All posts by Owen Wills

I'm an artist and puppeteer! I love Celtic knotwork and red pandas!

Bumblepost: Artist’s block

Owen here! Today I’d like to talk to you about artist’s block.

Artist’s block is where you know you have the skills to create, and you can see your creations around you – but for some reason you just can’t get going. And that fear creeps in. “What if this is it? What if I never create anything ever again?!

Everyone is different, but in my case I tend to get artist’s block directly after finishing a group of projects, or when I’m overwhelmed. I’ve developed a few surefire ways that almost always help me snap out of it, so I want to share them with you all.

Having a list of projects I’m working on and a schedule

Sometimes I just forget what all I’m supposed to be doing, and then I start to feel stressed – because clearly this is a sign I never do anything! It’s a silly thing, and this is an easy fix. This also helps me not to abandon current projects in favor of new ideas that have popped into my head.

Listening to motivating podcasts

Sometimes it’s important to get out of our own heads. I love listening to stories and music, but listening to people babble about a topic seems to be more useful for getting into a different headspace. I also learn a lot from this, which spurs on new ideas.

Taking a break

Yay for rest! It’s a simple but easily forgotten solution. If I realize I’m feeling tired or overwhelmed and there is no emergency deadline, I will take a bit of time to rest up.

Working on a small, quick project

Sometimes my artist’s block comes from having worked a long time on projects without the payoff of finishing them. So I pick a project that is quick and easy to finish. With that ‘win,’ I’m more ready to continue pushing on my bigger projects.

Playing some games!

To get over artist’s block, sometimes I will pull out games that I’m really good at playing, or farming/simluation games like Dragonvale. These can be a novel change, and also provide a rest from the hard mental work of creating.

Crunch Time Recipes: Microwave burrito pie

Owen here! Today I’d like to share an easy and quick food you can prepare when you’ve got a lot to do!

Deadlines are looming! This project isn’t getting done by itself! But your stomach has been complaining for an hour, and you’re starting to feel faint. Time to eat – but how are you gonna find the time?

In the past year, my schedule has become super hectic, so I’ve come to rely on some easy, cheap, but still healthy meals. So I’m going to start posting them occasionally so you can try them out yourself.

First up is Microwave Burrito Pie. It takes about five minutes from start to finish, and it’s enough for two people to chow down (Or one if you’re extra hungry.)

Ingredients:

  • 3 tortillas
  • 1 can refried beans (no fat vegetarian recommended)
  • Salsa
  • Cheese (optional)
  • Sour cream or Plain yogurt

Method:

  • On a microwave plate, lay down a tortilla.
  • Open a can of refried beans. Spread half of it on the tortilla. Add cheese.
  • Lay down another tortilla. Spread the second half of the beans on it.
  • Add salsa.
  • Lay down the top tortilla.
  • Microwave for two minutes, or until cheese is melted.
  • Slice into however many pieces you want.
  • Spread sour cream thinly on top. (This makes the top tortilla soft, so it’s easy to cut into with just a fork.)

Bumblepost: Found objects in art

Owen here! Today I’d like to talk about using found objects in art.

I’m always finding random things when I go out. There are lots of free piles where I live, with anything from books to art supplies just sitting and waiting for a stranger to collect them. When using these for art, I find the challenge of figuring out what to do with these items can lead to more interesting and satisfying art than what I make when I’m able to purchase exactly what I want to start out with.

There are three things I recommend to make found object art even better.

Have a stash!

When you chance on a fabulous seashell or an unidentifiable industrial thingamabob, it’s nice to have things on hand that you can accessorize them with. I like using beads and charms to accompany things I’ve found, or I’ll dip into my fabric stash to turn the object into something else entirely.

Make it into something unrecognizeable!

I find some of my best found object work comes about when I have no idea what the thing was originally meant to do. It’s easier to think outside the box when you didn’t realize you weren’t supposed to stray outside of it.

If you do recognize the object, take a lesson from the Whose Line Is It Anyway game Props. Play with it. See how many applications you can think of for it, even if they are silly. In this way you can generate a hundred stories, and then all you have to do is focus in on one.

Get inspired by it!

You don’t have to place the object itself in your art. You can keep it around to inspire other art pieces. Look deeply at it. Take note of what seems interesting about it to you, and try different ways to represent that in your work.

 

One word of caution: Once you start collecting found objects for your art, it’s very easy to get way too many of them! It’s a good idea to set some rules for yourself – for instance, have a set number of objects you’re allowed to have. If you want to pick something new up, get rid of something else when you get it home.

 

Bumblepost: Clarifying your creative path

Owen here! Today I’d like to talk about giving up your dreams.

Grow up.

Put away childish things.

You can’t make a living doing that.

I bet there is no one living who hasn’t heard these kinds of sentiments, either as missiles meant to shoot down dreams, or as woeful sighs lamenting unpleasant realities. It’s common knowledge that only a few random lucky people get to have fun being creative. Everyone else needs to work jobs they hate so that one day they can save up to do things they enjoy.

While trying to escape these predictions of doom, it’s far too easy to flail around in every possible direction. If signs of progress don’t show up immediately, panic sets in, and we set off in a different direction – thinking we’ve already failed.

I invite you now to sit down comfortably. Take a deep breath. Everything is going to be fine.

I invite you to replace that old nonsense with this idea: Getting older means clarifying what we really want to do.

Think about all the things you have tried before, or have an interest in. Count them up. Chances are, there isn’t enough time in any human lifetime to pursue all of those in a worthwhile way. And for those wanting to make a creative living, it’s even more impractical to grasp every possible avenue; in addition to doing the thing you love, you’ve also got accounting, marketing, and a host of other concerns that eat into your time. Successful creative people limit their focus, and jettison things that will water it down.

I’m not going to get into the specifics of things you’ll need to do in order to get where you want to be. If you are still in the area of thinking no one survives as a creative person, then this is a much more important task right now. I invite you instead to replace that old script with this one:

 

Grow.

Play to your heart’s content.

You can make a living doing that, and other people will help you do it.

Bumblepost: My favorite tree

Owen here! Today I’d like to tell you about my favorite tree.

I live in a rain forest. Not a tropical one. I live in the Pacific Northwest, where high winds, overcast sky, and a near constant drizzle are the norm. My city (Bellingham, Washington) has been cited as having the least amount of sunshine in the US.

Despite the lack of sun, we have wonderful and diverse plant life. Most notable are the pine trees that are simply everywhere. Bellingham is home to a number of parks where visitors can surround themselves with towering conifers. Wandering among sword ferns underneath curvy pine branches, it’s very easy to imagine we have somehow landed in a prehistoric dream.

My favorite tree is a very specific tree that I discovered recently has been taken down. It was some sort of pine, but I can’t get any more specific than that. It sat at the entrance of Cornwall Park, a lovely place in the middle of everything where it isn’t hard to completely block out signs of urban life.

The most special thing about this tree was that, with the help of a neighboring bush, it created a comfortable shaded room. I used to go there with books or art supplies and simply chill. I would listen to the little birds that hopped around overhead. I could also take my glasses off to get a different view. The light shining through the green leaves of the bush glittered like fairy lights – a view that I find is hard to get normally.

Later I will tell you about my second favorite tree.

Today I learned: Blogger blog roll

Hi! Owen here! Today I’d like to share with you something I just discovered: Google still has a Blogger tool to which you can add blogs to watch.

I used to read blogs a lot more than I did social media. However, it was always difficult keeping track of all of them, and for some reason I never took to any of the other methods of keeping track of them. Technological meltdowns have led to a loss of most of the bookmarks I’ve ever used (Although I now have a simple solution for that as well!)

This tool can also be used to keep track of some non-Blogger blogs. I haven’t yet discovered why some blogs work for this and some don’t.

Anyway, to access this, you just need a google account and then go to www.blogger.com.

  1. On the left you should see an “Add” button.
  2. When you have the URL of the blog you want to keep track of, click the “Add” button, and then copy paste.
  3. Choose whether to follow publicly or anonymously.
  4. Click Follow.

If you can follow it with the Blogger tool, it will be added to your reading list. If not, you’ll get a notice saying it couldn’t be added.

I hope this helps!

Bumblepost: Come see my art at the Black Drop Coffee House, January 2016

Owen here! I’ve got a fun announcement to share!

In January 2016, I get to show my art at the famed walls of Bellingham’s Black Drop Coffee House! This is the employee owned local coffee shop that supports my corner of Bellingham’s art community. Every month they feature a different artist, and my chance is coming up!

If you can make the trip to the Black Drop in January, you’ll see glittering and glowing multimedia pieces made all sorts of materials – wood, clay, acrylic paint, hot glue, found objects, and more. If all goes according to plan, you’ll also be able to see some of my broomsticks up close and in person. Also celtic knotwork, and maybe even some coffee beans!

ARTIST SPOTLIGHT: Jen Delyth

Owen here! Today I’d like to tell you about Jen Delyth, a Celtic artist from Wales!

To me, Jen Delyth’s work really typifies the modern Celtic artist. Vibrant glowing colors with heavy shading; mythological symbols so deep that they hold meaning whether or not we know their origin; free flowing play between larger forms and intricate details. Jen Delyth’s work also benefits from knowledge of multiple Celtic cultures, which provides a much larger palette of mythology to draw from.

According to Jen Delyth:

“I am intrigued by the marriage of old and new, ancient and future. This work is a personal journey into the language of Celtic myth and symbol, the beauty of nature, a simple interpretation of Celtic spirituality expressing the Mystery of the inter-connectedness and balance of all things.”

In Jen Delyth’s piece “Warrior“, you can see a wealth of details folded into open space. As you travel through the piece, more and more animals being to appear. Everything is dotted with lines, as if every subject in it is unsure of its place in reality. To me, this reads a lot like looking out into the night and trying to discern what is there, catching details for just a moment before losing them.

In the piece “Leaping Hare – Hare Leaps Through The Fire“, Jen Delyth presents a rabbit in motion. Classic Celtic animal figures represent much more what the animal is known for, rather than exact representations. This hare is in the middle of abstract and realism, so you can see how historical artists came to their artistic conclusions. The places where the limbs join provide space for slight decoration. Curved lines lead to more elaborate spirals. Details like the ears are not required to remain where they would naturally be found, but are instead able to be moved in order to better serve the composition.

Learn about Jen Delyth’s process in this post from Amber Lotus Publishing!

You can also  find more of her work in these places:

Website
Gallery
Shop

Bumblepost: Art without a visual imagination

Owen here! Today I’d like to talk to you about how my brain works.

I found out recently that I have aphantasia. I’m including some links about it below, but here is a brief summary: I don’t have a visual imagination. More specifically, I have a teeny tiny visual imagination that can barely do anything. Somehow, I didn’t realize I had this until some recent articles came out describing the phenomenon.

How can this be? You’d think I have noticed, right? Well, my brain is also good at lazy abbreviation. So if someone says, “Imagine a car,” my brain simply says, “We are imagining a car” without doing any of the work to make it manifest. In my particular case, I can imagine bits and pieces of the car one at a time, or I might imagine something that has to do with what the car does. A fast red blur for a corvette, for instance. I’ve also drawn what I was dreaming about directly after waking up, and have ended up with images that could weren’t even advanced enough to belong to an old low-polygon count video game. During the dream, however, I was content with my brain’s explanation that these are people. I didn’t realize what was going on until I learned that aphantasia was a thing. Basically, I knew I was having an experience, but didn’t fully acknowledge it until I was told it was possible.

There are disadvantages to this. I get nothing out of most hypnosis and meditation that requires visualization. I can’t retain what people look like when they are out of sight, even if I see them every day – though I do recognize people when I see them. (That would be called Prosopagnosia, or ‘face blindness.’) Since I am bad at names, this means I don’t put up any pretense about whether I remember someone.

Making Art

I find that aphantasia does not hinder my ability to make art. Learning perspective and proportions was not as difficult as finding useful ways for me to learn them. However, where my skills really shine is working with patterns. When making patterns, I don’t have to know exactly where everything is going to be. (And I don’t recommend that as a way of making Celtic knotwork or any large busy pieces – though if you can do it that way, I salute you!) Instead, I block out areas where I want something to go. Then I choose a place to be the focus, decide where large things will be, and then go about the work of filling in details.

I don’t entirely know why a pattern should be any particular way. I fill in space, and see if it works. At this stage, I don’t entirely know why a particular mix of patterns works. I just know it when I see it. The same goes for the level of detail. Some pictures work best with minimal detail, while others really need every crack to be filled in. I never know when I’m done until I am! It is a very exciting way to work, for sure!

What I can visualize:

Now I’d like to close with a little on the specifics of my imagination. I mentioned that I have very little visual imagination – so yes, I do have some. However, it is so miniscule that it doesn’t help me to do much of anything with my art.

What I can visualize amounts to dots or lines. I can only imagine one color at a time. And I am able to get maximum visualization in the dark. I can imagine the vague outline of an object or it’s features, but not both at the same time. When I do try to have all the details, the features distort. For instance, when I try to picture a face, I can imagine an oval. Then I can imagine an eyebrow. And then I imagine a closeup of a vague outline of an ear – more of a bean shape. If I try very hard to picture the oval with eyes and eyebrows on it, I instead get very large dark eyebrows superimposed on the thin oval. That image is only fleeting, though.

If you look at my current work, you’ll bright glowing lines of color and dots on dark background (Mostly black or dark blue). After finishing my most recent pieces, it has dawned on me that I am attempting to recreate my imagination on canvas. Realizing this has given me a lot more ideas about where and how to travel in my artistic journey.

Aphantasia links:

A test to see if you have aphantasia

http://www.bbc.com/news/health-34039054

http://www.bbc.com/news/health-34039054

http://www.eugencpopa.ro/wp-content/uploads/Afantazia-.pdf

http://www.bbc.com/news/health-34039054

ARTIST SPOTLIGHT: Mino Re

Owen here! Today I’d like to introduce you to the work of Mino Re, of Innovative Stone Arts.

Mino Re works in cast stone, oils, and carved acrylic. I am personally drawn to his work by the intricate and delicate knotwork that is carved and molded into stone. He does classic knotwork with lovely innovations – beautiful fluid lines; figures and shapes that are modern yet still distinctly celtic.

From his Etsy page, he explains a bit about his history:

I create original, affordable, unique stone art for home and garden. I find inspiration in intricate geometries like Celtic knots, fractals, spirals, and paisleys. These become decorative elements applied to my sunfaces, whimsical creatures, and interpretations of historical statues and antiquities.

I was born in Italy and learned from my father, an expert sculptor and painter. I worked in the field of architectural precast for thirty years, designing and engineering solutions for new construction and restoration. My art is now my focus, and I enjoy sharing my work at shows as well as on Etsy.

In addition to my cast stone, I work in other media as well: oil paintings, drawings in pencils and charcoals. If you’re interested in learning more about how I create my art, visit my website and blog at www.innovativestoneart.com or convo me and ask a question!

My favorite Mino Re design is this gorgeous tiger, a stone plaque cast from a plaster mold. You can see more examples of his designs here, including some that are for sale.

When presented with beautiful, complicated work, it is easy to imagine that the artist behind it simply popped into existence with highly polished skills. They snap their fingers and poof! A new masterpiece appears. This is easily disproven when given the chance to view the work that goes into creating a piece of art.

Thankfully in Mino Re’s case, he provides a thorough explanation of how some of his pieces have come together. He also has a blog where he posts photos of his work in progress – so you can see for yourself how the complexity arises!

For more, you can visit Mino Re’s:

Etsy Page
Website
Blog