This is a tangle I was introduced to today: Arabel, by Helena.
Thanks to CZT Cari Camarra for showing me this and a lot of other "Gridiculous!" tangles this morning. (Be sure to check out her website for samples of her lovely work)
I notice that Helena's stepouts are slightly different from how Cari taught it, which is one of the things I love about Zentangle®--there are many ways to approach the same pattern.
This was my very first practice with Arabel. For shading and coloring I used my favorite Rainbow Lead Pencil. (if you are interested in Rainbow Lead Pencils, see the right-hand sidebar, scroll down to "Categories" and click on Rainbow Lead for previous posts on my experience with them. When you get to the bottom, hit the tiny "previous" category to go back to the 8/30 post where I gave some instructions on selecting and using them) I spent a tranquil evening working on it. The grid I drew was wonky, so the result is wonky.
This one was fun, and I look forward to exploring more of the other grid-based tangles I learned from Cari. In the past I've felt less interested in grid-based tangles and more drawn to the organic, "flowy" ones. But today I found myself charmed by grids as Cari taught many that were new. That's just one example of how this process is constantly surprising to me, and forces me to reassess. It keeps things fresh.
SHORT RANT: please indulge me.
Listening to today's podcast from the Mindfulness Summit, I heard people thanking each other endlessly. In fact, I've noticed this phenomenon in every one of the podcasts, and I notice it everywhere on the street and in all conversations wherever I go. Now, saying "thank you" is a basic life skill--reflecting awareness of all our reasons for gratitude, and then expressing our thanks to someone who has been kind to us.
I'm totally into it.
I'm not trying to change that; I'd like to see more people saying thanks.
Until, that is, it becomes an endless loop. No one seems able to end these conversations, which run along the lines of: "Thank you so much," (Person A), to which Person B responds, "And thank YOU for (fill in the blank)," to which Person A replies, "Oh, but really, what you have done is just so amazing I can't thank you enough..." and on and on it goes. I catch myself doing this all the time--and hear others doing it consistently. I never hear the "other response," EVER, anymore.
Could someone please, please, just take responsibility when thanked, for just replying, "You're welcome." ??? End of the exchange!
It's almost as though we are afraid to be thanked. Afraid of someone else's gratitude. Afraid of being a Giver, and insistent on being the Recipient. It's politeness reduced to mindless phrases, rather than a sincere meaningful exchange.
Just say, "You're welcome," for heaven's sake! (I am addressing myself, as well as anyone else who cares to read this.)
OK, END OF RANT.
Thanks for listening. (Assuming you did.)
And your response would be...
On a less cranky and picky note: I walked to the studio today to get myself out and moving, plus to drop off something for my studio roommate. Once I got there I couldn't bring myself to just leave, so I put in another hour on the rug and finished the second long border.
Yippee! Now I have the two short borders to do, and then the final outside narrow border.
Next the finishing begins. What's involved? Steaming the rug. Cutting away the extra fabric. Zig-zagging around the edge so that it won't unravel. Then binding it by hand. A final thorough steaming. Lastly, making and attaching a label.
So there is still plenty of work ahead. I love watching it take shape!
On an inner level, it's been quite a week for me. Many interior struggles. I will spare you the content; let's just say I was "at sixes and sevens" all week.
In the midst of all this, I thought I would do the String Thing Challenge #114, and I did.
The result: Not good! Without in any way meaning to demean myself, let me say that I am laughing at how bad this tile is and part of me can't believe I'm posting it. But you know what? I don't care how bad it is, because I learned from it, and also it's a visual representation of my tumultuous inner state. Here it is.
Feel free to speculate about this as an expression of my inner state, and feel free to giggle. This is truly a Tile Gone Rogue. When I look at it, and think about what I was feeling as I tangled, I get a real chuckle at how it turned out.
So what can I learn from this?
Well, for one thing, I was trying out some new metallic pencils, and also trying out a new type of shading stump--not the traditional tortillion but something I saw in my travels and picked up to try. Here's a picture of the pencils and the strange new little shading stump:
The pencils are from a kids' toy store. The odd tortillions...sorry, can't remember where I got them! Both were very cheap.
The jury is out on the pencils so far. They are soft and creamy and go on easily, but are too large in my hands and don't seem to sharpen well or apply well. But perhaps I just need more practice?
I used the gold metallic pencil and the rose/purple metallic pencil in this tile.
And the shading stump? That's a puzzle as well. I will have to try this in other contexts. You can see where it nearly ripped up the paper around the "rays" on the tile, and I ended up with a kind of dirty ineffective smudge there rather than shading. But was that the stump, or my technique? Or maybe the stump isn't compatible with these pencils? I won't know until I try again with it.
And I will try again.
Ok, the question was, what did I learn from this? I learned that:
This entire process reminded me of meditation. I frequently feel, in meditation, that I "should" be experiencing something I'm not, or that "I'm doing it wrong," or that if my brain would just shut up for once, I'd be in bliss. The truth is, meditation, like life, can be very messy. In meditation, I need to be listening to my Self. In meditation, I do not need to feel there is "one right way" to proceed (or that I don't know the "one right way"). In meditation, if I am having a ping-pong experience obsessing about something stressful, I can get rigid about what I'm doing if I'm not aware of what is happening. In meditation, I don't have to change everything...in fact, I don't have to change ANYTHING. Just observe what's going on. In meditation, after I contemplate whatever is going on, I'm usually a lot more ready to find the humor i it. And in meditation, I have daily failures and daily successes; but no matter what happens, I am committed to it, and I continue to practice.
That is what it's all about: PRACTICE. (This was also my word for 2015)
Practice in art, practice in meditation, and practice in life.
I'll end with a tangle I did in my Tangle-a-day calendar when I was preparing to do the String Challenge. I didn't have much experience with the Ta-Da tangle, so I tried it out here:
I did this in one of my few relaxed moments this week, prior to attempting the String Challenge. I used a Rainbow Lead Pencil. I think you can see the difference between this and the artificial, contrived-looking, and unsuccessful String Challenge Tile. I was relaxed and centered here; I used familiar tools, and I was willing to just practice for fun, no matter how well or poorly it turned out. I was just experimenting.
Coincidentally, Ta-Da was also the featured monotangle in the #83 Joey Challenge this week, so I just sent this experimental version in as my entry for that.
Big lessons for me here.
"Back of every mistaken venture and defeat is the laughter of wisdom, if you listen." --Carl Sandburg
Just a quick simple tile for this week's Diva Challenge #239 (Scroll down the page for the challenge; the tangle is Munchin). She includes a great video made by Molly Hollibaugh on this tangle.
I did this on a black tile with gold colored pencil, shaded with the Rainbow Lead pencil.
Good to keep this simple after having just had some eye surgery.
The Diva comments in her post that she's not a fan of the black tiles. I have reserved judgment about them as I haven't worked with them all that much--I need a lot more practice before I decide if I like them or not. She used black gesso on a white tile for her challenge tile this week. I am intrigued and think I will try this at some point. Love getting new ideas!
I did manage to walk to the studio today and the rug is coming along. If you are interested you can compare this photo to this one from six days ago (I have been there for a short while on each of four of the six days since):
That long border is coming together slowly but surely. Making me very happy.
For Joey Challenge #82. Details on what I used under the photograph.
Faber Castell colored pencils in Pthalo Green, Green-Yellow, and White, with Prismacolor gold pencil, on a Renaissance tile.
I like the Faber Castell colors, but oh my, they are so much harder than Prismacolor pencils. For handling, I prefer the Prismacolors.
No other comments this evening. Having some supposedly minor eye surgery tomorrow and feeling skittish.
A stunningly beautiful day in the state--in the bright sunlight, sugar maples are burning up with reds, oranges, yellows. Autumn everywhere! Only the sky was blue...but an incandescent blue.
With excellent coaching from artist and CZT Cheryl Cianci, I produced the blue-themed tile above, although I was in anything BUT a blue mood today. This was a soothing process, and the slow work with the Prismacolor pencils made it entirely meditative. With thanks to Cheryl.
Tangles used: Mooka, Munchin, Pokeleaf & root, Florz, Knot Rickz, Tipple, drawn on a brown paper bag.
Here is a mirrored version (using the mirror app on my iPhone)
...and a version using the app "Painteresque."
Back in the studio--at last! I cannot believe how happy this makes me. I started my current rug, Micmac, the first week in March of this year. "Starting" is defined as beginning to color plan it., not actually starting to pull loops. By March 20 and 21, I was actually beginning to hook. Here is how it looked then:
On the left, the pattern before I began. Middle: Fooling around with colors. I loved those colors, but couldn't make them work throughout the rug. On the right: How I started the center motif. So...that was back in early March.
I worked on the rug pretty steadily for the next 4 months. See my blog post answering the question, "How long did it take to make that?" here.
In July and August it was too hot in the studio to do anything will wool, so no further hooking got done. In September it was still very warm but the bigger obstacle was my wonky back, which made even driving to the studio impossible. Walking? Unthinkable.
Finally two days ago I got in there for 90 minutes. And today, for three hours! And I walked. I'm very excited. So here is the rug now, after basically 4 months of work (24x42", aka 61x107cm):
Today I was able to finish off the motif in the lower left border, and then I was able to add the motif in the upper border (center top). Here's a better look at the start of the top border that I completed today:
Feeling good about how this is turning out.
The background is Jeannie Benjamin's fabulous hand-dyed wool in a color called Old Underwear, (!!) and I love the way it sets off the rest of the rug. Check out Jeanne's website and wools at New Earth Designs.
While I was hooking today I was listening to the Mindfulness Summit recordings and was, frankly, beside myself with enjoyment. My back is beginning to heal completely. To add to all of this, the weather today was perfect: sunny and cool but not chilly.
How lovely to have a day like today.
You know, sometimes you have one thing in mind when you start drawing and you end up with another. In my experience it's the same in meditation...I sit down with one intention and end up going somewhere else entirely. It's all good, even the really hard bits.
Today was one of those days. I sat down to do Diva Challenge #238, planning on doing Tri-Bee, a new tangle by CZT Beata Winkler. So far so good. I see a strong connection between Trie-Bee and Zenith, the tangle introduced recently by Zentangle® Headquarters (don't ask me why I see a strong connection, I just do). So the plan was to put Zenith around the edges and put Tri-Bee in the middle. Instead, this is what happened. Or to put it another way, what the heck did happen???
Ok so you can kinda recognize Zenith around the edges, but Tri-Bee just flashed up from the bottom of the tile without ever showing its "TRI" part (it starts with a TRIangular center, if you look at the stepouts on the Diva's page, but somehow that center didn't want to show itself here).
I used a 4B pencil for the shading, which is a bit darker on the actual tile than it looks here. It was kind of one surprise after the other when I was doing the tile. I had drafted a tentative plan for it yesterday in my tangle-a-day calendar. I knew it wouldn't look exactly like that, but I didn't expect this. (go here to see--scroll down to the bottom of that post).
I like it, though! That's the thing.
Now that it's done, I get to go to the Diva Challenge webpage and see what others did with this (I don't let myself look before I do my own tile; otherwise I'd be endlessly copying, or intimidated out of ever trying).
The same thing happened in meditation this morning. I started going one place and ended up going somewhere else totally. Generally, I don't think of myself as someone who likes surprises. But maybe, just maybe, Zentangle and meditation are teaching me to learn to roll with them...and even enjoy them.
Yesterday I finally got back into my studio, after nearly ten weeks of enforced absence, due first to heat and humidity, and then to the Back Episode of the Century (which is now 99% better). I was only able to stay 90 minutes, so don't yet have much to show, but it was fabulous to be there, and wonder of wonders, my two studio roomies were also there. We had a great catch-up session. I hope to get in there again tomorrow.
Today I taught a 1-1 Zentangle® class to an absolutely lovely woman. You meet the best people doing Zentangle!
Last night and today I hauled out my Tangle-a-Day calendar and created some first-time practice tangles. Here are the first two. In the first one, you can see me trying a completely new tangle, Rosewood, in the calendar. And in the second one, you can see what I did with it on a tile. It's for this week's Joey Challenge. These were done between 3 a.m. and 4.30 a.m. as I had insominia. After completing them, I was able to go straight to sleep. Here is the first-ever scribble:
...and then I went straight to trying this as a monotangle on a tile for this week's Joey Challenge:
Practicing in the calendar first was a big help. It was a challenge to use this as a monotangle, and shading with a Rainbow Pencil is always dicey, but I like the way this turned out.
Later today, after getting home from teaching, I wanted to tackle two other tangles that are totally new to me: Zenith, which has just been released by HQ, and Tri-Bee. So once again I pulled out my calendar and gave them a trial run. At the time I had no access to a Micron so I just used my handy Bic Pen. I was interrupted before I had a chance to shade this and wasn't that excited about it, but later this evening I did get to add shading and I really like the results. I hope to get a more practiced version on a tile tomorrow.
Here is my first scribble with both of these tangles, Zenith around the border and Tri-Bee in the inside.
These videos are all on YouTube and contain lots of information. All are under 10 minutes (most are much shorter than that). While I hope you all benefit from this, I confess I have begun to collect these videos for my own practice. Enjoy.
1. Blick Art presents Prismacolor Tips & Techniques. She crams a lot of great information in here--first, how the pencils are actually made (very interesting & brief), then how to hold the pencil (usually), then blending and burnishing with the colorless blender pencil, when you may want to use a "workable fixative" and why, the colorless blender marker (I'd never heard of this before). 4 minutes 14 seconds.
2. How to sharpen colored pencils. This also covers battery-powered & electric sharpeners. You may never have seen this technique. Surprise! 2 minutes 16 seconds.
3. A review of Prismacolor Pencils by someone who is enamored of them (as am I, to be honest)--while doing the review, he draws an apple and it's completely hypnotic to watch him layer the colors. 8 minutes 23 seconds
4. A wow! very short tutorial on blending without blending pencils by a master artist, with great tips and techniques. Fascinating. 3 minutes 40 seconds.
I'll stop here for today but hope to include more collected videos in the future.
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