Truly, I am a lucky gal.
I did this tangle last night for a friend whom I think of as a real gem.
This woman has been my mentor for the last two years in a meditation teacher training program. She has been unbelievably kind, sensitive, helpful, and has drawn liberally from and shared her own deep practice and her decades of experience teaching meditation to others. In the process she has been a powerful example to me, as well as to the other four people in my small peer group for the last couple of years. We have been fortunate to know her.
In Buddhism there are many lists, one of which is known as "The Three Jewels: The Buddha, the Dharma, and and Sangha." I mailed off this little Zentangle® Gem Portrait today with that in mind, to say thank you to her. She has managed to embody the Buddha's teachings, transmitting the Dharma clearly and faithfully, and with patience and kindness has helped us to form a peer supervision group (the Sangha) that will continue long after the program ends.
Thank you, Adi.
"...You should understand that you are one of the Three Jewels. You shouldn't put the Three Jewels outside of yourselves; you should always think of yourselves as being one of the Three Jewels—and that includes your body, your speech, and your mind.”
― Dhomang Yangthang, The Union of Dzogchen and Mahamudra
This is the result of a truly wonderful class with Stefanie vanLeeuwen this afternoon <@tanglestudiostefanie>. There were students from Canada, the USA, Holland, Germany, the Carribean, and Spain. We had such a good time and I certainly learned a lot. I'll be trying this method again with other forms and colors.
Every person in the class produced something very beautiful--the sign of an excellent teacher. Stefanie had everything extremely organized well in advance.
I chuckle when I contrast the sense of control I have with colored pencils to the lack of control I have with watercolor; see yesterday's post for more on that.
Art is truly endless learning.
"Regard everything as an experiment," said artist Corita Kent. Words of wisdom.
Out my back window, immensely tall trees are swaying in a wind passing through the back yard. I'm thinking about the way the light makes the sky at this moment--just before sunset--look like stainless steel. Exactly the color of stainless steel. Clouds have blocked the setting sun and as I watch, the tone of the clouds shifts slightly more towards blue.
I never tire of watching the changing sky, or the way the gray and brown tree branches dance across it, finding their own rhythm in the evening wind. This light is moving us gradually from day to night. It subtly alters the cloud colors in each passing moment.
Just like thoughts change, and just the way life changes from moment to moment.
I want to be fully present for this moment. Just this moment.
When I finished typing and looked up, I could see a horizontal band of luscious rose-tinted light crossing the sky below the stainless steel and blue clouds. And below that, a band of gold-white from the last rays of the sun.
Exquisite, this moment.
It never stops, the learning. Here I'm trying to learn a Zentangle® technique called TranZending--a form of layering one pattern over another. I've never really gotten the hang of this before, but am happy with how it turned out. I watched one of ZenLinea's videos and followed along. What I learned: for one thing, even tho she suggests some very very faint white colored pencil guidelines to start, and I did make them faint, the wax in the colored pencil still acts as a "resist" and doesn't really get colored over later on. Which is fine -- even promising -- if it's a design element. But here it wasn't meant to be a design element. Now I know.
I may try this one again. Lots to learn, and I'd like to try the guidelines in graphite and see what happens. Once I figure this out, I can apply to my own future tangle designs.
Here are the beginning and mid-stages of this piece:
I'm always open for people saying I'm wrong because most of the time I am.
Bubble Gum Pink Anything is always a turnoff for me. However, I discovered a blank but watercolor-washed tile that qualified as that shade or something really close. Someone else had done the wash, and it was in a pack of pre-colored blank tiles I bought from a vendor at a Zentangle® event a decade ago or so.
I wondered what, if anything, I could do with it when I ran into it yesterday. The color was hurting my eyes (as you'll read below, the photo actually drained out most of the eyeball-popping bright pink).
Since I am so rusty and trying to get my drawing mojo back, I'm studying instructions from other teachers whom I respect, and Zen Linea certainly qualifies. So I went to SkillShare and logged onto one of her videos and tried this on the Bubble Gum Pink tile.
Interesting to note that in the light available when I took this photo, the "Bubble Gum" quality of the pink really calmed down. Trust me: in person, the pink is MUCH louder than it looks here. And the violet color is much more subtle. So interesting how color can photograph.
But here's the fun part. At the end of the video I was using, there was a list of projects previous students had done. Not only was I shocked to see I had done this video before, but I had done in exactly one year ago today.
I had no memory of ever having done it before. Not only did I do it then, I did a second, alternative version the next day. So this version is my third. Pretty comical.
Here is the start of a mandala, just the beginning linework.
I drew this last night while studying one of Romi Marks' videos. I screwed up the center--but luckily, there are "no mistakes!" in Zentangle® and so I just kept going and did my own thing in the center. And I like the way that came out. I also changed a few things in the next layer.
This is one major thing I learned about drawing since I've begun to draw regularly. In fact once I began drawing in the Zentangle® tradition it was resoundingly, repeatedly, and overtly reinforced.: There are no mistakes--keep going and see what you can make of what is in front of you. 90-95% of the time, not only can you work through whatever is there but you can actually surprise yourself with a good result.
It's the same in meditation. And, I believe, in much of life in general. What about that other 5-10%? Anywhere from "meh, or disappointing," to a genuine catastrophe. But still, those odds sound pretty good to me.
So I persevered and began adding color. Big difference! Encouraged, I drew the outside of the tile and stopped there for a bit, having worn myself out for the day:
And here below is the finished tile. I'm glad I stuck with it.
Whatever it is you are pursuing, whatever it is you are seeking, whatever it is you are creating, be careful not to quit too soon.
I did this last night just before I went to sleep.
My thought in this moment, this morning:
The Wheel of Change rolls on, every moment of every day.
"The thing that lies at the foundation of positive change, the way I see it, is service to a fellow human being."
Although it's too bad they are necessary (although they certainly are necessary!), a kind friend just sent me 3 masks that didn't fit her but will fit me. Recognize the the fabrics? Designer: William Morris. (A.K.A. "That wallpaper guy," as a good friend calls him, which cracks me up) I adore Morris and will be so happy to wear these.
As mentioned in yesterday's entry, I went to a meeting with CZT Tomomi Galeano where she had us practicing the tangle Waybop. Many people find it hard to do. I knew it would be a fun practice. We all just used scrap paper, and I used cheapo printer paper--in fact, I did this on the back of a bill, or what I thought was a bill, that I was planning on recycling.
Tomomi just did this as a free meeting for anyone who wanted to come. Another kind friend. I feel very fortunate with the number of kind people in my life.
Want to see the plain unvarnished first version? It's in yesterday's post.
The misshapen exterior is caused by my just cutting out the paper around the tangle. I did this exercise as pure practice and you can tell by the wobbly lines I was making decisions as I went along. I didn't expect any result, but was sort of charmed by it when it was done.
I finished it with some shading and color this morning. It turned out to be a good day for Waybop, or "bopping around." Suits my mood. Of course we still have turmoil ahead, but I believe we are up to the task. And today's weather where I am: absolutely exquisite. Warm but not hot, unexpectedly.
Similar to meditation, where some days are a slog, and others are just full of unexpected delights. Today is one of the latter.
Then, to my astonishment, when I finally flipped over the cheap paper, I realized I hadn't done it on a bill. I'd done it on the back of an email a friend sent me with a list of Peace Songs we would be singing together (on Zoom, of course). Interesting "coincidence" with the news today. May we all find peace in the years ahead.
It's a day for relief, and delight.
Above is yet another tangle I have never particularly liked: Rain (it's the outside tangle on that tile). And yet I am surprised at how much I like the way it works as a border. Challenging myself to use it was a good idea.
After trying that, I decided to try the tangle Waybop on a piece of scrap paper, so I stuck this on the back of a bill I had paid, and which I'd already tossed in my recycling bin. It's on cheap copy paper and isn't even shaded. Perhaps if I do shade it and the appearance changes dramatically, I'll repost the update on another day. I had fun experimenting.
"Try things against your grain to find out just what your grain really is."
We have no choice but to start from wherever we are, yes? I've finally had the time to start tangling again, but my recent lack of practice means I've gotten very rusty. No matter. It's just where I am in this moment. The tile at left is not one of my favorites but it's the truth of things.
The tangle is Auraknot, one that I've never quite "gotten," always making mistakes. In the past its' been frustrating! This time I finally got it, and did it successfully. One time as the frame, and then five additional times inside the frame. I was excited and pleased for myself!
But here's the thing: I'll probably never like this tangle. Even now that I know what I'm doing with it, it's just not that attractive to me. Maybe with more practice? We'll see.
It does make me think of the old saying from the I Ching, however: "Perseverance furthers." It was so satisfying to figure out how I'd been going off-course and correct myself. Now this tangle comes easily to me.
Many lessons for me here. We really can only begin anything from right where we are in that moment. And repetition can really pay off--in daily life and in formal meditation. Finally, we each have our preferences, and it's important to notice them.
With all that is going on externally in this country, tangling provides such a lovely respite and rest. And the more I do it, the more begins to come back to me. I'm working my way through Gratitangles2020 and I'm way ahead in the month already because I'm enjoying the process so much. At this rate I'll be done early. Here are two more tangles.
"Faced with the choice between changing one’s mind and proving there is no need to do so, almost everyone gets busy on the proof."
- JK Galbraith
Ah, here it is. The prime example of Don't-know Mind, that shocking moment of extreme uncertainty. I write this the day after the election, during a time when we still don't know the results.
Here we sit.
It's not comfortable. But that is the truth of this moment.
Even once a decision is clear, we still will not know what happens next. In fact, we never can know what happens next. We are always in Don't-know Mind; it's simply more obvious today than usual. Since we are wired to prefer certainty, it's so much more convenient to ignore the reality that Don't-know Mind is our continuous state.
Another thing I don't know : who stained or painted the small square of watercolor paper I used to tangle on last night. To whomever you are: thank you. The staining was faint but spread in lovely fashion across the paper and provided a wonderful smear-y background for linework and bits of color that I added. I like the way the original background spreads out beyond the border here.
I rarely do either of these tangles, so every line on this square is a product of Don't-know Mind.
Thank goodness for Zentangle®, which is amazingly relaxing, even in the most uncertain times.
"So much of our difficulty with uncertainty is that we've evolved to survive by trying to predict the future. The seasons, the crops, where the animals will be, if we're hunting.
But if we can really take care of what's right here, this present moment, what else is the future made of, but this moment right here, right now? The future is just a continuation of this. So there's no point in worrying and being anxious about the future, if we take good care of this moment, breathing in, knowing our heart is still beating, and how miraculous that is.
Breathing out, and feeling the gift of our lungs. That's the present moment."
- Kaira J. Lingo
I was able to spend more time practicing yesterday and working out the rust and kinks from not having tangled much in the past months.
And here on the right is my pre-practice Palrevo "Mini-Me" with instructions and information noted on it:
Palrevo is definitely a high focus tangle, but very rewarding. I completely enjoyed myself. I warmed up by doing the tangles I posted yesterday. It is totally wonderful to be tangling again, now that I have a bit more time.
Every day I make time for meditation practice. I realize I need to make time every day to draw. It's not called "practice" for nothing. It makes all the difference in meditation, and in everything else.
Practice doesn't make perfect. Practice reduces the imperfection.
Finally my schedule is starting to clear, so get ready for some "bad tangling." I'm amazingly out of practice but happy to be starting up again, and here are the so-so results.
Why am I posting these? Because they are true. This is where I am now.
Just as in daily meditation, I am essentially beginning again. We all do this hundreds of times every day, with many issues, without realizing it. A meditation practice is cultivated over time, time each day. And with Zentangle®, just like with meditation, lack of practice will show.
But in essence, WHO CARES? There are no meditation police, and there are no Zentangle police either.
Julia Child's motto (The French Chef on PBS for so many years) applies here: "Who's going to know?" she chortles in her fabulous high-pitched voice, as she picks up the raw chicken she just dropped on the floor as she's being filmed and goes on preparing to cook it. As she pointed out, the oven would take care of any germs. I have always loved this moment of her show. She was always beginning again, with humor and enthusiasm.** Someone undoubtedly ate that cooked chicken, and no one got sick or died.
So FINALLY--yay!!!!--I am getting to begin again after months of not being able to tangle. Here is what that looks like.
It's "Inktober" again, so tanglers are embarking on a daily draw. This is an experiment with the tangle Flux, drawn on a tan tile. No pen used, only General's Chalk Pencils in olive green, white, and a scoche of blue.
I was curious about what would happen without the hard line from a pen, using a lot of blending. This is the result. I nicknamed this one, "It's only a dream," and went to sleep shortly after finishing it. Sure enough, I had vivid dreams all night long, and they were just as vague and ethereal as my tangling before bed.
Here's the Inktober link for tanglers (meaning, this is specific to tangling). Inktober has a number of genres--sketching, writing, etc. There is a prompt for every day during the month of October every year. I'm following the one for tanglers, but you may want to google some of the other genres if it interests you.
** According to Snopes, that episode was slightly-but-not-very different from what I remember:
"She was cutting the poultry up (which, as I recall, was a chicken), and it slid off the table onto the floor. She picked it up and said either, 'We’ll pretend that didn’t happen,' or 'Just pretend you didn’t see that.”' She continued cutting the chicken up."
Sure enough, the rust in my hand shows up even more here.
Once I sat down this morning I couldn't stop tangling. Although it's only the 2nd day of October, I have tangles from the prompts for Days 1-5 on this page so far. If I keep on, the page could turn into a hot mess, but hey. I'll keep on anyway.
The ONLY tangle here that I knew before this morning was Flux (upper border). Every other tangle was completely new for me.
Oops, I take that back--I know and love Pepper (day 5). But Anthem (day 3), Jackstripes (day 2) and Unbirthday (day 4) are all tangles I've never heard of before. These are all first-attempts.
You can also see some pencil-drawn string lines on the page; we'll see if I do anything with those.
As my idol Julia would say, "Just pretend you didn't see that."
Sometimes we are dealing with circumstances that beg for a focus on equanimity or calm. (And who doesn't need that these days?)
I've been taking a 3-session class with Alina Smolyansky of Vancouver called Neurographica for Artists. Very, very interesting. Today we did the final class, a Tree of Life with a theme, and my theme was "Calm" or "Equanimity." We had just a small introduction to this method of art and healing, and it was fascinating. While I'm probably not able to take a Basics for Users class right now--just too busy--I intend to at some point. Another wonderful form of art to explore! Eventually.
Equanimity requires some practice, and practice requires time. In order to achieve my own equanimity, I need to cut down on commitments for a while. Otherwise I would have signed right up for her "Basics" class. Thanks, Alina.
Another insomnia tile, drawn one night and added to a bit the following day, then finished 2-3 days later.
Here is the tile as I finished drawing it, with no shading or color.
I think I do some of my best tangling when I can't sleep--and I rarely have consequences (tiredness) the following day. If I can't sleep and don't tangle, I'm often exhausted the next day. Hmmm.
Hotter than Hades where I live this week; I'm lucky to have good air conditioning or I would be prostrate on my floor.
Instead, I have been too busy to tangle or do any textile art. It's all been great--I am engaged in teaching two meditation classes each week in July. Both are practicums for my 2-year Teacher Training Program and the outcome will determine whether I get certified to teach mindfulness meditation or not. When my in-person practicums fell apart due to the pandemic, my kind and generous fellow CZTs rescued me by signing up in droves for the two online courses I hastily put together.
CZTs are incredibly nice people. I was amazed by the level of interest in learning mindfulness meditation and will probably teach a couple of additional courses to try to accommodate those on the waiting list--and the global time zones of the would-be participants. They came to my rescue from all over the globe! Thank you from the bottom of my heart, my friends.
This has meant that I haven't done any art in weeks. So about 4 nights ago, not having the energy to think, I decided to just draw lines on a tile that I had begun years ago; I had used a leftover "snowflake" paper cut-out I'd made years back and then it just sat there for a few years. I found it the other night and my first three nights were spent just drawing random relaxing lines inside the string. I did not use any tangles except Tipple. And perhaps a case could be made for Pokeleaf but I wasn't even aware of or intending to draw that.
Here is the initial finished black and white tile:
It's possible I should have just left it plain like that, with some shading. But today I did add color and shading and ended up with this.
I'm not sure what I think, or even if it matters; I am only sure that I enjoyed every line I put into this, so whatever the outcome, the process was very relaxing.
I've been so busy teaching mindfulness meditation that I haven't had time to tangle (except for that last post) in weeks. Oh boy, do I miss it. Today I took a class called Renaissance Gold with Stefanie van Leeuwen in Holland. (I love Zoom! It has opened up a globe-full of teachers.) This was the tile I produced in class.
She's a gifted teacher. You can find her by clicking on her name above. This has been a wildly popular class for her and you can see why. The class was packed with Certified Zentangle Teachers (CZTs), always a good sign--sort of like going to dine in a new-to-you ethnic restaurant and noticing that many of the patrons are of that particular ethnicity: You immediately know you are in good hands and that your meal will be the Real Deal. We all had a relaxing time.
Art offers sanctuary to everyone willing to open their hearts as well as their eyes.
"Never forget that Justice is what Love looks like in public."
With everything that is underway in this country, I have no words except to quote Cornel West's thoughtful statement on what Love should look like in public.
Tonight is cloudy, but last night's moon--on its way to being full--was glorious.
Despite the turmoil and troubles in this country right now, I had a chance to take a class with Zenjo this morning, just to get myself going on tangling again. Yes, it is so important to make our voices heard. And, it's also important to take time to center ourselves so that we are responding effectively and skillfully, not just reacting from our (horrified) emotions. And so I chose to take two hours of a class to find my center. Here are the results--we first did a black and white tile, and then after the class was over I decided to tart up the tile with color. Thanks, Jo, for a lovely calming time.
"And if you are to love,
love as the moon loves.
It doesn't steal the night.
It only unveils the beauty of the dark."
An old friend--a former terrific boss who quickly transformed into a friend decades ago--has been asking me for some of my artwork. Her name starts with and L so I decided to do an "embedded letter" piece for her. I used Ellish as the main tangle since it's based on an L, and went from there. On a renaissance (tan) tile with a black Micron PN, black Micron 01, and white chalk pencil. With a touch of graphite.
This was the result of a class I took with the gifted teacher Romi Marks this afternoon. She really can teach anything. I'm calling this Big Fish Little Fish (and yes, I know one could see it as a Pisces image). It was a lovely relaxing few hours.
"Spend a new penny on an old friend and share an old pleasure with a new friend."
“When I say it's you I like, I'm talking about that part of you that knows that life is far more than anything you can ever see or hear or touch. That deep part of you that allows you to stand for those things without which humankind cannot survive. Love that conquers hate, peace that rises triumphant over war, and justice that proves more powerful than greed.” ―Fred Rogers
Normally I don't do any type of tangling on representational art, but I made one exception for this small project yesterday. It borders on being too cutesy for me but what the heck. It's the product of a webinar I took from Zentangle® headquarters in lieu of the large multi-day seminar they had to cancel due to the pandemic.
We'd all like to "fly away" from our current global situation. I am lucky to be healthy so far, but have at least one sweet friend who is battling for her life at the moment. Everyone fighting this (and really that's all of us, even those who aren't sick) is under stress. I'll Fly Away is an old gospel song done by many choirs and artists since the 1930s. It's in the repertoire of the hospice chorus I sing in. Since I finished this tangled balloon, I've been hearing the song in my head. If you click on the link above you'll hear Alison Krauss's version, recorded for the film, O Brother Where Art Thou, which had such a great soundtrack.
Here's the same piece photographed this morning in better light and on a white background. Amazing how different things can look under different light. Much like the way we view problems in life.
"Better to be busy than to be busy worrying."
I have been both for these last couple of days. A friend is very ill with Covid-19. There is nothing to do but wait. I took a break to do some Zentangle®. As always, it was calming. My prayers are going out to her.
This is a short tale of trust and patience. It's been weeks since I've had time to do any drawing at all--an indicator of how over-scheduled I've been. Yesterday I had a scrap of time in the morning and thought I would do some tangling...and then noticed a curious reluctance. It had been so long since I'd picked up a pen that I was losing my confidence and was afraid to try. Not good. So I went to my desk and began with a new-to-me tangle called Avos by Maria Venekens, CZT. This was my first attempt with it. I was surprised at how tentative I felt.
I started with this, below and really did not like it:
Nope, not happy at all with this. I had to force myself to start adding color. Did not feel like I had drawn it well, even though this was a first attempt.
The internal critic was in full voice.
I considered tossing it, BUT I know from experience that Zentangle® teaches patience, persistence, and trust in the process. So I put it aside when I ran out of time and vowed to keep going later.
Last night I went back to it just before bed, and I'm so glad I did. Here's the final result:
I deeply appreciate the lessons the Zentangle process teaches about life, not just about art. A particular result may not be a masterpiece, but it's possible to love it all the same. What I've learned from the process is to keep going and trust, and things will usually work out fine. Perhaps not perfectly, but certainly "well enough."
Meanwhile, this is a lovely tangle and I hope to use it more in upcoming projects.
This is my first attempt at the tangle Khala, by Anica Kabrovec, CZT. It's gorgeous and what's known as a "high focus tangle." I have a long way to go to learn this one!
However, I've not been able to tangle in weeks. It's been totally crazy here and that will undoubtedly continue for a while. All good, just overscheduled. At times like this, it's all I can do to squeeze in any time for drawing and I truly did not want to take on anything challenging; so I treated myself to one of The Tangled Yogi's instructional videos and picked this one.
Sometimes the best way to practice is simply to copy. Even when you copy, you still end up with your own version. Thanks to the Tangled Yogi for her very accessible videos, which enabled me to do SOMETHING, even if it's not my own thing.
I'm a textile artist (traditional rug hooking, punch needle rug hooking, and other textile arts), long-time meditator, meditation teacher 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