Ugh, I couldn't leave the house today, felled by a temporary plague. Nothing at all major but enough to keep me out of the studio. So I did this instead.
Micron 01, Micron 1, and graphite used in the two "Venetians." The one on the left was my first-ever attempt and the one on the right was my second try, now feeling more confident, using a different method for drawing it and varying it. "Sand Swirl," in the center, has the Micron 01 as well as both graphite and a tint from my Rainbow Lead Pencil for fun.
I'm needing to take a break from the tarot rug posts for just a bit! Back to those shortly.
I'm missing Zentangle®, drawing, and my other usual activities. So tonight I indulged myself with a new tangle, Mollygon.
That's my first-ever attempt above.
Below are some variations created with an iPhone app.
I was also busy in the studio in the last 2 days, working on the finishing for my nearly-done rug. The finishing process, which is tedious (I still enjoy it), seems to take forever but I'm almost there. I may get it all done tomorrow. A photo of that is coming once it's completely done.
I created the label for it this evening:
That will get sewn onto the back of the finished rug once I've completed all the other finishing.
I whipped out my sewing machine yesterday--I haven't touched it in years--and spent quite a while hemming the edges of the Moon & Clouds rug which I will be punching. Since I don't own a serger, I zig-zagged around the outer edge 3x. And did the same with the inner edge where I'll be trimming it once I'm done. That is one BIG rug.
Today I drew out a new design for a second, new, traditionally hooked rug. Below you can see the background wool I'm thinking of using at the bottom of the photo, plus just a little bit of the backing where I've begun drawing the pattern. There will be more to the pattern, but I'll have to wait until I can get back to the studio in the morning to finish drawing.
Lastly, I am tossing in a picture of this cute felted pouch I've had for years and rediscovered recently. I wish I could remember who made it and where I got it. I think it's so well done, and it's also useful for carrying supplies.
Back to my experience with the sewing machine for a minute: It's been at least 3-4 years since I've used it. I remember that the last time I used it I had a bit of trouble threading the needle, even with my reading glasses.
Yesterday? I couldn't even SEE the needle, let alone the hole. With my (now even stronger) reading glasses.
It took me 25 minutes--no joke--to get it threaded. I'd still be there, trying and failing, if I hadn't managed to scrounge up a needle threader after getting completely desperate, and even with the threader it took me another ten minutes to get the job done.
After I left yesterday I went straight to the sewing store and bought every variety of needle threader they have. I don't want to go through that again. Sad, sad, sad. As Joni Mitchell would say, "You don't know what you've got 'till it's gone."
Well, it's definitely gone! Boo hoo hoo.
Can you feel the Wheel of the Year ramping up and spinning faster as we head toward the end of 2015?
I'm not a holiday celebrator any more--Solstice is the closest I come, and I celebrated that for years with others. Now I just celebrate it quietly, in my heart, and wish well to everyone else. So my holidays are generally peaceful but...
I do find it hard to watch friends (and complete strangers) getting more and more stressed by the pressure and commercialization of this time of year. It is hard to see people who are so caught up in the madness that they cannot enjoy any one moment of it.
To all I say: Peace. Just, Peace.
So last night and today I was noodling around, doing some tangling, trying out a new-to-me tangle called Oybay by CZT Antonine Koval. Here was my first try:
That was done in my Tangle-a-Day calendar by Carole Ohl...I'm still finishing the 2013 one! I'm a little behind. But that's ok; I"m nearly done.
So then I got busy with the Rainbow Lead Pencil and did some shading and embellishing:
Just having fun. I've gotten all serious about the Tarot Rug Project posts, and have neglected some of the other parts of my creative life. I needed to give myself a little reminder not to ignore them.
Don't miss the terrific blog post by Lindsay Price that goes with this illustration:
Rug pictures will resume next week. Meanwhile, here are answers to a few more questions I've received about the show, plus a few other things more along the lines of what I usually post. TO SEE ALL POSTS ON THE TAROT RUGS SO FAR, CLICK HERE.
[The focus on the Tarot Rug Project will only last until I've shown the rugs, and then I'll go back to my usual topics.]
WHO TOOK THE PHOTOGRAPHS FOR THE TAROT RUG PROJECT?
They are pretty special, and so well done. Anne-Marie Littenberg, who is also a textile artist and author (of several books) is the photographer for all the rugs. In this short Burlington Free Press article, she talks a little about how rug hooking brought her into photography. We are lucky to have her skills in taking these photos.
She teaches rug hooking and her approach to the art is entirely original. If you ever have a chance to go and see her rugs, do it!
TAROT HISTORY IN THREE SENTENCES: (Needless to say, this is hardly complete)
Contrary to the rumors about Egyptian or Gypsy origins, we can find no credible evidence that tarot decks existed before the early 15th century. In fact, the earliest known tarot, the Visconti-Sforza deck, was created in Italy around 1450 and its purpose was not to tell fortunes but to enable its owners to play tarocco, a card game still played in Europe today. It was only in the 18th-19th centuries, when the images had become more elaborate, that it began to be used by mystics for divination.
(At some point I will post a list of books on tarot history for those who are interested.)
WHY WAS THE RIDER-WAITE-SMITH DECK THE BASIS FOR THIS PROJECT?
The Rider-Waite deck (aka the Rider-Waite-Smith deck, recognizing Pamela Coleman Smith’s major contribution as the artist behind the images) was published in 1910 and has remained in print ever since. There were other earlier decks in print, such as the Marseilles deck, but we don’t have room to go into them here.
Most people who have seen tarot decks have seen the RWS (Rider-Waite-Smith) or one of its many available derivatives, called "RWS Clones." Because it is so common and so popular, Loretta and Michele decided to ask the tarot rug artists to work with the symbolism from this deck when designing their rugs. We all had plenty of leeway and were allowed to go “off-road” with our designs as needed, but the deck we all originally referenced was the RWS.
Rather than using original RWS cards here, I’m using the Universal Waite deck, which is nearly an exact copy except that the colors of the RWS have been redone in colored pencil by artist Mary Hanson Roberts. US Games Systems holds the copyright to the Universal Waite and has kindly granted permission for me to use this deck for this purpose.
WHY THE ODD NUMBER OF RUGS IN THIS EXHIBIT? (23)
A traditional tarot deck has 78 cards. Clearly, waiting for 78 rugs to be created was not feasible (not to mention the shipping costs involved). A tarot deck is divided into 22 “Major Arcana,” 56 “Minor Arcana,” including the Court Cards. You are welcome to click on those links for further information if you wish.
Michele and Loretta decided to ask the artists to hook only the 22 Major Arcana, and one artist was invited to hook a rug as a single design for the back of the entire deck, resulting in a total of 23 rugs.
I'VE NEVER HEARD OF RIDER, WAITE, OR SMITH--WHO ARE THOSE GUYS ANYWAY?
Rider was the publishing company. Arthur Edward Waite was a member of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, a late 19th century magical group, as was Pamela Coleman Smith, the artist contracted to do the artwork. The links I've provided will give you a brief introduction to each.
Waite and Smith based part of the deck on the Sola Busca Tarot from Northern Italy (1491), the first fully illustrated deck currently known.
The Rider-Waite-Smith deck has been in print continuously since it was published in 1910, and is the deck most people have seen, whether they know anything about tarot or not.
AND NOW FOR SOMETHING COMPLETELY DIFFERENT:
I spent the day today dyeing more yarn for the background of my next rug. I'm exhausted but I have seven more skeins done and it's going very well. In between all the blogging and yarn dyeing I've done over the last couple of days I squeezed in a tangle or two:
Time to clean up the yarn dyeing mess so that I can have dinner. It's been a long productive day...
Sweat is the cologne of accomplishment. (Heywood Broun)
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.
A few weeks back, the Diva (Laura Harms) talked about using black gesso on a white Zentangle® tile, rather than using an official black tile. She had a lot to say about this and why she preferred to gesso a white tile to create a black surface (you will have to scroll down her post to get to the part about the gesso and why she uses it), and I was intrigued. I finally got hold of some black gesso and tried it out today. I never intended to post this tile--it's terrifically wonky and certainly not one of my best. But somehow, it's growing on me, so here it is.
I'll be experimenting more with this. The Sigma Uniball (white pen) and the white and Rainbow pencils definitely handled better on the gesso surface than they do on the traditional black tiles. Hmmmm.
Meanwhile, while I was downtown the other day I ran into this guy:
Yes, it's Mr. Edgar Allan Poe with his raven and tell-tale heart. I knew the statue was there, but this is the first time I'd seen it. Very well done. The poor guy looks miserable and stressed out, which he was in real life--and he truly hated Boston even though he lived here for awhile. Now he's a permanent resident and looks like he would rather be anywhere else. It's a great monument though. You should be able to move your cursor over each photo and click them better if you are interested. The heart was particularly disturbing.
“When I was young and filled with folly, I fell in love with melancholy”
― Edgar Allan Poe
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?
Diva Challenge #243 was to keep things simple and "leave the majority of the tile empty." So I did. I just used my own tangle, Miss Fisher, and a tiny bit of Mysst, along with a few random other lines. Colored with the Rainbow Lead Pencil.
Very simple. And easy. I think I will try a few more tiles in this fashion today if I have a chance (and I did, at the bottom of this post). I'm not sure if "Miss Fisher" actually qualifies as a tangle, since if memory serves me right, a tangle is defined as being formed with no more than three lines. (I'll have to look that up) But I like it anyway. It's based on a stenciled decoration in the living room of the PBS-sponsored mystery series of the same name.
Ok, off to do some yarn dyeing, which is my main goal for today.
With the exception of the last skein, the dark purple skein, I was focused on lighter colors today. And in so doing, I learned a lot. I'll say more about that next time I post, once these skeins have dried and I've had a chance to wind them up so they look more presentable. Finally, another "simple tangle" for the Diva's Challenge?
Tangles are Mooka and Niuroda with a few embellishments. I enjoyed the simplicity of this challenge.
Now I get to go to the Diva's site and see what everyone else did with this, and I know there will be wonderful tangles to see there.
All in all, a very good day--I'm exhausted!
It's been a long productive day and I plan to do it all again tomorrow; but that's a post for another time.
To chill out this evening I just tried two new tangles. Both were very relaxing to do. The one on the left is called Cassiopeia, by Monique Leschner. The one on the right is called CC by Mina Hsiao, CZT. I want to try re-doing that one and turning it; it has some lovely effects that way. I used an 01 Micron and a Rainbow Lead Pencil (but not my favorite one, which has different colors).
Oh, hey! I just realized I could "turn that tile" (CC) with my iPhone mirror app and get a sense of what it would look like. Here it is--that worked. I'll still do it by hand at the next opportunity.
Today was tiring, but totally fun. A day for gratitude, surely.
“If the only prayer you said was thank you, that would be enough.”
― Meister Eckhart
Just a quick experiment this evening in my Tangle-a-Day calendar. I'm really liking this new-to-me tangle called Deco Burst by Debbie Gray, a CZT from group 19.
This is my first try at it. Done with a Micron 01, Rainbow Lead Pencil, and some rather unsightly-looking blobs on the inner tips (Signo Uniball White Pen). The blobs were supposed to be sharp points, carefully placed on the tips, but forget about that! I am too tired and can't see straight. Hence they are blobs, but they look almost as I intended if I keep the photo this size.
I really enjoyed doing this as a form of decompressing after two crazy-busy days. Yesterday was a very long quiet drive to another part of the state to enjoy lunch with two much-loved friends. Today was a long session in the studio, with a break for a lunch with another much-loved friend, and a LOT of walking.
Bone-tired, but happy tonight.
I always felt that the great high privilege, relief and comfort of friendship was that one had to explain nothing.
The tangle challenge from the Diva this week was a brand-new tangle called "Gourdgeous."
I was not too interested in this tangle when it was published. And now, having drawn it twice, I'm still not enamored. But hey, these things sometimes change with practice. Perhaps in a few months I'll view it differently.
After all, I didn't like meditation at first, either, and now I'm 40 years into it, still "practicing," and although it's as challenging as it ever was, I certainly am reaping the benefits.
But I don't see myself doing this particular tangle for the next 40 years, even with more practice. Even though Zentangle® is a form of moving meditation, some tangles increase the meditative experience, and some don't.
Which tangle works or doesn't work to increase Zentangle's meditative aspect differs from person to person, which is one of the interesting things about the technique...just like different types of meditation work for different people. Neither process is "one size fits all.")
Here is Gourdgeous, drawn in my Tangle-a-Day calendar. Since Maria Thomas (my idol) came to this tangle by simply using lines and spaces, I thought I'd add a few lines and spaces behind it. This was my first-ever attempt:
For the actual challenge, I put it on a black tile, using Signo Uniball pens (broad and narrow), a General White Charcoal Pencil, and a Rainbow Lead Pencil. So here you see attempt #2:
I'll try additional practice with it, both black and white and in color, to see what develops.
Right now I'm going over to the Diva's page to see what other folks have done with this. Usually I don't look until after I've submitted my own work so as not to be influenced, but this time I've accidentally seen a couple of the submissions on other people's blogs, and they are truly stunning. Looking forward to seeing what everyone else did.
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).
This is a tangle I was introduced to today: Arabel, by Helena.
Thanks to CZT Cari Camarra for showing me this and a lot of other "Gridiculous!" tangles this morning. (Be sure to check out her website for samples of her lovely work)
I notice that Helena's stepouts are slightly different from how Cari taught it, which is one of the things I love about Zentangle®--there are many ways to approach the same pattern.
This was my very first practice with Arabel. For shading and coloring I used my favorite Rainbow Lead Pencil. (if you are interested in Rainbow Lead Pencils, see the right-hand sidebar, scroll down to "Categories" and click on Rainbow Lead for previous posts on my experience with them. When you get to the bottom, hit the tiny "previous" category to go back to the 8/30 post where I gave some instructions on selecting and using them) I spent a tranquil evening working on it. The grid I drew was wonky, so the result is wonky.
This one was fun, and I look forward to exploring more of the other grid-based tangles I learned from Cari. In the past I've felt less interested in grid-based tangles and more drawn to the organic, "flowy" ones. But today I found myself charmed by grids as Cari taught many that were new. That's just one example of how this process is constantly surprising to me, and forces me to reassess. It keeps things fresh.
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
Just a quick simple tile for this week's Diva Challenge #239 (Scroll down the page for the challenge; the tangle is Munchin). She includes a great video made by Molly Hollibaugh on this tangle.
I did this on a black tile with gold colored pencil, shaded with the Rainbow Lead pencil.
Good to keep this simple after having just had some eye surgery.
The Diva comments in her post that she's not a fan of the black tiles. I have reserved judgment about them as I haven't worked with them all that much--I need a lot more practice before I decide if I like them or not. She used black gesso on a white tile for her challenge tile this week. I am intrigued and think I will try this at some point. Love getting new ideas!
I did manage to walk to the studio today and the rug is coming along. If you are interested you can compare this photo to this one from six days ago (I have been there for a short while on each of four of the six days since):
That long border is coming together slowly but surely. Making me very happy.
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.
Diva Challenge # 237 this week was by guest Charlotte Carpentier, CZT, and involved finding something around the house that one could use for a stencil. I knew right away that--since it's fall--I wanted to use my apple corer.
After all, fall is all about apples, right?
I love my apple corer, and I love the many varieties of autumn apples.
And I often use the corer as a quick way to draw the string for a Zendala. It works like a charm for that.
She also suggested we use a spray color with the stencil to form a string for our work, so I puzzled about that and thought about a watercolor wash, but then realized that I have a bottle of Walnut Distress Spray, never used, and I decided to give that a try.
So, spritz, spritz, spritz...and I came up with this. Alas, I began tangling on it before I remembered to take a photo, but you can still get the idea of what the string looked like--kind of a cross between a Renaissance Tile and a plain white one.
WHERE THE TITLE OF THIS POST CAME FROM:
As you can see, the instant I had the string I thought of using the tangle Foot-lites by Carole Ohl, CZT for some of the sections. But I couldn't quite remember how to do it since it had been awhile. And...UNFORTUNATELY...my aging brain remembered the title as "Spotlights." So off I went, googling Spotlights and getting nowhere. A couple of puzzled and frustrated hours later (it was pretty late at night by my standards, so being tired was not helping), I put out a call to other CZTs and Lauren Spiegel Eldon came to my rescue, asking if perhaps I might be looking for Foot-lites, not Spotlights? She was very tactful and of course I had a massive "DUH!!!!" moment.
Ah, the aging brain.
It matters to call something by its right name.
But I was on my way. Here is the resulting tangle for the Diva Challenge:
I'm not quite sure what I was intending with the white pencil on the brown sections...I may have to re-do some of that, but overall I like it. In addition to the Walnut Distress Spray, I used a Rainbow Pencil, a Prismacolor White Pencil, and a Brown Micron 01.
And now for a little iPhone app fun with the tile from this challenge:
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
Continuing yesterday's theme...
Surprise #1: Another bunch of Rainbow Pencils (a different brand I found on amazon) arrived in the mail today from China, so I tried them out. Good thing that these Rainbow Pencils are cheap, because I hate them. They cannot be sharpened to a good point, and the lead keeps breaking during sharpening. Ugh! I would not recommend this brand at all. Here's a photo of what NOT to get:
Surprise #2: My back is demonstrably better this afternoon. Hallelujah! May it continue.
Surprise #3: I thought I'd try out the new Rainbow Pencil on another "String Thing" tile for the same challenge as yesterday, #111. So once again I tried Hamail, the focus of this challenge, with some Meringue and a little bit of Tipple. Here it is...but the big surprise is the next photograph, in which I used the same tile but mirrrored it with my iPhone mirror app...and just look what happened. All I can say is, wow.
I simply cannot believe what that mirror app did to my "so-so" tile. I love it.
On the downside, you can see what not being able to get a sharp point does to the lines in the tile--very cloudy and mushy. A nice effect if that's what you want, but as it happens, it isn't what I wanted. That's ok, though, as I love the mirrored version anyway.
Once I saw that, I had to try it in another app on my phone called Waterlogue. Here's that one.
It's tempting to whine and say I had a bad day today, but compared with everything else going on in the world (the Chilean earthquake, the refugee crisis along the Eastern European border as people flee Syria), my issues are just silly.
But I've been in my pj's since 5.30 p.m. because of all the back pain I've had today. I injured my back over a week ago and thought I was managing pretty well until now; this morning I had a huge flare up. I was in denial about the fact that it wasn't getting better.
In an effort to calm the pain, I decided to tangle, as that's worked before. Betsy Wilson's inspirational blog had introduced a new-to-me tangle called Fleavy, by Hanny Waldburger, CZT, and I thought I'd give it a a try.
And the back pain? Temporarily much calmer. Zentangle® usually has that effect. I'll do a bit more before bed tonight. Love those pain-free moments!
So here's Fleavy (technical details are after the picture PLUS a couple of mirror app versions that I am unable to resist). My hands were shaking from tiredness when I drew it, which complicated everything, but I like it anyway.
Fleavy with a bit of Henna Drum, graphite shading and also a small amount of shading and coloring with a Rainbow Lead pencil.
Below are the versions I created on the iPhone with the mirror app. Similar, but still a tad different from each other. Always an interesting experiment to try!
"Art is a wound turned into light."
One of the things that is certainly true about art is that it sometimes takes us down strange pathways. Is it art, or is it just a mess? I guess a lot depends on taste and opinion; there are no absolutes in either. So when is something "art"? And who gets to determine that?
I got to pondering this last night and today when I worked on the Diva Challenge #234 for this week. I need more practice on black tiles, so that's what I chose to use.
Absolutely nothing turned out the way I thought. I deliberately drew a wonky grid to start with...but oh my.
This went in directions I couldn't even imagine.
Do I like it or hate it? I don't know! I certainly is bizarre.
What do you think?
I am reminded of how often this happens with art; you start out thinking to make one thing, and the thing won't cooperate and you end up with something completely different and startling.
Just like life! You start the day with a few plans, perhaps, and then life comes along and something totally different occurs. And all of us just have to roll with it and adapt.
Sometimes what happens (versus what we had planned) is so startling that we can't even make out how we feel about it. Only time will help us sort that out.
So I'll give this little tile some time to settle, and then determine if I like it or not.
That's the point of Challenges, yes? In art and in life.
I am often helplessly confronted by the picture... filled with suspense. What I have drawn suddenly seems to have developed its own dynamic - one that is not always necessarily kind to me. It is a genuine struggle and challenge. (Simone Bingemer)
Technical information for those of you who care about that stuff (the rest of you will be bored by it):
The Diva Challenge asked us to use a tangle that's new to me, CanT. I didn't even practice it before trying it out on the tile. It has a million variations, so I just picked up my white UniBall pen and gave it a go. What emerged was Florz (from which CanT derives), and a few squares of CanT.
Besides the white pen, I used a white colored pencil, a Rainbow Lead pencil, and a metallic gold colored pencil. Oh, and a bit of IdentiPen to cover up some things I decided to remove, since I thought my black Micron might clog if I tried that.
Still scratching my head over this one!
Recently I've found myself struggling to get to sleep at night. A lot of people have this experience, and I've occasionally had it in the past. But now it's stretching into weeks. Not every night, but most nights. So unusual. I've checked my food/caffeine intake, and my screen time, as well as my stress level, but there's nothing I can tag as a cause. All is well...yet I often cannot get to sleep.
When this happens, I get up and leave the bedroom entirely and read or tangle. Or meditate, which I also enjoy doing late at night. Here's a blog post on the connection between meditation and insomnia--bottom line: it may help, it may not. But (for me, anyway), it feels good while I'm doing it, so I usually will give it a try if reading or tangling aren't helping me get sleepy.
WHAT I'VE BEEN WORKING ON DURING MY INSOMNIAC SPURT:
Alas, I can't post the main thing I have been working on in the last week because it's a gift for someone and until it's given, I will have to hold off. Check back in the next week or two for the full picture. It's a piece of Zentangle® inspired art, and I can only post enough of it that it won't be recognizable, so here is that bit.
That has taken much of my time (it's much larger than what you see above), but then the Zendala Dare #108 came along and I decided to participate in that. It's been a while since I have done one of these challenges.
The Rainbow Lead pencils I ordered from Oriental Trading Company arrived at the end of last week; it was time to try one out and see if I liked it as well as my other Rainbow Lead pencils. If you want to know what I'm talking about, see my long post on using these pencils here, including information on where to find them and how to identify that you are really getting a Rainbow Lead, not an ordinary lead. (Actually, every post since then has related to that topic, at least in part)
Here was the template for this week's challenge:
So far so good--I decided to do two tiles, one white and one black, and use the new pencil on each, and see how it worked. Here was what I did with the black tile at 3 a.m. today:
I was pretty happy with this except that it looked...well...DULLER than I thought my other older pencil does. But maybe not? I mean, who knows, at 3 a.m. in the pitch dark? I took a photo (several, actually, but more about that later) and did some additional meditation, and finally went to bed. I say "additional meditation" because I find that Zentangle is a form of moving meditation. Like yoga.
This morning I got up and had another look. Yes, it seemed duller. So let me try it on a white tile and see if maybe I'm imagining that. I had a chance to sit down and re-do this zendala template with different patterns this afternoon and here it is:
You know, I like this too. But the colors of this Rainbow Lead pencil are dull, dull, dull! At least so far. They just do not have the p-zazz of my earlier, older RL pencils. (I am sorry I cannot distinguish them by name--unfortunately none of the styles have any identifiable names. Darn! Makes them hard to discuss.
I used a variety of tangles on this: Marasu (center), Scarabou, Enyshou (oo oo oo, do we have a sound pattern developing?), Paradox variation, Indy-Rella, and Perfs.
So here is a picture of both types of RL pencils I'm comparing
The pencil on the top left is by far my favorite. You can get it at ????? (Good luck finding these--I know Oriental Trading had them years ago but they don't anymore. See my previous post, referenced at the top of this post, to see more about finding these.) Frankly, every time I see them I buy up every one I can get.
On the lower right is the pencil I just got from Oriental Trading. In fact, Rainbow Lead pencils are cheap, so I got 2 dozen of them.
Now look at the leads...you can see the way the colors are distributed. Also, see how much brighter the lead on the upper left pencil is? So it truly is not my imagination; these new and readily available RL pencils are definitely more dull. Darn!
My overall assessment of them so far: MEH. Good if you like subtle dull colors. I have a lifetime supply--anyone want to buy a couple? (Kidding--I may use these in classes)
Here is what these new and currently available pencils look like, in case you want to get a pack from Oriental Trading:
AND NOW FOR THE OBLIGATORY PICTURES WITH MY IPHONE MIRROR APP:
Ok, if you got this far, you didn't think I could resist playing with my iPhone mirror app and these zendalas, did you? Of course not. Here are two pictures of the black one, mirrored a couple of ways:
Yes, I cannot resist; I admit I am addicted! The last one is from the white tile.
Perhaps it's not so bad to have occasional insomnia. I had four lovely meditations today: two regular ones, and two moving meditations with Zentangle.
Today I was reading a very helpful post on white-on-black tiles by Betsy Wilson, and tested out some of her techniques (which is why my result below resembles a highly mediocre version of one of her her originals). I think Betsy will be my new idol--from the little I've seen of her other posts I really love her work.
I often like my own work too, even though I know that I need practice. But I don't particularly like this tile below. I also don't think comparisons are often useful, but even I can see, when I compare my tile to hers, that I have a long way to go. I understand, however, that practice will be my savior here. I will keep at it. Holding out Betsy's technique as a model will be useful, not discouraging, even though I am not at all thrilled with this first try.
This tile started out with the central Meer motif; I was using a white Broad UniBall Signa pen, and the ink was NOT going on well at all. It was not fun to use. Next I repeated the Meer motif in the upper left with a Faber Castell white colored pencil, testing that out. Better, but so much fainter it seemed to be disappearing on the black paper. Not happy with that either. Finally I did the Meer motif on the lower right with a white GellyRoll pen. Surprisingly, I liked that best--which isn't saying much. The coverage on all three was not that good.
At that point I thought I had finished, but then threw in some Rainbow Lead pencil for a bit of color, and added the Beadlines.
My overall feeling: Meh. (Live and learn)
Well, since I wasn't thrilled, I couldn't just leave it alone, so I went into my iPhone and used my mirror app on it. I don't know if that made it better or worse! I am definitely fascinated with this app...see below.
And just one more try with the app...see below.
I find this mirroring app mesmerizing. These hardly resemble the original at all.
More practice (and perhaps studying more of Betsy's blog) should help me improve my technique.
I can feel a major research project with the black tiles coming on!
While I'm on the topic of inspiring blogs:
If any of you reading this are confused about what Zentangle® is and why it should not be called doodling, take just a moment and read this post by CZT Sandy Hunter. I love what she's written here.
Don't get me wrong; I'm a big fan of doodling and I doodle all the time, but doodling has a different genesis and purpose, as I discussed in this post which I wrote in June of 2014.
Warning: If you're not interested in a nerdy essay about using a pencil with a multicolored lead, please skip right past this post.
You may require the patience of Buddha to read it...
Several readers have asked me questions about using multicolored pencils, since I often use them for drawings and/or tangles posted here, so here is a piece on the topic. It's a long post, but the longest part is about where and how to find the pencils. That is a big issue.
The short part of the post is about how to actually use them, because what I know about using multicolored pencils can fit into a thimble.
You can see my current stash in the photo to the left. I only own 2 kinds of these pencils at the moment. I'll explain that shortly.
WHAT *ARE* THESE MULTICOLORED PENCILS, ANYWAY?
or..."I've never heard of them."
Let me start by saying, let's call them something else. Let's call them "Rainbow Lead Pencils," or "Multi's." As you can see from looking at these, the name "multicolored pencils" is a misnomer. I've called them that in the past, as have others, but I'm not going to call them that in the future. From the plain brown ones on the left above, you can see that it isn't the PENCIL that is multicolored; it's is the pencil's LEAD. Same with the ones on the right, only those are also wrapped in multicolored paper (just to confuse the issue).
WHERE DO YOU GET THEM?
or...be careful what you ask for...
What you ask for is part of the problem. If you ask your art store about "multicolored pencils," you'll likely get regular graphite black lead pencils wrapped in a swirly colored outer wrapper. In other words, regular pencils with ordinary black lead.
You will need to ask for "pencils with a multicolored lead, or Rainbow Lead Pencils."
Even then, you are likely to have the clerk look at you with a puzzled expression and ask, "You mean 'colored pencils,' right?" No. "Colored pencils," at least as we talk about them in the U.S., means a pencil with a monochrome color. Only green, or only blue or only red, not green-AND-blue-AND-red-and-yellow in one lead.
The other thing you will hear from clerks is, "Oh, you mean those pencils that have multiple leads in the barrel and you click them to switch from one lead to the other?" No. Or, "Oh, we have PENS that have 4 different colors in the barrel and you click to switch from one color to the other." No. Just, no.
You are looking for one regular-sized pencil which has a single lead inside just like an ordinary pencil, (no clicking, no switching) BUT there are at least 4 different colors included in the one lead. Sometimes as many as 7 colors.
Look carefully at this pencil below. Yes, the outer wrapper is swirly colors. But look at the LEAD. You will see how the lead is sectioned into more than one color. If you look carefully at the lead, you'll see a blue-ish green on top, a slash of red underneath, and some yellow on the bottom. This is what you are looking for. (The outer wrapper doesn't tell you a thing)
Now, just as with any art tool or supplies, â chacun son goût. We each like different things and you may prefer something I dislike. For example, I like Rainbow Lead/Multi's with fairly soft leads. You may like them with harder leads. The plain brown Rainbow Lead/Multi's in the first picture have very hard leads. I use them but they are not my favorites. I prefer the soft leads of the pencil shown just above.
You may like thicker pencils which have thicker leads. I really and truly dislike those--I can't get the fine lines that I prefer, even when I sharpen the heck out of them. So I look for regular-sized pencils, not thick chunky ones.
IF THEY'RE THAT HARD TO FIND, WHERE DO I LOOK?
Oh, if only I could tell you. Luck is part of it. Remember to specify "Multicolor lead" or "Rainbow Lead" (try both names...sometimes they are called "Magic Lead Pencils").
Another major clue: If you are wondering about whether it's the right pencil and you notice it has an eraser on top, don't buy it. It's not a Rainbow Lead--you cannot erase them. None of them come with erasers.
Here's where I have found the ones I like so far:
WHY WOULD I WANT ONE? WHAT USE ARE THEY?
Good question; you might not want one! It's all a matter of taste.
I adore colored pencils, especially Prismacolors and Faber-Castells, but I would put myself in the "beginner" category with using them. The same with the Rainbow/Multi's. My previous two posts (August 25 & 26) have several photographs of how I have used them with Zentangle®, and there are numerous other examples scattered through my blog.
HOW DO I USE ONE?
Here's what I have learned about using them so far:
All the pieces below were colored with the Rainbow Lead Multi pencil I've been talking about. All were done in my wonderful Carole Ohl Tangle-a-Day calendar. Keep in mind that all of these are my first try at each of the tangles--I'd never drawn any of them before, and so a lot of them are more like sloppy sketches, but you can get a sense of how the Rainbow Lead pencil works.
Truly, I hope those of you who are interested and haven't tried these will acquire some and try them out. I can't *wait* to see what you produce. Please share!
These pencils are so underrated...they are not just for kids!
I'm a textile artist (traditional rug hooking, punch needle rug hooking, and other textile arts), long-time meditator and coach, focused on learning about the interplay of art, creativity, and mindfulness every day.
NEXT INTRO TO ZENTANGLE CLASS:
My next Beginning Zentangle® class is not yet scheduled--stay tuned.
I am always happy to teach 1-1 and/or in a small group in your home.)
Come and amaze yourself!
SITES TO WATCH:
Insight Meditation Society
Oxford Rug Hooking School
Zentangle: The Official Site
Green Mountain Rug Hooking
Massachusetts Tarot Society