Tuesday, 25 March 2014

make your own kind of music

I learnt an important lesson last week. That speed-tangling isn't for me. When I set out to see if I could do two quick tiles for the Diva challenge it seemed like a good idea. It wasn't. I didn't enjoy the process, and the resulting tiles weren't great either. But later, on reflection, I felt I'd cheated myself. So much of modern life is about hurry - Zentangle seems like a rare area where we can take it at our own pace. And my pace is slow.

Thanks to everyone who commented and told me to take it steady. You confirmed what I already knew in my heart. I won't make that mistake again. And how apt that this week's Diva challenge is all about the spiral. That thing that goes around and around on itself, barely seeming to make progress, but ultimately getting somewhere.

This week I took the time to do it my way. I wrapped some Aquafleur type bands around the spiral, and then filled in the segments with Antidots. I took time with each stroke, and took time with the shading. And I enjoyed every minute of it - however many there were. And the resulting ammonite type creature seems to rise off the tile as if to greet me. As if to say hello, thank you and well done.


Finding myself with a little more time to play I tried another spiral. 

This time using a simple version of Zenplosion Folds (the ribbon version that Daniele shows later in her post). The tile was blue Tinted Bockingford Watercolour paper. I coloured one side of the ribbon blue (using a Zig Clean Color brush pen) and then shaded underside using my Derwent Water Soluble Graphite pencil. When all that was dry I went in and popped Nekton on the dark side and shaded a little more. I think it looks pleasingly tactile - and I like the suggestion that the pattern is hidden under the ribbon and it's only the ruffle that lets you see it!

Monday, 24 March 2014

here be monsters

At the end of last week I settled down to try a tile combining Adele Bruno's new tangle Xav, with my own Snag. I drew out the squared grid, and the first lot of waves, and then when I'd put in the second lot that cross the first I noticed my alignment was wrong and those necessary circle spaces were absent. I was ready to ditch the tile - but thought it was a waste and tried to hold onto the 'no mistakes' rule.

I let my pen lead the way. And it seems it took me to the very edges and then right off the map. Not a great deal of the resulting tile bore much relation to Zentangle as we know it. But the DNA is there - the simplicity, the repetitions, perhaps especially in those sections where the lines pinch together at their ends (I've seen that technique in quite a few tangles). And I think it looks fantastic. It reminds me of the underside of mushrooms, and handkerchiefs ruffling in the wind.

Today I tried again to do what I intended the first time. And I sort of got there. Although a wobbly weekend resulted in a wobbly tile. And this is one of those where every little error compounds to the next. My grid wasn't that straight, my circles were a bit wonky and my Snag is downright cockeyed. Shading saved me a bit, but we can't expect miracle from a mere pencil can we? 

It's been great getting to know Xav - it's a lovely tangle that I have no doubt will take me to many interesting places when I explore it more. For now I love how it looks like a strange harp - I feel I could run my fingers across its strings and hear it sing.

Monday, 17 March 2014

hare today, gone tomorrow

In Zentangle, as well as life, I'm the tortoise far more than I'm the hare.  At one point in her book Krahula suggests you set aside 30 minutes to complete a tile.  I usually take far longer than that.  And that's the way I like it - slow and steady, enjoying each and every stroke.  But sometimes I wonder if there are benefits to speeding up every now and then?  It would mean the chance to tangle on days where there isn't much time, and it also might produce different visual effects if I have to be a bit more carefree with my drawing.

I decided to put it to the test to day when I saw the Diva's latest challenge.  I'm still not quite up to the pace that Kruhula sets - but I whacked these two out in a couple of hours.  I lean heavily towards the abstract interpretation of the challenge!  I used up my shamrocking for Adele's String Challenge last week!

The first is a little nod to those red-haired Irish beauties and their Emerald Isle (represented here by the tangle called Japan Diamond)! 

The second was inspired by Google's stained glass window banner to celebrate St. Patrick's Day.  Dugwud is spread across the whole tile, but only shows through on the bright coloured panels - which called for every shade of green brush pen that I owned.

There are things I like about them both - the uneven colouring on the diamonds, and the idea (if not the execution) of the second.  But I miss my precision and detail, and I'm not sure I'll be wearing my hare-suit too often, but I'm glad I tried it on for size.

Sunday, 16 March 2014

caught in the act

When I mentioned in my last post that I had a tangle in the pipeline I didn't realise it would burst forth quite so soon. Imagine my excitement on Wednesday, when I paid my daily visit to Tanglepatterns, to see my very own pattern there on the page! Snag! It's mine - published under my real name.

The thought that others might use it, just as I use theirs is quite thrilling. I'd love to see what you do with it - please do let me know so I can come and take a look. In the mean time I'll share the odd example of what I do with Snag.

One problem challenge of working with the tangle is to get the loops even - part of the fun of this tangle is it's quite easy going and quick to get down on paper. If we take a laid-back approach we shouldn't worry, let those loops go where they want to go and enjoy the lively tumble that results. But if you're in a tidy mood (and I often am too) you might want them to behave a bit more. One way I've found to tame them is to tuck something in each square of the grid, an orb or a square for example, and nudge each loop against it as you go.

(Here I've done that - on some lovely grey Tinted Bockingford paper. I've shaded using a Derwent Water Soluable Graphite pencil.)

It reminds me of lacey curtains hung in a window that hasn't known fresh air for many years.

I set myself the challenge to design my first tangle this year, it's only March and I've achieved it already - I guess that means I'd better get working on the next one!

Monday, 10 March 2014

I have arrived

Within a few weeks of starting this (teach myself) Zentangle thing last summer I noticed a few marker stones on the road ahead - points that if I could reach them I would know I was heading in the right direction.

My first tile drawn with a Micron 01 - which happened sometime around August. My first tile submitted to an online challenge followed in September with a warm welcome at Adele's place! I've had a go at introducing colour. I've learned tonnes more tangles. And even had a go at designing one of my own (watch this space...). This week has already seen another first - my first Zendala. But the time has come to reach another of those significant markers - to enter my first Diva Challenge (#158). Her name echoes around most places Zentangle related - like a rumour, like a myth. But it wasn't half as scary as I expected!

I simply drew a tile with the two tangles she suggested this week - Crescent Moon and Diva Dance - both of which I'd used before. And this is what I got - 


To me it looks like a magical magnifying glass held up to the trunk of a tree - and in its lens we see a vortex drawing us in, to who knows where.

multi-tasking part 2

Whilst waiting for the Glaze ink to dry on this piece I picked up my first ever Zendala.

I had printed it off as a test more than anything - I'd been playing about to see what papers our old printer might be willing and able to accept and was thrilled when it decided it could cope with a thinnish water-colour paper (200gsm). I didn't want to print off a test sheet just to throw away - I'm far too frugal with paper for that - so grabbed a Zendala from The Bright Owl (Zendala Dare #92).

I'd noticed Zendalas early in my Zentangle adventures, and see that we do get to them later in One Zentangle a Day - but ever impatient I couldn't wait to give it a go. I hadn't really seen any 'instructions' as to how I should do it - and knowing how wonderfully forgiving this whole Zentangle world is, I just dived in.

I found myself sub-diving some sections into smaller areas. And having since looked through others results I see that is accepted practice! Making a Zendala feels quite different from making a Zentangle tile, in that symmetry and repetition seem suited to the Zendala look, whereas the square tiles encourages us to go anywhere. It's not a better or worse approach, it's just different, and I enjoyed it very much. I found myself coming and going from it - adding a bit, then a bit more. The end result is clearly a first attempt but I know I'll be back for more.

The Sampsons I used on my other tile crept up again here, as did the 'nzeppel. Together they seem to create the impression of a derelict church, with the wilderness breaking through the windows to reclaim the space. Perhaps the building is round and the wooden parquet flooring (Paradox) is all that is still intact - but not for long!

multi-tasking part 1

For the second activity on Day 23 of One Zentangle a Day Krahula asks us to use the Sakura Glaze pen. It lays down a milky line of ink which when dry resists colour - so setting boundaries between areas and rising white and slightly shiny from the paper when finished.

It was more challenging to work with than the trusty Micron 01 - a thicker line, a pen keen to roll away with me, and ink that needs a few minutes to dry. I made good use of the drying time (see my fellow post) and even the little places where the ink flicked as I lifted the pen have their own charm - see those little flecks inside some of the Tipples!

I kept the tangles fairly simple and avoided ones where the lines touched too much. The usual nudging of 'nzeppel wasn't possible but the wavery lines work well in the overall underwater atmosphere of my finished piece.

I coloured my piece using four different Zig brush pens - in brown and green, blue and grey. With a bit of encouragement from a water brush these blended well, and I'm still delighted by the way the ink made its own variegation along the branches of my Sampson. I feel like I'm looking down into a tank - it's a welcoming world and at any moment I expect something to swim into view!

Thursday, 6 March 2014

in the pink

Sometimes I like to take one tangle and fill an entire tile with it - right up to the edges. Perhaps in my imagination I tangle beyond the edges - across the table, onto the floor and out under the door. With spring sun like this anything seems possible.

I'm still playing with colour - with how to apply it, with which ones I like and which I don't, working out how they work with and against the tangle process itself.

The other week I rolled up some strips of packing material that came through the post and coloured the rolled end with a Zig brush pen and pressed it onto my paper. I repeated the process with three colours I would never normally favour. I then softened the printed spirals with a water brush. I let it dry and stuck it in my little tin doubting the day would ever come where I would use it.

But today I did - in part I blame the sun. And the fact that I spotted Hypnotic on Tanglepatterns the other day and knew I wanted to play with it. And those spirals and the ones on the paper were bound to find each other - and they did.

It feels like one of those dreams that are fun while you're in them, but you wake feeling a little confused. A melted mess of citrus sweets. A rare flash of a 1960's peacock - now long extinct.

Monday, 3 March 2014

sowing the seeds of love

Day 23 of One Zentangle a Day and I very nearly get into an argument with Kathy's Dilemma.

But just as I am about to accuse it of being a mere imitation of Tripoli I hold my tongue and draw it instead. And I'm pleasantly surprised by how it behaves.

The way it takes a circular space and dissects it, but then somehow holds it together at the same time. I like the way it can be filled, or not. I like the way it can lay over other tangles. In only two loops on a single tile we become friends. I'm already planning our next date!

A black and white Flux, a dark-holed Keeko border and a bit of Raindotty to tie the background together and I'm done.  

And it looks like an overhead view of a garden - or one of those drawings professional gardeners make when they plan what will grow where. There's a border and a lawn, and a curving line of vegetation and then these two circular beds, divided and seeded with wonderful plants. I can't wait to see how they might grow!