Sunday, June 30, 2013

Garden Party

"A garden isn't meant to be useful. It's for joy."    Rumer Godden

This weekend I taught my long anticipated (at least for me and I hope for my students) class on tangling an organic garden. All those flowing, rippling tangles that remind me of nature, and are not normally included in my beginning classes. I was also very excited to debut my new document camera set up for my presentations. It was wonderful to able to work on a small piece of paper and have it projected on the screen, as well as being able to zoom in and out to focus on the details. Luckily no problems arose with the technology and all went smoothly.

The real creative part of this class comes from using your imagination to design your garden based on what appeals to your senses. Since each person's garden looks quite different in their mind than the next person's, the resulting tangled gardens each have their own distinct look. Especially after using white pencils to add highlights in addition to the regular pencil shading. Unfortunately some of the white highlighting doesn't show up as well as I'd like in these pictures. Some of the students' gardens are not completely finished (because no matter how much time I allow for a class, I always feel like we could use more), but I think they did an amazing job!

I'm including here a couple of examples of my own work that I shared with them for inspiration.

We used Strathmore toned tan and toned gray paper for the gardens. I enjoy this process so much that I bought one gray and one tan journal that I can use to house all my gardens in one place. So many pages to fill with gardens! I'd better get started.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Mission Accomplished

“As the sun colors flowers, so does art color life."  John Lubbock

As soon as I saw the Zendala dare this week (dare # 62, but #1 for me), I knew I'd be adding a few little lines to create some separation in the bigger spaces. Once I did that I felt more comfortable with this template. 

First I used the graphite transfer method to get the template onto a Zendala tile, and immediately noticed that it was a little off center. Oh well!

So I began tangling, but when I was finished I felt disappointed.

Something didn't feel right about it. I like to have some "weight" around the outside border area, and the outer rim of this Zendala was just too light for my taste. What could I do to try to "fix" it? I knew that I still had to add shading, but I didn't think that would be enough to satisfy me. So I decided to add some color, hoping that would solve my problem. 

I pulled out my Irojiten colored pencils. They were brand new, shiny, unused pencils. To be honest, I have not done much color work with any colored pencils other than the watercolor variety. I had a great time breaking in the pencils, and it was way more fun than I expected. I used orange and red on the "Betweed" points, layering them several times until I was happy with the look. But as I colored I noticed two spots that had not been blackened in like they were supposed to be. I'm hoping you didn't notice them in my before photo!

I fixed those spots and added a little more color to the center "Crescent Moon" area. The color was enough to add that missing weight that I was looking for. My last step was to add a little shading in other areas with a pale gray Irojiten pencil rather than the regular 2B pencil that I normally use.

 Another successful rescue mission. What a relief!

Monday, June 24, 2013

On the Fence

"In a complex and troubling world, who wouldn't want to simplify? Everybody does. Everybody wants to simplify and put up a picket fence."  Gary Ross

A while ago I remember seeing pictures of work that some tanglers had completed on paint chips. Yes, you heard right, Zentangle inspired art on those colored cards you get in paint stores when you're trying to decide what color to paint your house. It seemed like a strange choice of surface for tangling. After all, why would you want those color names and numbers that are printed on those paint chips showing in your art work? But even so, I was kind of intrigued by the idea. 

So eventually I stopped by my local Sherwin Williams store and gathered a handful of paint chips in all sorts of colors. Not yet sure what I was going to do with them, I went home and thought and thought and thought. One type of chip I collected was shaped like a rectangle that came to a point on top. It was clearly meant to look like a house, since the paints were from the HGTV home collection. Coincidentally, as I sit watching HGTV (my favorite channel) while writing this, a commercial came on for their home collection of paints! However, when I first looked at the chips, I saw them as posts in a picket fence, not houses. And so, an idea began brewing in my mind. 

Here is my idea brought to life. The paint chips became a picket fence, with plants from the garden peeking out over the top. I placed the four fence posts next to each other and drew a string across all four of them, although I'm not so sure that the continuous string is still noticeable in the end. 

As soon as I began tangling I encountered a problem. Because of the slightly slick surface of the paint chips, the Micron pen smudged right off, even after letting it sit to dry. So I moved on to my Sakura Identi-Pen, which is my go-to pen for pretty much anything I work on that is not paper. The pencil shading was a little challenging also, as I found that it didn't smudge as easily as on the Zentangle tiles or other paper that I typically use.

But in the end, I love it! And as for the names and numbers on the paint chips? After tangling, I can hardly see them at all. Can you?

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Here Comes the Sun

"It is the artist's business to create sunshine when the sun fails." 
Romain Rolland

I've been pretty busy for the last week preparing for some new classes I have coming up soon. So I was happy to take a break from all the planning to work on the monotangle challenge. Especially since the tangle for this week is Hollibaugh, which is one of my favorites. But I wanted to do something different than a regular Zentangle tile. I thought of creating a black tile, but one of the classes I'm preparing for is working on black, so quite honestly I'm a little tired of black tiles right now. 

Then I thought of a round Zendala tile, but that seemed a little too ordinary also. Keeping the circular idea in mind, I settled on using a stencil of a sun. I knew I was going to add some color, but would I color the sun itself, or the negative space around the sun? Actually that wasn't such a hard decision - it seemed pretty obvious that the sun should be yellow. 

My pan pastels were calling out to me. For those of you who have not used them, they are creamy, smooth pastels that are applied with sponges and leave virtually no pastel dust behind. They blend together easily and beautifully.

Here's my completed monotangle.

The sun is about 6 1/2 inches in diameter, and was completed on 90 lb. watercolor paper. Fairly simple. I varied the width of some of the hollibaugh "bars" and turned some and bent some. But overall it is pretty straightforward. Sometimes less is more. A couple of yellow pastel shades were blended together with a drop of orange for the body of the sun, and I mixed some orange and red for the "rays". Unfortunately, I don't think the variations in the blended colors show up as well as they should in this picture. 

This was a fun break, but now back to more class preparations. Thanks for stopping by, and until next time, let the sunshine in. 

**Addendum - I realized after posting this last night, that I should have gone back in to add more shading to the Hollibaugh lines where they went under and over. Oops! So I've added that shading using the pan pastels again, and here's the updated picture. I think it has some added dimension now.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Grid Seeds are Growing on me

"Seeds of great discoveries are constantly floating around us, but they only take root in minds well prepared to receive them."  Joseph Henry

When Maria Thomas and Rick Roberts, founders of Zentangle, sent out a newsletter a couple of weeks ago about a different way of  approaching a grid pattern, I must admit that I wasn't really too interested. For some reason, it just didn't appeal to me, and I put it out of my mind. So when I saw that the Diva's challenge this week was to incorporate this method into your tile, I was both disappointed and happy at the same time. Disappointed because I wasn't sure that I really wanted to do this, but happy because I knew that this would make me try something new that I would not have done otherwise. I need that little nudge sometimes to experiment with new patterns instead of sticking to the tried and true.

So I sat down with Rick and Maria's chart of "grid seeds" as they called them - patterns to fill in each square of a grid. Each grid seed is a pattern by itself, but when you repeat them over and over in  a grid, they can take on an entirely new look. My first try, in which I filled the whole tile with four different grid seeds, left me totally unsatisfied. It was quite boring! Not even worth showing here.

I decided to take another approach by incorporating only one grid seed and using it as a background to some other tangle patterns. Choosing the seed from location C1 on their chart, I alternated the direction that I drew it. I was much happier with this tile, shown here.

Then, of course, I went onto the next step which is shading. I wasn't quite sure how to shade this background pattern I had created, so instead of shading it I decided to blacken some parts to add contrast and make it pop a little. Now I definitely liked it better.

But one last thought - maybe it needed a touch of color. Worried about ruining my "masterpiece", I made a copy of my tile and then experimented with the color on the copy. I often do that so I'm not devastated if I don't like the result. In this case I loved the effect of the color and added it to the tile. Sometimes just a little bit goes a long way.

So there you have it, my entry to the grid (un)locked challenge. Glad that I was "forced" to try this, I now realize that there is some interesting potential in this method, and I'm likely to experiment with it some more.

Monday, June 10, 2013

One Thousand Thanks...and a New Challenge

"All I ever wanted really, and continue to want out of life, is to give 100 percent to whatever I'm doing and to be committed to whatever I'm doing and then let the results speak for themselves. Also to never take myself or people for granted and always be thankful and grateful to the people who helped me."
Jackie Joyner-Kersee  

When I made the decision to start a blog all about my adventures with Zentangle, I really didn't know what to expect. Would anyone be interested in looking at photos of my work? Would anyone care about what I had to say? Now, just 10 days and four blog posts later, I have surpassed 1000 page views! Wow! I can safely say that is way more than I could have imagined. So I want to thank all of you who have taken the time to visit here and become part of my first thousand. I hope that you will continue on this journey with me.

And now I'd like to share my first entry into Roy Stauffer's monotangle challenge. This week's challenge was to use the tangle "shard" by CZT Carole Ohl. I had not used this tangle before but found it fun to make the shards wind haphazardly all over the place, with some of them piercing through their boundaries. 

Here are two photos. The first one shows my tile without any shading, and the second one is after. As always, I think the shading adds so much dimension to the design.  

I really enjoyed working with Carole's tangle pattern, and although I don't know where the future of this blog will take me, I do expect to see more shards in my future.

Once again, one thousand thanks to all of you!

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Scratching my Zentangle Itch

"If I couldn't see the colors, now that would be a problem."  
 Im Dong-Hyun 

I was recently inspired by some posts I saw on Facebook, to create some tangled scratch art. For those of you who are not familiar with scratch art, it is a special kind of paper on which you use a pointed wood stick about the size of a pen to scratch off the coating, revealing colors underneath. I found both black scratch paper and white at Dick Blick and decided to order both kinds. Most people (and I'm sure this is very appealing to kids) would just draw pictures on the paper, but I'm not most people. I'm a tangler!

The plan was to get together with a few of my tangle friends to see what we could come up with. One uninvited guest, named tropical storm Andrea, decided to show up a little early. Arriving the evening before our scheduled tangle time and overstaying her welcome through the night, she threatened to upset our plans. The next morning brought some rain with threatened flooding, which turned into sunshine, then back to rain, then back to sun. Well, you get the idea. So after some indecisiveness on our part as well as the weather's, a few of us decided to go ahead with our plans, and I'm glad we did. 

Here's a picture of the Zentangle inspired art I completed on black paper that morning, and one on white which I began then but finished up later in the day (by which time Andrea had moved on to make trouble for our neighbors to the north).

I'm very happy with the way they both turned out, although the black one may be my favorite because of the way the colors pop against the background. The black paper is thinner, and I found it easier to scratch off the surface than I did on the thicker white paper. By the time I finished the white piece my hand was aching a little from the pressure I needed to scrape with. The white one also produced a bit of a mess with the white surface flaking all over as it was scratched off, so I was glad I was working on a sheet of newspaper! I'm sure there are other sources for the scratch paper, and they may perform quite differently. My friends, who have not been tangling as long as I have, were pretty impressed (or at least I think so) with their own pieces as the colors slowly appeared and the patterns took shape.

If you enjoy tangling on different surfaces I think you will find this activity well worth your time.Whenever the itch strikes me in the future, as I'm sure it will, I'll be there scratching.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Stencil Magic

"All art requires courage." Anne Tucker

Today I was in the mood to play with color and a stencil. I decided to break in my new Dyan Reaveley creative journal. It's not really new - I've had it for a few months, but was nervous to actually use it for fear of messing up and having to tear the page out. Anyone else have those irrational kinds of fears? Here's a picture of my final piece so that you can see what I'm talking about as I explain my process.

I pulled out my Dylusions ink sprays since that's what the journal was really made for, and The Crafters Workshop stencil called Spirographica. Feeling a little unsure of where this was headed, I forged on. Using a couple of tiny pieces of tape to hold the stencil in place, I chose a few delicious Dylusions colors, and spritzed away. 

Challenge #1 - When I pulled up the stencil, I saw that a little of the spray had seeped underneath since the stencil lines are so thin. So of course my first reaction was, "Oh no, now I'll have to rip the page out!" What I tried, and was relieved when it worked, was to go over the stencil lines with my white pen which covered up where the spray had gone underneath. White lines filled in, I was ready to begin tangling. 

Challenge #2 - Some of the color seemed a little dark and I was afraid the micron pen lines wouldn't show up real well. I got around that obstacle by using patterns that had a little more black in them for the darker sections. My pen glided smoothly over the inked page.

Challenge #3 - The journal is  9" x 12" (so 18" x 12" when open) and one inch thick, which made it interesting trying to turn it as I worked, like I would turn my Zentangle tile. It was a little awkward positioning my hands and arms, but I managed.  I'm posting a couple of pictures here showing closeup views so you can see some of the detail.

Overall, I'm happy with the finished piece, although a couple of small sections not so much. I will not need to rip out the page - yay! And now that I've broken in the journal, next time maybe I won't be so scared to use it.