Wednesday, 24 April 2019

morning comes and morning goes with no regret

Great-great grandmother Selina -
not looking keen on being tangled!

Zentangle HQ recently released the latest Project Pack and the accompanying series of videos.  The theme this time is to tangle frames and borders around various keepsakes and treasures.  I have a fair few precious things tucked in safe places, and plenty of wonderful old photos of my family both near and distant, with copies of some going back to the 1800's.  But I just didn't feel the desire to connect those things with my tangling.  Which isn't to say I didn't like the techniques introduced in the videos!  I loved tangling along with the gang, in my sketchbook, and I knew that sooner or later I would find a way to use those frames in a way that made sense to me.  I often work that way - noting down an idea, to return to it sometime later, when it's mulched down and fermented into something a little different from how it started.  Sometimes that takes months, sometimes years, and sometimes it happens much sooner.

Over the long Easter weekend I found myself tangling those frames onto some tiles that I'd pre-coloured using Moss Green Brusho powder.  I've had these powders a few years but have struggled to develop proper affection for them.  They are either too pale or too intense.  But this one, this one worked just how I wanted it to.  And when it works it's wonderful - because you get to see little blooms of all the different colours that work together to make Moss Green.  Part science, part magic, pure wonder.

'Empty rooms that echo as I climb the stairs
And empty clothes that drape and fall on empty chairs'
Don McLean

In one of those little blots of pigment there is a very deep purple, and so I found the need to reach for my rarely used purple pen.  My black ink, graphite and hints of white chalk all took turns to bring these frames to the tile.  Each empty of any image - which feels just perfect to me.  I'm a person who finds charm in derelict places, abandoned spaces.  Hospitals and homes long vacated and left for nature to reclaim.  I see these frames hanging on damp and mossy walls.  Perhaps the frames once held photos, fading images of friends and lovers who've since moved on, departing on a spring breeze.

POSTSCRIPT - In this old post from 2016 I tried to use Brusho powders with less success, and I also attempted something involving empty frames.  It seems I'm contendedly regurgitating the same ideas, but at least they are improving a little each time!

Wednesday, 17 April 2019

the taste of springtime

I was in my mid-twenties when I first tasted kiwi fruit.  A fussy eater when young, I continued to eye anything green with great caution for many years.  Imagine my pleasant surprise at the indescribably sherberty sweetness of those little furry fruits!  A similar thing happened with water chestnuts.  I tried one a long time ago and didn't enjoy the icy crunch, but accidentally ended up with a slice in my mouth just last year and found that I loved it.

Tastes change, and sometimes we wait a while before we realise what we've been missing.  And so it goes with Zen Buttons.  I first discovered them around this time last year and spent a pleasing Easter weekend tangling Bijou sized ones and then later moved onto larger ones.  But a couple of weeks ago I saw a triangular button, and then a square button, and realised I'd never drawn anything but round ones.  Time to revisit the button scene and rectify that absence.

No particular tangles to name on this pink button - I just made shapes, roughly repeating a sort of fragment and filling bits here and there.  A gem in the middle, a touch of pink watercolour and ink.  That moment where it doesn't look too good, and then the transformation that comes about when you add the graphite and the white chalk.

Things didn't seem to go quite as well with my green button. Sometimes that just happens.  I took longer with it, thought about it more, and perhaps that's the downfall.  I used similar corner tangles to the pink to help them be more of a pair, and the same Knightbridge style edging.  Then I used a LitBee fragment and some Diva Dance.  All okay at that stage, but the shading didn't seem to do the trick this time.  And I didn't know why.  Perhaps I hadn't smoothed the white chalk quite as well, or perhaps the shape didn't work the same, or the tangles didn't lend themselves to that three dimensional look that the Button relies on.  I left the tile overnight, sat dejectedly on my bookcase, and I looked at it now and then.  This morning I gave it a makeover - I softened some of the white, and then darkened the shadows using a black Polychromos.  And while it still doesn't sing to me quite like the pink, I'm happy to call it done!

The long Easter weekend is almost here.  I don't know what I'll be tangling, but I know I'll be reading books, and dozing and gazing out of the windows at the leaves that have suddenly dressed the trees.  There's rumours of sunshine so maybe I'll even go outside among those leaves.  But in case I don't, or in case you don't either, you can get a taste of spring from Annette's latest Mosaik Project results which she just shared today!

It started with a leaf - Sand Swirl, Ginili, Snail

A number of times a year Annette provides a string and asks us to send her tangled tiles which she brings together into incredibly beautiful mosaics.  This time we were each invited to fill our leaf shape with green colour and tangle the rest in black and white.  I sent her this tile in response.  And this is what she did with my tile alone -

As if by magic - one becomes sixteen - becomes something wonderful

But the truly incredible thing is when she brings all of our leaves together.  36 tanglers, 36 green leaves in various shades - a hearty dose of imagination and a young forest unfurls itself and flutters in the breeze!  Please take a deep breath, take a look and enjoy the spectacle.  And think about joining in when the next one begins in July!

Friday, 12 April 2019

as the song says

There's a lyric in a song I've long loved that says 'All the things I detest I will almost like' (Somebody - Depeche Mode).

Some months ago I'd have found it inconceivable that I'd be contentedly working in shades of pink and yellow for the past six weeks!  I actively dislike pink, unless it's a very hot cerise, and while yellow is okay, and quite beautiful in natural settings, it's a bit too bright and lively for the way I like to work.  But the more time I spend with these colours, the more I get to know them, understand them, refine what works well with them and what doesn't.

Marguerite Samama's Persian Mosaic original concept invites us to tangle with a cobalt pen, but is infinitely variable too.  Earlier this year I gave it the winter look and now these two 3Z tiles are showing off their spring style!

In bloom - Dayzee-Mae, Auraleah and Flux
Watercoloured tiles, shaded with pink pencil and graphite

A rare work in progress image -
most of the line work is done,
and I'm starting to colour and shade
Quite a few of the backgrounds I've used recently have been made using the hefty hack technique.  Whereby you lay down some watercolour from a pen, spritz it with some water and then pick it up using your tile.  The interesting thing is the results differ every time, and not only because of the random spread and mix of the colour but because the paper you use seems to influence the spread and absorption.  On the 3Z above - I used the same pens, two yellows and one pink, but the colours mostly blended to a peachy yellow.  On the Zendala tile below the colours stayed more differentiated and created a wonderful design reminiscent of raspberry ripple icecream!

I used this tasty looking tile for the background to my piece for Annette's Zendala Moments #3 prompt.  I've not tangled many Zendalas over the years - in fact this tile bring my grand total to only 11!  I've no idea why really, perhaps just because their extra size makes them more of a commitment, or perhaps because I'm naturally drawn to the straight sides of the square tiles.  But every time I tangle one I love the process and the result.  The pleasure of picking a few favourite tangles and methodically working my way around the tile, the rhythm and repetition are mesmerising.

A whirling dervish -
Diva Dance, Bunzo, Kaboom plus tassles!

I love how this Zendala turned out.  I went darker and darker with the shading, without ever muting that lively background.  I also added some tassles to further enhance that sense of movement.  It makes me think of genies escaping from confinement in bottles and lamps, magic cushions and hats spinning their way across deserts in Scheherazade's tales.

I'll be moving on soon, adding another shade to my spring palette, and while pink and yellow will never become my favourite colours I'm far less afraid of them than I used to be.

Friday, 5 April 2019

well I never did

Zentangle has helped me through all manner of trials and tribulations - various shades of pain, illness, concern and sadness.  It has proved versatile, familiar, friendly and faithful in recent years.  But I tested its limits these last few weeks!  Or rather, our boiler did.  Two and a half weeks ago our boiler went out.  Two days later the engineer fixed it.  Hours later it failed again.  Days later we had a new boiler fitted.  After a week of erratic success the pump failed and was replaced.  And now we seem to have a problem with the timer, thermostat or wiring!  The fix is still pending.  We've had days with no heating or hot water (and no alternative source of warmth!).  This shouldn't be much of a problem in Spring on the South Coast - but we've had unseasonably chilly nights - frosts even!  The company are diligent in trying to fix the problems, and we have heat now, it just can't easily be turned off once it's on, or vice versa!

This one reminds me of 70's comics -
pink and yellow watercolour hefty hack background
on  3 x 4 inch Hahnemühle bamboo paper
tangled with Well, Well, Well and Cubine -
black ink and graphite 

Eight visits in less than three weeks, countless texts and phone calls.  Noise, strange smells, anxiety and uncertainty are all demanding and distracting enough.  But the cold - waking to cold, going to bed cold and being cold most of the hours in between.  This was not conducive for tangling - I could barely feel my fingers at times, let alone my toes!

Spinning and springing and surprisingly warm looking  -
pink and yellow watercolour hefty hack background
on a 4 x 6 inch Khadi paper piece
tangled with Well, Well, Who and Printemps -
black and burgundy ink, coloured pencil and graphite 

And yet, little by little, when the blood was flowing through my extremities, one stroke at a time, I have worked on two pieces, and here they are - with less explanation than usual - but the hope that normal service will resume shortly.