Tuesday, August 27, 2013

That's What Friends Are For

"For good times and bad times
I'll be on your side forever more
That's what friends are for"

Dionne Warwick

It was time to do something a little different. So I pulled out a couple of Dyan Reaveley stencils that I've had for a while but had not found the time to play with yet. These "ladies" needed a colorful background. My first try was Dylusion sprays. Without going into all the details, let me just say that it didn't go as planned and I had a page that I couldn't use. Onto my next idea, a watercolor wash. I decided to use my Peerless watercolors, which turned out to be a mistake. In addition to the color being too intense for my purpose, some of it seeped under the edges and messed up the images. But I wasn't going to give up that easily. For my third try I used Ranger distress ink pads with a blending tool. The ink did not blend as well as I would have liked, but it looked good enough for me to continue. After all, how does that saying go? Three strikes and you're out. Here's what I ended up with after tangling the ladies.

As I worked on this piece a story unfolded in my mind about these two good friends. First of all, just by looking at their outfits it's obvious that they are fashion trendsetters! Who would not want the clothes they're wearing? The one with the umbrella (added with a rubber stamp) is worried about her beautiful hair getting wet, while the other one, sporting her snazzy rain boots, is more worried about her feet getting wet. I'm sure they are discussing something very important as they stand out in the rain...maybe their next shopping trip. 

This piece was so much fun to work on. I foresee some of their friends making their way onto my journal pages another day. Next time I can only hope that it won't take me three tries to get the background right. 

I decided to experiment with music for this blog post. I hope it's working properly. Let me know what you think. 

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is?

"I collect watches because I'm always late, and I need to know exactly how late I'm going to be - in order to come up with a good excuse."  Colin Hanks

My good friend Cindi, who is also one of my former Zentangle students, is always thinking of other people. So not too long ago when she was at a car wash she saw a watch and thought of me. Now don't ask me why the car wash is selling watches. I can't figure it out. I can understand selling products that have something to do with cars, but a watch? But when you look at the following pictures of the packaging from that watch you will probably understand why she thought of me.

This is a paper watch that is meant to be decorated. As a matter of fact, doesn't it look tangled to you? After hearing about it, I knew I had to go see for myself. But I kept forgetting to stop by the car wash, so several weeks passed before I finally made my way there. The watch is actually made from Tyvek, the stuff they use when building houses. So this is no ordinary paper - it's tough and hard to rip. Needless to say, I bought one. For $12, I thought it was definitely worth a try. Here is a picture of the watch straight out of the package.

Of course I was nervous to begin tangling because if I messed up there would be no turning back. First I tested some pens on the back of the watch face where nobody would ever see the marks. I started with a Micron, and although it worked and didn't smudge, I felt like the lines weren't as crisp as they should be, as if it bled just a tiny drop. So I tried a Faber Castell Pitt pen which I thought worked slightly better. However, there really may not have been any difference. Here's what I ended up with.

I'm happier with the band than with the face of the watch. I just don't think I made the best choice in the patterns for the face. No shading on this. I don't think that would work too well. Now the big question is... will it hold up to normal daily wear and tear? If the watch makes it through several wearings and still looks good, I may try another one with some color. In case any of you are interested in designing your own, you can read more about the watch here. And check around online because I think you can find it for less than the $12 I spent. If everyone reading this blog tangles a watch we could start a whole new fashion trend. 


Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Leaving on a Jet Plane

Organize, don't agonize.  - Nancy Pelosi
Organize, don't agonize.  - Nancy Pelosi
Organize, don't agonize.  - Nancy Pelosi
Organize, don't agonize.  - Nancy Pelosi
Organize, don't agonize.  - Nancy Pelosi
Organize, don't agonize.  - Nancy Pelosi
"Organize, don't agonize"   Nancy Pelosi
When I cannot bear outer pressures any more, I begin to put order in my belongings… As if unable to organize and control my life, I seek to exert this on the world of objects.  - Anais Nin
- See more at: http://simpleworksorganizing.com/blog/?category=Quotes#sthash.Zs3ANqe4.d
When I cannot bear outer pressures any more, I begin to put order in my belongings… As if unable to organize and control my life, I seek to exert this on the world of objects.  - Anais Nin
- See more at: http://simpleworksorganizing.com/blog/?category=Quotes#sthash.Zs3ANqe4.dpuf

When I cannot bear outer pressures any more, I begin to put order in my belongings… As if unable to organize and control my life, I seek to exert this on the world of objects.  - Anais Nin
- See more at: http://simpleworksorganizing.com/blog/?category=Quotes#sthash.Zs3ANqe4.dpuf
When I cannot bear outer pressures any more, I begin to put order in my belongings… As if unable to organize and control my life, I seek to exert this on the world of objects.  - Anais Nin
- See more at: http://simpleworksorganizing.com/blog/?category=Quotes#sthash.Zs3ANqe4.dpuf
I am about to take off on a ten day trip to MA to visit my sister and then to Dallas for some Zentangle fun. Of course my Zentangle supplies are a big part of what I pack to take on any trip. I decided that I'd really like to have a more compact method than my bulky binder to haul patterns with me for inspiration. I am about halfway through an online class with Joanne Sharpe for which I bought a set of cards on a ring for one of the projects. The cards are 2 in. x 4 in.

Once I received these cards I immediately knew that it would be a great way to keep track of my tangle patterns. So I ordered a few more sets. Now, with just a few days to go before my trip, I have begun to fill one up. On each card I'm drawing a picture of the pattern, not with the step-outs, but with a tiny note if there's something special I need to remember.

Just as a reminder to myself, I'm also including a list of the tangles that I know by heart and don't need any visual to help me. With 100 cards on a ring, using front and back, I have room for 200 patterns on each ring. Doing the math - three rings times 200 - means I have room for 600 tangles. Will that be enough? I wonder how many patterns have been published in one place or another.

I recently tried a tangle (Henna Drum) that I had not used before and didn't think I liked, but then I fell in love with it (see my post here). As a result, I decided that it was time to venture further into the world of the unknown. I so often fall back into using the same tangles over and over and over (well, you get the idea). I'm getting kind of tired of them. So I am forcing myself to try out the patterns never tried before, even if I don't expect to like them. Some I still don't like after playing with them, but some I love! So far I've added 75 patterns to my ring, more than half of them new to me, and that's just a drop in the bucket. 

I am starting with Tanglepatterns.com, going through letter by letter. I am only up to the letter G, (and no, I'm not including them ALL), so there will be  lots to finish upon returning from my travels, but I'll have well over 100 patterns to play with while away. And they will hardly take up any space or add any weight to my luggage. I'm making sure that the front and back sides of each card have similar type tangles, such as grid, organic, or border, so that later I can organize them by category. I even made front and back covers for the stack of cards, using only new tangles to me. 

I'm very excited about my little project. Who am I kidding... it's really a HUGE project. It doesn't take much to get me excited when it's Zentangle related.  If you need to add some organization to your tangled life, I hope that you will find some inspiration from this. Now, off to add some more patterns before I leave.

Friday, August 9, 2013

Try It… You’ll Like It!

"Don't fear failure so much that you refuse to try new things. The saddest summary of a life contains three descriptions: could have, might have, and should have."   Louis E. Boone 

I started out this week doing the Zendala Dare, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, where the object was to make two completely different sides to the zendala. It sounded like a lot of fun. However, I was very unhappy with my resulting zendala. So unhappy that I'm not going to even share it. I think the problem is that I really like symmetry in zendalas, and trying to make something asymmetrical that in my mind should be symmetrical, just doesn't sit well. So...I moved onto something new...the Diva's challenge

I was a little wary about that one too, because the tangle pattern to use this week was Henna Drum, by Jane MacKugler, CZT. Jane, should you be reading this, please don't be offended, and please continue reading, but it was a tangle that I have not tried because it never called out my name. But try it I did, and I'm so glad! 

I really love the look of my finished piece. It is more flowy and organic looking than a lot of my Zentangles, and it's just the kind of look that I am trying to incorporate more into my work. I used a red Sakura glaze pen to color the flowers which gives them a wonderful sheen, which of course the camera loses completely. Then I went over my original swirly line of Henna Drum with a black glaze pen to make it thicker and shiny also, since I thought it had gotten a little lost in the tangle of patterns (trying to be clever!). I had so much fun with this that I decided to try another one (see Jane, I told you to continue reading!). 

For the second one I decided to go white on black so I pulled out one of my Ranger black tags (I'm still waiting for my black paper journal which had to be back-ordered). I used my amazing white Uni-ball Signo UM-153 pen along with a white charcoal pencil for a little shading, and put a halo around each of the flowers. Adding a touch of color to the flowers with a green metallic gelly roll pen gave them just a little pop.

Lesson learned. Even when I see a tangle pattern that I don't particularly like, I need to make myself give it a try. Maybe I will discard it, but maybe, just maybe, I will find a new pattern that I love. Thank you Jane and Laura for pushing me to try this.

And maybe next week I will do better on the Zendala Dare.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Fifty Shades of Gray

“False friends are like our shadow, keeping close to us while we walk in the sunshine but leaving us when we cross into the shade.”
Christian Nevell Bovee

I am always amazed at how much a little pencil shading changes the look of a Zentangle. Sometimes I am working on a tile and not feeling the love. Occasionally I will give up and start over, but I usually make myself continue because I know that once I add the shading it may take on a whole new look. Recently I have become a little bolder with my shading and I often make it darker than I ever used to. 

One day not too long ago I was perusing the Dick Blick website which is where I purchase many of my art supplies. It was there that I came across some water soluble pencils made by Derwent. Not watercolor pencils, but plain old graphite pencils that are water soluble. The idea intrigued me - I wondered how it would be to shade a Zentangle with one of these pencils and water, rather then smudging  my pencil marks with my tortillion (or as I refer to it, my smudger). Dick Blick has two different kinds of these pencils - sketching pencils and graphitone pencils. The graphitone pencil is described as "a slim stick of pure artist-quality graphite combined with premium clays". Not knowing which to try, I decided to get a set containing both types

Once my pencils arrived, I first tested them to see how they would shade on different types of paper, including a Zentangle tile, 90 lb. cold press watercolor paper, 140 lb. cold press watercolor paper, and 140 lb. hot press watercolor paper. The hot press paper is smoother than cold press, and the higher the lb. number, the thicker the paper. I made the following charts comparing regular pencils (2B and 4B blended with my smudger), with the pencils that came in my set (water soluble sketch pencils HB and 4B, and graphitone pencils 2B and 6B, all blended with my waterbrush). The HB is the hardest of those leads, and as the number in front of the B gets higher, the lead gets softer and darker (although the darkness has a lot to do with how hard you press).

You can't tell a lot from these photos, so I'll explain the observations that I made. First, I should say that the sketch pencils felt much like any regular pencil as I laid them down dry, while the graphitone pencils had a very creamy, buttery feel to them. The sketch pencils can be used dry and blended with a smudger also, while the graphitone pencils did not really blend well when dry. 

The smooth hot press paper allowed all the pencils, both regular and water soluble, to blend smoothly. The 90 lb. cold press paper allowed smoother blending than the 140 lb. cold press paper for all pencils. This is the same observation I have previously made when trying to blend water based markers and watercolor pencils on cold press paper. The Zentangle tile proved to have similar results to the 90 lb. watercolor paper, which is slightly thinner than the tiles. You need to be careful not to overwork the water too much on a Zentangle tile as it can only take so much water before starting to "shred" a little. 

Next I needed to test the pencils  to see how they would actually work to shade a Zentangle, rather than just shading some blobs on the papers. So, just to be different, I did a Zentangle in my journal, which was not one of the papers that I tested, but has a surface similar to the Zentangle tiles. Here is my before shading photo.

 I chose to try the 4B water soluble sketch pencil to shade this Zentangle. I laid down the pencil where I wanted it, just like I normally do. Then I used my waterbrush to blend that pencil out and make it look shadowy. At first I was a little timid, and the shading was light, so I went back and added some more pencil where I wanted it to be darker, and blended again. The shading was easy and accomplished pretty quickly - faster, I think, than when I use a smudger. The pencil used on my journal page gave similar results to when I tested it on the 90 lb. cold press paper and the Zentangle tile. While shading, as an afterthought, I decided to stretch those Hollibaugh lines out into space.

I need a little more practice, but I was pretty satisfied with the results I got. The shading looks a little smoother when it has the "watercolor look" (without the color) than when it is smudged. Two different effects, and I'm not sure yet if I like one better than the other. Next will be a Zentangle shaded with the graphitone pencil, but that will be a post for another time. If you have used these pencils or plan to give them a try, let me know what you think.