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.
After doing my regular meditation this morning, I watched a recent "Creative Calm Circle" led by Sadelle Wiltshire of Vermont. As I've mentioned before on this blog, Sadelle specializes in meditative arts. This particular exercise was another continuous line drawing--the task was to NOT lift the pen from the page, and meditatively draw a tree. I really enjoyed it. In all, I think I lifted my pen up no more than 4 or 5 times while drawing steadily for about 25 minutes.
I didn't choose a real tree; this is an imaginary one. But the lightning scar comes from my childhood--there was a wonderful huge old oak tree in my front yard and it had survived being struck by lightning twice. It had a large lightning scar down the front of its skyscraping trunk. Sadly, the tree was removed about 20 years ago, but it lives forever in my memory as "The Survivor Tree." I loved that tree and its wisdom. When I was a child and troubled, it always comforted me.
The tree I drew today is not an oak. And the tree from my childhood did not have any vines on it. So without trying to recreate any particular tree, I added the lightning scar simply as a grateful memory in this drawing.
Continuous line work gives me the chance to let go and not worry about something "looking right." There's plenty wrong with the look of this one, but I just don't care. It was relaxing, meditative, and poignant to draw. Thanks, Sadelle!
A few years ago I was fortunate enough to go to a hook-in in Vermont and met Dana Psoinas from New York, one of the most extraordinary rug hookers and artists today. I had already been mesmerized by her "Guardian" rug in a photograph, and suddenly, there was the real thing, right in front of me on the floor in Shelburne Vermont.
And there was Dana herself. A more talented and nicer person you just cannot find. She specializes in rugs that tell stories, usually stories from fairy tales or myths.
I was star-struck. We hit it off and have corresponded occasionally since then. Lucky me.
I am still star-struck by her work, and so will you be. Read on!
She recently showed me three drawings she has done--freehand, mind you!--on linen, to sell as patterns for other rug hookers. One of them is at the top of this post, and the rest are below, along with a sketch she hasn't yet drawn on foundation.
More information about Dana and her process is at the end of this post.
She sold these through her Etsy site--but please be aware that these patterns are NOT FOR SALE now. They were/are one-of-a-kind. She is busy with her own rug making and does not stock or sell patterns all the time. There is a wonderful photo of her finished Guardian Rug on her Etsy site--please have a look to see just how phenomenal her rug hooking is. She works in 2-, 3-, and 4-cuts to achieve her extraordinary rugs.
Check her site from time to time in case she does post something to sell...who knows, you may get lucky!
If you wonder about her creative process and want to know a bit more about her, you can check this recently-written blog post with more photographs of her rugs. Enjoy.
With thanks to Dana for letting me post this!
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.)
Indeed I have not posted in a while. I'm in the final frenzy of unpacking, having moved late last March and then having had to wait/wait/wait for a post-move broken bone to heal. Now I'm crazed to be done. The end is in sight! Once I'm finished, I will actually get to put pictures on my walls. I miss my pictures very much.
No art at all is going on while I'm in this phase. But today I attended a free 1-hour "Creative Calm Online Circle" by my buddy Sadelle Wiltshire (well done, Sadelle!) and she led us through this meditative "continuous line exercise." The above is the wonky but fun result. Continuous line drawing is exactly what it sounds like: you never lift your pen off the page; you just meander along with pen on paper and see where the line takes you. It's not Zentangle®. It's not supposed to "look like" anything...just see where the pen goes. It's a very old art "warm-up" technique. Fun and calming. I did a second one in about three minutes, below:
I welcomed any chance to do something calming today, as yesterday a neighbor slipped and fell on black ice near my house and cracked his head (he's fine--no concussion or real damage). He spent hours in the ER and it must have been scary. It was scary just to hear about it. I'm glad he's ok.
Then this morning I discovered my credit card had fraudulent charges on it, and had to cancel that. Immediately after that unpleasantness, I tuned into the online Creative Calm Circle; it was just what I needed.
Need some relaxation?
Aaaaaaaaaahhhhhhh...doesn't that feel better?
By which I mean to say, this is simply a sketchy practice piece for a free-form, unplanned knot.
I have "knot" been practicing.
Although my holidays were quiet-by-design, my last two weeks have been non-stop guests. Wonderful guests and I was thrilled to have them.
But I haven't had the headspace to draw, tangle, or write and am feeling rusty. Looking forward to starting up again.
Ahhhh! BOOKBINDING Again:
I did manage to sneak away for one day, last Sunday, in order to take a beginning bookbinder class with Peter Cangialosi. He's an excellent teacher and I completely enjoyed myself. Even more impressive: every student (5 of us) left with a handmade bound book. Here's mine:
This is a very small book, but it is a book. I am delighted.
January is apparently "bookbinding" time someplace in my mind. Last year on MLK weekend I did (and blogged about) a prior workshop on bookbinding with Nancy Shepherd in Vermont. We took the whole weekend and began by learning to make paper for the covers; then we used a more sophisticated open binding than the one I learned last Sunday.
However, the day after that 2017 workshop with Nancy I formally "closed" on (legally bought) my new house. ALL the info I had acquired from her flew right out of my head as I entered the whirlwind of finalizing the sale, packing up my apartment of 40 years, and relocating.
What was special about Sunday's workshop was that it was one day and much simpler...but it jump-started my memories of a year ago and I began to recall what I had learned in the more complex 2017 workshop with Nancy. I have progressed from not being able to retrieve anything I learned from her, to remembering at least 90% of it, and I am confident that I can recover the rest. Hurrah! Thank you, Peter.
In Peter's beginner's workshop, everyone finished wonderful books. Many were prettier than mine. He kept things super-simple and was endlessly patient with our million questions.
Here is a slideshow of all five completed books. I can't wait to try my hand at this again. I look forward to being able to make my own sketchbooks.
Two additional views of my book. You can see the simple exposed smyth stitch binding in the photo to the left, and in view below you can see how flat it lies when open. If I use better quality paper for my next book, it would be perfect for sketching.
Uh-oh, there may be yet another obsession coming on...
Yes, I did it. I bought a hand drill. No big deal, you say? Then you don't know me well. I'm a disaster with hand tools. If you live anywhere in the northeastern United States, it might be time to consider moving away. You don't want to be around when I turn this thing on.
YouTube, here I come. I'm determined to learn how to use this.
More material that fits neatly into the "no-fail, no-learn" category: The Zentangle® folks put out a Project Pack recently that included lots of new goodies to try. New white Gellyroll pens from Sakura. New black apprentice tiles, new black triangular tiles (called 3-Zs). Plus a new tangle and some experimental techniques. And some very fine videos.
Along with everyone else, I've been experimenting. Here are a couple of initial results.
More to come from that Project Pack.
Last but not least today. I am pretty chuffed about this one. It has been eluding me for well over a week. I think I tried it a good 4 times and couldn't figure it out (and it looks soooooo simple!), but I kept looking at it and thinking about it. Today I decided to tackle it again--on crappy copy paper, but I was thinking there was a good possibility I'd fail again.
But no. I succeeded! I really failed my way to success with this one.
Now, of course, I wish I had used better paper. But succeeding came as a total surprise!
Just to make sure I got it, I tried it again on a tiny scale a couple of hours later--and once again, failed. But I know I *am* getting it and will continue to practice until I feel I've got a good handle on this. If I was able to do it once, I know I can do it again.
Two very quick drafts. I'm continuing to practice drawing Celtic Knots. These were done on incredibly cheap blue scratch paper. This first one I actually did not intend to ink--I thought I would do a quick pencil draft (and did), but then decided to spend the time inking it. This was freehand and done in a rush.
In the draft below, I used a technique from a YouTube video to create a classic border. Since this was my first attempt, I used the same super-cheap blue scratch paper. This one took longer only because it had so many knots, but I still thought I would leave it just as pencil practice. And just as in the other case, I decided to take the time to ink it in. There's something so irresistible about "correcting" the sloppy pencil lines. Once again, this was drafted very fast.
While this is far-from-perfect (see the spots of white where I've corrected some "blobby" lines, not to mention the different sizes of lines), I notice that the eye tends to smooth things out and make it look better than it actually is. That's ok with me!
In the spirit of "Progress, Not Perfection," I am viewing sloppy progress as being better than no progress at all.
Here is my third "practice knot," done quickly in one of my journals. The lines are wonky but given how quickly I did it I'm pleased. I copied this from a handout I got from my friend (and teacher of drawing knots) Sadelle Witshire. The fact that it's a direct copy may not sound like much, but it's the first time I actually figured out (from looking at a finished knot) what the actual steps for drawing should be. That felt like a solid accomplishment!
I've been busy at home, continuing to unpack and sort things out. I treated the guest room wall to a new hand-painted mirror from the Sawmill River Arts Gallery, a wonderful artist owned spot.
And in sorting some things out in the basement, I located a long-lost, large quantity of linen for rug hooking--many, many yards. I'd bought a whole roll of this with a friend and we split the roll. Probably at least five years ago.
And then, oddly, we each proceeded to lose the linen. It disappeared in each of our houses, and no matter how hard we searched, we couldn't find it. How do you lose a huge amount of linen? But we did, and eventually we began to wonder if the idea that we had ever bought it and split the purchase was some form of folie a deux.
However, I found mine last week. We have proof! And better yet, I can now use it. Hurrah!
And finally, I'm happy to be reading this: Reckless Daughter, a Joni Mitchell biography, a loan from our excellent library that I've been waiting for.
A pretty good few days here.
You know, I'm not much of a fan of drawing hearts. I like seeing them when others draw them, but somehow I am just not attracted to doing it myself.
But in trying to learn to draw knots, I was asked to do just that--draw a simple heart border and convert it to Celtic interlaced knots. And when I finished, I was most definitely thinking about hearts--our globally connected hearts--and how much pain the world is in today. The focus required to draw interconnecting bands on knots reminds me of how we forget every day that we are dependent on each other to survive, and dependent on each other's love and kindness. We forget and forget and forget.
I want to remember.
There was another school shooting in the US today. My heart breaks, and continues to break, because of these repetitive, mindless, violent, deadly shootings, the innocent victims, and their families.
It felt very right to be drawing hearts, and connecting them.
Here's what I ended up with:
Certainly the calligraphy isn't great because this is just a practice draft, but I am happy with the final result.
Here was where I began (Step One in pencil), and below that, here's what it looked like inked in (Step Two).:
I've been taking a fabulous SkillShare Course on Celtic Knots offered by Sadelle Wiltshire, of whom I am a fangirl. She makes wonderful art you can see on her webpages, HERE or HERE.
Interlaced. Interconnected. We are. We must be. When will we learn to remember?
"Having a soft heart in a cruel world is courage, not weakness."
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 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