I have been wrestling with a textile project, and that's why you don't see me posting here. It's not lack of interest. It's a combo of s-l-o-w progress on the next rug and being so tied to it that I cannot seem to get any drawing or Zentangle® work going. Eventually I'll be back. Thanks for your patience.
Meanwhile, here is a badly-photographed teaser on the project:
Well of course there are mistakes. We all make mistakes.
I made some major mistakes in drawing this tangle, Waybop. I've drawn it before but not for a couple of years. I really screwed up the linework on this tile.
But here's the thing: "There are no mistakes in Zentangle®." That's one of our axioms. Because just like in life, we have to deal with whatever's right in front of us and work with it, mistakes or not.
So I didn't tear up this tile. I kept it overnight and decided to try coloring it. Here below is the result.
Glad I held onto it and decided to keep working on it. I've ended up really liking it a lot. I chose colors to match the oriental rugs in a friend's home.
This entire process was an experiment.
Could I produce this tangle from memory? No, I couldn't and the original linework was terrible. But...I could continue to work with it and end up with a good result.
It required only patience and determination. Lesson learned.
Two more "enhancing" techniques taught over the last 2 days of the weekend:
Streamers used on the rays emitted from the central motif. The "pushbacked tangles" have all been faded with General's white chalk, leaving the bright main motif (with a punch of pink chalk pencil). Micron 01 in Black, graphite, white chalk pencil, pink chalk pencil, white gellyroll pen). Tangles are: Well Well Who, Sez, Moon Pie, and Ravel.
And here are the class mosaics, or as many as my camera could catch:
All based on the same directions. A careful look will show how each is so different from any other.
Drawing is like handwriting--very individualized.
The next day started off with this tile.
Here's the thing--Molly had pre-drawn a very odd string (string = an optional guideline done in pencil) on every student's tile. Very odd.
We were asked to tangle within the string, not outside of it. OKaaaaaaaay...
Off we went.
Once we were done, mine looked like this.
Lots of fun and very calming.
But still, weird.
I think we were all scratching our heads a bit, despite enjoying ourselves.
But then, we did the mosaic of tiles. AHA! Now it all made so much sense:
Hearts with a trick! I love it.
The workshop with Molly & Martha was designed to emphasize what's known as tangle "enhancers." This first one was the Tucker technique, where something appears to be almost hidden, tucked away under the paper. I was familiar with it but hadn't tried it much. If ever. This was fun to do. I think the grey pen section qualifies as another technique called "ghost tangles."
Below you can see the class "mosaic" of tiles. Isn't it interesting how everyone draws their tangles differently, even with the same directions? Drawing is a lot like handwriting--the same, but very different. One of life's paradoxes.
Next we did a mandala of border tangles using both brown and black Microns, graphite, and white and pink General's chalk pencils.
We used ModPodge on top of the tile once it was done to seal it, but not over each of the borders, just some.
Tangles included a portion of Marasu, Jonqal, Shattuck (with sparkles), Bales with enthatching), Well (with weighted lines), and weighted Printemps (there's a narrow beaded border thrown in there twice, plus dots). Lots of enhancers here!
Again, here is the mosaic of tiles for the border mandala. So many differences, yet so much similarity.
Two more pieces from last weekend's Zentangle® workshop with Martha Huggins and Molly Hollibaugh. And I still have others to post over the next few days.
You can see the text from this piece in my workshop explanation from my post two days ago. But here you can see the entire piece. During the workshop we tangled one side of these glasses, and I finished the other side today. Dark Gray Micron 01, graphite, pink and white General's Chalk pencils. Rose colored glasses indeed. Some of the tangles used were: Bales, Weighted Crescent Moon, Pokeleaf and Pokeroot, MoonPie, Mooka, Indyrella, and Florz.
We also did some tangling on wood, which turned out to be surprisingly easy. We then painted Mod Podge (glossy) on top as a seal.
Tangles here are Pokeroot, Fescue, Tipple, a variation of Florz, and Rick's version of Flux. I used a Black and a Brown Micron 01, as well as graphite.
At some point I'll flip it over and do the other side as well.
Not-quite-but-nearly-done. All that is left: re-punch about 4 loops, steam it, and then hem it. Not sure if I'll frame it or just tack it on a wall somewhere as is.
The moment I heard this saying, I knew I had to either make a rug from it or do an embroidery of it. Since I'm out of floor space, the second option made better sense. Anyone who was taught by nuns will know exactly what it means. (In their defense, the nuns were always kind to me. But not to all the kids)
In this incredibly troubled world, I was lucky enough to be able to take three days for travel and drawing.
Nearly every second of that time, I was acutely aware of the many tragedies currently unfolding on our fragile blue planet, and acutely aware of the great privilege to be able to have the peace that drawing can provide. Over all three days, I carried both worlds with me simultaneously. I think we all did. There were about 40 of us in attendance, with Martha Huggins and Molly Hollibaugh from Zentangle® as our teachers. I'll post a few of the results over the next couple of days.
This was the title of the workshop. (Yes, there was lots of Edith Piaf singing "La Vie En Rose" in the background) M&M discussed the importance of looking for the good in life, no matter what is happening. And we all know there is a LOT of misery, horror, and fear happening at this moment. The point is not to ignore any of that or pretend it is not happening, but to carefully look around for moments of rest , of peace, of something beautiful despite everything else going on. Without these, what hope do we have? Without these moments of rest, we cannot go on. With them, we can begin to see and think clearly and act effectively.
A "warm-up tile" from the first evening.
It can be nearly impossible to find a way to cope with life at times like this. So many people I know are exhausted, angry, disillusioned, terrified, and feeling helpless. I cannot and do not ignore that nor any of the existential threats we face at the moment. Yet who can function with any measure of wisdom or compassion in such a state? We must all try to take a moment whenever we can to recognize both the possibilities AND the limitations we face. And then find a scrap of inner peace and sit with that until we can un-clench.
Any healthy thing that can give us that moment is precious. Drawing is one thing that does it for me. Music as well. Speaking with friends. Helping someone who needs help.
In order to be functional, I need to do this in small moments throughout the day so that I won't get lost in discouragement. We all need some way of doing this--desperately. I am fortunate enough to be able to occasionally stop and just draw for a while. I know that others on the planet who are being bombed or shot at do not have that luxury right now.
I do it both for myself and for the people who don't have that option, in the hope that calming myself will enable me to think and act more clearly to support them in their time of need.
Kaira Jewel Lingo has just written a book called We Were Made for These Times, about how to survive and cope with the turmoil currently gripping the world. You can listen to her by clicking on the link below, as she's interviewed by former ABC News Anchor Dan Harris.
May we all find shelter and safety
May we all find peace within and without
May we all be kind to ourselves and each other
May we all become whole.
Mindful of the passage of time, I have begun the process of sorting and letting go of possessions. Trust me, this will take years and I don't know if I can offload enough so that what's left when I make my exit won't still burden those left behind (I'm hoping not to make an exit anytime soon but who knows).
In recycling some old journals I found this ten-minute pencil sketch from 1983. It was fading away.
I've always loved it and the memory it brought back, so I saved it and recycled the rest of the journal. I traced the graphite with a Micron 005 and here you have it.
Then I decided to take it further and add some shading (below). Did I ruin it or enhance it? I'm not sure. I know I'm glad I thought to take a photo of the original before I did anything else.
This was early on in my drawing career (not that I actually HAVE a drawing career). Probably shortly after I had read Betty Edwards' wonderful book, Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain.
I remember exactly where I was when I drew this, even the time of day, and the scents and sounds around me. The iris was a rich, deep purple and was embedded in a fabulously beautiful late spring garden in New York State. It took ten minutes to draw and during that time my happiness increased a thousand percent.
Such is the power of drawing.
No matter how bad a drawing is, somehow it's always more powerful than a photo. For me, anyway.
Isn't it odd how we don't get the roses without also getting the thorns. Just like life.
As the saying goes, "it's been a week."
A death in the family stirred things up for me and for everyone who knew and loved the person. In times like this, I am grateful for my meditation practice. I was able to sit with the feelings, seeing them for what they are, and not run away from either the pain or the blessings. Those thorns were sharp and surprised me repeatedly. But the roses, in the form of kind and funny memories, have been worth it and will continue to be so.
And given what has been happening in the world right now, (tragedies too numerous to name), I know I am not alone in feeling that this week has been a tough one.
May we all seek and find our inner peace.
Ok, so maybe it IS odd. I had a lot of fun doing this. One thing about these knots--no matter how attractive or unattractive the result--they totally focus the mind while drawing. So much so that no other thinking happens. Or if it does, it is completely ignored in favor of focusing on the drawing.
I find this fascinating and reminiscent of certain meditative states. Quiet mind. Ahhhhhh...a treasure in today's world.
"We learn the rope of life by untying its knots." --Jean Toomer
"Those are the same stars, and that is the same moon, that look down upon your brothers and sisters, and which they see as they look up to them, though they are ever so far away from us, and each other." --Sojourner Truth
Great Jumpin' Jehosophat, would you believe it took me no less than SIX tries to get this knot done correctly? (I used a different, non-publishable word while catching all my errors and trying to figure it out, not the initial three words at the start of this paragraph. Use your imagination.) The tangle around the outside of the knot is called A'dalfa. It was new to me and I had fun with it. But the knot! OMG. I'm knot sure why it was so hard for me.
Eleanor Roosevelt once said, “Learn from the mistakes of others. You can't live long enough to make them all yourself.”
Um, Eleanor, I think I have news for you.
I like this version better. A friend prefers the version below. The mystery of how we see color and our differing color preferences is always intriguing.
For this version, I took what I had below and used my Prismacolor pencils to enliven the colors. And also got a bit dotty. And added some graphite shading. And layered in more colored pencil. And, and, and...
This is the version my friend prefers, and it's the the original. It's all done in watercolor. I like it. I just like the one above better.
Microns 08 and 01 in black, watercolor pencils, graphite. Tangle around the edge is Foundabout, and I've used the Micron 01 to do some hatching as well.
Let me just add that it took me SIX TRIES to get this knot right. Talk about brain exercise.
Continuing the series here. Tangles are Debbie New's Imaritas and Imarisen, based on the painted pottery she saw at a museum.
And here was the sketch before I added the color:
The knots are like wonderful puzzles--it's nearly impossible to think other thoughts while figuring them out. Very relaxing, as long as one adopts what the is often called "don't-know-mind" in Zen and other meditative traditions.
This should clear up the mystery I posted about yesterday. In yesterday's post you can see the punched upper part of one of these shoes before I sewed it to the sole, a task I did today. This was such a fun project. Of course, espadrilles are totally and completely flat--no arch support. And I need that. So although they fit I'll probably give them away. But I did it. It was a challenge, and I did it.
And yes, they are resting on a chair cushion I punched (and designed) about 20 years ago. Also done with rug wool and a #10 Oxford Punch Needle.
This piece is experimental in so many ways. I won't say what it is yet. But I will say it's my first time using a #8 Oxford Punchneedle (normally I go with the #10), and I've enjoyed punching with it. The loops are so lush. The design is my own and I dyed the green yarn years and years ago; the other yarns are from Halcyon in Maine and from Judith Hotchkiss in Maine.
The big question: will this project actually come together and succeed?
I will have to wait and see. If it does work out, I'll be incredibly chuffed and you can be sure you'll see the end result here. Hopefully soon.
No symptoms and 2 negative Covid tests, 48 hours apart, after an exposure last Saturday. A perfect example of an occasion when negative - good news. (As it often does with medical data) Hurrah!
I celebrated by combining a Celtic Knot with Zentangle® again:
Just for now, I'm enjoying combining tangling with knots so you may be seeing a lot of these.
copyright to kirsti macleod (and the hundreds of women embroiderers around the globe, along with approximately 10-12 men and boys. also to the amazing women who constructed the pattern and sewed it together, and all those who've shared in the work of bringing it into reality. 2023). THREE HUNDRED AND EIGHTY EMBROIDERERS FROM 51 COUNTRIES AROUND THE WORLD. 14 years of work to bring it to birth.
Although I could be writing about this for days, I will refrain and restrict myself to some (not all!) photos I took of this amazing exhibit at the Southern Vermont Arts Center in Manchester Vermont this week. Alas, it leaves Vermont on Sunday.
A friend asked me whether I'd seen it. I didn't even know what she was talking about, so she filled me in and I researched what it was/why it was made and knew I had to go to see it. I am so happy I did, and I urge you to as well. To better understand what it is about, go to https://reddressembroidery.com/ and prepare to be very, very moved by what you see and read.
Meanwhile, here are more photos from the exhibit.
I hope you are interested enough to click on the URL I gave above and read about the intent of this amazing project. Enjoy. Many children also added their embroidery to the piece, including some little boys. And as I mentioned above, around 7 to 9 of the 380 embroiderers were men. The Red Dress is gradually being brought back to the 51 countries, to the people who worked on it, so that all may enjoy the completed piece. Many of the women who've worked on it will get to try it on and be photgraphed in it. I've seen some of the photos and they are incredibly empowering.
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