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.

Thursday, 18 July 2019

taming the leaf

I usually begin by telling you about how a tile started, before eventually revealing the finished piece - but this week I'm going to reverse that.

Here is a two tile Persian Mosaic (I've blogged about these at length before) - my summer version of Marguerite's Samama's tangled triangular adventures.

Summer Mosaic - tangled with the hypnotic Doodah, rounded Paradox and a rough version of Decoo

These rich greens and golds didn't start off looking quite so good!  I started with two square tiles that I'd coloured using a new Brusho powder that claimed to be Leaf Green, but which turned out to be little different to their Lime Green.  These two tiles were far too zingy for my mid-summer mood so I set about calming them down a bit.

After pencilling in the unique string, using the template that comes with the Persian Mosaic kit, I tangled with my Olive Green Copic fineliner.  When it came to shading I used a Teal Blue Irojiten to shade along with graphite.  I added only a small pop of white chalk as I wanted this tile to calm down, not wake up. 

Work in progress - I started to shade a section of the first 3Z before I'd finished tangling 
because I wanted to check that what I was trying for might work before committing myself!

As a final finishing touch I used some gold watercolour to add a few dots and some little rings, made my dipping a pen cap into the paint and stamping it on the tile. 

Playing with the light - two tiles at rest of the arm of our garden bench.

I then cut the triangles free from the square tiles and placed the two together to make a whole. 

Sometimes days, like tiles, don't start how we'd like them to, but with a little patience and perseverance, some might end up better than we feared.

Wednesday, 10 July 2019

a pocket full of pretty green

Sometimes I have a clear focus and momentum to my tangling - I have certain projects or themes to work on and they spur me on to the next tile.  Then there are times when I feel like I'm drifting.  I have enthusiasm and desire to tangle, but no clear aim as to what to tangle.  Similar to writer's block - it's simply fear of the blank page or tile.  But then I remember that with Zentangle the 'why' is far more important than the 'what'.  I tangle for how it makes me feel, the focus and the calm and the pleasure of creation - those things are far more important than the finished results.  Which isn't to say that a pleasing tile isn't a thing of joy too!

The first time I tried Dreamdex I got in a mess,
and rapidly abandoned the tangle.  Recently I tried
it again and things went much better.
The fresh green of this tile clearly influenced me and
as I tangled a distinctly apple atmosphere developed! 

I felt that way this past week.  I floated around, fiddling with ideas, preparing backgrounds, looking at lots of other people's tangle art, but not settling to much of my own.  I soon realised that I wasn't going to find what I was looking for until I started putting ink to tile.  Soon after grabbing a tile, a pen and a tangle things started to fall back into their rightful place.

I magnified a couple of my Ahhs until they resembled giant seed heads
or possibly the copper crown of Lady Liberty herself!  Tweak takes
concentration for me - but is well worth the effort.  The final tile
looks a little like a printed circuit board garden -
a nightmarish concept if you ask me!

I haven't joined in challenges much this year.  I still love seeing what others do with the prompts but I've been so driven by my own themes this year I've felt less need for the gentle guidance of a challenge prompt.  But prompts are a great fix for tangler's block and so I thought I'd join in my oldest challenge friend - It's a String Thing #296.  I  finished my tile too late to play with the others, but you can still see them gathered together on Adele's blog.

I haven't used Vano in such a long time, and I think
I've underestimated this tangle.  It's simple and
calming to tangle and really welcomes a bit of shading.
Anyone fancy a slice from a square lime?

By the time I completed this last tile all vestiges of tangler's block were long gone and I'm feeling fired up for the next tile and the one after that.  Sometimes the only theme you need is pen, pencil and paper.

Wednesday, 26 June 2019

you've been framed

One of the things I love about the wonderful world of Zentangle and its inspired art is the way that techniques you learn build on one another. 

I've previously shared the fun I've had making Zen Buttons - and earlier this year I noticed Debbie Moss Colton's Zentastical 3D frames - which use similar principles of shading to add dimension, but take the result in a subtly different direction.

Alice Hendon made a PDF with Debbie talking through the detailed steps of how to make her frames.  This PDF is shared freely in Alice's inspiring Tangle All Around Facebook group.  But you might be able to get the gist of how to do it from my photos and descriptions.

Some colourful tiles are a good place to start and I coloured mine this time using the bleeding tissue paper technique.  I had mixed results when I first started using this way of adding colour, but I think I've finally got the hang of the amount of water needed to make it happen.  Not too much, not too little!  Also, the paper of the tile impacts on the result.  As you can see on the ATC shaped tile the colour spread was very different - smoother and more washed out.  I decided to not use that tile for this technique, but tucked it in my stash for another time.

Colouring the tiles using Spectra tissue paper.
Make sure you use some robust paper for your tiles so they don't break down
with all the work you will do to them.

Once my backgrounds were dry I tangled a border around each tile - I decided it would be fun to work with 3 different shapes for my frames.  We are invited to add touches of additional colour to the frame once the ink is dry.  I did that in on two of my frames but not on the other.

A double band of Zander - with touches of blue on the bands.
A single Cruffle suspended by Beadlines in the middle.

Debbie encourages us to make the frame the star of the show, so try to choose open tangles to go in the frame.  I like spacious tangles so choosing wasn't hard for me.  I decided to add a Cruffle to each tile too, to further pull the set together.

A time-consuming but worthwhile border of Stikz -
with a minimal Arukas / Cruffle centrepiece.

Once I'd done some basic shading of the tangles in the middle, I started work to add dimension to the frame.  Lots of darkening at the edges, smoothing, blending, adding more.  I used a number of products to achieve this - watercolour, graphite and black coloured pencil.  I worked quite instinctively, adding more until I felt I was happy with the look.  On the first two tiles I also added a band of white chalk, but didn't do that on the square tile as when I started to add it I felt it covered the tangling too much.  Sometimes you need to follow the rules to the letter, and sometimes you need to listen to yourself when you know something is or isn't quite right.

A Remo frame, with spiral Barberpole and a hanging Cruffle.

I like the way the frames really do develop a sense of dimension once you shade them.  It's more apparent in the flesh, the scanner struggles to capture it well.  The tiles also feel a bit like windows to me - they frame a view onto a tangly treat beyond.  And despite adding lots of darkness to each tile the colours seem to shine more brightly.  I had great fun tangling these tiles and hope you feel Zentastically inspired to try them yourself!