This is about all I can manage today. I have a nasty summer head cold and I think I've been overdoing it.
Even though I'm trying very hard to limit my activities, even short tasks are tiring. This is Joey Challenge #128. I couldn't resist giving it a go...but now I need a nap!
Below is the same photo altered with two separate iPhone apps.
When I was a kid, I remember my mother complaining that I never finished what I started. She was right. I would develop some sudden enthusiasm and throw myself into whatever-it-was and then just as suddenly lose all interest and drop it. I had unfinished projects littering the house.
I remember being furious with her for pointing this out--because I knew it was true.
I made a vow to myself that I would "finish what I started" from then on. And mostly I've stuck to that vow. My mother did me a big favor.
After completing a really challenging project last week (more about that in a future post), I had finally cleared the decks of all my recent textile endeavors and was free to think about what's next. I do have one additional rug underway but can finish that as soon as the weather turns cooler and I can get back in the studio.
As soon as I asked myself, "What IS next?" I realized I had two ancient unfinished objects that I truly wanted to complete. One is a quilt I started at least 30 years ago. But that's in pieces in various boxes and will have to wait a while longer, until I can find everything. The other, though, is a punch needle embroidery face that I started at least seven years ago. Here it is.
I finished 9/10s of this back around 2009, and then I had to stop for reasons I no longer recall. Not smart.
This morning I finished the face, despite running into a soft spot in the backing that was threatening to disintegrate completely. (Eeeek! Desperation was only seconds away.)
The piece itself is actually in full color, but I used an app to switch it to black and white to study the values.
I think I could have done a better job of finishing. However: If one has abandoned a project for over seven full years, and one has been silly enough NOT to store it neatly in a bag with its appropriate colors, then "one" will have to spend most of the day guessing at what colors were used, at how many threads were being used per stitch, and at what in the world I was thinking when I put it down with so little to finish. Jeez!
After I got all that sorted out--kinda--I finished the tiny space that remained in less that half an hour. I mean, by dropping this piece to work on something else seven years ago, it just made everything so much harder when I went to pick it up again. Oy!
Perhaps I thought I'd get right back to it. I never did. And I've thought about finishing it ever since. There is still a lot of work to be done.
Next up: punching the hair, then some type of background.
I'm now thinking of a whole series of embroidered portraits. I know that when I finally finish this project and post a color version, it will be clear just how far I still have to go to improve--but that's half the fun of learning to draw/punch/paint/hook. I can only get better!
Or so I tell myself.
And much as I hate to admit it: Thanks, mom.
"Consider the postage stamp: its usefulness consists in the ability to stick to one thing till it gets there."
"The artist uses the talent he has, wishing he had more talent. The talent uses the artist it has, wishing it had more artist."
Yup, this is it. This is all that is left of my original Rainbow Lead Pencil. And I'm still using it! I've nicknamed it "Stubby." That's a dime just underneath it, for size comparison, and below that is a regular mechanical lead pencil.
A friend has been asking about where to find this particular brand. Unfortunately, there is absolutely NO identifying information on the pencil at all. I wrote about my search for its exact twin HERE. It's a long, long post, but if you are very determined to get one of these, reading the entire thing may be somewhat helpful...at least to affirm that I share your frustration. (At the time I wrote that post, last August, I had ordered but not tried the Koh-i-Noor Rainbow Lead pencils. I got them and tried them later, and disliked them. I then ordered what I thought might be a match-to-my-original pencil from Oriental Trading Company, but the ones I received were very dull in color and I ended up discarding those also. Your mileage may vary, of course.)
I still have no dependable information on where to get this brand of Rainbow Lead pencils. If anyone knows, please put the info in the comments! Meanwhile, have a good laugh over "Stubby," my beloved art tool.
To round out my day, I took a few moments tonight to practice some new-to-me tangles and some old favorites. Because I need to get to sleep at a reasonable hour, I had to stop here and not spend any time shading - so this is line-work only. Perhaps some time in the next few days I can add the shading.
This was relaxing to do and I'm hoping it will help me slide gracefully into a good night's sleep.
"Sleep is the best meditation."
-The Dalai Lama
(Jeez, did he really say that?)
What a lovely day today was.
The Red Buddha on the left is a photo I took of a large installation on the wall of an unlit back hall of a local restaurant--apparently supervising things while in the dark and unseen. I discovered it on my way to the restroom. The dramatic red color is due to the fact that the only light is a red exit sign just over the Buddha's head.
This Buddha is about four feet tall, apparently made from cement. I couldn't help wondering what it was doing mysteriously installed in the darkness, nearly invisible.
Perhaps some things we'll just never understand.
I was at the restaurant with two very dear friends who, as it happened, hadn't seen each other in over a quarter century. I've seen both of them but they hadn't seen each other. In the interim they've both had and raised children up to adulthood.
We three had a lovely lunch.
After lunch we took an Uber to the Fogg Art Museum and entered the Dreamtime. We went to the truly wonderful exhibit by Aboriginal Artists which is currently on display. All the work shown was inspired and gorgeous, three large rooms of dreamy paintings, carvings, and other objects. Below are three of my favorites with their credits and commentary. I urge you to go and see this exhibit before it closes in early September. Check the URL above for more information and more pictures.
Originally I had planned this trip with one friend; my other friend suddenly contacted me last night to say that she was coming into town and did I have time today...? So we swept her into our plans, which meant that two people who hadn't seen each other in decades had the pleasure and fun of reconnecting. And I had the pleasure and fun of being with both of them, and watching them catch up.
Friends. I am so lucky to have them. Thank you both for a wonderful day.
“Friendship marks a life even more deeply than love. Love risks degenerating into obsession, friendship is never anything but sharing.”
― Elie Wiesel
Looking at this photo: On the left side is the original plan for this week's Joey Challenge. I loved that she tangled about 1/3 of the tile and left the rest for the participants to work out. Yesterday I posted my first effort --fly-by-night since I was doing the entire thing from memory. Today I tried it again. I'm still not madly in love with my results but that's ok since at least I am tangling...something I haven't had that much time to do lately.
Here's a better look at what I did. Included in this tangle are Paradox, N'Zepple, Tipple, Sampson, and various other random lines and marks I tossed in there, with some graphite shading and then coloring using a Rainbow Pencil.
I may even try a third version of this at some point.
With repetition, the alternate approaches become clear, options open.
The title of today's post is explained at the very end...
Today I had a scheduled tangling date with a friend at a nearby cafe. At the last minute, we switched the time to an earlier hour, so I raced out of the house without the paper on which I'd printed instructions and the visual for a Joey Tangle Challenge I thought would be fun to try. My friend hadn't heard of this particular challenge, so I quickly sketched it out from memory--I didn't even have a Zentangle® tile with me, so I had to guess the approximate size and I free-handed the borders. I thought I'd just show my friend what it was about. But then I decided, why not just tangle on this? And here is the result. Not stellar, but hey, it could be worse!
When I got home, I took an actual tile and placed it on top of my freehand version, and traced around it. That produced the space around the very edge that I filled with triangles. I wasn't too far off!
This was a fun challenge. If you clicked the link above you can see that Joey had actually started us off with the entire large triangle, leaving the rest blank for us to fill in. Have a look at the wide variations that people produce from that one idea (they are on her site above). This incredible number of variations is part of the fun of doing challenges.
After finishing, I of course couldn't leave well enough alone and had to run it thru one of my iPhone apps. Results below. And yes--all I did was take the photo above and run it thru the app, just manipulating it a bit to see what would happen. So much fun.
This made for a lovely break from trying to resolve some of the issues I've run into in executing my latest rug design. So relaxing to sit and tangle.
While at the cafe, I drank a temporary specialty flavored coffee called "Decaf Librarian." They do not normally carry decaf, and that title says it all about what they think of un-caffeinated coffee. It was delicious but still not mild enough for me.
I guess I'm just a coffee wimp.
(Not sure what the heck I am referring to here? Click HERE to get the background. If you are interested in tarot and/or rug hooking, you will want to check this out!)
August 15-20 2016
Rug Hooking Week at Sauder Village
September 1-24 2016
Dorchester Center for the Arts
October 19-23 2016
Green Mountain Guild Rug Show
Essex Junction, Vermont
The Athens Cultural Center
Athens, New York
January 20- February 28 2017
The Barron Art Center
Woodbridge, New Jersey
The Hooked Rug Museum of North America
Hubbards, Nova Scotia
...that's it so far. More dates/locations to be added!
Don't forget, you can always bring the rugs to your city. Just click the link above for more information.
I've recently learned that an old name for a Compass Rose was "Rose of the Winds." I love that title.
What is a Compass Rose? It's what you see in the picture here, something we're all familiar with--the face of a compass.
Compasses have been used for over 2000 years. Because of their shape and the "petals" formed by the intermediate directions, the word "rose" was attached to drawings of compasses almost instantly. I think of all the gorgeous medieval illustrations I've seen, and of the old quilt patterns called Mariner's Compass.
Here's a medieval version below, and just under that, a "solar compass rose." (These illustrations are from Lunagirl's store on Etsy. She has quite a nice variety of inexpensive digital images on there.)
I don't know if that solar illustration above was intended to be a "compass rose" as its original purpose, but it works perfectly.
Sunday I was at Kate Lamontaigne's wonderful store, the Kamala Boutique. Kate is another CZT who frequently teaches Zentangle® and other art workshops.
I'm just not tangling or drawing enough, and so I will often sign up for a workshop with another teacher, because then I have committed to sitting down and doing something I love--tangling. I go through periods where I'm working on another type of art project and that's all I can manage to do; I can't seem to work on more than one type of art at a time. Since I'm obsessed with getting my current rug design done (see my immediately previous posts) I needed to make myself step away from the rug project and take time to tangle.
Time for a workshop with Kate!
This was the Compass Rose workshop. I had taken it once before in the spring, but I know these experiences are never the same. The version I took in the spring was two hours long. It was fabulous, and too short. The version I took on Sunday was five hours long, and guess what? Too short again! As Kate said later, "This could be an all-day retreat." Sign me up.
So here is what I did, below. First, the actual finished piece. Then, I'll post two iPhone app versions of it. And the very last illustration is the piece that I did at the same workshop (shorter version) last spring.
And for contrast, below is the version I did in May, only 3 months ago. The instructions were exactly the same, but to paraphrase Heraclitus,
"You can never step into the same river twice."
Or perhaps I should have titled this, "Errors in Art."
How does one know if something is ruined, or retrievable?
I spent hours punching today, and only after those hours did I suddenly look at my highly-structured, visually precise geometric pattern and realize that something was very wrong.
This is not a forgiving pattern--it depends entirely on balance. I saw I had punched the entire center of the rug (yes, the CENTER...oy) in a very unbalanced way, since I was being mindful of my delight of the process but not the slightest bit mindful about the plan of the process. When I sat back and looked at the big picture, I was shocked.
(Does this sound like something that has ramifications for life beyond a rug?)
At least 1/3 of the center would have to be ripped out.
And so I ripped and ripped and ripped.
Monks cloth, which is the foundation commonly used for punching, is very sturdy, but somehow my battered foundation is now looking fragile to me. Will it hold?
(Another life metaphor. Sorry, I can't resist.)
And then there is all that beautiful yarn I dyed. I ripped out a mound of it. Can I recycle it, or will I have to discard it all (!!!), and dye more?
I did soak, dry, and recycle yarn in an effort to save it. Since I took this photo I have put these last few bits on the drying rack to straighten out. It will be awhile before I know if this has worked or not.
But I'm not done with repairing...tomorrow I have half as much to rip out and re-do.
I cannot believe I made such a huge error.
So what have I learned: It's not only about the process. When doing a geometric, planning is 50% of what's needed. I knew that already--what made me forget? I'll never know.
Tomorrow I'll get back into it and see if I can finish the repair. When I take the rug off the frame--and not until then--I'll know if this worked, or if I have a much more serious problem to face.
Is the rug still salvageable? I won't know for at least another day.
Centering...that is what I should have done repeatedly as I worked. I didn't, and this is the result.
A lesson for life-in-general, not just an art project.
"Nothing is more intolerable than to have to admit to yourself your own errors."
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