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.
See the final finished tile below. 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.
Above you see one classic type of pretzel knot. On the left, when you think of it, is another type. Those are washed and dried worsted weight yarn skeins from my wildly successful bargain hunting the other day--twisted into the kind of gentle "knotty looping" that is useful when storing yarn.
I drew the tangled piece as a bookmark for a friend having a birthday next week. It's inspired by one of Sadelle Wiltshire's very nice freehand-knotting videos and this is what fell out of my pen. Perhaps I should do a Celtic Knot punchneedle piece with that yarn. These knots are very relaxing to draw.
And given the knotty problems facing us all right now, with the pandemic and a planet dealing the climate change, political messes and human rights issues, I seem to have knots on the brain.
We learn the rope of life by untying its knots.
With a bit more time now, I'm back into mindful drawing techniques. This is based on one of Sadelle Wiltshire's classes. More of this to come. Very easy, very mindful. And very small, hence the title of today's post.
My latest completed rug. This is one of only 4 rugs I've ever put up on a wall. For a closer look, see the October 1st post. Just to the left of it is the wonderful handmade mirror a dear friend created and gave me--I blogged about that on October 5. And on the side of the stairs you can just see my "Hooker" sign. Got that a few years ago and love seeing it every day.
I don't normally enjoy putting rugs on the wall--I prefer to walk on them. But the colors in this one are so subtle I finally decided the wall would be safer. It's all scrap wool that I had lying around.
I've also run out of room for rugs at the moment and may have to put a few more of my patiently-waiting rolled-up rugs on walls around the house.
Less than 3 minutes was all it took to hang this, once I had some assistance. A very small amount of time (title of today's post), and something I've wanted to do for weeks.
Today I made it (with mask on my face of course) to a new shop called Swanson's Fabrics in Western Massachusetts. I'd heard about it but hadn't gone until today. It was large enough to feel safe inside. Part of the time it was just me and the owner, and there were never more than 2-3 others at any one time, all distanced.
But oh, the treasures! Kathryn Swanson, the owner, has more than fabrics; she also has yarns, threads, sewing notions, and braiding equipment.
NOTE: All her fabrics are $4/yard. No matter what they are made of. Seriously! Cottons, upholstery and lots of other fabrics, and even wool yardage (the wools go out the door nearly as soon as they arrive--I grabbed 1.5 yards of the light colored wool you see above on the right, for $6 total).
And I'm pretty certain she mail-orders, so feel free to contact her and ask.
All of her fabrics, yarns, and notions are rescued from people's basements or from fabric stores or yarn stores that have gone out of business. You could go one day and find nothing, and go back the next day and find tons of wonderful new rescued goods.
When you click the link to her website above, be sure to go to her "About" tab and read her mission statement. I'm in awe.
I also got seventeen 100-gram skeins of off-white, 100% wool yarns, very high quality if a bit grubby from being stored for quite a while. I'm pretty sure they were originally from Sweden. Some are worsted weight and some are DK. I can overdye them all. Very exciting. I cleared her out of these, however, so you'll have to find your own treasures some other day.
This was a Big Find, and therefore doesn't fit the title of today's post. But I didn't think any of you would mind...
My goodness, isn't that a busy page! Yikes. But the Inktober challenge is meant to be an annual sampling of a wide variety of tangles, so unless I do each one on its own tile, it's always going to be an "eye-crossing" visual experience. And this one is certainly no exception.
The process is really fun, though. I get to sample things I might not have considered otherwise.
A few of these have become new loves; a few really left me cold.
A few that I've always had trouble drawing just smoothed right out and were easy.
And a few that I know very well somehow turned into hot messes on the page as I ran into unexpected trouble with them!
Sort of like the experience of a daily meditation practice. Or to quote Forrest Gump, "...you never know what you're going to get."
Meanwhile, our fall foliage season is rapidly winding down, but for some reason, this sugar maple didn't get that memo and is just getting started. Sooooo pretty.
See description of this workshop below. This was the result for me; I ran my black & white photo of the cutouts I did during the workshop through the Painnt app on my phone, with this result. I used construction paper and then parked the cutouts in this arrangement on a sheet of white background. Painnt did the rest. I converted the photo to b&w in order to let Painnt do its job.
I am in love with the London Drawing Group, a trio of women dedicated to doing and teaching art. When I saw this workshop on Matisse's cutouts--only £7 or about eleven bucks, and only 1 hour--I thought, what a great way to stimulate creativity. So I signed up and had an absolute blast. We made a number of cutouts in only 60 minutes, only a few of which I used for this photo. Here's the black and white version from my phone before I ran it through the Painnt app posted above this paragraph:
But I wasn't alone in attending. There were people from all over the globe. Two of them were good friends from my rug hooking groups--I had contacted them to tip them off in advance to the workshop and they both signed up. We all knew it would have immediate uses for rug design. And it certainly did.
Here is the work of one of my buddies, Kathleen K., who also attended. Rather than cutting paper, she cut her shapes directly from wool fabric. I love her results. She gave me permission to post this:
And below is the contribution from Lynda F, another rug hooking buddy who also gave me permission to use her photo:
Construction paper cutouts--they can be arranged in so many different ways. Thanks to Lynda F for allowing me to use her results and this photo! If you notice similarities between our cutouts in these photos, it's because we all worked from the same photo models during the workshop. Only our individual cutting techniques created differences. But the possibilities are truly endless.
"I wouldn't mind turning into a vermilion goldfish."
I hope to fill up this page further, while still leaving enough white space. Here are tangles from the first 11 days of Inktober 2020, using only a black Micron 01 and graphite. I will likely need a second page to complete the 31 days without making things look horribly overcrowded. This page is already far too busy but I don't care--the experience is such fun.
Most of these tangles are new to me, so this is really more in order of a "scratch sheet," for practice, rather than anything finished. Inktober is a terrific way to get back in the game. I've got a long way to go but I have to say that this kind of practice is a big help--and anyway, my primary motivation is always the relaxation that comes along with tangling, rather than the results.
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.
The final photos from Deerfield's (MA) Memorial Hall Museum. Enjoy. See the previous 5 posts for the rest.
This post has some additional textiles and some non-textile surprises.
More photos from the recent show which included pieces from their permanent collection, at the Memorial Hall Museum in Deerfield, MA.
See the previous four posts for more goodies.
I'm pretty sure this was called "The Last Rose of Summer," and is in their permanent collection. Embroidered.
Beautiful textiles from Deerfield's Memorial Hall Museum continued. This is the fourth installment--and there will be at least two, possibly three more.
And, here we go with more wonderful textiles and other goodies from Deerfield's Memorial Hall Museum. Some are particular to this exhibit which I think is over by 8/31 but others (most of these today, I think) are part of their permanent collection.
If you want to see the first two posts I did on this, they are from yesterday and the day before.
Last--and very definitely least (by comparison), here is my own bedspread. It's mass-produced and frankly, cheap. But when I was making my bed this morning, in between working on this blog post, I suddenly "saw" it for what it is--a pale imitation of these blue and white Deerfield embroideries that I've admired for decades! And I never even made the association before. DUH!
It gave me a huge laugh.
Stay tuned for more Deerfield treats over the next few days. I look a LOT of photos.
A lotta cats copy the Mona Lisa, but people still line up to see the original.
More from the Memorial Museum's current exhibit in Deerfield MA. For the start of this series, see the previous post.
This may just look like a fussy quilt. But look closer. And look at the next 2 pictures (the white orbs are reflections of ceiling lights--the quilt is under glass). The closer you look, the more impressive it gets. Although I still wouldn't choose to own it, I can admire the EXTREME workmanship. See next photo.
Yes, that is my index finger NEARLY but not quite touching the quilt. I would not touch a textile of this type and age at this point. The finger is there to show you the size of the pieces. Smaller than my much less than 1/2" wide fingernail. I mean, these pieces--all hand sewn together--are 1/4" or LESS in size. Now go back up to the first picture and have another look at how many pieces this quilt contains. Mind-boggling. Story of the quilt in the next photo.
Last week I saw some truly lovely textiles at the Deerfield Memorial Museum. Here's a small portion of what I saw. I'll post more when I can.
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.
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."
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.
Slowly but surely it's coming along, and is it ever fun to do. I am totally into this rug in a way I haven't felt about hooking in years. Fun, fun, fun.
It's all about the color, and all about using up scraps that I've had for years. No new fabric, just things I've stashed away and couldn't get to before I moved to this larger space.
In such a challenging time, when we are all in "lockdown" over this pandemic, it's lovely to work in my studio, playing with color and listening to music or simply enjoying the silence.
But I'm aware of how many people are struggling--hungry, incredibly sick, risking infection by being a front-line provider, dealing with the loss of a loved one, or going bankrupt from losing a job and/or losing a business. The fear, the anxiety, the terror. So far my health is all right and I don't know anyone with the virus; I have a home and my finances are stable. I have food, friends, love. I meditate. In short, I am unbelievably privileged; and I am very aware of it. I'm also aware that my circumstances could change on a dime, any day.
May we all be safe and protected. May we all be loved; may we find peace each day, no matter what happens. And may we look after each other with compassion and kindness.
This is a photo of a line of people about 40 long, each practicing social distancing, outside a grocery store at 8.15 this morning as I was waiting to get in to buy food. We almost never see this sort of thing in the USA. Strange times for all of us the world over. At the same time, I was grateful that food was available and I had the money to buy it. Not everyone does.
Finally finished yesterday, steamed one last time this morning, and hung on my kitchen wall this afternoon. For such a small rug (I think the length is about 26"), it took me way too long to get it done. But there's quite a story behind it, and while this rug is silly and funny, it means a lot to me.
Here's the story:
The original version of this pattern, which I have greatly modified, was designed by George Kahnle and hooked by his husband, Dick LaBarge. I believe it was titled, "Americus Tunafishus" and Dick dyed the wool and hooked it in red, white, and blue as a patriotic rug. I first saw the finished piece in Vermont at a rug show, and took note of it as I am a tuna fan. Note: It even says, "Loves tuna fish" under my photo in my old high school yearbook. And one of my memories of my dad is that he ate a tuna sandwich for lunch every day of his life--apparently my fondness for tuna is genetic. (I do know about the mercury danger and the over-fishing, and am pretty careful about where I get my tuna)
The original pattern is still available from Betsy Reed of Heavens to Betsy; she bought Dick & George's pattern stock from their former business, Hooked On the Creek. After I heard that Dick had died in 2018, I'm sure I bought the pattern from her late that year. It isn't shown on her website but if you ask, I believe she can bring it up. As I said, the original pattern doesn't resemble my rug much. I changed the wording and I completely redrew the fish.
Dick and George were just two of the nicest, most talented, and funniest guys I've ever met and I adored them both. I never got to visit them in Victory Mills, NY, where they lived, worked, and taught rug hooking for decades. They also had a fabulous antique store. But I was fortunate to take some classes with them in Vermont and count them as friends.
They were devoted to each other and were life partners long before it was safe to declare their relationship. I believe they were finally able to marry in 2012, just two years before George died, aged 82. Dick died in 2018 and he was 85. I swear I miss them both to this day. When I heard Dick was gone, I sat down and cried; but then I began to smile as I remembered how funny he and George were, and all the good times we had in their classes.
I knew I wanted to hook a rug in their honor, and this is it.
I just took a look at both their obituaries and true to form, it's Dick's memorial write-up that says it all. George's is short and contains few details, but you can get a flavor of both of them from reading Dick's.
Dear friends, I am thinking of both of you today with much gratitude for your fine teaching and the hilarity and kindness you offered those of us who knew you.
I miss you.
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.
A friend stopped by my house today, exhausted and distraught, sharing a very sad but very familiar story of serious family trouble. I think I may have been the first person outside the family she told. There was nothing I could do but listen. I can only hope that being present with her, and listening, was enough to help.
She was here for hours. After she left I had to help myself, so I did this "variation," of the tile above, experimenting with what I'd learned in Zen Linea's class to produce this on a Bijou tile (2"x2"):
Listening with loving-kindness was the only thing I could do.
I am frequently reminded, as I hear other people speak of what they are going through, of how fortunate I really am. I am grateful for my life, with all its warts and minor upsets and imperfections. And with all its privilege and grace.
Compared to what some of those who matter to me are going through, I often feel like the luckiest person on earth.
May she and her family heal. May all those who suffer heal. May all of us know peace.
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