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
Continuing yesterday's theme...
Surprise #1: Another bunch of Rainbow Pencils (a different brand I found on amazon) arrived in the mail today from China, so I tried them out. Good thing that these Rainbow Pencils are cheap, because I hate them. They cannot be sharpened to a good point, and the lead keeps breaking during sharpening. Ugh! I would not recommend this brand at all. Here's a photo of what NOT to get:
Surprise #2: My back is demonstrably better this afternoon. Hallelujah! May it continue.
Surprise #3: I thought I'd try out the new Rainbow Pencil on another "String Thing" tile for the same challenge as yesterday, #111. So once again I tried Hamail, the focus of this challenge, with some Meringue and a little bit of Tipple. Here it is...but the big surprise is the next photograph, in which I used the same tile but mirrrored it with my iPhone mirror app...and just look what happened. All I can say is, wow.
I simply cannot believe what that mirror app did to my "so-so" tile. I love it.
On the downside, you can see what not being able to get a sharp point does to the lines in the tile--very cloudy and mushy. A nice effect if that's what you want, but as it happens, it isn't what I wanted. That's ok, though, as I love the mirrored version anyway.
Once I saw that, I had to try it in another app on my phone called Waterlogue. Here's that one.
Today is one of those days when everything feels surprising. The gorgeous weather. What occurred in my meditation this morning. The fact that I'm still having some serious back issues, which haven't taken this long to resolve before. Hearing that Yogi Berra just died (I was a big fan of his Yogi-isms, such as, "You can observe a lot just by watching," and "I usually take a two-hour nap from one to four"). Loved that guy, and I am happy that he had such a long life and appeared to enjoy it.
The next surprise came when I did the It's a String Thing #111 challenge today. Tangles are Hamail and Flux. I got almost nothing else done but at least I did this. And wow--it went nowhere I thought it was going to go and turned out totally differently than I expected. I thought it would be black and white...no. I had planned to use a different tangle than Flux...no. Nothing turned out as I thought! But the real surprise comes AFTER this picture:
As usual, I was playing with my iPhone Mirror app after taking the photo, and tried out some new capabilities, and the app came up with this, which I really like a lot (I'm still not sure how I like the original):
Surprised that the app even changed the colors...and I like them better. Such an interesting app, with many more features that I look forward to explore. More surprises in store.
I haven't done a string thing challenge in quite a while. Check out that link to see the original string. Tangles include Cubine, Printemps, and Lanie (by Adele Bruno) and I completely forgot to add the 4th tangle, so I won't even name it here, but I just may have to do another tile tomorrow and add that here. I used Derwent spectrum blue, lemon cadmium, and deep cadmium pencils on some of the tile. I wanted to leave a lot of white space on this tile--both literally (the white parts) figuratively (the background that's colored lemon cadmium but has no tangles on it). Fun! And now to try to incorporate that other tangle in a redo of this as soon as I have time.
Right now, it's time to go meditate.
Ok, a bit of time has passed, I've managed to get through a very scary doctor appointment with no bad news, and managed to get this done just before I left. This one has all four tangles--the ones above, plus the one I forgot, called Chemystery.
Not much time today; too much going on in my personal life (all good). This was done quickly and I quite like it. It's String Challenge #54 and two of the tangles are completely new to me.
PokeLeaf (M Thomas & R Roberts)
Onamoto (M Thomas & R Roberts)
Hurray (Agneta Landegren)
Planateen (Sandra Strait)
The last two were new and I plan to use both of them again.
What a lovely, lovely day it was here; cool, sunny, no humidity. Just perfect. Everything looked washed clean-and-clear after yesterday's downpours. I was fortunate to get outdoors and take a walk. I am also reading a lovely, (if controversial) book called The Mockingbird Next Door, which brings back all the pleasure of reading To Kill a Mockingbird for the first time in the 1960s, and again just a couple of years ago. This biography of Harper Lee may inspire me to read the novel a third time. The controversy in my current book is over whether she authorized the biography or not. Whether she did or she didn't, the book itself is evocative and enjoyable, and certainly seems harmless to her reputation--so far. Back to reading!
Happy Birthday! Actually it's a good friend's birthday today, and I did these with her in mind; we share a love of beads and the Lotus Pod tangle here by Margaret Bremner got me going on bead-like dots.
[I can hardly wait to get a new camera with my next phone--hopefully coming in September...]
This is String Thing Challenge #52, in celebration of one year of that challenge's existence. Also included here are Meringue, by Kelley Kelly, and Roscoe, by Vicki Bassett. Plus a few other adornments.
I did the black with a broad Uni-Ball Signo Pen, and oh boy do I ever wish I'd had a fine tip. But, ya make do with whatcha got, right? I then decided to follow it with a virtually identical white tile and a narrow-tip (.005) Micron.
Meanwhile, this morning I went out for a morning coffee and some sketching; I produced the worst, I mean, truly, the worst sketch I've done in a long time. I was intending to draw my plate, coffee mug, and the book next to them.
It's hilariously bad, and I ain't showing it! I was trying to sketch in the style of the phenomenal Andrea Joseph, who is teaching this week of Sketchbook Skool (SBS). Look again at her work--she works only with ballpoint pen. Yes, ballpoint pen. I have a serious case of art envy here.
I'm behind on my classes with SBS, so she may have a video on how to sketch effectively with a ballpoint. Too late for me! LOL. Seriously, I can only get better than this morning's disastrous attempt...and I will keep trying. Live and learn.
Very late doing something on this challenge but at least I got it done.
Two tangles here: Fancy Nancy by Adele Bruno, and Facet by Nancy Pinke. I had never tried either one before, and had fun doing this, even though I was tired from two weeks of steady traveling.
Happy tenth anniversary to Zentangle®, a truly inspiring meditative method which has been training non-artists to finally understand that they CAN produce art for ten years now.
The tile at left is part of String Thing Challenge (#49) and I've actually used this week's string, which creates the number 10, four times on this piece, so there's a 10 in each of the corners if you look.
To celebrate, I wanted to use tangles that were particularly associated with Rick Roberts and Maria Thomas, the creators of the Zentangle method, so I used Rick's Paradox (he came up with it, so it's named after him), and Zinger, which is a favorite tangle that Maria has used for years and it associated with her. I threw in a few other random decorations and also a bit of Knase and of Swarm. There's even a tad bit of Crescent Moon disguised as a sun in each corner. I really do have to get a better camera; the lower right quadrant is not faded on the actual piece.
Personally, I'm thrilled to have discovered this method of accessing creativity. It appears to have catapulted me back into my creative self, and I am forever grateful to Maria and Rick for helping me to reconnect.
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