A couple of years ago I really got into drawing Celtic knots because drawing them has such meditative properties. I discovered it's nearly impossible to think while drawing them (not thinking is inevitably very relaxing). Eventually I forgot about about doing this and time passed.
There's now some type of challenge going 'round on the internet related to drawing them. I saw a couple of "prompts"--suggestions for how to start, but I couldn't understand them. So I tracked down their author and ended up taking a short e-course with her. So glad I did! This is my first attempt at what was a very different approach to drawing the knots than I'd ever heard before.
Just as meditative, but entirely different. I am very interested in learning more. She uses a stencil to create a grid, but I didn't have that so I just free-handed the grid and set about sketching. In the top part of the picture you can see my initial attempt, which didn't work. I set out to begin again (same language as meditation: "begin again"), and ended up producing what's on the bottom of the photo. While hardly a masterpiece, I am happy with it and plan to do more practice. Sure enough, it was equally impossible to think while doing this, and incredibly satisfying. If you want to try it yourself, go HERE and check out her courses.
This is a partial shot of my current punch needle embroidery project. No, it is not for Halloween. All shall be revealed eventually.
It's a very "fiddly" and challenging project but I think the fiddly & challenging stuff is done and now it's all just fill-in-the-background. Smooth sailing from here on in. Except:
I hope I don't live to eat those words. Hmmm. You know how that goes--you're thinking, "Ok, it'll all be easy from here!" And the next think you know...Murphy's Law: "You can never run out of things that can go wrong." Oh wait, I think I'm scaring myself! <chuckle>
I needed something quick to work on a couple of weeks ago, so i paid $3 and downloaded this sweet digital punch needle pattern from the Oxford Company website. I believet Cotey Gallagher was the designer; you can see all the variations people have done on the site.
I shrank the pattern on my computer so that it would fit in a punch needle embroidery frame for portability. My finished picture is only about 9" x 6" (the original pattern is larger) and I punched it using the Ultra Punch needle set on #2 with woolen sock yarns. I haven't steamed or finished it yet (binding it); that will come next. It'll probably be put on a toolbag I'll use for embroidery supplies. Short and sweet!
Let's see: D for the Dharma, for daylight, for delight, for deliberate. Also for do-over, for doubt, for demand, for "duh...", for ditto...I could go on, but won't. This is another illustrated letter using sketchbook paper (5x7"), black Micron 01, watercolor and colored pencil, plus a bit of graphite and white gellyroll. Great fun to do. Tangles are: Rixty, Tipple, Mooka, Printemps, Flux, Moonpie, I Can This, Zinger.
An illustrated alphabet. I'm making a start with the letter "A" but I've no idea how far I will pursue this. And I probably won't do the letters in order. This was great fun. I took a class with Kelly Barone (whimsybykelly.com) who is a wonderful watercolorist, art educator, and Certified Zentangle® Teacher (CZT).
On multi-media sketchbook paper (5x7") using a Micron 01 and graphite. Back to basics.
"Baby Duncan #1" approximately 8"x10" Koigu sock yarn and a variety of Valdani cotton embroidery floss in size 8, 6-strand DMC scavenged from second-hand shops. Created with the Ultra-Punch medium needle set on a number 2 height. 2023. By permission of WCushing & Co (they have the copyright on the pattern, a Pearl K. McGown design).
I worked on these three punch needle embroideries between April and July this year, since I was unable to hook rugs during that time due to a temporary medical situation (now happily resolved). I used the Ultra Punch medium needle on a #2 height and mixed sock yarns and cotton floss in all of them. After getting permission from W Cushing & Co <wcushing.com> I made these 3 to show possible variations to the basic pattern.
At W. Cushing & Co's request, I made a copy of the hand-drawn pattern for them--they are now making it available on their website. If you want to try your own hand at making a "Baby Duncan," you can buy the pattern. Much easier than drawing it yourself.
One word of caution: If you haven't ever done punchneedle EMBROIDERY before, I would not begin with this pattern. Do something simple first, like embroidering a few random circles and squares, to be sure you get the technique. Once you've done that, go ahead and try this. And here's a hint: begin punching in one of the corners. That way, if you can test out your colors and alter them before you get too far into your punching. Enjoy.
Below is a quick side-by-side view of The Triplets:
I had to laugh when I put them together--up until then I thought I'd made them all the same size! Um, NO. Because I had to hand-draw each pattern (Cushing hadn't printed my pattern at that point, so I was free-handing it every time), they all came out slightly different sizes.
My rug above, was one of 17 Duncan rugs displayed at the Sauder Village Annual Rug Show Week (2023) in the "Special Exhibit" category.
I've just gotten back from the long drive and it was truly worth it. There were over 700 rugs (yes, you read that correctly) hung for this show. Amazing and inspiring.
You can see all 17 Duncans in the exhibit HERE, in a short video taken by Lisanne Miller of WCushing & Co in Maine. Cushing owns the pattern (it's a very late Pearl McGown pattern, one of the last geometrics she designed).
Details on my particular variation can be found HERE in a previous blog post from 2020.
Another photo from my sketchbook this morning. This one really made me chuckle--is it an anemone or a padula?
Never heard of a padula? A padula is a made-up flower. In other words, not a particular specific, identifiable flower. It's the type of flower kids often draw, not an accurate rendering. We use the term in rug hooking to describe those colorful fantasy flowers you often see in old rugs. It may also be a term used in other arts, but I've never heard of it anywhere else.
This is supposed to be an anemone, but I'm not too certain about how accurate it is.
Doesn't matter to me. Drawing it was fun and meditative. That's all I care about.
I'm a bit too busy to do much besides sketch this week (and probably ditto next week) so it will be a few days of hurried contour drawing. i haven't had time to research what these flowers actually look like--this was done from a video by Kelly Barone (Whimsy by Kelly), a botanical artist.
Here's a page from my sketchbook showing some practice at drawing flowers. Kelly Barone of Whimsy by Kelly has a lovely free video series on FB on doing this. I think she began it last year but I'm just able to focus on it now. It was fun to try.
Below you can see all the stages, from line drawing to shading to this result directly below.
As I savored this beauty from my front door during yesterday's sunset I could not help noticing how the grandeur of nature outdoes anything we can do. And how much it can influence our internal "weather" at times. Ahhhhhhhhhhhh...
"Beautiful sunsets need cloudy skies." --Paulo Coelho
It's curious, the parallels I often see between meditation and drawing. In meditation, we might call what happened here, "striving." That is such a common issue in meditation--the idea that one has to get somewhere and work harder and harder to get there. It truly doesn't help. At all.
And here in this drawing I did the equivalent. I was using a smooth tile and chalk pencils. The paper, surprisingly, wasn't loving the chalk. It was the combination of the two, not something I could control. But I kept thinking if I continued working, or rather, OVERworking (a form of striving), I could make it better.
Well, uh-uh. Instead, it just got muddier. It would have been better if I'd used colored pencils rather than chalk pencils.
I realized this at the start of the tile but was having too much fun to make the switch.
I like it anyway because it was fun and involved one brand-new tangle and one that I forget to use. I often say this about the drawings i am not enamored of, right after I finish. Sometimes when I look at them later, I really do like them. Often, in fact. And sometimes I don't. But the reasons I'm happy anyway are: 1) just the act of drawing brings joy to me; and 2) learning art--and I most certainly am a learner--is all about quantity. Practice, practice, practice. As I said in my last post, any practice, even practice that produces something "meh," is bound to build skill.
Bring it on.
Whew, it's so interesting how after 3 months of not drawing (because I've been obligated to focus on textile projects with deadlines), it takes a while to get back on board. Between 2 major surgeries (all is well) and the need to focus on textile work, I have hardly drawn or tangled for a year. I just cannot believe how great it feels to be working this way again.
Beginners Mind, a meditation concept that is vastly useful in all areas of daily life, is helpful here. Begin again. Begin again. Begin again. And above all, practice.
Practice is the best of all instructors.
- Publillius Syrus
Everything is practice.
Oh my gosh. The last time I got to draw was May 5th. Way, WAY too long for me. Last night I finally got back to it and it felt sooooo good.
I am definitely rusty, rusty, rusty. This is overworked, and yet, I just loved every minute of doing it. I couldn't stop after such a long time of no tangling, and that resulted in the overwork (and the lack of sleep since I didn't start the coloring until after 10 pm). But it was worth every second for the pleasure it gave me.
Just the same sort of sigh-of-relief as when you finally get to scratch a bothersome itch.
The linework, before color was added, is on the right.
So what caused this long, long drought? I'm teaching rug hooking in the midwest later this summer and I needed to produce multiple samples for the upcoming class. That has been taking up all my time. I will post the samples soon but now that they are done, I just want to get back to regular rug hooking, punching, and DRAWING.
There will be another short delay while I finish prepping, traveling and teaching. By September I hope to be back to a regular schedule of drawing and blogging.
In the meantime, meditation is keeping me sane and happy throughout this long summer.
Meditation: Because some answers can only be found on the inner net.
– Shira Tamir
This was a terrific learning project! I did so many things wrong, and learned a ton in the process. I won't list them all but I can see them and you probably can as well. I value the piece anyway, precisely because it shows me what I learned.
I was at the Oxford Rug Hooking School in VT a couple of weeks ago for a fine shading workshop with the fabulous Judith Hotchkiss who came to us from Maine. Her unique hand-dyed wools were so much fun to work with. The pattern is Judith's own. I added the beads (which aren't particularly visible in this photo).
At some future point I'm inspired to try more fine shading, but I have several other projects lined up first. In fact I may even try another hydrangea, and prove to myself how much I learned by doing this one. We had a great time!
This is my latest experimental departure from Pearl K. McGown's "Duncan" pattern. First I took the classic pattern, made a tesselated version, and then drew in randomly-located triangles inside each tesselation piece to create something different.
So it's both tesselated and triangled.
Some cursing was involved. But by my standards, not too bad. What is it about cursing that makes things easier? A few choice swear words are good for the soul.
"There ought to be a room in every house to swear in. It's dangerous to have to repress an emotion like that."
So here it is, with the colors added. This was great fun to do. The URL for the video is in yesterday's post, in case you want to try this yourself.
I'm using colors here I do not normally use--not sure what happened there. I am not a "pink" person in normal circumstances but this is what came out.
Contrast it to yesterday's black & white version.
This is only the finished linework for a Zentangle®-inspired piece; I will be adding the color for it, hopefully later today or tomorrow.
If you'd like to try this yourself, it's called "Circus Star" and is free on The Tangled Yogi's YouTube channel. She has an especially lovely meditation at the start of this one, using video footage from a morning walk she took near a lake in California.
AND NOW, IN THE "BEGINNER'S MIND" CATEGORY:
Last Tuesday I was lucky enough to take a digital design workshop with Lucy Richard from Wooly Soul Strings, called "Sketchbook for Hookers." (that would be RUG hookers, people, not the other kind.)
I've been wanting to learn digital art for years now but haven't had time, and I could tell that Lucy's workshop on the Sketchbook app (simpler than Procreate) would teach me the basic concepts.
This was a fabulous workshop and very much a lesson in Beginner's Mind. Talk about FLAILING AROUND. It was a humbling and hilarious experience. Fortunately Lucy is the soul of patience--I'm not kidding about this--and guided us through our bouts of flailing to success.
Or, what constitutes "success" for an abject beginner. Here's what i was able to produce. Yes, it is indeed hideous. But it's my hideous, and I'm proud of it. I can only get better. Right?
It helped to use a couple of mantras throughout: "It's ok, I've never done this before," or "I'm just learning."
And so I'll practice. Begin again, begin again, begin again. Just like meditation. I loved this workshop. Thanks, Lucy! The design possibilities are endless.
Whenever I'm forced to take a long break from tangling, as has been the case recently, it helps me to get started again by using videos. Here's one called, "How to Draw Cell" by TangleDream (click on the title if you want to try it yourself). It's sort of like warming-up for a few days before I launch back into creating my own.
I would call this a high-focus piece; the "string" (the basic form, in Zentangle®) takes concentration but isn't hard if you watch carefully.
A lack of verbal instruction means anyone with any language can follow along--no English needed.
It's always fascinating to see how one can think one is following carefully, and yet the outcome is so different from the original. (I love that. Plus I enjoy adapting things)
Truly, we are all the same. And yet, we are all unique. It shows in so many ways, and art is one.
"...Your handwriting. the way you walk. which china pattern you choose. it's all giving you away. everything you do shows your hand. everything is a self portrait. everything is a diary." --Chuck Palahniuk
Aha, I finally begun tangling again. I hope to be drawing soon too.
This one is not my favorite. I'm not a fan of the way colored pencils work on printmaking paper. But that's all I had on hand, so the grainy-ness couldn't be avoided. Next time I'll get back to using a smooth surface for the colored pencils.
But so meditative to be tangling again.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MK7Lg08UYzA if you would like to try it yourself.
16.5" x 9.5" Punch needle embroidery. The pattern is Green Mountain Gala, ©2022 to the Old Tattered Flag. They offer both a pattern and a pre-planned kit, but I opted for just the pattern and used my own color plan with variegated sock yarns and lace weight yarns in the UltraPunch medium needle set on #2. With 2 painted wooden buttons added. Isn't the pattern elegant? Julie Thomas from OTF is a genius designer.
I've done a zillion punch needle embroideries and truly love this one. Imagine my surprise when the foundation (an excellent quality weavers cloth from Old Tattered Flag) began to shred. I had this happen on another piece years ago and ended up patching and re-punching the shredded part with no problem--but on this piece, for some reason, I couldn't get the patch to hold and tried at least 6 different methods to re-punch with no luck. In the end I sewed on the 2 wooden buttons at the bottom of the piece to hide the shredded foundation. The only other option was to throw the piece out. Wow.
What a puzzle! All the rest of the piece went just fine. I do NOT attribute this to Old Tattered Flag's foundation as all their material is superb quality. And it only "went wrong" in those 2 small areas. I suspect that the yarn I was using--which worked fine everywhere else in the piece--might have had a thickness change at that point and caught in the needle. But I'll never know. One of life's mysteries.
There has been a change in my recovery rate this week and I'm starting to feel somewhat better. I just have to wait things out while my body heals. Probably one more month.
Not being a patient person, it ain't easy. I am still not getting much (any) drawing or tangling done, but I have been able to resume work on my punchneedle embroidery project. I'm beginning the outer border, so here is a preview of a tiny section. It'll take awhile to finish, so this is all I can show. This isn't the best photo but "good enough."
Indeed, it's been awhile.
Another round of surgery for me (nothing life-threatening), much-needed but requiring a lengthy recovery. And I'm not done yet. What I mean to say is, I AM done with the surgery but not anywhere near done with the recovery.
However, I've recovered enough to produce one tangle. Just one, but my first one in two months. That long a pause is almost unheard of for me. I had hoped to do a lot more drawing and tangling in recovery but it hasn't yet been possible.
The good news: Everything is going along well, just as predicted. I may be slow but I'm beginning to be able to "art" again. I've also been doing some punch needle embroidery but that's not at a stage where I can show it. Soon, i hope! I think I have about another 6-8 weeks of recovery to go and then I hope to be back to myself.
Well that's what I do, anyway.
What about you?
On days like this I need a comfort drink (it was -10 or -15° Farenheit last night and I heard "frost quaking" for the first time--who even knew that was a thing? So this morning, in the -5° weather, I treated myself to a good old DD coffee (and added mocha, so hot chocolate).
Oh, the comfort.
Then I drew it.
And finally I ran the drawing thru an iPhone app.
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