Although it's a week past the Equinox, the weather here has been dramatically tropical with high humidity. Today we've had constant heavy rains; the temperature is now slowly dropping, and overnight I think the wind will come in and sweep out the humid air. By the time the storm is past, I think we will finally be in fall weather.
A murky, watery light today signals autumn to me (autumn on its dark days), and I've been in an autumn mood all day. Since we do not have fall colors on the trees yet, I thought I would do a fall mandala. Here was my original black and white drawing.
I constructed this using my trusty Safe-T Compass. It's inexpensive, very light weight, and while hardly engineering-standard accurate, it's "good enough" for basic mandala work. It's a cheap instrument and you get what you pay for--the reviews on it are all over the map. Once I learned what it could and could not do well, I've been very happy with it.
Tangles used: the center is "ad-libbed," then I used Fandance, then, moving out from the center, Beadlines. The next layer started off as Flux but got morphed somehow; the outer layer is Finery. Next I added some autumnal colors.
Honestly...I feel sort of "eh" about this mandala, although I did learn a lot from it. For example, I realized almost immediately that I had made the center too small and fussy; it was hard to color in an effective way. That was a useful lesson.
The colors--which aren't true in this photo but are not too far off--are not what I normally would choose. But after all, I did say in an autumnal mood. In fact I noticed some sadness while I was working on this, along with the usual intense concentration. I don't have anything to be sad about--but doesn't this type of moving meditation sometimes bring things up for all of us? And when things come up, do we have to have a reason for them?
So I just noticed the sadness and kept working, and it was fine. Peace and tranquility were restored by the time I was done.
Working on this brought up questions for me. I'd be interested to hear from other tanglers and especially from CZTs with responses.
The Morns Are Meeker Than They Were -
A Poem by Emily Dickinson
The morns are meeker than they were--
The nuts are getting brown--
The berry's cheek is plumper--
The Rose is out of town.
The Maple wears a gayer scarf--
The field a scarlet gown--
Lest I should be old fashioned
I'll put a trinket on.
Diva Challenge # 237 this week was by guest Charlotte Carpentier, CZT, and involved finding something around the house that one could use for a stencil. I knew right away that--since it's fall--I wanted to use my apple corer.
After all, fall is all about apples, right?
I love my apple corer, and I love the many varieties of autumn apples.
And I often use the corer as a quick way to draw the string for a Zendala. It works like a charm for that.
She also suggested we use a spray color with the stencil to form a string for our work, so I puzzled about that and thought about a watercolor wash, but then realized that I have a bottle of Walnut Distress Spray, never used, and I decided to give that a try.
So, spritz, spritz, spritz...and I came up with this. Alas, I began tangling on it before I remembered to take a photo, but you can still get the idea of what the string looked like--kind of a cross between a Renaissance Tile and a plain white one.
WHERE THE TITLE OF THIS POST CAME FROM:
As you can see, the instant I had the string I thought of using the tangle Foot-lites by Carole Ohl, CZT for some of the sections. But I couldn't quite remember how to do it since it had been awhile. And...UNFORTUNATELY...my aging brain remembered the title as "Spotlights." So off I went, googling Spotlights and getting nowhere. A couple of puzzled and frustrated hours later (it was pretty late at night by my standards, so being tired was not helping), I put out a call to other CZTs and Lauren Spiegel Eldon came to my rescue, asking if perhaps I might be looking for Foot-lites, not Spotlights? She was very tactful and of course I had a massive "DUH!!!!" moment.
Ah, the aging brain.
It matters to call something by its right name.
But I was on my way. Here is the resulting tangle for the Diva Challenge:
I'm not quite sure what I was intending with the white pencil on the brown sections...I may have to re-do some of that, but overall I like it. In addition to the Walnut Distress Spray, I used a Rainbow Pencil, a Prismacolor White Pencil, and a Brown Micron 01.
And now for a little iPhone app fun with the tile from this challenge:
This week I decided to try a new Monday challenge, Joey's Weekly Tangle Challenge #80. I haven't tried this one before, and as it happened, she suggested a tangle I had never seen or heard of before, called Queeries (you can find it by going to her page at the above link).
It's based on a question mark.
I'm not sure how keen I am on this particular tangle, which is grid-based, but I was determined to try it. I had to break it out of its grid, though, and then--I swear, the above photo really IS Queeries. It's just my version of Queeries. I did not add any other tangles to it, since this challenge is supposed to be a monotangle...I just did line work around it and then shading.
I ended up thinking Queeries was pretty interesting, although I don't know how much I'll use it. But then, that's why challenges exist.
Next, I got out my iPhone and played with the tile using a couple of apps, with these results. Here's a mirrored version from the mirror app...
...and here's a version of the original using the app "Painteresque:
I used a Rainbow Pencil to shade the original plain tile. It never fails to amaze me how relaxing and focusing tangling is. No matter what I'm thinking about when I begin, I forget everything once I begin to tangle. It works every time. So meditative.
I'm still fascinated with playing with iPhone apps on my tiles after I've finished because the results are so surprising.
At this moment, my own life is filled with queries about so many things. I imagine that is true for a lot of us, not just me.
Life loves to lead us to our own question marks.
? ? ?
“He explained to me, with great insistence, that every question possessed a power that did not lie in the answer.”
― Elie Wiesel, Night
My back continues to recover slowly and today I walked 6000 steps. Hurrah! Not all were comfortable steps, but I did it, and am very encouraged. Part of the walk was to see a much-loved old friend for lunch, and on the way home, I passed the labyrinth at the Harvard Divinity School and decided I could manage to walk it today. And I did. Here is a photo of the labyrinth:
It was deserted on this cool, sunny day. Just the way I like it.
I haven't walked it in quite a while, and today I was reminded how narrow the pathway is in this particular labyrinth. It's almost not wide enough for two feet, and negotiating the turns while maintaining balance can be a challenge. Also, it seemed that I just got going in one direction when another turn would come up.
As I was walking it/working it, I was thinking about the twists and turns in life, how hard some of them can be, and what a perfect symbol of this is captured in this labyrinth. I had to greatly slow down in order to make any of the turns, another striking metaphor.
Even when two labyrinths are laid out in the same pattern, the spacing of each is different and so walking each one is different.
Similar to the way our lives work.
"A labyrinth has one entrance -- one way in and one way out. When we walk the path, we go around short curves and long curves; sometimes we are out on the edge, sometimes we circle around the center. We are never really lost, but we can never quite see where we are going."
--Alex Pattakos in this Huffington Post piece.
Finally, here's a scribbled Tangled Labyrinth I did at one of Sadelle Wiltshire's wonderful Tangled Labyrinth workshops. Clearly this was in the nature of a quick scribble rather than a thoughtful tangle, and yet...I like it because it reminds me so much of the human brain.
Check out Sadelle's fabulous tangled labyrinth works here. She is a CZT and a Veriditas-trained Labyrinth Facilitator, and a gifted artist and teacher. You'll enjoy studying her examples. Her teaching schedule is here at The Tangled Labyrinth. And don't miss reading the interesting comment she made (in the comments section)--feel free to add your own reaction to this post if you have one, or have experience with labyrinths.
Labyrinths...Zentangle®...both a form of moving meditation. Ahhhhhhhhhhhh!
Continuing yesterday's theme...
Surprise #1: Another bunch of Rainbow Pencils (a different brand I found on amazon) arrived in the mail today from China, so I tried them out. Good thing that these Rainbow Pencils are cheap, because I hate them. They cannot be sharpened to a good point, and the lead keeps breaking during sharpening. Ugh! I would not recommend this brand at all. Here's a photo of what NOT to get:
Surprise #2: My back is demonstrably better this afternoon. Hallelujah! May it continue.
Surprise #3: I thought I'd try out the new Rainbow Pencil on another "String Thing" tile for the same challenge as yesterday, #111. So once again I tried Hamail, the focus of this challenge, with some Meringue and a little bit of Tipple. Here it is...but the big surprise is the next photograph, in which I used the same tile but mirrrored it with my iPhone mirror app...and just look what happened. All I can say is, wow.
I simply cannot believe what that mirror app did to my "so-so" tile. I love it.
On the downside, you can see what not being able to get a sharp point does to the lines in the tile--very cloudy and mushy. A nice effect if that's what you want, but as it happens, it isn't what I wanted. That's ok, though, as I love the mirrored version anyway.
Once I saw that, I had to try it in another app on my phone called Waterlogue. Here's that one.
Today is one of those days when everything feels surprising. The gorgeous weather. What occurred in my meditation this morning. The fact that I'm still having some serious back issues, which haven't taken this long to resolve before. Hearing that Yogi Berra just died (I was a big fan of his Yogi-isms, such as, "You can observe a lot just by watching," and "I usually take a two-hour nap from one to four"). Loved that guy, and I am happy that he had such a long life and appeared to enjoy it.
The next surprise came when I did the It's a String Thing #111 challenge today. Tangles are Hamail and Flux. I got almost nothing else done but at least I did this. And wow--it went nowhere I thought it was going to go and turned out totally differently than I expected. I thought it would be black and white...no. I had planned to use a different tangle than Flux...no. Nothing turned out as I thought! But the real surprise comes AFTER this picture:
As usual, I was playing with my iPhone Mirror app after taking the photo, and tried out some new capabilities, and the app came up with this, which I really like a lot (I'm still not sure how I like the original):
Surprised that the app even changed the colors...and I like them better. Such an interesting app, with many more features that I look forward to explore. More surprises in store.
The Diva Challenge this week (Diva Challenge # 236) is to "Tangle Unexpected"--in other words, to tangle on something you wouldn't ordinarily tangle on.
My life is "unexpected" at the moment for sure. If you choose to read more about that, see the text at the end of the post; otherwise, I hope you just enjoy the pictures.
Here is the original untangled photo that I chose for this challenge. I took this picture of the kitchen door at the Insight Meditation Society in Barre, MA, a place I love to go for long meditation retreats. I don't think I even noticed the door until the second time I went there (not very mindful of me!) and when I saw it I was transfixed by how lovely it is.
As you can see, the lotuses are transparent and the rest of the background is frosted glass. At the moment I took the picture, something turquoise-y was behind the lower lotus, while the one on the upper right showed kitchen equipment the reads gray-brown.
I love this image and it almost seemed sacrilegious to tangle it, so that was the challenge. Here is what I ended up doing.
Tangles are Printemps and Scrawlz, along with some random work. Using Sigma Uniball White Pen, and a tiny bit of Derwent Colored Pencil.
Not sure what I think about this. Part of the challenge was to keep it simple.
THE "UNEXPECTED" CHALLENGE FOR THE REST OF ME:
I wanted to work on this image because, as I said in my last post, I need some zen! And looking at this picture reminds me of the work I do every day in meditation, and every time I go to IMS. Just stay in the now.
Without going into detail, this is the worst episode of back pain I've had in 30 years. I am confident that I can work it out and get back to my usual sturdy self, but the last two weeks have been totally unexpected and a big challenge to my remaining mindful. I want to do anything BUT stay in the moment when I'm in pain! Which of course makes it even worse. Thankfully I found a new chiropractor (and I think she's very good) and I'm slowly recovering. I was without a chiropractor when this started and that's what allowed things to get so out of control. Glad to be on the upswing again!
It's been a real test of my willingness to be mindful. Not to mention civil.
Auntie Acid says: "It's bad news when you get to the age when your back goes out more than you do."
Stay healthy, everyone!
Oy, it's been a tough week. And it's not over. By tonight I was ready for some relaxation-inducing tangling. Here is my response to the Diva Challenge #235. Still practicing on black tiles.
White UniBall Sigma Pen, White Faber Castell Pencil, Metallic Blue Colored Pencil.
Tangles include: Nymph, Up n Down, Scrawlz, Frame Over, Leaflet, Balo.
And of course, I had to play with the mirror app on my iPhone, so that result is below. I had photographed the tile on my knee while wearing bluejeans, and didn't crop the photo before I tried the mirror app. Who knew the result would be so interesting?
It's tempting to whine and say I had a bad day today, but compared with everything else going on in the world (the Chilean earthquake, the refugee crisis along the Eastern European border as people flee Syria), my issues are just silly.
But I've been in my pj's since 5.30 p.m. because of all the back pain I've had today. I injured my back over a week ago and thought I was managing pretty well until now; this morning I had a huge flare up. I was in denial about the fact that it wasn't getting better.
In an effort to calm the pain, I decided to tangle, as that's worked before. Betsy Wilson's inspirational blog had introduced a new-to-me tangle called Fleavy, by Hanny Waldburger, CZT, and I thought I'd give it a a try.
And the back pain? Temporarily much calmer. Zentangle® usually has that effect. I'll do a bit more before bed tonight. Love those pain-free moments!
So here's Fleavy (technical details are after the picture PLUS a couple of mirror app versions that I am unable to resist). My hands were shaking from tiredness when I drew it, which complicated everything, but I like it anyway.
Fleavy with a bit of Henna Drum, graphite shading and also a small amount of shading and coloring with a Rainbow Lead pencil.
Below are the versions I created on the iPhone with the mirror app. Similar, but still a tad different from each other. Always an interesting experiment to try!
"Art is a wound turned into light."
THE INITIAL RANT:
I've never been much of a tchotchke fan. (If you aren't familiar with the word, click on it for a short definition.)
Why? Imagine you have mentioned to a friend that you like a particular image--say, an image of an apple--and suddenly the friend is giving you magnets with apples on them, aprons with apples on them, ashtrays in the shape of apples, stickers and stamps of apples, little clay apples, little plastic apples, playing cards with apples on the back...you get the idea. You are inundated with "cutesie" apple tchotchkes and you feel obligated--because you like your friend--to display them, but you hate having them all over the house. All because you liked one specific image of an apple, and had the misfortune to mention that.
Has this ever happened to you?
All you want to do is figure out a reasonable way to yell, "S-T-O-P! Thanks, but I'm all set with that."
WHY I'M BRINGING IT UP:
...because I've been very worried that, in trying to give a "Happy New Office Location" gift to a dear friend, I would be guilty of the same thing that I am complaining about above. Here's why: In visiting her home, I noticed a picture of an elephant in her home office, and commented on it. She mentioned immediately that she loves elephants. Ok...I confess that a couple of times since then I have sent her video links to amazing stories about the intelligence of elephants; but bearing in mind that I don't want to overdo it, I've tried to be selective. (I also like elephants, for their intelligence, but am not that interested in pictures of them. Or elephant tchotchkes.)
Recently the friend moved into a new office location that she's very excited about. I wanted to give her a celebratory gift. I thought and thought about what to get her. She had mentioned that, when she originally went to look at the space, the current tenant happened to have a picture of an elephant in the office. That seemed like an odd "coincidence" to my friend, and that plus the wonderful space and all the attendant great amenities caused her to sign the lease. My ears perked up. Should I, maybe, draw her an elephant? But what about the one in her home office--mightn't she just bring that in to her new rented space? And would I be guilty of Tchotchke Syndrome?
I really agonized over this. Bottom line: I did draw her an elephant, and here it is. She seems to like it. She named him Jimmy, and he's now in her new space. (Boring technical details about the drawing are after the photo).
Not the greatest photo, but it's the best I can do. Ok, so here are the technical details:
I promise to join a TA (Tchotchke Anonymous) group as soon as I find one and start attending meetings.
PS, This post is indeed the follow-up to the teaser I embedded in the post I wrote last week.
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