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
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
Phew. I finally got this entire project redone and finished. It's not my best work, but now at least I know what the trouble was--my helpful teacher pointed out that I need better quality small brushes. (And lots more practice) Yes!
Here is the initial stage, the underpainting before I used the smaller (problematic) brushes to add in the tangle patterns. Although I preferred the bee I painted yesterday, I had more control in this painting overall. It's an improvement over yesterday's background wash and hexagons. I'll take improvement!
When I got to the very end (adding tangles to the underpainting) and switched to small brushes to created detailed tangles, I noticed the points on the brushes were poor and the hairs would collapse--and spread--at the slightest pressure, resulting in sloppy lines.
But it's done (below), and wow did I learn a lot in creating it. See yesterday's post for my initial problems. Now that I know what went wrong, I think I'll be able to do better work in future. I'm glad I experimented, and so glad I stuck with it long enough to try again.
There are two major take-aways:
1) As usual, anything new takes substantial practice, and
2) Do not use cheapo materials--the right tools are worth every penny.
It started out so well...and ended up so badly! The story of an epic failure.
The start: And, here we go again. Another watercolor in a class with Sam Taylor/zenlapse (she has wonderful classes mixing Zentangle® with watercolor).
Whoa, watercolor is so darned tricky! Here I have prepped a 6x6" watercolor paper with her bee template, put a wash over the background, and done some coloring of the bee itself.
Those are Fine-Tec metallic watercolors on the wings (silver) and the pollen baskets (gold) although as usual, they are so hard to show in a photograph. The overall wash and other colors I just mixed from myregular cheapo Prang watercolors.
If you really look you can see some hexagons drawn lightly in pencil and scattered randomly throughout the wash; unfortunately, as you'll see below, I did rather too-good a job erasing them so that the outlines wouldn't show in the final painting.
Hah! When it came to painting them, I couldn't see what I was doing. And I still haven't mastered the trick of avoiding "hard lines" in a watercolor wash. Watercolor has a big learning curve. That's ok. I'm determined.
Mid-stage: I'm beginning to paint the hexagonal cells. Because my light is on the left side, you can only see the gold and silver Fine-Tec there. More hexagons to come.
Having done an over-zealous job of erasing, I'm having issues making my hexagons the right shape because I can't really see my guidelines. Live and learn! I'll keep going and post the outcome next.
* * *
Er, um, no, I guess I won't.
The End: The entire project went off the rails badly just a couple of hours later. It went so far off that I ended up gently, slowly, and deliberately tearing it into several pieces (yes, I did indeed, a first for me), with the intention of keeping and repurposing parts of them somehow into another art project. I bet I can.
What went wrong? When I began tangling onto the completed background using a watercolor brush, I lost control and completely wrecked the bee. Oh, I was fond of that bee! I tried to rescue it using a Micron, but that made it so much worse.
I was stung. (pun intended) However, as I mentioned earlier, I am determined. I will re-do the entire project. Perhaps I'll improve the next time. I know I learned several useful things even though this attempt didn't work. Hope springs eternal.
Best to have failure happen early. [It] wakes up the phoenix bird in you.
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.
Or should that be, Rusty AND Tricky? I did some watercolor yesterday and today and wow, was the it ever hard to handle. What a mess! The result is fun but not particularly good--I say that not to put myself down, only to say I can definitely get better with practice. It's been about 3 years since I've done any watercolor practice, and it shows. Did this one in a class by Sam Taylor (@Zenlapse on IG).
I'd gotten a new set of "tropical" colors and couldn't wait to try them out, so I tried them out on this warty fish:
It's just amazing how that darned water can get away from me. Or I would assume something was dry, only to discover it wasn't...so then I'd have one color running into the other. Or I put my hand down to draw something and would feel that sickening wet feeling under my hand--I'd forgotten that part was still sopping wet and now I'd smeared it. Yikes! Hilarious, however.
Watercolor requires patience and plenty of mindfulness. Looks like it's time for me to cultivate both.
I think I'll try doing another fish.
Because watercolor actually moves on the paper, it is the most active of all mediums, almost a performance art.
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
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.
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.
Although it's too bad they are necessary (although they certainly are necessary!), a kind friend just sent me 3 masks that didn't fit her but will fit me. Recognize the the fabrics? Designer: William Morris. (A.K.A. "That wallpaper guy," as a good friend calls him, which cracks me up) I adore Morris and will be so happy to wear these.
As mentioned in yesterday's entry, I went to a meeting with CZT Tomomi Galeano where she had us practicing the tangle Waybop. Many people find it hard to do. I knew it would be a fun practice. We all just used scrap paper, and I used cheapo printer paper--in fact, I did this on the back of a bill, or what I thought was a bill, that I was planning on recycling.
Tomomi just did this as a free meeting for anyone who wanted to come. Another kind friend. I feel very fortunate with the number of kind people in my life.
Want to see the plain unvarnished first version? It's in yesterday's post.
The misshapen exterior is caused by my just cutting out the paper around the tangle. I did this exercise as pure practice and you can tell by the wobbly lines I was making decisions as I went along. I didn't expect any result, but was sort of charmed by it when it was done.
I finished it with some shading and color this morning. It turned out to be a good day for Waybop, or "bopping around." Suits my mood. Of course we still have turmoil ahead, but I believe we are up to the task. And today's weather where I am: absolutely exquisite. Warm but not hot, unexpectedly.
Similar to meditation, where some days are a slog, and others are just full of unexpected delights. Today is one of the latter.
Then, to my astonishment, when I finally flipped over the cheap paper, I realized I hadn't done it on a bill. I'd done it on the back of an email a friend sent me with a list of Peace Songs we would be singing together (on Zoom, of course). Interesting "coincidence" with the news today. May we all find peace in the years ahead.
It's a day for relief, and delight.
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.
After yesterday's crazy busy-ness I thought I'd post something super-simple today. This is the tangle Dragonair, which is part of the Inktober 2020 challenge and is completely new to me. In fact, this is my first attempt, dashed off on a lavender-colored post-it note to see if I could figure it out. I did this before putting it into the journal page before yesterday's post, but today I added the white chalk pencil and graphite. A new favorite.
My goodness, isn't that a busy page! Yikes. But the Inktober challenge is meant to be an annual sampling of a wide variety of tangles, so unless I do each one on its own tile, it's always going to be an "eye-crossing" visual experience. And this one is certainly no exception.
The process is really fun, though. I get to sample things I might not have considered otherwise.
A few of these have become new loves; a few really left me cold.
A few that I've always had trouble drawing just smoothed right out and were easy.
And a few that I know very well somehow turned into hot messes on the page as I ran into unexpected trouble with them!
Sort of like the experience of a daily meditation practice. Or to quote Forrest Gump, "...you never know what you're going to get."
Meanwhile, our fall foliage season is rapidly winding down, but for some reason, this sugar maple didn't get that memo and is just getting started. Sooooo pretty.
The start of any creative project requires something called Beginner's Mind, or Don't-Know Mind, which is also an ideal state for meditation. Since every meditation is different, using Don't-Know Mind is the best way to approach each one.
Just as with wool work, holding expectations at bay until I find out how things actually look and what actually comes up in this moment always works best for me. I learn this lesson repeatedly. Next time you see rug photos, the work will look different. Next time I meditate will be different as well.
Below is a new frame I was lucky enough to have delivered today. It turns so easily. As I said, I have two rugs underway right now. The one above is traditionally hooked and the one below is punch hooked.
Frame is available from Notforgotten Farm.
Yup, I'm starting another rug. This (below) is the first throw-down of possible colors. Who knows how many will be used? The design is a "challenge" my local rug hooking group is taking on--we are all hooking one particular pattern in our own way. Some members are already done; I haven't even begun mine yet but hope to get it underway tomorrow or later this week. I'm getting excited.
I actually introduced the pattern to the group in February and everyone wanted to try it.
The entire phase of beginning a rug reminds me of meditation practice. Every single time one sits to meditate, it's a form of starting over. You never know what will happen. It may not be fun every single time, but it is always interesting.
It's the same with hooking rugs. I always have a hazy mental picture of what I'll be producing, but the final result may or may not agree. Getting to the finish line can be a series of daily, or even moment-to-moment, changes.
My next unpredictable rug adventure is officially underway.
See description of this workshop below. This was the result for me; I ran my black & white photo of the cutouts I did during the workshop through the Painnt app on my phone, with this result. I used construction paper and then parked the cutouts in this arrangement on a sheet of white background. Painnt did the rest. I converted the photo to b&w in order to let Painnt do its job.
I am in love with the London Drawing Group, a trio of women dedicated to doing and teaching art. When I saw this workshop on Matisse's cutouts--only £7 or about eleven bucks, and only 1 hour--I thought, what a great way to stimulate creativity. So I signed up and had an absolute blast. We made a number of cutouts in only 60 minutes, only a few of which I used for this photo. Here's the black and white version from my phone before I ran it through the Painnt app posted above this paragraph:
But I wasn't alone in attending. There were people from all over the globe. Two of them were good friends from my rug hooking groups--I had contacted them to tip them off in advance to the workshop and they both signed up. We all knew it would have immediate uses for rug design. And it certainly did.
Here is the work of one of my buddies, Kathleen K., who also attended. Rather than cutting paper, she cut her shapes directly from wool fabric. I love her results. She gave me permission to post this:
And below is the contribution from Lynda F, another rug hooking buddy who also gave me permission to use her photo:
Construction paper cutouts--they can be arranged in so many different ways. Thanks to Lynda F for allowing me to use her results and this photo! If you notice similarities between our cutouts in these photos, it's because we all worked from the same photo models during the workshop. Only our individual cutting techniques created differences. But the possibilities are truly endless.
"I wouldn't mind turning into a vermilion goldfish."
Sometimes we are dealing with circumstances that beg for a focus on equanimity or calm. (And who doesn't need that these days?)
I've been taking a 3-session class with Alina Smolyansky of Vancouver called Neurographica for Artists. Very, very interesting. Today we did the final class, a Tree of Life with a theme, and my theme was "Calm" or "Equanimity." We had just a small introduction to this method of art and healing, and it was fascinating. While I'm probably not able to take a Basics for Users class right now--just too busy--I intend to at some point. Another wonderful form of art to explore! Eventually.
Equanimity requires some practice, and practice requires time. In order to achieve my own equanimity, I need to cut down on commitments for a while. Otherwise I would have signed right up for her "Basics" class. Thanks, Alina.
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.
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."
Can you hear Elton John singing it? "Saturday, Saturday...Saturday night's alright..."
Actually it was the day that was alright but that's beside the point. I'm testing some colors for possible use in an upcoming oriental rug, and here's what I've got so far. First I had to make some skeins:
"Niddy-noddy, niddy-noddy...two heads, one body.
Tis one, ’tain’t one, ’twill be one soon
’Tis two, ’tain’t two, ’twill be two soon
’Tis three, ’tain’t three, ’twill be three soon …"
This is one version of an incredibly old counting rhyme I first learned back in the 1960s when I was first introduced to the tool (niddy-noddies were in use as early as 800 A.D.). To find out more, click HERE.
I've used the title "Perseverence Furthers" once before, but it never more true than when I did this tangle:
It started out as a hot mess about 3 or 4 days ago. Instead of giving up on it, I kept leaving it and coming back to it, adding a few things here and there until today when I declared it finished. I wanted to keep it all black and white (color can hide a lot of mistakes) and I'm glad I did. I'm also glad I stuck with it. It's no work of genius but it's way, way better than when I started!
"Try again. Fail again. Try better."
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.
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