Saturday, October 3, 2015


"Don't part with your illusions. When they are gone you may still exist, but you have ceased to live."     Mark Twain

According to Wikipedia, Op art, or optical art, is "a style of visual art that uses optical illusions." The style is abstract, typically done in black and white, and often gives the illusion of some kind of movement. Black and white... just like Zentangle art. Abstract... just like Zentangle art. Striking contrast that I love. After all, isn't it really just a form of the tangle pattern Knightsbridge? No wonder I'm so drawn to Op art.

So I decided to try making some of my own pieces. First I studied photos in books I own as well as on Pinterest, analyzing them to figure out the method behind the madness, as the saying goes.

Here's the first one I created, on a Zendala tile (I love using the round tiles for all kinds of Zentangle art, not just Zendalas.)

Those tiny spaces in the center were tough, as they began to run together. Not bad for my first one, but I'm not sure I'm loving the zig zags on the sides. I tried several more, all of these on the square Zentangle tiles.

I'm not sure that I got "movement" on any of them, but they're interesting nonetheless, and I'm happy with the results. It was relaxing filling in all those spaces with the pen (using the graphic Micron for most of it.) In case you didn't know, I love contrast, and these sure do fill the bill for that!

FYI... no rulers or compasses were used for these. They were all created freehand. Not perfect like a digital drawing would be, but not too bad. Hand-made art is not supposed to be perfect.

I definitely want to experiment some more with Op art, but have other things I'm off to do now. Hope to see you back here soon.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Bright and Beautiful Colors

"Never be afraid to try something new because life gets boring when you stay within the limits of what you already know."    Unknown

For a while I've been a fan of Dyan Reaveley - her art and her products, sold under the name of "Dylusions". If you're not familiar with her, just google her or go to YouTube and you'll find LOTS! What attracts me to her work are the vivid colors and whimsy. I own most of her ink sprays, and have used them to make colored tiles. However, things tend to get quite messy when I use them, and there is lots of cleanup, especially on my hands. And one thing you should know about me is that I am a clean artist. That's one reason why I love Zentangle so much... there's no mess.

Some time ago - I'm not sure how long it's been - she came out with a line of "blendable acrylic paint." I was reminded of the paints recently, and started looking into them some more. With some advice from other CZTs, and armed with lots of info I found online, I decided to order them. They come in 12 colors, I think, and I ordered 11 of them (I'm not a big fan of brown). There are white and black, and the rest are beautiful, bright colors that match her ink sprays. 

Dyan's video that I watched and loved is here. She uses baby wipes and her hands to paint with. That sounded intriguing, and since she kept saying how easy it is to wash/clean up, I decided to give it a try. 

I cut up various papers into rectangles approximately 3 x 5.5 inches. I gathered my paints, baby wipes, and paper towels and got to work creating a number of "tiles". As in any new endeavor, I didn't love them all, but did end up with several that I liked. Here is the first one I decided to tangle.

I created the small black circles using a stencil, and the larger ones using a small sponge dauber. Then I added my tangles.

 Patterns used: Crease and Frosty

I was going to let the shades of paint be the only shading, but I decided to give it a try with graphite. First I had experimented with colored pencils, which is normally what I would use to shade a colored tile, but didn't like it. Here's the little bit of graphite shading I added. I'd be interested to know if you really notice a difference, and if so, which you like better. 

On the next "tile" I added the border using a stencil of flames along the edges.

And then I tangled and added shading.

Patterns used: Olb, Arukas, and Tipple.

I had to fight with myself to leave that space in the upper right corner open, without tangles. I love open space but find it hard to leave it that way.

Final verdict? I LOVED working with these paints, for all the reasons Dyan points out in her videos, and more:
  • the paints are smooth and liquidy
  • the colors are beautiful
  • I love the striking contrast of the colors with my black pens
  • they spread amazingly well with a baby wipe - no streak marks
  • quick drying so I can tangle on them right away if I want
  • they blend very well (and yes I did use my fingers for that purpose)
  • they wiped up off my craft mat with a DRY paper towel
  • they came off my fingers mostly with just soap and water, and a quick swipe with my craft scrubbie
  • they were very neat to work with, compared to sprays

Is that enough reasons to convince you to go out and try these paints if you haven't already? I think so. And if you do, let me know what you think.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Pin the Tangle on the Board

"For every minute spent organizing, an hour is earned."   Benjamin Franklin

It was that time again... time to rethink the organization of all the tangle patterns I've gathered. When I first began tangling more than four years ago, I had to find a system to organize all the patterns I liked. My system ended up being a collection of index cards on which I drew out the steps for each pattern (it took forever!) I kept them in a file box.

The box soon became too heavy to take wherever I went, and slow-going when flipping through all the cards to find something that inspired me at that moment.

So my next idea... I photocopied all the cards, four to a page, and put them in sheet protectors in a binder. 

That was better for a while, easier to carry around than a file box, but as my collection grew it got heavier and heavier, so... time for another idea. The next idea you can read about here on my blog post from two years ago. The little ring of cards grew to two rings, but was still very portable and manageable. It's worked well for two years...

But now I've decided that it's kind of time consuming (again!) flipping through the cards. And since choosing the patterns is the hardest part of tangling for me, I find myself spending an awful lot of time flipping! 

So... what next? I thought of my Pinterest boards, pitiful as they were, compared to the rest of the world's, I'm sure. I'm not very tech savvy, so although I had started a few boards a while ago, there was not much on them, and I never really used them for anything. It was time for me to catch up with the rest of the pinning world and see how I could really make Pinterest something of value to me.

As I started thinking it through, I began to get excited about all the possibilities. If I pinned all the patterns to a board, it would be much quicker to scroll through them than it was to flip through all my little cards. So, for about the last week I've been spending many hours finding patterns and pinning them to my board called "zentangle patterns." I thought that was a pretty clever name, don't you agree? 

This was also my opportunity to weed out of my collection any patterns that I've since decided I don't really like... and of course an opportunity to add lots more. And I didn't even need to draw out the patterns and/or the steps, because all of you out there in the Zentangle universe have done it for me... thanks!

I also decided it would be helpful to have more specialized boards in addition to the catch-all board. So I pinned all patterns I wanted onto the main board, and then pinned them a second time onto boards for grids, organic, woven,  lines, borders, high contrast, and round patterns. If I have no idea what type of pattern I want to use, I scroll through my main board, but if I have a category in mind it's more efficient to go to that specific board. Quicker and easier to find on the smaller boards.

My boards have grown exponentially in the last week. If any of you happen to have been following them, you probably wondered what's been going on. I also decided to keep a master list of which patterns have been pinned, so when I find something I like I can check first to make sure it's not already there. One of my pet peeves is scrolling through someone's board and finding the same pattern over and over again. It drives me crazy, and honestly, is a waste of my time (sorry if you're in that group of repeat pinners!)

I've put so much time into organizing the boards that I haven't spent much time actually using them yet, but what I have done shows me that my system should work well for me. At least for now... who knows what the future will bring?

If you'd like to take a more in depth look at my boards, you can see them here. Feel free to re-pin, like them, follow them, or whatever. 

Happy pinning and happy tangling!

Friday, September 18, 2015


"Challenges are what make life interesting and overcoming them is what makes life meaningful."    Joshua J. Marine

This week's Diva challenge was to create something using stripes. For my first tile I drew the pattern Rain (maybe because we've been having SO much rain here recently) as the dividing lines between the stripes. I thought I was off to a pretty good start. But then when I had to decided what patterns to use in between, I had a hard time - I think because of the jagged edges. The tile didn't excite me, but once it was shaded I started to like it better (as is so often the case), and I think it has grown on me.

Patterns used: Rain, 'Nzeppel, Meer, and Tipple

For the next tile, because one is never enough, I chose to do stripes both horizontally and vertically, interwoven with each other. The only pattern here that I've used before is Piza. The rest were all new to me, chosen from my recently organized Pinterest boards...stay tuned here for more about that next week.

Patterns used: Piza, Wavz, Tri-4, Peaks Border, and Kloonz

It was nice to get back to doing some basic, black and white tiles after having worked on other types of projects for a while. 

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Images and Leaks

"I just want to make beautiful things even if nobody cares."

It's time for some more tangled stock images from GraphicStock. If you missed my first post about them, you can read it here. Some bright colored pencils before I got my hands on them...

And here they are after...

I love bright colors, which is what attracted me to this image in the first place. And I love the contrast against the black tangling. The next one I worked on is a bit different. 

First I tangled inside the bird. I don't know how well you can see it in the picture below, but I added some Printemp swirls above the bird. I thought I was using a white gelly roll pen, but it turns out it was a souffle pen. That means that it puffs out from the page a little, but the color is very subtle. 

I thought it needed something else... something to ground it, if that makes any sense. So I decided to make a border. Unfortunately, based on how the paper had been cut, it either needed to be a really skinny border, or one that went off the page. Since I often like when part of an image is drawn so it's partly off the page, I decided to go with that. 

I wanted it to stand out a little more, so I picked up a Micron 02 to work with instead of my usual 01. I had not gotten too far on the border when I realized that the pen was leaking all over my hand. Luckily, amazingly, it stayed on my hand and didn't get on the paper. More about the pen in a minute.  I guess the border going off the page looks okay. After some shading and white highlights I was finished.

Now, back to that leaky pen. Did you know that the microns can leak if they are shaken up? It sometimes happens during shipping, from the package being thrown around (the mail/UPS people are probably about as gentle as the luggage handlers at an airport!) But they can also start to leak if YOU shake them. If you're the kind of person who talks with your hands, you should make sure you're not holding a Micron when you talk. Here's what my pen looked like.

But did you also know they can be cleaned and almost always be perfectly fine to use again? Wash off all the ink on the pen, then rinse out the inside of the cap. Use a q-tip to wipe around inside the cap, rinse again, and keep doing that until the q-tip comes out clean. If you don't clean out the cap and just put it back on the pen, it will get all inky again. I've saved a few pens by following these steps. 

Here's hoping that you don't have to clean a leaky pen too often!