Everyone I know was struggling this past year. Politically, socially, and psychologically it was a very rough passage. I won't get into the specifics but I cannot imagine anyone would have trouble naming a multitude of examples.
We were all in the same boat, being tossed upon the same angry ocean. Many of us had no oars, or lost them as the year progressed.
May we be gentle with each other in 2018. May we know peace. May we be well. May we take care of ourselves and each other. May we give and receive kindness.
Let us gently close the door on 2017 and welcome the New Year with humor, grace, and determination to listen and speak with thought and care.
May all living beings know safety and peace in 2018.
Look what arrived on my doorstep today. Oh boy oh boy.
NOTE to those who don't have time to read: I DID NOT MAKE THESE OR DRAW ON THEM. THEY CAME THIS WAY.
Golden Lotus boots. Talk about mad love for an object--wow. Love these.
I sent pictures to friends who know I tangle and they all went crazy for my amazing artwork. They thought I made them. Thank you to everyone who even had that passing thought. I wish!!! But I DIDN'T MAKE THESE. I just bought them, as is. They're commercial boots. I took one look at them and helplessly succumbed.
Did I need them? No. Did I have to have them? Oh yeah. Am I sorry? You're kidding, right? NO.
I fear this makes me the Imelda Marcos of mindfulness practitioners. Uh-oh.
Following Maria's instructions and working with the small Bijou tiles from the Zentangle® folks' Project Pack 02 resulted in this tile. Yes, it's a mash of half a black Bijou tile and half a tan Bijou tile, using the tangle Mollygon. I used a black Micron PN pen, graphite, an 08 White Gellyroll pen, and a White General's Chalk Pencil. Such fun to do!
My second tile. Same type of mashup as above, same materials used. The tangle here has been named by a few people over the years but I know it as Curtinz by Kate LaMontaigne..
Of course, it was immediately obvious that one could put the 2 tiles ( = 2 Fragments) together and turn them different ways to achieve different effects. This was one way.
Now, of course, I had to make a couple of additional tiles--I wanted to make 4 and I had just enough supplies to do so. Here was tile #3.
Same materials used. This tangle is a seldom-used one called Sedgling. I wonder why it has been forgotten. I like it a lot and think I'll be using it more often.
The last tile I did was based on the tangle Toodles. I tried experimenting with Toodles and did 2 versions of it, one a kind of "Pokeroot-based" version and the other a kind of "Pokeleaf-based" version, mixing them together.
And now to put all four fragments together. This is where turning the four fragments created different effects. I'll spare you all the variations and limit it to just two. Here's the first mosaic with the black halves in the center:
...And then, just by turning the tiles, here's another effect with the light halves in the center. This is the power of working with fragments. Very fun indeed.
I'm enjoying the wonky look. I'll definitely want to do a few more of these.
The thing about Zentangle® is that you never know where it's going to take you. Much like life. I began this tile 2-3 years ago--it didn't look anything like what you see here--and left it totally unfinished. Abandoned. I re-discovered it two days ago while unpacking (yes, I am still unpacking after 9 months of being here) and somehow just couldn't throw it out, though I was tempted. It stared at me and challenged me to reconstruct it or make it work in some way.
Basically it began life as a black tile which had been roughly shaded sort-of-white with the use of a soapstone, and then I think I had used some type of tool to see if I could score the tangle "Tripoli" into the soapstone background. It didn't work and I loathed the look of it. So put it away. I find it hard to believe that I didn't just toss it.
I finished it today in a very fast, sloppy way--because it was "just an experiment"--and now I rather like it. It has a pastel or oil paint-y look to it. I completely ignored the unpleasant beginning and re-built the entire concept.
This reminds me of something I learned in my childhood: A family member once accused me of "never finishing anything you start." I thought about it for awhile, got mad, and then decided she was right. So I made a major effort over the next few months to go around and finish all my unfinished projects. I must have been about ten, and I remember the resulting satisfaction. Although I hadn't liked the criticism, it spurred me to develop discipline.
Since then, it's rare for me to put something away unfinished. If anything, I've gone to the opposite extreme--I sometimes finish things immediately that might benefit from a longer pause.
(I do have one quilt that has been "paused" for 40 years. Er...it may be time to get back to that one!)
The other tile I did today was this one below. I'll put the completed tile first and then include two photos of the very beginning and the middle stages. (I know the tile background looks different in the photos but it's all the same tile--just different lighting)
Some things--like unpacking--take me longer to finish, because I just don't like doing them. But eventually, that learned discipline from childhood takes over and they do get done. It just takes me 50 times longer to get to the finish line than it does if I enjoy what I'm doing.
As a non-holiday celebrator, I appreciate this quiet time of year (especially tonight, Christmas Eve, and tomorrow) and always give myself permission to do whatever the heck I feel like doing for a couple of days.
That does not include unpacking.
It does include reading, drawing, tangling, and general lollygagging.
Happy Holidays to all, and to all a good night!
In my family, we would say goodbye to someone by waving and cheerily calling out, "Toodles!" It always implied a merry, carefree departure.
The Zentangle® folks just came up with this tangle and one of their grandchildren named it Toodles. In the tangle context, it hardly seems related to any type of goodbye, and is just a very versatile and totally fun tangle to draw.
Here was my first attempt (not altogether successful, but I like it anyway):
And after yesterday's involved work, I thought I'd like to try to keep things simple today, so this was my second attempt at Toodles:
Definitely a fun piece to do and so very simple.
Simplicity is nature's first step, and the last of art.
--Philip James Bailey
To my mind, tonight is Solstice Night. The longest night.
Winter Solstice is late morning tomorrow.
When I sat down to tangle at sunset today, it didn't dawn on me just how much the result might express the season. In retrospect, this was certainly a Solstice Tangle. As I worked, I was aware of the gathering dark, and deep silence.
May all beings be safe.
May all beings know peace.
May we all celebrate the return of the Light tomorrow.
In the bleak mid-winter
Frosty wind made moan,
Earth stood hard as iron,
Water like a stone;
Snow had fallen, snow on snow,
Snow on snow,
In the bleak mid-winter
Part of the continuing Project Pack 02 series from the Zentangle® folks. There are twelve projects in this 02 series, but I may not get to all of them.
I did this before bed last night, and slept like a log. Have always loved this tangle, Diva Dance.
Golden slumbers kiss your eyes,
Smiles awake you when you rise ;
Sleep, pretty wantons, do not cry,
And I will sing a lullaby,
(No, not by the Beatles! They just borrowed it.)
--Thomas Dekker, 1603
This tangle is just too much darned fun to draw! Once again it went somewhere I couldn't have imagined.
The Connection Between Zentangle and Traditional Meditation:
I enjoy the way that Zentangle® and my other meditation practice regularly take me where I hadn't expected to go. There's a nice article in Psychology Today magazine on why Zentangle is so meditative HERE.
If you have ever wanted to meditate, but feel that you can't because "my mind just won't stop!" you are experiencing the #1 fallacy about meditation--that the mind should, or will, stop thinking. It's the job of the mind to think! It is certainly not going to stop for meditation...but with experience, you may find that you notice some quieter spaces or times when your thoughts seem to be running on "dim" in the background. So don't let your noisy mind stop YOU because IT won't stop. Just the fact that you are noticing the noise is a very good sign--you are not "doing it wrong," you are, in fact, doing it right.
Why am I bringing this up? Because Zentangle is a form of moving meditation, and often people find it easier to begin with something along those lines rather than plunging into formal meditation. And you do not need any art talent at all to learn to tangle. NONE. Yes, that is true. If you can sign your name, you can tangle.
What you'll find as you're tangling is: Focus. Attention. Silence. Slowing down. You will even learn to tolerate and handle mistakes; you'll learn not to judge something in the very moment you are creating it, but to stand back and evaluate later. You'll learn patience--although you will need a lot less of this than you might assume. You'll be loving the results--but even more, you will truly love the process.
Gee, that sounds like a lot of learning. But surprisingly, it comes without effort. You'll be so focused on the pleasurable process of drawing lines that you won't even notice what you've learned until later. And--you'll be learning about meditation in that same effortless way.
To find a teacher, just go to the main Zentangle website HERE and look for their list of Certified Zentangle Teachers (also known as "CZTs"). There's a good chance you will find a CZT neaby. Have fun!
This easy-to-draw tangle is brand new from the Zentangle® folks, and is named Rumpus. My version today is blindingly bright. Feel free to put your sunglasses on to view it.
This was done with a black Micron PN pen, graphite, and a Rainbow Lead Colored pencil.
I do hope my next version is a bit tamer! I think I'll be using this tangle a lot as it is so enjoyable to draw.
NOTE: If you are a fan of the Trump administration and its policies, you will NOT be happy reading the next section of today's post. It's your choice whether or not to keep reading.
While I rarely comment on politics--it is not what I choose to focus on here--what I'm showcasing below is actually a photograph of a hand-hooked rug which cannot be separated from the current political climate
On the left is Emily K Robertson's hand hooked rug, titled "Trumped." It is her contribution to a superb juried show of fiber art currently traveling across the United States to protest the Trump Administration's actions and policies.
The show is titled Threads of Resistance, and you can view details on its context and its current location by clicking on that title. A wonderfully produced catalog for the show is also available on amazon.
It's well worth your time. If you disagree with this political view, it will make you uncomfortable. BUT, even if you agree, the show will still make you uncomfortable.
It is a very challenging exhibit.
I highly recommend both show and catalog.
Most of the pieces in the show appear to be quilts. I spent time today looking at the catalog, and I see that it's possible Emmy has the only hooked rug in the show.
My only criticism of the catalog, which is beautifully produced and the next best thing to actually seeing the show in person, is that it's not clear to me on a first read what the medium is for each piece. Quilt? Photo? Painting? Hooked rug? The information may be in there, but I didn't see it. However, it's a minor criticism. The full title of the show is: "Threads of Resistance: A Juried Exhibition Created to Protest the Trump Administration's Actions and Policies."
A word about Emmy Robertson: I'm lucky to count her as a friend, having met her at the Green Mountain Rug Hooking Guild years ago. She's a past president of that guild, and a phenomenally talented rug designer and rug hooker. She's also extraordinarily prolific. When she lived in my area she was kind enough to join our rug hooking group and always served as a source of inspiration. Many of her rugs are designed around political topics. She is an ordained minister who chooses to pursue her ministry via political action. If I had to sum up her spiritual philosophy, it is captured in her favorite motto: "Love Kindness."
Thanks, Emmy, for letting me showcase your rug!
“The function of the artist in a disturbed society is to give awareness of the universe, to ask the right questions, and to elevate the mind.”
This is a rather odd combination of two tiles--one white (the background) and one partial black tile (the slightly raised foreground). I'm not sure how successful it was--I did not follow instructions. What instructions? Rather than my usual improvisations, this is part of the Zentangle® Project Pack 02, which is providing video instructions for twelve days in a row (and all supplies).
Once I finished this tile, it reminded me of the World Egg, one of my favorite esoteric symbols. It's full of suggestions of new life, of life after death, and other layers of meaning. While it's not the usual time of year for egg symbolism (usually associated with the goddess Ostara and her season, Spring), I can easily relate it to the quiet darkness and gestational time just before Winter Solstice, when the Sun is resting, but about to be born again. bringing increasing Light.
May Sarton's poem, "December Moon," perfectly captures this quiet time before the return of the Light.
Earth teach me to forget myself as melted snow forgets its life.
Earth teach me resignation as the leaves which die in the fall.
Earth teach me courage as the tree which stands all alone.
Earth teach me regeneration as the seed which rises in the spring.
Today I missed a rug hooking meeting with my favorite group because of the snow. I miss my friends and it made me sad.
Still, it is beautiful:
Above: Down one side of the street.
Below: Down the other side of the street.
Both photos taken just after sunset.
"I used to be Snow White,
but I drifted."
Continuing on today with my drawing meditation (aka Zentangle®). I began tangling my journal cover last night. At first I thought I was done. Here is the first version.
Don't ask me to name all those tangles off the top of my head. I used a Micron 01 black, graphite, and a white chalk pencil on this.
But I knew I would need to seal the cover somehow. Otherwise, the two pencils (white and black) would smudge and wear off. So today I dug out the Mod Podge for Paper, since I wasn't sure what else to use. Meanwhile, in meditation this morning, it came to me that I wanted to add a tangle (created by me, no name yet) on the right hand part of the cover. So I did. Then I put 3 layers of Mod Podge on the cover, waiting at least a half hour between each. I hope this works! It seems duller (I used Matte Mod Podge) but then I also photographed it in a different light from yesterday, so it's hard to tell. Here's the finished journal cover.
Yup, big difference in light as the teal color on the binding of the first photo is accurate and it looks brown here. I think I like this.
So tonight I finished off the day with this tangle on the theme of "Striping."
I also did my usual silent meditation practice today, but I am always reminded, after a long session of tangling, how similar these two meditative practices are. They are each so calming. So grateful to have found Zentangle all those years ago, and to the truly wonderful people who teach it as a meditative practice. Thank you.
Really needing a break today, I just allowed myself to follow along while watching Zentangle® instructional videos. My plan was to follow instructions diligently, but somehow I just kept getting off track. I tangled for several hours though, and really enjoyed it. Here are the results.
Ummm, can we just stay that I went totally off-road (or into the river) for this tile, which was supposed to be entirely non-representational. It was supposed to be the tangle Bales, drawn in an oval string. But once I put that oval string down, all I could see was a fish. Black apprentice tile with White Gellyroll #10 and a touch of prismacolor pencil.
Sometimes ya just gotta allow for odd things to happen. This was one of those times.
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