On the theory that a very brief practice is better than no practice at all, I tried out tangling on a black tile (yes, this tile on the left below started out jet-black) by first using an embossing stylus to "draw" the lines invisibly, and then using Prismacolor colored pencils to coat the tile. Gold pencil was the main theme here. It didn't take long to do this, and it helped me remember a lot about this technique which I will be exploring more. It was relaxing to do after a not-so-good start to the day (see comments on that after the picture--or skip that bit).
After doing the one tile (left) I stopped, but then later I couldn't resist trying this on a white tile (right). For that one I used my three-in-one multicolored pencil; I love the effects I get with those cheapo kiddie pencils. Once again, very relaxing. The embossing can be a bit of a challenge--pressing hard enough but not so hard you go thru the tile, seeing the almost "invisible" lines...but then when you apply colored pencil, the magic happens. Fun!
Spent the morning (nearly 4 hours) at the Toyota dealer due to the airbag recall, having work done. And of course, they can't tell yet--not blaming them for this--whether the "fix" they did this morning will permanently fix the airbag. I am reading in the news that it could take up to 5 years to straighten this all out, if we all need to replace further equipment...as I suspect we all will. Ugh.
I just loved getting a "defective airbag recall" last year, calling Toyota and being told, "We don't have the parts to fix it yet; just keep people out of your passenger seat while we wait for them..." WHAT??? That was at least 6 months ago. No passengers for 6 months? I don't think so.
End of today's rant. Maybe.
What the heck is this? Something called a Flextangle. Why did I make it?
I'm kind of wondering that myself. I made it and now have no idea what the heck to do with it. I like things that have a use. Here's the story:
In a few days I'm getting together with some other CZTs (Certified Zentangle Teachers to hang out and explore new techniques together. In planning the upcoming meeting, someone mentioned wanting to make an origami-type project. In casting about for one (people have now come up with some exquisite ideas), the only thing I could find was this template: Flextangle, which is basically a toy for kids. We didn't have any other project in that arena at that point, and I volunteered to bring this template.
At which point I realized I should make one myself first.
Out came my Micron 01 pen and my colored pencils; I copied the template onto light cardstock in yellow and went to work.
Well. This item might be for kids, but I found the directions less than helpful. Even the video (on YouTube) and the troubleshooting page were not helpful to me. I even complained and kvetched on the the troubleshooting page, and then later revealed what finally made the difference for me in a second, follow-up comment.
I finally "got it" and managed to make the thing. It's cute, but now what? If I were teaching kids--no interest in that--this might be a fun project.
"Perseverance furthers," says the I Ching. I really had to persevere to get this flextangle finished, but sometimes, the effort just isn't worth it. Live and learn!
"Many experiences are bound to be failures, and sometimes I regret them before they even happen... it's very good to have regrets, to learn how to live with them." (Keren Ann)
It is absolutely gob-smackingly gorgeous outdoors today. Cool, breezy, no humidity, lots of sun but also lots of clouds to make the sky even more lovely than usual. Walking home from the studio and gawking at the newly fat-leaved trees swaying in the wind and the colorful spring flowers, I felt incredibly fortunate just to be alive. Lewis Carroll's verse from "Jabberwocky" came to mind:
'Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe;
All mimsy were the borogoves,
And the mome raths outgrabe..."
...along with one of my all-time favorite lines of poetry, which makes up the title of this post, from that same poem: "Oh frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!"
I mean, that just about sums up how I feel about today's weather.
Wikipedia has a wonderful page on this poem here, including some hilarious translations of the poem into Hebrew, Latin, Finish, Spanish, French, and numerous other languages. I simply cannot imagine hearing this poem in anything other than English, but what do I know?
As I slowly recover from this overly-long head cold, it's such a great pleasure to get into the studio again and keep working on the rug. Sometimes, comparison can be very motivating. Here's what I did yesterday (on the left) and then what I got done today in about 4 hours of hooking (on the right):
And here's a closeup from yesterday. I'm really liking how "Old Underwear" (the name for the color of the background) is looking; I think it sets off the other colors very well. (below)
Working on this piece, often for hours at a time, reminds me of why I love the process of rug hooking. The rhythmic pulling of loops...the same motion repeated endlessly...allows the mind to slow down. It's tactile AND meditative, simultaneously. A wonderful way to calm the mind and make something useful while doing so.
Today as I hooked I was listening to several talks from the website Sounds True, part of a month-long series of talks by various teachers on the topic of "Waking Up." Sounds True is having a major business anniversary, so they are making all the talks free this month; after May, they will be charging for the recordings. Today I listened to Ken Wilbur, Eckhart Tolle, and Joseph Goldstein, and thoroughly enjoyed myself as I pulled loop after loop and watched the rug grow.
Sometimes I just don't know how I got so lucky, to be able to have this, to be able to do this.
"Fortune brings in some boats that are not steered."
This is a question every textile artist learns to dread. The answer is so variable. What constitutes "making"?
So here's a picture of my rug between yesterday and today. Yesterday I hooked for about 3 hours and started-and-finished the upper left portion of the central figure (the zig-zaggy "steps"). Today I hooked for about 4 and a half hours and finished the "steps" on the right side of that figure, plus got one of the upper motifs done, and filled in more background.
And people wonder why a hand-hooked rug costs so much...
I do own a button that says "Slow Hooker."
Don't get me wrong, though, I loved every loop that I pulled. If I didn't totally love this, I wouldn't be doing it.
How do other artists handle this question at shows? I'd love to hear from you, so please feel free to add a comment. Thanks.
Feel free to skip the whining prose below and scroll down to the pictures! Fair warning...
It's official; I've now been sick since March 31st. "Well isn't that special," as the old character on Saturday Night Live used to say. I did have ten wonderful, short, health-filled days in late April in between illnesses. During that time I managed to make it to New York City for Readers Studio 2015, the fabulous multi-day annual tarot conference. I was home for a day or so, then off to upstate New York for a few days to visit a good friend. It was when I was on the way home from her house that the damn head cold boomeranged back on me and I've been completely out of it ever since.
Today, for the first time, I can feel it just starting to fade. I cannot wait to be healthy again.
Spring has been coming on with a vengeance, largely unseen by me as I haven't had the energy to go out. It is truly glorious out there. When I am recovered enough to get around again, I hope to hoof it down to the Greenway and see this fabulous new art installation from Janet Echelman (with thanks to Tom for sending me this photo, which he took last night):
Oh my gosh, isn't that beautiful? And during the day, from what I hear, just as beautiful but very different.
I gotta go!
Speaking of "Gotta Go," I may have been too sick for any real work for weeks, but I managed to get in a few tangles. One of them has that for a name (believe it or not, I think its creator says she discovered this one while looking at the floor in a ladies' room she was visiting). This was my first try at it:
You can see an extra line I started to put in there, since I'm a newbie at it. Love this tangle. Decided to try it again with a variation:
And speaking of floors, when I got to the tarot conference and saw the Marriott Hotel Lobby floor, I had to laugh as it's a direct link to the tangle "Florz." I have seen a zillion floors with this design and bet you have also.
Here are a few other experiments with Zentangle® I've done while being so sick. There are a pitiful few of them, as most days I didn't have the energy.
All of them are my first attempts. I can only get better!
This also arrived from Amy Oxford's Oxford Rug School:
What the heck is that, you ask? Maybe this will make it more clear:
Half my order of natural-colored rug yarn, waiting for me to dye it for my next rug. Once the weather gets hot...as it was today...I won't be doing any dyeing until things cool down. But that's ok, as I have another rug on the frame now and it will take a while, and in the meantime I can get busy with color planning so I'll know what colors to dye.
For someone who has been so unable to work for a while, I can sense a burst of artistic energy coming on, once I'm recovered! (Whine, whine)
"The very fact that you are a complainer shows that you deserve your lot." (James Allen)
"You can overcome anything if you don't bellyache." (Bernard Baruch)
If you saw my last post on Frida Kahlo, you may be going, "Wait...you like Frida Kahlo AND Lynda Barry? How is that possible? Could you find two artists any more different from each other?"
Yes and no...but more about that in a moment.
Here is a link to a hilarious, wonderful, inspiring, 22-minute radio interview with Lynda Barry. If you are inclined not to listen because of the length, try the first 3 minutes and I betcha you'll be hooked.
The woman is drop-dead funny, and she'll draw you right into her two passions: drawing and neuroscience, and their connection--and she'll do it in such an interesting way that you will likely become a fan also, if you aren't already.
Here's a link to a description of one semester of the course she teaches at the University of Wisconsin at Madison. (You have probably never seen a course description that looks like this before.) I believe it's called "The Unthinkable Mind." She also teaches the course at Omega Institute in Rhinebeck NY in the summer.
Now here's the thing: I don't actually like Lynda's art that much. She is a cartoonist, and cartooning isn't my thing. We all have different tastes and preferences. But I absolutely love HER, and her wild wisdom. I have read most of her books (graphic novels stuffed with her cartoons and all of them, I think, semi-autobiographical). Her book What It Is contains a lot of the ideas from her course.
And what are those ideas? She strongly believes that all of us, every single one of us, including all of us who are "not creative," can create. And she has some sneaky and hilarious methods for showing us how that is true. If you listen to the last 5 minutes or so of the radio interview, you'll hear one of those sneaky and very funny methods. It's kind of irresistible too.
Once you see Lynda's art, the similarity between her work and that of Frida Kahlo jumps out: it is in the purpose of their art, though it could not look any more different. Both women use art to tell stories in a very obvious, in-your-face way. (And of course, both women's art contains many more subtle messages than what you see when you first look.) I prefer the visual art of one, Frida, to that of the other, Lynda, but I have equal respect for both. And it's Lynda who is breaking through barriers to creativity and teaching how to access it, using the latest neuro-scientific research and her own wild and wacky techniques.
Please stop reading and go check out those links NOW! You'll be glad you did. Thanks.
UPDATE, JUNE 2015: An additional post with more info on Lynda's work.
I am such a Frida Fan. (Frida Kahlo, extraordinary woman and artist from Mexico, who died in 1954).
Here is an extremely poignant series of photographs on her famously beautiful clothing, which has been locked away for more than 50 years at her husband's request (Diego Rivera, another amazing artist): Frida's Clothing
Oooh, and here's another Frida treasure I just spotted: More Frida
Meanwhile, I have been utterly unable to blog, work, write, or do anything because my early-April head cold, which lasted four weeks, has returned with a vengeance. More when I am feeling better...which can't happen fast enough for me. This is so frustrating.
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 the Cambridge-Somerville area). 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