I spent the day today in Elaine Huffman's studio, learning to make these button-like zendalas from the wonderful Chris Titus. (Yes, Chris is the originator of the Zondom, the clear plastic sleeve to protect Zentangle® tiles. I use these all the time.)
We spent most of the day making the backgrounds; I had to leave a tad early so I only got to tangle this one, but others were able to get a second one done.
Full disclosure: Chris herself had made the backgrounds for all of these to make it easier for us, and we each did the same tangles on them. Here is the group mosaic, with one wonderful exception:
They matched so well with Elaine's pink flamingo tablecloth, don't you think?
Definitely a hugely fun day. Thanks to Chris and Elaine.
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.
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.
Last week of the "Sketching and Watercolor" Course. It has been hard to keep up, although I can't exactly say why. Probably the fear of failure and fear of the blank page. Along with a healthy dose of "comparanoia," the paralyzing factor that happens when everyone's asked to post their pictures online--it's just too easy to start comparing, and often belittling one's own efforts.
So here's this final assignment, starting with the original object, a coffee pot.
I was looking at the pot from a slightly different angle than the photograph. I did a preliminary pencil sketch, inked it with waterproof ink, and then erased the pencil. After which, practically holding my breath, I picked up my waterbrush...
It ain't perfect, but I like it. Although I still feel verklempt about my progress with watercolor, I'm ok with this result. I may have whined at producing the weekly assignments, but it kept me working. And I know that when I'm working--practicing--some improvement will eventually happen.
I hope to keep working on my own. And yet...
Life does have a way of distracting us. Waiting in the wings and calling my name are (in no particular order):
"It is not enough to be busy. So are the ants. The question is: What are we busy about?"
--Henry David Thoreau
I indulged myself today and spent a lot of the day drawing.
Now, I should know that feeling smug is never a good sign. We all know that, right?
But oh my, it's so easy to forget. I have been working on drawing knots, because I like the focus they require and the meditative state they produce, much like the Zentangle® process. I had tried some basic exercises and did well, so I was feeling like, "Hey--piece of cake. I got this! No sweat."
Um, no. I didn't.
My first attempt today was a total debacle. I've titled it, "Three Wrongs Do Not Make a Right." Here it is. See the bottom knot. The top one was so simple that it came out fine, but the moment I tried something even slightly complicated...
Confused--oh yes, I sure was. And totally not in a meditative space. I couldn't understand how I'd gone so wrong.
It was clearly time to go to yoga class, so I did. Ran some errands. Came back again and was determined to re-do it and have it work.
A couple of hours later (along with one additional complete meltdown, during which I was convinced I'd screwed up again), I'd produced this. This might just qualify as my first knot!
I was thrilled, but I sure hope this gets easier. At the meltdown point, when I was convinced that I'd gotten it all wrong again, I considered giving up entirely. But after a short walk, I came back and checked it and suddenly it looked fine. ??!! I have a lot to learn here, that's for sure.
As a celebration, I did a 5-minute sketch of my DunkinDonuts cup. Last night I finally found a water-soluble pen and so I did this sketch in less than 5 minutes and then used my waterbrush to spread some of the ink. Total time spent on this was about 7 minutes. Fun. Hardly a masterpiece but I do feel like I'm keeping my hand in again with drawing.
We learn the rope of life by untying its knots.
Here is the finish to yesterday's project:
Next came the homework for the sketching & watercolor course: painting a shoe. I'd done the prelminary sketching a few days ago (the November 4th post) and decided to re-draw and paint it from another angle. Here's the painting.
The drawing went fine, but as usual the painting didn't go well. The sole (the black thing under the shoe) did not end up looking like a sole. The real sandals are all-gray with a hint of gold where the light hits them. I feel "meh" about this painting.
Once the course is over (just another week) I'll be taking a more casual approach to learning watercolor. Something doesn't quite feel right for me with this course. She's a wonderful artist and teacher (I love her stuff), but perhaps she's beyond me at the moment. Still, I'm glad I did it. She's been great about providing feedback to every single one of a very large number of participants.
On the upside: I'm continuing to make progress on the kitchen and am actually finished. Until I live with it for a few weeks and begin to get a sense of where I would be better off moving things. That needs time, but everything's in an initial place for now. No more boxes! I cannot believe what a difference unpacking this room has made to me. I suddenly feel more optimistic and have a lot more mental space. Everything feels better. This is the half of the kitchen that has all the supplies for dyeing wool in one place:
"Organizing is what you do before you do something, so that when you do it, it's not all mixed up."
~A.A. Milne, Winnie the Pooh
"In any household, junk accumulates to fill the space available for its storage."
~Boston's Irreversible Law of Clutter
"Don't own so much clutter that you will be relieved to see your house catch fire." ~Wendell Berry
More wonky drawing today. This week's assignment is on shoes. Every shoe I own is black, except for these sandals, so I did a preliminary drawing with one of them.
Everything I draw, no matter how bad it might be, does teach me something about drawing. I will persist!
By the end of the day I needed some stress-reduction so turned to tangling. I had two tangles I'd been wanting to try for quite some time, so I combined them onto one tile. Here is the tile with the linework but no shading, using the tangles Clob and Ving:
And here you have it below, with shading added:
Ahhhhhh. Tangling always works. I'm calmer after drawing simple lines.
As I've mentioned in previous posts, I've been in intensive learning mode--taking a course on sketching and watercolor. I've been failing regularly in my attempts. And I'm also learning a lot. You can see previous entries on this experience HERE (the start of the series), HERE (scroll down to the bottom to see that one), HERE, and HERE.
It seems I can only do one thing at a time, though, so no tangling has been happening. I look forward to getting back to that. I am able to knit in the evenings, so I've been making Knitted Knockers (soft knitted prostheses for breast cancer survivors) and will soon have about 60 of them to ship out for distribution. Today I went to the local yarn shop and picked up these yarns for future Knockers: [If you knit, I hope you will seriously consider making Knockers for women who need them post surgery.]
I have also been unpacking and the kitchen is nearly ready. Given that I do not know how to cook, how ready does it need to be? Well, once I get back to rug hooking, it needs to be ready for me to dye yarn and wool. Today I moved my "dye chest" into the kitchen, and more equipment will come. I'm very encouraged about this.
Here are my most recent drawings and watercolors. I hesitate to even term these "watercolors" as I'm truly struggling with the waterbrush and trying to resist going back to regular brushes.
Let me begin with a photo of the actual roses I was trying to capture, in their vase. Both roses were well-past their prime and beginning to die by the time I finally got to start drawing them.
Here is my teacher's comment on this painting--and I agree with it:
"In this version, the vase became the focal point, rather than the rose. Another really lovely drawing and color, but I think what is missing is the whites of the page and the lights on the flower. Well done!"
The final compliment was kind of her, but the analysis about the vase becoming the focal point is exactly right.
Before I saw her comment, though, I had decided to go back and try to add to this with another layer of color, to better shade it...
The teacher hasn't commented on this drawing yet.
I was so frustrated working on it. Once again I had the sense that the paint got away from me despite my best efforts.
And yet...it's overworked, but I think it's also stronger.
More importantly, every time I try this, and fail in epic fashion as I have so far, I do learn something.
In fact, I am chronicling this in public all because I so strongly believe that we often learn best by failing. Certainly we can choose to resist learning from failures, but usually the lessons are so "loud and clear," they can lead to real success if we can heed them.
Or so I hope! Ha.
Which brings me to one of my all-time favorite quotes:
"Success consists of going from failure to failure, without lost of enthusiasm."
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