Video Practice, the Finish.
So here it is, with the colors added. This was great fun to do. The URL for the video is in yesterday's post, in case you want to try this yourself.
I'm using colors here I do not normally use--not sure what happened there. I am not a "pink" person in normal circumstances but this is what came out.
Contrast it to yesterday's black & white version.
Video Practice, the Linework
This is only the finished linework for a Zentangle®-inspired piece; I will be adding the color for it, hopefully later today or tomorrow.
If you'd like to try this yourself, it's called "Circus Star" and is free on The Tangled Yogi's YouTube channel. She has an especially lovely meditation at the start of this one, using video footage from a morning walk she took near a lake in California.
AND NOW, IN THE "BEGINNER'S MIND" CATEGORY:
Last Tuesday I was lucky enough to take a digital design workshop with Lucy Richard from Wooly Soul Strings, called "Sketchbook for Hookers." (that would be RUG hookers, people, not the other kind.)
I've been wanting to learn digital art for years now but haven't had time, and I could tell that Lucy's workshop on the Sketchbook app (simpler than Procreate) would teach me the basic concepts.
This was a fabulous workshop and very much a lesson in Beginner's Mind. Talk about FLAILING AROUND. It was a humbling and hilarious experience. Fortunately Lucy is the soul of patience--I'm not kidding about this--and guided us through our bouts of flailing to success.
Or, what constitutes "success" for an abject beginner. Here's what i was able to produce. Yes, it is indeed hideous. But it's my hideous, and I'm proud of it. I can only get better. Right?
It helped to use a couple of mantras throughout: "It's ok, I've never done this before," or "I'm just learning."
And so I'll practice. Begin again, begin again, begin again. Just like meditation. I loved this workshop. Thanks, Lucy! The design possibilities are endless.
Video Practice Sessions
Whenever I'm forced to take a long break from tangling, as has been the case recently, it helps me to get started again by using videos. Here's one called, "How to Draw Cell" by TangleDream (click on the title if you want to try it yourself). It's sort of like warming-up for a few days before I launch back into creating my own.
I would call this a high-focus piece; the "string" (the basic form, in Zentangle®) takes concentration but isn't hard if you watch carefully.
A lack of verbal instruction means anyone with any language can follow along--no English needed.
It's always fascinating to see how one can think one is following carefully, and yet the outcome is so different from the original. (I love that. Plus I enjoy adapting things)
Truly, we are all the same. And yet, we are all unique. It shows in so many ways, and art is one.
"...Your handwriting. the way you walk. which china pattern you choose. it's all giving you away. everything you do shows your hand. everything is a self portrait. everything is a diary." --Chuck Palahniuk
Indeed, it's been awhile.
Another round of surgery for me (nothing life-threatening), much-needed but requiring a lengthy recovery. And I'm not done yet. What I mean to say is, I AM done with the surgery but not anywhere near done with the recovery.
However, I've recovered enough to produce one tangle. Just one, but my first one in two months. That long a pause is almost unheard of for me. I had hoped to do a lot more drawing and tangling in recovery but it hasn't yet been possible.
The good news: Everything is going along well, just as predicted. I may be slow but I'm beginning to be able to "art" again. I've also been doing some punch needle embroidery but that's not at a stage where I can show it. Soon, i hope! I think I have about another 6-8 weeks of recovery to go and then I hope to be back to myself.
What to Do When You Need A Drink.
Well that's what I do, anyway.
What about you?
On days like this I need a comfort drink (it was -10 or -15° Farenheit last night and I heard "frost quaking" for the first time--who even knew that was a thing? So this morning, in the -5° weather, I treated myself to a good old DD coffee (and added mocha, so hot chocolate).
Oh, the comfort.
Then I drew it.
And finally I ran the drawing thru an iPhone app.
The Best-Laid Plans.
Interesting how plans go awry. For a couple of days I've been thinking about the old tangle, "Quandary." But I haven't drawn it in years and couldn't remember how. Today I grabbed some drawing tools and a tan 3-Z tile and gave it a go despite not remembering, and this was the result. It sure ain't Quandary--what the heck is it? Just some sort of pattern, with escapees in the lower left corner.
But what fun to do. Brainless drawing--just what I love! Nothing to think about, just filling in shapes. Very very soothing.
And just as in life, it didn't turn out as planned. But it turned out fine, anyway.
Time and Time Again.
I began this tile yesterday, at a late night workshop where everyone else was doing symbolic and pictorial drawings within a circular border and no one else was doing Zentangle® other than me. Given the purpose of the workshop, I think the NON-Zentangle drawings were a better idea (see the Mandala Secrets technique, which has nothing to do with tangling and is extremely interesting--I test-drove it several years ago and enjoyed it but it's not what I want to be doing just now).
Nope, No Mistakes
A major principle in Zentangle® is captured by the phrase, "No mistakes." Meaning, even if you do something "wrong," there's always a creative opportunity to explore and you may come out with something even better.
So far, despite being obsessed with the tangle below, I get it "wrong" every single time. And yet, it always looks good anyway (to me at least). I drew it on my 2023 calendar; it's "wrong" again, and I still love it.
I was forced to work around the error(s) but ended up with a cover design I will enjoy viewing anyway this year. In the process, though, I believe I have finally figured out the last piece of what I need to change, although I haven't tried it yet. Likely I'll continue to be obsessed by this tangle for some time to come! No mistakes, no mistakes, no mistakes.
Series of Surprises.
Drawn by me yesterday, and hugely relaxing to do! I think it's been years since I used my Rainbow Lead Pencil--check out previous posts on the Rainbow Lead by looking in the right-hand column at the Categories section (scroll down and you'll see that category; click there to find the previous posts).
I have missed using it. Disorganization meant I couldn't find it for quite a while but I'm getting more organized and located my itty-bitty-stub of the original Rainbow Lead as well as a newer one.
What I love about the Rainbow Lead pencil is that you can try to manage it, but you really can never guarantee 100% what color is going to come out of the tip. I've learned to figure some of it out, but it still surprises me and I love that. It forces me to respond more creatively. In this case, it meant I somehow ended up with less color than usual, and that was fine. I like the opalescent look of this mandala.
Here are 2 more photos. In the first I was in the middle of the line work, and in the second I had finished and lined up all my tools (you can see the nearly-used-up stub of my original Rainbow Lead pencil there; I have to use a ""pencil extender to use the last bit of it.
Drawing this led to surprise after surprise with the colors. I love that!
When Comparison Is Helpful
It's been over ten years since I went to my first official Zentangle® class. I've never been able to locate my actual tiles from that class (as you can imagine if you read this blog, I've got zillions of completed tiles) and believed I had lost them years ago.
Why should I care? Because occasionally, other tanglers will post "Here's my first Zentangle ever! And here is what I'm drawing now for contrast," and I always enjoy seeing the effect of their practice. Practice makes SUCH a difference! I've always wished I could find my first tile to view the effect of my own practice.
Then this morning I followed some clues that led me to look in my photo collection from 2012. And yay! I found photos of my first two tiles from my first "official" instruction by a CZT. Unfortunately I cannot remember her name, and I don't think she's teaching any more. I would like to thank her but don't know how.
We did 2 tiles in that class, which I remember as only about 2 hours long. I do remember rushing to keep up. But she got in all the basic tangles (Crescent Moon, Hollibaugh, N'Zepple, Tipple and a few others). Perhaps "speed tangling" was not the best way for her to teach, but I got the idea, including the principles, and took off from there. Without further adieu, here they are--tangles from my very first one in 2012 to 2020, eight years after I learned. The progression is obvious.
Proof that anyone can do this.
As always, I'm struck with the parallels between tangling and meditation. Practice is practice, no matter where it's applied, and it always improves things. We may not be able to see it minute to minute, but observing month after month and year after year, the difference is huge.
“Painting is a means of self-enlightenment.” --John Olsen
Earlier this week I had the chance to go to zenAgain 2022, a class for Certified Zentangle® Teachers (CZTs) in Newport Rhode Island. And oh what a great time we had. This was a new tangle from headquarters, one of several they taught. I believe it's named after Martha's son Wyatt. I'm not sure I am done with this one yet, but I'm posting it for now.
We stayed at a hotel on an island just off the coast of the town and the view of the ocean from my window was magnificent. But having several days in a row to do nothing but draw and see wonderful art by others was the best part.
Just an amazing class from Lynn Mead of The Tangled Mind today--a benefit for children in Ukraine. I loved every minute of the class.
Lots of discussion about MC Escher (of course), but also excellent teaching and plenty of time to tangle. Done on gray cardstock with a black Micron 05 and graphite pencil with some white chalk pencil for highlights. This was very much in the "quick and dirty" mode. Fun!
First 3 days of Inktober this year. I make a start but rarely finish. So far I'm not crazy about any of these tangles and so I changed 2 of them to such an extent that they are barely recognizable. (Tangles are: Rain, Delray, ISEA-U). In fact one of them isn't recognizable at all!
We'll see if I continue through the month this year. A class I'm teaching and some textile projects might interfere.
When I finished this tile I was really pleased with it--then I photographed it and blew up the photo and once I saw how incredibly shaky all the linework is (it doesn't show so much when it's this size), I was horrified. Yet another benefit of aging! But when I consider the alternative, aging is just fine with me. Being out of practice is also a likely cause.
Certainly not perfect, but good enough. Perfection is not the goal.
I took a break today from the Lunar Phase Project (see the last few posts) and followed along on a video by Tanglewerks CZT. She has many videos; the one I watched had no words, just music (and I shut off the music). She did her mandala on a white tile. I put it mine a grey tile, made a few changes, and added white chalk to spice things up. It was a lovely way to spend the first few hours of a day--just quiet practice. A meditation indeed.
How Quickly We Forget
I used to be able to draw any phase of the Moon easily from memory. This is the Moon in Waning Crescent mode, as I've positioned it above. (of course I could flip it around 180° so that the white "horns" point left and then it would represent exactly the opposite, but this is how I drew it--waning). I haven't been watching the Moon as much during the last couple of years, and sure enough, I'm beginning to forget what's what. Time to check back in with Her!
In fact, I have a series of tiles prepped as the Moon in Her various phases and I noticed confusion as I tried to put them in order this morning. Could. Not. Do. It. Had to resort to googling the Moon's Phases (what DID we do before smartphones?) in order to turn things the right way. Yes, definitely time to check back in with Her daily changes.
While trying to determine exactly how long those tiles have been sitting around waiting for me to finish them, I re-discovered this (below). If you asked me, "Have you ever drawn an elephant?" I would have said with 100% confidence, "Nope." But here it is. And I drew it. Memory is notoriously unreliable!
I based the coloring and the stars on an amazing photo I saw of a man in India riding an elephant for a spiritual celebration of some sort (to Ganesh, perhaps?). His elephant had been covered with light blue blue dust and he or someone had painted stars all over it. It pretty much looked like this. I completely changed the blanket, though, and left off the man, and used a template for the outline of the elephant from Ben Kwok of Ornation Creation (he has tons of animal templates). So this is not a copy of the photograph, not even close. I rarely tangle anything representational but my friend Julie adores elephants so I framed and gave it to her. And I drew it exactly 7 years ago today. A lot has happened in that time--she got married and now has a lovely little boy. I'm betting the elephant picture is somewhere in her house, maybe even in his room.
Finally, since I've been on a Moon kick, yesterday I had fun with a Zendala I'd prepped with a watercolor wash a long time ago. Just playing with the tangle Ibex. I started off like the photo on the left and then somehow ended up like the photo on the right. Not my best work but oh boy did I have fun playing.
Really, it is the same tile, just taken on 2 different backgrounds under different light conditions and clearly I'd done more drawing in the version on the right. Still, when you look at the color differences, it's hard to believe it is the same tile. I think I prefer the one on the left, before I overdid the work on it. Live and learn.
Ah--I just heard that Queen Elizabeth has died. I know she was still working as recently as the day before yesterday, when she greeted the new PM. Talk about taking to a role in life with utter dedication--how serious she was about it! She wasn't perfect, but she was wonderful anyway. She was born to become an archetype, and perfectly lived the role. Go in peace, Lady.
This is part of a project I began years ago in a workshop with Martha Huggins and Molly Hollibaugh. And I do mean years ago.
It always surprises me how much better I feel on a day when I draw. Whether the piece turns out well or not, the process is mindful and meditative.
Here's a short article on why drawing--bad or good--is loved by so many. (Many of these same points could be describing the practice of meditation.) Count me in.
Back At It.
My hands have gotten much shakier since I was last able to tangle, but I am back at it. Yay!
Museum of Bad Art Entry
This falls into the "you never know what you are going to get" category.
When your ScratchArt tiles are all ten years old or older, you can be pretty sure that over time the black coating will have adhered itself like super glue to the surface of the paper and scratching will be about 40 times harder than it should be.
Such was the case here.
Using an extremely dull piece of wood was also a factor.
As was lack of practice.
Result: a vibrant candidate for the Museum of Bad Art. (Which is one of my all-time favorite places to go when I need a mood booster. Do check out that link--it's a real place.)
And I am still laughing.
It's similar to meditation: the process can dig up some very stuck stuff and the results aren't pretty at times (even when run thru an iPhone filter, which, alas, no meditation app can do).
A sense of humor really helps.
Yup, I'm gonna keep on practicing. Stick with me, ok?
PS, if you'd like to try your own hand at ScratchArt, click that link to get the cheap stuff at amazon. Note that my set is so old it doesn't even look like this anymore but it's by the same people. If you prefer to work with better quality materials, just google "scratch art paper" and you'll find some high-quality options that will make a huge difference in the quality of your finished product. Tools really do make all the difference. Search the web and you'll see some stunning art made this way, using better tools (and more consistent practice).
What happened to these people, the Mimbres, who created such dramatic and elegant pottery?
Emerging from the Mongollon culture, they were a later version of that group which lived around the Mongollan Mountains in Arizona and New Mexico from about AD 200-1450. If I am correct, the Mimbres peoples lived toward the end of that period (1050-1200 or so).
Eventually, it appears that they abandoned their homes and cultural centers for unknown reasons. Just walked away, probably dispersing into other groups or other areas of the country.
Who were they and where did they go--and why? So far, we have no answers to these questions. They leave us their inspired, graphic, dramatic pottery, from which this tile is drawn. Here we have the fish, the deer, the turtle, and the caterpillar, all very precious and symbolic to them. We have the four directions, a stylized sun, some stylized feathers. While we can say something about what modern generations of Native/Indigenous Peoples would say about these symbols, we can only guess at the full extent of what they mean to people from this era. It's a definitely a mystery.
Only their art speaks to us about who they were.
To a Mimbres Woman
by Marty Eberhardt
I see your thousand-year-old thumb print
On the plain brown potsherd.
My own thumb fits perfectly
In the curve you left.
Other more elegant pottery bits
Lie among rocks and junipers
On this hill of dry grasses.
Red-on-white interwoven geometry,
A tasseled quail,
Designs fine as any
In the art galleries of the town.
But it is this plain brown piece that draws me.
My thumb seeks the curved place, again.
I see you forming the pot
From coils of clay,
You look out over fields of corn and beans
In the valley below.
Then, as now, a red-tailed hawk dips,
A horned lizard scurries under a stone
That forms the village wall.
Beyond the fields
Green cottonwoods mark the river
Between jagged hills.
The wind shakes their leaves like a gourd rattle.
In the quiet between gusts,
The river rushes below, monsoon-strong.
It is in these wild places,
Where our thumbs
Feel the curve of another’s hand,
Places free from cement, neon, asphalt, smog,
And deadened water,
Across cultures and countries,
Beyond all reason,
We find each other.
Yes, I'm now officially addicted to this tangle with its deeply graphic qualities. I added some blue and gold rings in chalk pencil when I was finished, the colors of Ukraine, since the tangle is derived from Ukranian folk art (see yesterday's post).
Tangle: Kivka. Done on a black pre-strung Zendala tile. I ignored the string, but when I was done drawing the string still showed faintly so I added the chalk pencil rings to cover it. Gold and Silver Slicci Metallic pens. Both pens were at least 10 years old and previously unused. I am lucky they worked. I don't even remember where I got them.
My first try at a new tangle called Kivka, from Jo Quincy, CZT (Zenjo). She just offered her second fundraising class for Ukraine. As a result, this time she'll be donating around $3000 to UNICEF for Ukranian aid and relief, based on participants' donations. In her first class she raised somewhere around $2500 I believe. What a lesson in how one person can make a difference.
"Kivka" is named for Petrykivka, which is both a small village in Ukraine (southeast of Kiev) and also the home of a style of painting called Petrykivka, a folk art of great beauty. I plan to work more with this tangle and make further donations when I can for relief there.
The new dawn blooms
as we free it.
For there is always Light,
if only we're brave
enough to see it.
If only we're brave
enough to be it.
Here is another version of work I did in a class with Shie Naritomi, CZT. What a wonderful teacher. See my comments from yesterday on the background of this work.
As one person, I cannot bring peace to Ukraine. I cannot restore what they have lost: lives, livelihoods, homes, family, and peace of mind. No one person can do this alone.
But I can join with others to protest, to support. And I can take the time to sit quietly and calm myself, so that I make wiser decisions when I protest or when I support.
Drawing and meditation both do that for me. So does drawing AS meditation. The more peace and compassion I can develop within myself, the more peace and compassion I can bring into the world. Perhaps only in small ways, but if each of us were able to do this, it would be powerful.
So I have taken the time to draw this afternoon, breathing deeply and working line by line, one line at a time. It is calming. It gives me courage to watch the news tonight. Again. To witness the inhumanity. Again. It gives me courage to keep protesting, to keep supporting, to keep loving, despite it all.
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
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