Saturday, July 27, 2013

Double the Fun

"All human things of dearest value hang on slender strings."  Edmund Waller

The Diva's challenge this week was to use a two-pencil string. She had issued this challenge way back when she first started doing challenges, but I was not even aware of what Zentangle was at that time. So when I saw this challenge I thought it sounded like a fun idea to try. For those of you reading this who may be non-Zentangle people, the string is the lines that divide your drawing area into separate sections. Normally you use one pencil to draw the string, but for this challenge you were to hold two pencils together to draw a double line.

The Diva suggested using a rubber band to hold the pencils together, but I found that I could hold them just fine without the rubber band. So I drew the string and tangled away, and here is what I ended up with, pre-shading.

And here it is post-shading.


I think this is one of my favorite pieces that I've completed recently. I love the flow of the string. So I decided I'd like to try another one. This time I held the pencils crossed over each other, rather than side by side, so I'd get a wider "ribbon".

After tangling the ribbon and holding it out to admire, I was reminded of the breast cancer awareness ribbon. I know it's not exactly the same shape, but that's what came to my mind. So when I was trying to decide whether to make the little triangles formed by the shattuck pattern black or another color, I thought that coloring them pink would be appropriate. I used the Sakura stardust gelly roll pen, which shimmers more than you can see in this photo. Rather than doing more tangling, I chose to leave it simple and just add a few little accents, in addition to the shading.

I like the simplicity of it and I'm glad I decided not to go any further. This was a great way of drawing a string and I'll be experimenting with it some more. Who knows - maybe I'll try a three-pencil string for triple the fun!

Monday, July 22, 2013

Patterns Patterns Everywhere

"Life forms illogical patterns. It is haphazard and full of beauties which I try to catch as they fly by, for who knows whether any of them will ever return?" Margot Fonteyn

Since beginning my journey with Zentangle I have become very aware of patterns in the world around me. I notice the patterns in fabric and linens, in architecture and nature, in rugs and clothes. In EVERYTHING! Why do you think I chose this background for my blog? I have even programmed my husband to notice patterns. So between the two of us we have taken many photos on our phones of patterns we see while out and about. The idea is that I will study these patterns and be inspired to create the steps for drawing them.

In reality, I often forget about the pictures we've taken. And when I do remember them...well, I'm impatient. So when I sit down to work on the steps, if those steps don't come quickly I give up easily. I figure that I'm wasting valuable time when I could be tangling instead. But a few days ago I was inspired by a picture in, of all places, a coloring book. The pattern was very simple, so I was able create it before I got impatient and gave up. As a matter of fact, the basic pattern is so simple that I can't believe it hasn't already been published as a Zentangle pattern. If anyone has seen this somewhere else, please let me know.

Here are the steps for the pattern, which I am calling Navaho because it reminds me of a Navajo woven blanket. Spelling it with an "h" is an alternate, rarely used spelling for the Native American tribe. I have also included several variations on the basic pattern. 

For the basic pattern, I drew a diagonal line in each box, and then added 2 lines on each side of that diagonal. Do the same thing in reverse, and there you have the pattern with a checkerboard in the center. Variation 1 has the little squares that were formed by the diagonals blackened in, but before doing that I added another line on each side of both diagonals so the resulting squares would be slightly smaller. 

For variation 2, I drew the first set of diagonals in alternating directions from square to square. Then the diagonals crossing those went under, in hollibaugh fashion.

For  variation 3, I drew the first set of diagonals all going in the same direction and the second set of diagonals went under again. 

3a is the same as 3, but I blackened in a line, following it up and down across the rows. This took a lot of concentration to make sure I was following the line the way I wanted to.  

I am including two Zentangles that I created using Navaho. In this first one I used variation 3a on the bottom right side, and another variation of the basic pattern with parts of the little squares blackened.

In this next Zentangle I used variation 2. I outlined the little squares that were formed using the Sakura black glaze pen which leaves a raised shiny line, but it's hard to see that in the picture. The black glaze pen is my newly discovered treasure and lots of fun to use for accents. If you haven't tried it yet, you really should. 

I'm not sure that either of these zentangles are my favorites, but I did get a lot of practice with my new pattern. I hope you enjoy putting Navaho to the test, and I'd love to see what you do with it. 

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Polka Dots and Moonbeams

"True life is lived when tiny changes occur."  Leo Tolstoy

I decided to dedicate a journal to all of my zendalas. Just zendalas and nothing else. I have the perfect book, a 5 1/2 inch square -
hand·book from Global Art Materials. The paper is very similar to the official Zentangle tiles so the Micron pens behave just like I am used to. A zendala the same size as the round tiles from Zentangle Inc. fits perfectly on the pages. So if I want to do a black zendala I can just glue the tile into the journal.

I expect to create some of my own designs in this journal, but to christen the book I did this week's Zendala Dare. Below is a picture of my zendala before any shading.

And here it is after shading. As always, the shading really added another dimension to it. 

I had wanted to include something outside of the rounded edge, so I tried some triangles, as you can see in the above picture. That was not successful - I didn't like it at all. What could I do to make it more to my liking? I decided to turn each group of triangles into a black blob, really a large crescent moon. Much happier with this look.

But I still wanted to make it more interesting somehow. Those crescent moons were just a little boring. Using my white gel pen, I added some polka dots, which gave it just the pizzazz I was looking for.
Sometimes I forget how much difference the tiniest change can make to the look of the whole piece. 

A bit of trivia...The title of my blog, Polka Dots and Moonbeams,  is the name of a song from 1940. It was Frank Sinatra's first hit recorded with the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra. You can listen to  the song here.

I'd better get back to work now. I have another 63 pages to fill in my journal!

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Roses are Red...and Owls are Brown

"As you walk down the fairway of life you must smell the roses, for you only get to play one round."
Ben Hogan

The Diva's challenge this week was to incorporate a stencil as the string of your Zentangle. As soon as I saw that I knew right away what stencil I would use. I recently bought a stencil of a rose at A.C Moore, which was waiting patiently for me in my stencil binder.

First I debated which method I would use to color the rose - Ranger ink pads, alcohol markers, or watercolor markers - since this would impact what type of paper I would use.  Deciding on alcohol markers, I traced the outline of the rose, and then added the leaves freehand since there were none included with the stencil. I then used Prismacolor markers for the flower because I liked the combination of reds I had, and Copics for the leaves. A sketchbook made by Copic which has a special kind of marker paper meant for alcohol markers was the obvious choice for paper, as it allows the markers to blend nicely. Unfortunately I found that the Prismacolor markers caused a drop of bleeding at the edges which I had not expected, while the Copic markers did not. Luckily the bleeding is not too visible unless you are inspecting it carefully. I meant to take a picture of the rose before I began tangling, but I forgot until after I had tangled the first section, so here it is.

I continued tangling each section of the rose and leaves with different tangles. It wasn't easy figuring out what to do with the very small pieces! After it was complete, I went back in with the markers and added just a little more shading to what was already there from the original blending of the markers. The final result....

I love the way it turned out! I've worked with stencils before (see this recent blog post), and always find it a fun method for something a little different. Here is a picture of a stenciled owl I did a while ago. The owl was a stencil and I added the branch. For this one I used Derwent Inktense pencils.

Check back here again to see more tangled stencils soon....I have one just itching to be tangled.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Twinkle Twinkle Little Star

"And I'm proud to be an American, where at least I know I'm free. And I won't forget the men who died, who gave that right to me." Lee Greenwood

Happy Fourth of July to all Americans, and happy day to the rest of you.  I decided to make a star themed piece in celebration of the holiday. 

I broke out my Dyan Reaveley journal and Dylusion sprays again for the occasion. Using my Sizzix die cutting machine and set of star shaped dies, I cut a number of different size stars out of watercolor paper to play with. I moved them around on the journal page until I was happy with the arrangement and then used removable double sided Scotch tape to hold them temporarily in place. The tape really isn't good for soon as I thought I had a couple in place, they started coming off. It was quite a juggling act to get them all to stay in place at the same time so I could spray the background. Eventually I did, but it seemed to take forever. If anyone can tell me a better temporary adhesive to use, please do! 

After that frustration, I finally got the background sprayed and my letters outlined in black pen. I set out tangling all the stars and then went back to make the words pop some more, as they were fading into the background a little bit. I used Sharpie paint markers to fill in the letters, dotted them with a white gel pen, and then thickened up the outline of the letters with a black Sharpie paint pen. 

I think the end result is pretty festive looking. If you are celebrating the holiday, enjoy your barbecues and fireworks. Me...I will be spending the day in the car on an 8 hour drive. But at the end of that drive will be a long weekend with my family from all over the country, so I'm pretty excited. Happy 4th!