Christmas Owl Post, tips for making sure it arrives in time!

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Despite my good intentions, most years my Christmas shopping always turns into a bit of last minute rush to get those last few presents sorted before the big day. And often my plan to order something unique and special from an Etsy shop is foiled, when I realise I’ve left it far too late for the order to be processed and delivered…

This year however, I’m going to try and get it right! And as I’ve recently had to do a fair bit of research into postal cut off dates for my own Owlstation Store, I thought it might be handy to share a couple of things I’ve learned with you…

Firstly, if your sending cards or ordering presents and want them to arrive in time for Xmas – it’s worth checking your local postal service website for details of their latest recommended postage dates. I’m in the UK and use Royal Mail who have some handy info here. If you’re sending or ordering packages internationally, make sure you find the latest postage dates for the country your sending to or ordering from.

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Secondly, If you’re ordering a gift from an online store, be sure to check their ‘processing time’. That is how long they say it will take them to prepare and package up your order. For example for a handcrafted item, the seller may need 2, 3, 5 or even more days to create or customise your gift. You’ll need to mentally add this time (sometimes the site does it for you!) to the given delivery dates to get a clear idea of how long your gift will take to arrive…and make sure it’s before Christmas!

Thirdly, remember that the festive period is a very busy one for sending and receiving post and it can take much longer to arrive than it does for the rest of the year…

But at the end of the day, it’s only Christmas!

If you miss postal deadlines and end up scrambling around in Flying Tiger on the 24th of December it doesn’t really matter (and I may well see you there!). It can be a stressful, tiring time of year and keeping calm and looking after yourself is more important than a big pile of presents. Good luck and happy hunting!

If you’d like to order a present or card from the Owlstation Store and need help with any Xmas queries, feel free to pop me a message. For the UK I advise ordering before the 10th of December. For International orders, please do get in touch as Xmas delivery recommendations vary from country to country.

 

 

 

 

 

Glasgow Botanic Gardens

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After an exciting but tiring month of client work and opening the Owlstation Etsy Store, it was brilliant to get away for a few days holiday to Glasgow. I’d never been before and loved exploring the city and recharging with plenty of decadent treats (hello gourmet donuts!) I was especially taken with the botanic gardens, so many beautiful exotic plants and exquisite natural patterns and colours.

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The Owlstation Store is OPEN!

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The Owlstation Store is now…OPEN!!! You can now find a curated selection of my illustrated Prints and Cards at www.etsy.com/uk/shop/OwlstationStore with more to come soon!

It’s been a long old journey getting everything set up and ready, so I’m super chuffed to be able to share this with you all! I just want to say a big thank you to my friends and family that have helped and supported me this year in this adventure. Your advice, time and hugs made all the difference, you are excellent human beans 🦉! Extra special thanks to the talented @alekadzie for his epic photography skills!

Countdown to Launch on 10th of October!

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I am indeed counting down the days to the 10th of October when I’ll be launching the Owlstation Store on Etsy! It feels really good to be at this point and to finally have a home where I can share my products and illustrations with you all, such as my ‘Save Progress?’ greetings card.

Having grown up with retro PlayStation games like Final Fantasy 7 and Tomb Raider 3, I got used to saving my game’s progress by seeking out ethereal Save Crystals…I thought it would be fun to make a card that lets you and your friends save your life progress whenever you need to! Be sure to pop back in 8 days time when I’ll be sharing my store link, hooray! 😀

Owlstation Store Update

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I’m getting ever so close to opening the Owlstation Store…in fact, I’m pleased to announce that I have set a date! As of the 10th of October you’ll be able to visit my Etsy shop! To begin with, I’ll be selling a curated collection of illustrated prints and greetings cards, inspired by my love of retro PlayStation games and fantasy adventures (sneak peak above!). Moving forwards, i’m excited to grow my store and create new collections in between my freelance design projects. So…pop the 10th of October in your diary and please do check back here for more updates through September!

 

Magical Zelda & Returning to Console Gaming

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It feels like years since I’ve gotten lost in a console game. As I’ve gotten older and life has gotten busier, my gaming adventures (and game design work) have tended to take place on mobile or desktop. A train journey here or flight there being the perfect time to explore a new story or world. But the ritual of setting up the Playstation and telly, getting comfy on the sofa with friends and settling in for an evening’s session has been something missing from my adult life…until now!

It seems odd that my brother and I never got round to playing Zelda together as kids (we were very focussed on Final Fantasy) but I always suspected it would be something I’d enjoy. This year the planets finally aligned as my boyfriend Adam decided to set up The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker on an emulator.

!!! SPOILERS BELOW !!!

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At first I wan’t entirely sure about the strong primary colour palette and chunky 3D characters, but after an hour of gameplay I was addicted. As we’ve explored the vast ocean world i’ve grown accustomed to the simple visual style and been impressed by how many emotions a small number of polygons can trigger. Sailing in our little dragon boat over stormy, rain-whipped waves, I’ve felt glad to be safe inside our living room. Creeping in the shadows of an enemy’s lair to avoid their searching spotlights has had my heart rate climbing…

It’s lovely to slowly learn the language of a new game again. How do I jump? What can I smash? How many weapons might there be?…Beginning to uncover it’s depth. When you first play a game you’re unsure if it will all be over in three or four missions, realising that the map is much larger than you thought and the path to the final boss is by no means clear is just so exciting! And as it turns out, there is plenty to do in Wind Waker.

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Some bosses have had us stuck for hours, straining our brains to work out clever ways through only to realise it was a completely logical solution  all along (usually centred around the last weapon or item we’d unlocked).

The UI and UX can be pretty frustrating at times. Having to repeatedly open and close the menu to equip items into slots is quite fiddly. The level maps are often scantily basic too…however the game’s charm more than makes up for this. Then there’s the evocative music, which coincidentally is a great soundtrack to work to! Crawling through giant shells, edging around perilous cliff faces, launching into the air with a leaf parachute, it’s just so good to get lost in a console game again!

All Zelda images gratefully borrowed from the internet and used here without permission.

Spellbooke & Other Items

Owlstation_owlstation print 2019_spellbookeHere’s a little glimpse of some adventure items for a new A3 print I’m working up. A rune covered Spellbooke shown above…Owlstation_owlstation print 2019_treasure chestIt should be noted that true adventurers keep their sandwiches in ancient, Spanish treasure chests…

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…And for those stubborn cauldron stains, only the strongest, fungus-based cleaner will do! More progress on my illustrated prints and the Owlstation Store coming over the Summer :).

 

 

Owlstation Store, a peek behind the scenes!

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This year I’ve set myself the goal of opening my online Owlstation Store. I’ve been wanting to do this for a little while now, to have my own space to create and sell my illustrations alongside my freelance projects.

I’m very inspired by nature, fantasy and adventure; so having the opportunity to explore these themes for my first range of greetings cards and prints has been a lot of fun…learning about shipping, pricing and SEO has been somewhat more challenging!

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There’s still a lot to do before I open shop – but i’ll be sharing my progress here, and on Facebook and Instagram, so do check in for little sneak previews. And if you have any Etsy advice, I’d love to hear it!

 

 

Drawing Adventure: The Isle of Skye

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Gosh, so it’s been a little while since I posted (okay half a year!)…but rather than bore you with excuses and apologies, i’d like to share photos, sketches and a few tales from my trip to the Isle of Skye last Summer.

My trip to the Shetland Islands a few years back got me hooked on sweeping Scottish landscapes, remote cliffs and ancient, rugged coastline…I wanted more and decided to make Skye the next destination on my Scottish bucket list. So after a spot of planning, my boyfriend and I picked up our hire car in Edinburgh and set off for a week of adventure…

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The Fairy Pools

For the first part of the trip we’d hired a cottage in Elgol on the more southerly part of the Isle. It was a traditional crofter’s house with a thatched roof, thick stone walls and a wood burning stove – not that we needed it…our trip had luckily co-incided with freakishly hot Summer weather! We decided to take advantage of this and seek out the Fairy Pools.

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The pools are located beneath the Black Cuillin Mountain range. The water flows down through the valley forming a variety of pools that make for a nice walk and a good wild dip! They were quite busy when we visited due to the heat, but we were determined to find our own pool to swim in. After a bit of wading and shimmying around boulders, we discovered the perfect spot. A high walled, deep pool, complete with its own waterfall. We enjoyed a magical swim to ourselves. I floated on my back, looking up at the crashing water and dragonflies zipping overhead.

 

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We enjoyed our picnic (port salut cheese sandwiches, salt & vinegar crisps, apples, oat cakes and ginger biscuits) and warmed up in the sun before heading back downstream to do some sketching. I drew a nearby peak, using watercolours to capture the rich rusty colour of the banks and my sharpie pen to pick out the details of wild flowers.

 

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Elgol Beach

The good weather continued the next day and we decided to explore Elgol beach. The sea was turquoise blue and distant peaks were visible across the water. Crumbling cliffs encircled the stony beach and pretty little cottages dotted the hillside. We clambered up the small cliff near the harbour arm for a better view and set up to draw on the spongy, rabbit nibbled grass.

 

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As the day grew hotter, we were desperate for a dip, but it took some time to find a suitable spot. The water’s edge was covered in slippery seaweed and ghostly jellyfish were waiting at every possible entry point! After seeking some local advice, we discovered this particular variety were the non-stinging kind.

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For the rest of the golden afternoon and in to the evening we sunbathed, dipped, painted and slept on the large flat rocks at the end of the beach. The sun got lower and sparkled off the water, fishing boats became silhouetted, bobbing in the distance.

 

Ruined Church & Portree

For the second part of our trip we were based on the North of the Isle at Monkstadt. It would take us a couple of hours to make the drive there, so we decided to break up the journey with a few stops. First, we were keen to explore a ruined church we had spotted on our day trips. Sheep grazed in the abandoned graveyard. The church roof had crumbled away, plants and branches were taking over its walls and growing a new, natural roof.

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Portree, the capital of Skye, is recognisable for its row of pretty, pastel houses on the harbour wall. After refuelling in a cafe, we spent some time absorbing and interpreting the view in our sketchbooks. Another dip in the harbour waters was much icier than expected.

 

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The Old Man of Storr

Over half way through the trip, our luck with the weather changed. So on a bright but windy day we decided to visit the famous landmark; a tall pinnacle of rock that towers up and is easily visible when driving around much of the Northern part of the Isle. The jagged ridge and surrounding slopes wouldn’t look out of place in the Lord of the Rings trilogy (we actually watched all 3 films during our stay as Adam hadn’t seen them!).

 

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We made our way up on the slippy, precarious path. The black prongs of rock and the Old Man looked spectacular as we drew near. Spying tiny people who had scrambled all the way up to his foot gave us a sense of scale. Deciding that route was a little too precarious for us, we set up in the stunning, boulder strewn valley below. As I sketched and Adam painted we realised we were being stalked by a curious weasel, the only other being near us at the time. Such a vast and remote space, it felt unnerving and exciting to be there.

 

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Boat trip from Uig

Having spent time on the land and beaches, we were keen to get a different perspective and see the Isle from the water. In Uig harbour we joined a boat tour that took us around the Trotternish Peninsula on a vintage, 1940’s fishing vessel. The friendly, knowledgeable guides told us about the history and wildlife of the area. We saw a variety of seabirds, including the irresistible puffins and a group of languid seals. The weather was changeable but we were warmed up with a hot flask of tea and shortbread provided by our hosts.

 

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Magical Skye

It really was a magical trip. The Isle is wild, a fantasy realm. Driving on the narrow, craggy roads, we passed lunar-esque landscapes, steep valleys, dark mountains and lochs. After our sunny start we got the whole range of weather, torrential rain, high winds that chase the clouds and incredibly dense fog! At the end of each day’s explorations we’d relax with a hearty meal in the cosy cottages and review our reportage; illustrations, paintings, photos and even drone footage for a totally different view of our surroundings.

 

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With two Scottish forays under my belt, I can’t wait for another trip…I just have to decide which gem to explore next.

If you enjoyed this post, be sure to check out my @Owlstation Instagram account where you can discover more videos, sketches and photos from this Drawing Adventure! Landscape photographs taken by Adam Clague.

 

Kelogsloops Watercolour Tutorials

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I’ve been using watercolours in my work for some time now. I don’t remember ever being formally taught how to paint with them but have always enjoyed experimenting and using them in my own way to capture what I see. However, a recent project called for lots of watercolour work and I realised I was keen to learn more about the medium and how to use it ‘properly’.

For some reason I’d convinced myself that I wouldn’t be able to find the ‘right’ sort of watercolour tutorial for me, so had almost given up before trying. I wanted something that would show the paints being used in a more illustrative and unusual way. Then, one YouTube search for ‘watercolour illustration tutorial’ later, I discovered Kelogsloops videos


Apart from being a crazily talented Illustrator, Kelogsloops aka Hieu Nguyen is a brilliant teacher. I started by watching his 6 minute introduction to watercolour and picked up several ideas and set-up techniques that had never occurred to me before! I then went on to watch one of his process videos (for his illustration below) and his techniques for ‘Wet on Dry’ painting (shown above). He teaches at a steady pace, carefully explaining what he is doing and why, with lots of useful summaries and tips.

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It’s been humbling to watch these and remember that there is always more to learn and explore with any medium. Taking the time to look around for the right tutorial or ask for help and recommendations when you need them is really worth doing. And finally, that there isn’t really a ‘proper’ way to paint with watercolours – anything goes!

All artwork and videos created by Kelogsloops and used here without the artist’s permission.