Wednesday, 26 June 2013

these boots are made for walking

In addition to my niggle of yesterday, saying that the pencil line still showed on my finished tile, I’m not that keen on the result that my thicker pen has on the design.  My images look a lot less delicate than many Zentangles done with the recommended 0.25mm nib.  But I’m still learning to love them for what they are!  I’m also not keen on how they look on a screen, as opposed to in hand.  The scanner gives them a slightly pinkish hue (but if I turn them black and white they are too harsh) and every little defect shows up if you zoom in – so don’t!

Never satisfied – this is the tile I made today –

Today’s tangles : Shattuck – looks like a woven basket, or a sea urchin.  Nipa – which looks like a mouse has chewed through wood instead of cheese.  Jonqual – a more slanted take on Knights Bridge with great shading possibility.

I like the tangles that have more possibility – that can be done tighter or looser.  I want to keep making them if only to get to know them better.  They encourage me to spread beyond the spaced allocated to them by my string.  I like all the terms – the specific names the tangles have.  It makes me think of Buddhists and yoga mats and bells.  If you start using a set of unfamiliar terms you start to feel part of something bigger.

I find I have drawn an enchanted boot.  Cursed so that whenever the wearer stops walking, whatever they are standing on (and every surface has a least a percentage of living matter) will grow up and into and over them.  Die walking or die still.

Tuesday, 25 June 2013

strange fruits

One of the key concepts of Zentangle is that there are no mistakes – no need to use an eraser.  This is quite daunting, but also quite thrilling too.  If you make a ‘mistake’ or at least a mark that you don’t like the challenge is to change it into something else. 

In addition to not erasing mistakes I suppose we are not meant to erase any ‘string’ lines (the vague borders you draw at the start to later fill in with the pen) either.  Sometimes these get tidily covered by the tangled patterns and any shading, but sometimes (perhaps because I’m a bit heavy handed with my pencil) they remain.  They look a bit awkward to me – but an important part of this activity for me is learning to love the imperfections.  Zentangling should be a pleasure not a chore.
Today’s tile looked like this – 

Today’s tangles : Poke Root – strange cherries that lay over one another and create a sense of depth as well as dimension when you shade them with the pencil.    Festune – which are like decorative lifebuoys and again appear rounded.  Hollibaugh – a lovely stacked planks design which is one of the best tangles for showing the massive impact that shading can have.

I had a buzzy mind while drawing and feared my tile was becoming intricate but cluttered.  I forced myself to leave a band of space running through it.  It could be a river running across the paper – the long Thames before they bridged it.  Or viewed this way up a winding path leading into the woods – with strange fruits and mushrooms – each promising to delight or harm but unlikely to declare which beforehand.  Trees with crossed branches casting strangely straight shadows from strangely straight limbs.

Thursday, 20 June 2013

the one that didn't get away

On most days Beckah Krahula teaches us a few new tangles and urges us to create a tile using those and any we’ve previously learnt. 

At the moment I’m making mine on some cut down blank white postcards of quite thin card quality, and I’m drawing with an Initiative Fineliner, which has a 0.4mm nib.  I’m shading with an HB pencil and smudging with my finger!  The results aren’t quite as precious as the recommended tiles and pen might achieve but I’m working under the premise of this being an artform than anyone can do anywhere!

This was my Day Two tile –

Today's tangles : Knights Bridge - the checkerboard one, a good way to quickly bang some dark contrast into a tile.  Nekton - the little lines, which I'm sure we had on a wallpaper when I was a child!  Fescu - the topped stems which work well to add a bit of movement into a design or can straggle from one area into another. 

I like the part where we rotate our tile at the end, deciding which way up we’d like it to be before we sign it.  This part always sets my imagination afire, as I see my tile morphing through many incarnations.  Although I start to worry already that everything I draw looks like a handkerchief.  That even in my most thought-free moments I’m mopping tears.  But then I turn it and see a kite.  Then a ray trying to get away, strange organs shifting within.  Those places within us all where the concept of swimming is stored – where we are always in movement even when still. 

Tuesday, 18 June 2013

in the beginning

I spend much of my time writing and reading.  I’m totally devoted to the written word, but sometimes, just sometimes I feel like I need a break from it.  Time spent with something different, something abstract and relatively meaningless.

I can’t remember where or when I first heard about Zentangle, but I decided to get a book about it, as I still prefer to read from paper pages rather than a screen.  I bought a copy of Beckah Krahula’s One Zentangle a Day. 

After a few pages of reading about all the ideal equipment I might need I decided to see what I could achieve with whatever I had to hand.  And this was the result – 

Today's tangles : Static - the zig-zags, which can tend to being more curvy lines if I'm not very careful.  Tipple - which could be named after bubbles in a favourite drink but which always makes me think of stones on a beach.  Crescent Moon - which looks like a sunken spider's web when done in larger areas. 

While doing it I realised I was probably thinking too much about the process to get much of the intended ‘zen’.  It felt somewhat strange to be using a pen for something other than word creation.  But liberating too!  Coming back to the written word afterwards felt a little peculiar. 

Whilst drawing the tile I found I liked the wavy lines more than the straight.  And I found that the tangle I liked least in practice I liked most in use (Crescent Moon).  It felt strange to draw lines towards me as opposed to pushing the line away as I do when writing.  Krahula urges a line to be drawn as if pulling it toward you, to give a greater level of control.  In progress this brought about a sense of taking in as opposed to giving out? 

To me my first tile looks like a ragged cloth, scrunched with emotion – bearing one big hole that might look through to a brighter day.