I love the life lessons I constantly learn from Zentangle®. This was another big one. I set out to draw one thing, ended up getting hopelessly lost, and by the time I finished the preliminary linework last night and forced myself to stop and go to bed, I was looking at a hot mess. I didn't think it could be salvaged.
But this morning I just had to keep going to see what would happen, and ended up with this--which I quite like. [Although it does bear a resemblance to "St Patrick's Day on Steroids," don't you think? But that's ok, I like it anyway.]
Here are the details for you tanglers out there (no need to read this part if you don't tangle--it could be boring for you): I fell in love with an Emiko Kaneko CZT video (HERE)* and thought I'd give it a try. But I misunderstood what it was: She clearly labeled the video "A Tangleation of Tissooh," but all I saw was "Tissoooh," which is a high-focus tangle by Tomas Padros CZT that I've always wanted to attempt.
Emiko made it look so easy that I was sure I could do it and learn.
Well. I did indeed learn, but not as she intended!
Mine has some resemblance to hers, but I ended up with a lot of weird space in the background, and things are not in the same places as on her tile. So did I learn a lot? You bet. But now I need to go back and find a simple stepout for ONLY Tissooh and have a go at that one tangle--this tile combines Tissooh with something like Bales, Tripoli, and Orbs. However, I do love my outcome.
For years I've heard that it's lways good to learn by copying the masters, and Eri is certainly a master of this art.
For me, the biggest learning is that no matter how bad something looks, it's highly likely that it's worth it to try and save the thing. Or as the I Ching would say: "Perseverance furthers."
*Thank you to Susie Ngamsuwan for catching the fact that I'd attributed this tile and video to the wrong CZT. Wow, much appreciated.
Note: I've been doing a LOT of copying lately, along with watching videos and going along with them. I always credit people as I'm copying. I'm on a mission to learn from a wide variety of tanglers whose skills I admire, and if that means I am copying for awhile, that's ok. It's a powerful way to practice.
Here are three quotes about copying as an effective tool in learning art:
It would have been the equivalent of Jackson Pollock's attempts to copy the Sistine Chapel. (Malcolm Cowley)
But Shakespeare's magic could not copied be;
Within that circle none durst walk but he. (John Dryden)
If my students seem to copy me when they are learning, that is good. It shows they are listening and trying to do what I tell them. They will develop their own style soon enough. (William Draper)
Finally, I took these two photos only one minute apart. The first one, on the left, was taking on a white background in indirect daylight. The second one--using the same camera with no setting changed--was taken a minute later on the blue background and in direct sunlight. WOW--look at the difference! It might as well be two different pieces, but it isn't. Isn't that incredible! It never fails to amaze me how light and a different color in the background can make the same thing look totally different.
PS: The one on the left is the actual coloring of the tile.
Looking out the window this morning, I noticed the back yard appeared to be covered in light snow, but of course it was merely cottonwood puffs adhering to the grass.
It's that time of year again, when we have a blizzard of them floating gracefully down to earth. As I look outside just now, I see them coming down at the rate of a snow-squall, despite the late spring warmth and the heavily leafed-out trees.
From what I recall, this goes on for weeks. Two weeks? Three? This area was (and still is) a major source of poplar wood. The leaves of the poplar (another name for the Cottonwood) are somewhat heart-shaped and may have inspired the following tangle. Or not.
This was inspired by a class from this spring's "Artifex Eruditio," (Latin for "Art Learner"). Actually the class sample looked absolutely nothing like this--I went entirely off-road as usual, so mine doesn't look like anything that was taught in the class. I did some of the line work yesterday, more this morning, and then added color this afternoon.
I am not usually fond of using hearts in my pieces, so I'm blaming this on the fact that it's Cottonwood Season.
I am a very fortunate person. Very. Yesterday, a weekend day, I had to call for help twice: My air conditioning broke in this very hot weather (mice in the compressor chewed thru the wires and blew a fuse) and later I had to call a plumber because of a leak in my kitchen faucet spewing water everywhere. Why is that lucky? Because when I called, both of them came within 60-90 minutes even though it was a weekend, both were wonderful and both problems got resolved completely.
I'm also very lucky because I have water. And because I even have air conditioning. But especially because I have water, when so many in the world do not have safe drinking water for miles, let alone in their homes. I know how lucky I am.
Below are two pieces: the first is my attempt to draw a tangle called Drawings (pronounced "Draw-Wings"). I've never been all that good at this tangle but I love the way others do it. Yesterday I was determined to improve so I drew it on a post-it note and gave myself permission to mess up bigtime if that's what happened. So of course it came out pretty well.
I was really interested to see how well it came out when I deliberately reminded myself that the outcome did not matter. Just the practice.
After doing the post-it, I looked over at a tile I'd been stuck on for several days. I mean, I was REALLY stuck. I was planning to discard it. It was not symmetrical. The center sphere wasn't really a sphere. I had no idea what to do next and most of it was blank. I'd done the two tangles Snelly (as the "string" or container) and inserted the tangle Aleuba--this is a tile for Hanny Nura's Full Moon Mosaic on FB where each month she suggests a string and one or two tangles, always involving the moon somehow, and then everyone does what they like with them. Including adding other tangles. So I'd created the string and inserted the second tangle she suggested but the tile looked awful.
What the hell, I thought, I'll throw in some Drawings tangles in those big empty spaces. Just for practice--this can't get any worse. And then I'll add a bit of color. What came out was this, which I quite like even though it's still asymmetrical.
Well of course the big lessons are: Unless it's a life or death issue (just about never), give myself permission to screw up and see what happens. And the typical, constant lesson from Zentangle® is: don't give up on something. Keep working. If it fails, so what? It's just a fifty-cent tile. It's just practice. I feel like I got lucky again.
Seems to me that all of life is just practice. Right?
The more I practice, the luckier I get.
Where the heck did that come from? Sometimes one cannot control what falls out of the pen. This is the result of going to Amy Kam CZT's free, ongoing Sunday evening gatherings called Tangle Time, which I've mentioned in my previous post and several others. Somehow I can never stick to the script and this oddity is the result of last Sunday's work.
I'm trying to get another rug underway and running into some design issues, so that explains the recent lack of tangling. I'm missing it, have lots of things to explore and hope to get back on track this coming week.
More Sunday night Tangle Time with Amy Kam (see previous Sunday posts) of The Peaceful Pen. This was great fun. Below are the original black and white tile, then the shaded version, then the third one is actually a print-out on my computer (which is why the entire tile looks darker) and with added color.
This is a printout of the tile above. I didn't know if I wanted to add color or not, so in order not to ruin the original tile (in case I didn't like the color), I printed out the photo on crappy printer paper. And added the color to the printout as a test. Arteza Watercolor Brush Pens in three shades of blue and a gray were used here, in addition to adding a little more graphite.
This was such a fun experiment! I ended up liking all three--the plain unvarnished first one, the shaded version, and then to my surprise I liked the color as well.
Art, like life, should be free, since they are both experimental.
Yes, spring definitely continues. I can tell by my constantly running nose.
It's totally worth a runny nose to have such a gorgeous spring.
Today I did this in celebration.
Before I added and activated the watercolor pencils--which I am quite enjoying--the linework looked more or less like what is below. I must have prepped that Zendala with watercolor years ago because it's just barely visible there.
"Every spring is the only spring, a perpetual astonishment."
I did this during a class with Debbie L. Huntington, CZT. I was impressed by the wildly different results achieved by the students--each Zendala was completely unique. It was my first try at watercolor pencils; it won't be my last.
“In the spring, at the end of the day, you should smell like dirt.”
A tile done last night just before sleep. In the silence of the house. Inspired by the Sunday night free "Tangle Time" led by Amy Kam CZT of The Peaceful Pen.
Silence is better than unmeaning words.
I'm in a liminal place: In between rug hooking projects, in between books I'm reading, in between tangling projects, and just "in between" on a lotta things. The mind doesn't like being so in between, but that's just how it is right now.
Here's a map-tangled tile I prepped a while back and finally got around to tangling last night. I'm not sure I enhanced it. I kind of liked the prepped version before I added anything. But I'll see if it grows on me:
The most closely-watched trial in this country in a long time ended today, with three guilty verdicts. Perhaps this signals the beginning of some kind of reckoning for racial injustice in this country. There is so much work ahead. I put my head down and sobbed when I heard the convictions--relief, and sadness. All mixed in.
Allow me to change the subject completely, as I do not want to get into the habit of posting political thoughts--that's not the focus of this blog. So there was another ending today: I finished this rug, which I've been struggling with for quite a while. I had one color scheme in mind, and it didn't work out.
Not. At. All. Which meant I had to rip out a large proportion of the rug, think about what else might work, and then re-hook a large proportion of it. I did, and just finished binding it today. Next I gave it a good steaming and took a picture. Tonight I'll sew on the label. Hurrah!
The pattern is by Pearl McGown; I believe it's a very early design of hers, done while she was still in her "geometric phase" and before she started designing the florals for which she's better known.
I did the color planning--much trickier than it sounds, as I mentioned above--and of course I did the hooking using largely #8 strips (with a few 6s and maybe even some 5s) from my stash. I bought a few scraps, but nearly all the wool (some of which I dyed) was from my stash so this rug didn't require more than perhaps a total of one yard of new wools. If that.
There was a LONG period as I worked on this where I was aiming only to "get it done," thinking it was so ugly that I'd never want to see it again. But now that I've changed the colors and done a lot of re-hooking, I like it.
My "Duncan" was inspired by one I saw in 2009 at a rug show of the late Lida Skilton Ives' work. The show was held at UConn in Storrs CT and the "Duncan" Mrs. Ives did stopped me dead in my tracks--I fell in love on the spot and knew I would hook it one day. Gee, it only took me twelve years to start my own version. Mine doesn't resemble hers one bit, but she completely inspired me. Thanks also to my friend Kathleen H who, when she saw the photo of the Ives rug, told me it was a McGown pattern--I would never have guessed. And Kathleen had already hooked her own version before we ever met, and since then has hooked a second one. Phew.
The beginning? Time to begin cleaning up the mess the production of this rug generated. And to begin a new rug. I have just the one, ready to put on the frame.
I've now become a monomaniac about finishing my rug, and have been spending all my spare time on the binding. After that I just have to steam it and sew on a label. I am trying to focus on just this--getting this done.
Nevertheless I did drop on on The Peaceful Pen's Sunday night free tangling session and produced this. All three tangles were new to me--what fun to try out new patterns!
My country is in trouble on so many levels at this moment. I am aware every day of my sorrow and concern. I am sitting with both, and experiencing these feelings. Under no circumstances will I turn my back on them, or on what is going on here right now.
At the same time, I took a walk today and was greeted by the utter and complete beauty of a spring day.
I hold both in my heart, the sorrow and the beauty.
I have also reached the point where I am binding the rug. Who knows if this is going to work or not? I'm trying a crocheted binding, which I have not done on this size rug before. I have some doubts about it but here it is so far.
Here is the "mystery" from yesterday--solved. Joanna Quincey of Zenjo taught a quick class on Teabag Tangling Now you know what I was doing with that mess of teabags in my previous post.
(PDS: thanks so much for collecting for me, since I don't like or drink tea! I have enough to keep me going for a while.)
Jo is a terrific and inventive teacher. Here are my first tangled teabags.
Massively fun to try out! Thanks, Jo.
More to come on this tomorrow or early next week.
The prep for a grand experiment.
(this is Teaser #1)
I know the general outline of the experiment will be, but I have no idea if it will work or not. Hmmm. This could be the first & last you hear about it.
Teaser #2 is below
It's the same little punch needle "ruglet"--which I showed here a few days ago--only this time, it's lying on part of my new rug. I'm now binding the rug, and will show it in full once it's done.
"To practice any art, no matter how well or badly, is a way to make your soul grow. So do it."
Since I'm working hard to finish my current rug, not much tangling/drawing is getting done. I just about manage to attend the 1-hour free Sunday Night group tangling led by Amy Kam, CZT, of The Peaceful Pen. I did go last night and produced this tile, which was guided by her, but I went off-road and did several things differently. In the picture on the left I thought I was done. But then this morning I added a few more things. So here are two versions of a very busy tangle.
Yes indeed, this is a very busy tile. Think of it as a tangle "sampler."
Tangles included: Weighted Printemps, Blinkt, NStitch, Brrst, N'Zeppel, Strut, Beadlines, Narfello, DaizeeMae, Bales, Therefore, and DooDah. Phew!
And now, back to working on the rug. I'm on a mission to get it done. But I do miss tangling every day.
Few things in life are black and white, but we can draw them that way.
Done quickly during a free Sunday night tangle session with Amy P. Kam of The Peaceful Pen.
I needed a quick and easy diversion so decided to punch up this tiny 8x8" pattern from Storyteller Wool, to celebrate spring and all the crocuses popping up all over the place in my 'hood. What a cutie!
Spring feels so GOOD this year, for a thousand reasons. Yet even as I write this, I'm thinking of the hundreds of thousands--millions--of people who are not here to celebrate, and their grieving families.
It is bittersweet, yes.
But for those of us who made it through what felt like a time a profound darkness, this Light Return is deeply healing.
I bought this little kit (including yarns--so pretty!--from Storyteller Wool to take a break from drawing and traditional hooking for a couple of hours of hand-punching and a sweet reminder of the return of spring after a long, long, dark, cold time.
May we heal together. May we all remember those we miss so much. May we move forward and know joy again, even as we hold them in our hearts.
I'll add a picture of the completed piece soon. Happy International Punch Needle Rug Hooking Day! April 10th, 2021
Here is the "before and after" on my first Ecoline Watercolor Map Tangled tile. I'm curious to look at them side by side. Is the tangled tile an improvement, not as good, or is it about the same in its appeal? I had my doubts about tangling on it as I loved the plain tile.
I like them both but think I'm favoring the tangled one. Which surprises me.
Thanks, Annie Taylor CZT for great tile prep instructions and fun class! I loved the room you gave students to use whatever tangles we wished, while making good suggestions. And for your linguistic talents at teaching simultaneously in English AND Spanish! Wow.
"If you've heard this story before, don't stop me, because I'd like to hear it again." --Groucho Marx
What??? How can there be such a thing as "too much color?"
That's not possible, right? I mean, look at that spectacular Squill. The bees certainly weren't of the opinion it was "too much color."
So what the heck...? Read on.
In the same fabulous patch as the Squill I found these perfect Crocus:
While you cannot really see the lush carpet of flowers--partially in shade--in this house's wonderful front garden, you can see the closeups above.
When I got home and looked at the photo I was so focused on the way the light was bringing out the spring yellow in the bush that it took me several moments to see the light shaft with a big rainbow in it hitting that same bush.
As if this little garden was being nourished by light and color.
That was my morning. Color, there's never enough. Beautiful.
So what am I talking about, "too much color?" Keep reading.
Spoiler alert: Art Catastrophe below.
The entire bottle of blue rolled off my desk, hit my legs, and made its merry way onto the floor.
You think my jeans look bad? I wish I'd thought to take a photo of the floor but I was too busy racing to mop up the mess which spread EVERYWHERE. I'm still finding traces around the room.
Thank goodness this was watercolor and wiped up easily but I used a zillion paper towels (and I don't like to waste those, but they were right there and I was desperate)
After which I took off the pants, laughed at my blue legs and my turquoise-y hands from cleaning up the floor, and spent quite a bit of time rinsing the pants in the sink. The amount of blue ink that came out was unbelievable. Fortunately I had just put a dark-colored wash into the washer, ready to run. A happy coincidence. So I threw the pants in and they've come out looking as though nothing ever went wrong.
So yes. A bit too much color in that moment.
After that, I did another tile with another set of colors (the one on the right above).
Because seriously, there really is no such thing as too much color, and my entire day reflected that.
Accident is design
I prepped that tile above** (wet on the left, after drying on the right) after midnight last night, waiting for sleep that really never came. Such intense color. I woke up after far too little sleep, thinking about the tile and how I might tangle on it. An idea floated by--oooo, more experimentation! And now, back to rug hooking. I gotta get this rug done.
**Thanks to Annie Taylor, CZT (of ArtyZen) for terrific how-to-prep the tile instructions!
Let's face it: I just don't have the photographic skills to do justice to the spring colors outside right now. The crystalline sunlight. The intensely clear blue sky. And the spring flowers! Oh my--absolutely no way to capture those colors. Crocuses everywhere, and squill all around them. I'm no gardener, alas, but I walk by this lovely garden every day:
It makes my heart smile to see these small flowery gifts rising from the soil after such a very, very grim winter. Indeed, after this winter, I feel lucky to be alive to see these gifts from the earth coming back to us.
Yesterday I did some wool dyeing in order to finish the rug I've been working on for months. Because I'm doing a major revision on this rug, I've been pulling out one color and substituting another--a color I hadn't planned on and so I ran out of it. Thus it was back to the dyepots. I surprised myself by getting an exact match. It reminds me of the purple crocuses, even though it needed to be grayed down for the rug.
A VERY grayed-down lavender. But, it'll work! Onward to finishing the rug.
And WELCOME SPRING.
All my time at the moment is devoted to finishing up a rug.
I'm so committed to getting the darned rug done that I haven't allowed myself any time for tangling. Last night I sneaked an hour of tangling at the Sunday evening hour that Amy Kam CZT offers free. It felt so good. I'm quite surprised by how much I miss tangling when I don't indulge it for a while. Hmmmm. Addiction?
This fell out of my pen over the last 3-4 days. But somehow I don't feel that it's quite finished.
Hmmm. The more I study this, the more I want to add a bit. I think there is more tinkering to be done. How does one ever know that it's time to stop?
"When you're ready to stop, stop. If you have presented all the facts and made the point you want to make, look for the nearest exit." --Wm. K. Zinsser
-Later the same day-
Ahhhhhhhhhhhhh! Indeed, I wasn't finished. Here is the finished version.
Here's the side-by-side comparison:
The whole process was interesting. For one thing, I loved the background until I started tangling on it, and then suddenly I started disliking every line I drew. Too shaky. Too uneven. I'm doing it wrong.
But what the heck...I stayed with it until I thought I was done, and surprised myself by liking it much more than expected.
...which lasted 5 minutes. Something felt off still.
So I went back to the drawing board and added just a bit more color in the center and voila, now it feels done, and I've gone from disliking to quite liking it. There's a big lesson in here for me. I keep learning this same lesson--but this time I noticed I'm trusting the lesson more.
After SEVEN long years, my Universe Tarot Card rug is finally home. It was delivered this morning in perfect condition. I cannot believe that all of those tiny laminated cards I stitched onto the pathways of this Tree haven't fallen off by now; it must have been unpacked, hung up, taken down, and packed up again a zillion times since it left my hands in 2014. This rug has been more places in the United States and world than I will ever see.
2014. Tarot Card XXI, The World. A rug created for a traveling exhibition of tarot card rugs (Major Arcana only) which toured nationally and internationally for a few years, called "23 Artists Hook the Major Arcana." This rug is traditionally punch-hooked using an Oxford Punch Needle and rug yarn hand-dyed by me. I embroidered the Universal Waite Tiny Tarot cards (after laminating them first, and punching holes through which I could stitch). The cards are placed where they traditionally go on the Tree of Life. "Universal Waite Tiny Tarot Cards," ©1977 U.S. Games, Inc., used by permission. 41.5x24"
Twenty-three rugs were designed and hooked for this Project, by a wide variety of well-known AND unknown rug artists. I was flattered to be asked. My rug was the only punched rug in the entire exhibit, as I recall. All the others were traditionally hooked with wool strips, which is the type of hooking I've also tended to do more frequently (but oh how I love rug punching too). To see the history of the exhibit and view the other rugs, go HERE.
Most of the rug creators knew next to nothing about tarot. Some who were invited to contribute turned it down because they believe tarot is the work of the devil. I was so sorry to hear that. I simply view tarot--which I've studied for 40+ years--as a way of speaking with our subconscious selves, which cannot use words but can use images. And I do not fortune-tell, since no one can know the future. I see it as a lovely psychological tool and a creative spark. It has been a wise and compassionate assistant in my life for decades. I use it seldom but when I do, it always helps me to express some inner wisdom or insight I might not otherwise have reached.
“It’s said that the shuffling of the cards is the earth, and the pattering of the cards is the rain, and the beating of the cards is the wind, and the pointing of the cards is the fire. That’s of the four suits. But the Greater Trumps, it’s said, are the meaning of all process and the measure of the everlasting dance.”
― Charles Williams
“When you drop the idea of predicting the future, you start to experience the cards as a mirror of the psyche. That`s when playing with the tarot becomes a path to wisdom.”
― Philippe St Genoux
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