Freakybuttrue Peculiarium

Freakybuttrue Peculiarium

5.0 (3)
5 employees
36 years in business

About this pro

The Peculiarium is a gallery like no other, and as a co-creator, Mike Wellins, and the lead artist, I'm here to help artists with improving their art, whatever it maybe. I paint and draw and show my work in shows and galleries all over the world, and where ever I can. I've drawn, painted, photographed, designed and written for animation and television, cartooned for magazines and newspapers, and directed hundreds of commercials, written and created hundreds of films, docs, music videos, comics, novels and more. Maybe I can help you. And I love beginners and first timers, who just want to create, have fun, relax and don't know how. Let's talk! 

I've been a paid artist for 37 years in one form or another. In my varied career to stay fed and living indoors, I've taken a whole host of jobs that have given me a wide spectrum of experiences from professional film shoots and high end CGI animation to specific drawing, cartooning, illustration and painting techniques; to crafting your skills through classic instruction, tips and tricks, like specific materials, painting, to assembling the perfect demo reel, to editing a story or script, I've have had more experience than I can remember.

 I truly enjoy creation, on any level, I think it's the best thing the human brain can do. When it comes to visual media, I've always had an insatiable interest in it, and after almost four decades, I've seen it, and done it. I was a director for 20 years at Will Vinton Studios and Laika/House, directing work for Fox TV, Warner Brothers, the M&Ms, Sony Playstation, Kelloggs and more. As a solo filmmaker /animator, it was essential that I master drawing, painting, writing, photography, film and video production recording, editing, post production and everything in between. I've designed for megacompanies like Kelloggs, Kraft and Adidas, (not my most interesting work, but it paid the bills) illustrated for Travel Guides, painted murals, and shown my work in galleries from Sweden to NYC. 

Still, there are some very important fundamentals, techniques and processes that can help in every form of art. I have amassed my own collection, in addition to the classics, more irreverent books and unorthodox ideas toward art as well.  At it's core, artistic expression is an exploration and anything that makes my art more interesting to me, first and then the viewer, is worth examining.

Creativity is elusive, especially with the chaotic world we now live in, and it's easily stifled by the everyday life. Creativity is easily pushed into the back seat, or put off, especially when exploring art doesn't give the artist the feedback and enthusiasm they need to continue.

Creativity is a state of mind, and it's a mindset that makes it more fun and rewarding. And the more fun and rewarding it becomes, the bigger challenges you can take, and the more you improve and grow as an artist. Making art is a process with a huge slide of experimentation, and experiments by definition, fail, and artists need to be able to use their failures to keep working and learn from it or at least usurp it. 

I was a guest artist at the California State University Summer Arts Program for 14 years, and worked with a whole host of people from every different backgrounds, age, and art level and had a good time doing it. 

Humble artists, who we should all be, say we are on the shoulders of those before us, for teaching us their secrets and what they have learned. I don't have any secrets, I'm happy to show all I've learned and developed, because there’s always room for good work. And what a thrill it is to help someone develop an idea that moves me, as well.  I often like to draw wisdom from other artists. Here’s a great quote by the master sculptor Henry Moore:

"The creative habit is like a drug. The particular obsession changes, but the excitement, the thrill of your creation lasts."

And another:

"What's important is finding out what works for you." 

Art is anything you can get away with. I don't like the idea of fine art, and its sense of exclusion. Art can be anything that challenges the artist and connects with the artist and viewer. Photography, comics, animation, anime, monsters, fan art, are all legitimate art. Anyone who tells you different is wrong. See a mix of my paintings and photos below. 

I love art in almost every form, and I love collaboration. I have been taught by some of the smartest, strangest, most talented people I could ever hope to meet, and I enjoy using what I've learned to teach others learn as well. The goal is to learn, improve and to enjoy the process in some form, regardless of the ultimate goal, whether to simply improve specific skills or work toward a career goal, the best process for learning is collaboration, interaction and experimentation.

You can't set out to make a great film, a great painting or a great story, greatness is too elusive, too complicated. What you can do however, is to make films, cartoons, paintings or stories, that ring true, that are thoughtful, challenging, provocative and engaging, whether for a theater, the world or just yourself. Only time will tell if something is great. 


I have spent my career doing a whole host of artistic jobs, and have learned so many ways to improve projects. And in all honesty, not all the work was glamorous, some of it was mediocre, some of it was weak and lacked strong concepts, and plenty of work I wouldn't show, but each project taught me something specific, and I'm happy to share smart short cut students so that they can learn from my painful mistakes. And from my own artist view, teaching is collaboration and I'm sure that I will foster new ideas and new things I want to experiment on working with the right students. 

Art is wonderful in that you can dip in a toe, or jump in and go over your head. You can make a feature film or a doodle. You can put it down for a decade and pick it up again, going back right where you left off. Art holds no grudge, and is always there if you're interested. You don't need art to be alive, but you might need art to live. For me, creativity never lets me alone. I won’t be happy with what most are happy with, and I sometimes find it weirdly exhilarating and frustrating that my brain, regularly needs me to work it the point of fatigue, for it to work right. Art can be a hobby, an interest, a stress releaser, or a way of life or someplace in between.  

And finally, another quote by Henry Moore:

"I sometimes begin a drawing with no preconceived problem to solve, with only the desire to use pencil on paper... but as my eye takes in what is so produced, a point arrives where some idea crystallizes, and then a control and ordering begins to take place."

And one more:

"Creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes. Art is knowing which ones to keep." Scott Adams

Read more about this pro


Portland, OR 97210
Email verified
Phone verified

3 Reviews


  • Lisa Freeman

    Mike is a force of nature when it comes to creativity. I've learned lots of artistic technical skills, as well as amazing creative experimentation tricks, by both working along side him and just by trying out his suggestions. He is a powerful motivator by virtue of his creative energy, but also he's encouraging, honest, and has a knack for spotting what you're struggling with and knows how to help. I highly recommend him for lessons in drawing, animation, cartooning, painting, writing, sculpting, breaking down a big creative project into manageable steps, and even just getting yourself out of a creative rut.

  • Jasper Thun

    As a close person to Mike, he's given me an uncountable number of life lessons an invaluable skills. Everything from the rule of thirds to advanced 3D modeling, he's an expert communicator and exceedingly smart.

  • Mackenzie Dunn

    Mike was my mentor for a little over a year. He's a real hands-on guy and very patient when it comes to mistakes. He wants you to succeed and hone your craft. As an industry professional, not only does he teach you how to create works that you are proud of and that you wanted to work on, but he knows what the industry desires and how to get recognized in a studio setting. You have to be ambitious and willing to work because Mike is well worth your effort and time and he will enhance you, your craft, and your professionalism. I couldn't have asked for a better mentor with not only my artistic skill, but also my composure as an artist and a person.

Photos & Videos


What is your typical process for working with a new student?

If you have no work, and just want to start, and explore creative concepts, great! If you are looking for a specific displine, drawing, animation, writing, photography, I want to see your work so far, and I want to know what your goals are as an artist and or a professional. These two items will speak volumes on how I can assist you. Are you trying to just improve your technique, just for your own enjoyment? Are you trying to tell better stories, are you working on crafting a portfolio or a demo reel? Do you want to do art to simply relax and explore or are you after a career? 

What education and/or training do you have that relates to your work?

I studied art and English in college, which gave me an excellent foundation. I've also been an illustrator, writer, artist and filmmaker since I was very young. I've made hundreds of films, that have appeared on in numerous festivals and on television. I directed animated and live action production at Will Vinton Studios and Laika/House for 20 years and have worked in every form of entertainment. 

I've been a paid illustrator since highschool, and have written several well reviewed novels, have published articles and essays and have written and produced numerous screenplays larger and small. I've been honored with numerous awards including an ASIFA Annie for my directorial work. 

My years of work in the animation field culminates with my Textbook Storytelling through Animation, a textbook from about 10 years ago. 

In 2014, I bagged professional animation and concentrated on my gallery that I co created, the Peculiarium and have been back to the basics ever since, selling paintings, comics, illustrations, designs, the works. 

Do you have a standard pricing system for your lessons? If so, please share the details here.

I work by the hour, plain and simple. $35, half hour minium. However, I learn when I teach, and If I find a groove and am learning myself, my hours can go long. I truly enjoy collaboration with artists of all levels. 

And because of Covid19, I'm not interested in meeting with anyone, but I don't think that will be a problem, and I can easily do any number of video conferencing. 

How did you get started teaching?

I am not a ‘learn by book’ person and don't do well reading on how to do stuff, but instead I was shown by others.  I owe my career to people who were patient enough to show me. I learn when I teach, and I like to see artist grow. Art, whether it's writing, drawing or animation is high level brain work and it takes practice, but you have to enjoy the practice to get good at it. You have to make enough progress to keep you interested and not get discouraged. There is still a lot of work to be done when the project is no longer fun.   


What types of students have you worked with?

I'm happy to work with all age students and have worked with very small children to people in their 90s. I was a guest artist at the CSU Summer Arts for 14 years off and on and enjoyed the sense of collaboration and the collective energy to just create. I enjoy creating and helping create new things, regardless of the medium. 

Describe a recent event you are fond of.

I worked with a 15 year old student to make a short, experimental art film. He did a great job and it was awarded an award for Fresh Faces and Fresh work from the Northwest film Center's International Film festival for 2016. 

At my current gallery I have had a lot of people say "This is the first peice of actual art I've ever bought." And I'm truly honored, art to me can't be too precious and I try to sell it at a fair price because I'm always onto the next thing anyway, and if someone likes that much, then I'm honored. 

What advice would you give a student looking to hire a teacher in your area of expertise?

Know what you're after and be as specific as you can be. And that can be as simple as relax, or zone out, or have fun, or it isn't important. Specifi doesn't mean a student always has to have a specific "career" if your goal is simply to get better to try new things, that's perfectly valid goal. 

What questions should students think through before talking to teachers about their needs?

What is it they want to accomplish? What are short term goals, and long term goals if any? A simple goal would be to just get tips and techniques to improve watercoloring. From the foundations of mixing to standard techniques. A more complicated goal would be to work toward being a storyboard artist, or a designer or character animator. 

Lessons offered

Painting Classes Drawing Lessons Oil Painting Classes Acrylic Painting Lessons Watercolor Painting Lessons Abstract Painting Lessons Illustration Classes Sculpting Classes Cartooning Classes Photography Classes Photoshop Classes Film Schools Filmmaking Classes Screenwriting Classes Creative Writing Tutors Writing Tutors