Monthly Archives: July 2016

Mark Owens: Landscapes


Mark Owens is a professional photographer based in San Diego, California. He graduated from Brigham Young University with a degree in English and studied photography at the Academy of Art University in San Francisco. He was profiled previously on The Krakens  for his Celebrity Photography.

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What makes a landscape great? That’s a difficult call as defining greatness is a subjective exercise. Everyone’s criteria are different. For me, shots that combine technical excellence and a unique perspective are good. But if a shot also transmits meaning and can conjure an emotional response, then it’s great.

What do you travel with? It depends on the destination, time of year, and client. So it varies, but the essentials are:

  • MacBook Pro laptop. These days with social media being so important, turnaround time is almost immediate.
  • Camera Bodies. I always have 2 in case one breaks down. I had a sensor fried by lasers in Taiwan once, so I was glad to have a backup.
  • Variety of Lenses. Always a 24-70 fixed 2.8, telephoto and a fisheye. Then depending on luggage space and location I will bring others.
  • Bose noise canceling headphones. Flights are noisy.
  • Flights are cold.
  • iPad filled with movies. Flights are long.

Do you ever get time for yourself? Unfortunately not that often. Typically if I’m on the road with a musician and we have a few hours free it’s spent editing photos or sleeping. But if the schedule permits sometimes I will fly out early to shoot and enjoy it. (For Hawaii I went out a week early).

Visit Mark Owens’ website.

Follow Mark Owens on Instagram.


All photos copyright Mark Owens.

Allen TenBusschen: Otherworldly


Allen TenBusschen is a painter and designer. One review of his work explained, “TenBusschen creates studies and variation of portraiture. Using small elements and distinctions of paint application, TenBusschen’s portraits are not only technically interesting but possess an otherworldly quality by tweaking the familiar form with beautiful, unnatural colors and flowing forms. He was born in Kalamazoo, Michigan, graduated from Brigham Young University-Idaho, and now lives in Iowa City, Iowa.

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Tell us about your evolution as an artist. I am one of those late bloomers I guess. I spent time as child drawing comic book heroes, and doodling, took a couple art classes in high school and spent more time out of class goofing around than in class. I have always wished I had one of those amazing artist beginnings stories, something like how Chuck Close was my uncle or I saved Jasper Johns from a burning car wreck and he recognized the talent and its been amazing every second since, but when I got to college it took me a long time to figure out what I wanted to do. A lot of failed attempts and a GPA that would make most fast food restaurant managers cringe had me completely lost and frustrated with the arts. I had trouble focusing and developing as an artist, it took a couple of amazing professors at BYU-Idaho (who have the patience of Saints) and some unique classes for me to begin to understand that art could be the path for me. I like to tell people I have a Doctorate from BYU-Idaho because I was there for so long, exploring all the art department had to offer. I eventually settled into the illustration program, all the while taking every 2-D course offered, my major was illustration but I believe my work was more geared towards the Fine Art emphasis. Painting has been an endless source of frustration mixed with the occasional success, but I cannot seem to turn away from it. I constantly devour paintings and I find a deep sense of relief and peace when I find a painting that truly resonates with me.

You often work in black and white. How is your style developing? I was scared to death of color is the easiest way to put it. The theories surrounding color would confuse me to a point of inactivity, so I instead focused my energy on the study of value and the concepts surrounding form. I spent a lot of time trying to understand color from reading theory, I believed that somehow it would magically click and I would be able to completely understand it if I could understand the theory and THEN I could paint with it, which is so backwards for me. It’s funny how sometimes we try to force ourselves to learn differently because the medium or technique is different, that we must learn to paint like our teachers because that is the way they learned, only recently have I been able to look past that and glean the truths hidden behind some of their lessons and weave those truths into a way of learning or thinking that makes sense to me. Color is still a stumbling block for me, but less so as I explore and experiment with it, as I begin to learn the way color affects me and my work I begin to create my own version of a color theory. The figure has always been an interest to me, I also love the ideas surrounding patterns and repetition, my work has a lot of elements that flatten and balance between form and design. My future holds a deeper exploration and a new body of work with these concepts in mind.

What’s next for you? I just recently closed my first solo exhibition, which was just plain fantastic. I applied for a local residency and was turned down but because the director appreciated my work, he offered me a solo show instead and we have cultivated a wonderful relationship because of it. This fall I will be attending the University of Massachusetts – Dartmouth to pursue an MFA in Fine art Painting, working with professors I admire and giving myself the ability to spend 2 years focused solely on the pursuit of my art. I’m excited and oh so nervous about where I will end up, but the journey will be full of self-discovery and hopefully great work.

Visit Allen TenBusschen’s website.

Follow Allen TenBusschen on Instagram.


Scott Franson: Doodle-a-Day


Scott Franson teaches at Brigham Young University-Idaho and has a compelling project Doodle-a-Day. He received a BFA  from Art Center College of Design, Pasadena, California and an MFA in Graphic Design from Utah State University. His resume includes references to work as “a Chewbacca costumed character, a doughnut shop attendant, and a pineapple picker.” Franson lives with his family in Idaho.


Tell us about your evolution as an artist. Making has always been a part of my life. In kindergarten I can remember how difficult it was to learn but there was never any problem when it came to art projects. There is a part of my spirit that must create. At times in my life when I have found myself in depression or frustration I always assess what I am doing creatively. Quite often it is the missing piece. I think in ideas, not images. I discovered this after a hospital stay with a bad medication reaction. I hallucinated for nearly a week. The first three days I was completely crazy, but the rest of the week I knew I was hallucinating but consciously in control. I could see anything I wanted vividly and in perfect focus. That is what I now consider visual thinking. I watched television programs that have never been made and sculpted in the air above my bed. After this experience I discovered that I need to physically see what I am creating in order to know what the next step is. I think in a mixture of process and visual assessment. I make something and then respond. It makes the actual process more significant and enjoyably. It gives me permission to just explore.

You are currently a professor at BYUI. Tell us about your experiences working in that environment. Teaching at BYUI is my dream job. There is a satisfaction and energy that comes from observing students as they make progress towards their goal of being an artist. In order to be the best teacher I can be I try to remain in a state of learning. Because of the responsibilities and limited time available for me to create I engage in small projects that can be completed within a short period of time. The challenges and failures remind me what it is like to be a student. Each student in my class has the ability to become better over the course of a semester. It doesn’t take a lot of digging to discover their hopes, dreams and concerns about the future. They are each children of God and their dreams are as important to them as mine are to me. Helping each of them become just a little bit better is my goal. Each small improvement adds up. Polishing students is not my goal. My goal is to help them help them get a good push start into their life as an artist and person.

Talk about your Doodle-a-Day project. Spending 10 to 30 minutes a day creating a small sketch isn’t significant on its own but over time the sketches add up. I find the process more entertaining for myself when I don’t plan too much. I hardly ever have any idea what the image will be when I begin sketching. I make a few lines, sit back, and look at what it resembles. It is kind of like looking for images in the clouds. There is however an underlying goal for the sketches. I am looking for my next picture book. My first book, Un-Brella, came out many years ago and I still find it to be one of the most satisfying projects I have worked on. After all these years it is still in libraries all over the world. The one rule that I have for the doodles is that the drawing needs to be a character. I am looking for the character for another book. I call them doodles because the come out naturally without stress. They are a meditation. Each is satisfying and non threatening because they only take 15 minutes. If a drawing is a dud no one takes it too seriously and just maybe it will act as contrast and make another drawing look better.

What do you think of Mormon art these days? The point of view that is most satisfying to me is art made by people who happen to be members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints or Mormon. I have never personally had a yearning to make art that was overtly religious in content. The idea of depicting Jesus Christ is an overwhelming concept. There have been a few of the doodles that have crossed the line into religious imagery. Walking on Water is my favorite (top). Looking through this broader lens there are many LDS creators making music, literature, images, sculpture, music, and film, to name a few. Just over a year ago I went to an invitational conference for LDS artists. It was two inspiring days discussing the state of our craft and sharing with each other. On the first night we spent several hours sharing some of the current projects we were working on. The artists amazed me and I was honored to be among them. There are artists in all areas of creative disciplines that just happen to be LDS.

What’s next for you? I am in the preliminary steps of a project to collaborate with a small group of BYU-Idaho students. We will be exploring the creation processes based on modular systems. This fall we will be meeting each week to document and share our creations and disasters. The goal is to discover and teach each other from our experiences. The paper folding and repeating patterns are some of the preliminary work on my part. The topic is open-ended and can be interpreted in the broadest way. Who knows how it will turn out? Not knowing is the best part.

Visit Scott Franson’s website.

Follow Scott Franson on Instagram.


Albert John Belmont: Deconstruction


Albert John Belmont is a fantastic painter with a very particular style that he helps to explain. “I am a minimalist in many aspects of my life, and attempting to cut through the unnecessary elements in a painting or drawing allows me to relay the scene or feeling in a more precise way—curating the subject matter and guiding the viewer to see what I want them to see.” He received a BFA from the Art Institute of Boston at Lesley University and an MA from the University of Florida. He grew up in New England and currently lives with his family in Jacksonville, Florida.

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Tell us about your evolution as an artist. Finding clear, simple ways of communicating a subject has been my main objective for many years. My undergrad illustration work in Boston gave me the means to really explore different approaches and what resonated most with me in that exploration was minimalism. I read a lot about Picasso’s approach to deconstructing a subject and I had to try it out, taking my detailed drawings and reducing them to what I deemed to be critical lines and colors. While I’ve tried different things—varying line quality, organic versus geometric organization and more recently using digital media—my main goal remains to show a subject in the simplest way without sacrificing critical information. That said, I need to feel invested in a piece for this to really work, so even if I’m doing a portrait of someone I don’t know, I need to find a way to assign some level of personal connection. That can be a challenge.

Many Mormon artists either grew up or went to school in Utah. How has being an East Coast Mormon shaped your experience? I’ve never been to Utah. Minus two flights to California I haven’t been west of Oklahoma. I grew up in New England and have spent most of my adult life in Florida, so I’m an Atlantic Ocean guy. I really knew nothing about the church until I was in my 20s, so my artistic journey has largely been shaped by a variety of things including family, nature and religion — all three with a certain level of spirituality and sentimentality. When it comes to art, I don’t think I could ever be an artist who paints only religious themes any more than I could be one dedicated only to landscapes or portraits. Everything I create is entrenched in personal experience — sometimes related to faith and other times a memory/moment. In a sense it is all spiritual to me. I find those connections by free-sketching and deciding what to take further based on what feels right. My sketchbooks are like visual journals.


What are you working on next? I just finished a sketchbook exploration of how we use, develop and abandon land. Living in Florida I’m always noticing how much development is going on as well as how many places are vacated and overgrown. I also have a painting in the works based on a recent drawing 30 Years of Fallen Leaves (above) that is a similar subject—a picture of a place where I grew up that has largely been untouched for years.

Visit Albert John Belmont’s website.

Follow Albert John Belmont on Instagram.


Clotilde Hulin: The Beauty in Everything


Clotilde Hulin is a wonderful French painter. She is another honorary Mormon and friend of The Krakens. Hulin lives in France an hour north of Paris by train.

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Tell us about your development as an artist. My first memories: I grew up in a very creative background where I spent Sunday and holidays drawing, painting, and building little things with my hands. I have many memories, too, of painting leisurely in my childhood: huge papers (taller than the pupils) on the wall we assaulted with our dripping brush! Creating always give rise to pleasure. I have done photography for many years and digital painting, too!

Capturing pictures with my camera. Drawing and painting are ways to observe and find the beauty in everything. When I paint I let the brush, the fluid, move and dry and then I lay down more colors. I allow space for surprise. I want to paint a jazzman. Another one appears with my brush stroke, it was not my first idea but I can respond by laying down more color on him to let him born on the canvas. I like to paint life and happiness. I like to paint emotions and feelings.

What are some of your favorite themes in your work? My favorite themes are the body in movement and in particular dancers. And the horses—I love to see horses. I love to ride. I love to paint them, too!

Visit Clotilde Hulin’s website.

Follow Clotilde Hulin on Instagram.