Category Archives: Bumblepost

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: 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.

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

Bumblepost: The most important thing I’ve learned in art

Owen here! I’ve been lucky enough to receive all kinds of advice and lessons about making art over the years, but there is one thing I can point to as the most important: Make friends!

Why?

Other artists can point out different ways to do things.

When I have trouble figuring out how to draw something, I will often turn to Tod and ask him to show me how he would do it. I can then take that lesson, practice it, and overcome my problem – much quicker than if I struggled by myself without help. The same thing goes for criticism. If other people point out flaws in my work, then they are solving problems for me.

I’ve saved a ton of time and heartache by having other artists around who can point me in the right direction.

 

Networking is useful in any group.

It’s important to know people who do similar things to you. They can point out opportunities that you would otherwise have missed. Also, if you make friends who do art, you are likely to meet other artists they know too.

 

It’s more fun to create together!

I personally have a hard time getting through all my projects if I have to do it all by myself. It’s way too easy to get distracted or disheartened. So I chat with people about art online, and once a week I go to the Bellingham School of Comics, a local art group. It helps immensely.

 

You get support while slogging through being unhappy with your work.

I don’t know of anyone who doesn’t get down in the dumps about their work at some point. I usually get that way after finishing a group of projects. Then for at least a few days, I don’t even know what I’m doing or why.

When this happens, it is invaluable to have other people I can turn to to keep going.

 

Bumblepost: Simple Knotwork Tutorial from Aon Celtic

Having simple knotwork that can fill a space is very useful, and it can be very simple (but time consuming!) to do. If you only want to learn a little knotwork, this is one I definitely recommend!

http://www.aon-celtic.com/learn/basic-knot/knot-basic1.html

Aon Celtic, a site created by the artist Cari Buziak, is full of other useful stuff. I highly recommend her free downloadable dot paper. Making grids from scratch or modifying graph paper is probably the most tedious part of knotwork!

http://www.aon-celtic.com/learn/aon-dotpaper.html

Bumblepost: Learning Celtic Art – Suggested reading

Hi! Owen here! I want to take a minute to babble at you about learning how to make Celtic art. Specifically, about how I learned to make it.

Celtic Art: The Methods of Construction
– Written by George Bain

I started learning about Celtic art a few years ago when I stumbled across a very helpful book. “Celtic Art: The Methods of Construction.” It was written by a teacher named George Bain. He traveled around Europe finding examples of knotwork and recording them. He also did a lot of research into how and why it was made, at a time when there was a lot of scholarly disinterest. (Among other reasons, scholars dismissed celtic art as having merely been copied over from the art of other cultures.)

This book contains information on knotwork, plants, animals, and humans. It also has a section on a few different calligraphy fonts. The illustrations are large and, despite being in black and white, are easy to follow. Most of the text is hand lettered as well, which is charming. I personally miss seeing that in texts.

The step by step instructions in this book are easy for people who prefer to skip over written text when learning. So if you are the type to go from picture to picture when assembling pre-designed furniture, that should be a plus!

2. A Beginner’s Manual
– Written by Aidan Meehan

There are a whole lot of very interesting and helpful books written by Aidan Meehan, but I think the very first of his books will be the most useful to start with.

In “A Beginner’s Manual,” Aidan Meehan provides very clear and easy to read step by step instructions. The pictures are very easy to make out. There is more reading involved here in the instructions than in “The Methods of Construction,” but the pace of instruction is also a bit slower. I think it works well.

Once you finish this one, there are a ton of other books on every conceivable subject regarding knotwork. (Note: I haven’t read all of these, though I intend to once I can get my hands on them!)

Lastly, I want to show some of my older knotwork pictures. I have plenty of newer stuff I’ll be showing off soon, but I thought it would be fun to pull up a few of my older examples from Zazzle. I made these while first learning with “The Methods of Construction.”

First, some round tile pieces that I decided to experiment painting gradients with.

These last two are transgender symbol designs. I saw there were plenty of trans symbols making their way around the internet, but they all seemed to be the same – either black and white, or with a colorful photoshopped gradient. I wanted to see other kinds, and so here are some of mine:

BumblePost: Owen’s got some stuff in the store!

Mr. Bumblepants here! When not scarfing down candy corn with Cadaver Dave or marveling at all the glorious Halloween decorations around town, I’ve been pretty busy making art. (But not too busy! Rest is important!) After much help from Tod with getting all the photographs and setting up my products, I am the proud new owner of a section in the Storydragon Store.

You can find a few things here:

Owen’s Art

And now a  little about my journey with art. I’ve had an interest in art for most of my life, but did not have much access to good instruction until about five years ago. That is when I met my husband, Tod Wills. He introduced me to a number of creative people both locally and online. The welcome I have received has been nothing short of astounding. If making art taught me nothing else, knowing how good and loving people can be would have been worth it alone.

I started out learning how to do basic drawing. My proportions were quite bad, and what I produced I wasn’t happy with. I challenged myself to show off my art no matter what state it was in, and the critiques I received were extremely helpful. Other people have been able to point out things that I would have taken many more years to learn on my own.

Over time I have also tried my hand at a lot of different forms of art. I used my previous sewing experience to make puppets with Tod. (Which also led to my discovery of puppetry, something I love doing!) I stumbled onto celtic art through a chance encounter at the library (the most magical of places!). In the oversize section I found a book by George Bain called “Celtic Art: The Methods of Construction.” It clicked with me more than anything else! Now whenever I try out a new art form, I always try incorporating knotwork into it.

After my first attempt at selling art, I had to take a very long break. I eventually got out of this by deciding to draw only one thing: Red pandas. They made me happy. They helped me to not be anxious. Eventually I was able to move on. I tried and failed at woodworking, while playing with a whole lot of things.

Most recently, I came across hot glue art – something I would never have imagined existed. I’d seen some quick fun holiday crafts done with it, and decided to try my hand at it. I loved the result, and decided to try adding it to the woodworking skills I’ve already been building. I also managed to acquire some tools that were sharper and easier to handle. Something magical clicked then, and suddenly I can’t stop making art. My anxiety disorder continues to exist, but it no longer affects my productivity with art. I found my niche!

To conclude, I want to say that I feel very grateful and happy to be able to make beautiful things. I hope they bring you joy!

Have a creative day!
– Mr. Bumblepants