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.
Although I worked on this only two times, it took twenty days to finish it because after I got it started on the 4th of January (see below)--
--it took three weeks before I had time to get back to it. I kept looking at it with longing, but simply could not carve out the time to sit down and finish. This type of dilemma always points out to me how over-committed I am.
Here is a picture of how it looked yesterday as I picked it up again and was about 1/4 of the way through finishing it. I had put down a first layer of color on the green "leaves (top half) and was putting down a blending layer (bottom half) when it occurred to me to take a picture at this stage.
and here's another photo, different from the one at the top of the page (different lighting) of the finished piece for contrast.
It's interesting to contrast this version to another version I did (in December) as I was taking a class with The Tangled Yogi. The December 10th version was a situation where I just had to go with pencils I happened to have on hand; this one is more "me" in terms of colors and execution. I highly recommend Romi's videos and classes as I learn a lot from watching and emulating.
A video is also a great way to jump-start one's practice after a long hiatus. After I've been away from tangling for a few weeks, it's so helpful to follow along with what someone else is showing in order to rev up my own mojo. Once I've done that, I'm ready to go off on my own again.
Doing a bit of practice with Zen Gems today. I've done these before but took a class with Joanne Quincey ("ZenJo") who has a great website HERE, and who gave the best explanation of blending with colored pencils that I've ever heard. Kudos to you, Jo, and thanks. Will be practicing more. I love studying with other artists.
"Better a diamond with a flaw then a pebble without."
(supposedly said by Confucius, but if everything attributed to him was proven, he'd still be alive and talking, right?)
Whew. The last two weeks have been a blur, and none of it holiday-related. I'm not a holiday celebrator (no offense to those who are--if you enjoy it all, more power to you), so most years, while others may be stressing out buying gifts, sending cards, gathering with family, I am nurturing my introverted self with quiet and reflection--I love it! But not this year. Visitors--welcome indeed but unusual for this month--a few minor health inconveniences, a couple of intensive workshops, and on and off insomnia have combined to create more stress than usual. But it's all good, and it will all straighten out.
Many projects are underway. I have been working to finish my punched pillow. First I had to un-punch and re-punch some areas, and then begin the finishing process. It's a time-taker but I hope it will be worth it. Here's what I re-punched:
I got that fix done (all will be revealed once I get the pillow completed), and now I'm into the messy process of creating and binding the back. This boring looking beige-y broadcloth was the single fabric I could find that would not clash horribly with the front. Hopefully it won't show once it's done. I'm creating an "envelope back" for the first time, and sure hope it works.
Next up: a good friend and I were lucky enough to go to a workshop with the Zentangle® folks at the Kripalu Institute in Lenox, Massachusetts, and the focus was creating a Compass Rose. I had made one before in 2016, and you can find it HERE in this blog. I wrote about the origins there as well. We used a very different method this time (no protractor, just folding the paper). All of us made small Zendala versions first and here was the class mosaic (some are missing from this mosaic):
We then moved on to beginning the actual Compass Rose. I wish I'd thought to take more pictures. I only have one "before" photo, below. Wish I'd taken pics from the folding-stage through the initial black and white stage, then adding color, then embellishing, etc. This (below) was perhaps almost halfway through. I wasn't enamored of it at this stage. That is an understatement.
We then added the North arrow and used the Embedded Letter tangle technique. I liked it a bit better but was still dubious. We added a bit of gold gellyroll as well. Still dubious. However, that was as far as we got in the workshop and I took my tile home, where it sat for over 2 weeks until I had time to get to it.
That happened today. Below is the finished (??) piece.
Yup, working and taking my time on it definitely improved things.
Finally, I took a chance on a product I saw on a Kickstarter campaign and it arrived last night. I haven't yet had a chance to play with it:
Looks like it will work great, but I've yet to take it for a test-drive.
Just too darned busy.
A good night's sleep would also help.
"Last night I dreamed I ate a ten-pound marshmallow, and when I woke up the pillow was gone."
Whatever possessed me to start and finish this 6"-in-diameter Zendala in one day? I am truly ready to fall of my perch. Tired...
This was another class from The Tangled Yogi, whose wonderful videos and fine classes you can find by clicking on her link in this sentence. She has a unique and incredibly helpful way of teaching. I wish you could have seen the mosaic (collection of student work) on this one. No two looked anything alike--coloring was wildly different. Similar, yes, but still, vastly different. The magic of Zentangle® for sure.
I advise students on the subject of color as follows:
If it looks good enough to eat, use it.
Here is the little:
Another insanely busy week but blessed with absolutely gorgeous autumn foliage. It has been spectacular around here for days now.
Day 16 of Inktober was Trentwith, a tangle entirely new to me (it looks like art nouveau roses in the tile above) and day 17 was Dreamdex, also entirely new. I didn't have much time so tried them out on a tiny Bijou tile and was quite interested in both tiles; I will try them again, for sure. Next time I'll make both of them bigger.
I'm not going to get Inktober done in October, but I don't really care. As usual, this project is enormous fun.
Fast forward a coupe of days and I've finally gotten to sit down and do a few more tangles, below.
All I can say is, wow did it ever feel good to practice today. It ain't the outcome, it's the experience that is so relaxing and that makes me so joyful.
Oh boy! New gray-toned paper to play with.
I'm beginning to think I do my easiest tangling late at night. Both the previous work and the work below were done very late. It was after midnight when I finished each of them. I'm thinking that being tired slows down the critic in my head, plus at that time of day my goal is really relaxation, and I don't care much about what comes out of the pen. The result is usually better than the more self-conscious efforts when I'm more alert.
I take note that in meditation, focusing on the current moment and not worrying about the "results" is prime. And so is acknowledging that there is an inner critical voice; realizing that the voice is "just thoughts," and that thoughts are not the same as facts. We do not have to believe or pay attention to thoughts that pass through our heads, and that goes for the critical voice as well.
It's difficult to have fun or to achieve concentration when your ego is engaged in what it thinks is a life-and-death struggle.
(W. Timothy Gallwey)
I did the above tile late last night just before sleep. It's two of the Inktober 2019 days together, days 4 and 5. I have quite a bit of catching up to do.
But of course this isn't a race. After yesterday's spectacular foliage display, I decided that I wanted to shade the tile above in all the colors I had seen in the leaves on my trip. And there were a LOT of colors. I pulled out my General's Pastel Chalk pencils and set to work, with this result below. The blue represents the intense blue sky behind the leaves.
And here they are side by side:
“Autumn...the year's last, loveliest smile."
― John Howard Bryant
“I'm so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers.”
― L. M. Montgomery, Anne of Green Gables
Next Sunday afternoon is the full moon, in the corner of the universe where I live. It's supposed to be unusually large. And orange. I chose to ignore the orange for this Zendala tile, which I did for Hanny Nura's monthly celebratory Full Moon Mosaic. If you google "Full Moon Mosaic" on Facebook or Instagram you'll see some amazing entries.
Meanwhile, I've been asked to do a Zentangle® demo at a local organization and in thinking about which tangle to ask participants to do, I'm going to use this one, Fassett by Lynne Meade. Which means I need to practice it myself, having only ever done it once or twice--and of course I'm falling in love with it. This was my first try at it, done on a Renaissance Bijou tile (2" square).
Still in love with and working on learning to draw this tangle, which isn't coming easy for me. Today, though, I think I got it. Finally. There are a million ways to draw a Triquetra Celtic Knot, but I've been wanting to learn it via the easy steps of Zentangle®. Which turned out not to be so easy for me. But in fact, with a bit of practice, it is both easy and obvious. Other people got this one immediately, but I needed to ponder it a while.
Some things are like that.
Being overambitious and then frustrated when I couldn't get the painting to work taught me persistence.
This was my first attempt with this tangle. I actually finished this over 2 weeks ago but am just posting it now. I found the instructions (the stepouts) so hard to follow that I tried it out on a 2" square tile in pencil first, using an eraser. Normally, with Zentangle®, we do not "sketch out" tiles in pencil first, and we don't use erasers. The general idea is that there are no do-overs; if we screw up in life, we don't get to do whatever-it-was over. Instead, we have to figure out what to do about it and we often learn the most through dealing with our mistakes. And so it is in art as well.
However, sometimes if we can't even envision how to approach something, a draft (ie, using pencil to try to sketch something out) is helpful as we try to map the thing in our minds. That was my approach here. And occasionally in life, too, if I'm finding a life task overwhelming.
Speaking of overwhelm, I have hopelessly over-committed myself and am not pleased that I barely have time to turn around in my schedule. At my age, I should know better. This is a mistake I make frequently in life, and I have learned a lot from it...but apparently I still haven't learned how to avoid doing it.
Consequently I have done no tangling since my last post--too busy with textile work which I'm not ready to show yet. And with several other projects, including creating a new website for a group. I love everything I'm doing but I really miss tangling.
As long as the world is turning and spinning, we're gonna be dizzy and we're gonna make mistakes. (Mel Brooks)
Why do we say something is out of whack? What is a whack? (George Carlin)
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
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.
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.
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.
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'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