This image adorned the cover of my old 1979 calendar, one of the many I bought annually from rubber stamp artist Susan Riecken, who seems to have disappeared; I can't find any online presence for her and the last calendar I was able to get from her was in the early 1990s. After that she closed her Cambridge studio and I couldn't find a trace of her. Here is the actual cover of that calendar:
I completely adored her work. Each calendar was a labor of love. She carved the stamps from erasers and in the early years I *think* she hand-stamped each calendar, though I'm not sure. Pretty soon she had the hand-stamped pages reproduced so that she could produce the calendars in bulk, but that never interfered with the delicious colors or the funky marvelous designs. She was/is an art idol of mine. Wishing her well wherever she is, and hoping she's well and happy and making more art, even if I cannot find her.
About my interpretation/copy of her sunflowers: I knew when I ran across this calendar the other day that I wanted to try making a "stamp-like" design by scratching away on an Art Scratch tile. Using a wooden stylus would, I thought give the same chunky effect as a carved stamp. I think I was right.
This is a day traditionally held sacred to all women, honoring the sacred feminine and the Great Goddess in earlier times. For an excellent article with good information on its celebratory aspects (as well as superstitions and misogyny that have accrued around it), click HERE.
Who comprehends her? With whom can one consult concerning this Great Goddess?
--Ludwig van Beethoven
First try at the Trinity (the Celtic-Knot appearing tangle) and Balloya (the one with the multiple lines). I enjoyed doing both, and could certainly get better at both with practice. Why did I choose these two? Because they both began with triangles.
But never mind that. Look what just arrived from my kind and unbelievably talented friend AE. She MADE this. Since I can sew but only very badly, this boggles my mind. She sews like a pro, weaves wonderful things, beads exquisite pieces, does punch needle rugs, dyes her own yarns, and I know I'm forgetting other talents. And all of it beautifully.
I love this! Am I lucky or what?
Woke up early today and used the extra time to do this tangle. I had watched a Romi Marks (Tangled Yogi) video and used most but not all of her tangles for this.
She uses colored pencils, as have I when I've used her paper tiles, made from cardstock so they are very smooth and handle colored pencils beautifully.
I was using a regular Zentangle® tile today, though. That's made from printmaking paper and has a lot of tooth. So I went with General's Chalk Pencils for the color.
Today all I knew when I sat down to draw was that I wanted to work on something blue, invoking the quiet calm of that color. When more than a day passes with no drawing, I get tangle-deprivation syndrome. So, waking early was a pleasure; meditation is easier for me at that time of day, and I've noticed that any drawing I do at dawn or after dusk tends to be less self-conscious than when I draw during the day.
Blue color is everlastingly appointed by the deity to be a source of delight.
Slow but steady progress on the rug. Lots of decisions to make. There is more done but I'd rather save things for the Big Reveal later. I've done a fair amount of trying things out and then "reverse hooking" (aka ripping out) and re-hooking.
It's one giant experiment.
I rarely do things without at least a bit more planning, so this is fun. Compare this version to the one in my last post.
When you're experimenting you have to try so many things before you choose what you want, and you may go days getting nothing but exhaustion.
No drawing happening because I've been doing this.
Yep, back to traditional rug hooking. There is a lot more to this story, but I'll share that another time. I'm really enjoying the process, as always. I even have a space in my house reserved for this rug, assuming I like the way it turns out.
Ferocious thunder & heavy rain today while I was working on this. Anything that clears out humidity is fine with me. I'm concerned about those in the path of the Dorian hurricane however, and horrified about the Bahamas. How will the Bahamas recover?
(I am not in Dorian's path)
An "embedded letters" tile for Project Pack 06. The "No Mistakes" pack.
Meanwhile, I think/hope my creativity is beginning to come back. Finally some textile work, the start of a new rug.
I took another tangling class today, this one with Heidi Halpern Kay, a talented artist who has been teaching for only one year. She has no website that I can find, but she's active on Pinterest and Facebook. My hope in taking all these recent classes has been that they would inspire me to get back my creative mojo. I think it's working, although I won't know until I begin doing my own designs again.
This tile introduced me to Ecoline Markers, which I had never used before. Very interesting. I'll be doing a lot more experimenting. Tangles: Printemps, Hollibaugh, Pokeroot/Pokeleaf, Mooka. Ecoline Markers, Copic Markers, White Gellyroll, White chalk pencil, White Uniball Signo Pen, Sakura Multiliner pen. That's a lotta art supplies!
The big news for me is that I've begun another hooked rug. It's not at the stage where I can show anything; everything so far is just experimental and it will be awhile until I have something to show. This is one reason I think I'm starting to get back some mojo. Hurrah!
"What art offers is space--a certain breathing room for the spirit."
This is a 2nd version of the same tile I did a week or two ago. I made it today for a friend and will be sending it off to her tomorrow, hoping she likes it.
There is no harm in repeating a good thing.
With thanks to Romi Marks, TheTangledYogi, for her design--drawing and coloring by me.
A good friend who is also a CZT (Certified Zentangle Teacher) was here this week and stayed long enough for both of us to take the same online class via the TangledYogi--aka Romi Marks, a very good teacher. I'd encourage you to check out her work, including her YouTube videos.
Below you will see our results. The first two are mine--think of them as Draft 1 and Final. Here is the draft:
Romi refers to this as the "Aloha Waves" piece. The design is hers, but drawn by me, and then the color choices are mine. In a moment you can see the final result below, once I'd had time to mull this one over. I hope you can see what I added.
The piece was done on one of Romi's hexagonal tiles, which are available on her website (see the link at the top of this email). She has them made from high-quality card stock and they are very smooth and accept colored pencil well. They are also larger than the standard Zentangle® tiles (made from Fabriano Tiepolo printmaking paper, softer and tooth-ier). The two most recognizable tangles here are Pokeleaf and Crest, along with a Zengem.
My finished piece is below, and then below that one you can see the gorgeous result of my friend's work. Two identical tiles, drawn by two different people, with two completely different coloways.
Above is the completed version of the one I did. Below is the tile done by AE in the same class. We were drawing together during class, hearing and seeing the same instructions. Yet if you look you'll see slight differences in mine (above) and hers (below). Zentangle® is just like handwriting. The same tangle drawn by two different people will always be a little (sometimes a lot) different.
But wait--there's more. She also decided to take up punch hooking and got her equipment together while she was here, designed a piece, and began punching. I can't wait to see what she produces.
The good news for me is that I think I'm about to start work on another rug and have something textile-related to show soon. It's been too long.
It occurs to me that this has turned into a Zentangle® blog and has not showed any of my textile work recently. That's because there hasn't been any textile work recently. I've temporarily lost my textile mojo. Maybe because it's summer, and who wants to work with wool in the summer...but I am starting to get concerned. Ok, enough of that. Let's just hope inspiration returns.
Last night I did a quick tangle based on the Project Pack 06 Day 5, which was great fun. It was so late when I did this that my hands were shaky but that's alright:
That version of Mooka, discovered by Julie Willand, CZT, was hugely fun, although I need more practice with it. I think my version/attempt should be called "Black-Capped Melting Mooka" for the little caps I added to it. I am looking forward to playing with it more.
This evening I took an online class with Romi Borax Marks, CZT, also known as The Tangled Yogi. She is all about color and is an excellent teacher, as I've been saying an my recent posts. Here is the result.
That was the first time I worked on a hexagonal tile--they are all the rage right now in the Zentangle world. I enjoyed it (especially for the smooth tooth of this particular paper) but am not sure what all the fuss is about yet. I need to experiment with them more. Happy to have had a chance to try one, though.
Well this was tough! I'm not quite sure why. I did notice, though, that when I sat down to work on this, I was not feeling at my best emotionally. In fact I was feeling like s*** emotionally. That's quite unusual, but it's been a tough couple of weeks. Events and politics have been even more challenging (which is really saying something in this country).
I got started and right from the get-go I disliked what I was doing. If I had been working on a single sheet of paper or a tile, I'd probably have abandoned this. Possibly I'd have ripped it up. But I was working in a special notebook, and didn't feel I could leave it and ignore it without diminishing all the other pieces I had done already in the book. So, following a Zentangle guideline, I kept my hand moving and focused on one line at a time. I worked and worked, but really. did. not. like. it.
Following another Zentangle guideline, I walked away from it for a while. When I returned, it still wasn't exciting me but I noticed I didn't dislike it quite as much. So I sat down and kept on. And on. And on!
It's still not my favorite page, but I'm ok with where I ended up, especially given how I felt when I started. Most of all, I'm happy I persisted. There's a lesson in here. My mood had improved substantially when I was done.
There is nothing more dreadful than the habit of doubt.
--attributed to the Buddha
Yesterday I asked my neighbor if she knew what the flowering, beautifully scented bush was in our front yard (we didn't plant it) and she said yes: Clethra. I thought she said "plethora" and assumed she was referring to the high number of fabulous blossoms. But no, she was naming Clethra alnifolia, also known as the sweet pepperbush or "summersweet." I love that last name.
Summersweet is incredibly seductive to honeybees and butterflies, both of which I've seen--a "plethora" of them--since it began to bloom a few weeks ago. And the scent...oh, the scent is so lovely. I feel honored to be in the presence of this plant. I remember it bloomed the first summer I moved here, but not last year. What a treat to have it make such a big comeback this year. Here's a blossom from our front yard.
There were so many honeybees and other cuties drinking from the flowers that I'm surprised I didn't have to beat any of them back to get this photo but this one stem was not being worked just as I snapped the shutter. Lots of Monarch butterflies and other butterflies around it also this year. It's a good year for the Monarchs around here--god knows they need a good year. And the bees as well.
Advice from a Honeybee
Create a buzz.
Sip life's sweet moments.
Mind your own beeswax.
Always find your way home.
Stick close to your honey.
Always bee yourself.
I hasten to say here that I am simply following along with the Project Pack videos as I draw, so these compositions are copies of what is on the videos, not my original compositions. 99% of what I post here is original to me, but sometimes, when I don't have the mojo--which has been happening lately for unknown reasons--it's just so relaxing to follow along and copy-to-learn-from someone else's work. I always attribute the work to the originator, as I've done here and for my last several posts.
Working my way through Project Pack 06 (this is from Day Two) I am thinking about Blackness and Whiteness (and everyone else--brown, yellow, red) in my country. Doing this drawing in black and white was calming and joyful, but I'm also thinking of the deep racial disparities and oppression in existence here, now even more obvious. Not that they ever went away.
The week before Toni Morrison died, I watched an absolutely wonderful documentary on her life (highly recommended). I had no idea that she was sick and fixing to die as I watched. I left the theater and decided to re-read all of her books, beginning with The Bluest Eye, which I last read around 1976. I have just finished reading it and am stunned all over again by the power and beauty of her words, along with the pain and the level of truth we all need to face.
Rest in peace, Toni Morrison. You have been and will continue to be a powerful teacher for me and for others.
I'll have to let this song speak for me, because I cannot say what is in my heart after this terrible week in my country.
Wrong. Tragic. And entirely preventable.
This tangle helped me to center myself, but did not take the pain away.
Credit for the composition goes to Romi Borax Marks, but I did the drawing and colors.
I am definitely--and very oddly--still off my game, but I did manage to produce this today:
I would love to take full credit for it, but the truth is that while I did indeed draw this, I was really just following along with a video on YouTube by Romi Borax Marks, CZT. She has a lot of videos and they are all worth watching. I needed to be totally brainless-but-focused and her video did the trick. Don't get me wrong: SHE'S not brainless! I am the temporarily brainless one. I needed to be "one of the herd" today, and not have to think about anything.
I had to vary my materials quite a bit from what she uses, and that did require some creativity. For example, all the color on her video is applied with colored pencils. On mine, I first applied art tissue paper in order to prep the tile before I bound it into a Bitty BookZ™ so the color was already there and thus I had to use colors I'd chosen weeks ago; I did punch them up a bit with Prismacolor pencils. In addition, Romi uses very smooth tiles that she produces and sells, whereas my tangle was done on traditional Fabiano Tiepolo printmaking paper (i.e., the regular 3.5" Zentangle® tile) which has a lot of tooth (not smooth). So in the end there was a big difference between her process and mine.
Why I am feeling so creatively stymied is a big question, and I expect I'll understand it eventually but in the meantime I am just attempting to make a quiet and easy "comeback" with completely non-stressful work. There's not much that is less stressful than working alongside an excellent video done by an excellent teacher. I highly recommend Romi's videos.
The ever-turning Wheel of the Year has moved again here in the Northern Hemisphere; we're now at Lammastide, the part of the old agricultural cycle when the corn is ripe for harvesting along with so many other plantings. In the area where I live, corn is standing tall in the fields, and ears of corn are beginning to be sold in the various roadside stands, along with cucumbers, tomatoes...so much to harvest and too long to list.
My wish is for everyone on the planet to have enough to eat. I know it is not so now, but may it be so in the future.
Here's a tile with all new (to me) tangles, done on the last page of one of my handmade books. Tangles are Kauri Kunda, Scape, and Sikito. On a Renaissance tile with black Micron 01, graphite, and chalk pencil.
This one is my first try at the tangle called Windmill, by CZT Hiroko Matsuo. That's where the "Testing Testing" title of today's post comes from.
Done on a Renaissance (tan) tile with Micron 01 in black, graphite, and some light chalk pencil. This one has so many possibilities. I did it in one of my Bitty BookZ™ I'd made last month--this book is nearly full now.
I ran the same photograph thru an iPhone app, Painnt, and got this.
Maybe my creative mojo is starting to sneak back? I would love to get some textile projects going, especially a rug.
Yesterday I managed to get it together enough to create ONE full-sized tile Bitty BookZ™ which you can see below. I experimented with some new untested techniques which might mean that the book will fall apart eventually. But right now, it's ok.
Just below is the back cover on the left, the dark blue spine, and the front cover on the right; you can see how flat the book is when lying on the counter. Below that is the book opened to the only page that has a completed tangle on it. All the other pages are blank.
This should be fun to work in. I'm glad I managed to get enough mojo back to create SOMETHING after days and days of nothingness.
I've lost all my mojo! All my creative mojo, that is. No textile work of any kind is underway. I've barely been able to tangle at all. I am uninspired. This has been going on all month. Mercury Retrograde? The sticky weather? A less-than-pleasant though not at all serious recent medical adventure? All of those things? I dunno. But I sure hope I can find some mojo soon.
At least I managed to get this done today.
Some knots can only be resolved and undone with relaxation and patience. (Sridhar Ramasami)
The great advantage of being in a rut is that when one is in a rut, one knows exactly where one is. (Arnold Bennett)
I finally tackled making a full-sized tile version of Bitty BookZ™ today. It isn't perfect by any stretch of the word but - as usual - it's "good enough" for my first one and I learned what to do and what not to do for the next one. I'm liking this full-sized version. All the interior pages of this are tangled already because I used my "Teaching Tiles," (tiles I've created when preparing to teach a class) and some of my earliest tiles from back when I first learned. This is a great way to store previously tangled tiles.
Compare this one to the previous post where I worked that previous tile just as Maria did (basically copying her to learn from her). Last night and today I re-did it more in my own style, as a mandala. I added a few random things and a variation of the tangle Fanning (which I had never done before) around the edge, then shaded with a grey chalk pencil and highlighted with white. I'm liking the result, and feel like I've explored this "theme" created by Maria as much as I wish to right now. I'm done with it for for the moment.
Weather here is fiercely hot and humid. Not that far (20 miles) from me the heat index today was 115 degrees F, resulting from a high temperature and a dew point of 79. I had no idea dew points could even go that high. When I ventured outdoors to get the mail this evening it felt as though I was walking thru a vat of hot soup, wearing a sweater. It's been years since the weather has been this bad. Tomorrow will be the same; they are promising relief by Monday night. Let's hope so!
Trying to get my mojo back after a long period of (puzzling) lack of interest. We have a heat wave moving in, my most dreaded weather. Perhaps staying home during that will enable me to get some more tangling done. Still no interest in textile work, although hot weather often brings that on.
Below is my version of Maria Thomas's latest "Kitchen Table Tangle." She invited us all to give it a try, so I did. She scored and folded hers, but I wanted to leave mine unfolded. She used watercolors and I used chalk pencils. Because of the nature of Zentangle®, they look very similar but are in fact very different. It's like two people writing the same sentence on a sheet of paper with cursive script--it's the same sentence but their individual handwriting will make the two versions look very different.
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:
My next Beginning Zentangle® class is not yet scheduled--stay tuned.
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