Thursday, 21 November 2019

the legacy of a leaf

With just over a month left in this year I find myself tangling less. There's limited daylight to tangle by and I often have one eye on Christmas planning.  I'm spending less time with pen and tile, but that makes tangle time feel all the more precious.

'Nzeppel fills a band of Shattuck and a section of Spoken.
I worked on Strathmore tan toned tiles, trimmed to regular size.

I remember meeting 'Nzeppel - how my first use of it coincided with my first experience of using an official Zentangle tile. And of how it reminded me of fishnet stockings! I don't use it often, and when I do it's usually just a small fragment of Crazy 'Nzeppel.  But I was interested to see how the tangle would fare in the full glare of the spotlight. (While you're at it be sure to check out some of the wonderful ways Margaret Bremner uses this tangle!)

A mostly regular 'Nzeppel fills a Bales string.
No highlights but gently built up shading (using a 4B pencil)
makes Bales rise from the tile.

I used other tangles as if they were strings, and then filled only with 'Nzeppel.  It's a relaxing and forgiving tangle that really comes into its own once you add simple shading.  I considered adding white highlights all over the tiles, but in the end just stuck with a tiny pop of brightness on those two graphite gems.

'Nzeppel fills an Aquafleur - and two thin 'Nzeppel ribbons
add a finishing touch.  A grey gem adds a little shine.

I'd been toying with the idea of trying something different with 'Nzeppel for a few months and I'd imagined tangling these tiles during my Winter Inklings (I pictured fracture ice and frost patterns).  But then I reached for three tan tiles, and noticed how they grew to resemble the dried leaves of late autumn. All colour mostly faded, leaving behind only the skeletons of who those leaves once were.

Wednesday, 6 November 2019

full of beans

Last week I enjoyed a holiday at home. Predominantly a week's rest, a disconnection from the outside world, before the return to normality, all set to plough through the last couple of months of this year.

After Inktober and its tangling intricacies, working with two pens and 3 tangles on each ATC, I wanted something different, something easier and therefore more mindful. I remembered I'd bought a sketchbook sometime back that I hadn't used. It was from the wonderful The Pink Pig, a British company that makes sketchbooks in all shapes sizes and colours, and at very reasonable prices. I've got a couple in white, but this is filled with their delicious Cappuccino paper (which is apparently 30% made from recycled coffee cups)! It's a good weight (150gsm) - smooth enough for the pen, with enough tooth to please the pencil, and such a rich shade.

Armed with just a bare minimum of supplies -
the pad is A5 size (roughly 15x21cm).

For my first piece I worked with two tangles that I struggled most with during Inktober.  One was Jalousie, which appeared in my second piece, but I wanted to add some curve and movement and fun to it. The second was Trentwith. A tangle which seemed to polarise people - some loved it, some hated it, I just struggled to give it the attention it deserved.  Fellow tanglers gave me much encouragement, and now I better understand the tumbled heart of Trentwith.

Enjoying the benefits of a larger space -
allowing the tangles to swoop and bloom.

On my second piece I used an oval template to create my string. I filled these initial ovals with bands of shiny, bulging Marasu.  I then went in and added a simple trinity of Mooka, Fescu and Printemps.

Shading and highlighting come to life on this paper -
the tangles look like burnished metal.

I only tangled these two pieces all week – adding a little to them each day. Sometimes that's the most satisfying way to work.

As autumn deepens in the weeks ahead, colour will depart from my tiles, to mimic its steady fading as the natural world around us gets ready for winter. But don't worry it may not be bright, but I'll do my best to make it beautiful!

Thursday, 31 October 2019

unpacking an inky month

This time last year I was writing about the 'failure' of my attempt to join in with Inktober. This year it's a different story, I started well and managed to complete the entire month. I'm pleased with the results and proud of myself. Sensible planning helped – I set my sights realistically, knowing a tile a day would be too much. Instead I decided to do every three days worth of tangles on ATC sized tiles.

Ta-da!  A handful of autumnal delights.

My Inktober experience brought pleasures both old and new from every direction. I enjoyed a return to tan tiles - time away from certain colour schemes has made me relish their rediscovery. I worked with fountain pens in two colours (Diamine's Raw Sienna and Deep Dark Orange). To begin with I was missing my black fine liner, with the all the control it offers. But the more I used the fountain pens the more I came to love their ways (not including the increased risk of smudging!) - and there's something truly thrilling about the variety of coloured inks available, and how economical and renewable they are compared to throwaway pens.

Days 1 to 3 - Printemps, Tunnelvizion, Toodles
Days 4 to 6 - Zonked, Jalousie, Flukes
Days 7 to 9 - Huggins, Bales, Lola

I tinkered about quite a bit before October began, both choosing my materials and deciding on a few embellishments that would carry a sense of unity across the tiles, and make them more cohesive as a group. I used lots of white gel dots on inked auras, as well as areas where I used the ink to make a paler wash, either left bare or tangled once dry - another benefit of working with liquid ink!

Days 10 to 12 - Cubine, InaFlux, Floo
Days 13 to 15 - Yin-Cut, Arukas, Mayhill
Days 16 to 18 - Trentwith, Dreamdex and Sindoo
Days 19 to 21 - Diva Dance, Antidots and Batumber

It was a pleasure to have my tangles chosen for me, doing away with the need for decisions. I worked with familiar tangles I love (Arukas, Antidots), some I struggle with (Tripoli, Ratoon) and others I rarely use (Trentwith, Jalousie). Trying to fit three (and on the last tile four) tangles onto relatively small tile made me think more about how tangles connect or overlap with each other - an area I sometimes struggle with. Links to all the tangles used can be found on this year's list - compiled with care by Stephanie Jennifer. If you didn't join in it's still a great resource to use at any point!

Sharing my pieces every three days in the 7F5R Challenge Facebook group has added to the feeling of being a part of a community effort. I've seen the wonders created by many of my friends, and I've discovered new tanglers whose paths I've never crossed before. I've seen people struggle and people soar - and I've seen 31 tangles used in a wild array of different ways.

Days 22 to 24 - Abundies, Pixiose and Baton
Days 25 to 27 - Tripoli, Ratoon and Crescent Moon
Days 28 to 31 - Well, Well, Who, Kuke, Nik and Florz

Who knows what I'll find myself doing next October, but for now I'm content to share these 10 tiles – a record of a challenge completed, a tan-toned tangle adventure, or merely the passage through one month of this particular autumn.

Thursday, 17 October 2019

the patience of a leaf

Autumn strikes me as a season that won't be hurried.  In its own time it carries the natural world from the warmth of summer through to winter's cold.  Leaves steadily change colour, setting their own pace, deepening and darkening until they eventually drop.  Each leaf will only fall when it's ready - and I like to imagine it's that waiting that allows those leaves to paint themselves in such stunning colours. 

I like to time my time over the things I enjoy - and so it was with this two tile piece.  The tangling and shading took me a couple of hours.  Steady progress - adding ink, then stopping at look at my tile, then adding a little more.  The same with the shading and the highlights.  Pausing often to look and ponder my tile helps me to appreciate the process as well as tweaking my tangling here and there to make it look the best it can.  My tangling won't be rushed any more that the littlest leaf!

Rich and warming - Ginili, Yuma and a Pokeleaf variation.
Pigment ink, graphite, white pencil and Ivory Posca paint pen highlights.
Three shades of Brusho powders created the background - Sandstone, Terracotta and Burnt Sienna.

I've made Persian Mosaics for Winter, Spring and Summer as well as exploring them in the original colours schemes suggested by Marguerite Samama.  Every time I work on these connecting triangles they take me somewhere new and remind me that there is endless variety and pleasure (not to mention value for money) to be had from Marguerite's carefully crafted kits.

Wednesday, 9 October 2019

dipping autumn's inkwell

There is no unifying theme to the pieces I'm sharing today other than their warming autumnal tones and the fact that I've worked on them all within the last week.

Inktober is underway once again. Last year I only made it to Day 3 before getting hopelessly waylaid by the lovely Ginili. This year I'm doing better - and I've made it to Day 9 so far! I'll hopefully blog about the whole month once it's done, and share all my tiles and process then - but in the meantime a couple of images to show what I've been up to, especially to those of you who are not seeing my tiles every few days in the Facebook group.

A work in progress photo – real inks in real pens, slightly scary but fun too

Nine days, nine tangles, three tiles

I've also had fun exploring some new tangles recently. Sometimes the best way to get to know a tangle is to simply fill an entire tile with it. Drawing repetitively helps cement the shape in your mind and hand, as well as allowing you to see how it fits together.

Singapore tangler Debbie New recently shared the heart-warming story behind her newest tangle, Wingfrond. I held the connections and friendships that grow from this shared passion tightly in mind and heart as I drew her tangle over and over again. I decided to use a slightly larger piece of paper, to allow the tangle to dance as freely as it chose to, and I like extravagance of the result, but I am curious next time to try and pack Wingfrond more tightly to see how that looks.

Wonderful Wingfrond – pigment ink and graphite on a 12x12cm piece of Medioevalis paper.
Autumnal colour was added in places by blending two Clean Color Brush Pens.

UK based Lucy Farran had a new tangle published recently on Tangle Patterns. Apparently Swooshi came about by replacing the C strokes of Molygon with an S stroke instead. Lucy admits that the tangle doesn't fit together quite as neatly as Molygon but it has a lively look – somewhere between floral and fiery. As with Molygon the trick to drawing this is to relax a little and allow yourself to get into the rhythm of the strokes.

Sensational Swooshi – pigment ink, graphite, watercolour brush pens.
This tangle has vast potential for fills and quite by accident I found
that little blocks of darkness between each piece looked quite appealing.

Hanny Nura just started a new month of her Full Moon Mosaic. She invited us to work this time within a suggested string on a Renaissance tile, with one section coloured. She also introduced a new Zentangle official tangle, called Hollis, which was recently shared at the recent Asian zenAgain event. 


October Moon – featuring Hollis, Bunzo, Cresent Moon, Tipple, Mooka - on a tan Zendala, coloured with Terracotta Brusho, and shaded using black micron, white gel, white and red chalk, graphite
 
I rarely work on the official Renaissance tiles – their colour is wonderful, but I find the surface so delicate for my rather heavy-handed approach! However I worked slowly and carefully, building up my colour and smoothing my white and graphite shading without totally destroying the paper. Tentative and at times mildly terrifying, but mindful and satisfying too.

Thursday, 3 October 2019

concentrically yours

Sometimes an idea catches hold of me and won't let me go - and that's what happened recently. Hanny Nura shares monthly prompts, and for the September Full Moon Mosaic she invited us to draw concentric rings on a round tile, colour each a different colour, tangle the bands and border with gold. People share their results and a wonderful collaboration arises – each person bringing their own interpretation to the theme.  I shared the following tile in the Full Moon Mosaic Facebook group.

My contribution to the September Mosaic -
for the outer ring I used Eni Oken's version of my Divi tangle.
And moving inwards - Kaboom, Pixiose and Gelijoy.

However, I didn't feel like I finished with the idea. So I prepared four more backgrounds with variations on the idea of concentric rings. I coloured these using just three Ecoline markers - although with greater and lesser intensity, and more blending on some pieces than others.

Broken rings - filled with a rough Ratoon, with Bunzo between -
black beads and shading almost managed to hide the gaps between my rings!


Zem Button style shading brought this simple piece to life -
rings of Marasu and Doodah with a Printemps middle.

On these last two tiles I found myself drifting away from using 'proper' tangles. Instead I was just drawing lines in repetitive ways, but that repetition in itself is very close to the notion of tangling. When I first started my Zentangle journey this would happen sometimes, but as I've got more used to the practice it happens less - and perhaps that's a sad thing to have lost? Following the pen with no destination in mind is sometimes just what you need to do.

I started by drawing an ogee shape mandala flower - filling each section in the same way.
Without intention shapes that resemble familiar tangles start to appear -
relatives of Antidots, Fescu and Msst hide in this glowing bloom.

On this postcard I placed my colour in segments rather than rings - in a faintly
pencilled grid I tangled leaf shapes with tiny Tipple to cover those wobbly edges!


After recent rains gave way to sun the temperature has suddenly plummeted. Autumn can no longer be denied, summer slammed the door on her way out. Not many leaves have fallen yet in our garden, but they're getting ready – their colours are changing, and any day now they'll start to let go. We have evergreens to tide us through the colourless winter months, ivy and laurel - but the green on these tiles will be the last I use this year.

Wednesday, 25 September 2019

step into my parlour

It's been almost 5 months since my last confession - since I last showed you my inner workings, the jottings and explorations that fill my sketchbook.

As I browse online any new tangles I spot, or old tangles I'm reminded of, get doodled about with on the torn off papers from my page-a-day desk calendar.  Roughly once a week I have a session where any of those tangles that I like I play with further in my sketchbook.  I might copy the tangle faithfully and then try variations.  I might see how two tangles work together.

My sketchbook then becomes the resource for any tiles or pieces I'm working on.  Often I use recent pages for inspiration, but sometimes I go back, pull out an old sketchbook and rediscover treasures I've long forgotten.  For my recent Relaxagon Paradox tiles I dusted off a page of Paradox variations from 2015! 

Points of interest -
There are tangles here that I've used a lot - Sitiko, Saatin and Blind Membranart
And those that have only had one outing so far - Line Dance and  S-Vine
And those that haven't yet made it to a tile but will when the time is right - the (missed named by me) Oritigol

Points of interest -
A trio of Padrós tangles on this page - often challenging, always rewarding - Tissoooh, All Stars and Taiga
Revisiting Dreamdex - which I struggled with on first meeting but am warming to now
Checkmate and Salo - both proving that simple tangles can be just as charming as complex ones

Points of interest -
New discoveries - Matuvu and Windmill - both of which I love
Spotting harmonious tangle pairings - Seespan and Squirk
Playing with the Ogee shape with nothing else in mind (bottom left)
Points of interest -
The aptly autumnal Gelijoy and Ada which was the star of a recent IAST show
Kaas and RunCC - two wonderful grid type tangles
Skyview which takes much concentration and Violetka which doesn't

Working in my sketchbook is an invaluable part of my Zentangle practice - if you'd never tried it I'd encourage you to give it a go - you might be pleasantly surprised with where it leads you.  And even if you don't fancy that, hopefully there are plenty of tangles here to take your fancy - I wish I could link to them all but that would eat up too much tangle time!