In these troubled and challenging times, it's my deepest hope that all of us are supported by a network of unconditionally loving people in our lives. I'm defining these "beloveds" as very dear friends, mentors, and special family.
Unfortunately, we are not all lucky enough to be born into families with members who end up becoming beloved. But in my family there were three people who fit this category.
Today I took some time to re-frame the first of them, my beloved maternal grandmother, or Nana as I called her. She died over 50 years ago, but I think of her and send her my love and thanks to her every single day. She is never far from my mind. Oh, how I loved that woman. She taught me every good thing I have become, or hope to become. Here she is.
The photo was taken in 1937 when she was about 60. I have only two photographs of her because she absolutely hated having her picture taken. As a young adult I was shocked to discover that she'd gone through our family photographs and cut her own face out of every one of them. I never had the chance to ask her why she did this, and it puzzles me to this day.
My understanding is that she was forced to quit school around age 12 in order to go to work, and later on she raised a large family single-handedly after her husband became extremely ill and was hospitalized for decades. She had a lot of shame about her lack of formal schooling.
And yet, she was the kindest, funniest, most loving and smartest person in my childhood, and created a strong family foundation for me. She lived with us until her death when I was about 16. Lucky me! I got to spend every day with her for sixteen years.
I never stop asking myself how I was fortunate enough to have her in my life.
Rest well, Nana. And thank you.
Trees are in bud, the buds looking bigger each passing day. There is a small maple on my front lawn with large tight red buds. I worry about this tree as it was mistreated in the past, but despite all that, it's resilient and looking pretty darned good. I'm guessing I'll see leaves within a week or so. I think of this tree as courageous and persistent. May it have a peaceful and ease-filled summer growth season this year.
A few days ago I begin work on this tile below. Because I'm so busy it took days to finish, even though it's a very small piece. It's clearly Spring-inspired.
This morning I snuck in one more tile when I should have been working on something else. I am a world-class procrastinator, especially when whatever I am supposed to be doing is preventing me from making art.
A "cartouche"-based tangled piece using Doodah on a black post-card-sized paper. Maria Thomas did the calligraphy of the word Gratitude; it was enclosed on a business card inside one of my orders, and I loved it. I pasted it onto the black page, along with the Zentangle® chop (the red square at the bottom right, which I embellished) and used white gellyroll, gold gellyroll, and red General's chalk pencil, gold metallic Prismacolor.
And now, back to the big projects. Sigh.
I'm working on two mammoth projects, neither of which is related to textiles or drawing. Alas. So not much artwork can be done for awhile. But I am sneaking in occasional minutes to do a little of each on the sly, and here is the progress of my textile work, a punch needle embroidery I've been working on.
This is a partial photo as only half of the center is done. I am truly missing my art work but I know I need to put my nose to the grindstone (where DID that expression come from?) and work at the other projects until they are done. Although I suspect I'll have the occasional jailbreak along the way, in rebellion.
This somewhat overworked tile (I must admit I like it anyway) is the product of tangling over 3 days. I started it during another night of insomnia and finished this afternoon when I absolutely should have been doing something else, not this. But I couldn't help it.
Below are some of the earlier versions leading up to this finish.
ZenLinea posted a wonderful video on Instagram on how to draw this knot, so two nights ago I decided to try it at about 2 a.m. when sleep was eluding me.
This was my first effort and I'd like to play with it a lot more, if I can ever find the time. I started off thinking it would be black and gray on the white tile, but somehow I began adding other lines and colors to the outside of the knot (the gold gellyroll, the yellow Prismacolor) and then the colors also crept slightly inside the knot as well. I think I finished around 3 or 3.30 a.m. and was able to go right to sleep afterwards.
Of course this afternoon I was looking at it again and wondered what it would look like if I ran it thru an iPhone app, so I gave that a try using the same photo:
Rather reptilian, don't you think? And soooooo different. But interesting for sure.
I have managed to grab a few minutes here and there for some creative work, which feels wonderful. Not enough, however!
Here are some of the things that have been accumulating.
This is the result of a short voice-guided meditation class with Molly Hollibaugh of Zentangle®. She took us through three voice-guided tiles last Saturday in a two-hour workshop. This tile was the first one that we did. All of us heard the exact same verbal instructions, yet look at the mosaic below--it's always so interesting to see how people interpret things on their own.
On a totally other track, I am doing some punch needle embroidery and here is the progress on the piece so far. The entire piece is about 9"x9" and you can see the start of it in my previous post. It is very different than the one I did exactly a year ago (same piece, different colors and I did it in cotton last time; this is wool).
It feels so good to sneak in some creative work. Makes all the difference to me...
Ahhhhhh...I can feel a giant sigh of relief as I begin this 9"x9" piece on my punch needle frame. While I knit every night, and that in itself is calming, there is nothing like textile work--punch needle or traditional rug hooking--for relieving creative tension. A dilemma which had been building for days because of too many other obligations.
How is it that just the feel of cloth or thread moving through my hands brings such a sense of release and equanimity? It works like a charm for me and for so many other textile artists.
I did the same pattern last year in another colorway with cotton (Valdani) threads, but I know I'm going to prefer it this way, done in wool. What is it about wool? I love it.
Art has to do with the arrest of attention in the midst of distraction. (Saul Bellow)
I hadn't intended to draw today as I had too much else to do, but I just couldn't help myself.
New reading glasses with very round frames:
Liking them! I can even see with them.
And next, more round things:
I so enjoyed myself today when I stole some time to tangle. There has been no rug hooking, no rug punching, no punch needle embroidery, no drawing, and no tangling for weeks. In short, an artistic desert for me, and it hasn't been fun.
Likely it will continue for a while longer while I tend to all my piled up obligations. The "obligations" are all voluntary and each by itself is wonderful. But they all have schedules and deadlines and I am scrambling to keep up. Thus, the art is falling behind. I will catch up once I figure out how to coordinate things, but oh, do I miss my various art projects.
And the last round thing for today: HAPPY EQUINOX, as the Wheel of the Year has turned towards Spring (here in the Northern Hemisphere). I'm thinking of all those curving eggs that can be stood on their ends today. Roundness in balance.
Ever had one of those days when you just don't feel quite right? Nothing really wrong--not "coming down with something"--but just not feeling quite like yourself? That would describe me today. And my hands are shaking a bit. Weird. After a morning balancing my checkbook (yes, I actually do that), I allowed myself the pleasure of tangling for a short while. I was really surprised at this result.
I picked 3 brand-new-to-me tangles and tried them out for the first time. Despite my shaky hands.
I like the challenge of taking tangles that I've found and trying to put them together, whether they "go together" naturally or not. This was the result. I wouldn't say I'm in love with this piece but I loved two out of the three tangles and will use them again for sure. I am always amazed by what falls out of the pen. I couldn't have predicted this, and that, of course, is half the fun of tangling.
Yes, another insomnia tile...
...and even that didn't put me to sleep. I had to go back to bed and read for another hour. Three a.m....
“The last refuge of the insomniac is a sense of superiority to the sleeping world.”
― Leonard Cohen
(alas, that is not true for me)
My kind friend (and fellow Zentangle® enthusiast), Susie Ng from Thailand (check out her fabulous, imaginative artwork HERE), just sent me this photo below. She took my single 3-Z tile from my February 22nd post, multiplied it, and manipulated it into this hexagonal mandala. Thank you, Susie! I'm assuming you used Photoshop, which I don't have. Though I keep meaning to look into it. What fun!
What a nice thing to do for a fellow tangler, Susie. You gave me a big chuckle on an otherwise crazy day. Now...I have to look into software that will allow me to do this.
It's an icy rainy day out there, very bleak.
I am amused to notice how much my thoughts have been shaped by this weather. Today was "tax day," the annual ritual when I try to get my income taxes organized and finished. I have utterly failed, despite hours of trying, and it's been very stressful. I finally threw in the towel about an hour ago and allowed myself a short bit of tangling, which helped improve my mood.
Experience tells me I'll get through this and get the darned taxes done eventually. I'm have to get some help, hopefully by mid-week. The weather will improve. So will my mood. Keep on tangling, keep on working, and eventually it will all straighten out.
As the great Alfred E Neuman once said, "Today it takes more brains and effort to make out the income tax form than it does to make the income."
Sometimes sadness is just a daily companion.
I am home at last, after weeks away, and beginning to settle in. My friend is back in her home after her long healthcare treatment. She did well, and I expect all will be well. Unfortunately, while dealing with her own recovery she now has a beloved family member's unexpected serious health problem to deal with. The news was sudden and came as a shock.
We are all reeling. My heart goes out to her and her family.
In the last weeks as she and I were away from our homes while she was getting medical treatment, we did a lot of tangling to stay calm and in a good place. These are some of the last tiles I did before we returned. I still have more to do to finish the Zenuari2019 project, and that's just fine. Tangling is therapeutic.
These pieces tell the tale of those last days of her treatments as we did our best to get through it all.
Day 22, "Optical Illusion." Honestly, I have never cared for optical illusions of any kind, with the possible exception of MC Escher's work. So I have to say this is the first tile I have NOT enjoyed working on in a very very long time, nor do I like the result. I've nicknamed it "The Bridge to Nowhere," and that is reflective of how I was feeling at the time I did it as well. Feh.
Yes, you have seen this before; in the previous post, but in a different form. I did more work on it to emphasize the paths, and then I took it to have it laminated. Now it can be used as a finger labyrinth (you can "walk it" with your finger and it's just as calming as actually walking with your feet) and I am very pleased with the result. As I mentioned in the previous post, this was made for day 20 of the Zenuari2019 project.
I may just wear off the lamination from running my finger through this labyrinth before all this is over. "Art is a guarantee to sanity," said Louise Bourgeois, and here is a terrific short article on ART AND MEDITATION from the Washington Post. Highly recommended.
Done on a ten-inch square tan Opus Tile with brown and black Micron 01s, General's colored chalk pencils, white gellyroll pen, and mucho graphite. Completed over several days for the #zenuari2018 project day 20, "Maze." (This is not a maze; it's a labyrinth--they are two different things but often incorrectly used as synonyms.)
It's been that kind of week--labyrinthine. So many twists and turns. We keep walking and we trust we will find our way in to the center and then out again on this challenging journey.
I hope we are in the center now and will soon find our way out to resume our lives.
I am still far from home, helping out my friend who is receiving daily treatments. She is close to the end, however--only three more and she will be done and we will return to our respective homes. A huge complicating factor has been the sudden illness of someone in her family; it certainly has increased the pressure on her to finish here and go home. There is much uncertainty.
And yet, we know we just need to keep walking along on the path before us, and trust we will get where we need to be. In fact, we are already where we need to be, and we just need to remember that.
It took me a few days to do this piece as it's so large. I learned a lot in the doing and will try again for better results.
My friend also tangles and finds it therapeutic as she waits for appointments. She is talented and here is one of her latest efforts, a Zendala done on a tile which she had pre-treated with a Fine-Tec paint gold wash. Isn't this spectacular? (I have her permission to publish this photo)
Those metallic Fine-Tec watercolors are so inspiring.
"A labyrinth is a symbolic journey … but it is a map we can really walk on, blurring the difference between map and world."
— Rebecca Solnit, in Wanderlust: A History of Walking
I am home for just a little more than 24 hours, then will be gone again. Packing cubes have saved my life and are keeping me organized as I make all these trips--thanks and blessings to the friend who introduced me to them. (If you do not know what they are, google them. Fabulous tools.)
"Returning" feels wonderful. And in the tangle below, I was returning to a tile idea that we explored in a workshop late last year; but this time I used different "fillers." I'm not totally crazy about it but it was peaceful to work on and I do like it overall. That's all I ask!
This is another Zenuari2019 tile, for day 19. The prompt was "Hefty Hack." HUH??? I had no idea what that meant. So I went back to the original instructions, which read something like: "Toss some water on a tile. Then take a plastic bag, scrunch it up, and put some watercolors you like directly on the bag. Then take the scrunched-up bag and daub it onto the tile."
Okay...so maybe it was called the "Hefty Hack" because "Hefty" is the name of a type of plastic bag in the USA? But the person who runs Zenuari is Dutch. Perhaps "Hefty" has a different meaning in the Netherlands? Because here in the USA, my only reference for Hefty bags is the VERY large kitchen or garden trash bags. She can't have meant to use one of those on a 3.5" tile.
It was all irrelevant to me, as--because I was away from home when I did this--I had no access to watercolors or plastic bags. I was able to borrow some watercolor pencils from my friend, and after wetting the tile I applied them to the wet spots and tried to move the colors around. It didn't work well but I did end up liking the effect anyway. I'll have to try it again with real watercolors and a small plastic bag.
Oh how I wish we could find a way to truly and effectively recycle plastics. We have completely messed up our planet with them, and we've done it all in less than a hundred years. There must be a way to clean up our mess.
...we aren't having any where I am temporarily living in order to help out a friend. It's winter here but the ground is bare, although in my actual town, 400 miles north, there's plenty of snow.
Nevertheless, the Zenuary2019 project on day 18 had a prompt to tangle something based on a snowflake shape. Since I am way behind on this January challenge (I'll be working on it all thru February), I've just arrived at day 18. I cut out the following shape on some previously-used paper:
...traced around it on a Strathmore tile, and here's the end result:
And here they are side by side.
"There is no better designer than Nature."
"If your heart is broken, make art with the pieces."
Basically no time to write today. My friend is doing well but because of other circumstances (not my story to tell), we are still on the emotional rollercoaster.
My heart is broken by some of what I see of the other patients at the treatment center, especially the sick children. May they all heal, including their parents and caretakers. May all be at peace; may all be well.
It's not my story to tell, so I won't tell it here except to say that it was a roller coaster of a day for the friend I'm helping out. Just crazy--good news one moment, then bad news, then maybe good...oy vey.
It's a very good thing that we both meditate. And a very good thing that we both do Zentangle®. Both practices helped us stay steady throughout the day.
I did two more new-to-me tangles this morning:
I always find that lots of plain linework is a great soother in times of stress. The Twilight tangle was perfect for that.
And now back to meditation...
"Stay in your seat come times of trouble. Its only people who jump off the roller coaster who get hurt. "
Away from home in this very cold midwinter week, I've been doing just a little tangling. And watching a good friend do her weaving. While yet another good friend sent me a wonderful photograph. Below are my latest tangles, my friend's weaving, and my other friend's photo. Enjoy.
Below is my friend's weaving--two "mug rugs" for my coffee cups. Love the patterns and subtle colors she chose, and I feel lucky to have these gifts!
Finally, this wonderful Currier & Ives-type photo taken by a good friend who was out on a walk during a snow squall near our homes last week. Is this not beautiful?
"Silence is true wisdom's best reply."
This nearly qualifies as what's known as an "inchie," a tiny drawing. But in fact, it's more like a "two-inchie," since I did it on a Bijou tile (2x2") with a gold gellyroll and shaded it with a Prismacolor yellow pencil. It's done for the Zenuari2019 project, day 16, "tiny tangle."
I'm away from home again and thus haven't tangled in two days. Or done anything except knit. Starting to feel a withdrawal. I certainly hope I can get to do some textile work or some more Zentangle® today or tomorrow.
"We first make our habits, and then our habits make us."
This is another Zenuary2019 tile, made for day 15. The theme was "donut." Somehow my donut ended up with a pearl in the center. Fine with me, since I am not a fan of eating donuts.
"The pearl principle: no inner irritation, no pearl." Surya Das
In the style of one of my idols, Mori Yuzan, a Japanese artist who lived in the late 19th and early 20th century:
Yuzan's work has always been irresistible to me because of the linework. Wave after wave. and so many tangles (not that he would have thought of them that way). Both of the above tiles are nearly copies - if not outright copies - of his spectacular work, which fortunately is now int he public domain. So relaxing to draw these and hopefully learn a bit from him.
Both were done for Zenuari2019 day 14, "idol tangle." I think I'll be doing a lot more idol tangles!
tWhat is the use of seeking advice if one doesn't listen? This was my card for Monday (I love these cards, more info below). But did I listen? No. Instead of cocooning after a tiring week away, I spent the day in 5 degree Farenheit weather running around from event to event. Now, all the events were good ones. I'm just lucky, though, that my good friends were able to put up with my grumpy self.
Because trust me, I was grumpy. Overtired, overscheduled, and grumpy. Very bad planning on my part. Good thing I have long-suffering friends.
The cards (these are not tarot cards, just wonderful little cardboard coaches):
Experimenting with Mimi Lempart's tangle Mi2, using a thin gold pen (sorry, don't know the name) a friend gave me, plus Pokeroot and Pokeleaf tangles. Colored with Generals Chalk pencils on a black Zentangle® tile. I hope to do more of these experiments when I have time.
Just got back from a week away and we are having our first serious storm of the winter; it's just begun.
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