I'm turning into a major fangirl of CZT Emiko Kaneko, who has a fantastic Youtube channel and shares her teaching there. This (above) is my version of one of her lessons after watching one of her free videos.
Here below are a few of the stages this mandala went thru on its way to completion. I photographed as I drew. What a calming experience.
One line at a time.
Enjoy the moment.
Mistakes? What mistakes--a mistake can be addressed and learned from.
Appreciate appreciate appreciate.
Hold the pen (hold things) lightly.
I love the lessons I learn from Zentangle®; they're directly applicable to meditation, to daily life, to just about everything.
Starting a new rug. Some of the work is deceptively tricky but I think I'm getting the hang of it. This is my second try and is an obvious improvement over the first. I'm learning as I go. That's the story of our everyday life, yes? "Learn as you go. " No instruction manual, no do-overs.
Taking each day as it comes. Not so easy to do! And not every day is a masterpiece either, that much is certain. But day by day, moment by moment, we create our lives. Hopefully, we learn as we go.
At least with rug hooking, you get to pull something out and do it over if needed.
"Yesterday I was clever, so I changed the world. Today I am wise, so I am changing myself." --Rumi
It's hot and humid outside, not my preferred weather. Demotivating.
However, I see the value of "warming up" in other contexts, like when doing any kind of art. Warming up = doing anything mental and/or physical to get oneself going. Even sitting down for only ten minutes when there is supposedly NO TIME. Here's last night's warm-up below, a quick tangle done just before sleep, inspired by the Sunday night Tangle Time with Amy Kam.
This morning I noticed I didn't want to meditate. Not. At. All. So I applied the warm-up idea to meditation, telling myself that I only had to sit for ten minutes. And reminding myself that I could look right at the resistance the whole time if I wanted to, and that everyone has resistance at times. I did, and of course discovered that I easily meditated for my entire usual time (way longer than ten minutes) and enjoyed it.
Yep, warming up...I may not like it when the weather does it, but it's pretty darned handy for the arts and for meditation.
After warming up today, I did this:
I'm not sure it's finished yet. Probably is.
This was my second try at drawing Tisoooh (see my first attempt HERE) and I could not believe how much easier it was. So much easier! I want to continue to explore.
Thanks to my friend Susie Ng in Thailand, who actually tried the same video I described in my previous post about it and then went good-crazy into experimenting with Tisoooh on her own. You can see her amazing results HERE (scroll down until you find them but prepare for a visual feast along the way). Susie is a phenomenal artist, as you'll see!
So it started out this way...
I'm still "blobbing." A great way to try out various watercolors and watercolor techniques. These are Yatsumoto metallic watercolors. Very subtle unless you really load your brush.
There was a teeny bit of Inktense Watercolor Pencil tangling going on in the upper left quadrant.
...and ended up that way:
This is all I'm capable of today. The night before last I had only 2 hours of sleep, who knows why. All day today I've been dealing with credit card fraud in a major way. It's taken hours to straighten things out. And I made a major blooper with some friends that also took quite a while to straighten out (assuming I even did get it straightened out).
Isn't this just how life is--some days great, some days awful. (I could re-write that sentence substituting "hours" or "minutes" for the word "days" and it would be equally true.)
There is nothing else to be done but to respond to each moment in the moment. And what a challenge it can be to respond skillfully.
So all I can do is work on a few small blobs. In fact, I am a blob myself today. Neither happy or unhappy, but still just a blob. Sometimes ya gotta go with the flow--even when the flow is temporarily blocked and becomes blob-like.
Here was how I started out, after watching a really fun video on IG TV by Yvonne West, CZT < @ywestart > which I thoroughly recommend.
My blobs before I tangled them. The video was fun to watch and if ever you don't feel energetic enough to tackle a full tangle, this is a terrific exercise for experimenting with watercolor in a low risk way.
A kind neighbor brought these marigolds in a tiny bottle. She collects old bottles and also grows flowers. A wonderful combination.
I could actually have given this post a much longer title. Something like: "Kind Neighbors, Marigolds, and Other Favorite Things." Too long.
Some of my favorite things. The hydrangea in an antique bottle, a book on drawing (recommended), and an old white soapstone I tangled years ago and put into a frame to use as a coaster, after first baking it in the oven to set the paint. Plus, my front porch. Love to sit out and watch the world go by.
Finally, a quick late-night tangle I did last night after watching Amy Kam's weekly Tangle Time. The tile had been given a watercolor wash years ago. I added the tangles (Gneiss, Black Pearl, Crescent Moon, Shattuck), along with colored and chalk pencils and graphite. I threw in some white gellyroll. And I still couldn't sleep--however I didn't wake up this morning until almost nine. Oooh, a lovely sleep after all. Once it actually came.
Waking up early this morning I could hear rain pounding down. It's a lovely soothing sound under normal circumstances, but clearly something is very out of whack when half the continent is in a drought of emergency proportions and the other half is experiencing unending rain. If we could only share and balance...but we have interfered too much already.
I like this tile very much and am enjoying having made it. It's my interpretation of what Amy Kam was suggesting in her wonderful meditative Sunday night "Tangle Time," now on Eventbrite every week; and yet, the cloudiness and darkness reminded me of our recent storms and weather issues.
There is a balance between taking "right action," based on a true understanding and wisdom, to correct an issue such as climate change, and rushing in to "fix things" with no clear understanding of what we are doing. Or acting out of some form of individualistic greed.
It is the same in meditation. First, see the thing as it is. Take time to be curious. To understand, to experience. Only then will wisdom come, and be accompanied by right action.
I needed this reminder.
Today more than a hundred CZTs from around the globe gathered online with CZTs in Singapore to do an hour-long meditative tile on behalf of those who have suffered from Covid-19.
These were the same CZTs who last year donated $10K US and this year donated $12K US to Covid relief efforts as a result of their two very successful and well-run schools for tanglers.
What I loved about doing it, though, was that 3 or 4 different CZTs from the other side of the globe led us all through an hour-long meditation in which, as we drew, we focused our compassionate attention on anyone who has suffered from Covid. They did a superb job leading the meditation. I so admire the structure they've created to support humanitarian efforts. Thanks!
And now for the tiny treasure. Yesterday I went to my local bead-and-jewelry-repair shop to get my watch battery replaced. While waiting, I spotted this wooden box, which is no more than about 1 1/2" square. With what appears to be a tangled Turtle on top.
In fact the box is so small I had to take a picture and enlarge the photo in order to see the fine detail on the turtle, which just blew me away. The top of the box slides off so smoothly it's just a marvel of craftsmanship. It's so small that I cannot imagine what to put inside.
This continent was originally called Turtle Island by the First Nations People, and I still call it that. I am very fond of turtles and simply couldn't resist this tiny masterpiece.
And this leads us right back to the meditative nature of the turtle:
Take a walk with a turtle. And behold the world in pause.
Looking for peace is like looking for a turtle with a mustache: You won't be able to find it. But when your heart is ready, peace will come looking for you.
Turtles always strike me as devastatingly serious. If turtles could talk, I'd believe everything they said.
Here she is, the icon.
But since nothing is sacred these days...
She apparently was photographed attending a party shortly after posing for Leonardo.
This is her "riotous party smile."
Uh-oh. I know this is a sacrilege, right?
But what fun to try.
Romi Marks had a wonderful workshop called "Zenovating the Mona Lisa," and since I'm in full-on learning-and-practice mode I wanted to take it. My motivation actually was learning to tangle on photographs, especially on photographs with a lot of dark areas in them. I want to try this out on pictures that I've taken, and I knew there were tips I needed to learn first. Romi is a marvellous teacher and I learned a lot doing this. Next I want to try some of my own photos to see what I can do.
So many art opportunities, so little time.
And then, of course, after the party Mona needs to relax. I'm sure you've all seen this meme going around, depicting what Mona has been getting up to at the Louvre since it's been closed due to the pandemic. Wish I could find the original source to give this the right attribution but so far it's been shared so many times I don't know who came up with it.
A little alarm now and then keeps life from stagnation.
This was my interpretation of a well-done class by Vandana Krishna, CZT in Bengaluru, India, as a part of the Artifex series I mentioned in the last post. While I'm not sure my version actually looks like a magnifying glass, I really enjoyed the process.
On a night when--for no obvious reason--I simply could not get to sleep, working on this tangle was relaxing, fun, and absorbing. I have occasional bouts of sleeplessness, and am so glad to have drawing to occupy me when it strikes.
Here's how it looked when I finished the linework, and then on the right is how it looks after adding some color and shading. There's currently a big boo-boo in the center of the tangle (I'll probably fix it at some point), which I left in place for now. You can see it in the large version--a misplaced black line.
In my next life I will try to commit more errors.
(Jorge Luis Borges)
"There are no mistakes in Zentangle."
(Maria Thomas and Rick Roberts, Zentangle® creators)
I love the life lessons I constantly learn from Zentangle®. This was another big one. I set out to draw one thing, ended up getting hopelessly lost, and by the time I finished the preliminary linework last night and forced myself to stop and go to bed, I was looking at a hot mess. I didn't think it could be salvaged.
But this morning I just had to keep going to see what would happen, and ended up with this--which I quite like. [Although it does bear a resemblance to "St Patrick's Day on Steroids," don't you think? But that's ok, I like it anyway.]
Here are the details for you tanglers out there (no need to read this part if you don't tangle--it could be boring for you): I fell in love with an Emiko Kaneko CZT video (HERE)* and thought I'd give it a try. But I misunderstood what it was: She clearly labeled the video "A Tangleation of Tissooh," but all I saw was "Tissoooh," which is a high-focus tangle by Tomas Padros CZT that I've always wanted to attempt.
Emiko made it look so easy that I was sure I could do it and learn.
Well. I did indeed learn, but not as she intended!
Mine has some resemblance to hers, but I ended up with a lot of weird space in the background, and things are not in the same places as on her tile. So did I learn a lot? You bet. But now I need to go back and find a simple stepout for ONLY Tissooh and have a go at that one tangle--this tile combines Tissooh with something like Bales, Tripoli, and Orbs. However, I do love my outcome.
For years I've heard that it's lways good to learn by copying the masters, and Eri is certainly a master of this art.
For me, the biggest learning is that no matter how bad something looks, it's highly likely that it's worth it to try and save the thing. Or as the I Ching would say: "Perseverance furthers."
*Thank you to Susie Ngamsuwan for catching the fact that I'd attributed this tile and video to the wrong CZT. Wow, much appreciated.
Note: I've been doing a LOT of copying lately, along with watching videos and going along with them. I always credit people as I'm copying. I'm on a mission to learn from a wide variety of tanglers whose skills I admire, and if that means I am copying for awhile, that's ok. It's a powerful way to practice.
Here are three quotes about copying as an effective tool in learning art:
It would have been the equivalent of Jackson Pollock's attempts to copy the Sistine Chapel. (Malcolm Cowley)
But Shakespeare's magic could not copied be;
Within that circle none durst walk but he. (John Dryden)
If my students seem to copy me when they are learning, that is good. It shows they are listening and trying to do what I tell them. They will develop their own style soon enough. (William Draper)
Finally, I took these two photos only one minute apart. The first one, on the left, was taking on a white background in indirect daylight. The second one--using the same camera with no setting changed--was taken a minute later on the blue background and in direct sunlight. WOW--look at the difference! It might as well be two different pieces, but it isn't. Isn't that incredible! It never fails to amaze me how light and a different color in the background can make the same thing look totally different.
PS: The one on the left is the actual coloring of the tile.
Looking out the window this morning, I noticed the back yard appeared to be covered in light snow, but of course it was merely cottonwood puffs adhering to the grass.
It's that time of year again, when we have a blizzard of them floating gracefully down to earth. As I look outside just now, I see them coming down at the rate of a snow-squall, despite the late spring warmth and the heavily leafed-out trees.
From what I recall, this goes on for weeks. Two weeks? Three? This area was (and still is) a major source of poplar wood. The leaves of the poplar (another name for the Cottonwood) are somewhat heart-shaped and may have inspired the following tangle. Or not.
This was inspired by a class from this spring's "Artifex Eruditio," (Latin for "Art Learner"). Actually the class sample looked absolutely nothing like this--I went entirely off-road as usual, so mine doesn't look like anything that was taught in the class. I did some of the line work yesterday, more this morning, and then added color this afternoon.
I am not usually fond of using hearts in my pieces, so I'm blaming this on the fact that it's Cottonwood Season.
I am a very fortunate person. Very. Yesterday, a weekend day, I had to call for help twice: My air conditioning broke in this very hot weather (mice in the compressor chewed thru the wires and blew a fuse) and later I had to call a plumber because of a leak in my kitchen faucet spewing water everywhere. Why is that lucky? Because when I called, both of them came within 60-90 minutes even though it was a weekend, both were wonderful and both problems got resolved completely.
I'm also very lucky because I have water. And because I even have air conditioning. But especially because I have water, when so many in the world do not have safe drinking water for miles, let alone in their homes. I know how lucky I am.
Below are two pieces: the first is my attempt to draw a tangle called Drawings (pronounced "Draw-Wings"). I've never been all that good at this tangle but I love the way others do it. Yesterday I was determined to improve so I drew it on a post-it note and gave myself permission to mess up bigtime if that's what happened. So of course it came out pretty well.
I was really interested to see how well it came out when I deliberately reminded myself that the outcome did not matter. Just the practice.
After doing the post-it, I looked over at a tile I'd been stuck on for several days. I mean, I was REALLY stuck. I was planning to discard it. It was not symmetrical. The center sphere wasn't really a sphere. I had no idea what to do next and most of it was blank. I'd done the two tangles Snelly (as the "string" or container) and inserted the tangle Aleuba--this is a tile for Hanny Nura's Full Moon Mosaic on FB where each month she suggests a string and one or two tangles, always involving the moon somehow, and then everyone does what they like with them. Including adding other tangles. So I'd created the string and inserted the second tangle she suggested but the tile looked awful.
What the hell, I thought, I'll throw in some Drawings tangles in those big empty spaces. Just for practice--this can't get any worse. And then I'll add a bit of color. What came out was this, which I quite like even though it's still asymmetrical.
Well of course the big lessons are: Unless it's a life or death issue (just about never), give myself permission to screw up and see what happens. And the typical, constant lesson from Zentangle® is: don't give up on something. Keep working. If it fails, so what? It's just a fifty-cent tile. It's just practice. I feel like I got lucky again.
Seems to me that all of life is just practice. Right?
The more I practice, the luckier I get.
Yes, spring definitely continues. I can tell by my constantly running nose.
It's totally worth a runny nose to have such a gorgeous spring.
Today I did this in celebration.
Before I added and activated the watercolor pencils--which I am quite enjoying--the linework looked more or less like what is below. I must have prepped that Zendala with watercolor years ago because it's just barely visible there.
"Every spring is the only spring, a perpetual astonishment."
I did this during a class with Debbie L. Huntington, CZT. I was impressed by the wildly different results achieved by the students--each Zendala was completely unique. It was my first try at watercolor pencils; it won't be my last.
“In the spring, at the end of the day, you should smell like dirt.”
Few things in life are black and white, but we can draw them that way.
Done quickly during a free Sunday night tangle session with Amy P. Kam of The Peaceful Pen.
I prepped that tile above** (wet on the left, after drying on the right) after midnight last night, waiting for sleep that really never came. Such intense color. I woke up after far too little sleep, thinking about the tile and how I might tangle on it. An idea floated by--oooo, more experimentation! And now, back to rug hooking. I gotta get this rug done.
**Thanks to Annie Taylor, CZT (of ArtyZen) for terrific how-to-prep the tile instructions!
Amy Kam CZT of The Peaceful Pen on IG and Facebook does a great one hour Zentangle® meditation, free, every Sunday evening at 7 pm EST. I attended my first one last night and this was the result. Well, I started last night but shortly after I joined realized I was ill, and as a result completely lost focus on her excellent directions and my entire piece went badly off the rails.
NOTE TO SELF: Never tangle right after a dinner that is not agreeing with me! I was forced to stop and lie down until I improved, but I could watch the computer screen and see the results everyone had (over 100 tanglers). My own hot mess of a first try has scribbled notes all over it so that I could have a do-over later last night, and I had no trouble with it on a fresh tile after a couple of hours. Lesson learned.
It's rare that a piece cannot be saved, but that first tile will be relegated to the trash. I was too ill to function. It's true there are "no mistakes" in Zentangle, but it's also true that at times in life things need to be faced squarely, evaluated, and then entirely redone.
"What we call experience is often a dreadful list of ghastly mistakes."
--J. Chalmers da Costa
A Zendala tile prepped and waiting to be tangled. I almost don't want to do any tangling on this one--I just love the look of adding metallics. I'm leaving it to think about for a good while. Watercolor paint and Fine-Tec Gold Metallic mixed a la MapTangling Method. I did this the day after a class on using the metallics with Map Tangling. Class details below.
After taking the class with Nancy Domnauer, during which we prepped and completed the tangling on three tiles (I only showed two of those), I spent just a few minutes the following day to produce the two UN-tangled tiles above. I'm learning as I go. People get obsessed with MapTangling, and I can absolutely see why. It's a surprise every time; results are always unexpected and ever-changing.
Just like our day-to-day lives.
But with MapTangling, results are likely to be beautiful every time, even if tangling on them can turn out to be tricky and challenging. That's half the fun.
Now, if I could only learn to be as calm in daily life when presented with a challenge as I am while doing this.
Here's a tiny tile I did just before bed last night. It took about ten minutes. This was done on a Bijou tile (2"x2") which I'd prepped a background on earlier in the day. This is simply more linework from one of Jo Quincy's lovely soothing videos, just what I needed before trying to sleep after a wild couple of days in my life. Once again I combined a video from Jo with my own "take" on it, by using MapTangling. Ahhhhhhhhh.
To finish up, here's an iPhone-app "distressed" version. I can never resist those iPhone apps.
For years I've heard about Map Tangling and while I had some idea what it was (see below), and had really admired it, I didn't have time to figure out how to create it. Today I took a class with Nancy Domnauer. Great fun! She's an excellent teacher.
Here you can see my first attempts. We spent time preparing the tiles with watercolor (that's where the Map Tangling technique really applies) and then completing two monotangle tiles.
There appear to be at least two ways to prep a tile by Map Tangling. Nancy's class focuses on one. I think there is at least one other. I will be playing with this technique for sure--I know I can get better at it with practice.
As shown here and above, "Map Tangling" is when a watercolor wash is applied to a tile in such a way that the colored portion is left with ragged edges., and could be interspersed with lots of white space or just have white space surrounding it. Only the colored space is then tangled. The watercolor background frequently resembles the map of a continent or country--hence the name.
The process reminded me of gelli-printing. There was lots of pressing going on before the tiles were done, and all results were inevitably surprises.
"Research is what I'm doing when I don't know what I'm doing."
— Werner von Braun
Every year at this time I find myself looking backwards. And forwards. Today I was doing some cleaning in my art room, and I found these 12-month-old-tiles below. Bittersweet, indeed.
In mid-December 2019, I was just back from a wonderful weekend with a good friend at Kripalu, drawing tangles with Martha Huggins (on the left) and Molly Hollibaugh (right) of the Zentangle® family. If this year had been normal, I'm sure I'd have done the same. But we all know it was not a normal year.
So here is a short review of some of the work we did in December 2019, with the fond hope that we will be able to do something similar in 2021. Looking at these tiles brought back so many good memories for me.
And although I'm not a Christmas celebrator, I just happened to get some non-Christmas presents this year (the timing just worked out that they arrived at Christmastime). Here are two that I'm thrilled by but haven't had time to try out yet.
This is a commemorative but perfectly functional Oxford Punchneedle, called The Peacock. Amy (Oxford) had only 1300 of these made from laminated wood, to commemorate her 25th year in business. It's a #13 Fine size and I cannot wait to try it out. Check out the bag, made of fabric to match the needle. I love it! I gifted this to myself from myself.
A friend is a gift you give yourself.
Robert Louis Stevenson
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.
Bubble Gum Pink Anything is always a turnoff for me. However, I discovered a blank but watercolor-washed tile that qualified as that shade or something really close. Someone else had done the wash, and it was in a pack of pre-colored blank tiles I bought from a vendor at a Zentangle® event a decade ago or so.
I wondered what, if anything, I could do with it when I ran into it yesterday. The color was hurting my eyes (as you'll read below, the photo actually drained out most of the eyeball-popping bright pink).
Since I am so rusty and trying to get my drawing mojo back, I'm studying instructions from other teachers whom I respect, and Zen Linea certainly qualifies. So I went to SkillShare and logged onto one of her videos and tried this on the Bubble Gum Pink tile.
Interesting to note that in the light available when I took this photo, the "Bubble Gum" quality of the pink really calmed down. Trust me: in person, the pink is MUCH louder than it looks here. And the violet color is much more subtle. So interesting how color can photograph.
But here's the fun part. At the end of the video I was using, there was a list of projects previous students had done. Not only was I shocked to see I had done this video before, but I had done in exactly one year ago today.
I had no memory of ever having done it before. Not only did I do it then, I did a second, alternative version the next day. So this version is my third. Pretty comical.
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.
So I persevered and began adding color. Big difference! Encouraged, I drew the outside of the tile and stopped there for a bit, having worn myself out for the day:
And here below is the finished tile. 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.
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."
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