Sometimes tired old things just need to be dressed up a bit to shine.
Cue the comments on whether that's true for all of us! I'm talking about things. Ha.
This morning I found a gray tile that I'd tossed some lavender-ish watercolor on long ago, in an early attempt to map-tangle. The color had spread out over most of the tile, with absolutely no interesting shape, and was incredibly plain. BO-ring.
Out came more watercolors today and I tarted it up, used my heat gun to dry it, and went to town with some of the Inktober tangles. Better. Every tangle except one was brand new for me. Some of them turned out more successfully than others, so I'll re-do the ones that really didn't have enough room to show themselves off. Perhaps that'll be the task for tomorrow.
This is what happens when I run out of black Micron 01s and still want to tangle. Spynes, which I tried for the first time yesterday, is a really fun tangle for experimentation--I couldn't resist this second try.
The Stone House Runner is nearly done; just the usual finishing steps left. Here it is:
A meditation on the preponderance of spirals in the cosmos.
"In a spiral galaxy, the ratio of dark-to-light matter is about a factor of ten. That's probably a good number for the ratio of our ignorance to knowledge. We're out of kindergarten, but only in about third grade."
How many ways can a drawing go wrong?
I haven't laughed this hard in a long time. Oh gosh, I started off drawing the tangle Dewd, which I have never quite grasped. (an understatement if there ever was one)
The first thing to go wrong was that I discovered that my beloved Micron 01 was dying. I searched for a new one, which was when I found out I did not have another 01. What to do? I picked up an 05 instead. Oh dear.
That's one of the things that gives this very funny tile a look of having been drawn by Edvard Munch (the painter who created The Scream). But wait, there's more!
Dewd is the tangle around the edges of this Zendala. I kind-of-almost had it at first, and then totally lost it as I moved in toward the center. At several points I thought, "Oh for Pete's sake--this is rubbish, I can't go on." But hey, it's Zentangle®. We always keep going and see what happens. One line at a time.
So instead I started to laugh and plowed on. I added another tangle in the center. Oh my, a nice one but it didn't help. Edvard Munch lives on.
Well hey, in for a penny in for a pound, right? Will it help if we tart this up with color? (no) Out came the Silver Shadow Gellyroll pens. These are always tricky to use as you never quite know how they will look when dry. I followed that up with a liberal application of General's Colored Pencils in two colors. Thus proving the saying by Oscar Wilde, "Nothing succeeds like excess."
Because despite it all, I kinda like it. And I laughed my way all the way through, which is always fun.
It felt great today to just sit and tangle awhile. Quiet and relaxing. I'm rusty but the annual 'Inktober" Challenge adapted for tanglers got me going and I couldn't be happier, even though we're already nine days into the month. I plan to do what I can and thoroughly enjoy doing it. It's good to be back.
The people we tend to call Huichol in Mexico (they call themselves Wixåritari, or, The People) have a long history of art. I've admired their beadwork, small glass beads pressed into wax lining the bottoms of gourd-bowls and other objects coated with a thin layer of wax, using bright, bright colors. Check it out at the link above. They work in many media in addition to beadwork--textiles, paintings, et cetera.
This tangle is based on a shape common to their culture and others. We see it in quilting patterns everywhere, and in many other cultural contexts. Mexican CZT Celina Bonilla Martin gave a class using the form as a template. I decided to go with a different colorway and did my own thing.
Tangles included: Printemps, DoDah, Wadical, Umbler, Flux, Ko'oke'o.
What interested me was that most of the way through working on this, it looked like it was going to turn out as an epic failure on my part. It looked horrible. I wish I'd taken photos during the progression. And then I began adding the tangles and it turned around. While it may not be a masterwork on my part, I quite like it now.
How many times have I said that here, and drawn a parallel to daily life? Trying out new things often brings on a feeling of, "Oh my god, this is never going to work," and then somehow it turns out better than expected. And with practice, we just learn more and get better and better. This is certainly not true in all situations in life, but it's the case far more often than not.
The critical mind is always predicting epic failures.
Just ignore it. See what happens instead.
I've been wanting to attempt an illustrated letter for quite a while and decided to try it this evening. I learned a lot doing this.
Every line in a drawing is a new experience. There's no "right" place to begin. We just start. Each individual line is a new creation. There's no "right" way to draw anything. Some drawings are "better" than others...but if we're drawing mindfully, they all teach us something, no matter the result.
It's the same with meditation. There is no one right way to meditate. Every moment is new, and if our minds wander--which of course, they always do--we simply draw in a new breath, and begin again.
A repeat of yesterday's tile. This is version 2.0 since I gave away the tile I did yesterday as a thank-you gift to a neighbor. I realized I still wanted a version for myself and redid it, enjoying every line.
Tangles: Didot, Rain Dotty, Pringer, Hamadox, Joy-Jirella, Chillin, Emingle. My version of a class by Indica Boyd CZT for Artifex Eruditio Spring '21. Material uses: Green and Black Microns, Gellyroll 10 in white, General's Chalk pencils in white, green, and blue, graphite, Gellyroll Luxue Gold Pearl in green. Drawn on a white Zentala tile with a gray watercolor wash.
In today's version I added substantial green coloring as well as the blue, and experimented a bit with placement of patterns. This was just as much fun as the first one.
Another "learning tile" done very quickly from an Artifex video. This was done fast as a thank-you gift for a friend who made me a lovely dinner. I cannot cook so cannot reciprocate, thus I wanted to draw her something as a way of expressing gratitude.
However, I needed gray-toned paper to work with, and didn't have any. What to do? I grabbed a white tile and threw a gray wash on it. Et voilà--it actually worked! I'll give it to her this evening.
Whew. When it doubt, improvise. Always a big life lesson for me.
The phrase "throwing shade" has an entirely different cultural meaning, but I thought it would be fun to graphically show three versions of the effects of shading a piece of work. A different meaning to the phrase for sure.
He whose face gives no light, shall never become a star.
Everything that we see is a shadow cast by that which we do not see.
--Martin Luther King, Jr.
I'm turning into a major fangirl of CZT Emiko Kaneko, who has a fantastic Youtube channel and shares her teaching there. This (above) is my version of one of her lessons after watching one of her free videos.
Here below are a few of the stages this mandala went thru on its way to completion. I photographed as I drew. What a calming experience.
One line at a time.
Enjoy the moment.
Mistakes? What mistakes--a mistake can be addressed and learned from.
Appreciate appreciate appreciate.
Hold the pen (hold things) lightly.
I love the lessons I learn from Zentangle®; they're directly applicable to meditation, to daily life, to just about everything.
It's hot and humid outside, not my preferred weather. Demotivating.
However, I see the value of "warming up" in other contexts, like when doing any kind of art. Warming up = doing anything mental and/or physical to get oneself going. Even sitting down for only ten minutes when there is supposedly NO TIME. Here's last night's warm-up below, a quick tangle done just before sleep, inspired by the Sunday night Tangle Time with Amy Kam.
This morning I noticed I didn't want to meditate. Not. At. All. So I applied the warm-up idea to meditation, telling myself that I only had to sit for ten minutes. And reminding myself that I could look right at the resistance the whole time if I wanted to, and that everyone has resistance at times. I did, and of course discovered that I easily meditated for my entire usual time (way longer than ten minutes) and enjoyed it.
Yep, warming up...I may not like it when the weather does it, but it's pretty darned handy for the arts and for meditation.
After warming up today, I did this:
I'm not sure it's finished yet. Probably is.
This was my second try at drawing Tisoooh (see my first attempt HERE) and I could not believe how much easier it was. So much easier! I want to continue to explore.
Thanks to my friend Susie Ng in Thailand, who actually tried the same video I described in my previous post about it and then went good-crazy into experimenting with Tisoooh on her own. You can see her amazing results HERE (scroll down until you find them but prepare for a visual feast along the way). Susie is a phenomenal artist, as you'll see!
So it started out this way...
I'm still "blobbing." A great way to try out various watercolors and watercolor techniques. These are Yatsumoto metallic watercolors. Very subtle unless you really load your brush.
There was a teeny bit of Inktense Watercolor Pencil tangling going on in the upper left quadrant.
...and ended up that way:
This is all I'm capable of today. The night before last I had only 2 hours of sleep, who knows why. All day today I've been dealing with credit card fraud in a major way. It's taken hours to straighten things out. And I made a major blooper with some friends that also took quite a while to straighten out (assuming I even did get it straightened out).
Isn't this just how life is--some days great, some days awful. (I could re-write that sentence substituting "hours" or "minutes" for the word "days" and it would be equally true.)
There is nothing else to be done but to respond to each moment in the moment. And what a challenge it can be to respond skillfully.
So all I can do is work on a few small blobs. In fact, I am a blob myself today. Neither happy or unhappy, but still just a blob. Sometimes ya gotta go with the flow--even when the flow is temporarily blocked and becomes blob-like.
Here was how I started out, after watching a really fun video on IG TV by Yvonne West, CZT < @ywestart > which I thoroughly recommend.
My blobs before I tangled them. The video was fun to watch and if ever you don't feel energetic enough to tackle a full tangle, this is a terrific exercise for experimenting with watercolor in a low risk way.
A kind neighbor brought these marigolds in a tiny bottle. She collects old bottles and also grows flowers. A wonderful combination.
I could actually have given this post a much longer title. Something like: "Kind Neighbors, Marigolds, and Other Favorite Things." Too long.
Some of my favorite things. The hydrangea in an antique bottle, a book on drawing (recommended), and an old white soapstone I tangled years ago and put into a frame to use as a coaster, after first baking it in the oven to set the paint. Plus, my front porch. Love to sit out and watch the world go by.
Finally, a quick late-night tangle I did last night after watching Amy Kam's weekly Tangle Time. The tile had been given a watercolor wash years ago. I added the tangles (Gneiss, Black Pearl, Crescent Moon, Shattuck), along with colored and chalk pencils and graphite. I threw in some white gellyroll. And I still couldn't sleep--however I didn't wake up this morning until almost nine. Oooh, a lovely sleep after all. Once it actually came.
No idea how this happened. A friend and I were fooling around daubing several types of metallic paint on a variety of Zentangle® tiles a few months back. I've no idea what specific paint we were trying out here or even what I did.
The tile sat around with the paint scattered on it for weeks, and then I picked it up today and inserted a few scribbles. It was fun, although I'm not sure I made it better and may have made it worse. Just experimenting!
Waking up early this morning I could hear rain pounding down. It's a lovely soothing sound under normal circumstances, but clearly something is very out of whack when half the continent is in a drought of emergency proportions and the other half is experiencing unending rain. If we could only share and balance...but we have interfered too much already.
I like this tile very much and am enjoying having made it. It's my interpretation of what Amy Kam was suggesting in her wonderful meditative Sunday night "Tangle Time," now on Eventbrite every week; and yet, the cloudiness and darkness reminded me of our recent storms and weather issues.
There is a balance between taking "right action," based on a true understanding and wisdom, to correct an issue such as climate change, and rushing in to "fix things" with no clear understanding of what we are doing. Or acting out of some form of individualistic greed.
It is the same in meditation. First, see the thing as it is. Take time to be curious. To understand, to experience. Only then will wisdom come, and be accompanied by right action.
I needed this reminder.
This was my own version of another fun composition from Amy Kam of The Peaceful Pen. The big central diagonal attention-grabbing tangle was new to me. A sparkly watercolor pre-coat on the tile made it challenging to draw.
And here's a quote that applies equally to tangling and to meditation.
Learn to poke around. Take your time. Go slow. Get down on your hands and knees and dig around. Sit in one place for an hour at a time and let the world come to you.
(John Bates - A Northwoods Companion, Spring/Summer issue, 1997.
Today more than a hundred CZTs from around the globe gathered online with CZTs in Singapore to do an hour-long meditative tile on behalf of those who have suffered from Covid-19.
These were the same CZTs who last year donated $10K US and this year donated $12K US to Covid relief efforts as a result of their two very successful and well-run schools for tanglers.
What I loved about doing it, though, was that 3 or 4 different CZTs from the other side of the globe led us all through an hour-long meditation in which, as we drew, we focused our compassionate attention on anyone who has suffered from Covid. They did a superb job leading the meditation. I so admire the structure they've created to support humanitarian efforts. Thanks!
And now for the tiny treasure. Yesterday I went to my local bead-and-jewelry-repair shop to get my watch battery replaced. While waiting, I spotted this wooden box, which is no more than about 1 1/2" square. With what appears to be a tangled Turtle on top.
In fact the box is so small I had to take a picture and enlarge the photo in order to see the fine detail on the turtle, which just blew me away. The top of the box slides off so smoothly it's just a marvel of craftsmanship. It's so small that I cannot imagine what to put inside.
This continent was originally called Turtle Island by the First Nations People, and I still call it that. I am very fond of turtles and simply couldn't resist this tiny masterpiece.
And this leads us right back to the meditative nature of the turtle:
Take a walk with a turtle. And behold the world in pause.
Looking for peace is like looking for a turtle with a mustache: You won't be able to find it. But when your heart is ready, peace will come looking for you.
Turtles always strike me as devastatingly serious. If turtles could talk, I'd believe everything they said.
Here she is, the icon.
But since nothing is sacred these days...
She apparently was photographed attending a party shortly after posing for Leonardo.
This is her "riotous party smile."
Uh-oh. I know this is a sacrilege, right?
But what fun to try.
Romi Marks had a wonderful workshop called "Zenovating the Mona Lisa," and since I'm in full-on learning-and-practice mode I wanted to take it. My motivation actually was learning to tangle on photographs, especially on photographs with a lot of dark areas in them. I want to try this out on pictures that I've taken, and I knew there were tips I needed to learn first. Romi is a marvellous teacher and I learned a lot doing this. Next I want to try some of my own photos to see what I can do.
So many art opportunities, so little time.
And then, of course, after the party Mona needs to relax. I'm sure you've all seen this meme going around, depicting what Mona has been getting up to at the Louvre since it's been closed due to the pandemic. Wish I could find the original source to give this the right attribution but so far it's been shared so many times I don't know who came up with it.
A little alarm now and then keeps life from stagnation.
This was my interpretation of a well-done class by Vandana Krishna, CZT in Bengaluru, India, as a part of the Artifex series I mentioned in the last post. While I'm not sure my version actually looks like a magnifying glass, I really enjoyed the process.
On a night when--for no obvious reason--I simply could not get to sleep, working on this tangle was relaxing, fun, and absorbing. I have occasional bouts of sleeplessness, and am so glad to have drawing to occupy me when it strikes.
Here's how it looked when I finished the linework, and then on the right is how it looks after adding some color and shading. There's currently a big boo-boo in the center of the tangle (I'll probably fix it at some point), which I left in place for now. You can see it in the large version--a misplaced black line.
In my next life I will try to commit more errors.
(Jorge Luis Borges)
"There are no mistakes in Zentangle."
(Maria Thomas and Rick Roberts, Zentangle® creators)
Last night I tuned into Tangle Time with Amy Kan CZT and was delighted to see that she was using the tangle "Gotta Go" in her Sunday night practice. I love this tangle and can't imagine why I don't use it more often.
Since I knew I'd done it before, I looked back through my work and discovered I'd last used it as a tangle in 2015 (see below). I haven't done it since, especially as I don't tend to do grid-based tangles.
This is one reason I enjoy learning from other CZTs--if I'm practicing with someone who likes grid-based tangles, I'm forced to do one too, and I need that prod. And it's fun! Here was the 2015 version I did in an old "Tangle-a-Day" calendar, with the tangle creator's name, Lianne Woods:
Out of practice means out of mind.
This applies to meditation, as well. Except with meditation, if I neglect practice, I am IN the mind 100% of the time, rather than being mindful.
I love the life lessons I constantly learn from Zentangle®. This was another big one. I set out to draw one thing, ended up getting hopelessly lost, and by the time I finished the preliminary linework last night and forced myself to stop and go to bed, I was looking at a hot mess. I didn't think it could be salvaged.
But this morning I just had to keep going to see what would happen, and ended up with this--which I quite like. [Although it does bear a resemblance to "St Patrick's Day on Steroids," don't you think? But that's ok, I like it anyway.]
Here are the details for you tanglers out there (no need to read this part if you don't tangle--it could be boring for you): I fell in love with an Emiko Kaneko CZT video (HERE)* and thought I'd give it a try. But I misunderstood what it was: She clearly labeled the video "A Tangleation of Tissooh," but all I saw was "Tissoooh," which is a high-focus tangle by Tomas Padros CZT that I've always wanted to attempt.
Emiko made it look so easy that I was sure I could do it and learn.
Well. I did indeed learn, but not as she intended!
Mine has some resemblance to hers, but I ended up with a lot of weird space in the background, and things are not in the same places as on her tile. So did I learn a lot? You bet. But now I need to go back and find a simple stepout for ONLY Tissooh and have a go at that one tangle--this tile combines Tissooh with something like Bales, Tripoli, and Orbs. However, I do love my outcome.
For years I've heard that it's lways good to learn by copying the masters, and Eri is certainly a master of this art.
For me, the biggest learning is that no matter how bad something looks, it's highly likely that it's worth it to try and save the thing. Or as the I Ching would say: "Perseverance furthers."
*Thank you to Susie Ngamsuwan for catching the fact that I'd attributed this tile and video to the wrong CZT. Wow, much appreciated.
Note: I've been doing a LOT of copying lately, along with watching videos and going along with them. I always credit people as I'm copying. I'm on a mission to learn from a wide variety of tanglers whose skills I admire, and if that means I am copying for awhile, that's ok. It's a powerful way to practice.
Here are three quotes about copying as an effective tool in learning art:
It would have been the equivalent of Jackson Pollock's attempts to copy the Sistine Chapel. (Malcolm Cowley)
But Shakespeare's magic could not copied be;
Within that circle none durst walk but he. (John Dryden)
If my students seem to copy me when they are learning, that is good. It shows they are listening and trying to do what I tell them. They will develop their own style soon enough. (William Draper)
Finally, I took these two photos only one minute apart. The first one, on the left, was taking on a white background in indirect daylight. The second one--using the same camera with no setting changed--was taken a minute later on the blue background and in direct sunlight. WOW--look at the difference! It might as well be two different pieces, but it isn't. Isn't that incredible! It never fails to amaze me how light and a different color in the background can make the same thing look totally different.
PS: The one on the left is the actual coloring of the tile.
Looking out the window this morning, I noticed the back yard appeared to be covered in light snow, but of course it was merely cottonwood puffs adhering to the grass.
It's that time of year again, when we have a blizzard of them floating gracefully down to earth. As I look outside just now, I see them coming down at the rate of a snow-squall, despite the late spring warmth and the heavily leafed-out trees.
From what I recall, this goes on for weeks. Two weeks? Three? This area was (and still is) a major source of poplar wood. The leaves of the poplar (another name for the Cottonwood) are somewhat heart-shaped and may have inspired the following tangle. Or not.
This was inspired by a class from this spring's "Artifex Eruditio," (Latin for "Art Learner"). Actually the class sample looked absolutely nothing like this--I went entirely off-road as usual, so mine doesn't look like anything that was taught in the class. I did some of the line work yesterday, more this morning, and then added color this afternoon.
I am not usually fond of using hearts in my pieces, so I'm blaming this on the fact that it's Cottonwood Season.
Insight Meditation Society
Oxford Rug Hooking School
Zentangle: The Official Site
Green Mountain Rug Hooking
Massachusetts Tarot Society