Indeed, it's been awhile.
Another round of surgery for me (nothing life-threatening), much-needed but requiring a lengthy recovery. And I'm not done yet. What I mean to say is, I AM done with the surgery but not anywhere near done with the recovery.
However, I've recovered enough to produce one tangle. Just one, but my first one in two months. That long a pause is almost unheard of for me. I had hoped to do a lot more drawing and tangling in recovery but it hasn't yet been possible.
The good news: Everything is going along well, just as predicted. I may be slow but I'm beginning to be able to "art" again. I've also been doing some punch needle embroidery but that's not at a stage where I can show it. Soon, i hope! I think I have about another 6-8 weeks of recovery to go and then I hope to be back to myself.
What to Do When You Need A Drink.
Well that's what I do, anyway.
What about you?
On days like this I need a comfort drink (it was -10 or -15° Farenheit last night and I heard "frost quaking" for the first time--who even knew that was a thing? So this morning, in the -5° weather, I treated myself to a good old DD coffee (and added mocha, so hot chocolate).
Oh, the comfort.
Then I drew it.
And finally I ran the drawing thru an iPhone app.
The Best-Laid Plans.
Interesting how plans go awry. For a couple of days I've been thinking about the old tangle, "Quandary." But I haven't drawn it in years and couldn't remember how. Today I grabbed some drawing tools and a tan 3-Z tile and gave it a go despite not remembering, and this was the result. It sure ain't Quandary--what the heck is it? Just some sort of pattern, with escapees in the lower left corner.
But what fun to do. Brainless drawing--just what I love! Nothing to think about, just filling in shapes. Very very soothing.
And just as in life, it didn't turn out as planned. But it turned out fine, anyway.
It's done! My fingers are a bloody mess from trying to push a needle through the thick canvas of the old tote bag to attach the punched piece. One finger is quite sore. But--I did it. Pleased. Thank you Amy Oxford for this design.
Time and Time Again.
I began this tile yesterday, at a late night workshop where everyone else was doing symbolic and pictorial drawings within a circular border and no one else was doing Zentangle® other than me. Given the purpose of the workshop, I think the NON-Zentangle drawings were a better idea (see the Mandala Secrets technique, which has nothing to do with tangling and is extremely interesting--I test-drove it several years ago and enjoyed it but it's not what I want to be doing just now).
Memory is such a tricky business. At this time of year I like to look backwards as well as forwards. "Liminal" was the title of my last post, and I am still there, in liminality. Doorways are the perfect illustration of that--they are transitional places.
I made this drawing 9 years ago today and just saw it again. I have no memory of what I was thinking when I drew it--it's probably a drawing from a photograph of an actual doorway somewhere.
Only after I'd pasted it in here did I notice the small question mark at the bottom of the drawing. What did I mean by that?
“The present changes the past. Looking back you do not find what you left behind.”
― Kiran Desai
Nope, No Mistakes
A major principle in Zentangle® is captured by the phrase, "No mistakes." Meaning, even if you do something "wrong," there's always a creative opportunity to explore and you may come out with something even better.
So far, despite being obsessed with the tangle below, I get it "wrong" every single time. And yet, it always looks good anyway (to me at least). I drew it on my 2023 calendar; it's "wrong" again, and I still love it.
I was forced to work around the error(s) but ended up with a cover design I will enjoy viewing anyway this year. In the process, though, I believe I have finally figured out the last piece of what I need to change, although I haven't tried it yet. Likely I'll continue to be obsessed by this tangle for some time to come! No mistakes, no mistakes, no mistakes.
Liminal, the word, is from the Latin word limen, meaning "threshold."
So here we are on the boundary between 2022 and 2023.
"Liminality" is that state of passing from one thing to another. Not-still-fully-there, and not-yet-fully-here. A challenging state indeed.
Last week I retrieved a quilt I made 40 years ago and put it on my bed. I love this quilt and loved every stitch I put into it--all by hand.
Series of Surprises.
Drawn by me yesterday, and hugely relaxing to do! I think it's been years since I used my Rainbow Lead Pencil--check out previous posts on the Rainbow Lead by looking in the right-hand column at the Categories section (scroll down and you'll see that category; click there to find the previous posts).
I have missed using it. Disorganization meant I couldn't find it for quite a while but I'm getting more organized and located my itty-bitty-stub of the original Rainbow Lead as well as a newer one.
What I love about the Rainbow Lead pencil is that you can try to manage it, but you really can never guarantee 100% what color is going to come out of the tip. I've learned to figure some of it out, but it still surprises me and I love that. It forces me to respond more creatively. In this case, it meant I somehow ended up with less color than usual, and that was fine. I like the opalescent look of this mandala.
Here are 2 more photos. In the first I was in the middle of the line work, and in the second I had finished and lined up all my tools (you can see the nearly-used-up stub of my original Rainbow Lead pencil there; I have to use a ""pencil extender to use the last bit of it.
Drawing this led to surprise after surprise with the colors. I love that!
When Comparison Is Helpful
It's been over ten years since I went to my first official Zentangle® class. I've never been able to locate my actual tiles from that class (as you can imagine if you read this blog, I've got zillions of completed tiles) and believed I had lost them years ago.
Why should I care? Because occasionally, other tanglers will post "Here's my first Zentangle ever! And here is what I'm drawing now for contrast," and I always enjoy seeing the effect of their practice. Practice makes SUCH a difference! I've always wished I could find my first tile to view the effect of my own practice.
Then this morning I followed some clues that led me to look in my photo collection from 2012. And yay! I found photos of my first two tiles from my first "official" instruction by a CZT. Unfortunately I cannot remember her name, and I don't think she's teaching any more. I would like to thank her but don't know how.
We did 2 tiles in that class, which I remember as only about 2 hours long. I do remember rushing to keep up. But she got in all the basic tangles (Crescent Moon, Hollibaugh, N'Zepple, Tipple and a few others). Perhaps "speed tangling" was not the best way for her to teach, but I got the idea, including the principles, and took off from there. Without further adieu, here they are--tangles from my very first one in 2012 to 2020, eight years after I learned. The progression is obvious.
Proof that anyone can do this.
As always, I'm struck with the parallels between tangling and meditation. Practice is practice, no matter where it's applied, and it always improves things. We may not be able to see it minute to minute, but observing month after month and year after year, the difference is huge.
“Painting is a means of self-enlightenment.” --John Olsen
The finished punched piece is done, steamed, etc., but I want to sew it to a canvas zipper bag and I cannot find a bag that fits this size, 8"x15". If I had the skills to sew such a bag I would do it, but I know my own limitations and that type of sewing is beyond me. So, I'm on a search for the right kind of zipper pouch. That way, I can sew this on and have a "Punching Bag" to put my punch needles in. Pardon the pun (ch).
Earlier this week I had the chance to go to zenAgain 2022, a class for Certified Zentangle® Teachers (CZTs) in Newport Rhode Island. And oh what a great time we had. This was a new tangle from headquarters, one of several they taught. I believe it's named after Martha's son Wyatt. I'm not sure I am done with this one yet, but I'm posting it for now.
We stayed at a hotel on an island just off the coast of the town and the view of the ocean from my window was magnificent. But having several days in a row to do nothing but draw and see wonderful art by others was the best part.
Really, I do have plenty of other jewelry than brooches, but there are indeed a lot of those. So here is the next one. I'm really enjoying these tiny drawings.
Having said that, I actually never wore this brooch much--it wasn't a favorite and neither is my drawing of it (which takes liberties and includes the tangle Tipple) but that's ok since it is keeping me doing a little bit of drawing every day, which is the goal.
And here's the sterling silver version from which I did the drawing.
This one brings back deeply transformational memories of travels to the Southwest decades ago with dear friends.
Continuing the series of quick drawings of old jewelry I own.
Whoops--I nearly forgot to include the actual sterling silver brooch below, next to the start of the drawing:
Heart of Steel
Not really steel. Just silver or silver alloy or something. It's quite oxidized.
Whatever it's made of, it's clearly a heart and is on some type of tie-tack back, but I think of it as a brooch. I'm not usually a fan of heart-shaped things but this one charmed me. Although to be honest, I cannot remember a single occasion on which I wore it.
The real piece is no more than one inch high. You can see the difference between the lighting in which I photographed the actual heart versus the lighting that was on it when I put it in a different place for the drawing.
I'm not sure how far I'll go with this series, but it's a wonderful way to get to drawing again--just focusing on tiny things.
The Porcelain Brooch
It's been so long since I've done any drawing. I thought I'd get myself re-started with some simple line drawings of old jewelry. Things I used to wear often but haven't had out in years. At some point I'll begin giving them away, but since I loved them at the time I thought it would be great to have a few sketches. Once I got the linework done, I couldn't resist adding a tad of the original color. Clearly I took liberties with things--the actual brooch is below.
Travels in Vermont
A good friend and I met in Vermont Tuesday afternoon for a textile tour (self-planned), the high point of which was a stop here.
Oh my! I had not been back there in SIX YEARS. Awful, because I absolutely love the place. And there have been so many changes in the meantime. It was fabulous to hang out with Amy, Heidi, and the others I hadn't met previously because they've all been hired since i was last able to visit. Of course I bought some goodies for myself too, the last of which was this brightly colored hoodie. It's warm and comfortable and I may never take it off.
Just an amazing class from Lynn Mead of The Tangled Mind today--a benefit for children in Ukraine. I loved every minute of the class.
Lots of discussion about MC Escher (of course), but also excellent teaching and plenty of time to tangle. Done on gray cardstock with a black Micron 05 and graphite pencil with some white chalk pencil for highlights. This was very much in the "quick and dirty" mode. Fun!
First 3 days of Inktober this year. I make a start but rarely finish. So far I'm not crazy about any of these tangles and so I changed 2 of them to such an extent that they are barely recognizable. (Tangles are: Rain, Delray, ISEA-U). In fact one of them isn't recognizable at all!
We'll see if I continue through the month this year. A class I'm teaching and some textile projects might interfere.
When I finished this tile I was really pleased with it--then I photographed it and blew up the photo and once I saw how incredibly shaky all the linework is (it doesn't show so much when it's this size), I was horrified. Yet another benefit of aging! But when I consider the alternative, aging is just fine with me. Being out of practice is also a likely cause.
What the heck?
Explanation: Rug punching is done on a pattern printed backward, so words are reversed. The "wrong side" side you punch into; the "right side" is the reverse. I'm using an Oxford Punchneedle #10 (thank you, Amy Oxford, for inventing this) and a small pattern (from the Oxford Company) to create a "punching bag" for my punching supplies.
I need a "brainless" small project to bring to rug hooking meetings with me. My current traditionally hooked rug-in-progress requires constant thinking/planning, and I cannot go to what's basically a social event and bring my entire wool stash with me just because I haven't finished the color plan yet and "might need" a dash of this or that.
Fortunately, I have enough of my own hand-dyed wools that I can start in on this immediately, and it's quite portable. Ideal for attending a rug hooking group.
An hour later:
Here you can faintly see the word "punch" up above on the linen, and I've done some outlining. This is the messy stage of punching, before you fill in background--which makes those unruly loops get back in line and behave themselves. The last step is to push around any remaining straggly loops, part of the clean-up process after the punching is done. More to come.
Total Textile Enjoyment
I've been working on this for months and finally finished it today. What fun this was to do, especially as it was one of the only art projects I could handle during my recent medical adventure. Thank you, E, for the permission you gave me to adapt your design.
19 1/4 x 9 1/4" punch needle embroidery, adapted, color planned, punched, and finished by me in 2022. I used a medium UltraPunch needle set on #2 and a wide variety of sock and fingering yarns (all wool) plus some crochet cotton and cotton floss. The design is copyright to Elizabeth Stagl, a good friend who designed and hooked this in other colors as a gorgeous rug at least a decade ago, based on art she'd seen on her travels in South Africa. Elizabeth kindly gave me permission to hook a copy of her rug and I first did this embroidery as a prototype. I'm now working on my own rug. The design is NOT available as a pattern so please respect the copyright.
A close-up. Someone has said that punch needle is "the only activity where repeated stabbing is legal and permissible." So true.
And of course, the repetitive action is totally meditative (but I must admit that stabbing action does feel good at times--ha.).
This still needs a bit of tweaking, as you can see from the close-up. I'll get to doing that later today.
Before you ask, "How long did it take to do that?" the answer is: I don't know. There were weeks/months when I wasn't well enough to work on it, and you can see yourself how many stitches go into this one small section, so multiply that by the total dimensions above. It doesn't matter. It's so much FUN!
Certainly not perfect, but good enough. Perfection is not the goal.
I took a break today from the Lunar Phase Project (see the last few posts) and followed along on a video by Tanglewerks CZT. She has many videos; the one I watched had no words, just music (and I shut off the music). She did her mandala on a white tile. I put it mine a grey tile, made a few changes, and added white chalk to spice things up. It was a lovely way to spend the first few hours of a day--just quiet practice. A meditation indeed.
How Quickly We Forget
I used to be able to draw any phase of the Moon easily from memory. This is the Moon in Waning Crescent mode, as I've positioned it above. (of course I could flip it around 180° so that the white "horns" point left and then it would represent exactly the opposite, but this is how I drew it--waning). I haven't been watching the Moon as much during the last couple of years, and sure enough, I'm beginning to forget what's what. Time to check back in with Her!
In fact, I have a series of tiles prepped as the Moon in Her various phases and I noticed confusion as I tried to put them in order this morning. Could. Not. Do. It. Had to resort to googling the Moon's Phases (what DID we do before smartphones?) in order to turn things the right way. Yes, definitely time to check back in with Her daily changes.
While trying to determine exactly how long those tiles have been sitting around waiting for me to finish them, I re-discovered this (below). If you asked me, "Have you ever drawn an elephant?" I would have said with 100% confidence, "Nope." But here it is. And I drew it. Memory is notoriously unreliable!
I based the coloring and the stars on an amazing photo I saw of a man in India riding an elephant for a spiritual celebration of some sort (to Ganesh, perhaps?). His elephant had been covered with light blue blue dust and he or someone had painted stars all over it. It pretty much looked like this. I completely changed the blanket, though, and left off the man, and used a template for the outline of the elephant from Ben Kwok of Ornation Creation (he has tons of animal templates). So this is not a copy of the photograph, not even close. I rarely tangle anything representational but my friend Julie adores elephants so I framed and gave it to her. And I drew it exactly 7 years ago today. A lot has happened in that time--she got married and now has a lovely little boy. I'm betting the elephant picture is somewhere in her house, maybe even in his room.
Finally, since I've been on a Moon kick, yesterday I had fun with a Zendala I'd prepped with a watercolor wash a long time ago. Just playing with the tangle Ibex. I started off like the photo on the left and then somehow ended up like the photo on the right. Not my best work but oh boy did I have fun playing.
Really, it is the same tile, just taken on 2 different backgrounds under different light conditions and clearly I'd done more drawing in the version on the right. Still, when you look at the color differences, it's hard to believe it is the same tile. I think I prefer the one on the left, before I overdid the work on it. Live and learn.
Ah--I just heard that Queen Elizabeth has died. I know she was still working as recently as the day before yesterday, when she greeted the new PM. Talk about taking to a role in life with utter dedication--how serious she was about it! She wasn't perfect, but she was wonderful anyway. She was born to become an archetype, and perfectly lived the role. Go in peace, Lady.
This is part of a project I began years ago in a workshop with Martha Huggins and Molly Hollibaugh. And I do mean years ago.
It always surprises me how much better I feel on a day when I draw. Whether the piece turns out well or not, the process is mindful and meditative.
Here's a short article on why drawing--bad or good--is loved by so many. (Many of these same points could be describing the practice of meditation.) Count me in.
Back At It.
My hands have gotten much shakier since I was last able to tangle, but I am back at it. Yay!
I'm a textile artist (traditional rug hooking, punch needle rug hooking, and other textile arts), a long-time meditator, a certified meditation teacher and coach, and focused on learning about the interplay of art, creativity, and mindfulness every day.
SITES TO WATCH:
Insight Meditation Society
Oxford Rug Hooking School
Zentangle: The Official Site
Green Mountain Rug Hooking
Massachusetts Tarot Society