Thursday, 15 November 2018

four quarters of an overcast Thursday

I've always found wisdom in unexpected places.  Fiction guides me more than faith, poetry soothes more than prayer.  And when I'm tangling and truly absorbed in the process so many little lessons slip out from between those seemingly meaningless lines of black ink.  I don't need to hang on every word of the gospel according to Rick and Maria, as eloquent and entertaining as they often are.  I just need to embrace this thing they created and within it I might find whatever I need at that moment.

Tangles used - Flux, Ynix, Opus and Mooka

I haven't tangled much of late.  I'm stuck in one of the gristly bits of life, and it's taking most of my time and energy and focus to chew my way through.  I'll get there, but not just yet.  My tangle-hand feels rusty, my lines are a little more wobbly than usual.  I'm a bit jittery, distracted.  But a window of time opened today and I wanted to make the most of it.  Rather than getting lost in the choice of which project to resume I reached for this week's Diva Challenge - where she invites us to make a mosaic from 4 tiles.  I knew I wouldn't have time to make 4 full sized tiles, so I reach for Bijous.  I then (somewhat stupidly) decided it would be easier to cut my tiles and switch parts, rather than drawing strings.  The resulting pieces didn't fit together that well, the sections didn't line up smoothly and I didn't feel that hopeful.   I almost abandoned it altogether.

I added a black border at the scanning / adjustment stage
to hide the ragged edges, I may be the Ragged Ray but there are limits!

But then I started tangling... adding just 4 original tangles, some perfs, ink, graphite and white pencil.  The imperfections slowly started to fade (they're still there, but only if you choose to notice them).  Each tile has its own personality, its tangle, its quirks.  Each little tile looks good on its own, but stands stronger as part of the whole.  With patience, effort and compromise something apparently hopeless stands a chance.  All of which is true for life, as it is for my tiles.  Wisdom enough for one week I think!

Thursday, 8 November 2018

fitting it all together

I'll start with a confession.  I rarely buy books, lessons, or kits relating to Zentangle.  In part this is because I have a relatively limited budget, and also a desire not to accumulate more stuff than I need, and also to avoid shipping too much of said stuff half way round our planet and back.  But it's also because I sometimes feel like I don't really want or need the kit, because I can pretty much see what I need to do (roughly speaking) to get the desired result or look.  I don't mean that to sound as smug as it probably does.

I consider buying some lessons and kits and when weighing up my choices I try to pick ones that I know will give me the most value.  Not just in their immediate content, but in how I might use what I learn from them in my ongoing Zentangle practice.  I want the teaching to be adaptable and open to my own interpretation.  I want to be able to expand beyond the basics.  I want to be able to put my own stamp on the results.

Having had a taster of the scope of the kits designed by Marguerite Samama thanks to working with her Zen Buttons early this year, I knew I would find all of the the things I was looking for in her latest Persian Mosaic™ kit.  The kit is available to buy from Etsy via this link.  If you are in Europe you might prefer to buy directly from Marguerite - who you can contact through Facebook.

Toward the end of September my kit arrived and I dived in.  The instructions guide you skillfully through a number of projects to help you understand and appreciate the concept.  An invaluable component of the kit is a special stencil that divides up a 3Z tile.  You then fill the 3 sections with tangles of your choice.  A Cobalt colour pen is also included and further feeds into the Persian design scheme. 

This was the first one I drew, on tan paper I cut myself.

Attractive enough in itself, but the magic starts to happen when you draw more and lay them alongside each other.  

Next up Marguerite invites us to work with the Cobalt pen alone, and also add coloured shading using an included matching watercolour pencil.  I love the fact that each tile looks good alone, but bought together a new level of wonder appears!

As if that wasn't enough fun Marguerite adds bonus projects using a Zentangle Fragment she calls Shiraz.  Here it is repeated 3 times on a 3Z tile.

And here it's used to form a hexagon.  Both example use the Cobalt pen, alongside my own Sanguine pen.

This gives a taste of the basic projects included in the kit.  I followed the instructions closely, allowing myself only the occasional irresistible deviation!  I've been thrilled with the results, which I've shared in a small but thoroughly supportive and inspiring private Facebook group.  But the real excitement for me is seeing where I go next.  Because this kit isn't done and dusted for me now that I've got the hang of it.  What unexplored Persian pathways await me?  What shining cobalt treasures can I find there?  I think it's fair to say that this post is to be continued...

Thursday, 1 November 2018

knowing when to stop

I spent much of September weaving this way and that over whether I might join in with Inktober this year.  One day I thought I would, the next not.  October began and I still thought I might.  Then decided against it.  I had a fair few tangling balls in the air, and couldn't really manage another comfortably.  But then... it was so tempting to want to join in.  And so I started to... but then I stopped.

And then I realised something.  I realised that I really love Ginilli (the tangle chosen by Stephanie Jennifer for October 3rd).  And I'm also quite taken with the Easy Mooka that a few people were using.  And so that's as far as my Inktober got.  But I loved every minute of it, and poured every drop of my ink-sodden heart into these four tiles.

An autumnal window - done using fountain pens and Diamine ink

Black pen, grey pen - and a Mooka stem for Ginilli to bloom on

A tissue-dyed tile - Ginilli in a spiral with added Easy Mooka tufts

Getting experimental - angular Ginilli and straight Mooka - with silver borders

Maybe next year I'll join in properly, maybe I'll even get beyond the first three prompts.  And maybe I won't, and that's fine too!

Thursday, 25 October 2018

then and now, now and then

I'm always a little saddened when I hear that a Zentangle tile has 'gone wrong' for someone.  That they've made a mistake, lost their way,  or simply changed their mind about what they wanted it to be.  Part of the pleasure for me is working through those stumbles and reconciling yourself with wherever you and your tile end up.  Sometimes those 'wrong' tiles even end up torn into bits and buried in the bin.  Which is even sadder! 

It's not to say I'm immune to those difficult tile days.  But one thing I never do is throw away a wayward tile.  I'm naturally frugal for a start!  What I do is tuck them in a little basket... for later.  And thus my Leftovers Project was born! 

This week, torn between too many choices and not enough time I decided to revisit old tiles instead of starting new ones. 

First up this green tile that's been lurking on my pile for a good few years.  I found it with the line work half done, on some rather hard to handle tinted watercolour paper that I rarely use now.  The tangles were also ones I haven't used in a long time.  One of the most interesting things in revisiting these old tiles is spotting the changes in my tangling, my skill, style and choices.

Tangled with - Beadlines / Fleuri / Tipz / Pia / Stonestory

 To finish it off I completed the outstanding tangles.  Then anchored the bands to the edges using more tangles.  I added a touch of green coloured pencil and shaded.  Who knows why I didn't like it then, but I do now.

Next up this autumnal looking arc.  I presume I tangled this while trying to get to grips with Peaknuckle.  Drawn over a band of watercolour, again it was abandoned at the line work stage.

Just Peanuckle, plus a few curls and aura

I added shading and highlighting with coloured pencil and graphite.  It looks a lot happier to be finished, but it's lacking in contrast a bit.  Sometimes a tile is set on a path by my past self and it's hard to change that direction. 

And lastly there wast this.  A strange looking tile, left at the line work stage, with only one corner blacked in.  I blacked in two more corners and then grew tired of the effort!  Which is perhaps why I abandoned the tile in the first place...

Tangled with mutant Purk and Lollywimple filled with Jetties and Cruffle

Rounding the remaining sections seemed a decent halfway measure to fully filling them in.  I shaded and added tiny pops of the two colours I still had out from my other two tiles.  Sometimes a little touch like that can really finish off a tile, and also pull three disparate pieces together into something close to cohesion.

There were also a couple of others I worked on, which still remain stubbornly unattractive and I can't see a way to redeem them at the moment.  They have been returned to the basket, perhaps their day will come, even if it's not today!  So, next time you go to throw away a tile, think again... who knows what it's one day destined to become!

Wednesday, 17 October 2018

autumnal interweavings

My last post was word heavy, and I really appreciate all of you who took the time to wade through my extended musings as I led my Zigzangles out into the daylight for the first time.

This time I'll be brief and share a few tiles I've drawn in the last week.  Firstly this tan tile that inadvertently combined the two most recent Diva Challenges.

Diva #371 & #372 - Onion Drops & Dewd

Then a tile I didn't finish in time for Adele Bruno's challenge for last week.  The first time I tried to read Orwell's 1984 I couldn't connect with it.  I tried it again a handful of years later and it all made sense.  Sometimes it's just a case of the right book at the wrong time.  It's not a situation limited to books either - and I think Adele's Iza tangle has the 1984 effect on me.  I first played with it years ago - and liked how it looked, but this time I really connected, I felt the tangle as I drew it.  And I think that shows in the finished tile. 

IAST #264 - Iza and Heartswell - ink and graphite
on vintage printmaking paper that's as old as me!

And lastly a few Bijou.  I'm still keeping my pledge to make a Bijou for every It's a String Thing challenge I fail to make a full size tile for.  I noticed I'd missed one right at the start of the year, so that's why the first one uses an 18 as its string - we'll be doing a 19 before we know it!

IAST #224 / #259 / #262 - Bijou pastel paper tiles - ink, graphite, white pencil and pen

Wednesday, 10 October 2018

the wonder of wending

Recently I've read a few really thoughtful posts that encourage us to look at how we create as well as what we create.  Most agree with or develop things I've touched on in previous posts on this blog.  I'm a philosopher at heart - I like to think about what I'm doing, why I'm doing it, how I'm doing it, as well as actually doing it.  It adds another layer of meaning and depth.  It adds to the mindfulness.  Of course much of my thinking doesn't actually occur while I'm in the zone actually moving the pen across the paper.

I'm going to share some art with you today, and I'm very excited about that - but I also want to touch on a bit of the thinking that occurred around its creation.

A while ago I wrote about the dilemma of having more than enough art supplies.  I'm not reckless in my purchases.  I love to read lots of reviews and make balanced decisions before accumulating more stuff.  I'm pleasantly confined by a lack of storage space which means my materials have to earn their right to be there!  I usually know how I might use something long before I buy it.  But occasionally I spot something that has potential, without clearly knowing what I might use it for.  And that was the case with this pack of cotton rag paper zigzags that I bought at the start of 2016.  I've worked on this type of paper before - it's challenging and rough but worth the effort. (Click to see slightly larger pieces on this paper.)

Two other significant strands of my creative practice wove into what happened with these little zigzags.  Firstly was the ability, which I'm very slowly developing, of not joining in with everything.  There's so much on offer, so many challenges, techniques, tangles - it's wonderful and overwhelming.  I want to dive in, but I don't want to drown.  I want to graze along the buffet table, sampling the delights rather than gorging myself.

Way back in early summer I spotted a few people on Facebook doing something wonderful where they tangled in a concertina book and their tangling travelled over each fold and onto the next.   They called it the Infinite or Endless Zentangle Project.  And a bit of questioning led me to discover that it was the brainchild of Natalie Plechkova.  She blogs about it here on her website - it's written entirely in Russian, but you can translate it via Google and get a fair approximation of her meaning.  And of course the images are a true delight in any language.  For a more instant visual hit take a peek at her Instagram feed.

I was charmed and hungry but knew that the true beauty of this thing was being able to stick with it over the long distance and I doubted my own stamina.  A few weeks later I had an idea - perhaps I could do something similar but over a shorter distance?  A finite Zentangle project?  And suddenly those zigzags heard their true calling. 
On the 14th June I tangled the first panel on my first zigzag.  I noted on the back that it was a rainy, chilly Thursday.  I completed another panel every week for the next 15 weeks.  I stopped myself from doing more than one panel a week.  This was a case of pace not race!

Here it is.  Filled with more tangles than I care to list.  All packed more tightly together than I would usually do.  Each panel measures about 7cm x 8cm.  Here is is laid flat to allow for a better look.

One week after finishing the first I started another.  The 20th July, when I noted that it was cloudy but we'd still had no rain.

For this one I used Margaret Bremner's rope string idea - but needed to create breaks between panels for the rope to look right.

Somewhere along the way I decided I needed a name for these things - naming has power, it makes us feel connected to things.  I like playing with words, breaking them and putting them back together again.  I stirred a few things on my tongue but came to like the word Zigzangle!  So that's what I am calling these.  For you they might answer happily to another name!

On this one I let grid tangles take centre stage.  Jumping back and forth adding extra little details in to tie the panels together.  But still only working on one panel a week.  I began this third Zigzangle on 31st August where I observed the first intimations of autumn.

Although I've been working on these little strips of paper and ink for a few months I'm only sharing them with you now.  And that's due to the second creative movitation, and one that I talked about a while ago when I mentioned the benefit of sometimes working for yourself alone.  I wanted one-to-one time with my Zigzangle.  I wanted to get to know them, and know them well, before I told you what they were and showed you what they looked like.  But now I have, I'm glad I have.  And I hope for you it was worth the wait.

Wednesday, 3 October 2018

spiral-bound scribblings

As I headed to my sketchbook today to note down a couple of new tangles that have taken my fancy I realised it's been a while since I shared my sketchbook secrets with you.  So here goes with the four pages I've filled since June -

Points of interest - 
  • Having fun cutting Wholly Hollibaugh type 'holes' in all sorts of tangles.  I'm late to the party but this is an area I want to explore much, much more
  • Playing with coloured ribbons - as introduced in videos for Zentangle Project Pack #3
  • Tangles I found but want to use more - Tektonik and Ila

Points of interest -

  • More Wholly hole making - this time through Icantoo
  • Copying down a few ornate border tangles that I spotted while reading The Book of Zentangle
  • Drawing in white having blacked out a big mess that I've now forgotten entirely
  • My first Diva Dance leaf - I've since drawn them all over the place
  • Tangles I found but want to use more - Poa and Cindyer

Points of interest - 

  • Having fun threading things through Tropicana and Scallamp - two tangles I love
  • Various scribblings as practice for IAST or Square One tiles
  • Rediscovering Reef and Kathy's Dilemma - both of which I met when first learning via the One Zentangle a Day book 
  • Tangles I found but want to use more - JoVi and PeelD

Points of interest - 
  • Lots of Hexonu - every time I use it in practice I like it - try to put it on a tile and it all goes wrong
  • A few examples of Divi drawn as I started to develop the tangle 
  • Quli - drawn free hand without a grid, having discovered it on Linda's blog and saying I would test drive whether it could be done gridless!  And it can - without a doubt!
  • A pop of red as a warm up for the most recent Mosaic Project I took part in
  • Tangles I found but want to use more - MIR.I.Am and Y.I.Am

I've included some links this time - to tangles or techniques that I mention.  But if there is anything else you spot that you can't decode or would like to know about please just ask!