Wednesday, 18 September 2019

uneasy explorations

This week my tangling path led me back to the wonderful world of Relaxagons. I shared my first post about them in May, my next in June.  I've been hankering to get back to them for a while, and it was a pleasure to be working within their unique shape, with the careful guidance of Marguerite Samama's instructions.

Warming up - highlighted and shaded and with added Mooka on an orange tile
and with added dots and mini gems on a tan tile

However, the next idea Marguerite invited us to play with proved a real challenge for me!  She wanted us to focus on the tangle Paradox - a great choice as it's a lively geometric tangle which can dance neatly with a six-sided tile. But I have an very uneasy relationship with this tangle. 

Soft colours under Ginili, Divi and Cruffle against a background of fan-style Paradox

Early on in my tangling life I found it a real struggle to learn, as you can see from one of my earliest Paradox tiles.  Since then I'm able to tangle it without too much trouble, and I use a little pop of it every now and then, or use the Paradox principle for other tangles.  But I don't particularly like the tangle.  Despite those curves that appear it's so unforgivingly straight-lined, it's hard to get it to play nicely with other tangles, and it makes me feel utterly incapable when the time comes to shade it!

Something more minimal - three ribbons of Paradox in my early autumn colours

But I'm not one to dodge a challenge - so I persevered and managed to tangle a handful of tiles, some of which I almost quite like, and in a few places I even started to soften a little towards this cold-hearted tangle!

My favourite piece - Paradox in two sided shapes,
with 'Nzeppel and Fescu

Paradox will never be a tangle I use often, or one which gives me great satisfaction to use, but that doesn't matter, as there are so many more to chose from, I can't expect myself to love them all. 

If you'd like to buy the Relaxagons kit it's available from Marguerite's Etsy store.  She also sells her Relaxagon tiles in different colours and paper types.

Tuesday, 10 September 2019

falling into autumn

Last week me and mine took a week's holiday at home. Many gentle hours spent reading and snoozing and nibbling and cross-wording and resting and loving. And of course a little tangling too. I knew I wanted the opportunity to tangle, but that I also wanted to largely disconnect from the outside world. I didn't want to be going online looking for tangles - so what perfect timing that the new book by Alice Hendon arrived just in time. 

I began our holiday armed with the book, a handful of pens and pencils, and three postcards I pre-coloured
with Inktense bands that carry my late summer colours through to my autumn palette.

Those of you who know my tangle shopping habits know that I rarely buy much without careful consideration. I own only five tangle books, and this is my sixth.  But as soon as I heard about it I knew this would be on my shopping list. Tangle All Around the World (UK link to buy) is the latest in a series of books by the ever inspiring Alice. This one is a bumper compendium of tangles, tangles and more tangles. Alice put a shout out to tanglers in her Facebook group asking for contributions - and I was lucky enough to have eight of my tangles included in the book! In total the book contains 453 tangles from 50 people, spread fairly liberally through this wide world. There's also plenty of Alice's own tangles in here too - and many of them are mighty fine! You can find more details about the book, as well as sample pages on this post by Alice.

Late summer colours tangled with -
Paddle Pedal (Alice Hendon) - page 93
Plicated (Sandra Strait) - page 45
Echo Two (Sherri  Lee) - page 25

I'm impressed by the book. It feels like a quality product, well-sized and robust. The tangles are packed in with no space going to waste, but the step-outs are clear to see and easy to follow. Alice has divided the tangles into sections grouped by tangle type - and while I initially thought there were chapters I was less likely to visit I was soon proved wrong.  For instance Steampunk tangling has a section - and that's not something I'm partial to, but of course all tangles are ripe for reinterpretation - and something that started as a very mechanical looking disc, turned into a fragile autumn flower (see Oscillator on my final postcard). If I had to find one criticism - and I believe all balanced reviews should try for one (!) - it's that some of the tangles were a little similar to others, either others in the book, or others published elsewhere.

Summer slides into autumn - tangled with -
Flora Flower (Smita Toke) - page 84
Instacon (Alice Hendon) - page 32

For me the biggest plus point of Tangle All Around the World (US link to buy) is the ability to work offline, away from any screens or devices. Mostly I'm able to pull tangles from memory if I want to work unplugged, but sometimes you want to try new tangles without trawling for them through a screen, and this book is perfect for that.  I discovered plenty of tangles I'd never seen before, and worked with some new-to-me tanglers, and I know the book will be a resource I visit again and again.

Autumn's arrival - tangled with
Patchett (Donald Wilka) - page 43
Tierso (Donald Wilka) - page 57
Oscillate (Alice Hendon) - page 171

When tangling my postcards I mostly stuck to using one tangle in each coloured section, but crossed the lines at times to better tie the sections together. I was pleased with the line work, but my shading went a little awry as these postcards had a challenging surface, both bumpy and slippery, and they resisted smooth use of coloured pencil or graphite. Had I not been on holiday I might have tested more thoroughly before I began, or chosen to shade differently, but this was about relaxed no stress tangling. So while the finished postcards may look a little rough and ready, they gave me great pleasure to work on - a little bit added here and there over the course of a lazy week, a week that took us from bright bone-warming sunshine to crisp blanket-craving autumnal nights.

I ended our holiday a bit more rested and ready to resume normal life, 
and with a panorama of global tangling to show for it too!

Thursday, 29 August 2019

a blaze of glory

Way back in March I was working from a list of botanical style tangles gathered together by UK CZT Lucy Farran.  I got halfway through the list and then drifted to other things.

As the UK was blasted with a burst of intense heat last weekend I decided to show botanicals at their most vibrant on 3 ATCs that I coloured using 3 watercolour brush pens in orange, purple and teal.  I put little blobs of each colour onto the other tiles to better tie them together as a set.

Tangled with Andromeda, Pozer and a grid version of Oke

For each tile I used only 3 tangles from the list - one that could form a band, one grid tangle and one clump type tangle.

Tangled with Mumsy, Dooleedo and Jasmin

On bright tiles with limited space I had to work hard to avoid the tile becoming cluttered and the tangles overpowered.  Dark auras and rounding at the final stage really helped refine the definition.

Tangled with Ying, Aura-Leah and Krokus

As a set I think they have a particularly late summer feel to them.  They are bright, but a little overdone, the blooms are full but close to falling apart, or at least falling out with each other.  It's like the party has reached its peak, soon it will start to disperse, and then all we'll be left with is the clearing away that is autumn.

Riding the wave - this piece measures roughly 11 x 8 cm. 
It's tangled on a piece of Medioevalis paper which I finally bought following numerous recommendations.
The colours are the same as on the ATCs but my scanner really disagrees with the orange!
Some tangles you see here - Mooka, Esher, Gelijoy, Tipple, Bales, Flukes

I've also been working on this piece, albeit very slowly.  I started it about a month ago and added a little bit here and there every so often.  Usually I like to leave significant space on my tangled pieces, but sometimes I like the feeling of cramming lots of tangles in with little room to breathe.  There's not a lot of space but they look like they're having fun!

Monday, 19 August 2019

eight days a week

Last week my world turned black and white - care of the wonderful videos that accompanied Zentangle's latest Project Pack.  You can find more details of Pack 06 and the videos explained in masterful detail by Linda at Tangle Patterns.

The fruits of my labours - all shapes and sizes, but all black and white

I didn't buy the pack, but wanted to join in with the fun - especially when I heard that the theme was No Mistakes - which is one of the central tenets of the Zentangle Method.  Apparently the Pack contains pens and also a special booklet, with black ink blots, drops, splashes, dashes and smears on each page.  In the videos we are guided to tangle back and forth between the black and white sections, switching pens as we go.

I decided to make do with whatever materials I had to hand.  Lengthy discussions took place among fellow tanglers about how best to create our ink blots.  I used a few different techniques - with differing difficulty and success. 

Day 1

Mooka, Tipple and Diva Dance on a small Relaxagon tile

I laid down the black using a Sakura Brush Pen

It took me a while to get the hang of moving between the black and white,
but then they started to blend quite seamlessly.  In fact I think the dividing line
disappears more on this tile than any of my later ones

On this first tile I deviated a bit from what Maria did - I used Tipple and Diva Dance around my Mooka instead of her Crescent Moon, and once I'd done this on one tile I brought little pops of those in on the other days too, just to help tie my set together.

Day 2

Arukas, Tipple, Diva Dance and some black ribbons on a watercolour postcard

On this one I used a black Inktense pencil - applied thickly then wetted to create my black mark -
the white gel pen skipped a little on this surface

I enjoyed the extra space, allowing those Arukas arms to extend and divide themselves - simple shading
on the white areas added dimension - but unfortunately my white chalk pencils wouldn't work over my black

Day 3

A line of pearls, spiralled Flux, Mooka, Tipple and tufts of Diva Dance on a
regular sized tile again with black section made using Inktense

This one was relaxing to do - there's something inherently calming about a spiral,
and running the detail line down one side of each Flux leaf gives a new look

Day 4

Munchin morphing into Paradox, with added Tipple

On this ATC I used my Black Soot Distress ink pad to create
the dark area

My gel pen ran very smoothly on the Distress Ink area
but unfortunely turned a little grey - but hey,
there are no mistakes here!

Day 5

More pearls, Printemps and Melting Mooka, and Diva Dance
and Tipple on an Inktense blackened square tile

This was my favourite day - something about Melting Mooka
really appealed to me - the way it grows and forms those
sections ripe for filling

Day 6

Ing, Tipple and various spiral fills and details

Having watched the video I knew using white chalk would be
necessary, so I made my black section using a piece of
black pastel paper stuck to a white tile.

I made the spirals in graphite on the left using a precision eraser pen!

Day 7

Indyrella, Tipple, Diva Dance on a Bijou tile
coloured with Inktense

I struggle with Indyrella, it takes focus to keep it neat,
hence choosing to do just a little tile on this day!

Day 8

An embedded word on a rectangle of Medioevalis paper - 8 x 11cm

I applied a swipe of black Distress Ink across this tile

Pure pleasure to pick a word - a word I need a great deal right now -
and then watch it disappear, while still remaining

I had a great time following along with the Zentangle videos, absorbing the enthusiasm and skill that the team share in each and every one.  It's been great seeing how others respond to these same projects.  I think this is a technique that I'll revisit again and again - I'm already busy researching the best black and white inks to buy to help me create even better tiles to work on.  I can also see that the technique could be adapted to work with colours too - particularly the deeper ones. 

Keen eyes might also have noticed that I'm trying to make better used of my chop (the initials I use to sign my tiles once finished).  Often I just stick it in somewhere without much thought - but I'm trying to make it sit more mindfully and creatively within my tangling - with success on a few of the tiles, and on one I forgot it altogether!

Friday, 16 August 2019

no work and all play

The other week I sent an email to Annette who is collating tiles for her latest Mosaik Project.  I also made a comment about how I was sorry to have fallen behind with her Zendala Moments series.  She quite rightly replied saying that there was no deadline, and that she would enjoy my pieces whenever they were completed, however long that took!  And of course that is true.  There is no time limit, there is just the invitation to use her string and share where it takes me with others who have done the same. 

I knew this, I know this and yet I still fell into the habit of thinking I'd fallen behind.  We live in a world where we often have to keep up, get ahead, or struggle to catch up if we fall behind.  But we really don't need to carry that ethos over into our tangling.  We must fight the urge to mirror the attitudes of work and chores and obligations, onto the experience of pleasure and play, relaxation, meditation and escape.

Zendala Moments #5 - tangled with Diva Dance, Papermint, Doodah and my own newest tangle, Blaw

In part the reason I took longer on these pieces was because I was doing a lot to them.  I thought it might be fun to see the Zendala strings on a rectangular tile rather than a round tile.  I decided to use a couple of Hahnemühle cold pressed watercolour postcards.  I added a fair bit of colour to them before I started - using watercolour brush pens in shades of teal and purple.  Once dry I added some extra dark teal, using a Distress Ink pad and making subtle marks on the postcard using the rim of a small jam jar, the cap of a pencil protector, and the edge of a ruler.  I tucked the postcards away and only later got them out to tangle - working in black ink mostly, with a few pops of purple ink.  I shaded and highlighted where appropriate.  Then I got a bit daring and went in and added some more splots of purple watercolour, using a small sponge through a dotty stencil.  It felt a little dangerous adding wet colour to a piece I'd already tangled but I felt it added a little extra interest.  I then finished off with some dots of silver gel pen and white paint pen - following lines in the both tangling and background.

I'm often very minimal and safe in my use of colour, but I've been getting more daring and growing in confidence and reading Alice's glorious technicolour blog and her encouragement have surely helped a lot! 

Zendala Moments #6 - tangled with a Cruffle variation, Cubine, Meer and Beadlines

We're halfway through the last month that I define as summer, soon thoughts will shift to all things autumnal.  But for now my colours are changing - the yellows, sky blues and vast array of greens are handing over to sea blues and the purples of blousey blooms and butterfly-bobbed buddleia. 

So today I've shown you my responses to two of Annette's Zendala Moments string invitations - which she shared in May and June - but I finished just yesterday, in August!  These two pieces took a long time, but I think they were well worth the wait.

Wednesday, 31 July 2019

monochrome rainbows

Shading is one of the aspects I enjoy the most when I work on a tile - but last week I barely shaded at all, and I realised that often, particularly at the height of summer, I tend to forego my pencil and work with ink alone.

I decided to continue to leave my pencil to one side, and this week I worked on some Notan style tiles. In brief Notan is a Japanese artistic technique that uses only black and white to create striking and varied images or patterns. It's a style that lends itself to Zentangle. There are a handful of tangles that Linda at Tangle Patterns groups together under the tag of Notan - including a few Zentangle originals, of which we're all familiar, and probably use quite often in our work.

Whilst Notan tangles look great in black on white tiles, they also delight on more colourful backgrounds. I prepared my backgrounds by blending three shades of Distress Inks (Crushed Olive, Peacock Feathers, Dusty Concord) on a piece of Strathmore Bristol Smooth. I then cut this into two 4x4 and 4 2x2 tiles to fill a page in my binder.

I set to tangling, choosing a handful of my favourite Notan tangles. Filling in large amounts of black ink can feel time-consuming, but I find it quite relaxing. If it seems daunting to you then try working small as I did on these four Bijou size tiles. I used a 01 pen to draw the initial tangle and then filled using an 02.
Tangles used -
on the Bijou (top to bottom) - Dyzzee, Knightsbridge, Strircles, Flontrast
on the two large tiles (top) - Chloë & Ozzie (bottom) - Blaw

It's worth taking a little care as you move from section to section. It's easy to think that it such an easy tangle that it doesn't need much focus - sometimes a wicked sprite seems to whisper in your ear telling you to jump ahead and fill in a section, and suddenly you've messed up. Or you slip and your pen crosses from an area of black into white. No disaster, just a chance to add a little flourish or change of direction. There is no need for these tangles to be considered stark or boring, in my examples I've added little tweaks - frames, or perfs, lines or bulges.

While I played with other Notan tangles I started to devise one of my own - loosely based on the structure of Bales. It's my pleasure to introduce you to Blaw - named after a contraction of the phrase 'black and white'.

Just a few steps to build the basic frame, and then fill as you desire.

It's easy to underestimate Notan style tangles, to think they can be nothing more than their bold black and white selves. But there's subtlety to them if you choose to look for it - as can be seen here.

Detail lines, rounding, and auras, or a a combination of these -
all add interest and variety to a Notan tangle

And that's without the power of shading which of course could be included too! Margaret Bremner takes the Notan concept even further and twists it in all sorts of interesting directions.

I look forward to seeing what you do with Blaw - please let me know if you use it, and if you like it.

As always, if this tangle appears to be too similar to any others in name or style, please let me know.

Thursday, 25 July 2019

seeking shade

This time last year I was writing about tangling through a UK heatwave.  And the same is happening at the moment, albeit thankfully on a smaller scale.  I'm lethargic and disinclined to work on tiny details or pieces that need a lot of blending, smoothing, tinkering.  I'm adapting my tangling to the mood of the weather.

I'm also learning to work with my materials, rather than against them.  I picked two tiles from the stash of lokta paper kindly sent to me by my tangle friend YvetteLast time I worked on two tissue thin pieces with grasses trapped within them.  This time I picked two of the thicker pieces, in this shade that reminds me of parched grass.  This paper is heavily textured, especially on one side, it calls to mind baked earth desperate for rainfall.

I knew the paper would challenge fine pen work, but I wasn't in the mood for that anyway- so grabbed my 02 and 03 black pens and set to work tangling loops and giant Tipple and then adding a few other tangles.  I added some small pops of brighter green, from a particularly juicy pen and watched the paper suck the ink into itself.

Going loopy - mostly unnamed ink roamings with added Pixioze

The view from down under - similar but with Inaura

A handful of white highlights and the merest suggestion of graphite shading and they were done.  I tangled them separately, but they were always destined to be a pair.


I found a small burst of additional inspiration, and tangled this piece on an ATC sized tile I'd coloured with a Faber-Castell Gelato, a set of which I received as a recent birthday present.

Melting moments - a simple spread of Esher
with added detail lines

The heat is set to break tomorrow, and I hope the week ahead brings some sea breezes because I'm keen to bring some summery teals and blues into the mix.