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.
I'm not blue, I just worked a bit with blue today. Two tangles totally new to me.
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."
Some simple warm-ups and practices from the online course I'm taking. I have a long way to go but I'm having fun and quite like a few of these.
And finally, because I can't resist: we are seeing some autumnal colors arriving very late in the season. Here is the tiny tree out my front window. It was green as recently as 48 hours ago, and then suddenly...
This is a photo of a spirit rock. No, it doesn't refer to the remarkable meditation center in California. But it certainly it relates to meditation. A dear friend made it, covering the tiny stone with her hand-netting and adding those tiny beads She gave it to me as a housewarming gift. Both of us know that doing this kind of work is highly meditative--it's why I'm so drawn to art at this point in my life, along with a daily meditation practice.
Stones have always held a lot of symbolism for me, especially river rocks with their smooth round shapes and heft. They are symbols of wholeness, endurance, and comfort.
I will enjoy this sweet gift for a long time. It is so lovely to connect with much-valued old friends.
"A rugged stone grows smooth from hand to hand."
"Our lives are unique stones in the mosaic of human experience--priceless and irreplaceable."
--Henri J.M. Nouwen
Meanwhile, I cannot decide if I'm enjoying the "sketching and watercolor" course or not. I'm a bit puzzled by why I'm having so much trouble with the watercolor and specifically with the brush (watercolor brush). If it weren't the 2nd brush I've tried--with similar issues--I'd say the brush is leaking. Too much water swishing around, and you can see it's leaking outside the bounds of the apple (yes, apple...not a tomato) above. I could go on and on, but I won't. Let's just say I haven't had this experience before, not that I've had much experience at all. I'll keep going with this and see what happens. It's tough not to just grab my colored pencils, though.
In watercolor, if you are not in trouble, then you're in trouble.
In watercolour, particularly, it's almost always better to chuck than fix.
--Joe Joseph P. Blodgett
...Really? Guess I'll find out.
This is my first try at an assignment to sketch and paint some fruit for Jane LaFazio's course. I think it's going to be a lot of fun.
Hey, I can only get better, right?
That just has to be true. This is not my best work, to put it mildly. Ha. i assume I'll improve with practice.
After all, Oscar Wilde said: "Bad art is better than no art at all." Thank you, Oscar.
Needing new walking shoes that were not clogs, I realized I didn't want to buy something boring. I wanted to break out of my usual conservative wear.
I met that goal, with this new pair.
Of course, the result may terrify you. It did me. At first.
Then I decided to get over the terror and wear them, and now I quite like them.
Not to mention how much they distract everyone I meet.
Just to be sure you realize the full effect, here is a larger photo of just one of the pair. By showing only one shoe, I hope to avoid inducing a seizure in any viewer who may be extra sensitive to something so strobe-alicious. You may want to wear sunglasses for this larger view. NOTE: I am not responsible for any side effects you may incur by looking at this photo.
Finally, on a somewhat calmer note...
There is a "gem craze" going on in the Zentangle® community at the moment. Since I've been focused elsewhere (mainly on dyeing yarn for my upcoming rug), I've been ignoring it but today I completely hit a wall and could not tolerate dyeing even one more skein of yarn. I just had to clean up the incredible mess and disorganization in my kitchen.
So I did.
And then I sat down and tried drawing gems.
After which I had a little iPhone fun with that same photo.
What a week. I would never have thought to do this if it hadn't been our homework assignment for this week from Sketchbook Skool, but I am so glad I did. It's the "Parade of Selfies."
#'s 1 and 3 look the most like me. #6 fits well into the "Who is THAT?" category. The two Blind Contour ones are simply hilarious. I actually love all of them. More commentary after the photos. (Scroll over each to see what the assignment was.)
So, that #6 Selfie (2nd row, bottom right). Did that today. On the one hand, it looks absolutely nothing like me. There's a lot I got wrong. On the other hand, I can see some resemblance for sure. I actually like it a lot even though I wouldn't call it a "success" by the measure of how much it looks like me. So why do I like it? Because I learned a lot while doing it; I learned a lot about shading, about crosshatching, about watercolor, and just learned a lot also about what can go wrong. I am actually very pleased.
What a week of learning! To be doing this with hundreds of other students, all of us posting things daily, was remarkable. There were the inevitable comparisons and "Oh I wish I could do that" issues, but the big take-aways were 1) how many of us were willing to even try; 2) how many of us posted comments laced with self-criticism, and 3) how many people insisted "this doesn't look anything like me," which may have been true. Or, may not have been true. Finally, 4) how many students hated the assignment, or found it "painful."
I realized in reading the posts how many people truly do not like to look at themselves as they are, warts and all. That made me sad. And my, how self-critical we all are! If we aren't critical about the "art," we're horribly critical about how we look.
I get that, but it too feels sad to me.
Each day I felt like I was rolling out another aspect of myself. My selfies ALL look like me in some way, shape, or form, even if they aren't photographic reflections. I had such fun! It was hard to find the time to do it (partly time, partly fear), but when I finally sat down to work I just had a blast. There was the uncanny sense that I was discovering things about myself every day, as I saw things I had never seen before.
Someone posted a link to Rembrandt's selfies, which are funny and quirky and honest. Ditto with Van Gogh's. There was a big discussion on Rembrandt's nose, and how he handled it when doing selfies. I was curious to notice that no one mentioned Frida Kahlo's self-portraits, which have been the subject of so much discussion in the art world. I will be studying these and other self-portraits carefully. FINALLY I see the value of doing these on a regular basis. Here are just a few points:
I'm exhausted (this took time!) and SO GLAD I did this and I hope I keep it up from time to time.
Now, on to the next week of SBS.
Since I got off to a late start with these, I am trying to make up for lost time. First another quick contour drawing (contour = don't pick up the pencil once you put it down on the page). I am a suspicious looking dame, eh?
...and then a quick sketch from the mirror. Tossed in just a bit of color but didn't have time to do the entire thing. I look even more suspicious here. Or maybe startled? Perhaps I have a profitable future in caricature.
Ah yes, the monkey. To be clear on what I'm talking about, check out Danny Gregory's short piece today--he's writing a book on what he calls "the monkey on our backs" when it comes to doing art. He includes a very brief illustration of his own monkey at work in the post.
In my case, it's monkeys, plural. I appear to have several of them. I don't think I'm that unusual.
So here are two pieces of my Sketchbook Skool (SBS) assignment for last week, called "Fast and Slow." The assignment was: pick something reasonably complex, really LOOK at it and, using watercolor and a big brush, do a FAST DRAWING in one minute or less. Just a fast gesture to get the overall picture.
Can I tell you how long I put this off, how many excuses I made not to try it? I couldn't find my watercolors. I was too tired. I needed to do other things I was responsible for. I wanted to finish the library book that was due in just a few days (actually I had two more weeks). And on and on. Monkey-monkey-monkey. Ugh.
I used a pine cone for a model, so here's my fast drawing.
After doing that, I went out and ran some errands to let the paint dry, then came back and did the slow version, using a brown micron pen and a black micron pen to create a sketch (on top of the watercolor) where I really looked at the pine cone and tried just to record what I could see. I lost track of time so have no idea how long this took but am guessing 30-45 minutes.
The outcome, while not a masterpiece, was really fun and I rather like it. The process was also fun. I'm not quite sure I've grasped the concept of why we did this...I am thinking that it's all about seeing "fast," and then really moving in and seeing "slow," and how both processes can add to really being able to see the object. Once we learn to see it, then drawing it becomes simply a process of copying. Ok, that makes it sound boring, which it isn't--copying very precisely takes one completely out of one's thinking mind and is ridiculously satisfying. It's anything but boring.
Here are photos of: 1) the real pine cone; 2) the "fast" watercolor; 3) the "slow" sketch.
This is only my second try at doing a pine cone. Curiously, I tried doing the exact same thing in a long-ago watercolor class that I took, a three-hour one-shot class. I was horrified by the result, which I was absolutely certain looked more like a turd that a pine cone. I somehow managed NOT to throw it out, though (a fact I can't explain to this day, because I remember being really embarrassed that I had apparently drawn a turd). Years later I found it in an old journal and was really surprised to see that it looked like...a pine cone! And was actually quite good. (It's possible it resembles both pine cone AND turd, but who cares) If I can find it, I'll try to get a picture and post it in here.
That's one time the monkey managed to utterly convince me that I'd never learn to draw. I am so thankful that I kept that old sketch, and could look at it more objectively years later. Monkey mind, monkey mind--something most of us need to firmly ignore when we try to create. So right now, I'm going to go off and do a bit of mindfulness meditation, which always helps with monkeys, slow or fast.
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