Friday, 23 December 2016

a seasonal sign off

A festive thank you to all those who have visited my blog over the last year.  You've made it a warmer and more wonderful place to be. 

Betwinkle and Barrel Roll - ink, white pencil, gold pen and graphite on pastel paper

I'll be going quiet for a bit now, but will be back in the new year.

I wish you well for your Christmas time - I hope it's just as you want it to be.  And I hope the year ahead brings you peace and smiles and miles of pristine paper and fresh pens!

Monday, 19 December 2016

not long now

I've long hand made cards for my nearest and dearest, and since discovering Zentangle they've tended to feature tangling.

I can never share my makings at the time, for fear of the recipients seeing the cards before they open them.  But I've collected up a few photos from recent Christmases to share now.

From the minimal to the caked with glitter - perhaps they'll inspire a few new ideas, or at least show how much I like using Baton to embellish holly!!!

Friday, 16 December 2016

merry equilaterals

I've managed to keep up with the official Zentangle countdown to Christmas - even if I haven't blogged the results (since I shared my first three with you).

One of the charms of the new 3Z tiles - or in my case a pencilled outline of one - is that they are small - and you can complete one a fair bit quicker and still have something beautiful to show for it.  A great thing when tangle time is limited.

(from left to right) Day #6 - Molygon / Day #5 - Tipple / Day #4 - Marasu

Although the 'rules' allow us to use any tangle from the previous days I started by just doing monotangles, and so I had to stick with that, despite it being quite a challenge when some of the more simple or stark tangles appeared.  But the challenge has been worth it - I've never done so many monotangles, and it's made me realise that they bring a new aspect of invention to the art.

(from left to right) Day #7 - Knightsbridge / Day #8 - Pokeleaf / Day #9 - Auraknot

Towards the end of the countdown Zentangle headquarters released two new tangles - they seem at least vaguely related to each other, and work well on festive looking tiles, but have huge potential for year round beauty too.  It's rare that I shared a piece using a new tangle until I've worked with it a lot and have got to feel I 'know' it.  But needs must!

(from left to right) Day #10 - Drawings / Day #11 - Icanthis / Day #12 - Crazy Huggins

Of course one of the downsides of the monotangle approach is that I've been lusting after all those lovely tiles others have made with lots of the different Christmas tangles on them.  But still - this clean and simple approach suited me this year.  And there's always more tiles, more ink, more tangles...

Tuesday, 6 December 2016

and so this is Christmas

Continuing their annual tradition The Zentangle Team are showering us with ornate wonderment over on the blog - counting down the 12 Days of Christmas this year by showing off the new triangular tile.

Day #1 - Tripoli  /  Day #2 - Diva Dance  /  Day #3 - Shattuck

I was lucky enough to receive one of the new tiles in a Travelling Tangle swap mailing from the ever-inspirational Margaret Bremner.  I was able to use this to pinpoint the corners in my sketchbook and thereby join in the fun, by drawing along with many others each day.

It's a pleasure to make myself spend time with pen and pencil at this hectic time of year.  I'm loving the back to basics approach.  No colour, no planning, just lines and shadows and a welcome sense of calm.

Thursday, 24 November 2016

one for the wall

This week the Diva has invited us to play with our fragments and reticula.  I don't have the official Zentangle Primer yet.  I was lucky to find a second hand copy of The Book of Zentangle on Amazon so avoided hefty shipping charges, and was happy to give it a home!  Maybe the same will happen one day with the Primer (it feels a bit like Wonka's Golden Tickets - which is fine by me) but until then I can still enjoy the concept of grids and seeds under their new names without the official rule book right?

I designed a fragment based on my Sati tangle - pictured above.  I drew a basic reticula - a 4 x4 grid - on paper coloured with very bright yellow streaks.  Then I started to add in the fragments, turning it this way and that to make the pattern fit together.  This is one of those places where in-progress images tell the story better than I can.

As I've seen a few others observe, this is a different type of tangling that the more freeform string filling thing.  This feel more planned, more methodical, controlled.  But no less pleasurable for that.  It's more akin to working on a Zendala, with repetition and symmetry.  I can see this really being what I crave sometimes, but not always. 

Back to the tile.  For the final stage it's time to fiddle about - this is the bit that makes it come to life for me.  The shading, the blobs of gold paint (I had it out anyway and couldn't resist), making some of the black dots larger (as they looked lost), dotting those with white gel ink.  And then the dreaming.  If I were a ceramic artist - think of the tiles I could design and paint... but then again no!

Tuesday, 15 November 2016

a woven window

Laura the Diva and I are worlds apart - in terms of geography and life and many other things I'm sure.  While she might find cheer in Earth, Wind and Fire, I find comfort in polishing small poems about the moon.  But what unites us is this thing we do, this place we come to - these little tiles of paper that welcome us.  Her challenge this week - to use Keeko - was perfect.

I grabbed a tile from the Leftovers pile.  I coloured this one a long, long time ago.  Back when I always used a string.  Back when I left one deckle edge uncut on my tiles.  Back when I didn't have quite so many colours to choose from.  And I dived straight it. 

Knowing Keeko so well - because it's so simple, not because I use it often - meant I didn't have to look up the step out.  I used other tangles that I knew from memory too - those beloved basics like Crescent Moon and Fescu.  It was a delight to get lost in the tangling, the shading.  The feel of pen on paper.  The no up nor down but somehow a pleasing symmetry arises.  Sometimes that's the best we can hope for. 

Whether it's the act of drawing that loosens up my writing brain or the images themselves I often find forgotten memories returning to me when I tangle.  Today, clearly provoked by my tile, I recall that when I was a child my mother had a small collection of corn dollies that hung on the wall above the kitchen window.  In ancient times these were hollow shapes woven from the last ear of corn harvested.  The spirit of the corn would spend winter within them before the dolly was ploughed back into the earth in spring.  As the days grow shorter I might just put this tile in a frame to see us all through winter.

Friday, 11 November 2016

the centre cannot hold

I know I'm not the only one feeling a little lost this week.  For many reasons, including the obvious.  I've struggled to settle to all the things that usually bring me a sense of comfort and surety.  Even trusty Zentangle, a haven of wordless worldlessness, hasn't felt quite right. 

But then I spotted the starter that Joey offered on her weekly challenge.  And it glimmered.  It offered something that I felt I could add to.  So I did. 

Extending strands of Twile out to the edges - unravelling and binding at the same time.  A couple of dark lines, a few loops of brightness. 

I had Leonard Cohen and W.B. Yeats running through my head as I drew.  And while it's not my neatest or most exciting piece the process was what I needed and the process worked. 

Tuesday, 25 October 2016

weird and wonderful

I started this sketchbook page over a month ago - but I think it has spawned enough results now for me to share it and them with you. 

My responses to a couple of challenges took shape on this page - as well as a bit of playing about with Rainking for a tile to go in the Square One Magic Bag (I'll keep that one a secret so the group gets the thrill of the reveal when that is the chosen tangle).  I also used a variation of CC to start a tile for the Travelling Tangles Project that has now winged its way to Australia. 

Credenzo (for Square One) / Rain, Hibred and Raindotty (for IAST #161) / C.C.

And then things started to get a bit crazy.  Crusade is a really tricky tangle.  Very unforgiving of even the slightest wobble.  It takes a lot of concentration to get the lines in the right places - but it does look great.  And I feel quite similar about the colour red.  It's stunning - but so temperamental - so hard to manage with elegance.  So why oh why did I decide to grab the pot of red when experimenting with my new Brusho powders (I'm in try-new-things-for-backgrounds mode at the moment, can you tell?!)?  I was also reading a novel called His Bloody Project - the title of which must have been worming away in my subconscious while I drew this tile.

Her Bloody Project - Crusade - line work / detail / shading

Lastly, I wanted to try something with Cheers, and I wanted it to be a Renaissance style tile.  But that wasn't quite how it turned out - something wasn't working and to make it work better I grabbed some green pencils and got to this. 

Which makes me think of a dusty gallery hung with framed portraits, of long-dead relatives, all of whom drowned.  Although the images have all since vacated their frames, leaving only the bubbled green waters of their doom.  Or something like that!

Thursday, 20 October 2016

mellow leafiness

This week's Diva Challenge took a turn for the autumnal - always a welcome area for me to explore.  Love the colours, love the shapes, love the poetic opportunities of the season.

I remembered seeing a tile on my Leftovers Pile that I'd previously drawn some leaf-strings onto.  Time to work some life into that stalled square...  

I challenged myself not to over think this one.  So just picked three tangles that I'd been playing with over the last couple of weeks and used those to fill the three leaves.  I added some colour - which came out a bit more muted than I planned, but now I'm done I really like the subtle tones.  There's a time for vibrancy, and a time for something a bit more misty.  It needed a border to stop those leaves looking lost on the tile.  Plus some shading of course.  And there you have it!

A trio of leaves - Florez, Claws and Verve

Wednesday, 19 October 2016

warming up

I haven't spent much time tangling in the last week as I came down with a nasty cold.  I'm getting better each day, but to get myself back into the swing of drawing a steady line I thought I'd grab a half finished tile from the Leftovers Pile

This is the one I grabbed. It was an idea for a new tangle I was playing with in the run up to Christmas last year - when my eyes were full of snowflakes and stars.  Something wasn't working quite right, so I abandoned both tile and tangle.

But I spent time with it yesterday, adding a few more detail lines, some lines with beads and Cruffle, and some colouring which made the centres look almost pearl-like. 

Slowly I started to realise how this strange little tangle actually resembles microscopic images of viruses.  Not necessarily the most pleasant inspiration, but versatile and very apt considering my recent incapacity! 

I drew a quick step-out and named my tangle Tira - which sounds like it could be a new strain of virus, one that makes its sufferers reach for black pens and spend hours drawing intricate patterns!

[If you use Tira I hope you have fun, and would love to know how you get on with it.  I don't think I've seen anything too similar on my tangle travels, but if it repeats a previous tangle, or name, please let me know and I'll remove it.]

Wednesday, 5 October 2016

I don't sleep, I dream

This week's Diva Challenge was to use Daniel Lamothe's most beguiling tangle, Dreamcatcher.

I was telling someone just last week that one of the reasons I tangle is that it shifts my thinking in a direction that often inspires new thoughts, ideas and memories - many of which I can then pour into my writing.  And this week that happened in bucketfuls.

I was utterly lost in the drawing of these simple petal shapes that go round and round.  In filling them or not.  In sinking through them, past them, beyond them.  To when I lived in a flat with a dreamcatcher hanging in my window.  It was given to me by the sort of friends who give you presents in paper bags - panpipes, candles and a star-shaped tambourine.  It was given to me at a time when my dreams tasted of red wine, and I quite often went to bed once the sun had already risen.  Given by friends I thought would be together forever, but like the dreamcatcher and the panpipes - some things are only meant to be in your life for just as long as you need them.

But anyway - back to the art.  There's been a lot of experimenting with Distress Inks of late - and I played with them the watery way and found them vibrant but unpredictable and I'm a woman who likes control.  But by using a little smoothing tool I created some backgrounds I really love.  They look like old Polaroids (complete with the odd rip where I pulled the tape off too quickly! ) - the sort where the camera went off at the wrong moment and took a picture of the sky.  I've made quite a few backgrounds - as I got rather caught up in the seemingly endless ways to blend the subtly differing colours - but this is the first time I've tangled on them.

On the first tile I drew the basic outline of Dreamcatcher and then put an aura within each section and filled that with tiny curved lines.  Once I'd done this I shaded it there and then before adding anything else.  And I hit that wall - you know the one - where you don't want to add anything else for fear of ruining the thing you've made that you really like.  I fought with myself and then I surrendered.  I like it as it is and that's the way it will stay!

But... there was nothing to stop me drawing another tile.  This time three Dreamcatchers - each filled and embellished in different ways (with clear nods to Cubine and B'Dylan).  A bit of Beadline to balance it all out and I quite like this one too.  It's warmer and more welcoming - whereas the other looks like the sun setting on a difficult day. 

Wednesday, 28 September 2016

turning curves into corners

According to this blog it's been months since I've done a Diva Challenge - but this week's really caught my attention.  The Diva invites us to play it straight - using only straight lines on our tile.  While I love the calm precision of straight line drawing, it's the curves that forgive our wobbles and inaccuracies.  It's the curves that truly allow us to feel the freedom of the 'no mistakes' motto.  But it's not a challenge if it's not challenging!

I played around with straightening out a few curvy tangles - with mixed and maddening results.  After abandoning those I decided to try on a couple of my own tangles.  And the results were quite surprising.  These are the two basic seeds of my Snag and Sati tangles.  Curves and loops galore.

And this is what happens when you straighten up and fly right.  A block of 4 Snag in the centre with detail lines and then a border of the beautifully boxy Dex.  Some simple shading just to add dimension.  Drawn on a tile cut from Murano pastel paper.

My second straight lined tile got even more lively.  In the middle 4 Sati - with diamonds instead of rice shapes to start and then a zig-zag line to join them.  Bands of Rain join the Sati to the corners, some straight Mssst in the middle, and the areas along each side filled with one of my favourite straight tangles - Baton.  What's a little scary is where my subconscious took me with the second tile!  We had an electrician in fixing a broken fan and fitting a new light but thankfully there were no bangs or sparks sent flying despite what my tile seems to prophesize!

Thursday, 22 September 2016

warts and all

After my last blog post, where I shared a page from my sketchbook, I received so many warm and enthusiastic comments.  I began to think that this might work as a regular feature on my blog - a place where I periodically share a recent page and show the tiles that emerged from it.  Inevitably it takes a few weeks from me starting a page (and dating it) to filling it and then only later the ideas and trials filter through to finish tiles.

And so, let me take you back to mid August, when I began this page -

You can see a little cluster of practice gems in the corner - these eventually made it onto the Zendala I shared in my last post.  Sometimes ideas from more than one page have to learn to work together!  I'm relatively new to gems and didn't get off to a great start when in haste I grabbed a chalk marker instead of a blender - hence the dull milky look to a few of them!

You can see my Drogon practice which went onto a tile for an Olympic themed It's a String Thing challenge.  A little burst of Jenna Black's Starcrossed got repeated several times on a very warm looking tile.  And that strange fusion of A-dalfa and Viaduct become the start of a tile that I will send to someone else on the Travelling Tangles Project (I've started to accumulate a little stack of pre-prepared tiles so I have some to hand any time I need to send one, or more).

And then things started to get really dark!  I had a tile that didn't work out - a while back I'd tried to prepare a background that vaguely resembled the Aurora Borealis - but it looked a mess.  So onto the pending pile it went.  But then I spotted it and thought I'd have a go using the very spikey 3V.  I darkened some sections, and filled others with Baton and an alternative version of Hypnotic that's been doing the rounds (and that featured on the sketchbook page before this one!).  It's a crazy tile but I like it for that!

Another beast that rose from the darkest depths is this Trelina (a tangle by Eni Oken) climbing through the A-dalfa frame.  The background was one of my first attempts at using distress inks.  I also did some coloured shading and also threw in some bubbles and white highlights.  And you have to take my word for the fact it looks much better in real life - the scanner doesn't like the deep colours.

There are a few other little scraps of this and that on the page that didn't make it onto a tile, but you never know, they might do soon...

Wednesday, 17 August 2016

anatomy of an idea

This week's Square One Facebook group focus tangle is the lovely Oke by Michele Beauchamp.

I started playing with this tangle in my sketchbook (you can see it in the bottom left corner of this very cluttered / inspired page) and soon stumbled on an idea I liked.  I'm a little scared showing a full on sketchbook page in a public place - it feels a bit like having one's underwear on show!  But I thought it might be interesting, so you can see how bits of ideas that begin randomly, or jump from one tangle to the next, come together into one piece.

I tangled a quarter circle version in the basic beauty of black and white to meet the group posting criteria.

But I felt there was a bit further I could go so set to work on a Zendala using the same kind of design, with a few added feathery type Fescu and some flourishes.

There are few rare things happening on this tile - for one I rarely use these beautiful but precious official tiles.  Seconding I rarely draw gems, but this tile called for them, and I used not one but seven!  I also took longer that usual on this tile, coming back to it over the course of a couple of days.

It was a joy to draw and I'm very pleased with the final result.  We are having a few days of bright and sunny summer weather here, but by the looks of this tile my heart is already half way to autumn.

Wednesday, 10 August 2016

going with the flow

This was one of those tangling occasions where I set off with no direction in mind, no plan as to what might end up on the tile. 

It began as a test to see whether there was a compatibility problem with using my fine line pens over some new watercolours.  I'd had some clogging problems when practicing, but think maybe I hadn't let the paint dry completely (I can tend to impatience!).  The pens still complain a little over areas that include hints of the metallic paint - a bit of silver in this case - but not enough to even have to clean the nib.  I was also trialing a newer smoother (and cheaper than my usual) watercolour paper - and apart from a slight wrinkling it did well.  So equipment wise it was a success. 

But even more satisfying was the look of the tile.  It began as simple wash of a fairly bright green, with a few blue streaks and some silver on top.  As I began tangling some Diva Dance I felt that was all that should be on the tile, with a few added Orbs.  Very minimal shading but a bit of coloured pencil to accent the Orbs.  And there you have it.  Very relaxing to do and the pleasure shines through in the piece I think.

Monday, 25 July 2016

catch 'em if you can

Last week I launched my Leftovers Project - an ongoing aim to use up those left-on-the-pile tiles.

This week's Diva Challenge gives me the perfect oppurtunity to grab another and use it.  This tile has been on the heap for a long time - in fact I've got a sneaking suspicion I probably drew the string for a previous circle based Diva challenge...

I filled the varying sized circles with a new variation of N'Zeppel that appeared in my sketchbook yesterday, as well as a couple of other tangles I've used lately and still have their hooks in my mind (Cat-kin and Crescent Moon).  I added colour using some new paints - that I clearly need to practice with more, because they came out a fair bit more intense than I expected.  Some stippling softened the surround.

I like the finished tile - it reminds me of thought bubbles drifting by - some calm, some complex, none likely to last long.

Tuesday, 19 July 2016

waste not, want not

I dislike waste in all areas of life.  I clear my plate every night, take care to not buy more than I need, and recycle or donate anything I no longer want that still has a little life in it.

And of course I don't throw away tiles that have 'gone wrong'.  Instead I tuck them into the little basket where a handful of fresh blank tiles live and hope to come back to them one day.  But I rarely do.  The stack just builds up.

There's all sorts of tiles in there.  Ones that I started and then lost my way, lost my faith.  One that are nothing more than a string.  Experiments in colour that then overwhelmed me when it came to placing a line on them.  And some that are almost finished and then fell at the final hurdle.  Misshapes, mistakes, misfits.

I've been muttering to myself about doing something with them for a long time.  So, now is the time.  To launch a sometimes project to give a new lease of life to those unloved tiles.  Starting with this one...

 ... a couple of blobs, squiggles and a spray of blue on a cream tile.  With no fixed plan I tangled a large section of Arukas, Papermint in one blob, Crescent Moon in the other.  Some creeping auras and then some Wool (with fills of Msst and Tipple).  I then shaded with graphite and a slightly dubious choice of two coloured pencils which I'm trying hard not to regret!

Tuesday, 12 July 2016

playing catch up

I didn't get myself together in time to send a tile for last week's It's a String Thing challenge.  So I had a play in my sketchbook over the weekend - and that extra paper space allowed me to squeeze in some of Adele's new tangle too!  O is a fun and easy tangle to draw - methodical, calming and it really jumps off the page once you shade it!  It worked well alongside Lenche as it almost looks like pins with their ends missing!

It's funny, but with so many new and beautiful tangles appearing every week - both those newly released and newly discovered - it's so easy to forget to use the tangles I created.  I can't remember the last time I used Kitl - and I had fun playing with it again.  Perhaps I won't leave it so long next time.

Tuesday, 5 July 2016

back to the future

Sometimes the wonderful world of Zentangle leaves me feeling a little spoiled for choice - so many tangles, infinite combinations, strings, black on white, white on black, tan, and colour, colour, colour.  New techniques, pens, pencils, paints.  Not to mention a wild array of challenges and inspirations from a multitude of other tanglers.  It's easy to want to do it all - and then somehow lose out on the pleasure of a deeper immersion into just one part.
My first Renaissance tile -
tangled with MA-XIII (Chantal Florin)

Tangled with Endless (Silke Wagner)
As soon as Rick and Maria introduced the idea of Renaissance tangling with its unique and warm glow I was drawn to it.  But I forced myself to put it down.  Put it away, even as an idea, for the future.  So other than occasionally working in black and white on a square of kraft card I haven't dabbled.  But I felt ready...

Featuring Pavonia (Angie Shade)
plus Fescu and Tipple
And I decided to start with the sort of reverence that a style based on a long heritage of art deserved.  I took time to choose and source my materials.  I had a sample official Renaissance tile to look at - but it's hard to buy official supplies in the UK (although I notice that Amazon are now selling small packs of the black and white tiles!) - and if possible I like to source locally to minimize overseas shipping.  But that little tan tile is a shade onto itself, and despite pulling together every remotely tan-ish paper I had to hand nothing was quite perfect.

The closest match was a piece of Daler-Rowney Murano pastel paper in a shade called Stone - it's a lovely colour, and the brown ink and white highlights shine, but it's a little colder than the true tan tile.  But it allowed me to take my first tentative step !

Keeping it official -
Cyme tied together with some Zander
Further exploration online, and with some welcome advice from wonder-tangler Lily Moon, I got hold of some Fabriano Ingres paper, in the shade Gialletto.  With a slight tweak in the spelling I got a translation site to explain that Gialetto in English means 'already read' - which makes me think the colour name is referring to that appearance that old and well loved books develop.  The paper is a good match, and the lines laid into it add a lovely texture to work over.  My next two tiles were drawn on this paper.  

My last experiment was on some Stonehenge 100% cotton paper in a shade called Fawn.  This is a very soft and smooth paper, it almost feels buttery, and it encourages me to really slow down.  Which suits the Renaissance mood.  I feel it asks for different things from me, less filling of the tile perhaps, slower and lighter pen work.  Patience.  And thoughtful glances ahead to consider where my white highlights might appear.  I enjoy the process enormously, and while I still feel most at home in the bold world of black and white this is like spending time in a favourite library.  It's peaceful, it's recuperative.  The light is low, the mood is easy - hours could be lost, but never regretted.