“When I say it's you I like, I'm talking about that part of you that knows that life is far more than anything you can ever see or hear or touch. That deep part of you that allows you to stand for those things without which humankind cannot survive. Love that conquers hate, peace that rises triumphant over war, and justice that proves more powerful than greed.” ―Fred Rogers
Normally I don't do any type of tangling on representational art, but I made one exception for this small project yesterday. It borders on being too cutesy for me but what the heck. It's the product of a webinar I took from Zentangle® headquarters in lieu of the large multi-day seminar they had to cancel due to the pandemic.
We'd all like to "fly away" from our current global situation. I am lucky to be healthy so far, but have at least one sweet friend who is battling for her life at the moment. Everyone fighting this (and really that's all of us, even those who aren't sick) is under stress. I'll Fly Away is an old gospel song done by many choirs and artists since the 1930s. It's in the repertoire of the hospice chorus I sing in. Since I finished this tangled balloon, I've been hearing the song in my head. If you click on the link above you'll hear Alison Krauss's version, recorded for the film, O Brother Where Art Thou, which had such a great soundtrack.
Here's the same piece photographed this morning in better light and on a white background. Amazing how different things can look under different light. Much like the way we view problems in life.
"Better to be busy than to be busy worrying."
I have been both for these last couple of days. A friend is very ill with Covid-19. There is nothing to do but wait. I took a break to do some Zentangle®. As always, it was calming. My prayers are going out to her.
This is a photo of a line of people about 40 long, each practicing social distancing, outside a grocery store at 8.15 this morning as I was waiting to get in to buy food. We almost never see this sort of thing in the USA. Strange times for all of us the world over. At the same time, I was grateful that food was available and I had the money to buy it. Not everyone does.
Just some of the words I'm thinking and also hearing from others as the pandemic ramps up in the USA and other countries. There's the cascade of cancellations, the hoarding of odd things (toilet paper, really?) leading to empty shelves in stores. I could, but won't, go on.
With all the cancellations I've been able to focus a bit more on art. I just finished this small piece that's part of a group challenge. Meaning, a number of us are doing the same-sized piece with the same word on it, but other than that, we are each deciding on our own colors and border patterns used. It was fun to do this, and I'm doing a second one as a punch-hooked piece. I hooked this one in traditional fashion.
I didn't plan this and just made-it-up-as-I-went. And it probably looks that way! I like it though.
Today I took an online class with Joanna Quincy (a CZT from the UK) on the tangle Mooka, which I've used for years and love. But I know I can always learn tips and tricks and get better at anything, so I signed up. We did lots of fun practice and all did a similar tile. As you know if you read this blog, tangling is like handwriting and looks wildly different from person to person--part of its charm, fascination, and fun. Here is mine:
And here is the mosaic of the entire class' tiles:
Both rug hooking and tangling are incredibly relaxing, a much-needed, outrageously helpful characteristic right now. All forms of art practice can help us get through this. Read this fascinating article on the topic.
And finally, a quote from the late John Lennon which captures it all:
Nobody told me there'd be days like these;
Nobody told me there'd be days like these;
Nobody told me there'd be days like these;
Strange days indeed -- strange days indeed.
This is a short tale of trust and patience. It's been weeks since I've had time to do any drawing at all--an indicator of how over-scheduled I've been. Yesterday I had a scrap of time in the morning and thought I would do some tangling...and then noticed a curious reluctance. It had been so long since I'd picked up a pen that I was losing my confidence and was afraid to try. Not good. So I went to my desk and began with a new-to-me tangle called Avos by Maria Venekens, CZT. This was my first attempt with it. I was surprised at how tentative I felt.
I started with this, below and really did not like it:
Nope, not happy at all with this. I had to force myself to start adding color. Did not feel like I had drawn it well, even though this was a first attempt.
The internal critic was in full voice.
I considered tossing it, BUT I know from experience that Zentangle® teaches patience, persistence, and trust in the process. So I put it aside when I ran out of time and vowed to keep going later.
Last night I went back to it just before bed, and I'm so glad I did. Here's the final result:
I deeply appreciate the lessons the Zentangle process teaches about life, not just about art. A particular result may not be a masterpiece, but it's possible to love it all the same. What I've learned from the process is to keep going and trust, and things will usually work out fine. Perhaps not perfectly, but certainly "well enough."
Meanwhile, this is a lovely tangle and I hope to use it more in upcoming projects.
This is my first attempt at the tangle Khala, by Anica Kabrovec, CZT. It's gorgeous and what's known as a "high focus tangle." I have a long way to go to learn this one!
However, I've not been able to tangle in weeks. It's been totally crazy here and that will undoubtedly continue for a while. All good, just overscheduled. At times like this, it's all I can do to squeeze in any time for drawing and I truly did not want to take on anything challenging; so I treated myself to one of The Tangled Yogi's instructional videos and picked this one.
Sometimes the best way to practice is simply to copy. Even when you copy, you still end up with your own version. Thanks to the Tangled Yogi for her very accessible videos, which enabled me to do SOMETHING, even if it's not my own thing.
Although I worked on this only two times, it took twenty days to finish it because after I got it started on the 4th of January (see below)--
--it took three weeks before I had time to get back to it. I kept looking at it with longing, but simply could not carve out the time to sit down and finish. This type of dilemma always points out to me how over-committed I am.
Here is a picture of how it looked yesterday as I picked it up again and was about 1/4 of the way through finishing it. I had put down a first layer of color on the green "leaves (top half) and was putting down a blending layer (bottom half) when it occurred to me to take a picture at this stage.
and here's another photo, different from the one at the top of the page (different lighting) of the finished piece for contrast.
It's interesting to contrast this version to another version I did (in December) as I was taking a class with The Tangled Yogi. The December 10th version was a situation where I just had to go with pencils I happened to have on hand; this one is more "me" in terms of colors and execution. I highly recommend Romi's videos and classes as I learn a lot from watching and emulating.
A video is also a great way to jump-start one's practice after a long hiatus. After I've been away from tangling for a few weeks, it's so helpful to follow along with what someone else is showing in order to rev up my own mojo. Once I've done that, I'm ready to go off on my own again.
Doing a bit of practice with Zen Gems today. I've done these before but took a class with Joanne Quincey ("ZenJo") who has a great website HERE, and who gave the best explanation of blending with colored pencils that I've ever heard. Kudos to you, Jo, and thanks. Will be practicing more. I love studying with other artists.
"Better a diamond with a flaw then a pebble without."
(supposedly said by Confucius, but if everything attributed to him was proven, he'd still be alive and talking, right?)
With apologies for the bad photography, I wanted to experiment with Lynn Meade's tangle Fassett for an upcoming class. Fassett is based on triangles. Here is Fassett done on four Bijou tiles (2x2"), each tile with an increasing number of triangles. (The class will only be doing the very first one on the far left)
And here below are the four strings that I used to create the four tiles. You can see the number of triangles increasing in each.
Fun to experiment like this.
Whew. The last two weeks have been a blur, and none of it holiday-related. I'm not a holiday celebrator (no offense to those who are--if you enjoy it all, more power to you), so most years, while others may be stressing out buying gifts, sending cards, gathering with family, I am nurturing my introverted self with quiet and reflection--I love it! But not this year. Visitors--welcome indeed but unusual for this month--a few minor health inconveniences, a couple of intensive workshops, and on and off insomnia have combined to create more stress than usual. But it's all good, and it will all straighten out.
Many projects are underway. I have been working to finish my punched pillow. First I had to un-punch and re-punch some areas, and then begin the finishing process. It's a time-taker but I hope it will be worth it. Here's what I re-punched:
I got that fix done (all will be revealed once I get the pillow completed), and now I'm into the messy process of creating and binding the back. This boring looking beige-y broadcloth was the single fabric I could find that would not clash horribly with the front. Hopefully it won't show once it's done. I'm creating an "envelope back" for the first time, and sure hope it works.
Next up: a good friend and I were lucky enough to go to a workshop with the Zentangle® folks at the Kripalu Institute in Lenox, Massachusetts, and the focus was creating a Compass Rose. I had made one before in 2016, and you can find it HERE in this blog. I wrote about the origins there as well. We used a very different method this time (no protractor, just folding the paper). All of us made small Zendala versions first and here was the class mosaic (some are missing from this mosaic):
We then moved on to beginning the actual Compass Rose. I wish I'd thought to take more pictures. I only have one "before" photo, below. Wish I'd taken pics from the folding-stage through the initial black and white stage, then adding color, then embellishing, etc. This (below) was perhaps almost halfway through. I wasn't enamored of it at this stage. That is an understatement.
We then added the North arrow and used the Embedded Letter tangle technique. I liked it a bit better but was still dubious. We added a bit of gold gellyroll as well. Still dubious. However, that was as far as we got in the workshop and I took my tile home, where it sat for over 2 weeks until I had time to get to it.
That happened today. Below is the finished (??) piece.
Yup, working and taking my time on it definitely improved things.
Finally, I took a chance on a product I saw on a Kickstarter campaign and it arrived last night. I haven't yet had a chance to play with it:
Looks like it will work great, but I've yet to take it for a test-drive.
Just too darned busy.
A good night's sleep would also help.
"Last night I dreamed I ate a ten-pound marshmallow, and when I woke up the pillow was gone."
Whatever possessed me to start and finish this 6"-in-diameter Zendala in one day? I am truly ready to fall of my perch. Tired...
This was another class from The Tangled Yogi, whose wonderful videos and fine classes you can find by clicking on her link in this sentence. She has a unique and incredibly helpful way of teaching. I wish you could have seen the mosaic (collection of student work) on this one. No two looked anything alike--coloring was wildly different. Similar, yes, but still, vastly different. The magic of Zentangle® for sure.
I advise students on the subject of color as follows:
If it looks good enough to eat, use it.
A friend stopped by my house today, exhausted and distraught, sharing a very sad but very familiar story of serious family trouble. I think I may have been the first person outside the family she told. There was nothing I could do but listen. I can only hope that being present with her, and listening, was enough to help.
She was here for hours. After she left I had to help myself, so I did this "variation," of the tile above, experimenting with what I'd learned in Zen Linea's class to produce this on a Bijou tile (2"x2"):
Listening with loving-kindness was the only thing I could do.
I am frequently reminded, as I hear other people speak of what they are going through, of how fortunate I really am. I am grateful for my life, with all its warts and minor upsets and imperfections. And with all its privilege and grace.
Compared to what some of those who matter to me are going through, I often feel like the luckiest person on earth.
May she and her family heal. May all those who suffer heal. May all of us know peace.
I've used the title "Perseverence Furthers" once before, but it never more true than when I did this tangle:
It started out as a hot mess about 3 or 4 days ago. Instead of giving up on it, I kept leaving it and coming back to it, adding a few things here and there until today when I declared it finished. I wanted to keep it all black and white (color can hide a lot of mistakes) and I'm glad I did. I'm also glad I stuck with it. It's no work of genius but it's way, way better than when I started!
"Try again. Fail again. Try better."
Let's hear it for screwing up, flubbing it, being imperfect.
Much of my drawing is like this, and yet, somehow I like it anyway. I will never be perfect. But I'll be "good enough" for me and will have fun along the way.
Below is a practice tile (a Bijou tile, only 2"x2") for a new-to-me tangle called Kaas. I had a rough time with this one and ended up adding a lot of rounding (rounding is a Zentangle® technique which does what it sounds like--you "round" sharp corners) which can hide a plethora of errors.
Convinced I'd do a better job on my second try, I used a regular (3.5"x3.5") white tile for my entry in the Full Moon Mosaic Project for this month.
Nope, just as imperfect, and even more flubbed-up in some ways. Again, I used lots of rounding.
I had fun, however, and I like it anyway. If you have read this far, you probably can relate to what I'm saying.
"My mistakes are my life."
Here is the little:
Another insanely busy week but blessed with absolutely gorgeous autumn foliage. It has been spectacular around here for days now.
Day 16 of Inktober was Trentwith, a tangle entirely new to me (it looks like art nouveau roses in the tile above) and day 17 was Dreamdex, also entirely new. I didn't have much time so tried them out on a tiny Bijou tile and was quite interested in both tiles; I will try them again, for sure. Next time I'll make both of them bigger.
I'm not going to get Inktober done in October, but I don't really care. As usual, this project is enormous fun.
Fast forward a coupe of days and I've finally gotten to sit down and do a few more tangles, below.
All I can say is, wow did it ever feel good to practice today. It ain't the outcome, it's the experience that is so relaxing and that makes me so joyful.
Oh boy! New gray-toned paper to play with.
I'm beginning to think I do my easiest tangling late at night. Both the previous work and the work below were done very late. It was after midnight when I finished each of them. I'm thinking that being tired slows down the critic in my head, plus at that time of day my goal is really relaxation, and I don't care much about what comes out of the pen. The result is usually better than the more self-conscious efforts when I'm more alert.
I take note that in meditation, focusing on the current moment and not worrying about the "results" is prime. And so is acknowledging that there is an inner critical voice; realizing that the voice is "just thoughts," and that thoughts are not the same as facts. We do not have to believe or pay attention to thoughts that pass through our heads, and that goes for the critical voice as well.
It's difficult to have fun or to achieve concentration when your ego is engaged in what it thinks is a life-and-death struggle.
(W. Timothy Gallwey)
I did the above tile late last night just before sleep. It's two of the Inktober 2019 days together, days 4 and 5. I have quite a bit of catching up to do.
But of course this isn't a race. After yesterday's spectacular foliage display, I decided that I wanted to shade the tile above in all the colors I had seen in the leaves on my trip. And there were a LOT of colors. I pulled out my General's Pastel Chalk pencils and set to work, with this result below. The blue represents the intense blue sky behind the leaves.
And here they are side by side:
“Autumn...the year's last, loveliest smile."
― John Howard Bryant
“I'm so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers.”
― L. M. Montgomery, Anne of Green Gables
Today we had late-afternoon sun after nearly a week of heavy clouds and some rain. Amazing the difference sun can make. I've been patiently waiting. Our autumn foliage is beginning to glow and when sun shines through the leaves it is just exquisite. I feel totally lucky to live amidst all this.
Trees are truly extraordinary creatures. May we never lose them.
And here below is what may be my oldest hooked piece. I am guessing I hooked this in the late 80s or early 90s. It's disintegrating now--the foundation is disappearing and unfortunately it won't be worth saving. Although I actually began hooking a rug in 1969 or 1970, I was unable to finish that first piece. It was a round rug I was hooking with wool roving as opposed to wool strips. Unfortunately, I lost it in the chaos of moving repeatedly from place to place during that time. I didn't try again for about 20 years. I began again in the late 80s and think that may be when I made the piece below. I hooked it in a 3-cut, my least-favorite style. It's a wonder I kept hooking at all after that.
What's barely visible in this small photo is the disintegration in the lower left and right corners. I'm wondering if it's moth damage (unlikely) or if the original pattern was on burlap (more likely). Burlap was commonly used back in those days but now has been abandoned by most hookers; it's inexpensive and easy to hook through, but it was actually made to rot. Think of the burlap that's routinely wrapped around the roots of young trees waiting to be planted--the intention is that when the tree goes into the ground, the burlap will disintegrate. It's the same when it's used for a rug foundation. Bad idea.
It was nice to see this piece after all this time--I gave it to a friend and she brought it over this week to see if I could repair it. I can't, but it was good to get a photo and take a walk down memory lane.
Next Sunday afternoon is the full moon, in the corner of the universe where I live. It's supposed to be unusually large. And orange. I chose to ignore the orange for this Zendala tile, which I did for Hanny Nura's monthly celebratory Full Moon Mosaic. If you google "Full Moon Mosaic" on Facebook or Instagram you'll see some amazing entries.
Meanwhile, I've been asked to do a Zentangle® demo at a local organization and in thinking about which tangle to ask participants to do, I'm going to use this one, Fassett by Lynne Meade. Which means I need to practice it myself, having only ever done it once or twice--and of course I'm falling in love with it. This was my first try at it, done on a Renaissance Bijou tile (2" square).
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