Can I just say how much fun it is to watch someone take off and really begin experimenting with art? It's why I enjoy teaching Zentangle® so much. People who believe they are non-artists and then learn to tangle often end up, slowly but surely, beginning to realize that they can make art, "one stroke at a time."
Witness the following huge piece by Mark Bradshaw, who was introduced to Zentangle only two months ago at one of my beginning classes. As far as I know, he had little or no art experience or training, but he knew immediately that this technique would be very relaxing for him, and he's kept at it. This piece is 2 feet by 3 feet.
Way to go, Mark...!
Beautiful line work and wonderful shading. Here's what he says about his experience drawing this:
"I actually broke all the rules of tangling with this one, but I liked the rule that there are no rules.
"That was actually done on one of ArtLounge's 24x36 canvasses, with a combo of Sharpies and the thicker Sakuras (0.8)! It wasn't nearly as relaxing as the nice Zentangle cotton paper squares because the canvas is rough, but it was my pre-bed ritual for several days nonetheless!
"I'm a perfect example of someone who has no artistic talent, but can, like everybody, draw 'one stroke at a time.' It's definitely a calming thing for me, because I'm in no hurry to move on to anything else right now. Just happy with the little 10 minutes surprises with each new tangle attempt."
He makes several great points here: In an intro class you learn the "guidelines" for basic tangling--and you also learn that once you understand the guidelines, you can opt to toss them out the window and do whatever you wish. You can tangle on anything--sneakers, t-shirts, cell-phone cases, walls, cards, china, and canvas as Mark has here. (No surface is safe.) You can use any media you wish. And as long as you take it one line at a time, you will find it utterly relaxing. A quick ten-minute session will always surprise and refresh you.
THANKS, MARK, FOR LETTING ME POST THIS AND BLOG ABOUT IT.
I was practicing late the other evening and was trying out the tangle Jesterz. It's based on a triangular form, but as so often happens, my triangular forms developed a mind of their own (I did start out with a triangle) and began to spiral. This was my highly experimental result. I enjoyed playing with this one and can see using it again, both in this format and in its original form.
This morning's work...more reverse hooking (aka un-hooking) and more forward hooking. It's coming...I think it's finally beginning to fall into place, though I still expect more changes.
And two tangles, one done very late last night and the other this evening, just for fun. The mandala was entirely freehand, and certainly looks it, but I like it all the same.
Drawing is a frame of mind, a loving embrace if you will. (Susan Avishai)
Last night's class at the Arlington ArtLounge included a cohort from Boston College and their professor--twelve people. Another nine people not affiliated with that group also attended, so it was a very large class. None of them had ever done Zentangle® before. All 21 participants were very attentive. Here was the class mosaic.
[Oh, and does this group look like a bunch of beginners to you? I wouldn't think so.]
The 11 Boston College students were all from a program called Capstone, a comprehensive series of courses for juniors and seniors designed to help them prepare for post-college life. This particular group was taking a Capstone course called "Mindful Storytelling." I hope you'll take a moment to read the class description HERE. It's so inspiring!
Below is a photograph of the Mindful Storytelling students with their professor (Paula Mathieu, 3rd from the left), all holding up their tangles. Next to Paula, one student is holding a tangled picture frame I made several years ago.
Wouldn't you love to have had a chance to take something like this during your senior year in college? I know I would have. Kudos to to Professor Paula for creating this particular course and for thinking to make my class a part of it. I enjoyed meeting all of them, as well as the other nine students who came, and I really hope they all had a great time learning the mindful process of Zentangle.
Just before the class, one of the co-owners of the ArtLounge showed me a photo of a very large tangle done by a student from my original class there. I was astonished. He has been tangling like a (very talented) fiend since taking his first class. If I can get permission from him to share it here, I will; his work is phenomenally well-done.
It's so exciting to see students take off on their own with this art.
This morning I was lucky enough to wake up feeling much better, and was really happy about it. I zoomed over to the studio early and did a lot more reverse hooking and more experimentation. Because I'm teaching tonight I couldn't stay, but I did manage to get this much done. I still consider it all experimental and any of it might still come out. This was tricky to photograph--hard to get the colors to come out accurately today.
I did one huge experiment with the darkest color that didn't work out at all, so I removed the entire thing and am in the process of rehooking what I removed with the original red.
Teaching a Zentangle® class tonight at the Arlington ArtLounge. I need a nap before heading there!
I just cannot shake this cold. It's now in my chest, making everything tight and leading to lots of throat-clearing and coughing, and I'm exhausted. Have felt crappy all day, so did not get to work on the rug for very long.
--OK: OFFICIAL END OF THAT WHINE! Now, onward--
The rug is still very much in the experimentation stage. You may not be able to tell from the picture below, but one experiment is that I'm blending two different reds, one on the orange-red end of the spectrum and the other on the blue-red end. They don't normally go together but I am trying to get the to work together here. And then there are other issues. Here it is, as of today. Expect changes!
As I commented to a friend: I dunno...I just don't know.... Production will now slow down some as I focus on the upcoming Zentangle® class later this week.
Comments and opinions always welcome.
Ok, so here is the progression from the first session on this rug to where I am now.
The flailing-about between picture #1 and the middle picture is obvious. And in picture #3, you can see I am now moving on and focused on the motif on the left side of the rug; I began in the center with the central motif. Here's the pattern:
So now that I have some colors worked out for the central motif (I can finish it later), I've moved over to one of the 2 flanking motifs.
In the 3rd picture above, you can also see how the first thing I did today was to change the border on the central motif, by moving the dark line to the outside and adding a lighter blue line on the inside. It's all about working things out as I go. Slow going, but well worth it.
I'm thrashing about now with the left-hand motif, trying to envision what this one is going to look like. Frustrating and fun at the same time!
Tonight I did a bit of Zentangle® on my wool-snippet cup, using a special pen that works on glass and enamel. It needs to sit for 8 hours and then I need to bake it to set it permanently; once that's done, I'll show it here. I'm planning to bring it to my Zentangle class later this week to show the students. If I'm lucky I'll get to tangle a coffee mug between now and then as well. I did this on a ceramic tile about a year ago and it has held up beautifully, so I'm optimistic.
After four more hours at the studio and much more reverse hooking, I came up with this. It's still not set in stone but I now think I can see some sense of the color plan and an overall forward rhythm. I'm noticing some interesting things about my "color fears and art obstacles" as I start this project; more about those in a later post. Anyway, here's the progress so far. Quite different from where I began!
I woke up this morning knowing that I wanted to go to the studio and spend a good bit of time on the new rug. And I did.
New rug. New start.
A thrashing-around time. A sense that nothing's coming together yet.
I did a lot of "reverse hooking" today, taking out parts from my first attempt that I thought were far too garish. Then I re-hooked those parts in a more muted color and the result was...gray, gray, gray. Not really...but that's how it's "reading" to me. In short, it's way too muted now. So tomorrow I go back in there and reverse hook some more.
...Thrash, thrash, thrash...
That's how it is when something new is underway: very challenging.
Yet somehow, it was all good. The day was sunny (now there's a good start, after all the gloom, rain, and cold) and warmish, with a strong breeze. The light was great as it came in the studio windows. I opened the windows and the breeze flowed in and the trees were singing as they danced in the wind and I could hear kids shooting hoops in the park across the street. I listened to a dharma talk during the first hour and the work was very meditative.
I trust that I will figure this out, that this creative process will emerge into something intriguing. And I plan to enjoy every loop along the way.
Meanwhile, the ArtLounge got in touch to say another 15 people have signed up for next Thursday's class. I am thrilled and can't wait to meet them. What fun!
Last night I experimented more with the scratchboard tiles I was talking about in the last post. Unlike my previous attempt, this time I actually did manage to find both a gold underlay tile and a silver underlay tile. I had promised someone on Facebook that I would show her what those two looked like, so I did a quick tangle on each and set about taking a picture to upload. OMG--these tiles are so hard to photograph. The highly reflective gold and silver surfaces resulted in a lot of color distortion. In actuality, there is no color distortion on the tiles at all. Here they are:
Now having played a bit with the scratch board tiles, I realize that I am not that keen on using a stylus to tangle (even after I realized I could sharpen it in a regular pencil sharpener). And in the end, I prefer using gold or silver metallic pens on black tiles, rather than scratch board tiles. But they were fun to try, and I think kids would totally love using them.
Whoa. This has been quite the long period away--away from everything, due to a long retreat and then getting sick as soon as I got home. There were times when I wondered whether I would ever have energy for art again--or even for getting dressed. LOL.
I feel today as though I am slowly resurfacing and may soon rejoin the Land of the Living.
Since I will be teaching again next week I thought I'd celebrate by seeing if I could still get my hands to work. Recently I had acquired a Sketch-and-Scratch stack of artist's tiles. The package came with a cover that advertised, "10 gold underlay tiles; 10 silver underlay tiles, and 10 multicolor underlay tiles." Plus it contained a rather dull wooden stylus to scratch with. (The process is rather like scratching away on a lottery ticket to reveal the numbers underneath, only in this case you scratch a drawing on the top of the thick black coating with the stylus, and suddenly what is underneath is revealed.)
I was all excited to try this so I carefully looked at the stack of tiles and selected what I thought would be the gold underlay. I was so sure this would result in an elegant, dramatic tile. Once I was certain I had a gold tile out, I picked up the stylus and started to scratch my tangle on the surface. Well.
Obviously, as they say in the comics, "I wuz wrong."
It was the multicolor underlay. I was disappointed! And oh brother, was the included stylus ever dull and clunky.
Still, what the heck...I traced around the bottom of my Dunkin Donuts cup (yes, I did) for the circle for my mandala, and added the 4 outside areas to it first. Then I added the middle spiral, arbitrarily selecting the "center," and went from there. All in all, it's garish but I'm actually fine with my Dunkin Donuts mandala. I wonder if I'll ever find the gold tiles in this package, or the silver ones?
Okey dokey...I am way behind on creating pages in my journal based on the "tangled journal project" I'm a part of, so I then grabbed a standard white Zentangle® tile and followed the prompt for creating a layered stack and then tangling the layers. I thought it would be fun to create the layers by using a tangle to do so, so I tried out "Betweed" and then tangled in between. If you look hard (and assuming you are familiar with Betweed), you'll see Betweed in there as the source of the stack. Since I didn't have my journal with me, I did this on the tile and then glued the tile into the journal. I also didn't have a list of tangles with me so I went with some standard ones and then ad-libbed a bit. After I finished, I shaded the piece with graphite and then added colored pencil. Not sure what I think about this piece. At least I am back doing some art again!
I needed a nap after all this. Feel free to comment; I always appreciate reading what you write.
Cough, cough...when I finally get over this cold, which has had me laid flat for days, I hope to be able to get back on track. I've been unable to do anything at all, and so I've been accepting that doing nothing is what I need to do. I have been getting a lot of reading done, from The Museum of Extraordinary Things to A New Earth, two books I've been wanting to read for quite a while.
Above is a journal page I did in response to my own journal prompt, centered around my word/intention for this year, "Practice." (It was my turn this week to write and post the prompt.) The explanation behind the prompt is too long to go into here.
Because I am so incredibly ill I needed to keep this as simple as possible--something I could work on in between coughing jags.
I don't think I'll be up to posting again until I'm truly past this cold. May everyone reading this stay well.
I'm a textile artist (traditional rug hooking, punch needle rug hooking, and other textile arts), long-time meditator and coach, focused on learning about the interplay of art, creativity, and mindfulness every day.
NEXT INTRO TO ZENTANGLE CLASS:
No immediate group classes scheduled (I'm always open to hearing about a good venue in Western Massachusetts. I am always happy to teach 1-1 and/or in a small group in your home.
Come and amaze yourself!
SITES TO WATCH:
Insight Meditation Society
Oxford Rug Hooking School
Zentangle: The Official Site
Green Mountain Rug Hooking
Massachusetts Tarot Society
Skillful Meditation Project