Today I've been thinking about restraint, a concept I've been considering in meditation. When to speak out; when to hold my tongue. Nothing in my exterior life has brought this up more than the political situation here in the United States. I am often shocked both by vitriolic, unwise speech and by what is NOT being said.
But I can only control what I say or don't say, and that is why it is something I've been pondering in meditation.
I spotted an old Joey Challenge (#214, here) on the tangle "Spoken," and gave it a go last night just before bed.
When restraint and courtesy are added to strength, the latter becomes irresistible.
Things are going pretty well for me at this moment. But others in my "family of friends" are facing hard life issues, and all of us are dealing with a very troubled world.
This poem always cracks me up when I read it, and humor is such a help right now. May it give you all a chuckle.
Words of wisdom for troubling times?
Given the challenges, I thought I would do a "Challenge Tile" today, so I worked on one for Joey's Weekly Tangle Challenge #219 and here it is:
on not stopping
since i broke my wrist and can't really type, i assumed there would be no blogging either. but i can't stop drawing. here's my 1-handed version of joey challenge #174.
following that is a 10-minute sketch of the incredibly bulky cast and sling i'm wearing.
my previous post has all the tiles i've been sneaking in 1-handed since the break.
joey challenge 174. the main tangle is "asian fans" and the rest is my embellishments on the lovely be-ribboned string created by suzanne ng. this was a "finish my tile" challenge and if you look at her original, it's lovely all by itself. i used a rainbow lead pencil and graphite for color and shading.
This is about all I can manage today. I have a nasty summer head cold and I think I've been overdoing it.
Even though I'm trying very hard to limit my activities, even short tasks are tiring. This is Joey Challenge #128. I couldn't resist giving it a go...but now I need a nap!
Below is the same photo altered with two separate iPhone apps.
PLAN versus RESULT
Looking at this photo: On the left side is the original plan for this week's Joey Challenge. I loved that she tangled about 1/3 of the tile and left the rest for the participants to work out. Yesterday I posted my first effort --fly-by-night since I was doing the entire thing from memory. Today I tried it again. I'm still not madly in love with my results but that's ok since at least I am tangling...something I haven't had that much time to do lately.
Here's a better look at what I did. Included in this tangle are Paradox, N'Zepple, Tipple, Sampson, and various other random lines and marks I tossed in there, with some graphite shading and then coloring using a Rainbow Pencil.
I may even try a third version of this at some point.
With repetition, the alternate approaches become clear, options open.
The title of today's post is explained at the very end...
Today I had a scheduled tangling date with a friend at a nearby cafe. At the last minute, we switched the time to an earlier hour, so I raced out of the house without the paper on which I'd printed instructions and the visual for a Joey Tangle Challenge I thought would be fun to try. My friend hadn't heard of this particular challenge, so I quickly sketched it out from memory--I didn't even have a Zentangle® tile with me, so I had to guess the approximate size and I free-handed the borders. I thought I'd just show my friend what it was about. But then I decided, why not just tangle on this? And here is the result. Not stellar, but hey, it could be worse!
When I got home, I took an actual tile and placed it on top of my freehand version, and traced around it. That produced the space around the very edge that I filled with triangles. I wasn't too far off!
This was a fun challenge. If you clicked the link above you can see that Joey had actually started us off with the entire large triangle, leaving the rest blank for us to fill in. Have a look at the wide variations that people produce from that one idea (they are on her site above). This incredible number of variations is part of the fun of doing challenges.
After finishing, I of course couldn't leave well enough alone and had to run it thru one of my iPhone apps. Results below. And yes--all I did was take the photo above and run it thru the app, just manipulating it a bit to see what would happen. So much fun.
This made for a lovely break from trying to resolve some of the issues I've run into in executing my latest rug design. So relaxing to sit and tangle.
While at the cafe, I drank a temporary specialty flavored coffee called "Decaf Librarian." They do not normally carry decaf, and that title says it all about what they think of un-caffeinated coffee. It was delicious but still not mild enough for me.
I guess I'm just a coffee wimp.
FINISHING. PLUS, REWARDING MYSELF.
Well. It's almost done. The hooking is done. Next comes:
And you wonder why hand-hooked rugs are so expensive. Every time you buy a cheapo hooked rug from China (and they are out there, plenty of them), you are disempowering an American or Canadian artist. But it's not my intention to get on THAT soapbox today.
And now...the rewards:
So after all this hooking (not to mention the Big Yarn Dyeing Project over the last six days), I decided to self-indulge with some rewards. My new freaky shoes (see the post from two days ago), one of which is visible in the rug photo above, were the start of an orgy of self-indulgence.
Just today my new dye spoons arrived from Gene Shepherd's online store. These arrived with lightning speed. I think I may even have ordered them on Thanksgiving, just last Thursday, and it's only Monday. I love them. They have so many advantages in this form, and I love that the measures go from 1/128th to 1 full teaspoon.
They were expensive, as all good dye spoons are, but I know the value of top-of-the-line tools, and these are definitely in that category.
There's more though.
Here are Carrie Paris's beautiful new Relative Tarot Cards, which you can find more about here. I can't wait to begin using these. (They are sold out temporarily but she'll be reprinting soon.)
While I am taking a short break from dyeing massive quantities of yarn for my new Moon & Clouds rug, I'll really enjoy working with Carrie's cards. And of course, I will be working with tarot at the opening of the tarot rug show on Friday.
YUMA AND BYDP DAY 3
I am in yarn dyeing heaven. Or hell. Depending how I look at it. Am not making my daily goal, and my house truly looks like a tornado has struck full-force. But more about that later. This is quick post just to record what I did for the Joey Challenge this week, the monotangle Yuma.
I have spirals on the brain this week, so wanted to use a spiral string. It's debatable whether I did a true form of Yuma here, but what the hey. Here's a mirrored version, using the iPhone app:
Back to the yarn dyeing saga: I only managed to get 3 skeins done again today. And I won't really be able to see them until daylight tomorrow. Next step: stop until I've spent a couple of hours coloring sketches, and make a semi-final decision about which lighter colors to use. Then, calculate how many of each color I will need, creating a map that will govern the rest of the process. I think I've done enough testing. Time to get down to business.
QUICK CHALLENGE TANGLE
The Joey Challenge this week is to build a monotangle from one named XPlosion. What's helpful about these challenges is that creating a good design with one tangle is often way harder than it sounds. Here's my attempt to do this with XPlosion.
I used a burnished Rainbow Lead Pencil on the negative spaces and a Micron 01, after which I played with the tile using the Mirror app on my iPhone and picked this version of it to post below:
MESSY. LIKE OUR PLANET.
My heart is with the people of Paris today.
The Joey Challenge this week (#86) was to do a W-2 monotangle. Quite a challenge...in fact, monotangles are always difficult when one is trying to do something creative, rather than just using the technique to learn the tangle for the first time.
I did want to do something different. I've done W-2 in the past with great success using just a Micron and graphite--it's a lovely tangle that looks tricky but really isn't, with patience and with a mindful approach. But making it look different? I dunno...
Then I decided to crosshatch it rather than using gentle graphite shading. And while I was at it, I decided to add Rainbow Lead pencil to it. And I decided to crosshatch the first try with a Micron (no erasing with that!) and to do it messily rather than carefully. What result would I get?
Well, here it is. It's messy. It's different. It reminds me of ribbon candy. Do I love it? No, but I'm glad I tried it.
There is something jagged and edgy in the result that reminds me of my feelings about the terror attack in Paris. (I do NOT mean to compare my scribbles to the gravity of what is going on there...just saying that despite the soft coloring and ribbon-candy look, it's got darkness going on and that reflects a bit of what I was feeling. i can only imagine what Parisians are feeling this evening...here in Boston, we know something about the effect of this type of shocking, senseless, brutal violence.)
I did this in my Tangle-a-Day calendar.
I then decided to try this on a black tile to see what would happen. Once again I used cross-hatching, both with the Signo Uniball Pen and with the Rainbow Lead. Here's the result, which I find interesting but also troubling. It seems that tangling was bringing out some of those rough feelings over last night's terrorism. In doing this mindfully, I reflected my awareness of right now, right here.
Will we ever mature enough to know peace? To embody peace?
SPITTING IMAGE, OR IMAGE OF SPIT?
For Joey's Weekly Tangle Challenge #85, the monotangle this week is Verdigogh. I love Verdigogh and knew I wanted to enter, so here is what I came up with. Unfortunately, I decided to try adding a few water droplets on the actual tile for the first time. I've tried them on scrap paper before, but never on an actual Zentangle® tile. The result? Well, read about what happened under the photo. But I'll give you a hint: I haven't stopped laughing since I finished tangling. Does this look like water droplets, or does it look as though someone spit on the tile?
For reasons I don't entirely understand, I think this result is hilarious. The tiny black dotty things are not meant to be water--they are meant to be berry-like add-ons and are frequently used with this tangle. I'm fine with those. But OMG, the water...or is it spit? Or some gummy form of dough? That's the bit that I think is funny.
Admittedly I didn't think it was funny when I was wrestling with it. I'm no expert on water droplets (hah! as you can see!) but all my previous ones have been far, far better than this. As I said above, they were all done on scrap paper for practice. Trying them on a white tile for the first time, I found that none of my white pens seemed to do anything against the white paper...the ink would come out but then would just sink into the tile. This just shows me how much I have to learn about my tools. The result was the muddy gray mess you see above. I do like my Verdigogh; I used a Rainbow Lead Pencil for shading lightly.
I will be trying this again, practicing to get the water droplets right the next time. I truly love looking at them when they come out well. Once I got over my horror at what happened with this, I began to see it as very funny, and it's making me smile even as I type this.
Now to go to Joey's site and see what everyone else did with this (I never look until I'm done).
WHAT FAILURE TEACHES ME.
On an inner level, it's been quite a week for me. Many interior struggles. I will spare you the content; let's just say I was "at sixes and sevens" all week.
In the midst of all this, I thought I would do the String Thing Challenge #114, and I did.
The result: Not good! Without in any way meaning to demean myself, let me say that I am laughing at how bad this tile is and part of me can't believe I'm posting it. But you know what? I don't care how bad it is, because I learned from it, and also it's a visual representation of my tumultuous inner state. Here it is.
Feel free to speculate about this as an expression of my inner state, and feel free to giggle. This is truly a Tile Gone Rogue. When I look at it, and think about what I was feeling as I tangled, I get a real chuckle at how it turned out.
So what can I learn from this?
Well, for one thing, I was trying out some new metallic pencils, and also trying out a new type of shading stump--not the traditional tortillion but something I saw in my travels and picked up to try. Here's a picture of the pencils and the strange new little shading stump:
The pencils are from a kids' toy store. The odd tortillions...sorry, can't remember where I got them! Both were very cheap.
The jury is out on the pencils so far. They are soft and creamy and go on easily, but are too large in my hands and don't seem to sharpen well or apply well. But perhaps I just need more practice?
I used the gold metallic pencil and the rose/purple metallic pencil in this tile.
And the shading stump? That's a puzzle as well. I will have to try this in other contexts. You can see where it nearly ripped up the paper around the "rays" on the tile, and I ended up with a kind of dirty ineffective smudge there rather than shading. But was that the stump, or my technique? Or maybe the stump isn't compatible with these pencils? I won't know until I try again with it.
And I will try again.
Ok, the question was, what did I learn from this? I learned that:
This entire process reminded me of meditation. I frequently feel, in meditation, that I "should" be experiencing something I'm not, or that "I'm doing it wrong," or that if my brain would just shut up for once, I'd be in bliss. The truth is, meditation, like life, can be very messy. In meditation, I need to be listening to my Self. In meditation, I do not need to feel there is "one right way" to proceed (or that I don't know the "one right way"). In meditation, if I am having a ping-pong experience obsessing about something stressful, I can get rigid about what I'm doing if I'm not aware of what is happening. In meditation, I don't have to change everything...in fact, I don't have to change ANYTHING. Just observe what's going on. In meditation, after I contemplate whatever is going on, I'm usually a lot more ready to find the humor i it. And in meditation, I have daily failures and daily successes; but no matter what happens, I am committed to it, and I continue to practice.
That is what it's all about: PRACTICE. (This was also my word for 2015)
Practice in art, practice in meditation, and practice in life.
I'll end with a tangle I did in my Tangle-a-day calendar when I was preparing to do the String Challenge. I didn't have much experience with the Ta-Da tangle, so I tried it out here:
I did this in one of my few relaxed moments this week, prior to attempting the String Challenge. I used a Rainbow Lead Pencil. I think you can see the difference between this and the artificial, contrived-looking, and unsuccessful String Challenge Tile. I was relaxed and centered here; I used familiar tools, and I was willing to just practice for fun, no matter how well or poorly it turned out. I was just experimenting.
Coincidentally, Ta-Da was also the featured monotangle in the #83 Joey Challenge this week, so I just sent this experimental version in as my entry for that.
Big lessons for me here.
"Back of every mistaken venture and defeat is the laughter of wisdom, if you listen." --Carl Sandburg
For Joey Challenge #82. Details on what I used under the photograph.
Faber Castell colored pencils in Pthalo Green, Green-Yellow, and White, with Prismacolor gold pencil, on a Renaissance tile.
I like the Faber Castell colors, but oh my, they are so much harder than Prismacolor pencils. For handling, I prefer the Prismacolors.
No other comments this evening. Having some supposedly minor eye surgery tomorrow and feeling skittish.
Yesterday I finally got back into my studio, after nearly ten weeks of enforced absence, due first to heat and humidity, and then to the Back Episode of the Century (which is now 99% better). I was only able to stay 90 minutes, so don't yet have much to show, but it was fabulous to be there, and wonder of wonders, my two studio roomies were also there. We had a great catch-up session. I hope to get in there again tomorrow.
Today I taught a 1-1 Zentangle® class to an absolutely lovely woman. You meet the best people doing Zentangle!
Last night and today I hauled out my Tangle-a-Day calendar and created some first-time practice tangles. Here are the first two. In the first one, you can see me trying a completely new tangle, Rosewood, in the calendar. And in the second one, you can see what I did with it on a tile. It's for this week's Joey Challenge. These were done between 3 a.m. and 4.30 a.m. as I had insominia. After completing them, I was able to go straight to sleep. Here is the first-ever scribble:
...and then I went straight to trying this as a monotangle on a tile for this week's Joey Challenge:
Practicing in the calendar first was a big help. It was a challenge to use this as a monotangle, and shading with a Rainbow Pencil is always dicey, but I like the way this turned out.
Later today, after getting home from teaching, I wanted to tackle two other tangles that are totally new to me: Zenith, which has just been released by HQ, and Tri-Bee. So once again I pulled out my calendar and gave them a trial run. At the time I had no access to a Micron so I just used my handy Bic Pen. I was interrupted before I had a chance to shade this and wasn't that excited about it, but later this evening I did get to add shading and I really like the results. I hope to get a more practiced version on a tile tomorrow.
Here is my first scribble with both of these tangles, Zenith around the border and Tri-Bee in the inside.
PLENTY OF QUERIES!
This week I decided to try a new Monday challenge, Joey's Weekly Tangle Challenge #80. I haven't tried this one before, and as it happened, she suggested a tangle I had never seen or heard of before, called Queeries (you can find it by going to her page at the above link).
It's based on a question mark.
I'm not sure how keen I am on this particular tangle, which is grid-based, but I was determined to try it. I had to break it out of its grid, though, and then--I swear, the above photo really IS Queeries. It's just my version of Queeries. I did not add any other tangles to it, since this challenge is supposed to be a monotangle...I just did line work around it and then shading.
I ended up thinking Queeries was pretty interesting, although I don't know how much I'll use it. But then, that's why challenges exist.
Next, I got out my iPhone and played with the tile using a couple of apps, with these results. Here's a mirrored version from the mirror app...
...and here's a version of the original using the app "Painteresque:
I used a Rainbow Pencil to shade the original plain tile. It never fails to amaze me how relaxing and focusing tangling is. No matter what I'm thinking about when I begin, I forget everything once I begin to tangle. It works every time. So meditative.
I'm still fascinated with playing with iPhone apps on my tiles after I've finished because the results are so surprising.
At this moment, my own life is filled with queries about so many things. I imagine that is true for a lot of us, not just me.
Life loves to lead us to our own question marks.
? ? ?
“He explained to me, with great insistence, that every question possessed a power that did not lie in the answer.”
― Elie Wiesel, Night
I'm a textile artist (traditional rug hooking, punch needle rug hooking, and other textile arts), a long-time meditator, a certified meditation teacher and coach, and focused on learning about the interplay of art, creativity, and mindfulness every day.
SITES TO WATCH:
Insight Meditation Society
Oxford Rug Hooking School
Zentangle: The Official Site
Green Mountain Rug Hooking
Massachusetts Tarot Society