Tuesday, 18 September 2018

a little of what you fancy

I don't think I have too many art supplies.  If gathered together in one place they would fit in two drawers of my old bureau.  I've seen people with far more, and equally people who create magic with a ballpoint pen on scrap paper.  I resist the urge to buy every new pen that catches my eye.  I read copious reviews before trialing a new paper.  And often I come back to my old favourites again and again.  But sometimes I think perhaps I have more than enough - in the literal sense of the phrase.  I have more than I can hold in mind.  More than I can choose from.  Things get forgotten, which of course also allows for the thrill of rediscovery.  

And so it was this week.  The Diva challenged us to tangle with straight lines only.  I knew I wanted to draw bands of Shard, a tangle I rarely use despite it being a close cousin to Baton which is one of my favourites.  I almost grabbed a square tile, then I remembered my 3Zs!  A little box of precious triangles I treated myself to earlier this year!

Diva #368 - Shard / 3Z tile / pigment ink / graphite

I recently took myself a week long holiday at home.  Time spent with loved ones, away from normal activities, chores, hours spent on this computer.  We talked, we read, we ate cakes, we laughed, loved, listened to starlings singing from the fir tree, we slept late and long, and walked out on a grey day to a beautiful little churchyard.  And of course I wanted to tangle, but didn't want to be rooting through options.  So before I 'left' I packed up a little set.  3 tiles cut down from Zentangle Apprentice tiles, to something postcard shaped (roughly measuring 11 x 8 cm).  My trusty black Uni Pin 01, a turquoise Copic SP I very rarely reach for, a Zig Clean Color Brush in Haze blue and a pencil and stump.  And these are the tiles that came from that. 

Bran and Printemps / Shattuck, Bunzo, Clob, Beadlines, Printemps / Huggins, Antidots, Clob

To summarise - I like having choices, but not too many.  I like limitations too, but only if I know I can break free!

Thursday, 6 September 2018

searching for neverland

Earlier this year The Diva did a wise thing. She recognised that she needed to take a break from creating and sharing her weekly challenges with us. And she not only recognised that need but she claimed it too. And she asked us to support her in this, as I'm sure we all have, much as we've missed her. She was also incredibly brave in telling us why she needed that break. Just because she's back we should assume she might never need to take a break again. Her return is a valuable reminder for us to listen to ourselves, listen for the sometimes quiet voice of our needs.  To ask and claim and sometimes demand what we require.

Sometimes the momentum of life keeps us moving on without giving us the chance to stop and take stock of where we are, where we come from and where we might be going.  Zentangle, and particularly this week's Back to Basics challenge, gives one way to take stock thanks to these little black and white snapshots.


Just over five years ago, on the 18th June 2013, I drew my first ever Zentangle tile.  A square of postcard paper, a black fibre tip, a Woolworths pencil.  Since then I've learnt so much.  A wide array of different tangles and techniques.  My pen control has improved enormously. I've learnt to use highlights and shade safely even near thick black ink on those super soft tiles!  I've learnt the value and pleasure offered by superior materials.

I often share my very first tile with new tanglers, or people who are doubting their ability.  With regular mindful practice it's almost impossible not to improve, and having fun while doing so!


Today I drew a tile - on beautiful Italian paper, with a juicy Pigma Micron pen, and my trusty old Woolworths HB pencil.  I started with four dots, a border, a string based on my initials and chop.  I used the same three tangles from that June day - Crescent Moon, Static and Tipple.  And it couldn't look more different.

And while I'm thrilled  and grateful at all the progress I've made there's a little bit of me that misses  the naivety of where I started from.  That giddy combination of not knowing what you're doing but loving it all the same.  The innocence of just putting marks on paper without a bulk of knowledge and ideas all trying to suggest themselves loudly in your ear.  But I'm not Peter Pan, I had to grow up, but maybe one day I'll come full circle and find my way back to Neverland. 

Wednesday, 5 September 2018

opportunities lost and found

I've only sent a handful of tiles to dear Adele in time for her weekly It's a String Thing challenges.  A few I've finished but too late for the deadline and I've posted them here instead.  But the rest I've still managed to enjoy thanks to sticking to my year long pledge to make at least a Bijou if I don't have time for a full tile.  Although admittedly some of these were completed some time after the challenge!

These are real tests of economy and invention, how to fit the string, or occasionally only part of the thing onto a tiny tile.  How to bring in two or three tangles and make them play nicely.  How to get shading and highlight and sometimes colour harmoniously working in a two by two inch space.  Challenging,  but really rewarding too!

On quite a few of these tiles my tangling deviated quite some way from how the tangle is 'meant' to look - my D'rua insisting on becoming Antidots, and my Baraquillos is totally wrong but looks just as tasty!  But how much of life really turns out like it's meant to? At least in Zentangle you can still guarantee a happy ending!

A few of these were done on pastel paper - I find it works nicely for the limited space, allowing for simple highlights and shading to really stand out.  It was drawn a while ago but IAST #253 features a broken version of Printemps that I've drawn a few times.  It's a simple but incredibly versatile tangle as shown by Margaret Bremner in her hot-off-the-press post - Printemps, And Then Some.

And as always there were a couple of pleasant surprises.  I had a couple of tiles that I'd done some watercolour blobs onto and then discarded onto the pile.  I picked one for challenge #245 which was donut / doughnut themed!  It had a jammy look to it that I thought might work.  I didn't really like the string, or the tangle selection - and yet I really like the finished tile!  Isn't that strange!  And the same happened with challenge #255 - I played with Konk but didn't like it a great deal, but once I tangled it over some colour bursts I love it.  And some tweaking and shading made me see the appeal of Flog too!

I'm sure I'll miss a few more IAST challenges before the year is out, but there's always a ready supply of  tiny tiles in my little tin! 

I've had a bit of a tidy up here, a new header banner, which I aim to change seasonally.  But most importantly I've tidied up all the different buttons to my tangles on my sidebar.  Instead they are all group together clickable via the single Ragged Ray's Tangles button.  Thanks to Susie Ng for her invaluable technical help!

Wednesday, 22 August 2018

for your eyes only

Maria Thomas recently wrote a blog post asking for advice for new tanglers.  I responded by suggesting people shouldn't be over-eager to share the all the results of their tangling.  Don't get me wrong, I love seeing people's art, and I love sharing my own.  But I think some balance has value too.  I think we can tend to feel that everything we produce is for the public eye, and that can make us overly self-critical.  If instead a tile is sometimes only for us it can be something more precious, more personal.  And perhaps we'll share it later, but when we've come to know it better.  Which might eliminate some of those 'this is a bit rubbish' disclaimers that people post beneath their work!  I feel that I was lucky to initially learn Zentangle  from a book, with only my pens and tiles and paper and no-one to show it to.  I still like to do that now - tangle tiles, play with ideas and not share them at all, or at least not straight away.  For every benefit of an online community - whether that is blog-based, Facebook groups, Instagram - there are drawbacks too.  It's not about not doing it, but bearing in mind the influence it has on your practice of the art.

That said, here are some of the pieces that I've worked on over the past few weeks. 

This started as a practice piece - playing with how white gel and pencil only would look on a tan tile.  I drew a little section of Krokus in a frame.  And I loved how it looked - to the degree that I forced myself to leave the tile at that, nothing more.

I recently got lucky and stumbled across some bargain priced original Zentangle tiles, which encouraged me to get reckless with the scissors and do one of those cut ups that were all the rage at the end of last year.  I'm heavily into Diva Dance Rock 'n' Roll at the moment and stumbled on the idea of only filling in certain parts with black - I really like the result.  Some curls of white Diva Dance on the black side and metallic purple Therefore to pull it all together!

In a developing theme I finished a tile for Adele's It's a String Thing #256 challenge - but not in time!  But here it is!  A simple band of the lovely Mazorito - with single Horti sprouting from it here and there.  All done on a grey pastel paper tile, with shading and white highlights galore!

And lastly, it's that time again where the Queen of Tangled Mosaics Annette asks for contributions for her forthcoming Project.  This time she gave us a string based on the Zentangle ribbons done in Project Pack #3.  And she asked us to tangle and shade some of them in red!  Which was quite daunting as I find it quite an unfriendly colour and usually only use my red pen for step-outs.  But once I'd found a pencil that matched I was pleasantly surprised with the results.  These are the two tiles I'm sending her and I can't wait to see what they look like mixed in with all the others - she'll share the results on 5th September.

Back in May I shared this tile that I was sending to Annette for Project #13 and once the Project was done she sent me a mini Mosaic she'd made with my tile alone.  Every time I'm wowed when I see how a single tile can be flipped and rotated and grow into something so wonderful.  And of course the full glory is when all of our individual tiles come together - in many different layouts - see the full story of Project #13 here.

Wednesday, 1 August 2018

mad dog days

It's been weeks since my last tangled confession.  Our overheated summer has continued. Every so often we get a day or two when the temperature dips, and hopes rise, only for the mercury to start creeping up again.  Our garden is parched - lawn browned to straw, the soil solid and cracked.  Curls of bark and more than the usual number of leaves tumble from our eucalyptus.

The bark was rough beneath my pen, the leaf almost waterproofed.  Mooka and Printemps will travel with these remnants as they go with the green waste for recycling.

I feel heavy and sluggish and dried out.  Even my ideas are starting to wither.  I've not tangled much.  I've finished some swap tiles sent to me by others, somehow that's felt easier, as if they've already broken the barrier of the blank page.  And the handful of tiles I've drawn on my own have taken a long time to emerge. I've added little bits over the course of weeks - not my usual way of working - but at least something to mark the period, to share with you.

Bursts of red against the blue - Ying, Hollibaugh and Printemps

It's a String Thing #252, which I didn't finish on time -
just the warm and wonderful Deeday.

I tried something new... inspired by a conversation with Michele Wynne about her hesitation to working on pre-strung Zendala tiles.  I wondered what would happen if I partially ignored the pre-strung lines, or used them in a non-symmetrical way.  I think the result is less pleasing than I had hoped, but it was interesting to do - something rather liberating about the feeling of breaking the 'rules'.  I'm sure I'll try it again sometime.

I tissue-dyed the tile before tangling with hexagonal Aquafleur, Elirob, Scrawls, Fassett and Printemps

Since starting to write this post we've had a welcome break in the weather.  Last Friday afternoon - a little thunder, a flash of lightning and then a most gentle rain.  We stood outside and let it fall on us, greeted like we've never seen it before.  On Sunday it poured all day, and in the early hours of Tuesday morning I woke to hear yet more rain overflowing from our neighbours gutters.  The lawn is starting its return to green. But this is respite, not cure - the forecast says the heat will return by the end of this week. 

Friday, 29 June 2018

in the shadow of the sun

It's getting hot here in the UK, and while blue skies and sunshine hold a certain appeal I find myself growing sluggish.  I have limited focus and energy, but at the same time I find many ideas flitting through my mind.  I have inklings - to start some kind of larger project, maybe just for myself, maybe including others - maybe both.  The idea keeps shifting and evolving.  Who knows if it will see the light of day, but if it does it won't be today.  For today I'll share a few recent tiles I've completed in those rare moments where inspiration and execution met.    

I drew this black tile a couple of weeks ago.  I'm determined to keep working on black tiles, as I love the look, but need to fully embrace the differences from tangling on white.  I used to think black tile work was quicker than white.  But now I know that's not the case.  I need to work just as slowly, and carefully consider the tile at each stage, turning and working out where more is needed, so as to build up something pleasing.  On this one I used Mooka in a Paradox kind of way and then filled it with Printemps.

This next tile was my contribution to Adele Bruno's recent challenge (#248), where she invited us to work with the lovely Drupe.  I started with every intention of sending it to her, but it took me too long.  Here she shares the tiles she did receive - and what a wonderful bunch they are!  I tangled on a tile I'd made a long time ago when I first got my Distress Inks - complete with a strange stain!  I tangled in dark red and popped an extra bump into each Drupe section - which made the shading extra fun.  My tangling completely ignored the string, but I popped it back in afterwards!  The finish tiles reminds me of laying under parasols on sunny days, or perhaps the big top tent at the circus.

I recently bought myself a whole box of 3Z tiles to play with and I started this week by grabbing one and tangling this.  I had no plan and just used whatever tangles came to mind and fit the space - Mooka, Nik, Arukas and Hollibaugh all appear in small amounts.  I love the way these tiles encourage a 3 sided symmetry, and I'm excited to see where playing with them will take me.

And lastly this tile, which I tangled yesterday.  I grabbed a tile from my stash that I had coloured with Brusho powder - I'm experimenting to find ways to tame these powders so that they show what they're made of without being so overpowering that the tangling has to fight to compete.  It was an increasingly hot day and my tangling seems to reflect that - 2 bands of Sling-Slang, and a middle section using the Lisbon fragment - which was all the rage last summer and is demonstrated to admirable effect by Margaret Bremner.  It was slow work, but absolutely what I needed.

Tuesday, 12 June 2018

curiouser and curiouser

It's been 3 months since I shared the innermost secrets of my sketchbook with you.  So here we go again.  My practice pages have become even darker and more dense as the year has moved on - with tangles tucking in, around and under each other.  I wonder if this says more about my mind or my creative style - and where is the dividing line between one and the other?

Points of interest - some inky aured Pokeleaf which appeared in a challenge tile.
Rediscovering Romancy, Loop Lopp and Coil.
A giant Paradox, and a tiny Wholly-Hollibaugh-Flux thing.
Playing with new blue pens for Marguerite Samana's Delft technique.

Points of interest - practicing Tomas Padros' Pickpocket.
  Discovering Krokus, Pernula and the wonderful Nik and Kaboom!
  Creating a juicy Mooka border that I really love!

Points of interest - playing with Adele Bruno's new tangle, Mack.
  Re/discovering Odee, Reno and Elirob.
  Tucking curvy tangles against straight - Flux and Ing.
  Playing with Mooka inside some circles.

Points of interest - playing with Diva Dance Rock 'n' Roll roses.
  Hearts and Diamonds and the first appearance of Miff!
  A Nik / Arukas fusion that I really like!
  'Down the Rabbit Hole' - dense and time consuming but such fun!

I've made a few notes on each image, pointing out things that I particularly like - but you might spot others that take your fancy.  Feel free to ask if there is anything you'd like named or explained!