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!

Wednesday, 6 June 2018

a little something

It's often the finishing touches that really bring a tangled piece to life.  Those little additions joining disconnected sections, or adding a light border, or breaking out from a tight clump of tangling to loosen it a bit.  Favourites that I used often are Beadlines, Barberpole and the lovely Tearce - which bears the strongest relation to the latest tangle I've developed!

Idly browsing Twitter recently I spotted someone with a little tile on their desk featuring Miffy the rabbit - a Dick Bruna character that has charmed children and adults alike for over 60 years! On this ceramic tile she is peeking out from behind a Delft style plate, with a charming border I couldn't resist working into a tangle.

An image of the tile
that inspired the tangle

She needed to get credit in the name - but sticking with my self-formed habit of 4-letter tangle named I'd like to introduce you all to Miff -

The simplest of step-outs

I hope you like it - it's super simple to draw, very forgiving of wobbles and mistakes, with plenty of scope for variation.  Here it is on four Bijou tiles to give you a taste of how it works.

Miff - 4 ways

Changing the style of the line you draw in Step 2 can really alter the look.  In addition, not pictured, you can draw it larger, with deeper cups for greater drama.  You could also have them overlapping, or back to back as a filler pattern. 

As always, if this tangle is too similar to any others in name or style, please let me know.  And obviously, have fun with it and let me know how you get on!

Friday, 18 May 2018

coming around again

I've carried the idea for my Diva Challenge tile all week.  I knew I wanted to take a simple tangle and aura it in different ways.  Which is what I did with Flux on this unstrung Zendala tile.  I knew I wanted to colour the sections between.  And all that went much as hoped -  but then it came to the shading, the part I often enjoy the most - and then I got stuck.  I find shading auras tricky.  And shading Flux can either be very time-consuming (if you shade each leaf) or a bit basic if you just run a line down the middle.  I went with the latter approach, but wonder if it's lacking something?

But sometimes the most important thing Zentangle gives me is learning to live with imperfections.  Inadequacies.  Of time, ability, energy.  It reminds me that even with short supply of any or all of those you can still make something and hold it in your hand at the end of a week and say 'I made this'!

Flux - aura - repeat! 

I haven't always had time, ability or energy to draw a tile for Adele's weekly It's a String Thing Challenge recently - but I've managed to catch up on those I've missed on the limited space of a Bijou tile.  I've played with different colours and shading techniques - some I like more than others.

Top row - IAST #232, #233 and #236 
Bottom Row - IAST #240, #241 and 242

Do you find your art seems to come in ebbs and flows? I have patches where I'm really feeling it, in tune with the materials, brimming with ideas and loving the results.  And then I hit a patch where nothing seems to come good.  And looking back you think that the work you were doing months or years ago looks better than what you're producing now?  But then another day you can see the progress you are making, the skill and confidence that is steadily growing.  Do you feel that and think it's just you - it's not - it's me too!

Thursday, 10 May 2018

the sum of our parts

I haven't had that much time to tangle of late.  But I couldn't miss the oppurtunity to join in with the latest Mosaik Project run by Annette P.  I'd urge you to take part - copying the string is easy to do and the results are so much fun.  Even if you don't want to join in, please do take a look at the results of the previous Projects.

Each time Annette devises a string, asks us to copy it faithfully and fill it with tangles in black and white or suggested colour schemes.  Once she gathers copies of our tiles she works her magic, turning and flipping them into all manner of amazing permutations.  Not only that but she generously sends a mini-mosaic made with just your own tile.

These are the tiles I sent to her for the previous 3 projects -

For Project #11, an Escher-themed lizard, I sent two tiles as requested, one positive and one negative

And these are some of the mini-mosaics she sent back to me.


And that's just what she did with my tile.  Imagine the results with many talented tanglers tied together!  This time the string is simple and basic black and white tangling was asked for.  This is my contribution -

Tangles used - Krokus, Fassett, Moonpie

The deadline closes on the 15th May and Annette suggests she will share the results on the 23rd!  I can't wait to see what happens this time!

Wednesday, 18 April 2018

going full circle

Sometimes it takes me a while to decide my approach to a weekly challenge, and sometimes things just fall into place almost effortlessly. I noted that this weeks challenge from the Diva was numbered 360 – perhaps she missed a trick in not making it a challenge based on circles, but I didn't! I also knew I wanted to link my pieces for the Diva and Joey challenges, as I was pleased with the result when I did that before.

I decided to work on two tiles from my Leftovers pile  - in this case tiles previously created for a challenge that involved tangling over marks made by spilling a drink, in my case tea.  I'm slowly but surely working through the stash of tiles in my little basket, the tiles I start and then lose my way with. Some of these have been completed and have appeared in posts on this blog. There's quite a few still waiting for my attention, and a handful have traveled to other tanglers to see if they can take the tile somewhere new.

A rogues' gallery - including the tiles I used today

For my Diva tile I used a small circle of watercolour paper which had been dip dyed resulting in bands of deepening colour. I vaguely followed those bands, drawing my Shattuck with rounded ends and occasional appearances of Tripoli. Some bands of light and dark aura along with some simple shading pulled the finish tile together.

Uneven spacing improved by added aura

I needed a bit more room when it came to the tile I want to make in response to Joey's recent challenge. I decided to combine the tangled starters from her last three weeks into one – so I needed space to allow three tangles room to dance.  From my stash I chose a larger paper circle splattered with dropped tea and patterned with teabag prints - I started to draw, allowing the tangles to claim the space as they would.

Featuring - Breach, Mak-Rah-Mee and Relly Telly One 

Once I'd added all my tangling I realised perhaps I didn't need quite as much space as I first thought, as my tangles seem to sit some way apart from one another with no real connection or energy. I toyed with additional tangling or shading but then I had an idea - stippling. I haven't used it in a long time but I thought it might just work. And it did, but it took a very long time to do, and more than once I cursed the fact that I'd even started!  But it's good to remember it as a technique, and I may revisit it in smaller doses.  Linda Farmer has written a helpful article about it on her wonderful website.

I like the finished piece, the areas of colour versus those without, the tangles and the spaces between them. And I can't help but smile when I look at all those hundreds of tiny dots and think about all those tea leaves in the bag that originally coloured this tile.

Tuesday, 3 April 2018

good enough to eat

Over the long weekend I worked on one thing, and one thing only - Zenbuttons!

These are the creation of Marguerite Samama of Happy Tangling.  They seem to be popping up in various Zentangle places I frequent and so I wanted to give them a go while they were hot!

Done well they have an amazing dimension and shine and seem to pop right off the tile.  See some mesmerising examples by Laurel Storey.  She won't burden you with words like me, just tonnes of great pictures!

I wanted to do them justice, so I bought Marguerite's instructions.  I usually wing it when new techniques appear, and often I manage to get to the desired result through trial and error.  But I wanted the foolproof method.  And it worked first time!

My first four Zenbuttons were done by sticking pretty close to the instructions.   I used fragments inside the reticula and shaded as suggested.  I drew them onto tan paper, but I did them Bijou sized - for some reason I like to start small when practicing something new.

My first four buttons - in black in with added brown,
wine, purple and olive ink

They look great to me.  In fact the hardest thing is getting a photo or scan do them justice, they look even more dimensional to the naked eye.

I then tried things a different way, using coloured pastel paper.  And on some of the Zenbuttons I used a single tangle round the entire band as opposed to fragments.  I think the blue ones work well, but the orange less so - and the orange one with Printemps the least - something just doesn't pop!  I've got an instinctual feel that some tangles / fragments work better than others, but it's early days.

Mixed success - but the blue ones I like.  Top right looks almost metallic -
bottom left has extra colour laid down first and in the shading

But imagine the possibilities - this is just the start.  I want to try them on different tonal papers, in different colours, I want to try them larger.  I wonder how I might combine them with other tangling.

If the world is my oyster, it won't contain a pearl but a button!

Friday, 23 March 2018

a visit to the dark side

I've long considered white pen on black tiles the weak link in my Zentangle chain.  I love how it can look in the right hands, but I was never truly satisfied with my own results.  And because I wasn't satisfied I rarely tangled using that combination.  Every now and then I would try a black tile, and admittedly my results improved a little over the years.

The sum total of my black tiles from 2016-2017

That last tile came closest, and I posted it here last October.  At that time Zentangle HQ released their Project Pack #1 videos to celebrate the release of a new finer white Gelly Roll 05.  I felt that the finer pen might be what I needed but I had to wait a while for it to reach the UK.  In the end I had to contact my favourite online pen vendor and politely request they stock it!

Since my pen arrived I have set aside a little time each week to try a black tile.  I've reminded myself throughout about the core values of the Zentangle method - taking time, appreciating the opportunity, the tools.  I've worked slowly and deliberately, but also without planning.  White on black is different than black on white.  The ink moves differently, dries slower.  Highlights and shadows rewrite the rules.  Even making images of the finished tiles is more challenging.  But I think the results are worth it.

Not a tangle - just a pattern based on a top a woman
in the background on a new story was wearing!

Fili - tangled during a rare fall of snow, mid February

Bands of Mooka, filled with Shattuck, with a touch of Flux

Simply Molygon

I'm not sure I believe that practice makes perfect - who wants perfect? But practice makes my technique stronger which makes me enjoy the process and the results.

Wednesday, 14 March 2018

bathing in the purple rain

Particulars - fountain pen loaded with Diamine Damson ink,
black pigment pen, coloured pencil, graphite
 On Monday 12th the Google doodle commemorated the birthday of William Henry Perkin - who stumbled across a consistent purple dye while working to better understand quinine.  I've always been fascinated by these unintended scientific discoveries, and I've long had a soft spot for purple too.  So in the spirit of Perkin, this week I worked on a couple of challenges using purple ink.  I also tried to channel the spirit of wild experimentation - trying new things, not planning, just following instinct.

Joey gave us a ribbon and a pinch of Poke Leaf to start with, then invited us to finish her tile.  The Pokes are a lot like Mooka to me.  I love the way they can look in others hands, but struggle to find one of my own that I like.  But I stuck with Mooka, trying it many different ways and I have a couple of variations that I now draw and am happy with.  The Pokes took longer - but I think this week I may have found an approach to Pokeleaf that I like - adding a few auras on each side - it seems to give it a bit of bulk which I prefer.   The finished tile reminds me of something quite old and elegant - possibly the cover of a Victorian lady's journal, perhaps one where she notes the changes in her cottage garden.

Particulars - watercolour tile with two green brush pen lines.
  Purple Copic SP pen.  Coloured pencil, graphite.
I switched to a more controllable pen for my contribution to the Diva's Challenge - this week featuring one of my favourite tangles, Verve.  I thought it would be fun to let the tangle break free, hence the twists and points and bumps it's showing here.  There really seem to be endless variations to those winding auras.  I could have happily filled the entire tile but thought a bit of breathing space would be welcome.  It looks quite lively, like a mutant species is spreading and taking over.

I like the way that although the materials I used differed between my two tiles, the colours were similar which gives a pleasing sense of harmony.

Saturday, 10 March 2018

showing my workings

It's been a while since I aired my dirty laundry in public - otherwise known as sharing pages from my sketchbook!

Sketchbook pages are interesting places - the place where the rawest materials are held.  Where ideas form and fall apart as often as they evolve into something that will take the leap from the sketchbook to the tile.  Pens are tested, colours considered.  Old tangles revisited, new ones met.

My sketchbook pages have changed a lot since I first started tangling, when they were orderly and sparse, tiny little squares with neatly drawn tangles within them.  A couple of years ago when I shared a few on here they were starting to get a little darker and more disorderly.  Now they are a sprawling mass / mess and as much as I'm tempted to keep them to myself, I love looking at those belonging to other people, so it only seems fair that I share mine.

These are the four I've filled so far this year.

Points of interest - a trial run of my idea for IAST #225 which actually ended
up smaller as a Bijou.  Rediscovery of the wonderful Exis tangle.
  An interesting variation of Bales (top-right)

Points of interest - Dublin, which I could have hours of fun with.
  A few tangles that I like a lot but haven't yet used - Irradial,
Zigzag Track and Dollpin.  And a test of a few new pens / colours.

Points of interest - newly discovered treasures Floid and Wavlin.
  The ever challenging Mistura.  Tying myself in knots with Elven and Buckled Up!
  Triangular Hollibaugh and fragmented N'Zeppel.

Points of interest - new ways with String Rose.
  Scraps of tangles featured in recent challenges.
Vivi - which seems like it could come in handy.
  A possible new tangle - to work on. 
And playing around with Pokeroot in ink.

And that's all for now!

Wednesday, 28 February 2018

through the looking glass

It's been a long time since I've taken part in one of Joey's weekly challenges.  It's been a long time since I've used Andromeda.  It's been a long time since I grabbed a tile from my Leftovers pile and breathed life into it.

From what I recall I made this background tile years ago, probably when I was first trying out the Gelly Roll Glaze pen.  I've haven't been near it since.  It doesn't particularly speak to me, but I thought it might be fun to try to send that band of Andromeda that Joey invites us to start with, in opposition to the Glaze band on the tile.

That was my starting point, and from there the tile developed with little planning and lots of instinct.  And an attempt throughout to wrestle something controlled from a very rough surfaced watercolour paper.  I added Tripoli type triangles into the band, Mooka Flowers anchored with black bands and a wobbly line fill that I saw Margaret Bremner use to far greater effect on one of her eco-dyed pieces.  I shaded with coloured pencils and a little graphite.  And I'm fairly pleased with how it came out.  

I like that glassy window through the band to the Andromeda lying beneath.  Which feels apt on these suddenly freezing days that are gripping the UK, just as we all assumed spring was close - not quite, but if we look carefully it's there waiting for us, if only we have a little more patience.

Friday, 16 February 2018

all the small things

Sometimes I run out of time and energy to do all the things I want to do - don't we all.  Sometimes I don't get to tangle a full tile for Adele's wonderful It's a String Thing challenge.  But this year I stumbled on an idea, a little stepping stone to bridge the gaps between the chances to fill a full tile and send it to her.  And those stones take the form of Bijou tiles.

IAST #225 and #227

I've done it four times now, and as well as feeling like I'm not missing out on the fun, I'm realising just how charming a Bijou can be.  It's opening my eyes to the fact that when I commit to working with a certain sort of tile I get to know it better, it's quirks and endearments.  And I'm regularly stunned at just how much I can fit onto one of these little treasures when I put my mind to it!

IAST #229 and #230

Who knows if it's a habit that will stick - but for now it's working!

Wednesday, 31 January 2018

purple fingerprints

I knew I wanted to draw the other day, but I didn't know what I wanted to draw.  Too many choices, too many pens, papers, tangles, decisions, doubts.

So I just started playing.  First off messing about with what was within reach.  Then recalling that I'd long wanted to try tangling with an ink pen having been regularly inspired by the wonderful blots and beauties by Michele Wynne.

I often write with coloured ink so in my pen pot at this moment I have a good quality fountain pen containing grey ink.  But I didn't want to risk damaging that nib on rough paper!  But I also had a cheap pen filled with Diamine's Damson, and a Herbin rollerball with a Ruby Red Kaweco cardridge in it.

So that's what I used, on an A6 rectangle of Khadi paper.  Some Mooka, some Dublin.  Lots of water, lots of mess.  Some discomfort that I didn't have as much control as useful, but also the liberty that comes with that.  Once it was all dry I went back in for the shading and highlights, and a little bit of black Printemps down the sides - and felt more in my comfort zone.

And I love the finished piece - I see rain-wrecked bedrooms, vines claiming the spaces broken-hearted lovers have long vacated. 

Wednesday, 10 January 2018

a touch of blue

Around this time last year I blogged about my recent festive tangling project.  I'd chosen a handful of tiles and tools in a limit palette and worked with nothing but those over the Christmas and New Year period.  I really enjoyed limiting my parameters and have repeated the process a number of times throughout the year.

I decided to do the same this year, but limited things even further.  I had a small stack of bright white tiles of pastel paper, my usual tangling kit (pen, pencil, tortillion) and then added one extra - a Koh I Noor Polycolor pencil in Cobalt Blue that I'd bought as a single, but hadn't yet used!

The only other rule was that I wouldn't spend time looking up patterns, challenges etc.  It was just me and my imagination, away from screens and sketchbooks - drawing whatever came to mind.

And the results were quite surprising at times!  Tiles started to form that seemed a bit of a departure from my usual style, but in a most pleasing way.  Now for a little journey through the tiles - I've tried to label tangles where I can!

Drawings and Arukas and also a few bands of nothing I can name!

Tiny Toodles on a Florz-type grid with Baton filling the gaps.

Swirls of something like Snag,
cradling Fluxecho and two stretched Cruffle.

Flux surrounding Dex, dropping into Cubine.

Locas tipped with Springkly with Florz between.

A band of Kuziem, some auraed Toodles and Printemps.

So that's my tangle activity for the past couple of weeks.  Time now to dive into the new year, with all the colours and twists and turns, highlights and shades that it will bring!