Friday, 31 January 2014

the straight and narrow

I end the week much as I began – struggling to cope with low light as I place multiple small straight lines onto a waiting piece of paper – and each time being amazed at the patterns they make.

On Monday I reached Day 21 of One Zentangle a Day, and was introduced to Rick's Paradox and B'tweed (which I'd played with on the Halloween It's a String Thing challenge).

Rick's Paradox put up quite a fight. I could see what I was meant to be aiming for - turning corners, turning my tile and walking always in a straight line. But somehow I kept getting lost in a maze of my own making. (As always, the reassurance of a quick Google and finding many others struggling with this particular tangle). Then suddenly two triangles filled with this pleated pattern came good and I could see a wave cresting towards me. A concertinaed map of old, folded into a fan by a queasy captain's wife. I could see the downward curve of a penguin's beak – eye closed, fast sleep in it's monochrome wilderness.

And then I fill in the middle with B'tweed and suddenly four penguins are fighting over the same patch of ice, each tugging a corner, fracturing the surface, desperate to get to the fish hidden beneath.

And Friday is filled with Fassett. One tile completed and submitted to the It's a StringThing #25 challenge – but time and ideas enough for a second. I add a splash of colour (Zig Clean Color brush pens) on the string line, a little bit of blue and grey to compliment the icy nature of the tangle. I fill and highlight the tangle into one of it's possibly endless variations, and I let the edges jag out a bit rather than squaring them off. 

Friday, 24 January 2014

long in the tooth

Sometimes what appears too good to be true probably is. The inviting surface of my test piece of Fabriano 5 looks almost like a closed-mesh fabric. It's the whitest of the lot, and I want to work with something white for those stark, extreme black and white tangles.

I did this tile without a string, so I could place tangles as and where I wanted as I went along. A few Peppers, crowding round a central Aquafleur. A couple of Dyons to soften the sharpness of those jagged old Rains.

The tangles worked well together, but me and the paper didn't get along. Every stroke was an effort, a real rough ride. And while it looks good Zentangle doesn't seem intended as a no-pain-no-gain pastime. The process itself is the central part of the pleasure. This paper, while wonderful, is not good for tangling on. But sometimes you have to eliminate the competition before you find the perfect match.

Monday, 20 January 2014

going with the flow

Releases of official tangles are rare but always welcome – much like sunny days in a British winter!  This morning dawned crisp with frost and with Aquafleur twisting gently in my inbox.

After a bit of practice in my sketchbook I decided to give it a go on a tile.  And while I was at it trial a new paper.  Ever since I start this Zentangle thing I’ve been trying to get combinations of pen, pencil and paper that work best together.  Obviously that job has in part been done for us by the official team – their suggested pens and tiles produce superb results and are a pleasure to use.  But personally I’d like to be able to source papers closer to home – avoiding worldwide shipping of heavy materials if possible.  And I think I’m getting there! 

I managed to buy a selection pack of watercolour papers and spent an age matching these for weight, surface finish, and colour against a sample of an official tile that I was lucky to get my hands on (thank you Adele!).  I’ve got a few back-ups from the selection to try – which might produce different and interesting results – but today I used a tile torn from a sheet of Saunders Waterford (hot pressed, 300gsm).  It’s a slightly darker shade than the official tile but behaves well.

Aquafleur behaves well too.  The first few attempts had me struggling a bit with the last bit where it tucks in on itself, but I think half of the reward of tangling is having to work at it a bit.  It reminds me of a grown up Pepper.  And as with many tangles has a taste of the sea about it.  It’s like a slightly sinister seaweed wrapping itself around one of the chalky flat stones we find on our local beaches.  I kept it simply this time but can see it has plenty of potential for play.

I also used Twenty-one on my tile – which was a recent addition to Tanglepatterns.  It looks a lot like the arum lily we have growing outside the front door.  Or we would if it wasn’t the middle of winter!

Friday, 17 January 2014

abstract paleontology

Two firsts for me this week. 

My first every tangling done on an Official Zentangle tile.  It was an entirely different experience than working on any of the papers I’ve used so far.  It was softer, warmer, more welcoming in many ways but also demanding of a gentler approach.  I loved the way it slowed my pen down, making me feel like I had far more control of where my lines where going.  But the surface fluffed up a bit with my desire to get my black areas really black and I need to be a bit softer with my blending stump too as the tile surface again started to protest a little. 

I used the tile to pick up where I left off with my One Zentangle a Day course.  Day 20 introduced Jetties, Sampson and Nzeppel.  I can see that Jetties will be great fillers of awkward spaces and provide a useful alternative to Tipple.  Sampson is lovely, and looks like that yellow lichen that appears to be soft and delicate until you need to chisel it off.  And Nzeppel to me look like fancy fishnet stockings!  I used it at Christmas to tangle a tree on a card for my partner and with a touch of glitter at the junctions it looked very festive. 

My second adventure was into the world of colour.  Apart from the odd dash of red or blue to accent the occasional It’s a String Thing tile I’ve avoided colour.  But I wanted to have a play – this is supposed to be fun right? – and see what I could do.  I’m not a natural artist and often what I see in my head fails to materialise on paper – but this was a rare instance where it did.  

I wetted the paper first and then dropped small spots of colour from my new Zig Clean Color brushes.  The colour spread out a bit.  And I left it to dry.  It did cause the paper to wrinkle a bit – but hopefully fine -tuning my paper choice will get round that in future.  I then monotangled Snaylz Trayl (from Tanglepatterns) over the top and blacked in all the space between and around.  The Pigma Micron 01 had no trouble drawing over the dried colour.  I wanted the tiles to look like a slice through rock – fossils buried deep within layers of colour built up through the ages.  And I believe it does.  It’s not my tidiest piece – probably because I was so excited that it seemed to be working - but I’m very happy with it!

Wednesday, 15 January 2014

stringing along

Sometime last summer I started sniffing around on blogs where people were talking about Zentangle.  I felt a desire to see what other people were saying about it, what they were doing with it, how their work looked.  In the process I stumbled across a blog called Tickled to Tangle.  The writer of the blog, Adele Bruno CZT, had recently launched a weekly challenge, called It's a String Thing.  Each week she posts a string and a chosen selection of tangles from the Tanglepatterns archive.  Participants tangle away and return to share their wildly different responses.

For a few weeks I took part within the pages of my sketchbook - but come the seventh week of the challenge I took the plunge and emailed a tile to Adele.  She was so encouraging, and continues to be, to each and every participant.  I feel that my tangling and the experience as a whole has been improved by a feeling of sharing the fun with a group of other enthusiasts.  I still try to take part most weeks - and only missed a few due to the Christmas and New Year festivities!

Below are a couple of digital flipbooks which hopefully show the tiles I've created for the It's a String Thing challenges - including the early ones which have never before seen the light of day.

Monday, 13 January 2014

a happy haitus

It's not that I stopped tangling... more that I stopped blogging about it. Or rather I never really started - I wrote the first lot of posts but never went live with this blog. Perhaps I wasn't sure if I would stick with this new pastime - but I now I'm sure I will.

Perhaps at some time I'll fill in the gaps in my One Zentangle a Day journey - I'm still working my way through the book, and still loving the learning and making lots of notes on the process as I go. But I've also found myself making my own way through the Zentangle jungle, and getting caught up in its varied loops. From here on I'll try to blog about my journey.

(a quick flick from my last post before the blogging break to the first one after will surely show the leaps and bounds I've come on in my Zentangle practice.  It really is a practice that can make anyone feel and look like an accomplished artist!)