I know we've had winter this late before. Four years ago to the day, in fact, I'm pretty certain we also had snow. Today we had snow plus drizzle ("snizzle," says our local forecaster), plus now rain. It's grim out there, and of course, in Boston, the Marathon goes on. Admiration for those runners!
Much as I dislike heat, I'm ready for spring and even--gulp--summer.
Spent part of the morning coloring this tile. It has a story attached (see below).
So here's the story. A few days ago, Cris Strovilas Letourneau--a CZT and author I admire--found out that while she & daughter Alexa were visiting her sister for an overnight, their house burned to the ground. Unfortunately, their husband/father was inside and didn't make it out. He died in the fire. I cannot imagine the grief and shock and loss.
To make bad matters even worse, it now appears the fire was started by a burglar who was in the house. Of course, HE got out just fine.
There's a GoFundMe page set up and I've contributed, but I've been feeling so badly for Cris and Alexa. Other than sending prayers, there's not much I can do (I don't know her, have just met her once), and then Sonya Yencer, another CZT, created a tangle named SoulStar with Cris and Alexa and Cris's husband in mind. So last night and this morning I did the tile above.
While working on the tile, it came to me that the front "star" (lower right) is for Cris, the star tucked behind that one is for Alexa, and the "lead star" that appears to be a comet in the upper right is her husband, on his way through transition, leaving that golden trail behind as he sets out on his journey. The fact that his circle is smaller seemed to me to be about the fact that he's given up a physical life and is now on his way in soul-form.
My heart goes out to them each day. May their loss lessen, even though I know it will never go away, and may he travel safely into the Light.
"Body at rest, spirit free."
A page from my journal today. Not a masterpiece but at least it got me tangling and drawing, and I completely enjoyed doing it.
And speaking of roses, kudos and roses to my buddy Cheryl the Rug Rescuer. She has just completed a commissioned rug rescue for someone she knows who brought her a half-finished rug. As I recall, there was no wool with it, just the unfinished rug, so Cheryl had to match wool as best she could. The pattern, I think, was drawn by a rug hooking teacher who was unable to continue hooking, so I believe it's an original. Anyway, I love this rug (below). Let's first look at the rug on the floor of Cheryl's drop-dead gorgeous Victorian living room; then I'll post a closer view.
That's the rug in the foreground above, but isn't the entire room just so beautiful? And here's a closer look at the rug itself:
What a beautiful design. Very sad that the designer wasn't able to complete it, but at least the Rug Rescuer got it done! Now here's the hard part: She has to give the rug away to the woman who brought it to her. I would have a lot of trouble giving something this lovely away.
Now Cheryl is working on this wide-cut rug below (a real departure for her as she's not enthusiastic about hooking with wide cuts). I don't know whose design this is but it's very pretty: And yes, this is another Rescue Rug, started by someone before it was abandoned and turned over to her.
Quite unusual. I don't recall ever seeing this design before. Go Cheryl!
I haven't seen either piece in person yet; another friend took these photos for me (thank you, Kathleen). I'm hoping to see the actual rugs in person in a couple of weeks.
Just drawing repetitive lines is soooooooo relaxing. Any excuse to just do some linework and I can feel my breathing slow, my focus deepen, and the world falls away.
A good thing to know about in these troubled times.
At the museum, a troubled woman destroys a sand painting meticulously created over days by Tibetan monks. The monks are not disturbed. The work is a meditation. They simply begin again.
I really ought to stop worrying when I can't sleep. It always startles me when, after a night of insomnia, I continue to feel fine the following day. That's what happened here. I had 3 hours of sleep and got up at 6 a.m. I was tired the next day but not as tired as one might expect.
A friend who looked at the tile below, which I finished at 3 a.m., commented that it appears the Mookas (the name of the tangle I used) are falling over until they finally collapse into sleep. A hilarious comment, something I'd never have thought of on my own. And true!
It's not a masterpiece, certainly, but it was fun to do and very soothing. I went right to sleep afterwards.
It's not a full moon; in fact, she is waning. But all the same the Moon woke me very early this morning, calling through my window. I felt I should pay tribute. This was the result.
Hommage à la Déesse de la Lune!
Starting about 2.30 this morning--a bad case of insomnia resulted in this tile. And then once I began, I couldn't stop tangling as the day wore on.
Yesterday I finished unpacking the house (after "only" ten months, 4-5 of which I was useless because of the broken wrist. But still!
I next need to hang pictures, and organize supplies and furniture in my studio. But it feels fabulous to be unpacked finally, and to know in general where things are.
I haven't been allowing myself to indulge in art in order to get the house stuff done. But starting with the above tile--and now that I know where most of my art supplies are--I couldn't help myself today. So I went a little nuts.
WHEN A GOOD TILE GOES BAD...
Oh my, the above tile was meant to be a practice of the Delft technique. But it fell apart when I thought I'd use Copic Markers (about which I clearly know nothing!) to shade a bit under the bands. The result: uneven shading and a "hard line"--I tried to save it with graphite and a tortillion, but really it was a hot mess.
But hey. No fail, no learn, right? So I'm posting it.
JUST KEEP ON GOING...
Once I finished that one I just couldn't stop, and did this one (I left off the Copics until I learn more about them). Enjoying the blue-and-white a lot.
And if that wasn't enough, I indulged myself in some glitter markers that were recommended by an artist friend (see her review of them here):
Have not tried these yet but will certainly report back when I do. They are very inexpensive (About $10 or so for all these)--and the package even arrives with refills.
You can see the refills above the markers. I got these on amazon.
Tomorrow I have to "stuff the art genie back in the bottle" in order to get some required tasks done...and I have to keep her there for awhile, probably. But today was a total indulgence.
In reading one of the Zentangle® blogs, I just spotted the most amazing photographs on--of all things--manufacturing pencils. They are in an article written for New York Times.
These amazing art photos were taken at the General Pencil Company (We who tangle love their pencils. And according to the Zentangle blog, the owner of the company is now a Certified Zentangle Teacher, which delighted me).
I cannot show the photos because of course they are copyrighted, but you won't believe how beautiful they are. Check them out HERE.
(Thank you to the Zentangle folks for publicizing this.)
The thing about Zentangle® is that you never know where it's going to take you. Much like life. I began this tile 2-3 years ago--it didn't look anything like what you see here--and left it totally unfinished. Abandoned. I re-discovered it two days ago while unpacking (yes, I am still unpacking after 9 months of being here) and somehow just couldn't throw it out, though I was tempted. It stared at me and challenged me to reconstruct it or make it work in some way.
Basically it began life as a black tile which had been roughly shaded sort-of-white with the use of a soapstone, and then I think I had used some type of tool to see if I could score the tangle "Tripoli" into the soapstone background. It didn't work and I loathed the look of it. So put it away. I find it hard to believe that I didn't just toss it.
I finished it today in a very fast, sloppy way--because it was "just an experiment"--and now I rather like it. It has a pastel or oil paint-y look to it. I completely ignored the unpleasant beginning and re-built the entire concept.
This reminds me of something I learned in my childhood: A family member once accused me of "never finishing anything you start." I thought about it for awhile, got mad, and then decided she was right. So I made a major effort over the next few months to go around and finish all my unfinished projects. I must have been about ten, and I remember the resulting satisfaction. Although I hadn't liked the criticism, it spurred me to develop discipline.
Since then, it's rare for me to put something away unfinished. If anything, I've gone to the opposite extreme--I sometimes finish things immediately that might benefit from a longer pause.
(I do have one quilt that has been "paused" for 40 years. Er...it may be time to get back to that one!)
The other tile I did today was this one below. I'll put the completed tile first and then include two photos of the very beginning and the middle stages. (I know the tile background looks different in the photos but it's all the same tile--just different lighting)
Some things--like unpacking--take me longer to finish, because I just don't like doing them. But eventually, that learned discipline from childhood takes over and they do get done. It just takes me 50 times longer to get to the finish line than it does if I enjoy what I'm doing.
As a non-holiday celebrator, I appreciate this quiet time of year (especially tonight, Christmas Eve, and tomorrow) and always give myself permission to do whatever the heck I feel like doing for a couple of days.
That does not include unpacking.
It does include reading, drawing, tangling, and general lollygagging.
Happy Holidays to all, and to all a good night!
This tangle is just too much darned fun to draw! Once again it went somewhere I couldn't have imagined.
The Connection Between Zentangle and Traditional Meditation:
I enjoy the way that Zentangle® and my other meditation practice regularly take me where I hadn't expected to go. There's a nice article in Psychology Today magazine on why Zentangle is so meditative HERE.
If you have ever wanted to meditate, but feel that you can't because "my mind just won't stop!" you are experiencing the #1 fallacy about meditation--that the mind should, or will, stop thinking. It's the job of the mind to think! It is certainly not going to stop for meditation...but with experience, you may find that you notice some quieter spaces or times when your thoughts seem to be running on "dim" in the background. So don't let your noisy mind stop YOU because IT won't stop. Just the fact that you are noticing the noise is a very good sign--you are not "doing it wrong," you are, in fact, doing it right.
Why am I bringing this up? Because Zentangle is a form of moving meditation, and often people find it easier to begin with something along those lines rather than plunging into formal meditation. And you do not need any art talent at all to learn to tangle. NONE. Yes, that is true. If you can sign your name, you can tangle.
What you'll find as you're tangling is: Focus. Attention. Silence. Slowing down. You will even learn to tolerate and handle mistakes; you'll learn not to judge something in the very moment you are creating it, but to stand back and evaluate later. You'll learn patience--although you will need a lot less of this than you might assume. You'll be loving the results--but even more, you will truly love the process.
Gee, that sounds like a lot of learning. But surprisingly, it comes without effort. You'll be so focused on the pleasurable process of drawing lines that you won't even notice what you've learned until later. And--you'll be learning about meditation in that same effortless way.
To find a teacher, just go to the main Zentangle website HERE and look for their list of Certified Zentangle Teachers (also known as "CZTs"). There's a good chance you will find a CZT neaby. Have fun!
Really needing a break today, I just allowed myself to follow along while watching Zentangle® instructional videos. My plan was to follow instructions diligently, but somehow I just kept getting off track. I tangled for several hours though, and really enjoyed it. Here are the results.
Ummm, can we just stay that I went totally off-road (or into the river) for this tile, which was supposed to be entirely non-representational. It was supposed to be the tangle Bales, drawn in an oval string. But once I put that oval string down, all I could see was a fish. Black apprentice tile with White Gellyroll #10 and a touch of prismacolor pencil.
Sometimes ya just gotta allow for odd things to happen. This was one of those times.
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:
I'm teaching a Beginning Zentangle® class at the Greenfield Community Center on May 29th from 1-3 pm. They do not have a website so please call them for more information.
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