Can you get more simple than this? I don't think so. This must be the equivalent of doing musical scales each day.
I'm using Bijou tiles here (only 2" square) to practice one basic tangle a day. Except I'm way behind and these each only take a few minutes to do, so I've been doing about 2-4 tiles a day to catch up. This is part of a 365 tangle challenge, and I appreciate that the intention is to keep it very simple each day all year.
Good advice, whether in drawing or in meditation. Practice-practice-practice is one great first tip, and the next: don't over-complicate things. Review the basics frequently. Take time to breathe. No need to rush or push. All of these things are true for both art and true in meditation. Art and meditation are deeply interconnected, in my view.
This mandala was easy to draw this morning because one of the talented artists I'd taken a class with some time ago, Annie Taylor of the Arty Zen website, emailed a private video free to all her former students as a thanks. It was a how-to of this piece, so I gave it a try. Very fun.
You can see the progression above, from the linework through the finished piece. I like this mandala pattern and can see using it for other things. Will be trying it again. Thank you, Annie. It's always wonderful to get a surprise gift.
And as I'm catching up on my back-to-basics 365 Tangle challenge, here are a few more super-basic tangles from early January. The wind is howling outdoors; how lovely to stay inside and draw.
This is really back to basics. There's an art challenge going on that focuses on just one tangle each day in January. Really basic. No pressure. Of course I didn't get started on time but it'll be easy to catch up. Each tile is only 2" square. We began with some of the first tangles any beginner learns. A fun and stress-less project which will continue all year.
When I look back at my early start with Zentangle®, I remember that there were only about 106 "official" tangles at the time. Unbelievable. Of course as soon as Rick & Maria began teaching, all their students were encouraged to come up with their own tangles, and everyone did so with a vengeance. Now there are thousands of them. And none, not one, are originals, because humans have been drawing patterns since the Dawn of Time, and so everything we use has been "invented" many times before. The only difference is that R&M named each tangle and created easy 6-steps-or-less instructions for each one so that anyone anywhere could learn to do this. And the rest is history.
Meanwhile, this (below) is the reason I've hardly been tangling. I've been working on this rug (photo is a peep at a corner of it) but ran out of a couple of spot-dyed colors and have to wait about two more weeks to get just a teensy bit more of the fabric or the border will end up not matching. And I was on a roll! But not paying attention to my stash. Live and learn.
There are so many surprises in life. This was certainly one of them.
Zentangle® can be counted on for providing surprises on a regular basis. You never know where you're going to end up once you begin.
After yesterday's post I thought I would try another mandala but this time I would attempt to place the more complicated Punzel tangle in the round.
Success! However, I ended up with something that reminds me of Brutalist-style architecture, my least favorite style of all time.
You could say this got the job done, but although I technically succeeded I'm not in love.
Which leads me to wonder: what would this look like if I ran it through an iPhone app? Let's see:
In part of Mary Oliver's Poem, "The Turtle," she says:
...Crawling up the high hill,
luminous under the sand that has packed against her skin,
she doesn’t dream
she is a part of the pond she lives in,
the tall trees are her children,
the birds that swim above her
are tied to her by an unbreakable string.
For the entire lovely poem, see New and Selected Poems: Volume One (Beacon Press) or go here.
I think I like the iPhone variations better than the original in this case.
The temperature was zero Farenheit when I woke up and this afternoon has reached a blazing 11° F (that would be MINUS 11.6°Centigrade, correct?). I've been basking in the warmth by drawing a blue and black zendala that captures the winter colors.
Wind outside is howling, and howled all through last night.
Daylight is fading. Snow is on the way.
Hot cocoa, anyone?
By Mary Oliver
all the singing is in
the tops of the trees
where the wind-bird
with its white eyes
shoves and pushes
among the branches.
Like any of us
he wants to go to sleep,
but he's restless--
he has an idea,
and slowly it unfolds
from under his beating wings
as long as he stays awake.
But his big, round music, after all,
is too breathy to last.
So, it's over.
In the pine-crown
he makes his nest,
he's done all he can.
I don't know the name of this bird,
I only imagine his glittering beak
tucked in a white wing
while the clouds--
which he has summoned
from the north--
which he has taught
to be mild, and silent--
thicken, and begin to fall
into the world below
like stars, or the feathers
of some unimaginable bird
that loves us,
that is asleep now, and silent--
that has turned itself
Holy cow, this was a hard photo to take! Two of the mandalas would look great, the third would almost disappear; I'd try again, another two would look great and the other third would disappear. I was gnashing my teeth. This is the best I could do.
This is part of a series of moon phase pieces. I have moon phases on the brain right now. I am hooking moons into my latest rug, and also working on these drawings which I began in late 2020.
My heart is like the autumn moon
perfectly bright in the deep green pool
nothing can compare with it
you tell me how it can be explained
Got up this morning thinking I'd do something on the back of that bookmark from the last post. I had dropped some watercolor on the back and was not best pleased when I noticed how the paper crinkled and--even after being flattened under some heavy books--wouldn't straighten out.
So I set to work this morning intending to practice my Punzel tangle some more. Only--
I got distracted.
Um, really distracted.
So what you see here isn't even close to Punzel. Oops. When I realized how I'd messed it up, I thought about throwing out the entire thing. But I like the other side, so in the spirit of Zentangle®, ("There are no mistakes"), I kept going.
Result: Looks like a cobra laying eggs in a flowerpatch, right? Or might it be peas ripening in some type of excessively weird peapod?
Whatever. I like it anyway. (How many times do I find myself writing, "I like it anyway" on here? But it's always true.
Time to go get this bookmark laminated, now that both sides are done.
I think this is the start of a bookmark. I'll see where it takes me.
Perhaps it will go no farther. I'll let it sit a bit.
But then I realized that it's my neighbor's birthday tomorrow, and since she is one of my favorite people in the world, I quickly made her a narrower version of the above bookmark and will bring it over with a card for her.
Nope, I haven't abandoned the blog, even though it must look like it. It's a temporary lapse caused by necessary work on an external project, as well as the fact that I've been working hard on a hand-hooked rug. Then add in a dash of generalized holiday madness. Even though I don't celebrate the holidays, everyone around me does and it certainly causes madness!
Result: I haven't put my pen on paper to draw in a month. And wow, have I missed it.
So here you have me starting over. This is a piece-in-progress, one that I began last night. It's not even half-done yet. We'll see where it goes.
I treated myself to a new t-shirt and I love it.
Last, here is a sneak preview of an upcoming rug I'm working on. This is what has really been taking up most of my time. This and doing a lot of reading (see the t-shirt above), along with some teaching.
All in all a very busy end to this year. Wonderful. And now, I hope to get back to drawing in 2022.
After watching my friend Jo Quincy, CZT, create a Mooka-Tipple combination tile, I thought I'd have a go. I've done this tile before but not for ages. Jo has damaged a finger on her dominant hand very badly and has been tangling with her non-dominant hand and producing work as gorgeous as if she was using the dominant one--she is really amazing. (NOTE: I used my dominant hand to do this one and it's not half as good as hers, done with her "wrong" hand.)
I tangled with a blue Micron 05 over a pre-prepped watercolored Zendala--on the left. And then tarted up the piece with some watercolor pencils and gold gellyroll, on the right above. Which one do I prefer? Don't know. My tile is totally inspired by Jo's piece, but of course it came out differently as tangling is like handwriting. Hers is much more subtle. To see hers, go HERE. And as you watch, be aware she's using her "wrong hand." Amazing!
Imitation is indeed the sincerest form of flattery.
Finally, I had to play with them on my iPhone apps and producted these 2 versions:
Playing with "special effects" is always fascinating, especially any shift in color. Knowing that we don't always see color the same way makes this even more intriguing. Which version(s) do you prefer?
Continuing with zenAgain21: Here's a Dali-inspired tile. Mine looked quite different from those done by others (they were better at listening to the directions).
I know, scary stuff, huh?
"When we are asleep in this world, we are awake in another." - Dali
He's not one of my favorite artists, but this was a fun idea to experiment with.
This was done with brown and black microns, graphite, watercolor pencils and white chalk pencil with a touch of white gellyroll on a 3.5" white tile.
Somewhere during the four days, we worked on an Opus tile (10 inches square). I have plans to re-do this one, since I liked the idea but felt a bit too rushed during the execution. It was fun though.
I have a few other things to finish or re-do, so that's it for now. What an opportunity. To be tangling for four days straight was just wonderful. And exhausting. As Molly Hollibaugh says, "Drawing is a physical act." True!
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!
I'm a textile artist (traditional rug hooking, punch needle rug hooking, and other textile arts), a long-time meditator, a certified meditation teacher and coach, and focused on learning about the interplay of art, creativity, and mindfulness every day.
SITES TO WATCH:
Insight Meditation Society
Oxford Rug Hooking School
Zentangle: The Official Site
Green Mountain Rug Hooking
Massachusetts Tarot Society