Bay on Vancouver Island and then transfer to the Mayne Queen arriving at Saturna Island by 10:30 am. But what an arrival!

Mist was rolling on the water as we approached with clear blue skies above.

Each with a small backpack we planned to spend the first day strolling the 1 km down into Narvaez Bay. My backpack carried my camera and two lens. The new lens is huge and weighs as much as a medium size puppy. Thus, it required a change from a shoulder camera case to a full-on backpack. David had water bottles, lunch and small first-aide kit.  We intended to spend time at the smaller bays of Echo and Little Bay then finish up with a hike up to Monarch Head in the late afternoon.Missionaccomplished. It was absolutely splendid! During this whole time we met two cyclists and one hiker with his dog Molly on our way out. Following are a few images so you can join us in one of our favourite magical places.


Though this path takes us to Echo Bay we opted to go out to the point.

From here I wandered over to the side and looked at the cliff side and took this image which will be familiar to some of you from a previous trip.

However, each visit is a little different and with the cliff in the shade I was surprised that this image came out so well.

Through the trees on the other side of the point I spied my favourite mountain.

I did take a photo of it all by itself but have opted to show you later on the ones I took of Mount Baker from Monarch Head instead. Going back along the trail, I was attracted by patterns again through trees.

What amazing water.

There are a couple of purple starfish swimming in here. Can you find them?

More trees with the sun coming through by Echo Bay.

This will likely be a reference for an oil painting that I will do over the winter.

Then of course there are these ladies of the arbutus waving their fancy apparel in the air.

Are you ready for a break yet? We sure are. There! Lunch! Water! Alright, pack up and let’s head for Monarch Head.

Ahhhh, the view.

And there is Mount Baker with a teeny tiny sailboat sailing by.

To give you some perspective on where we are here are a couple of shots that include part of the cliffs.

And then on the other side.

Now back we go and tuck ourselves into a most excellent B&B – Saturna Lodge.

Thank you for joining us as we celebrate our tenth anniversary of the day we met September 20, 2001 at a breakfast meeting when we both worked as seasoned bureaucrats for the Province of British Columbia. Seems so long ago in a different world of briefing notes, meetings with Ministers, urgent rush folders and a ridiculous amount of emails topped with a pile of documents that needed signing which seemed to have no bottom. How did we ever manage such a delicious courtship with lunches, long walks and quiet dinners together? But we did and here we are today still enjoying such a splendid time in each other’s company.  Glad you can share it with us.

Sprout question: What magic are you taking with you into the weekend this week?

Stay tuned, more images from our time on Saturna Island will be posted on Monday.

New: Check out my coffee table book PRECIOUS SECONDS – Mayne Island in paintings and photographs

© 2011 Terrill Welch, All rights reserved.

Liberal usage granted with written permission. See “About” for details.

Purchase photography at

Creative Potager – where imagination rules. Be inspired.

From Mayne Island, British Columbia, Canada

Terrill Welch online Gallery at

Checking on the Rhubarb

Sunday. Morning comes early now. I’m sitting in the studio loft ….  restless and wanting to be outside. It froze in the bottom of the valley last night. Maybe we should go check on the rhubarb I transplanted. What do you think? Yes? I thought so. You had better put on a sturdy pair of shoes. We are climbing down the 81 steps of the-stairway-to-heaven. Oh! A jacket too – it is still a bit nippy, even if the sun is coming over the hill.

Well look at that! The sheep are out.

It is awfully nice down here by the pond.

I am guessing our company thinks so too.

This field and the sheep we are looking at over the fence belong to Joyce Kallweit of Meadowmist Farm. She does farm tours. If you are ever on Mayne Island, I recommend you stop by. I promise to wave if you give a shout up.

Her barn looks particularly inviting through the trees this morning.

Now where did I poke that rhubarb in the ground? Hum. Let’s see. Ah, there it is.

Not too bad for a young plant. It seems to be coming along. I can see the deer have eaten three of the leaves off. Looks like I will need to fence it until it gets established.

Just about time to climb back up those stairs and get to work turning the garden over.

We had a couple of big alder taken down near the bottom right. It was necessary because it was rotting out and a new fence was going in to keep these babies contained.

I guess that is about it. Up we go. Time to go to work.

I started this yesterday. I like to do it by hand with a shovel. My planning is much like when I paint. This is the underpainting of my garden. There is no drawing or sketch for reference. I just pick up the shovel and dig in.

A few hours later you can see we have made some headway. This week, my painting is going to have some competition. I just have to get those peas and the greens planted. But I do have a painting in mind for a 24 X 36 canvas. It will happen.

Before we leave… let’s sneak up on some of those tulips over there.

Sprout question: What is the rhubarb in your creative week?

© 2011 Terrill Welch, All rights reserved.

Liberal usage granted with written permission. See “About” for details.

Purchase photography at

Creative Potager – where imagination rules. Be inspired.

FromMayne Island,British Columbia,Canada

Terrill Welch online Gallery at

Earth Day Mayne Island

It is 6:00 am when I arrive at Bennett Bay and head down the trail towards the rising sun in the Gulf Island National Park Reserve on Mayne Island, British Columbia Canada. No other human is here yet. Today is Earth Day.  I am celebrating by taking my camera and going for a walk at dawn. If you are a regular reader this will be a familiar stroll. We have been here together before…

Morning song birds, honking Canada geese, cries of eagles, the bark of a seal, and seagulls intersperse between a gentle wind coming off Georgia Strait into the firs, arbutus, gary oaks. Feeling the soft ground through my shoes I notice the dampness starting to seep under my sweatshirt searching for the places open around the edges of my turtleneck. I spy a lady slipper but it is too dark under the trees to share her with you. Walking purposefully I am soon at Campbell point.

Low cloud over the Mainland.

Vancouver hidden in cloud

Georgeson Island begins to warm.

Seagulls feast on a starfish breakfast.

Sun on the shore catches my attention.

I sit for a while feeling the rough sandstone cold beneath me as I watch the waves, smell the sea, and hear the sounds of earth waking to another day. Then it is time to head back through the gary oaks.

Between the arbutus.

And past the big firs.

The morning light through the trees is filled with mystery.

Close to the entrance of the park there is a swing reminding me that humans are part of Earth and it is this relationship between the two which leads us to celebrate Earth Day.

View and purchase full resolution image here.

I hug myself. I spin once slowly with arms outstretched… another day – yes another glorious day I get to see dawn in her slip before she has a chance to dress for the  sun’s rising. Lucky me!

Sprout Question: Does Earth Day play any part in your creativity?

© 2010 Terrill Welch, All rights reserved.

Liberal usage granted with written permission. See “About” for details.

Purchase photography at

Creative Potager – where imagination rules. Be inspired.

From Mayne Island, British Columbia, Canada


Today’s winter wabi room quick sketch 8″x11″ artist pen .

Wabi-sabi is a difficult concept (particularly for westerners) which can have reverberating impact on our creativity. We have been dancing gently around wabi-sabi in recent Creative Potager posts.  In particular, Laurie Buchannan has repeatedly articulated and demonstrated a link between minimalism and her creative clarity. In North America, such a practice is counter to material capitalism, advertising and socialization. Yet, when we experience wabi-sabi – when we live in humble, harmony with natural decay and the beauty of imperfection – we know an inner peace that the latest gadgets can never provide – because it would be contrary to their purpose. I believe wabi-sabi is a creative necessity and fuels for originality and creative resilience.

What is wabi-sabi?  I will break it down into several posts over the next few days. Though there is much to read on the subject, since we are focus on the theme of “home” for the month of February, my primary source is The Wabi-Sabi house: the Japanese Art of Imperfect Beauty (2004) by Robyn Griggs Lawrence.

Wabi began as a literary concept in fifth and sixth century Japan poetry to reflect melancholy. Wabi has come to mean simple, minimalist, humble and in tune with nature. It is often said that if you are a wabi person you are content with very little. However, it is more than being content… it is the enjoyment of very little with an appreciation and the awareness about how “less is more” in a way that bubbles from the inside over the sparse surfaces of our outside. Wabi is a preference for very little in recognition of its unequaled abundance in the face of all else.

One winter wabi room at dawn this morning…

Tomorrow, we will look at “sabi” and its connection with wabi.

Sprout Question: Does wabi have any part in your creativity?

© 2010 Terrill Welch, All rights reserved.

Liberal usage granted with written permission. See “About” for details.

Purchase photography at

Creative Potager – where imagination rules. Be inspired.