Thursday, 28 November 2019

the still point

Just one piece to share with you this week – but it's a whopper by my standards! I always prefer to work small, but on this rare occasion I decided a bigger area might suit my need.

In the summer of 2018 I was talking about a paper product I'd seen but not tried - Magnani Acquerello round blocks.  Hard to find or massively overpriced in the UK, a generous and kind tangle friend, Jules, offered to send me a few sheets to try. It took till now to give the first one a road test, but it's a great paper - a little thirsty, smooth but with enough tooth to slow me down and take hold of the graphite.

Link to buy in the US via Amazon.
And at long last, a viable UK seller!

They come in two sizes, and I used the smaller one. It's about an inch and a half larger than the official Zendala tile which doesn't sound like much but feels like a lot of extra tangling space!

Just like the days make a week make a month make a year -
so a tile grows, slowly but surely, a little at a time.

I wanted this tile to represent the cusp between two seasons, that point where autumn segues into winter. I worked slowly over the course of a week, laying down my string, my colour (Peerless watercolours), some tangles to define the space, autumn tangles in one section, winter in another.  I considered shading using colour, but decided that smooth blended graphite was the way to go.

A dance of two seasons.
Defining the space - Marasu, Miff, Beadlines and Doodah.
In the Autumn section - Hollis, Gelijoy, Mooka Easy, Tamisolo.
In the Winter section - Arukas, Flukes, Hemp and Fassett.
And right at the middle, Uncorked by Adele Bruno (my very first tangle friend and mentor).

There's lots of different tangles on this tile, more than I would usually put together on a single piece – but the limited colour and shading and the repeat of those black perfs with their tiny white highlights helped unify and simplify the finished piece.

As the last leaves fall and darken in our puddles, autumn waves goodbye.  Winter lingers on the threshold waiting to be invited in. It can't be stopped whether you welcome it or not, but I plan on making friends with it through the next few weeks with my final seasonal Inklings.

Thursday, 21 November 2019

the legacy of a leaf

With just over a month left in this year I find myself tangling less. There's limited daylight to tangle by and I often have one eye on Christmas planning.  I'm spending less time with pen and tile, but that makes tangle time feel all the more precious.

'Nzeppel fills a band of Shattuck and a section of Spoken.
I worked on Strathmore tan toned tiles, trimmed to regular size.

I remember meeting 'Nzeppel - how my first use of it coincided with my first experience of using an official Zentangle tile. And of how it reminded me of fishnet stockings! I don't use it often, and when I do it's usually just a small fragment of Crazy 'Nzeppel.  But I was interested to see how the tangle would fare in the full glare of the spotlight. (While you're at it be sure to check out some of the wonderful ways Margaret Bremner uses this tangle!)

A mostly regular 'Nzeppel fills a Bales string.
No highlights but gently built up shading (using a 4B pencil)
makes Bales rise from the tile.

I used other tangles as if they were strings, and then filled only with 'Nzeppel.  It's a relaxing and forgiving tangle that really comes into its own once you add simple shading.  I considered adding white highlights all over the tiles, but in the end just stuck with a tiny pop of brightness on those two graphite gems.

'Nzeppel fills an Aquafleur - and two thin 'Nzeppel ribbons
add a finishing touch.  A grey gem adds a little shine.

I'd been toying with the idea of trying something different with 'Nzeppel for a few months and I'd imagined tangling these tiles during my Winter Inklings (I pictured fracture ice and frost patterns).  But then I reached for three tan tiles, and noticed how they grew to resemble the dried leaves of late autumn. All colour mostly faded, leaving behind only the skeletons of who those leaves once were.

Wednesday, 6 November 2019

full of beans

Last week I enjoyed a holiday at home. Predominantly a week's rest, a disconnection from the outside world, before the return to normality, all set to plough through the last couple of months of this year.

After Inktober and its tangling intricacies, working with two pens and 3 tangles on each ATC, I wanted something different, something easier and therefore more mindful. I remembered I'd bought a sketchbook sometime back that I hadn't used. It was from the wonderful The Pink Pig, a British company that makes sketchbooks in all shapes sizes and colours, and at very reasonable prices. I've got a couple in white, but this is filled with their delicious Cappuccino paper (which is apparently 30% made from recycled coffee cups)! It's a good weight (150gsm) - smooth enough for the pen, with enough tooth to please the pencil, and such a rich shade.

Armed with just a bare minimum of supplies -
the pad is A5 size (roughly 15x21cm).

For my first piece I worked with two tangles that I struggled most with during Inktober.  One was Jalousie, which appeared in my second piece, but I wanted to add some curve and movement and fun to it. The second was Trentwith. A tangle which seemed to polarise people - some loved it, some hated it, I just struggled to give it the attention it deserved.  Fellow tanglers gave me much encouragement, and now I better understand the tumbled heart of Trentwith.

Enjoying the benefits of a larger space -
allowing the tangles to swoop and bloom.

On my second piece I used an oval template to create my string. I filled these initial ovals with bands of shiny, bulging Marasu.  I then went in and added a simple trinity of Mooka, Fescu and Printemps.

Shading and highlighting come to life on this paper -
the tangles look like burnished metal.

I only tangled these two pieces all week – adding a little to them each day. Sometimes that's the most satisfying way to work.

As autumn deepens in the weeks ahead, colour will depart from my tiles, to mimic its steady fading as the natural world around us gets ready for winter. But don't worry it may not be bright, but I'll do my best to make it beautiful!