October 31, 2018

Instagram is a magical place of synchronistic connection ~ this is where we collided with the magic of Amy Won ~ artist, nature lover + wonder-seeker. One scroll through her feed and you are instantly transported to an enchanting watercolored world you could just sink + swim into.

Deeply inspired by her intuitive artistry, sensory storytelling + pure intention to reconnect others to the visceral power of nature, we're spotlighting her magic this week!

Amy's answers drip with wonderment, leaving you feeling like you've just taken a wide-eyed wonder-walk in an enchanted forest ...

How does nature influence your work?

Nature plays a huuuge role in my work! Ever since I started painting again (since childhood) 10 years ago, I found that nature was what I got most excited about. I was doing more illustration then, and would always find ways to re-imagine different ways of inhabiting and then expressing it.

Over the years, as I started creating more personal (fine art) work, I realized that my 'way in' to creative flow is by being outdoors - taking what I call 'wonder walks'. It's a way of immersing myself in the natural world, embodying and understanding it - the mist, the sunsets, the enchanted forests, the birds and nocturnal animals. They all call to me.

I've experimented with different ways of getting inspired to paint - reading, Pinterest, free association, etc ... but in the end nature is the easiest way in for me. For example, last summer I did a series of intuitive 'meditations in watercolor' in a little sketchbook all up and down the Pacific Coast. These were little mood paintings capturing the wonder and feelings that stood out during my travels and walks. By the time fall came, a long-time dream project emerged unexpectedly - I realized I had enough paintings to make a Wonder Walking deck {check out my Kickstarter campaign here}!

Why are you doing what you're doing? What's the main message you want people to get from your work in the world?

I believe that my life's work is to help nurture the inner explorer child in us that feels a deep wonderment for the land she inhabits. When this part of us is strong, we come alive, we're more mindful of our surroundings, and we wonder, explore and observe with wide open eyes.

I wholeheartedly believe that this child-like mindfulness and curiosity is so incredibly important for our creativity and humanity, because it leads to the kind of visionary pioneering and conscious problem-solving that our world desperately needs right now.

It's nothing new that our minds and senses have dulled and we live in a kind of semi-simulated, vicarious, imagined life. We're being told what to do, what to see, even what we like or should like 24/7 by digital media. So I think it's important, now more than ever, to remember to be that explorer nature-child again, one who isn't numbed by modern life, who has a vast capacity for original thought, and is sensitive and aware of the amazing resources she has within and without.

I hope that with the art and little explorer tools that I'm creating, it will help others engage nature more often and hopefully re-awaken something sleeping within.

How have you taken health + happiness into your own hands?

This past 3 years have been a huge growing journey for me in terms of my health and happiness. I've lived with a health condition since I was 22 but it wasn't until recently that I've made consistent effort to take better holistic care of myself-mind, body and spirit.

Also, we just moved up to the Central Coast from LA and the quality of our life has improved dramatically! Living near the water, around such breathtaking nature has been healing in so many ways. I buy my weekly produce at the neighborhood Farmers' Market every week, take regular hikes and daily wonder walks, and the spiritual community has been amazingly warm and welcoming.

This past few months I've been cultivating a strong morning ritual of sitting meditation, 5-min journaling and a green smoothie breakfast to prepare me for the day. I cannot express enough how wonderful it feels to know that I'm nourishing myself in tiny ways every morning, within the first 30 mins of my day! It has transformed me into a chirpier morning person (!) and has evoked an equanimity in me that wasn't there before.

I've also been practicing mindful eating/cooking by making artful bento lunches that I bring along with me all over. Not only is it a great way to eat healthier, but as I often find myself working in a coffeeshop or painting during lunch breaks by the beach, it's been wonderful to be able to unwrap my bento, lay out my handmade furoshiki tablecloth and have a lovely picnic while painting pelicans frolicking in the water. It's been a beautiful reminder to stop and savor our food and life.

How does your work relate to mindful awareness? What rituals or exquisite practices do you do that trigger more awareness in you?

I would say mindful awareness is fundamental to my work on two levels. Firstly, it's the very bedrock of how I create and navigate my life, and secondly it's (hopefully) a result of connecting with my work as a collector/wonder-seeker. I want my creations to re-awaken the curious, explorer child within, to inspire delightful, intertwining adventures through one's inner and outer worlds.

And so similarly, in my own creative practice, I think the most important rituals right now are watercolor meditations and wonder-walking.

Watercolor Meditations (Intuitive Mood Painting): I'm currently studying the Tarot by embodying each card every morning with written journaling and an intuitive-meditative painting session with watercolors and ink. I explore emotions and feelings related to these archetypal symbols through color and texture. This ritual helps me stay loose and in touch with my creative unconscious, who knows so much more than I can ever comprehend. Later on, inspired by my wonder-walking ritual below, I'll refine these intuitive mood paintings into narrative stories with more concrete imagery.

Wonder-Walking & Notice-Painting : Every day, as much as I can, I'll draw a card from my Wonder-Walking Deck and bike or walk out into nature with my little explorer kit (paints, binoculars, sketchbook) to immerse myself. I pay attention to what I'm noticing about the world around me (aided by the card I drew), if there's a hawk circling above, a coyote howling nearby, or a dreamy marine fog moving inland. Sometimes I'll catch magical moments like an owl flying silently by or a deer staring silently from a distance-creatures cloaked in mysticism that steal my breath.

I feel into the spirit of a place as I walk-the ancient elfin forest enshrouded in fog, the dunes at sunset carpeted with green and golden sea figs, the kiss of salty ocean mist on my face. I find a spot to rest, pop on headphones to drown out my chattering mind with a nourishing audiobook (I'm not quite able to easily tune out yet), and then start putting brush to sketchbook paper.

They become essentially, notice-paintings. They aren't always masterpieces but they train my observation skills and sharpen my sensitivity to nature's wondrous details.

I've had to change my ritual around notice-painting since we moved because it's different when you live around so much beauty! I'm learning to have beginner's mind every time instead of relying on travel wonderment. Nothing is permanent, especially as an artist, so I'm finding that I need to be flexible with my creative rituals, to refine and refresh them when the time is right.

How has curiosity, discovery + magic played a role in your life's work?

Oh this is a juicy one and really is the heart and soul of my life's work. A few years ago, I burned out really badly in the first iteration of my creative biz. I was making illustrated heirloom wedding stationery back then and spent all my time hunkered down in my studio and computer, making product and delivering.

Before I knew it, I looked up one day unable to go on, creatively depleted and soul-weary. It took me a few years to get back up again on my feet, but along the way I made some beautiful discoveries. I stumbled upon what I call an Inner Labyrinth of Enchantment within me that's divided into 4 wondrous realms. I later realized what I created for myself is really an archetypal fourfold world that corresponds across different systems - alchemical, elemental, Jungian, etc. That was magical!!

The first realm is about Wonder & Curiosity in the physical world (earth/sensing); the second realm about Magic-Making, which is creative passion/expression (fire/intuiting); the third realm about Truth-Finding in our inner world (water/feeling); and the fourth Realm is all about our intellectual Secret Garden of influence (air/thinking).

I created an Explorer's Chart for this Labyrinth along with a ritual I go through a few times a year : I fill out 3 things per realm that I'm curious about or want to explore more of that season. Doing this ensures that I'm nourishing my (creative) spirit in all the important ways that ignite my sense of wonder, allowing the art to come naturally, as a by-product of aliveness.

Download the Explorer Chart here!

This is how I've nourished myself out of burnout and mini creative blocks, and has inadvertently become the cartographic foundation of my explorer tool products.


Instagram: @amytwon
Support her Kickstarter campaign so another magical card deck can come to life.

Love + flower petals,