Mistakes As Teachers
This was a terrific learning project! I did so many things wrong, and learned a ton in the process. I won't list them all but I can see them and you probably can as well. I value the piece anyway, precisely because it shows me what I learned.
I was at the Oxford Rug Hooking School in VT a couple of weeks ago for a fine shading workshop with the fabulous Judith Hotchkiss who came to us from Maine. Her unique hand-dyed wools were so much fun to work with. The pattern is Judith's own. I added the beads (which aren't particularly visible in this photo).
At some future point I'm inspired to try more fine shading, but I have several other projects lined up first. In fact I may even try another hydrangea, and prove to myself how much I learned by doing this one. We had a great time!
Occasional Cursing Involved.
This is my latest experimental departure from Pearl K. McGown's "Duncan" pattern. First I took the classic pattern, made a tesselated version, and then drew in randomly-located triangles inside each tesselation piece to create something different.
So it's both tesselated and triangled.
Some cursing was involved. But by my standards, not too bad. What is it about cursing that makes things easier? A few choice swear words are good for the soul.
"There ought to be a room in every house to swear in. It's dangerous to have to repress an emotion like that."
Video Practice, the Finish.
So here it is, with the colors added. This was great fun to do. The URL for the video is in yesterday's post, in case you want to try this yourself.
I'm using colors here I do not normally use--not sure what happened there. I am not a "pink" person in normal circumstances but this is what came out.
Contrast it to yesterday's black & white version.
Video Practice, the Linework
This is only the finished linework for a Zentangle®-inspired piece; I will be adding the color for it, hopefully later today or tomorrow.
If you'd like to try this yourself, it's called "Circus Star" and is free on The Tangled Yogi's YouTube channel. She has an especially lovely meditation at the start of this one, using video footage from a morning walk she took near a lake in California.
AND NOW, IN THE "BEGINNER'S MIND" CATEGORY:
Last Tuesday I was lucky enough to take a digital design workshop with Lucy Richard from Wooly Soul Strings, called "Sketchbook for Hookers." (that would be RUG hookers, people, not the other kind.)
I've been wanting to learn digital art for years now but haven't had time, and I could tell that Lucy's workshop on the Sketchbook app (simpler than Procreate) would teach me the basic concepts.
This was a fabulous workshop and very much a lesson in Beginner's Mind. Talk about FLAILING AROUND. It was a humbling and hilarious experience. Fortunately Lucy is the soul of patience--I'm not kidding about this--and guided us through our bouts of flailing to success.
Or, what constitutes "success" for an abject beginner. Here's what i was able to produce. Yes, it is indeed hideous. But it's my hideous, and I'm proud of it. I can only get better. Right?
It helped to use a couple of mantras throughout: "It's ok, I've never done this before," or "I'm just learning."
And so I'll practice. Begin again, begin again, begin again. Just like meditation. I loved this workshop. Thanks, Lucy! The design possibilities are endless.
Video Practice Sessions
Whenever I'm forced to take a long break from tangling, as has been the case recently, it helps me to get started again by using videos. Here's one called, "How to Draw Cell" by TangleDream (click on the title if you want to try it yourself). It's sort of like warming-up for a few days before I launch back into creating my own.
I would call this a high-focus piece; the "string" (the basic form, in Zentangle®) takes concentration but isn't hard if you watch carefully.
A lack of verbal instruction means anyone with any language can follow along--no English needed.
It's always fascinating to see how one can think one is following carefully, and yet the outcome is so different from the original. (I love that. Plus I enjoy adapting things)
Truly, we are all the same. And yet, we are all unique. It shows in so many ways, and art is one.
"...Your handwriting. the way you walk. which china pattern you choose. it's all giving you away. everything you do shows your hand. everything is a self portrait. everything is a diary." --Chuck Palahniuk
Yet Another Start
Aha, I finally begun tangling again. I hope to be drawing soon too.
This one is not my favorite. I'm not a fan of the way colored pencils work on printmaking paper. But that's all I had on hand, so the grainy-ness couldn't be avoided. Next time I'll get back to using a smooth surface for the colored pencils.
But so meditative to be tangling again.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MK7Lg08UYzA if you would like to try it yourself.
Finished! And the Mysteries of Life.
16.5" x 9.5" Punch needle embroidery. The pattern is Green Mountain Gala, ©2022 to the Old Tattered Flag. They offer both a pattern and a pre-planned kit, but I opted for just the pattern and used my own color plan with variegated sock yarns and lace weight yarns in the UltraPunch medium needle set on #2. With 2 painted wooden buttons added. Isn't the pattern elegant? Julie Thomas from OTF is a genius designer.
I've done a zillion punch needle embroideries and truly love this one. Imagine my surprise when the foundation (an excellent quality weavers cloth from Old Tattered Flag) began to shred. I had this happen on another piece years ago and ended up patching and re-punching the shredded part with no problem--but on this piece, for some reason, I couldn't get the patch to hold and tried at least 6 different methods to re-punch with no luck. In the end I sewed on the 2 wooden buttons at the bottom of the piece to hide the shredded foundation. The only other option was to throw the piece out. Wow.
What a puzzle! All the rest of the piece went just fine. I do NOT attribute this to Old Tattered Flag's foundation as all their material is superb quality. And it only "went wrong" in those 2 small areas. I suspect that the yarn I was using--which worked fine everywhere else in the piece--might have had a thickness change at that point and caught in the needle. But I'll never know. One of life's mysteries.
A Wee Preview
There has been a change in my recovery rate this week and I'm starting to feel somewhat better. I just have to wait things out while my body heals. Probably one more month.
Not being a patient person, it ain't easy. I am still not getting much (any) drawing or tangling done, but I have been able to resume work on my punchneedle embroidery project. I'm beginning the outer border, so here is a preview of a tiny section. It'll take awhile to finish, so this is all I can show. This isn't the best photo but "good enough."
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.
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