Drawn by me yesterday, and hugely relaxing to do! I think it's been years since I used my Rainbow Lead Pencil--check out previous posts on the Rainbow Lead by looking in the right-hand column at the Categories section (scroll down and you'll see that category; click there to find the previous posts).
I have missed using it. Disorganization meant I couldn't find it for quite a while but I'm getting more organized and located my itty-bitty-stub of the original Rainbow Lead as well as a newer one.
What I love about the Rainbow Lead pencil is that you can try to manage it, but you really can never guarantee 100% what color is going to come out of the tip. I've learned to figure some of it out, but it still surprises me and I love that. It forces me to respond more creatively. In this case, it meant I somehow ended up with less color than usual, and that was fine. I like the opalescent look of this mandala.
Here are 2 more photos. In the first I was in the middle of the line work, and in the second I had finished and lined up all my tools (you can see the nearly-used-up stub of my original Rainbow Lead pencil there; I have to use a ""pencil extender to use the last bit of it.
Drawing this led to surprise after surprise with the colors. I love that!
It's been over ten years since I went to my first official Zentangle® class. I've never been able to locate my actual tiles from that class (as you can imagine if you read this blog, I've got zillions of completed tiles) and believed I had lost them years ago.
Why should I care? Because occasionally, other tanglers will post "Here's my first Zentangle ever! And here is what I'm drawing now for contrast," and I always enjoy seeing the effect of their practice. Practice makes SUCH a difference! I've always wished I could find my first tile to view the effect of my own practice.
Then this morning I followed some clues that led me to look in my photo collection from 2012. And yay! I found photos of my first two tiles from my first "official" instruction by a CZT. Unfortunately I cannot remember her name, and I don't think she's teaching any more. I would like to thank her but don't know how.
We did 2 tiles in that class, which I remember as only about 2 hours long. I do remember rushing to keep up. But she got in all the basic tangles (Crescent Moon, Hollibaugh, N'Zepple, Tipple and a few others). Perhaps "speed tangling" was not the best way for her to teach, but I got the idea, including the principles, and took off from there. Without further adieu, here they are--tangles from my very first one in 2012 to 2020, eight years after I learned. The progression is obvious.
Proof that anyone can do this.
As always, I'm struck with the parallels between tangling and meditation. Practice is practice, no matter where it's applied, and it always improves things. We may not be able to see it minute to minute, but observing month after month and year after year, the difference is huge.
“Painting is a means of self-enlightenment.” --John Olsen
The finished punched piece is done, steamed, etc., but I want to sew it to a canvas zipper bag and I cannot find a bag that fits this size, 8"x15". If I had the skills to sew such a bag I would do it, but I know my own limitations and that type of sewing is beyond me. So, I'm on a search for the right kind of zipper pouch. That way, I can sew this on and have a "Punching Bag" to put my punch needles in. Pardon the pun (ch).
Earlier this week I had the chance to go to zenAgain 2022, a class for Certified Zentangle® Teachers (CZTs) in Newport Rhode Island. And oh what a great time we had. This was a new tangle from headquarters, one of several they taught. I believe it's named after Martha's son Wyatt. I'm not sure I am done with this one yet, but I'm posting it for now.
We stayed at a hotel on an island just off the coast of the town and the view of the ocean from my window was magnificent. But having several days in a row to do nothing but draw and see wonderful art by others was the best part.
Really, I do have plenty of other jewelry than brooches, but there are indeed a lot of those. So here is the next one. I'm really enjoying these tiny drawings.
Having said that, I actually never wore this brooch much--it wasn't a favorite and neither is my drawing of it (which takes liberties and includes the tangle Tipple) but that's ok since it is keeping me doing a little bit of drawing every day, which is the goal.
And here's the sterling silver version from which I did the drawing.
This one brings back deeply transformational memories of travels to the Southwest decades ago with dear friends.
Continuing the series of quick drawings of old jewelry I own.
Whoops--I nearly forgot to include the actual sterling silver brooch below, next to the start of the drawing:
Not really steel. Just silver or silver alloy or something. It's quite oxidized.
Whatever it's made of, it's clearly a heart and is on some type of tie-tack back, but I think of it as a brooch. I'm not usually a fan of heart-shaped things but this one charmed me. Although to be honest, I cannot remember a single occasion on which I wore it.
The real piece is no more than one inch high. You can see the difference between the lighting in which I photographed the actual heart versus the lighting that was on it when I put it in a different place for the drawing.
I'm not sure how far I'll go with this series, but it's a wonderful way to get to drawing again--just focusing on tiny things.
It's been so long since I've done any drawing. I thought I'd get myself re-started with some simple line drawings of old jewelry. Things I used to wear often but haven't had out in years. At some point I'll begin giving them away, but since I loved them at the time I thought it would be great to have a few sketches. Once I got the linework done, I couldn't resist adding a tad of the original color. Clearly I took liberties with things--the actual brooch is below.
A good friend and I met in Vermont Tuesday afternoon for a textile tour (self-planned), the high point of which was a stop here.
Oh my! I had not been back there in SIX YEARS. Awful, because I absolutely love the place. And there have been so many changes in the meantime. It was fabulous to hang out with Amy, Heidi, and the others I hadn't met previously because they've all been hired since i was last able to visit. Of course I bought some goodies for myself too, the last of which was this brightly colored hoodie. It's warm and comfortable and I may never take it off.
Just an amazing class from Lynn Mead of The Tangled Mind today--a benefit for children in Ukraine. I loved every minute of the class.
Lots of discussion about MC Escher (of course), but also excellent teaching and plenty of time to tangle. Done on gray cardstock with a black Micron 05 and graphite pencil with some white chalk pencil for highlights. This was very much in the "quick and dirty" mode. Fun!
First 3 days of Inktober this year. I make a start but rarely finish. So far I'm not crazy about any of these tangles and so I changed 2 of them to such an extent that they are barely recognizable. (Tangles are: Rain, Delray, ISEA-U). In fact one of them isn't recognizable at all!
We'll see if I continue through the month this year. A class I'm teaching and some textile projects might interfere.
When I finished this tile I was really pleased with it--then I photographed it and blew up the photo and once I saw how incredibly shaky all the linework is (it doesn't show so much when it's this size), I was horrified. Yet another benefit of aging! But when I consider the alternative, aging is just fine with me. Being out of practice is also a likely cause.
What the heck?
Explanation: Rug punching is done on a pattern printed backward, so words are reversed. The "wrong side" side you punch into; the "right side" is the reverse. I'm using an Oxford Punchneedle #10 (thank you, Amy Oxford, for inventing this) and a small pattern (from the Oxford Company) to create a "punching bag" for my punching supplies.
I need a "brainless" small project to bring to rug hooking meetings with me. My current traditionally hooked rug-in-progress requires constant thinking/planning, and I cannot go to what's basically a social event and bring my entire wool stash with me just because I haven't finished the color plan yet and "might need" a dash of this or that.
Fortunately, I have enough of my own hand-dyed wools that I can start in on this immediately, and it's quite portable. Ideal for attending a rug hooking group.
An hour later:
Here you can faintly see the word "punch" up above on the linen, and I've done some outlining. This is the messy stage of punching, before you fill in background--which makes those unruly loops get back in line and behave themselves. The last step is to push around any remaining straggly loops, part of the clean-up process after the punching is done. More to come.
I've been working on this for months and finally finished it today. What fun this was to do, especially as it was one of the only art projects I could handle during my recent medical adventure. Thank you, E, for the permission you gave me to adapt your design.
19 1/4 x 9 1/4" punch needle embroidery, adapted, color planned, punched, and finished by me in 2022. I used a medium UltraPunch needle set on #2 and a wide variety of sock and fingering yarns (all wool) plus some crochet cotton and cotton floss. The design is copyright to Elizabeth Stagl, a good friend who designed and hooked this in other colors as a gorgeous rug at least a decade ago, based on art she'd seen on her travels in South Africa. Elizabeth kindly gave me permission to hook a copy of her rug and I first did this embroidery as a prototype. I'm now working on my own rug. The design is NOT available as a pattern so please respect the copyright.
A close-up. Someone has said that punch needle is "the only activity where repeated stabbing is legal and permissible." So true.
And of course, the repetitive action is totally meditative (but I must admit that stabbing action does feel good at times--ha.).
This still needs a bit of tweaking, as you can see from the close-up. I'll get to doing that later today.
Before you ask, "How long did it take to do that?" the answer is: I don't know. There were weeks/months when I wasn't well enough to work on it, and you can see yourself how many stitches go into this one small section, so multiply that by the total dimensions above. It doesn't matter. It's so much FUN!
Certainly not perfect, but good enough. Perfection is not the goal.
I took a break today from the Lunar Phase Project (see the last few posts) and followed along on a video by Tanglewerks CZT. She has many videos; the one I watched had no words, just music (and I shut off the music). She did her mandala on a white tile. I put it mine a grey tile, made a few changes, and added white chalk to spice things up. It was a lovely way to spend the first few hours of a day--just quiet practice. A meditation indeed.
I used to be able to draw any phase of the Moon easily from memory. This is the Moon in Waning Crescent mode, as I've positioned it above. (of course I could flip it around 180° so that the white "horns" point left and then it would represent exactly the opposite, but this is how I drew it--waning). I haven't been watching the Moon as much during the last couple of years, and sure enough, I'm beginning to forget what's what. Time to check back in with Her!
In fact, I have a series of tiles prepped as the Moon in Her various phases and I noticed confusion as I tried to put them in order this morning. Could. Not. Do. It. Had to resort to googling the Moon's Phases (what DID we do before smartphones?) in order to turn things the right way. Yes, definitely time to check back in with Her daily changes.
While trying to determine exactly how long those tiles have been sitting around waiting for me to finish them, I re-discovered this (below). If you asked me, "Have you ever drawn an elephant?" I would have said with 100% confidence, "Nope." But here it is. And I drew it. Memory is notoriously unreliable!
I based the coloring and the stars on an amazing photo I saw of a man in India riding an elephant for a spiritual celebration of some sort (to Ganesh, perhaps?). His elephant had been covered with light blue blue dust and he or someone had painted stars all over it. It pretty much looked like this. I completely changed the blanket, though, and left off the man, and used a template for the outline of the elephant from Ben Kwok of Ornation Creation (he has tons of animal templates). So this is not a copy of the photograph, not even close. I rarely tangle anything representational but my friend Julie adores elephants so I framed and gave it to her. And I drew it exactly 7 years ago today. A lot has happened in that time--she got married and now has a lovely little boy. I'm betting the elephant picture is somewhere in her house, maybe even in his room.
Finally, since I've been on a Moon kick, yesterday I had fun with a Zendala I'd prepped with a watercolor wash a long time ago. Just playing with the tangle Ibex. I started off like the photo on the left and then somehow ended up like the photo on the right. Not my best work but oh boy did I have fun playing.
Really, it is the same tile, just taken on 2 different backgrounds under different light conditions and clearly I'd done more drawing in the version on the right. Still, when you look at the color differences, it's hard to believe it is the same tile. I think I prefer the one on the left, before I overdid the work on it. Live and learn.
Ah--I just heard that Queen Elizabeth has died. I know she was still working as recently as the day before yesterday, when she greeted the new PM. Talk about taking to a role in life with utter dedication--how serious she was about it! She wasn't perfect, but she was wonderful anyway. She was born to become an archetype, and perfectly lived the role. Go in peace, Lady.
This is part of a project I began years ago in a workshop with Martha Huggins and Molly Hollibaugh. And I do mean years ago.
It always surprises me how much better I feel on a day when I draw. Whether the piece turns out well or not, the process is mindful and meditative.
Here's a short article on why drawing--bad or good--is loved by so many. (Many of these same points could be describing the practice of meditation.) Count me in.
...and yup! Here it comes. I'm closing in on the end of this piece. Today I spent time doing some re-punching (quite a bit, actually) and then trimming the edges, folding them over, and clipping them before doing the final hemming. Then it's a quick steaming and being sure to sign & label the piece, and I'm done.
This is a punchneedle embroidery version of what will be--in an entirely different color scheme--a larger hand-hooked rug. I wanted to punch a smaller version first to get to know the pattern. I began hooking the rug in early May, but all hooking has had to wait for 3 months until I'm recovered from my medical adventure. I am pleased with this mini-punch version, and as soon as I get it done, all shall be revealed.
Well not really good enough to eat, unless you enjoy a mouthful of wool?
This morning I went looking for some sock/fingering weight yarn for my next punch needle embroidery project and what should I happen upon but this hugely expensive, luscious-looking hand-dyed skein. I'll be building my next textile piece around the colors in this yarn. Plus a few other colors. Stay tuned. I hope to be back to full speed soon, with more rug hooking, rug punching, yarn dyeing, drawing, and who knows, perhaps even some beadwork.
I don't own undyed yarn in this weight, so I can't dye any myself. This gives me a great excuse to stand in the yarn store and drool over what other people create, and then buy some. Hey, anything to buy more yarn, right? I will file this under the inspirational category, Other People's Work. Gorgeous!
While I'd love to be moving full speed ahead into my former art activities, I can't. I can only do what I can do (isn't this always true?), so today I surprised myself by getting back into the old punch needle embroidery piece I was forced to abandon a bit over three months ago. And: YAY, I am well enough to do this. Finally. So I've been working on the border.
What you see above is unfinished. It'll need a lot of poking and trimming and filling in spaces before it's done, as well as a final hemming and steaming. It will never be perfect, as nothing hand-made can be perfect. But it will have "the perfection of imperfection," the irregularities all handwork has. There are so many parallels to our human lives--I don't even have to say them here; you already know what I'm saying.
The steady rhythmic punching is the ultimate in meditative motion. I find the work incredibly soothing and have missed it during my enforced rest.
It feels absolutely wonderful to be working on this again even though I'm nowhere near done. Perhaps within the next two weeks I can begin more frequent drawing and even rug hooking. A routine, non-serious medical issue forced me to give up all art projects. What a relief to be able to pick them up again.
Forced rest. What a concept!
This falls into the "you never know what you are going to get" category.
When your ScratchArt tiles are all ten years old or older, you can be pretty sure that over time the black coating will have adhered itself like super glue to the surface of the paper and scratching will be about 40 times harder than it should be.
Such was the case here.
Using an extremely dull piece of wood was also a factor.
As was lack of practice.
Result: a vibrant candidate for the Museum of Bad Art. (Which is one of my all-time favorite places to go when I need a mood booster. Do check out that link--it's a real place.)
And I am still laughing.
It's similar to meditation: the process can dig up some very stuck stuff and the results aren't pretty at times (even when run thru an iPhone filter, which, alas, no meditation app can do).
A sense of humor really helps.
Yup, I'm gonna keep on practicing. Stick with me, ok?
PS, if you'd like to try your own hand at ScratchArt, click that link to get the cheap stuff at amazon. Note that my set is so old it doesn't even look like this anymore but it's by the same people. If you prefer to work with better quality materials, just google "scratch art paper" and you'll find some high-quality options that will make a huge difference in the quality of your finished product. Tools really do make all the difference. Search the web and you'll see some stunning art made this way, using better tools (and more consistent practice).
Ok, that title is WAY more dramatic than what is actually happening. In fact, I'm doing well in real life but am just barely beginning to think about doing anything other than reading. My little "medical adventure" took 2.5 MONTHS away from normal life, and the single thing I could do was read. 50+ books in 8 weeks. But as I heal, I hope to be back on track.
I have been extremely eager to tangle or do some textile work over the past month, but have been unable to get comfortable enough. Only in the last few days did I think I might be able to draw soon, and today I sat down and gave it a try.
This is what happens when you are unable to practice for a long time:
Wonky wonky wonky!
After nearly 3 months, it's just wonderful to be tangling ANYTHING, even if I've lost a lot of aptitude. As I said in the header to this post, you gotta start somewhere.
Very similar to meditation--after a time with little to no practice, you gotta start somewhere. The big lesson of meditation is "Begin Again. And keep going." It's the same with Zentangle®. Just start again, and keep going.
Practice will never make perfect, so give up that idea. But practice will prove itself to be worthwhile over and over. Practice makes for noticeable improvement.
I'm on it!
Hmmm, it's been awhile.
Consider me on a temporary hiatus while I attend to a few life changes and a medical issue. All is well, just distracting. Hopefully I will begin again some time in June.
“The Fallow Time”
When you are lying fallow,
Surrounded by your leaves,
Rooted in cold, unyielding earth
And leaden sky overhead…
Do not think that you are done.
You cannot live in constant Spring,
Nor was your previous green a trick.
Your barren now is holy space
Miraculously pregnant with you.
Rest in fruitful letting go and soon
Your green returns again.
...or am I just incredibly messy?
Hard to tell. Both, I think. I'm at the beginning of a new rug (one reason I haven't been posting drawings much is that I've been so busy doing punchneedle embroidery, finishing off my last traditionally hooked rug, and now starting a new traditionally hooked rug).
Here's what my studio floor looked like last night and still today.
I guess I know myself well enough to know that I need to throw stuff all over the floor and leave it while I look at it for a few days. This mess with its stumble-inducing health hazards--you take your life in your hands trying to walk across the floor--will in fact result in much trial and error but eventually I'll be able to work out a color plan.
Many rug makers I know can pull a few wools from their neat shelves, roll them together for testing purposes, decide on an initial plan, start working, tweak a bit and then boom! They are on their way. Not me. My mother would probably ask me if I was raised by wolves in Lower Slobbovia, but in fact, this is how I need to work. Yes, for me, it's all about creating chaos and allowing things to arise out of the mess.
Pretty much like the way our minds work in meditation. Until we learn to let things to arise out of the mess and begin to sort through them, allowing them to pass on their way, we just have the mess on our hands. But eventually we're able to sort through it and clear the space. Or perhaps it's just that life unfolds as it will, and things get sorted on their own.
I'm very moved by chaos theory, and that sense of energy. That quantum physics. We don't really, in Hindu tradition, have a father figure of a God. It's about cosmic energy, a little spark of which is inside every individual as the soul.
What happened to these people, the Mimbres, who created such dramatic and elegant pottery?
Emerging from the Mongollon culture, they were a later version of that group which lived around the Mongollan Mountains in Arizona and New Mexico from about AD 200-1450. If I am correct, the Mimbres peoples lived toward the end of that period (1050-1200 or so).
Eventually, it appears that they abandoned their homes and cultural centers for unknown reasons. Just walked away, probably dispersing into other groups or other areas of the country.
Who were they and where did they go--and why? So far, we have no answers to these questions. They leave us their inspired, graphic, dramatic pottery, from which this tile is drawn. Here we have the fish, the deer, the turtle, and the caterpillar, all very precious and symbolic to them. We have the four directions, a stylized sun, some stylized feathers. While we can say something about what modern generations of Native/Indigenous Peoples would say about these symbols, we can only guess at the full extent of what they mean to people from this era. It's a definitely a mystery.
Only their art speaks to us about who they were.
To a Mimbres Woman
by Marty Eberhardt
I see your thousand-year-old thumb print
On the plain brown potsherd.
My own thumb fits perfectly
In the curve you left.
Other more elegant pottery bits
Lie among rocks and junipers
On this hill of dry grasses.
Red-on-white interwoven geometry,
A tasseled quail,
Designs fine as any
In the art galleries of the town.
But it is this plain brown piece that draws me.
My thumb seeks the curved place, again.
I see you forming the pot
From coils of clay,
You look out over fields of corn and beans
In the valley below.
Then, as now, a red-tailed hawk dips,
A horned lizard scurries under a stone
That forms the village wall.
Beyond the fields
Green cottonwoods mark the river
Between jagged hills.
The wind shakes their leaves like a gourd rattle.
In the quiet between gusts,
The river rushes below, monsoon-strong.
It is in these wild places,
Where our thumbs
Feel the curve of another’s hand,
Places free from cement, neon, asphalt, smog,
And deadened water,
Across cultures and countries,
Beyond all reason,
We find each other.
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