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
Clearly I'll need a quote to put on the page I just worked on today (below). Nothing has come to me yet. It's just begging for a quote, though. I don't think the page is finished, either. This is inspired by my new journal cover (see yesterday's post). I'm "knot good" at knots, but I am beginning to become interested in them.
A friend in Thailand who knows I make rugs sent me this utterly hilarious (but scary) link to a Black Hole Rug. I laughed out loud when I saw it...not that I'd want one! Check it out.
I finished a long-cherished old journal last night and started a new one today. I'm consciously trying to incorporate a lot of drawing into my journals, and it was hard to say goodbye to the old one as it's chock full of drawings.
But then I looked at the cover for my new journal and somehow I ended up doing this little drawing as an opener for it.
Inspiration posted below. Everyone has to start somewhere. Right?
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."
Jimmy Stewart, Grace Kelly, and Thelma Ritter would undoubtedly be bored.
Just in the past week I have felt well enough and gotten enough done here to want to begin working on my rugs again. I'm planning my next project, and want to get back to work on the rug I was forced to pack away when I began prepping for the upcoming move about ten months ago.
Today I returned to my hometown (a two hour drive) to meet with my former rug hooking group and we had a wonderful time. Here are some pictures:
Lenore is working on this vintage rug (a "rug rescue"). I 'm guessing it was partially hooked somewhere between 1940 and 1970. Not only is it unfinished, but you can see two large nasty holes, one in the dark gray area and one on the lower bottom edge. She's attached a completely new backing to the rug so that she can repair those holes, and will be working to complete the edges as well. I like the design and the colors, and look forward to seeing this finished.
Cheryl, our usual Rug Rescuer (Lenore is trying on that role at the moment!) is hooking a new rug--this lovely pattern on the right. It was intended as some type of panel or screen, but she's going to use it as a runner in her house. Not only is the design dramatic and striking, but she's using many variations of white in the background that--while not well-captured in this photo--make it even more interesting.
Also below is a closeup of the bottom of the panel, which will be bamboo plants. She hasn't quite gotten that far yet. I am looking forward to seeing how this one develops.
Here is Elizabeth's chair pad project (photo below). She had punch-hooked the pad on the right side of this photo years ago, and is now working on a similar design (in the frame on the left) for a matching chair. These colors are definitely "Elizabeth colors." Love them and this will be a beautiful duo when done.
Below is a rather blurry photo (I swear it looked ok when I took it) of Kathleen's current rug adventure. Only the right half of this rug is visible in the frame--there's an equal amount of it that carries over to the left, but you are not seeing it in this photo. This is a Green Man rug, and you can see half of his partially finished face here. I'm loving the new darker background. This rug has been languishing for a while since K has had a "challenging" year, but she's really moving right along on it now. I can't wait to see how this one develops either.
As for me, I was working on the reconstruction of an old pillow I'd hooked years ago; I needed to upgrade both the backing and the internal stuffing, so I was doing tedious sewing on it today. (It's always easier to do that sort of thing in a lively group!)
I brought along a rug that I am not ready to begin. I'll need to color plan it and do all the dyeing for it before I can get started, but here's a partial shot of the pattern, called "Russian Oriental."
I've had this pattern for about 25 years--it's actually the last pattern I own. I bought way too many patterns when I began hooking and for several years afterwards, and have been determined to complete them all so that I can get on with my own designs. I believe I've figured out a way to create my own "Oriental-type" rugs from here on. This rug will be about 4'x3' when finished. There are many decisions to make before I begin to work on it..
Oh how I love my rug group. Wonderful folks. Maria & Cynthia, you were much missed.
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.
Some simple warm-ups and practices from the online course I'm taking. I have a long way to go but I'm having fun and quite like a few of these.
And finally, because I can't resist: we are seeing some autumnal colors arriving very late in the season. Here is the tiny tree out my front window. It was green as recently as 48 hours ago, and then suddenly...
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