Thursday, 28 August 2014

circus of horrors

For this week's It's A String Thing challenge, Adele invites us to use the beautifully loopy String 055 - and just one official tangle - Striping.  And also the Tangle enhancer known as Sparkle!  Sounds simple enough.  Which it is.  But it's also as complex as you want it to be.

For a start Striping is essentially just multiple parallel lines, with every other filled in black.  But it only really works, truly comes alive (at least to me), if the lines travel in different directions in each adjacent string section.  These junctions allow for great shading, and suddenly a stripey patch starts to bulge and curve to the eye. 

It takes patience and lots of ink to fill those bands.  Usually I practice for any challenge in my sketchbook, trying out tangles, ideas etc.  But this week I thought, why not make a little Bijou sized tile to see how it might look?  So I did.  The first with straight forward Striping.  And then I did another with fine line stripes - but that essentially turns it into Isochor right?

Time to make the full sized tile.  I drew the string, then coloured part of it using Inktense and water.  Once dry I started placing my Striping.  I used a few fills, which perhaps lessen the impact of the straight black and white, but ramp up the fun too?  I also introduce a bit of Sparkle - first by just leaving a dash of white on the curved parts, and later adding a bit more with the white Inktense pencil (I don't feel this technique worked that well - it just looks grubby!).  Sparkle is always hit and miss for me - sometimes it makes a band look like light bouncing off an old LP, at other times like a little creature has been scratching at my tile.  But that's part of the joy of Zentangle - it has a life of its own, and you never know quite what you'll end up with each time!

We watched Stephen King's IT on DVD this week.  I'd read it as a teenager but wanted to see if it was as scary as I recalled.  It wasn't.  Although Pennywise the clown was still deliciously insane.  And I think him and his blood-filled balloons influenced this tile.  That and the thought of those red and white stripped barber-shop poles.  I love the gruesome history behind a simple striped pattern.

Wednesday, 27 August 2014

five bar greys

I kept it simple for this week's Diva Challenge.  No colour, just the standard tile size, the Micron and the pencil.  And stripes crossing each other, some filled with Shattuck, others with Rain.  A bit of sparkle, which came out like little scratches - it happens sometimes! 

It was a cloudy and rainy day when I drew this.  I could hear the rain begin, and end, only to begin again.  I made a note that read 'to write about water without knowing where to start'.  I found myself singing James Taylor's 'Fire and Rain' in my head while I drew - not quite, but close enough!

Wednesday, 20 August 2014

something in the way

This week's Diva Challenge was to tangle something inspired by water. 

I love water.  I live by the sea and view her like a true and trusted friend - she's always there for me when anything and everyone else might not be.  I think and in turn write about water a great deal.  I am amazed that it can take so many different forms.  I am stunned at its patience and the damage it can cause.  And I am forever grateful that I can turn on a tap and find a ready and safe supply of it.

Yesterday we received our half-yearly water bill and were told our usage was well below average.  We have developed little everyday habits to avoid waste.  We collect rainwater in a butt to water our garden.  We were thanked on the bill for 'using water wisely'.

And so to the tangling.  I toyed with a few other ideas, but when this one came it seemed simple and somehow perfect.  A circular tile with strips of colour from a watercolour brush pen.  With lines of Printemps over the top (my trials with this tangle have been documented elsewhere).  Some Msst in between.  A touch of shading and there you have it.

Friday, 15 August 2014

something wicked this way comes

During my tanglings this week I've been trying to listen to my instincts, not plan or force designs in any particular direction, not get too hung up on the concept of the challenges I take part in, but focus more on the opportunity to tangle.  I've had a bit more time to spend on the pure pleasure of making these little pictures, and I've made sure to enjoy that.

Sometimes lately I've fallen into trying to cram every tangle on offer into my tile for Adele's It's a String Thing challenges, but this week I stopped myself.  Because very clearly I could feel that two tangles worked well together, and so did the other two - but four might have made an uneasy crowd.  Onomato and Hurray! are working together for the tile I've submitted to Challenge #53 - but here I present the one's that got away.

The wonderful Planateen which starts as a thin bolt of lightning and then magically transforms into curvaceous overlapping roof tiles ripe for a bit of shading.   And tumbling down across that the ever lively Pokeleaf (the official foliage of the Pokeroot plant!).  A bit of colour from some used-dry and blended Inktense pencils and I'm pleased with the result but slightly worried that I might set autumn in motion with the colour of those leaves!

I've always loved the way roofs work - that all those individual tiles aren't stuck down, but hold together by the way they overlap.  And I'm even more impressed by the way plants try to claim any and every space they can.  We dare not stand still for too long!

Thursday, 14 August 2014

under the bridge

When the latest Diva Challenge was announced earlier this week I took a look and had a go at drawing MacDee (the tangle we were invited to use).  Usually I quickly think of something I want to do with it - an idea, even a sketchy one starts to form.  But nothing came.  Days went by and still nothing... I was all set to think that maybe I wouldn't do a tile for this challenge and then this morning, flicking through my sketch book I spotted Girdy which I'd practiced a few weeks ago.  And suddenly there was my perfect mate for MacDee. 

The tile then came together pretty quickly.  Just the two tangles, and MacDee drawn with coloured pens which I don't do often, but which added a bit of pop.  And as I was drawing I started to work out why, for me, Girdy was so ready to receive MacDee - because MacDee is obviously a lot like tartan, and Girdy is a chunky industrial tangle and Scotland was always know for its ironworks.  And whenever I've been to Scotland the long railway bridge that crosses the Tay and curves into Dundee is the sure sign that I've arrived.  Isn't it funny how the mind works?!

Monday, 11 August 2014

going round the bend

A couple of weeks ago my latest tangle was added to the amazing array at Tangle Patterns. 

Kitl feels like a natural progression from my first tangle, Snag, but heads off in its own direction.

Maybe I'm in danger of sounding like a proud parent, but I think it's got lots of potential for tangleation.  I'm interested to see what others do with it.  But in the meantime I had a bit of a play on a rainy Sunday and came up with a couple of variations.

In the first I've essentially auraed each loop, thereby making them look solid, and able to be linked onto other tangles.  It also shows how lining the Kitl up can make the tangle work as a filler.  TIP - when doing this I find that making a slight pen mark where each crossover will be allows you to keep your Kitl evenly spaced.

In the second I've popped them in small arcs inside a basic square grid, which here become Bales, but could stand alone or fit with any other grid tangle.

I hope you have fun with Kitl and please feel free to ask me to come and take a look at how you've used it!

Wednesday, 6 August 2014

on the trail

When I first read about Bijou the snail in the Zentangle newsletter at the weekend I thought Rick and Maria had gone a bit mad.  Then I thought about it a bit more and cynically assumed it was a marketing ploy to shift more products.  And then I thought about it a bit more and realised it was quite fun.  And funny too - he makes me laugh and smile - he encourages playfulness.  And then I thought it was quite clever, and profound and very much in keeping with the whole Zentangle ethos.  And all this before I'd even tried a Bijou sized tile!

No surprise that this week's Diva Challenge encourages us to try our hand at these scaled-down tiles.  Always thrifty and keen to make precious materials go further I was thrilled to find that I could cut 5 2 by 2 inch squares from the remains left from cutting two round tiles from a sheet of A4 watercolour paper.  And a good job I did because the Diva was right when she said we wouldn't stop at doing just one...

[click to enlarge]
Tangles used - Nzeppel, Purk, Bales, Fescu, Pepper and Tipple
I did three.  Each with two official tangles on it.  And I loved the process.  To begin with I thought there wouldn't be enough space to fit anything worthwhile onto the tile - but then as I did it I really felt the 'less is more' - the sense of choice of tangle, delicacy, care and patience.  And these finished tiles feel even more precious because of their diminished scale.  In my other pen-work I write - and in part I write poetry, and mostly I write haiku - one of the smallest sorts of poems you can find.  Distilling everyday wonders into limited syllables that pack as big a punch as the greatest epic.  And Bijou's tiles feel a lot like that.

In just a few days of reading and thinking and tangling my way around this Bijou thing I've come on quite a little journey - without ever leaving the table!  And by the looks of it Bijou passed through too - look at that trail running through the tiles!

[click to enlarge]
Bijou - coming to a tile near you, fairly soon!

Friday, 1 August 2014

back to black

We reach a new chapter in One Zentangle a Day and for Day 29 Krahula suggests that now we've learned some of the rules it's time to start bending and breaking them.

For the first exercise she gets us drawing feathers, building on the technique for drawing the Verdigogh tangle.  At the moment I can't see a great deal of different between my feathers and my Verdigogh - but both are pure pleasure to draw and add a pleasing softness to any tile.  In my tile I had them puffing out from behind some Showgirl.  I added a border of Quatiny - which is a quirky little tangle that I discovered recently which can be a great way to introduce a bit of solidity and three dimensionality to a tile.  I'd already coloured the tile with Inktense pencils and water.  I've found it's handy to do a block of colouring at one point, then let the tiles dry and tuck them away for the day I want to grab one for a bit of colour work.  I like this tile a lot - the tangles sit well together and it looks lively and inviting.  The graphite pencil shading muted it a bit - next time I'll try to shade with the Inktense themselves.  I think it looks like a grown-up version of the second tile on this post

For the second tile of the Day Krahula asked us to draw a black tile, but this time introduce colour.  I've never particularly enjoyed the black tile tangling.  The pen feels so thick after the Micron 01 and I've struggled to find a decent way to shade in white.  Today's attempt went better - thanks to the Inktense pencils, which show up in white and colour on the tile.  And I know now that I have to do a different sort of tangling on the black - far less detail and taking care not to smudge.  I used the new to Tangle Patterns Meringue (by Kelley Kelly) - which flowed well across the tile.  I then popped in string of Beadline in gold and coloured some areas with a green Inktense and then put Tipple over the top with the Micron - which doesn't show that well.  The black tile looks better to the eye than to the scanner but I like it.  I think of lights strung in trees, or underwater, and little pockets of treasure.