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!
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?
Look what arrived on my doorstep today. Oh boy oh boy.
NOTE to those who don't have time to read: I DID NOT MAKE THESE OR DRAW ON THEM. THEY CAME THIS WAY.
Golden Lotus boots. Talk about mad love for an object--wow. Love these.
I sent pictures to friends who know I tangle and they all went crazy for my amazing artwork. They thought I made them. Thank you to everyone who even had that passing thought. I wish!!! But I DIDN'T MAKE THESE. I just bought them, as is. They're commercial boots. I took one look at them and helplessly succumbed.
Did I need them? No. Did I have to have them? Oh yeah. Am I sorry? You're kidding, right? NO.
I fear this makes me the Imelda Marcos of mindfulness practitioners. Uh-oh.
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!
Continuing on today with my drawing meditation (aka Zentangle®). I began tangling my journal cover last night. At first I thought I was done. Here is the first version.
Don't ask me to name all those tangles off the top of my head. I used a Micron 01 black, graphite, and a white chalk pencil on this.
But I knew I would need to seal the cover somehow. Otherwise, the two pencils (white and black) would smudge and wear off. So today I dug out the Mod Podge for Paper, since I wasn't sure what else to use. Meanwhile, in meditation this morning, it came to me that I wanted to add a tangle (created by me, no name yet) on the right hand part of the cover. So I did. Then I put 3 layers of Mod Podge on the cover, waiting at least a half hour between each. I hope this works! It seems duller (I used Matte Mod Podge) but then I also photographed it in a different light from yesterday, so it's hard to tell. Here's the finished journal cover.
Yup, big difference in light as the teal color on the binding of the first photo is accurate and it looks brown here. I think I like this.
So tonight I finished off the day with this tangle on the theme of "Striping."
I also did my usual silent meditation practice today, but I am always reminded, after a long session of tangling, how similar these two meditative practices are. They are each so calming. So grateful to have found Zentangle all those years ago, and to the truly wonderful people who teach it as a meditative practice. Thank you.
I've gotten back into continuous line drawing, which results in curious, wonky images and is enormous fun to do. It's also very easy to slip into the zone (meditate) while doing it, as it calls for careful attention to the object being drawn--while never lifting your pen from the page.
This wonky Buddha was drawn from a clay wall decoration. I am enjoying the way his uma (the dot on the his forehead) has migrated over to one side. I never know how these drawings will turn out; all of this was done without ever lifting my pen, as one very long line, retracing along itself when I needed to move to another area. Try it yourself--it's great fun and the results are always surprising and often humorous. Somewhat like meditation.
This is a photo of a spirit rock. No, it doesn't refer to the remarkable meditation center in California. But it certainly it relates to meditation. A dear friend made it, covering the tiny stone with her hand-netting and adding those tiny beads She gave it to me as a housewarming gift. Both of us know that doing this kind of work is highly meditative--it's why I'm so drawn to art at this point in my life, along with a daily meditation practice.
Stones have always held a lot of symbolism for me, especially river rocks with their smooth round shapes and heft. They are symbols of wholeness, endurance, and comfort.
I will enjoy this sweet gift for a long time. It is so lovely to connect with much-valued old friends.
"A rugged stone grows smooth from hand to hand."
"Our lives are unique stones in the mosaic of human experience--priceless and irreplaceable."
--Henri J.M. Nouwen
Meanwhile, I cannot decide if I'm enjoying the "sketching and watercolor" course or not. I'm a bit puzzled by why I'm having so much trouble with the watercolor and specifically with the brush (watercolor brush). If it weren't the 2nd brush I've tried--with similar issues--I'd say the brush is leaking. Too much water swishing around, and you can see it's leaking outside the bounds of the apple (yes, apple...not a tomato) above. I could go on and on, but I won't. Let's just say I haven't had this experience before, not that I've had much experience at all. I'll keep going with this and see what happens. It's tough not to just grab my colored pencils, though.
In watercolor, if you are not in trouble, then you're in trouble.
In watercolour, particularly, it's almost always better to chuck than fix.
--Joe Joseph P. Blodgett
...Really? Guess I'll find out.
I hope you will take a careful look at the above piece. It's made from 28 triangular tiles placed together. Each tile is unique, and was tangled by my good friend AE. The overall effect is stunning. And, they can all be moved around easily for a completely different look.
Take another moment to look at each individual triangle and you'll see the level of creativity at work here.
* * *
This afternoon I returned from spending five days with AE.. She's been dealing with a particularly challenging and confusing illness for months now, and coincidentally (or was it...?), she learned Zentangle right around the time that the illness announced itself. For the last several weeks she has been receiving intensive and intrusive treatments, and I can't emphasize how often she has mentioned that tangling has enabled her to cope.
And while coping, she has been producing these mini-beauties. Here are a few more examples (with thanks to her for letting me post these):
The meditative nature of Zentangle has been extremely helpful while she has been in treatment. Tiles are the perfect size for portability and for tangling while waiting to be seen in a doctor's office. One of the things I truly love about tangling is that it is a form of moving meditation, and enables a person to focus completely on the present, line by line, and not get caught up in past or future. This is a huge advantage if you are waiting for a treatment session, a doctor's appointment or any stressful situation. AE has been making the best of her time, as you can see here.
* * *
We have known each other for almost 40 years (how the hell did that happen?) and have a lot of shared interests. We met while pursuing a particular spiritual tradition and soon discovered a mutual love of art and crafts. For years we both did bead work (she focused on loom work, I focused on bead embroidery) and between us we accrued enough beads to open a bead store. Not that that was our intention; as we are both "tool hoarders," we never considered selling our stock and each still have pounds of seed beads. We are constant knitters and each have huge yarn stashes. We both enjoy writing and have blogs; she has also written a novel. We've each accumulated way too many art supplies. We each meditate daily. We both read constantly, and our home libraries have many similar books. I wouldn't even want to speculate about how many books each of our homes contain...too many.
I have to laugh at the similarities--we are each hopelessly determined and obsessive in pursuing our interests. In just a few short months, she's produced as many tangles as I have in all the years I've been tangling. She has taken her tangling kit to every doctor's appointment and treatment session, and used that time well. It's an honor to share some of her work here.
And yet we are also very different, something I also enjoy. I value our discussions, whether we are agreeing or disagreeing.
I am fortunate to have her as a friend, and hope we continue our crazy, obscure, satisfying interests for years to come. She is kind, resilient, talented, hilarious and courageous. A gift in my life.
"Lots of people want to ride with you in the limo, but what you want is someone who will take the bus with you when the limo breaks down."
– Oprah Winfrey
"There is nothing better than a friend, unless it is a friend with chocolate."
― Linda Grayson
Talk about a dramatic year. And it still has over three months to go.
I know I'm not the only one dealing with drama; Americans in general have their hands full with WAY too much drama at the moment--and given who is in the White House, it's bound to accelerate. And alas, our drama tends to become the world's drama.
However, this isn't a post about politics.
So far this year for me:
I'm feeling concerned and hopeful for my dear friends, all of them--near and far. Feeling impatient to get on with my altered life here. Feeling concerned about the political scene locally and globally. Feeling more concerned than ever about our fragile, beautiful planet.
If I weren't meditating daily...well, I don't want to think about it.
May we be safe.
May we be healthy.
May we find peace, and find compassion for each other.
May we grow kinder.
May we care for our mother, the Earth.
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