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


Drawn to Simplicity in the Photography and Painting Process

A slow start to our Monday with heavy fog wrapping the house in warm silence. The dark black coffee is good.

The youngest step-son is here visiting adding a sprinkle of laughter to our mix. My sweetheart is being host and making breakfast and more coffee. Life is good and content as I hear the pages of the Saturday Globe and Mail turning slowly just outside my view from the studio in the loft.

With this backdrop, I am musing about the relationship of space to our lives and our well-being. I want to share an image that is my own laptop background at the moment called SERENE SEA…

Serene Sea by Terrill Welch 2014_01_24 084

I haven’t made it available yet for purchase as I am not sure if its power and lure goes beyond my own satisfaction. You see, these rare moments of spacial expanse with such simplicity are rare both in nature and life. I long for these uncluttered fragments of surreal and sparse existence.  Even a few posts from an older part of the pier with the island hinted at in the background feels like too much in comparison.


Abstract Mist by Terrill Welch 2014_01_24 074

This doesn’t take away from the beauty of another island in the same landscape.


Georgeson Island in winter mist by Terrill Welch 2014_01_24 080

Quality Prints available HERE.

Or even adding in a bit of the bay is a pleasant frame as well…


Bennett Bay Gulf Island National Park by Terrill Welch 2014_01_24 149

Quality Prints available HERE.

Or a few branches framing the farther off Edith Point…


Edith Point Enchanted by Terrill Welch 2014_01_24 146

Quality prints available HERE.

I admit some of the qualities of the first image still exist in the photographs that follow it but the spacial void is seriously diluted. Our view is noticeably anchored to the land. But is it a distraction or a necessity?

In this reference of thought I made some assumptions that the first image, which has been holding my attention, would be of no interest to others. This assumption was so compelling that I did not release this image or the next one for purchase. Yet, I personally come back to them again and again. I seem to take one step towards more inclusion and definition in my last three paintings while there is still a sense of keeping the landscape compelling with its simplicity. To explore this tension in the rendering of the paintings further,  there are three recent works that I released yesterday over on my website Terrill Welch Artist in the post “Sky and Sea in Three West Coast Contemporary Landscape Paintings

I feel myself leaning more strongly in my most recent paintings towards daring to hold a sense of completeness with a painting similar to the first photo composition of SERENE SEA. I sometimes wonder if this was a pull that Mark Rothko experienced in his studio when he painted those large patches of colour. Anyway, it probably will amount to nothing on the easel but still I must give its due. I must pause and consider.

Well, my coffee is now cold and the half of a fresh pear I had earlier has long worn off. It is time for a late breakfast and to see what else the day has to offer.

What are you pausing to consider these days?

© 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

A Few Clouds Over the Strait

Sometimes it is the simple wisps at the top of a thundercloud that can have a person’s eyes come to rest. Then there is the noticing of the distant light on the sea. In this way, a quiet scene becomes part of tomorrow’s dream – a gift really. The bits pulled together have little drama and not much of a pronouncement to make.

Yet, I linger over so little for much longer than expected.


SPROUT: What have recently held your attention much longer than expected?


© 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

Terrill Welch online Gallery at

A Close Read and Doing Nothing

On this Valentine’s Day, February 14, 2011 I could have posted something red. Instead, I am going to write about something read. We have an old joke in our house about doing nothing. It is not ours but one we heard it someplace and it has been adopted by us. The joke goes something like this…

I ask “David what are you doing?”

David replies “Nothing.”

I say “But you did that yesterday.”

David confirms “Yes, but I’m not finished yet.”

The art of doing nothing is a highly underrated creative skill. To do it well, a person may need to revise their world view. One aspect of doing nothing I like to indulge is taking the time for a close read. You see, I don’t skim very often when I read. I burrow in and engage in conversation with the authors or with the characters in the story.  I write in the margins. I dog-ear pages. I leave stickies for markers and notes. I muse and mutter. I laugh and cry. I devour the content as I read. This is what I call “a close read.”

You might ask “where do you find the time?”

Well, it comes back to developing the art of doing nothing which brings me to the circular place of my latest close read.

Waking at just before 4:00 am on Sunday, and it being so close to Valentine’s Day, I wanted to let my sweetie sleep peacefully for another few hours. Actually, even if it wasn’t close to Valentine’s Day I would do this out of respect and love. In la casa de inspiracion, with its open floor plan, this means doing nothing. Yes, I made some toast, smeared it with nut butter, and brewed a small pot of coffee but I didn’t start the laundry or turn on some music, or do yoga in the great room or phone a friend out east. Instead I grabbed my book and slipped up to the loft with my toast and coffee.

Can you guess what I am reading? It is WHERE THE HEART RESIDES: Timeless Wisdom of the American Prairie (1999) by Daisy Ann Hickman. Yes, that is right, the very same Daisy who comments on Creative Potager and who asked me to be a guest blogger on the Sunny Room Studio blog in January. We exchanged books a few weeks back. In the mail from Brookings, South Dakota, arrived this beautiful hardcover gem. I know there is a place for e-books but there is still something blessedly tactile about running my hand over a hardcover book and slipping its jacket off to see what it looks like underneath before beginning to turn its paper pages one by one.

So early on Sunday morning, curled up under a down quilt in the quiet darkness set slightly aside by a small reading light, I began to read. What follows, more or less in order, are a few dog-eared, sticky and pencil-marked quotes about doing nothing that can be found within the later part of the first 30 pages of Daisy’s remarkable book about her beloved prairie…

“From a great crop to a new baby or a bountiful garden, life itself seemed to be enough, and being without a new car, a new anything, was not automatic cause for alarm or dismay.”

“Especially useful in today’s society, with its plenitude of distractions, multitude of ways to avoid and hide from reality, legion of false definitions of success built into a fast-paced society to the point where values and priorities have been distorted, twisted and abolished, where many have simply given up, and where many are looking for an easy way out, a shortcut through life offering nothing but bliss and good times, I cherish the lessons of land, sky and wide-open space. Because oddly enough, with all we have created as a society, genuine happiness seems more elusive than ever: just when we believe we have found it, we being to complain as our discovery begins to feel strange, empty, or curiously nondescript.”

“So now, as we consider a perspective that results in doing more of what counts, less of what causes you to lose your way, you will be ever closer to envisioning a road map to the heart.”

“The prairie offers an enlightened alternative, one that teaches something powerful and true: Doing less paves the way for doing more.”

“Because, curiously enough, time to do less often results in something more: time to recharge and regroup; time to stay in touch with feelings, values, beliefs, and of course, people; time to let events unfold naturally, at their own unique pace; time to do things that support your dreams so you may grow old gracefully, knowing few stones were left unturned.”

“Hectic schedules, a hurry-up, do-it-now mentality, cannot compare or compete with the persistent beauty and quiet strength of the prairie. As we scramble about each day, dashing here, dashing there, the land does the opposite, and without a word speaks to our souls, touches our hearts, and reaches out, like a laser, to connect with our finer, more discriminating sides.”

“When your day is jammed full of must-do, can’t-wait items, there isn’t time for casual exchanges; there is little opportunity for the unexpected, unplanned, spur-of-the-moment cup of coffee with an old friend, the walk to the park with your son or daughter or spouse. Still, these are activities that contribute to a way of life that promotes the importance, the fundamental value, of the human connection: without fail, without exception, without excuse.”

“For encouragement, remind yourself that the less you do, the more you will do: of what counts; of what makes you feel alive and growing; of what helps you become a fully realized human being.”

(Water colour painting “Canadian Prairie” – 2002 – by Terrill Welch)

What are my intentions for this week? To do nothing – prairie fashion.

And you might say “but you did that last week.”

I think you know my response but just in case… “I’m not finished yet.”

I wish you an amazing Valentine’s Day filled with love, hope and time to do nothing.

Sprout question: When was the last time you creatively did nothing prairie fashion?

Thank you Daisy Ann Hickman for coming into my life and being part of our Creative Potager community.

© 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

At Dusk

Some weeks just seem to have a life of their own. I am going fess up first thing and let you know – not one print or painting was properly cataloged into my inventory. There. I have said.

What I did do was get an awesome chance to go “Hunting Waves” which, if you haven’t seen the photographs yet, you may enjoy. I picked up a couple of tubes of paint for my study of blues and two new brushes.

I took some shots at dusk that I am happy with. I fear they may too personal to have wide appeal but I thought I would share them with you anyway.

Mountains above the clouds.

Ferry Wake at Dusk.

Going Home.

(image may be purchased here)

Homeward Bound

(image may be purchased here)

Sailing Home

Passing Pender Island

These images are the exact tone and feel I have been working to get through my new learning with Kat Sloma in her photography e-course “Finding Your Eye.” I wanted to capture just the right amount of light to feel the dusk and still be able to make out some of the detail. I wanted the viewer to feel that lull – the hush before darkness overtakes the day.

I didn’t paint this week but it was still amazingly creative.

Sprout question: What new learning did you apply to your creativity this week?

Best of the weekend to you! Oh, just in case you didn’t notice we went over 30,000 views here on Creative Potager. Thank you for the pleasure of your visits.

© 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


Often, the underlying effect of wabi-sabi is melancholy beauty in its worn simplicity. Yet nature, as our life, is often a messy. Eco-systems thrive on an untidy tangle of old, new and diverse growth (particularly here in the west coast rain forest). The old saying of “not being able to see the forest for the trees” describes how easy it is to become overwhelmed and to lose our centre or still-point in the face of all that is. There are only a few vistas in my travels that have captured my imagination with their beautiful simplicity. A building on a hill at East Point on Saturna Island is one of these places. I have not yet researched to know if this grassy knoll is caused by human intervention or if it is natural. However, the minimalist coming together of nature and construction sang to me. The delight and challenge then becomes composition.

Here are my various efforts over two days to capture “a building on a hill at East Point.”

And finally “window” , my personal favourite, and a featured image today in redbubble group  The Woman Photographer. This is a great honour as there are 2,527 members in this group and 79,986 images.

View and purchase full resolution image here.

Sprout Question: What principles of composition help you to create simplicity?

© 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.

Everyday objects

Our creative journeys are journeys shared with other creative human-beings. Even if we tend to be reclusive, their presence is with us in our homes, in our everyday objects. A sensual blue image combined with a thought-provoking article Epreuve 05 :: Epreuve d’Artiste :: Altered States by Ian Talbot of London UK, inspired my still life sketch this morning of an everyday object. Thank you Ian.

8″x11″ graphite quick sketch

As I was standing at the counter doing my “awakener” sketch of our medium-sized Bialetti stovetop (Yes it has the little man on it but it is on the other side – I’m left handed. Handles are always on the opposite side of what one usually expects.) I started thinking more about Ian’s article and how I often overlook the creativity and artistic qualities of my favoured everyday objects. Yet, aesthetics and wabi-sabi charm generally influences my choice in the first instance when acquiring the object. Why is it that the creative care embodied in the stovetop coffee maker doesn’t leap out at me before my fingers can grip its black handle? I adore my coffee ritual with a zest that not much else can compete – particularly at 6:00 am. I can see its every detail with my eyes half closed. Well, that is mostly how I see it so that isn’t much of a revelation. However, I think you get the idea….

Though living is often a messy process, simplicity and functionality attract my sense of a world-as-should-be. This simplicity can be in everyday object or in everyday nature as in the image below.

View and purchase full resolution image of “amazement” here.

Sprout Question: When was the last time you recognized the creativity in everyday objects?

p.s. I was interviewed this past week by Stephan Weidner COO of Noomii for coaching blog article “Dealing with your Spouse’s Stroke: Terrill Welch’s Coaching Journey” The interview provides a concise account of how Creative Potager came to be.

© 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.