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
It's Election Day here in the USA and the voting is hot and heavy. Last night I did another mandala, above. I'm reminded of how the Wheel of Life is ever-turning, ever changing, and today will prove that to be true. No matter who wins this election, my country has changed dramatically over the last four years, and it will continue to change during the next four. Inevitably. May we know peaceful change; may we grow into kindness and peace each day, and may we trace our roots to the Tree of Peace.
The tradition of the Tree of Peace was especially honored by the indigenous peoples of this country. There are many beautiful renditions of Native Peoples view of the Tree of Peace but I didn't want to use any of those out of copyright concerns. Below is an image from Wikimedia, used with permission. This image comes from Slovenia. Many world religions also speak of and value a Tree of Peace.
After yesterday's crazy busy-ness I thought I'd post something super-simple today. This is the tangle Dragonair, which is part of the Inktober 2020 challenge and is completely new to me. In fact, this is my first attempt, dashed off on a lavender-colored post-it note to see if I could figure it out. I did this before putting it into the journal page before yesterday's post, but today I added the white chalk pencil and graphite. A new favorite.
My goodness, isn't that a busy page! Yikes. But the Inktober challenge is meant to be an annual sampling of a wide variety of tangles, so unless I do each one on its own tile, it's always going to be an "eye-crossing" visual experience. And this one is certainly no exception.
The process is really fun, though. I get to sample things I might not have considered otherwise.
A few of these have become new loves; a few really left me cold.
A few that I've always had trouble drawing just smoothed right out and were easy.
And a few that I know very well somehow turned into hot messes on the page as I ran into unexpected trouble with them!
Sort of like the experience of a daily meditation practice. Or to quote Forrest Gump, "...you never know what you're going to get."
Meanwhile, our fall foliage season is rapidly winding down, but for some reason, this sugar maple didn't get that memo and is just getting started. Sooooo pretty.
This one surprised me. I am traveling deeper into several areas in my life at the moment: meditation, friendship, beginnings and endings, and even the chaos and fear in the United States. Which means I'm working more deeply and consciously to cultivate equanimity. I did this drawing over two days, last night and this morning, and it reflects my inner state.
I heard a quote this afternoon that really sums up what this deepening is revealing to me:
"One kind word can warm three winter months."
Actually that's only the first part of the quote. Here is the rest:
"...while vile talk wounds like bitter cold in June."
Many thanks to my dharma brother Ed Niembro, for his wisdom and for sharing this quote.
It has never been more true.
I was able to spend more time practicing yesterday and working out the rust and kinks from not having tangled much in the past months.
And here on the right is my pre-practice Palrevo "Mini-Me" with instructions and information noted on it:
Palrevo is definitely a high focus tangle, but very rewarding. I completely enjoyed myself. I warmed up by doing the tangles I posted yesterday. It is totally wonderful to be tangling again, now that I have a bit more time.
Every day I make time for meditation practice. I realize I need to make time every day to draw. It's not called "practice" for nothing. It makes all the difference in meditation, and in everything else.
Practice doesn't make perfect. Practice reduces the imperfection.
I hope to fill up this page further, while still leaving enough white space. Here are tangles from the first 11 days of Inktober 2020, using only a black Micron 01 and graphite. I will likely need a second page to complete the 31 days without making things look horribly overcrowded. This page is already far too busy but I don't care--the experience is such fun.
Most of these tangles are new to me, so this is really more in order of a "scratch sheet," for practice, rather than anything finished. Inktober is a terrific way to get back in the game. I've got a long way to go but I have to say that this kind of practice is a big help--and anyway, my primary motivation is always the relaxation that comes along with tangling, rather than the results.
Finally my schedule is starting to clear, so get ready for some "bad tangling." I'm amazingly out of practice but happy to be starting up again, and here are the so-so results.
Why am I posting these? Because they are true. This is where I am now.
Just as in daily meditation, I am essentially beginning again. We all do this hundreds of times every day, with many issues, without realizing it. A meditation practice is cultivated over time, time each day. And with Zentangle®, just like with meditation, lack of practice will show.
But in essence, WHO CARES? There are no meditation police, and there are no Zentangle police either.
Julia Child's motto (The French Chef on PBS for so many years) applies here: "Who's going to know?" she chortles in her fabulous high-pitched voice, as she picks up the raw chicken she just dropped on the floor as she's being filmed and goes on preparing to cook it. As she pointed out, the oven would take care of any germs. I have always loved this moment of her show. She was always beginning again, with humor and enthusiasm.** Someone undoubtedly ate that cooked chicken, and no one got sick or died.
So FINALLY--yay!!!!--I am getting to begin again after months of not being able to tangle. Here is what that looks like.
It's "Inktober" again, so tanglers are embarking on a daily draw. This is an experiment with the tangle Flux, drawn on a tan tile. No pen used, only General's Chalk Pencils in olive green, white, and a scoche of blue.
I was curious about what would happen without the hard line from a pen, using a lot of blending. This is the result. I nicknamed this one, "It's only a dream," and went to sleep shortly after finishing it. Sure enough, I had vivid dreams all night long, and they were just as vague and ethereal as my tangling before bed.
Here's the Inktober link for tanglers (meaning, this is specific to tangling). Inktober has a number of genres--sketching, writing, etc. There is a prompt for every day during the month of October every year. I'm following the one for tanglers, but you may want to google some of the other genres if it interests you.
** According to Snopes, that episode was slightly-but-not-very different from what I remember:
"She was cutting the poultry up (which, as I recall, was a chicken), and it slid off the table onto the floor. She picked it up and said either, 'We’ll pretend that didn’t happen,' or 'Just pretend you didn’t see that.”' She continued cutting the chicken up."
Sure enough, the rust in my hand shows up even more here.
Once I sat down this morning I couldn't stop tangling. Although it's only the 2nd day of October, I have tangles from the prompts for Days 1-5 on this page so far. If I keep on, the page could turn into a hot mess, but hey. I'll keep on anyway.
The ONLY tangle here that I knew before this morning was Flux (upper border). Every other tangle was completely new for me.
Oops, I take that back--I know and love Pepper (day 5). But Anthem (day 3), Jackstripes (day 2) and Unbirthday (day 4) are all tangles I've never heard of before. These are all first-attempts.
You can also see some pencil-drawn string lines on the page; we'll see if I do anything with those.
As my idol Julia would say, "Just pretend you didn't see that."
Sometimes we are dealing with circumstances that beg for a focus on equanimity or calm. (And who doesn't need that these days?)
I've been taking a 3-session class with Alina Smolyansky of Vancouver called Neurographica for Artists. Very, very interesting. Today we did the final class, a Tree of Life with a theme, and my theme was "Calm" or "Equanimity." We had just a small introduction to this method of art and healing, and it was fascinating. While I'm probably not able to take a Basics for Users class right now--just too busy--I intend to at some point. Another wonderful form of art to explore! Eventually.
Equanimity requires some practice, and practice requires time. In order to achieve my own equanimity, I need to cut down on commitments for a while. Otherwise I would have signed right up for her "Basics" class. Thanks, Alina.
Another insomnia tile, drawn one night and added to a bit the following day, then finished 2-3 days later.
Here is the tile as I finished drawing it, with no shading or color.
I think I do some of my best tangling when I can't sleep--and I rarely have consequences (tiredness) the following day. If I can't sleep and don't tangle, I'm often exhausted the next day. Hmmm.
Hotter than Hades where I live this week; I'm lucky to have good air conditioning or I would be prostrate on my floor.
Instead, I have been too busy to tangle or do any textile art. It's all been great--I am engaged in teaching two meditation classes each week in July. Both are practicums for my 2-year Teacher Training Program and the outcome will determine whether I get certified to teach mindfulness meditation or not. When my in-person practicums fell apart due to the pandemic, my kind and generous fellow CZTs rescued me by signing up in droves for the two online courses I hastily put together.
CZTs are incredibly nice people. I was amazed by the level of interest in learning mindfulness meditation and will probably teach a couple of additional courses to try to accommodate those on the waiting list--and the global time zones of the would-be participants. They came to my rescue from all over the globe! Thank you from the bottom of my heart, my friends.
This has meant that I haven't done any art in weeks. So about 4 nights ago, not having the energy to think, I decided to just draw lines on a tile that I had begun years ago; I had used a leftover "snowflake" paper cut-out I'd made years back and then it just sat there for a few years. I found it the other night and my first three nights were spent just drawing random relaxing lines inside the string. I did not use any tangles except Tipple. And perhaps a case could be made for Pokeleaf but I wasn't even aware of or intending to draw that.
Here is the initial finished black and white tile:
It's possible I should have just left it plain like that, with some shading. But today I did add color and shading and ended up with this.
I'm not sure what I think, or even if it matters; I am only sure that I enjoyed every line I put into this, so whatever the outcome, the process was very relaxing.
I've been so busy teaching mindfulness meditation that I haven't had time to tangle (except for that last post) in weeks. Oh boy, do I miss it. Today I took a class called Renaissance Gold with Stefanie van Leeuwen in Holland. (I love Zoom! It has opened up a globe-full of teachers.) This was the tile I produced in class.
She's a gifted teacher. You can find her by clicking on her name above. This has been a wildly popular class for her and you can see why. The class was packed with Certified Zentangle Teachers (CZTs), always a good sign--sort of like going to dine in a new-to-you ethnic restaurant and noticing that many of the patrons are of that particular ethnicity: You immediately know you are in good hands and that your meal will be the Real Deal. We all had a relaxing time.
Art offers sanctuary to everyone willing to open their hearts as well as their eyes.
I'm a textile artist (traditional rug hooking, punch needle rug hooking, and other textile arts), long-time meditator, meditation teacher 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