Patching Things Up
While working on a different project (punch needle embroidery) I had a minor textile collapse when the foundation fabric shredded all the way through. Eeeeek! Although I knew what I had to do--patch it--I have been putting it off for days. I've never had to patch anything before and it was intimidating.
This morning, after a bit of tangling and a lot of meditation, I took on the task and as with many intimidating things, in actual practice it was easier than I thought. And I learned a lot.
Things I Learned:
No need to draw on the patch first, or to pin it in place. It can be done by "feel." I did lengthen the loop length by 1 (went up from a 2 to a 3). Go slowly, be prepared to back up a bit if needed. Check how it looks on the other side frequently. Afterwards, be ready to clean up well, and trim off the extra. Here are the steps (sorry I didn't take a "before" picture). Imagine a blank spot with no punching and holes in the fabric where the patch now sits:
Well of course as I was patching this up I was thinking of all the times I've screwed up in other life issues and had to try to make repairs. Oftentimes it's been quite successful. Occasionally, not.
Don't we all have to patch things up in relationships from time to time? Seems like the guidelines are the same: You cannot plan everything perfectly in advance, although you have to think things through. Then, you have to do it by "feel," going slowly and being prepared to back up occasionally. Checking frequently with the other person to see how it's going, and if it's successful (not always or immediately guaranteed), cleaning up afterwards by following through. Finally, it really helps to learn from our mistakes by analyzing what worked well and what we could have done differently.
If only we as humans could get better at patching things up. Especially in this very messy scary world right now. Someone once said, "Life is the art of drawing without an eraser." And yet--even with no eraser--it is often possible to keep going and turn a mess into an eventual triumph. Let us hope we can do that in the current situation. May we all treat each other with respect, compassion, and generosity.
Borders and Boundaries
Since I am on another map tangling kick, I am thinking about borders and boundaries and what happens when they are disrespected. My heart is with all the people of Ukraine, and extends to all the other wars going on all over the planet at this moment.
“I know not with what weapons World War III will be fought, but World War IV will be fought with sticks and stones.”
― Albert Einstein
Tacking This On.
A quick leftover tile from yesterday's session.
“Light is a thing that cannot be reproduced, but must be represented by something else – by color.” --Cezanne
Watercolors: Sooooo tricky to use. But I love them.
How odd to be map tangling on a day when the world is experiencing one country violently overrunning another country's borders and attempting to re-write the global map by obliterating a democracy. I had prepped the tiles for this several days ago but it wasn't until today that I realized the irony of drawing this piece at this time.
Same tile, same room, same time, different lighting. Amazing difference.
I can never quite believe what a difference lighting makes in a photograph.
Nope, I haven't abandoned the blog, even though it must look like it. It's a temporary lapse caused by necessary work on an external project, as well as the fact that I've been working hard on a hand-hooked rug. Then add in a dash of generalized holiday madness. Even though I don't celebrate the holidays, everyone around me does and it certainly causes madness!
Result: I haven't put my pen on paper to draw in a month. And wow, have I missed it.
So here you have me starting over. This is a piece-in-progress, one that I began last night. It's not even half-done yet. We'll see where it goes.
I treated myself to a new t-shirt and I love it.
Last, here is a sneak preview of an upcoming rug I'm working on. This is what has really been taking up most of my time. This and doing a lot of reading (see the t-shirt above), along with some teaching.
All in all a very busy end to this year. Wonderful. And now, I hope to get back to drawing in 2022.
All Dressed Up
Sometimes tired old things just need to be dressed up a bit to shine.
Cue the comments on whether that's true for all of us! I'm talking about things. Ha.
This morning I found a gray tile that I'd tossed some lavender-ish watercolor on long ago, in an early attempt to map-tangle. The color had spread out over most of the tile, with absolutely no interesting shape, and was incredibly plain. BO-ring.
Out came more watercolors today and I tarted it up, used my heat gun to dry it, and went to town with some of the Inktober tangles. Better. Every tangle except one was brand new for me. Some of them turned out more successfully than others, so I'll re-do the ones that really didn't have enough room to show themselves off. Perhaps that'll be the task for tomorrow.
This is what happens when I run out of black Micron 01s and still want to tangle. Spynes, which I tried for the first time yesterday, is a really fun tangle for experimentation--I couldn't resist this second try.
The Stone House Runner is nearly done; just the usual finishing steps left. Here it is:
A meditation on the preponderance of spirals in the cosmos.
"In a spiral galaxy, the ratio of dark-to-light matter is about a factor of ten. That's probably a good number for the ratio of our ignorance to knowledge. We're out of kindergarten, but only in about third grade."
Let's Make Up for That Last One.
I enjoyed every moment of this one. Enough said.
Blobs After and Blobs Before
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.
When You Don't know How You Got There
No idea how this happened. A friend and I were fooling around daubing several types of metallic paint on a variety of Zentangle® tiles a few months back. I've no idea what specific paint we were trying out here or even what I did.
The tile sat around with the paint scattered on it for weeks, and then I picked it up today and inserted a few scribbles. It was fun, although I'm not sure I made it better and may have made it worse. Just experimenting!
I'm in a liminal place: In between rug hooking projects, in between books I'm reading, in between tangling projects, and just "in between" on a lotta things. The mind doesn't like being so in between, but that's just how it is right now.
Here's a map-tangled tile I prepped a while back and finally got around to tangling last night. I'm not sure I enhanced it. I kind of liked the prepped version before I added anything. But I'll see if it grows on me:
Better, Worse, or the Same?
Here is the "before and after" on my first Ecoline Watercolor Map Tangled tile. I'm curious to look at them side by side. Is the tangled tile an improvement, not as good, or is it about the same in its appeal? I had my doubts about tangling on it as I loved the plain tile.
I like them both but think I'm favoring the tangled one. Which surprises me.
Thanks, Annie Taylor CZT for great tile prep instructions and fun class! I loved the room you gave students to use whatever tangles we wished, while making good suggestions. And for your linguistic talents at teaching simultaneously in English AND Spanish! Wow.
"If you've heard this story before, don't stop me, because I'd like to hear it again." --Groucho Marx
Too Much Color Is A Thing
What??? How can there be such a thing as "too much color?"
That's not possible, right? I mean, look at that spectacular Squill. The bees certainly weren't of the opinion it was "too much color."
So what the heck...? Read on.
In the same fabulous patch as the Squill I found these perfect Crocus:
While you cannot really see the lush carpet of flowers--partially in shade--in this house's wonderful front garden, you can see the closeups above.
When I got home and looked at the photo I was so focused on the way the light was bringing out the spring yellow in the bush that it took me several moments to see the light shaft with a big rainbow in it hitting that same bush.
As if this little garden was being nourished by light and color.
That was my morning. Color, there's never enough. Beautiful.
So what am I talking about, "too much color?" Keep reading.
Spoiler alert: Art Catastrophe below.
The entire bottle of blue rolled off my desk, hit my legs, and made its merry way onto the floor.
You think my jeans look bad? I wish I'd thought to take a photo of the floor but I was too busy racing to mop up the mess which spread EVERYWHERE. I'm still finding traces around the room.
Thank goodness this was watercolor and wiped up easily but I used a zillion paper towels (and I don't like to waste those, but they were right there and I was desperate)
After which I took off the pants, laughed at my blue legs and my turquoise-y hands from cleaning up the floor, and spent quite a bit of time rinsing the pants in the sink. The amount of blue ink that came out was unbelievable. Fortunately I had just put a dark-colored wash into the washer, ready to run. A happy coincidence. So I threw the pants in and they've come out looking as though nothing ever went wrong.
So yes. A bit too much color in that moment.
After that, I did another tile with another set of colors (the one on the right above).
Because seriously, there really is no such thing as too much color, and my entire day reflected that.
Accident is design
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!
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.
Subtle or Startling?
I noticed my British friend and teacher extraordinaire, Jo, has a YouTube channel (why didn't I know this before?) and I took a look today. She did a lovely job demo-ing one of my old favorite tangles, Betweed. I've loved this tangle forever and used to use it all the time. Why did I stop? Like a lot of things, it just passed out of my consciousness at some point and I haven't done it in years. What a welcome reminder.
I had time to experiment this afternoon and decided to use her video to do this monotangle version of it. Soooooooo relaxing. But rather than do it plain, as she did, I used a tile I had previously prepped for MapTangling, and used that as a technique. Well then I couldn't leave well-enough alone so I did some shadow work in a couple of the negative space surrounding the motif. This was totally fun. I liked the depth and subtlety.
Ah, but I thought I might run it through an app on my iPhone to see how it would look. Holy crow! It went from subtle to glaring. You had better wear your darkest sunglasses for this version below (altered by the iPhone app).
Once I start playing with the iPhone to alter a photo, it turns into a project all on its own. Using another iPhone app, I came up with all of these:
There is something to be said for each of them. Besides, it's so much fun being able to play with alternatives. It's even more fun greeting an old friend--this tangle--one I haven't seen for awhile.
I imagine we will all feel that way once the pandemic is over and we are able to see each other in person again. We can Zoom, and that's helpful, but to be able to spend time with old friends and hug each other again...priceless.
“Friendship is the only cement that will ever hold the world together.”
– Woodrow Wilson
“A day without a friend is like a pot without a single drop of honey left inside.”
– Winnie the Pooh
Map Tangling: First Attempt
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
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