Note: This is the fourth entry in an ongoing series that honors creative bloggers who have really made a difference, raising the bar for quality and productivity on the cultural front.
by Sam Juliano
Mayne Island. Located between lower British Columbia and the much larger Vancouver Island, this rustic and temperate paradise is a veritable refuge for ardent nature lovers and those with a ceaseless creative hankering. Though seasonal bubbles frustrate any attempts to confirm yearly population figures, at least 3,000 reside here in the summer months, and no less than 1,000 count themselves as permanent islanders. Among this alfresco lot of those who receive their daily inspiration from the nature’s beauty and wonderments, are Terrill Welch and her husband David Colussi, who moved to this picturesque hamlet three years ago in May, and have since established a base from which to simultaneously study and appreciate the island’s wifelife species and geographical resplendence while using it as a springboard for a budding career as an artist.
Holding a B.A. in sociology with a minor in women’s studies, Ms. Welch is currently working towards a Master’s in Gender Studies at the University of Northern BC. Like many, who climbed the ladder from humble beginnings, Terrill piled green railroad ties in a portable sawmill, served many meals in restaurants, pumped gasoline, and worked as a teller in a small neighborhood store before assuming leadership positions in the social service field – specifically in the area of violence against women – and as a program developer.
An ardent photographer, who loves to walk and observe the scenery around here, Terrill was spurred on to launch the entrancing Creativepotager blogsite this past December as a result of an unfortunate occurence in her life that required some serious reapplication. In August of 2009 David Colussi suffered a stroke that required cognitive therapy exercises to assist him in his recovery and required a great deal of one-on-one attention. As David’s health improved, assisted in large measure by disciplined walks with Terrill, an idea sprung to blunt the daily loneliness in their lovely strawbale timberframe home to “build community and conversation around creativity” while maintaining a flexibility that would not intrude upon David’s healing process. The blog, which has achieved a remarkable popularity among fellow artists and nature-lovers, has in the space of nine short months attracted the regular and profound participation of a number of exceedingly intelligent and passionate contributors, some of whom proctor their own blogsites, specializing in science, nature and art. Many, including the gifted Laurie Buchanan have commented on literally every single one of Terrill’s posts, which are bi-weekly for the summer, but far more frequent during the rest of the year. By using her own art and photography as a springboard for discussion, Terrill concludes all her posts with a “sprout question” which is aimed at fueling the creative process by self-reflection, pride, self-awareness or discovery. Some of Terrill’s most superlative responses have all centered around the sprout, which is usually an extension of the theme expressed in the actual post. Ms. Welch’s life reads like an open book, and her personal anecdotes and descriptive diary-like passages lend the creative process a refreshing context that only experience can successfully inform. She not only talks about her adventures, but she takes you into her habitat, and induces you to see, feel, hear and touch all the scenic wonders that are exclusive to her home and her lifestyle. Alas, she gives you, the reader, all the tools to make your own explorations, and forge your own path.
For a blogsite like Creativepotager to exert the most lasting resonance, one must have a proprietor of specials skills and an acute vision. When asked how her lifestyle has changed over the past years to accomodate her own special interests and goals, Terrill was both blunt and content: “My lifestyle has changed in some ways out of necessity. I am again picking up volunteer leadership work around issues I am passionate about but I want to keep room for my photography and painting – because I can. We are financially secure and dept-free. David encourages and supports my creative expression. What more could a well loved, passionate, creative woman ask for?” Indeed, and every ounce of passion and commitment is evident in the tireless energy exhibited by this driven human being, who crams in as much of life’s most sensory treasures as she maintains a closeness to her family and in-law siblings. Both Terrill and David have a “collection” of eight grown children, which includes two birth children and two step-daughters from a previous relationship for Terrill, and David’s four children. The youngest of their children is 27 and the oldest, 35. Says Terrill, proudly: “At this time we have two grandchildren. My son Kris’ boy, Arrow is eight years old and my stepdaughter Diana’s daughter, Shia, is just about three years old.”
Terrill has incorporated her familial affections into her life and work, and in a recent exquisite post, titled “Red Umbrella and Wedding Photography” she used her appreciation of color photography to employ an Italian-born photographer, Federico Vanoli, who produced some arresting, cinematic stills that provided readers with an inimitable feast for the eyes, for the wedding of her daughter Josie to Ryan. Using the red umbrella, as an eye catching image to the left of the frame, Terrill notes, the entire picture comes to glorious fruition, and gives the wedding couple rapturous evidence for a lifetime. Terrill speaks of her family often, and includes them as much as possible in her poetic entries, testifying to the remarkable bond, in a life where artistic inspiration is so fruitful to almost become suffocating.
When asked what she has come to appreciate the most about the Creativepotager’s site’s increasing popularity within the blogging community, Terrill admits: “I love the breadth and depth of conversation, community and inspiration that flows each week when readers gather at Creative Potager and then send out spider-webs of connections to their blogs or other links that are of interest. There is a freshness and immediacy to Creative Potager that is like a second home for me. Creative Potager allows me to live on a small island off the west coast of Canada and still in a global community.” Terrill Welch’s lifestyle, as can be amply evidenced by the many responses under her postings, has become an inspiration for many who evince the same sensibilities, and she has served as a guiding force for those looking for vital impetus and enrichment.
For those trapped in the big cities, or in settings where a ‘hands-on’ with nature is for varying reasons an impossibilty, the home of the Creativepotager is an internet indulgence for which to experience and to dream. With some it may even provide a springboard for their own travel plans. Terrill Welch has made the most of her quiet solitude and the inherent beauty of her Mayne Island setting to maximixe her own artistic potential, and her extraordinary work (which can be seen at http://creativepotager.wordpress.com/artist-biography) She has proven yet again that the greatest way to inspire creativity in the arts is to favorably exploit physical beauty and to load the deck in awaiting that one moment, where your own existence may change forever. It’s a proposition of a lifetime.
Above– Flowers and drying grasses on Mayne Island
Terrill’s grandson Arrow
Dragonfly on Mayne Island