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."
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).
This is a day traditionally held sacred to all women, honoring the sacred feminine and the Great Goddess in earlier times. For an excellent article with good information on its celebratory aspects (as well as superstitions and misogyny that have accrued around it), click HERE.
Who comprehends her? With whom can one consult concerning this Great Goddess?
--Ludwig van Beethoven
I took another tangling class today, this one with Heidi Halpern Kay, a talented artist who has been teaching for only one year. She has no website that I can find, but she's active on Pinterest and Facebook. My hope in taking all these recent classes has been that they would inspire me to get back my creative mojo. I think it's working, although I won't know until I begin doing my own designs again.
This tile introduced me to Ecoline Markers, which I had never used before. Very interesting. I'll be doing a lot more experimenting. Tangles: Printemps, Hollibaugh, Pokeroot/Pokeleaf, Mooka. Ecoline Markers, Copic Markers, White Gellyroll, White chalk pencil, White Uniball Signo Pen, Sakura Multiliner pen. That's a lotta art supplies!
The big news for me is that I've begun another hooked rug. It's not at the stage where I can show anything; everything so far is just experimental and it will be awhile until I have something to show. This is one reason I think I'm starting to get back some mojo. Hurrah!
"What art offers is space--a certain breathing room for the spirit."
More life-busyness means less posting. The good news is that I'm feeling better. I've continued to play with art tissue paper, the type of tissue paper that comes in dramatic colors and bleeds when wet. I've been wetting it, then squeezing it above wet Zentangle® tiles to see what it does, and/or crushing it and smashing it around directly on the tiles. This first tile was the result of the "dropping stain onto the tile from above" method:
I still feel a bit wobbly about the Icanthis tangle, so it will probably show up here more often while I practice it.
More tiles below. I switched tissue paper colors and both dropped color on and also mashed it on. This was violet-colored tissue paper and it was interesting to notice how as the staining dried, some pure blue began to seep out. There was absolutely no way I could avoid seeing these backgrounds as moon-and-sky (the first one) and evening sky. So, I built some Moon Bridges and left the tiles as mostly background, minimal tangling. Great fun with this art tissue, as you never know what you're going to get.
I was so surprised by those two.
Well then, of course I had to experiment some more, so I ran Moon Bridges #2 through a mirror app on my iPhone and was startled to see some figures emerge. See the result below.
The destination cannot be described;
You will know very little until you get there;
You will journey blind.
(T. S. Eliot)
As far as I can remember, I have only ever done this tangle once, and that was years ago. So I wasn't sure if this would end up becoming "Hellish" or "Ellish." I do like the way it turned out and I need to practice more to allow myself to relax right from the start.
Speaking of hellish, the outdoor temperature is warming up and humidity is just beginning to slide in this direction; my all-time least favorite weather. I can tolerate cold far better than heat. Ok, enough of that!
Yesterday I broke out my gellyroll pens, which I haven't used since I can't remember when, and played with another grid-based tangle, this one a fragment from the Zentangle® book, Reticula and Fragments. (A "reiticula" is just another name for "grid.")
In love with this weather? I'm happy for you! (You've certainly waited long enough for it after the long cold rainy spring.). "Hellish" or Coolish, we all welcome summer. There is so much to enjoy. May yours be a wonderful one.
"The difficult part of the process is the long exploration and discovery of your own soul and living with the results."
Same tangle as yesterday's post, Haf n Haf, with each square turned a different way (and a few more lines too). Same art tissue paper used, so the colors are lighter and I didn't cover the entire tile.
I added a bit of colored pencil in spots and a bit of graphite for shading. Yesterday's tile had neither shading nor any additional color.
Life is 'trying things to see if they work.' --Ray Bradbury
This tangle--really a fragment--is called Haf n Haf, by Dennie York CZT. It has endless possibilities depending on which way each square is turned. I wanted to practice it so drew this very wonky grid on a tile I had colored by first wetting it and then pressing various shades of art tissue paper on it. (Note to self: have hand soap at the ready in the future!)
Later I re-used the same tissue papers and got a similar color on another tile, just lighter. I will be experimenting more with this tangle so you'll see it again.
That was the "experiment" part of the title of today's post. Now for the "compassion" part.
Today, this bag (see below) arrived in the mail from my talented friend and sewer extraordinaire, Kate Lamontaigne of Kamala Boutique. I bought it online a couple of days ago; all the money went to help Travis Barone, a kid who had an unexpected brain event about three weeks ago when he was 17 (I think he has just turned 18). His mother is Kelly Barone, a much-beloved CZT (Certified Zentangle® Teacher). Travis was originally paralyzed from the neck down but I think he's regained the use of his upper torso/arms/hands. He has a very long recovery ahead. Hopefully he can get back all of his former health, but I don't think anyone knows at this point. Kate made 50 bags--each in a different fabric--and sold them with all the money going to Kelly and Travis to assist with his recovery.
I love the bag! And the fabric I chose is a tangle-like pattern. A great way to support Travis and his mom. To see if Kate has any bags left, go to the link for Kamala Boutique above and ask her. To contribute to Travis's recovery, go to the Go Fund Me page set up for him.
Tangling on a tan coffee filter with a blue watercolor wash (prepped by Cheryl Cianci, CZT, after she first used the filter to make her coffee, rinsed it, and put the wash on it; then dried it--Thanks for doing all that prep work Cheryl!). Tangles are Mooka, and a variation of Flux, as well as the embedded letters technique without any letters. PN Blue Micron, General's Pastel Pencils, White Gellyroll, Prismacolor Pencils.
I managed to avoid all the other things I was supposed to be doing today when I heard that my friend Cheryl Cianci, CZT, was offering her coffee-filter class again. I only discovered this at the very last minute and raced out the door hoping to make it on time. I had taken the class about 4-5 years ago but my experience of Cheryl is that there's always something new and it was utterly relaxing as usual. She is the soul of kindness, and hugely talented.
Much gratitude to all who teach.
This somewhat overworked tile (I must admit I like it anyway) is the product of tangling over 3 days. I started it during another night of insomnia and finished this afternoon when I absolutely should have been doing something else, not this. But I couldn't help it.
Below are some of the earlier versions leading up to this finish.
Done on a ten-inch square tan Opus Tile with brown and black Micron 01s, General's colored chalk pencils, white gellyroll pen, and mucho graphite. Completed over several days for the #zenuari2018 project day 20, "Maze." (This is not a maze; it's a labyrinth--they are two different things but often incorrectly used as synonyms.)
It's been that kind of week--labyrinthine. So many twists and turns. We keep walking and we trust we will find our way in to the center and then out again on this challenging journey.
I hope we are in the center now and will soon find our way out to resume our lives.
I am still far from home, helping out my friend who is receiving daily treatments. She is close to the end, however--only three more and she will be done and we will return to our respective homes. A huge complicating factor has been the sudden illness of someone in her family; it certainly has increased the pressure on her to finish here and go home. There is much uncertainty.
And yet, we know we just need to keep walking along on the path before us, and trust we will get where we need to be. In fact, we are already where we need to be, and we just need to remember that.
It took me a few days to do this piece as it's so large. I learned a lot in the doing and will try again for better results.
My friend also tangles and finds it therapeutic as she waits for appointments. She is talented and here is one of her latest efforts, a Zendala done on a tile which she had pre-treated with a Fine-Tec paint gold wash. Isn't this spectacular? (I have her permission to publish this photo)
Those metallic Fine-Tec watercolors are so inspiring.
"A labyrinth is a symbolic journey … but it is a map we can really walk on, blurring the difference between map and world."
— Rebecca Solnit, in Wanderlust: A History of Walking
I am home for just a little more than 24 hours, then will be gone again. Packing cubes have saved my life and are keeping me organized as I make all these trips--thanks and blessings to the friend who introduced me to them. (If you do not know what they are, google them. Fabulous tools.)
"Returning" feels wonderful. And in the tangle below, I was returning to a tile idea that we explored in a workshop late last year; but this time I used different "fillers." I'm not totally crazy about it but it was peaceful to work on and I do like it overall. That's all I ask!
This is another Zenuari2019 tile, for day 19. The prompt was "Hefty Hack." HUH??? I had no idea what that meant. So I went back to the original instructions, which read something like: "Toss some water on a tile. Then take a plastic bag, scrunch it up, and put some watercolors you like directly on the bag. Then take the scrunched-up bag and daub it onto the tile."
Okay...so maybe it was called the "Hefty Hack" because "Hefty" is the name of a type of plastic bag in the USA? But the person who runs Zenuari is Dutch. Perhaps "Hefty" has a different meaning in the Netherlands? Because here in the USA, my only reference for Hefty bags is the VERY large kitchen or garden trash bags. She can't have meant to use one of those on a 3.5" tile.
It was all irrelevant to me, as--because I was away from home when I did this--I had no access to watercolors or plastic bags. I was able to borrow some watercolor pencils from my friend, and after wetting the tile I applied them to the wet spots and tried to move the colors around. It didn't work well but I did end up liking the effect anyway. I'll have to try it again with real watercolors and a small plastic bag.
Oh how I wish we could find a way to truly and effectively recycle plastics. We have completely messed up our planet with them, and we've done it all in less than a hundred years. There must be a way to clean up our mess.
"If your heart is broken, make art with the pieces."
Basically no time to write today. My friend is doing well but because of other circumstances (not my story to tell), we are still on the emotional rollercoaster.
My heart is broken by some of what I see of the other patients at the treatment center, especially the sick children. May they all heal, including their parents and caretakers. May all be at peace; may all be well.
Sure enough, I had the thing laminated this afternoon (see yesterday's post for an explanation of "the thing") and then with the help of an x-acto knife and 3 minutes of work, cut a center hole and installed the works.
Voila, a completed Zentangle® Spinner.
As I mentioned yesterday, I'm thinking about wheels/mandalas, etc., of which this is only one.
The big one--the Full Moon--was shining in my bedroom window so brightly last night that I thought she was going to come right through the glass and join me. So I'll be calling this my Full Moon Spinner.
Now if we could all just learn from the quote below...
“You develop an instant global consciousness, a people orientation, an intense dissatisfaction with the state of the world, and a compulsion to do something about it. From out there on the moon, international politics look so petty. You want to grab a politician by the scruff of the neck and drag him a quarter of a million miles out and say, ‘Look at that, you son of a bitch.”
― Edgar Mitchell
This week's Solstice (yesterday) caused me to start thinking about wheels, as in the Wheel of the Year and how that wheel is turning once again. I've had wheels on the brain. For example, the Wheel in the tarot (see my previous post on the Wheel of Fortune card HERE), plus I just finished a Zentangle® project that had me creating a wheel, below.
The above wheel is going to grow up to be a "Spinner Board," once its spinner arm is inserted thru the hole in its center. Before I do that, I'm thinking I will need to laminate and back the piece. There are 55 different tangles on the piece, and I'm guessing it's about 9x9". It was fun to do and took twelve days, tangling for about a half hour each day. It's part of Zentangle's Project Pack 04 and all the relevant how-to videos are on YouTube.
In the process of doing this, my already messy desk grew completely out of control, so today I went on a massive cleaning binge. It should be noted that, for me, a "massive cleaning binge" is equivalent to picking up one piece of paper from the floor. I did not get the cleaning gene. I was happily raised in Lower Slobbovia.
But today I swept my large desk clean and forced myself to sort through things and create a semblance of order. It's quite shocking. More work has to be done tomorrow but here is the progress so far. (Wish me luck with maintenance...not a strength either)
Apparently the wheel turned into a Wheel of Progress for me. At least for the next 24 hours.
Happy Solstice to all...
Darn the wheel of the world! Why must it continually turn over? Where is the reverse gear?
I stand and rejoice every time I see a woman ride by on a wheel.
--Susan B. Anthony
None of these are my work. But I am a sucker for lotus flowers, and these are so stunning I have to share them.
First is a photograph taken by Paula Swenson at a botanical garden in Thailand:
I am in love with that photo.
Next, two images of lotuses in watercolor painted by Walter Cudnohufsky of Ashland MA:
I'm lucky enough to own both of these paintings.
They will help me to remember...
"No mud, no lotus."
--Thich Nhat Hanh
Oh my, another sunny day. They are increasingly rare, and so I treasure them. It's downright cheerful outdoors, though cold. Great to see the sun.
So where's the fog? I did this tile this morning as part of my continuing experiment with incising tiles rather than using pen on them. So it's done only with a stylus, graphite, and after that I used some watercolor pencils to add a bit of color. I thought it came out quite "foggy."
This was done for the final piece of the Gratitangles2018 Project (November) and is the tile for day 30. I am officially done and really enjoyed the month. As I was doing this tangle this morning, I was grateful for whoever invented Gratitangles, and grateful that I had a chance to participate. I hope I can continue this practice of being-grateful-while-tangling. It makes a big difference in mood.
I'm intrigued by experiments with the incision technique and plan to continue them a bit. These truly are experiments. Here is one (below) that didn't work so well. I did this on a Bijou tile (2x2") and used General's Chalk Pencils for color...in order to get the color I had to rub fairly hard and I noticed the wonderful Fabriano Tiepolo paper did NOT like the rubbing. You can see that it was beginning to shred.
I'll put that on in the "No fail, no learn" category and I'm glad I tried it. I have some other ideas that may work better on the Fabriano Tiepolo paper.
“When I started counting my blessings, my whole life turned around.”
Another piece for the Grati-tangle2018 Project. This is the start of Thanksgiving Week here in the USA, and it's good to be actively looking for things to be thankful for in these very troubling times.
As I worked on this one, I really focused line-by-line and enjoyed the meditative aspect of the drawing. I was thinking about how fortunate I am to have a home, food, warm clothing, and good friends. All things that so many people in this world do not have. I was also thinking about how happy I am that my friend who has been dealing with a very tough health issue is on the mend...not that it will be speedy, but she is getting better.
Lastly, I was grateful for having found this Oriental rug at a local auction last Friday night and paying next to nothing for it. Only one other person bid on it and I won.
My friend Susie from Thailand and I were discussing images of Buddha and agreeing that one doesn't have to be religious or have any belief in Buddhism to enjoy the wonderful art inspired by his history. The art on its own is peaceful. She commented on this after seeing the white-clay Buddha in my previous post (July 20th).
I drew the picture above several years ago, probably around the time I bought that small white ceramic tile. It represents the "old" in the title of this post.
It's true--just looking at images of Buddha always makes me feel calmer, and I remember feeling that way when I drew this. As a long-time meditation practitioner, I'm interested in Buddhism for its psychological value--it is a truly wonderful way to challenge our own thoughts, and to learn kindness. I'm happy the West has finally discovered the wisdom of Buddhist thought, and at the same time, I never think of Buddhism as a religion and do not believe that the Buddha ever intended it would become a "religion" with all the attendant dogma.
Far from it.
After digging out that drawing today, I thought I'd spend some time tangling, trying out a tangle called Zonked, by Barbara Finwall. Susie had just done her version of Zonked (see the 3rd tile down in her post) which I loved, and she inspired me. While testing it out, I added Hanny Waldburger's tangle Namaste, in honor of of Buddha. This represents the "new" in today's post title. Here is the result.
If you are also a fan of Buddha-heads, you may want to check out Virginia Peck's lovely art here.
And now, it's time for me to go meditate.
...during which, I promptly fell completely asleep. Which suggested to me I needed to wake up and keep tangling. First I finished the meditation, then I did this. While not my greatest result, I like it on several levels.
You know, I'm not much of a fan of drawing hearts. I like seeing them when others draw them, but somehow I am just not attracted to doing it myself.
But in trying to learn to draw knots, I was asked to do just that--draw a simple heart border and convert it to Celtic interlaced knots. And when I finished, I was most definitely thinking about hearts--our globally connected hearts--and how much pain the world is in today. The focus required to draw interconnecting bands on knots reminds me of how we forget every day that we are dependent on each other to survive, and dependent on each other's love and kindness. We forget and forget and forget.
I want to remember.
There was another school shooting in the US today. My heart breaks, and continues to break, because of these repetitive, mindless, violent, deadly shootings, the innocent victims, and their families.
It felt very right to be drawing hearts, and connecting them.
Here's what I ended up with:
Certainly the calligraphy isn't great because this is just a practice draft, but I am happy with the final result.
Here was where I began (Step One in pencil), and below that, here's what it looked like inked in (Step Two).:
I've been taking a fabulous SkillShare Course on Celtic Knots offered by Sadelle Wiltshire, of whom I am a fangirl. She makes wonderful art you can see on her webpages, HERE or HERE.
Interlaced. Interconnected. We are. We must be. When will we learn to remember?
"Having a soft heart in a cruel world is courage, not weakness."
Last week of the "Sketching and Watercolor" Course. It has been hard to keep up, although I can't exactly say why. Probably the fear of failure and fear of the blank page. Along with a healthy dose of "comparanoia," the paralyzing factor that happens when everyone's asked to post their pictures online--it's just too easy to start comparing, and often belittling one's own efforts.
So here's this final assignment, starting with the original object, a coffee pot.
I was looking at the pot from a slightly different angle than the photograph. I did a preliminary pencil sketch, inked it with waterproof ink, and then erased the pencil. After which, practically holding my breath, I picked up my waterbrush...
It ain't perfect, but I like it. Although I still feel verklempt about my progress with watercolor, I'm ok with this result. I may have whined at producing the weekly assignments, but it kept me working. And I know that when I'm working--practicing--some improvement will eventually happen.
I hope to keep working on my own. And yet...
Life does have a way of distracting us. Waiting in the wings and calling my name are (in no particular order):
"It is not enough to be busy. So are the ants. The question is: What are we busy about?"
--Henry David Thoreau
Here is the finish to yesterday's project:
Next came the homework for the sketching & watercolor course: painting a shoe. I'd done the prelminary sketching a few days ago (the November 4th post) and decided to re-draw and paint it from another angle. Here's the painting.
The drawing went fine, but as usual the painting didn't go well. The sole (the black thing under the shoe) did not end up looking like a sole. The real sandals are all-gray with a hint of gold where the light hits them. I feel "meh" about this painting.
Once the course is over (just another week) I'll be taking a more casual approach to learning watercolor. Something doesn't quite feel right for me with this course. She's a wonderful artist and teacher (I love her stuff), but perhaps she's beyond me at the moment. Still, I'm glad I did it. She's been great about providing feedback to every single one of a very large number of participants.
On the upside: I'm continuing to make progress on the kitchen and am actually finished. Until I live with it for a few weeks and begin to get a sense of where I would be better off moving things. That needs time, but everything's in an initial place for now. No more boxes! I cannot believe what a difference unpacking this room has made to me. I suddenly feel more optimistic and have a lot more mental space. Everything feels better. This is the half of the kitchen that has all the supplies for dyeing wool in one place:
"Organizing is what you do before you do something, so that when you do it, it's not all mixed up."
~A.A. Milne, Winnie the Pooh
"In any household, junk accumulates to fill the space available for its storage."
~Boston's Irreversible Law of Clutter
"Don't own so much clutter that you will be relieved to see your house catch fire." ~Wendell Berry
As I've mentioned in previous posts, I've been in intensive learning mode--taking a course on sketching and watercolor. I've been failing regularly in my attempts. And I'm also learning a lot. You can see previous entries on this experience HERE (the start of the series), HERE (scroll down to the bottom to see that one), HERE, and HERE.
It seems I can only do one thing at a time, though, so no tangling has been happening. I look forward to getting back to that. I am able to knit in the evenings, so I've been making Knitted Knockers (soft knitted prostheses for breast cancer survivors) and will soon have about 60 of them to ship out for distribution. Today I went to the local yarn shop and picked up these yarns for future Knockers: [If you knit, I hope you will seriously consider making Knockers for women who need them post surgery.]
I have also been unpacking and the kitchen is nearly ready. Given that I do not know how to cook, how ready does it need to be? Well, once I get back to rug hooking, it needs to be ready for me to dye yarn and wool. Today I moved my "dye chest" into the kitchen, and more equipment will come. I'm very encouraged about this.
Here are my most recent drawings and watercolors. I hesitate to even term these "watercolors" as I'm truly struggling with the waterbrush and trying to resist going back to regular brushes.
Let me begin with a photo of the actual roses I was trying to capture, in their vase. Both roses were well-past their prime and beginning to die by the time I finally got to start drawing them.
Here is my teacher's comment on this painting--and I agree with it:
"In this version, the vase became the focal point, rather than the rose. Another really lovely drawing and color, but I think what is missing is the whites of the page and the lights on the flower. Well done!"
The final compliment was kind of her, but the analysis about the vase becoming the focal point is exactly right.
Before I saw her comment, though, I had decided to go back and try to add to this with another layer of color, to better shade it...
The teacher hasn't commented on this drawing yet.
I was so frustrated working on it. Once again I had the sense that the paint got away from me despite my best efforts.
And yet...it's overworked, but I think it's also stronger.
More importantly, every time I try this, and fail in epic fashion as I have so far, I do learn something.
In fact, I am chronicling this in public all because I so strongly believe that we often learn best by failing. Certainly we can choose to resist learning from failures, but usually the lessons are so "loud and clear," they can lead to real success if we can heed them.
Or so I hope! Ha.
Which brings me to one of my all-time favorite quotes:
"Success consists of going from failure to failure, without lost of enthusiasm."
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