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
Yesterday I asked my neighbor if she knew what the flowering, beautifully scented bush was in our front yard (we didn't plant it) and she said yes: Clethra. I thought she said "plethora" and assumed she was referring to the high number of fabulous blossoms. But no, she was naming Clethra alnifolia, also known as the sweet pepperbush or "summersweet." I love that last name.
Summersweet is incredibly seductive to honeybees and butterflies, both of which I've seen--a "plethora" of them--since it began to bloom a few weeks ago. And the scent...oh, the scent is so lovely. I feel honored to be in the presence of this plant. I remember it bloomed the first summer I moved here, but not last year. What a treat to have it make such a big comeback this year. Here's a blossom from our front yard.
There were so many honeybees and other cuties drinking from the flowers that I'm surprised I didn't have to beat any of them back to get this photo but this one stem was not being worked just as I snapped the shutter. Lots of Monarch butterflies and other butterflies around it also this year. It's a good year for the Monarchs around here--god knows they need a good year. And the bees as well.
Advice from a Honeybee
Create a buzz.
Sip life's sweet moments.
Mind your own beeswax.
Always find your way home.
Stick close to your honey.
Always bee yourself.
I hasten to say here that I am simply following along with the Project Pack videos as I draw, so these compositions are copies of what is on the videos, not my original compositions. 99% of what I post here is original to me, but sometimes, when I don't have the mojo--which has been happening lately for unknown reasons--it's just so relaxing to follow along and copy-to-learn-from someone else's work. I always attribute the work to the originator, as I've done here and for my last several posts.
Working my way through Project Pack 06 (this is from Day Two) I am thinking about Blackness and Whiteness (and everyone else--brown, yellow, red) in my country. Doing this drawing in black and white was calming and joyful, but I'm also thinking of the deep racial disparities and oppression in existence here, now even more obvious. Not that they ever went away.
The week before Toni Morrison died, I watched an absolutely wonderful documentary on her life (highly recommended). I had no idea that she was sick and fixing to die as I watched. I left the theater and decided to re-read all of her books, beginning with The Bluest Eye, which I last read around 1976. I have just finished reading it and am stunned all over again by the power and beauty of her words, along with the pain and the level of truth we all need to face.
Rest in peace, Toni Morrison. You have been and will continue to be a powerful teacher for me and for others.
As far as I can remember, I have only ever done this tangle once, and that was years ago. So I wasn't sure if this would end up becoming "Hellish" or "Ellish." I do like the way it turned out and I need to practice more to allow myself to relax right from the start.
Speaking of hellish, the outdoor temperature is warming up and humidity is just beginning to slide in this direction; my all-time least favorite weather. I can tolerate cold far better than heat. Ok, enough of that!
Yesterday I broke out my gellyroll pens, which I haven't used since I can't remember when, and played with another grid-based tangle, this one a fragment from the Zentangle® book, Reticula and Fragments. (A "reiticula" is just another name for "grid.")
In love with this weather? I'm happy for you! (You've certainly waited long enough for it after the long cold rainy spring.). "Hellish" or Coolish, we all welcome summer. There is so much to enjoy. May yours be a wonderful one.
"The difficult part of the process is the long exploration and discovery of your own soul and living with the results."
Tangle is Cirque, but doubled, and I added a few more things to it, like some Mooka and a spinoff of Crescent Moon. Used black & brown micron 01s, graphite, white gellyroll, general's chalk pencil, and a very small amount of Prismacolor. This tile is inside one of my first BittyBookZ™. See posts in June for info about those.
Gawd, what a week. I needed something round and sunny today so I made the above tangle on some pages in one of my recent handmade books.
Today is the first day I feel like myself in over a week. I had a medical test that went wrong. Nothing dangerous, but it's quite impressive how bad one can feel when something is seriously "off" but not dangerous. I have had zero, and I do mean zero, motivation to do anything for days and days.
Hurrah for feeling better!
Last week in the middle of my woes I had a bout of insomnia, and that's when I did the tile just beneath this. I was still trying to work on grid-based tangles, which are not my preference. The combo of "not my preference" and "feeling really crappy" added up to what you see below.
[Late last week] Oh, how my mood is matching the feeling of being "gridlocked," like the tangles I have been working on. I've been pretty sick this week, unexpectedly. Nothing that won't improve, but the improvement is slow. I've discovered--no surprise--that I suck as an invalid. I'm not good at sitting around. There are things I want to be doing that are physical, and I'm just not up to doing them yet. Frustrating.
Insomnia last night led to another grid-based tangle, C-Stem by Agneta Landeson. I've never tried it before:
I'm not crazy about how it came out but at least the process did enable me to go to sleep.
The top of the 6-sided box I've been working on is finally tangled, and I've sprayed the entire thing with fixative. All that's left is to add a button for closure. Here's the top.
I went outdoors after dark last night and was mesmerized by the bountiful fireflies everywhere in my front yard. Although I hadn't meant to, I stayed for over half an hour watching them as they danced in the dark. So very lovely. In their honor I added some white dots in the background on the top of the box, and also some dark dots on the right side of the top which is lighter in color.
To view a quick, lovely video on fireflies dancing, go HERE. Don't miss it.
The box, which really isn't that big (perhaps 8" x 1"?) took forever to tangle as I worked my way along all 6 sides. The paper actively resisted the ink, and it was awkward to tangle because of the shape. But I think it will be quite functional as soon as I add that button. I won't be making another one soon, however.
Yesterday must have been a good day for me as I also finished a Bitty BookZ™ version for Zendalas (see the last few posts for the link to more information on Bitty BookZ). Here is the final result on that. I'm quite pleased.
“Catch fireflies in flight, crinkle grass under your toes and know that you are always beloved always beautiful .... a dream within a dream.”
This mandala started 8 months ago. I did the outer border (you can see that HERE) last October and was flummoxed about what to do next. You know how these things sometimes have to marinate. I've had the filter itself (yes, a used coffee filter from the amazing Cheryl Cianci CZT, who drinks lots of coffee) since 2014. So this one marinated a very long time as a total blank, then again as a partially done piece, and finally it's finished.
"Upon the heat and flame of thy distemper, sprinkle cool patience."
"If you are not too long, I will wait here for you all my life."
Tangling on a tan coffee filter with a blue watercolor wash (prepped by Cheryl Cianci, CZT, after she first used the filter to make her coffee, rinsed it, and put the wash on it; then dried it--Thanks for doing all that prep work Cheryl!). Tangles are Mooka, and a variation of Flux, as well as the embedded letters technique without any letters. PN Blue Micron, General's Pastel Pencils, White Gellyroll, Prismacolor Pencils.
I managed to avoid all the other things I was supposed to be doing today when I heard that my friend Cheryl Cianci, CZT, was offering her coffee-filter class again. I only discovered this at the very last minute and raced out the door hoping to make it on time. I had taken the class about 4-5 years ago but my experience of Cheryl is that there's always something new and it was utterly relaxing as usual. She is the soul of kindness, and hugely talented.
Much gratitude to all who teach.
A compilation of random thoughts this fine spring morning.
1. Aren't these buttons fun? I found them online and loved them, probably because they remind me of various patterns used in Zentangle® and also of patterns used in Oriental Rugs. I'm hoping to use them in some tangling projects. And maybe one or two will inspire a rug.
They are a collection of tiny mandalas.
2. I spotted this beauty yesterday on a walk. Yowza! A "button"/mandala created by Mother Nature herself, and what a beauty. There has to be a tangle design (or a rug) in there somewhere.
The plant goes by the unglamorous name of Osteospermum, also known as "Flower Power White." It stopped me in my tracks on my walk. Just an amazing flower; it positively glowed.
3. This is a partially-done panel on the bottom (yes, the bottom) of a tan paper box. I've been working on this for two weeks and the going has been slow because I don't have all that much time to tangle right now. Below you can see the completed design. It will probably take me another month to finish.
Alas, I couldn't quite get that photo above to come out straight-on, but you get the idea.
The same box, vertical photo. I still couldn't get a straight-on image.
I don't have the box in front of me but I'm guessing that the dimensions are about 9" long, about 2" wide, and perhaps and inch-and-a-half tall, with a cover that flips open. I have a button to sew on when I'm done with the tangling and will use that for a closure (not one of the buttons shown at the top of this post).
4. Spring has fully sprung here and today we're having stunningly beautiful weather; up until today there have been very few sunny days and plenty of soggy ones.
May all the lovely colors, sounds, and scents of spring fill your senses today.
(At least in the Northern Hemisphere)
What I've noticed:
The later in the day I tangle and the more exhausted I am, the better. Or so it seems as I observe over time.
That critical inner voice, sometimes quite loud during the day, apparently develops laryngitis by late at night when I'm tired. And so I frequently love not only the process, but also the results.
I like this one, done at midnight last night.
“The good news is that opportunities for love enter our lives unpredictably, whether or not we’ve perfected self-compassion or befriended our inner critic.”
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