Although I didn't see it at the time, apparently CBS Sunday Morning ran an episode on doodling last weekend. It's quite good. Seven minutes long. See it here and then read on. Well worth watching!
Doodling is an entirely separate practice from Zentangle®, but equally valid and useful. They are just used for different reasons. I've seen proponents of each getting into heated arguments over which is "better." Neither! Both are great, just different.
Here's my take on which does what. I'm a lifelong doodler, but a recent (2009) discoverer of Zentangle and only a very recent CZT (Certified Zentangle Teacher), so I do know something about each. What's below may not be 100% accurate but it's my thinking as of today.
The final result of my lotus mandala. I hope it's the first of many mandalas to come. Here is the evolution as I worked on it over the last couple of months:
I like each of the phases. In some ways I could have stopped at any one of them, especially the middle one. When I added the last bits (finished piece) I wondered if I had overdone it, but in fact, it's growing on me.
Eventually I may even try a colored pencil version of it, though not on the original.
This has been an exercise in fascination--fascination with mandalas, about which I know so little and hope to educate myself. Fascination with watching this develop over the months. And fascination with watching my own reluctance to work on it every step of the way. If I didn't have a deadline looming for it, I wonder if I would have simply abandoned it. The whole process intimidated me. Now, I am glad I saw it through.
This mandala was part of a (mostly written) portfolio I created for the practicum in teaching mindfulness based stress reduction (MBSR), a course I took at the UMass Medical School's Center for Mindfulness in Medicine, Healthcare, and Society, at the Oasis Institute. The entire course was such a meaningful experience. I hope I've reflected that in the mandala. It grew, as I grew, throughout the course.
THE TITLE OF THIS POST
Although I've been doing art for years, I've rarely showed it to anyone. The blog is my way of putting it out there, even if no one ever reads it. *I* know it's out there, and that's what matters to me. I think doing art and showing it to others requires guts, "stupidity," and a bullet-proof ego. I don't have much of the first or the last qualities; I do have plenty of "stupidity," by which I don't mean to imply I'm a stupid person. By "stupidity" I simply mean a willingness to know how little I know about art--how little ANYONE knows about art, which is such a mysterious process.
Guts? I am the original scaredy-cat so the blog is an effort to get over myself. Ditto with the bullet-proof ego. I'm so aware of how different people's tastes are...so undoubtedly there will be detractors and plenty of folks who wonder how I could call any of this art. I wonder about that myself. I had a real struggle to get myself to work on the mandala consistently; it was all about fear. Posting the kind of careless scribble I did several days ago made me feel especially shaky, as it barely qualifies as anything above a stick figure. Terrifying...
But don't we all have those fears about art? Doing it? Showing it?
Basically, I'm a Maker of Things. That could be one definition of art. It's my current working definition anyway.
"If you fall flat on your face, you're still moving forward." -- Victor Kiam
AND NOW FOR SOMETHING COMPLETELY DIFFERENT...
On a lighter note, I've been wanting to include the name tag I created on the first evening of Tangle University 2 (aka "TU2") in Portland a couple of months ago. The first night of the event there was a wonderful huge reception-party. As an introvert, I made myself go up to the penthouse where it was being held. But when I got off the elevator, there was so much noise and so many people, none of whom I knew, that I literally whipped around and dove back into the still-open elevator and went down to my room. I felt wimpy but I also knew I couldn't handle that much noise...so instead, I tangled my name tag and got lots of compliments on it all thru the event. To my surprise, I was the only person I saw there who bothered to tangle her name tag.
[Note: I am inordinately proud of having figured out how to blur out my name this afternoon...something any self-respecting 10 year old already knows how to do, but I didn't...am so puffed up about having taught myself this! LOL]
Ya gotta love this guy. I know I do. His book Steal Like an Artist is terrific--provocative and reassuring at the same time; here's his 10-minute TEDx talk which sums up the book.
"Art is the act of doing work that matters while dancing with the voice in your head that screams for you to stop." --Seth Godin
Does the above piece matter? Undoubtedly only to me. And that's just fine, because I know I am learning, and I know I need to practice, practice, practice. Creating small samplers is a great way to do that. There are things I like about this sampler, and things I don't.
The voice in my head is always screaming at me to stop.
But here's what I'm learning: I like the process of doing art, just the process, on its own. So what if it turns out well? So what if it turns out badly? I'm just enjoying doing it, in the moment.
<I do notice that a better camera might be a good idea>
Just looking at this photo makes me happy.
"Lying in bed would be an altogether perfect and supreme experience if only one had a colored pencil long enough to draw on the ceiling." ~G.K. Chesterton
Yes, G.K., yes. So true. I woke up thinking about color, and I'll probably go to sleep thinking about color this evening. Color, color, COLOUR. (Ok, we don't spell it that way in the USA but if I spell it as Canadians/Brits do, it gives me an extra letter and that means I can squeeze an extra color in there!)
What's not to love? And how to begin to comprehend the power of color?
At the moment I'm completely smitten with colored pencils and with coloring. I've seemingly "regressed" to childhood, not that I see it as a regression. In the words of the world-famous philosopher RuPaul, "Life is about using the whole box of crayons." Oh yeah! So that got me thinking...
To the left is some crazy mad scribbling, with no regard whatsoever for art, proportion, realism, or care for what others think about it. I did this tonight because when I went outside earlier and saw what kind of day it was, I could not help thinking about my childhood and spending time outside on days like this.
In 1955, when I was 8, tv existed but we didn't get one until I was about that age, as I recall, and of course, it was only black and and we could only get about 4 channels...if we were lucky. So no tv, no video games, no internet, no smartphones, and the ways of "filling up time" were limited. I was a great reader, and still am. But there is only so much reading one can do. On gorgeous summer days in the mid-1950's, after riding my bike all over town, reading, hanging out with my best friend, there were those lengthening evenings when there was "nothing to do."
I remember many days and evenings when I would go out to the side of our house, where we had two large lilac bushes, and lie on the earth between them. The lilacs were so lush they would almost grow together at the top, forming a delicious little alcove where I could pretend to be in a secret place, and just lie in the grass looking up at the sky and watching clouds go by. There was nothing else to do. Just be. I spent hours at it.
Who does that now?
Certainly not me. There's always one more thing to do. Or forty-five more things to do. And the pressure to do them.
I have been thinking about this not-doing a lot lately. Going outdoors today (on a must-do errand, of course) reminded me so strongly of this childhood experience of simply being.
“The object is to keep busy being something...as opposed to doing something. We are all sent here to bring more gratitude, more kindness, more forgiveness and more love into this world. That is too big a job to be accomplished by just a few.”
― Richard Nelson Bolles
It seems to me that the only way we can accomplish this is by more frequent not-doing.
...But perhaps we can look at the COLOUR of the sky, the irises, the early roses, while we are engaged in just being? Just sayin'.
Spent this unusually lovely, late-spring weather day driving to a workshop, then being indoors in a class for most of the afternoon, then driving home. Worth it? YES. I was learning about using colored pencils from Kate Lamontagne.
She had a class of 8 students in her Kamala Art & Soul space, a wonderful location for learning to create.
Above is one of the three unfinished projects we did this afternoon. In the upper right, you can see my first attempts at blending with colored pencils. Then in the main grid (yes, very wonky, deliberately!), are my next attempts--better but still much to learn. When I fill in more of these triangles with blended colors, it will be a color sampler.
I learned so much from Kate today. Of course, I also learned about myself and the Inner Critic, noticing how feelings of "I can't do this," and "Hers is better," or "Mine looks awful," or "Everyone else in the class will get this except for me," all put in their appearance at various times. Impatience, too, put in a major appearance. Not so much impatience with the time it takes to do this, as I enjoy slow and meditative work, but impatience that I couldn't just start right in as an expert. I noticed all these things in myself, plus occasional downright crankiness, (and from the occasional remarks of others, I wasn't alone).
Why is Beginner's Mind so hard for many of us? And yet, it's Beginner's Mind that I seek repeatedly. I LOVE to learn new things. What is it about so many of us, in adulthood, that makes us feel we "should" be expert at something right away?
In this case, the work is all about careful and slow color blending. Almost creating a watercolor wash effect with the pencils. It takes patience and repetition, and it takes tolerance for being a beginner. It's the tolerance for being a beginner that I need to learn. I know that this is going to require a lot of time and practice. I need to learn that tolerance, both in my art and in my life.
So I'll be working on the piece above for quite a while, and I'll be working on tolerance for being a beginner in my life as well.
We had time to start three samplers. Here was the second one. I really wish I'd gotten more pictures; everyone's projects were so striking and different, even though we were all working on the same patterns. I love the reflection of our individuality in this work.
This is, of course, the Pokeroot pattern. The flowers are small and thus the blending is more challenging. I used several colors in each flower but only a few show in the picture. I'll be adding more of these and trying different colors and techniques.
This is the last piece we started today. We all agreed that tangling on black paper with colored pencils results in something that looks like a kid's "sticker," especially if it's small and circular like this. I had fun with this one, and added the blue as an afterthought--I intentionally did not blend that in, and I like the way it looks. The black paper took the pencils so beautifully. During the day I tried Prismacolor, Faber-Castell, and Derwent pencils, and what a difference. The Prismacolor won hands-down. Much softer and more blendable.
By the end of the afternoon I was "full" from what I had learned, and ready to go home and put some energy into practicing. I have other commitments that will interfere with being able to practice immediately, but I'm determined to keep working on this!
Both in art and in life...
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