Since I'm working hard to finish my current rug, not much tangling/drawing is getting done. I just about manage to attend the 1-hour free Sunday Night group tangling led by Amy Kam, CZT, of The Peaceful Pen. I did go last night and produced this tile, which was guided by her, but I went off-road and did several things differently. In the picture on the left I thought I was done. But then this morning I added a few more things. So here are two versions of a very busy tangle.
Yes indeed, this is a very busy tile. Think of it as a tangle "sampler."
Tangles included: Weighted Printemps, Blinkt, NStitch, Brrst, N'Zeppel, Strut, Beadlines, Narfello, DaizeeMae, Bales, Therefore, and DooDah. Phew!
And now, back to working on my latest rug. I'm on a mission to get it done. But I do miss tangling every day.
Few things in life are black and white, but we can draw them that way.
Done quickly during a free Sunday night tangle session with Amy P. Kam of The Peaceful Pen.
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
All my time at the moment is devoted to finishing up a rug.
I'm so committed to getting the darned rug done that I haven't allowed myself any time for tangling. Last night I sneaked an hour of tangling at the Sunday evening hour that Amy Kam CZT offers free. It felt so good. I'm quite surprised by how much I miss tangling when I don't indulge it for a while. Hmmmm. Addiction?
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.
What should we do when there appears to be very little energy for "doing?" Sometimes we have days like that. I had one today.
Fortunately, I had two small Bijou (2"x2") tiles already prepped with Map Tangled backgrounds, so today I did them as experiments. I had to make an effort to get going since I had no energy at all.
The jury is out on whether I like the results all that much. On this first tile I put the tangle Pepper (with a few orbs added) which I tarted up with Gold Jellyroll pen in between the black Micron PN strokes and also in the negative spaces. I'm still contemplating this one. But at least it got me drawing on a day when I felt...blah. As we sometimes do, for no reason. Just blah. Not bad, not good.
How often do we notice these moments of complete neutrality? I usually don't, unless a lot of them get strung together during a day--unusual, but it does happen once in awhile. Should neutral always equal "blah?" Many folks experience an occasional no-energy day.
Perhaps I just needed a day to do nothing? Or simply to contemplate neutrality? There hasn't been much to feel neutral about in a long, long time (locally or globally). Perhaps neutrality has been snoozing, and is now waking up again. Is it actually neutrality, then, or could my over-stimulated nervous system from these last few traumatic years not recognize what it means to rest and restore itself?
Experiment #2,is also done on a pre-prepped Map Tangled background on another tiny tile. Only this time, the prep included putting a silver metallic Fine Tec watercolor glaze over the regular pink-rose watercolor. I used a purple Micron PN to do the tangle, which is Diva Dance--a tangle I love but always find quite baffling. I need remedial Diva Dance lessons!
Diva Dance reminds me of neurons in the brain, quivering and firing. And yet when I'm drawing, I'm usually totally absorbed and just not thinking. Perhaps my own dancing neurons go into some type of trance when I draw. A good thing, on days like this one.
A metallic shine is hard to capture on camera, and the deep rose color did not show truly here. As is the case with the other small experiment above, I am still waiting to decide how I feel about the tile.
In the end, it doesn't matter. The practice itself--and "showing up" even on a day when I didn't have much energy--was my intention, not the final outcome.
Show up. Sit down. Whatever comes up is simply what is arising in this moment. Notice it. No judgement.
Exactly like meditation.
A Zendala tile prepped and waiting to be tangled. I almost don't want to do any tangling on this one--I just love the look of adding metallics. I'm leaving it to think about for a good while. Watercolor paint and Fine-Tec Gold Metallic mixed a la MapTangling Method. I did this the day after a class on using the metallics with Map Tangling. Class details below.
After taking the class with Nancy Domnauer, during which we prepped and completed the tangling on three tiles (I only showed two of those), I spent just a few minutes the following day to produce the two UN-tangled tiles above. I'm learning as I go. People get obsessed with MapTangling, and I can absolutely see why. It's a surprise every time; results are always unexpected and ever-changing.
Just like our day-to-day lives.
But with MapTangling, results are likely to be beautiful every time, even if tangling on them can turn out to be tricky and challenging. That's half the fun.
Now, if I could only learn to be as calm in daily life when presented with a challenge as I am while doing this.
Here's a tiny tile I did just before bed last night. It took about ten minutes. This was done on a Bijou tile (2"x2") which I'd prepped a background on earlier in the day. This is simply more linework from one of Jo Quincy's lovely soothing videos, just what I needed before trying to sleep after a wild couple of days in my life. Once again I combined a video from Jo with my own "take" on it, by using MapTangling. Ahhhhhhhhh.
To finish up, here's an iPhone-app "distressed" version. I can never resist those iPhone apps.
I noticed my British friend and teacher extraordinaire, Jo, has a YouTube channel (why didn't I know this before?) and I took a look today. She did a lovely job demo-ing one of my old favorite tangles, Betweed. I've loved this tangle forever and used to use it all the time. Why did I stop? Like a lot of things, it just passed out of my consciousness at some point and I haven't done it in years. What a welcome reminder.
I had time to experiment this afternoon and decided to use her video to do this monotangle version of it. Soooooooo relaxing. But rather than do it plain, as she did, I used a tile I had previously prepped for MapTangling, and used that as a technique. Well then I couldn't leave well-enough alone so I did some shadow work in a couple of the negative space surrounding the motif. This was totally fun. I liked the depth and subtlety.
Ah, but I thought I might run it through an app on my iPhone to see how it would look. Holy crow! It went from subtle to glaring. You had better wear your darkest sunglasses for this version below (altered by the iPhone app).
Once I start playing with the iPhone to alter a photo, it turns into a project all on its own. Using another iPhone app, I came up with all of these:
There is something to be said for each of them. Besides, it's so much fun being able to play with alternatives. It's even more fun greeting an old friend--this tangle--one I haven't seen for awhile.
I imagine we will all feel that way once the pandemic is over and we are able to see each other in person again. We can Zoom, and that's helpful, but to be able to spend time with old friends and hug each other again...priceless.
“Friendship is the only cement that will ever hold the world together.”
– Woodrow Wilson
“A day without a friend is like a pot without a single drop of honey left inside.”
– Winnie the Pooh
Truly, I am a lucky gal.
I did this tangle last night for a friend whom I think of as a real gem.
This woman has been my mentor for the last two years in a meditation teacher training program. She has been unbelievably kind, sensitive, helpful, and has drawn liberally from and shared her own deep practice and her decades of experience teaching meditation to others. In the process she has been a powerful example to me, as well as to the other four people in my small peer group for the last couple of years. We have been fortunate to know her.
In Buddhism there are many lists, one of which is known as "The Three Jewels: The Buddha, the Dharma, and and Sangha." I mailed off this little Zentangle® Gem Portrait today with that in mind, to say thank you to her. She has managed to embody the Buddha's teachings, transmitting the Dharma clearly and faithfully, and with patience and kindness has helped us to form a peer supervision group (the Sangha) that will continue long after the program ends.
Thank you, Adi.
"...You should understand that you are one of the Three Jewels. You shouldn't put the Three Jewels outside of yourselves; you should always think of yourselves as being one of the Three Jewels—and that includes your body, your speech, and your mind.”
― Dhomang Yangthang, The Union of Dzogchen and Mahamudra
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
Every year at this time I find myself looking backwards. And forwards. Today I was doing some cleaning in my art room, and I found these 12-month-old-tiles below. Bittersweet, indeed.
In mid-December 2019, I was just back from a wonderful weekend with a good friend at Kripalu, drawing tangles with Martha Huggins (on the left) and Molly Hollibaugh (right) of the Zentangle® family. If this year had been normal, I'm sure I'd have done the same. But we all know it was not a normal year.
So here is a short review of some of the work we did in December 2019, with the fond hope that we will be able to do something similar in 2021. Looking at these tiles brought back so many good memories for me.
And although I'm not a Christmas celebrator, I just happened to get some non-Christmas presents this year (the timing just worked out that they arrived at Christmastime). Here are two that I'm thrilled by but haven't had time to try out yet.
This is a commemorative but perfectly functional Oxford Punchneedle, called The Peacock. Amy (Oxford) had only 1300 of these made from laminated wood, to commemorate her 25th year in business. It's a #13 Fine size and I cannot wait to try it out. Check out the bag, made of fabric to match the needle. I love it! I gifted this to myself from myself.
A friend is a gift you give yourself.
Robert Louis Stevenson
I've been so busy attending to another major commitment that I completely forgot this follow-up to my last post. Here I've added another three tiles and put them together into a hexagon. (I'm actually writing this on December 11th, having completely forgotten that the draft was sitting here since the 5th, waiting to be posted.) That's the way life is going at the moment. Scattered.
It makes me aware of the fact that we can only really attend to one thing at a time, while everything else fades into the background.
“To pay attention, this is our endless and proper work.”
Out my back window, immensely tall trees are swaying in a wind passing through the back yard. I'm thinking about the way the light makes the sky at this moment--just before sunset--look like stainless steel. Exactly the color of stainless steel. Clouds have blocked the setting sun and as I watch, the tone of the clouds shifts slightly more towards blue.
I never tire of watching the changing sky, or the way the gray and brown tree branches dance across it, finding their own rhythm in the evening wind. This light is moving us gradually from day to night. It subtly alters the cloud colors in each passing moment.
Just like thoughts change, and just the way life changes from moment to moment.
I want to be fully present for this moment. Just this moment.
When I finished typing and looked up, I could see a horizontal band of luscious rose-tinted light crossing the sky below the stainless steel and blue clouds. And below that, a band of gold-white from the last rays of the sun.
Exquisite, this moment.
It never stops, the learning. Here I'm trying to learn a Zentangle® technique called TranZending--a form of layering one pattern over another. I've never really gotten the hang of this before, but am happy with how it turned out. I watched one of ZenLinea's videos and followed along. What I learned: for one thing, even tho she suggests some very very faint white colored pencil guidelines to start, and I did make them faint, the wax in the colored pencil still acts as a "resist" and doesn't really get colored over later on. Which is fine -- even promising -- if it's a design element. But here it wasn't meant to be a design element. Now I know.
I may try this one again. Lots to learn, and I'd like to try the guidelines in graphite and see what happens. Once I figure this out, I can apply to my own future tangle designs.
Here are the beginning and mid-stages of this piece:
I'm always open for people saying I'm wrong because most of the time I am.
Bubble Gum Pink Anything is always a turnoff for me. However, I discovered a blank but watercolor-washed tile that qualified as that shade or something really close. Someone else had done the wash, and it was in a pack of pre-colored blank tiles I bought from a vendor at a Zentangle® event a decade ago or so.
I wondered what, if anything, I could do with it when I ran into it yesterday. The color was hurting my eyes (as you'll read below, the photo actually drained out most of the eyeball-popping bright pink).
Since I am so rusty and trying to get my drawing mojo back, I'm studying instructions from other teachers whom I respect, and Zen Linea certainly qualifies. So I went to SkillShare and logged onto one of her videos and tried this on the Bubble Gum Pink tile.
Interesting to note that in the light available when I took this photo, the "Bubble Gum" quality of the pink really calmed down. Trust me: in person, the pink is MUCH louder than it looks here. And the violet color is much more subtle. So interesting how color can photograph.
But here's the fun part. At the end of the video I was using, there was a list of projects previous students had done. Not only was I shocked to see I had done this video before, but I had done in exactly one year ago today.
I had no memory of ever having done it before. Not only did I do it then, I did a second, alternative version the next day. So this version is my third. Pretty comical.
Here is the start of a mandala, just the beginning linework.
I drew this last night while studying one of Romi Marks' videos. I screwed up the center--but luckily, there are "no mistakes!" in Zentangle® and so I just kept going and did my own thing in the center. And I like the way that came out. I also changed a few things in the next layer.
This is one major thing I learned about drawing since I've begun to draw regularly. In fact once I began drawing in the Zentangle® tradition it was resoundingly, repeatedly, and overtly reinforced.: There are no mistakes--keep going and see what you can make of what is in front of you. 90-95% of the time, not only can you work through whatever is there but you can actually surprise yourself with a good result.
It's the same in meditation. And, I believe, in much of life in general. What about that other 5-10%? Anywhere from "meh, or disappointing," to a genuine catastrophe. But still, those odds sound pretty good to me.
So I persevered and began adding color. Big difference! Encouraged, I drew the outside of the tile and stopped there for a bit, having worn myself out for the day:
And here below is the finished tile. I'm glad I stuck with it.
Whatever it is you are pursuing, whatever it is you are seeking, whatever it is you are creating, be careful not to quit too soon.
Above you see one classic type of pretzel knot. On the left, when you think of it, is another type. Those are washed and dried worsted weight yarn skeins from my wildly successful bargain hunting the other day--twisted into the kind of gentle "knotty looping" that is useful when storing yarn.
I drew the tangled piece as a bookmark for a friend having a birthday next week. It's inspired by one of Sadelle Wiltshire's very nice freehand-knotting videos and this is what fell out of my pen. Perhaps I should do a Celtic Knot punchneedle piece with that yarn. These knots are very relaxing to draw.
And given the knotty problems facing us all right now, with the pandemic and a planet dealing the climate change, political messes and human rights issues, I seem to have knots on the brain.
We learn the rope of life by untying its knots.
I did this last night just before I went to sleep.
My thought in this moment, this morning:
The Wheel of Change rolls on, every moment of every day.
"The thing that lies at the foundation of positive change, the way I see it, is service to a fellow human being."
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.
"Faced with the choice between changing one’s mind and proving there is no need to do so, almost everyone gets busy on the proof."
- JK Galbraith
Ah, here it is. The prime example of Don't-know Mind, that shocking moment of extreme uncertainty. I write this the day after the election, during a time when we still don't know the results.
Here we sit.
It's not comfortable. But that is the truth of this moment.
Even once a decision is clear, we still will not know what happens next. In fact, we never can know what happens next. We are always in Don't-know Mind; it's simply more obvious today than usual. Since we are wired to prefer certainty, it's so much more convenient to ignore the reality that Don't-know Mind is our continuous state.
Another thing I don't know : who stained or painted the small square of watercolor paper I used to tangle on last night. To whomever you are: thank you. The staining was faint but spread in lovely fashion across the paper and provided a wonderful smear-y background for linework and bits of color that I added. I like the way the original background spreads out beyond the border here.
I rarely do either of these tangles, so every line on this square is a product of Don't-know Mind.
Thank goodness for Zentangle®, which is amazingly relaxing, even in the most uncertain times.
"So much of our difficulty with uncertainty is that we've evolved to survive by trying to predict the future. The seasons, the crops, where the animals will be, if we're hunting.
But if we can really take care of what's right here, this present moment, what else is the future made of, but this moment right here, right now? The future is just a continuation of this. So there's no point in worrying and being anxious about the future, if we take good care of this moment, breathing in, knowing our heart is still beating, and how miraculous that is.
Breathing out, and feeling the gift of our lungs. That's the present moment."
- Kaira J. Lingo
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