What should we do when there appears to be very little energy for "doing?" Sometimes we have days like that. I had one today.
Fortunately, I had two small Bijou (2"x2") tiles already prepped with Map Tangled backgrounds, so today I did them as experiments. I had to make an effort to get going since I had no energy at all.
The jury is out on whether I like the results all that much. On this first tile I put the tangle Pepper (with a few orbs added) which I tarted up with Gold Jellyroll pen in between the black Micron PN strokes and also in the negative spaces. I'm still contemplating this one. But at least it got me drawing on a day when I felt...blah. As we sometimes do, for no reason. Just blah. Not bad, not good.
How often do we notice these moments of complete neutrality? I usually don't, unless a lot of them get strung together during a day--unusual, but it does happen once in awhile. Should neutral always equal "blah?" Many folks experience an occasional no-energy day.
Perhaps I just needed a day to do nothing? Or simply to contemplate neutrality? There hasn't been much to feel neutral about in a long, long time (locally or globally). Perhaps neutrality has been snoozing, and is now waking up again. Is it actually neutrality, then, or could my over-stimulated nervous system from these last few traumatic years not recognize what it means to rest and restore itself?
Experiment #2,is also done on a pre-prepped Map Tangled background on another tiny tile. Only this time, the prep included putting a silver metallic Fine Tec watercolor glaze over the regular pink-rose watercolor. I used a purple Micron PN to do the tangle, which is Diva Dance--a tangle I love but always find quite baffling. I need remedial Diva Dance lessons!
Diva Dance reminds me of neurons in the brain, quivering and firing. And yet when I'm drawing, I'm usually totally absorbed and just not thinking. Perhaps my own dancing neurons go into some type of trance when I draw. A good thing, on days like this one.
A metallic shine is hard to capture on camera, and the deep rose color did not show truly here. As is the case with the other small experiment above, I am still waiting to decide how I feel about the tile.
In the end, it doesn't matter. The practice itself--and "showing up" even on a day when I didn't have much energy--was my intention, not the final outcome.
Show up. Sit down. Whatever comes up is simply what is arising in this moment. Notice it. No judgement.
Exactly like meditation.
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.
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.
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.
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."
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.
It's Election Day here in the USA and the voting is hot and heavy. Last night I did another mandala, above. I'm reminded of how the Wheel of Life is ever-turning, ever changing, and today will prove that to be true. No matter who wins this election, my country has changed dramatically over the last four years, and it will continue to change during the next four. Inevitably. May we know peaceful change; may we grow into kindness and peace each day, and may we trace our roots to the Tree of Peace.
The tradition of the Tree of Peace was especially honored by the indigenous peoples of this country. There are many beautiful renditions of Native Peoples view of the Tree of Peace but I didn't want to use any of those out of copyright concerns. Below is an image from Wikimedia, used with permission. This image comes from Slovenia. Many world religions also speak of and value a Tree of Peace.
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.
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."
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.
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.
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."
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.
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).
Ahhh, the start of October and cooler weather. I hope. It's also the start of the annual drawing event, Inktober. There are many versions of this, and a few of them focus on tangling. I used today's prompt (the tangle Printemps) as the string for this tangle, then put more Printemps inside it, along with Flux and Shattuck. I like the result but I also ran in thru my iPhone app and the color version was very fun.
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.
An "embedded letters" tile for Project Pack 06. The "No Mistakes" pack.
Meanwhile, I think/hope my creativity is beginning to come back. Finally some textile work, the start of a new rug.
I took another tangling class today, this one with Heidi Halpern Kay, a talented artist who has been teaching for only one year. She has no website that I can find, but she's active on Pinterest and Facebook. My hope in taking all these recent classes has been that they would inspire me to get back my creative mojo. I think it's working, although I won't know until I begin doing my own designs again.
This tile introduced me to Ecoline Markers, which I had never used before. Very interesting. I'll be doing a lot more experimenting. Tangles: Printemps, Hollibaugh, Pokeroot/Pokeleaf, Mooka. Ecoline Markers, Copic Markers, White Gellyroll, White chalk pencil, White Uniball Signo Pen, Sakura Multiliner pen. That's a lotta art supplies!
The big news for me is that I've begun another hooked rug. It's not at the stage where I can show anything; everything so far is just experimental and it will be awhile until I have something to show. This is one reason I think I'm starting to get back some mojo. Hurrah!
"What art offers is space--a certain breathing room for the spirit."
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.
Well this was tough! I'm not quite sure why. I did notice, though, that when I sat down to work on this, I was not feeling at my best emotionally. In fact I was feeling like s*** emotionally. That's quite unusual, but it's been a tough couple of weeks. Events and politics have been even more challenging (which is really saying something in this country).
I got started and right from the get-go I disliked what I was doing. If I had been working on a single sheet of paper or a tile, I'd probably have abandoned this. Possibly I'd have ripped it up. But I was working in a special notebook, and didn't feel I could leave it and ignore it without diminishing all the other pieces I had done already in the book. So, following a Zentangle guideline, I kept my hand moving and focused on one line at a time. I worked and worked, but really. did. not. like. it.
Following another Zentangle guideline, I walked away from it for a while. When I returned, it still wasn't exciting me but I noticed I didn't dislike it quite as much. So I sat down and kept on. And on. And on!
It's still not my favorite page, but I'm ok with where I ended up, especially given how I felt when I started. Most of all, I'm happy I persisted. There's a lesson in here. My mood had improved substantially when I was done.
There is nothing more dreadful than the habit of doubt.
--attributed to the Buddha
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