Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Swirls and Twirls

"Creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes. Art is knowing which ones to keep."   Scott Adams

Recently I saw some photos in one of my Facebook groups that showed tangling on prints made with a gelli plate. If you've been hiding under a rock and have never heard of the gelli plate, you can find out all about it here. I got a gelli plate about a year ago, with the intent of making prints that I could tangle on. At that time I did a blog post showing a print that I tangled. I was a little frustrated with the fact that I didn't like most of the prints I had made.

But I was inspired by what I saw on Facebook and decided to unearth my gelli plate. And again I was frustrated by all the "bad" prints that I pulled. Since my sole purpose was to make prints I could tangle on, I needed to keep them fairly simple. If I used too many colors, stencils, tools, etc., the print would be too busy to tangle. So after many attempts, I realized that the ones I did like were mostly done using wedges... comb-like tools that I have. And just the wedges with nothing else. Keep it simple.

Here's one that I thought would work. Unfortunately I forgot to scan it before I started, so this shows the beginning of my tangling.

And here it is after tangling.

The next one was done using a wedge with "teeth" that are much narrower, for a very different look.

I chose to use just two patterns for this one.

I do like the way these look but wish I felt more comfortable and confident with the gelli plate. I really need to take a class, but as far as I know there are none offered where I live. I ended up with a few more prints that I feel have potential, and I've put them aside to try another time.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Gray Matter

"Life is about the gray areas. Things are seldom black and white, even when we wish they were and think they should be..."   
Emily Giffin

It's been a long while since I tangled in my toned paper sketchbooks, so I decided to pull out the gray paper. I always love the way the black pen looks on the paper with white highlights. For my first ZIA I decided to go organic. If anyone knows the name and creator of the main leafy tangle here, please let me know. I have the pattern in my collection, but never knew who to credit. I added some Printemps and B'Dylan to the unnamed pattern, then drew highlights with a combination of white charcoal pencil and white Prismacolor pencil. A little bit of graphite shading and voila! I was VERY happy with the completed piece.

I started this second one with some Tripoli. I could never get the hang of Tripoli until we did an exercise with it at Tangle U last spring. Now I'm okay with it as long as I don't get stressed over the fact that they don't all come out perfectly even and lined up. As a matter of fact, I made a "mistake" in my Tripoli, so I repeated the "mistake" so it wouldn't be the only one. Since Tripoli is all triangles, I decided to stay with the triangle theme, adding some Fassett by Lynn Mead, and Z-Trik by Yamit Fridman, both of which are based on triangles. Again I used the white pencils for highlights and graphite for shading to finish it off.

The white makes the patterns really pop on the toned papers. I must remember to pull out these sketchbooks more often!

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

One Step at a Time

"It is always the simple that produces the marvelous."
 Amelia Barr

This week's Diva challenge, the last one for the year, is K.I.S.S., which stands for Keep It Simple, Silly. So, in order to keep it simple, I decided to do a montangle, or a tile using only one pattern. I chose to use a Zendala (round) tile because I love them, and also because I thought the pattern I chose would look really nice in the round. And the pattern is... Cosmo, a hot off the press tangle by CZT Sonya Yencer. I greatly admire Sonya's work, and love the look of Cosmo. 

I decided to show you the evolution of my tile, one step at a time. Hmmm... where have I heard that phrase before? First I used a Micron 03 pen to lay down the basic pattern.

Then I added some shading, with a 6B woodless pencil. I've recently started using the woodless pencils and love the way they lay down on the paper, although I can't really pinpoint what makes them feel different to me. Maybe it's all in my imagination!

Next I added auras inside each of the spaces created by the criss-crossing elements. I used the Micron 01 for this step. 

In what I thought was going to be my last step, I added dashed lines.

 But then I changed my mind and added one more thing. 

Although I was happy with the way it looked before blackening the circles, I do like the way the black makes the design pop a little more. Now I am finished. I could have kept it even simpler by stopping after the original shading, but the auras, dashes, and blackening were all simple steps to add even more interest to an already interesting pattern. Thanks, Sonya, for Cosmo!

Friday, December 12, 2014


"Life is the art of drawing without an eraser."   John W. Gardner

The Diva is back to her blogging this week, and the new challenge is to use the tangle Arukas. About a month ago, when this tangle was newly released, I tried it out on a couple of tiles. The first one I did back then was on a Zendala tile. I loved the way this turned out, enough so that I included it when I recently changed the headers on  this blog and my website, tanglemania.com. I really like tangling on the round tiles even if they are not your typical Zendalas.

Since I enjoyed this pattern so much, I was happy to see this week's challenge. I picked one of my hand-colored tiles to use and completed it in a similar fashion to the round one, but blackened and shaded different areas, as well as adding 'Nzeppel in the background. Not bad, but I don't like it as much as my first tile. 

Then something interesting happened. I was looking through a pile of completed tiles I had sitting on my shelf. Lo and behold, I found another Arukas tile I did last month and had completely forgotten about.

Well, would you look at that! I used 'Nzeppel in that background also! I guess I have a one track mind. They are a little different... the turquoise one has 'Nzeppel in a grid, and the pink one has it laid out randomly. And of course the rest of the pattern was done very differently, with curving arms. This is not my favorite tile.... probably why I had forgotten about it!

I did like the idea of curvy arms, however, so I decided to do another tile, trying to make it very different. I think I achieved my objective.

It's on an apprentice tile, which is a little bigger and a little whiter than the regular Zentangle tiles. I had decided to make the arms wavy, but of course was not thinking as I began, and drew the first lines straight. There are no mistakes in Zentangle, so I just continued. It was a happy 'mistake', as I love the way it looks with one straight side and the others wavy! This is definitely a pattern that has been added to my list of favorites.

Friday, December 5, 2014

Rag Doll

"The guy's only doing it for some doll."    Guys and Dolls

When I saw the Diva challenge for this week, by guest blogger Emily Classon, CZT, I didn't think I was going to participate. The challenge is to be inspired by dolls and "awaken your inner child, and add some playtime to your tangling with a doll-shaped string, a tangled paper doll chain, or a tangled fabric doll." But as I thought about it more, something came to mind... those adorable tangle folk created by Billie Lauder, CZT. They would definitely qualify as doll-like. 

I created a few of these a while back, probably a couple of years ago, but had not made any since then. Here is my first one for the challenge. I added a "face" to mine, as primitive as it may be, which Billie does not do when she makes her tangle folk. This one has been picking flowers.

My second one is in the middle of a kickball game.

These tangle folk really are so much fun to draw. My favorite part is tangling the hair in wild and crazy hair styles. Maybe I will start a sketchbook dedicated solely to these cute "dolls"! If you're interested in trying them yourself, you can find Billie demonstrating them here. It's a very long video of various Zentangle ideas that you may also be interested in, but the section on tangle folk begins at 10:35 into the video. Enjoy!

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Alphabet Soup

"There is nothing like a grandchild in your arms to put a smile on your face, a lump in your throat, and a warm feeling in your heart."  Author Unknown

I'm so excited! My ABC book is finished. In case you haven't heard me talk about it before, I made a Zentangle ABC book for my grandchildren. Actually, when I started  I only had one grandson, Hudson. He's now going on 3, and I have a 7 month old granddaughter, Brooklyn. So, although originally the book was going to have a dedication to Hudson, it has now been dedicated to both of them. After spending so much time making the book, I won't be starting from scratch to make another one for Brooklyn.  I'm probably going to have a new copy printed for her so she'll have her own clean book when she's ready for it.You know how little boys can be with their books!

Here are a couple of pages from the book.

 If you'd like to see some of the other letters I did, before pictures were added, you can see them here and here.

Since we were visiting my grandchildren (and their parents) for Thanksgiving (far away from home), I hand delivered the book. Here's a picture of Hudson reading it.

And here's Brooklyn peering over his shoulder to see it. She doesn't want to feel left out!

Maybe there are some of you out there who would like a copy of the book to share with your own children or grandchildren, so I decided to make it into an e-book and list it in my Etsy shop. For $4.95 you will get a PDF file of the book which can be shared with the little ones on any electronic device. Since technology is such a big part of children's lives these days, this will be a helpful tool for them to learn their ABCs. Of course you could choose to print out a copy also (I'd suggest heavy paper/cardstock) and have a spiral binding put on it, the way I did with my copy of my e-book of tangle patterns, Step Out in Style. In case anyone is interested, you can find the ABC book in my Etsy shop here.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year

"Blessed is the season which engages the whole world in a conspiracy of love!"   Hamilton Wright Mabie

Holiday season is officially upon us. It becomes official on Thanksgiving, I believe, even if the stores and radio stations feel it starts at Halloween. In order to be prepared, I spent the last couple of months designing some new Zentangle inspired holiday cards to add to my Etsy shop. So I thought I would share my new designs with you here.

Adding these to my designs from last year, I now have more than a dozen different cards, some Christmas, some Chanukah, and some winter themed, available with or without something written on the inside.

Have you started (or maybe finished) your holiday shopping yet?

Friday, November 28, 2014

Thinking Inside the Grid

"Success is due to our stretching to the challenges of life. Failure comes when we shrink from them."    John C. Maxwell

This week's Diva challenge is from guest blogger Sandy Hunter, CZT. Her challenge is to use a grid-based pattern and take it out of the grid, or take a free-form pattern and put it into a grid. When I think about tangleations (variations) that I can make from a certain pattern, I often think about taking it out of the grid and have done this in the past with several patterns. However, I don't think I've ever taken a free-form pattern and put it into a grid. As soon as I saw Sandy's challenge I knew I was going to have fun with this one.

In my first tile I began with Rixty... definitely NOT a grid pattern. But it is here.

I extended a few of the "tails" of Rixty out and around to meet another "tail". Then I filled those areas with Crescent Moon. Next I took Emingle out of the grid and added it to some of the outer areas, drawing random Emingle shapes.

For my next tile I started with Sand Swirl, by Karry Heun. I love this pattern as the free-form pattern it was meant to be, and I LOVE the way it looks in a grid. I expect that I will be using it that way again. Then I drew Nipa, another free-form pattern, in a grid, alternating directions of the curves. Knightsbridge was the finishing touch I added to the tile.

This was a fun challenge, and definitely gets you thinking in new ways, allowing for lots of creativity. Thanks Sandy!

Friday, November 21, 2014

Let it Bleed

"The purpose of art is washing the dust of daily life off our souls."   Pablo Picasso

I'm always on the lookout for new artsy ideas that can be incorporated into my Zentangle work. A while ago my daughter found something on Pinterest that she thought I might like... using tissue paper to color a canvas. I've used many different methods for making colored tiles, including watercolor paint, Ranger distress ink pads, dylusion sprays, alcohol inks... and the list goes on and on. But I've never tried tissue paper. 

So I decided to give it a whirl. You don't use regular tissue paper for this, but instead use bleeding tissue paper. Just as the name implies, the color bleeds onto the surface below it. And onto your fingers, so be advised to wear a pair of gloves if you want to try this, unless you like colorful fingers. The directions showed applying this technique to canvas, but not being a big fan of tangling on canvas, I wanted to see if it would work on watercolor paper. And it did...beautifully! (I used Strathmore 140 lb. paper.) I ended up with several good tiles, and a couple of not so good ones that I tossed.

I forgot to get a picture of this first tile before tangling, but here's the completed tile. I wrapped my pattern Cruze around the outside and then filled it with the new pattern Arukas. I wish my Cruze didn't try to run off the top of the tile, but it had a mind of its own.

For the next tiles, I remembered to get pictures before putting pen to paper. I scanned the tiles, which does not always depict the colors exactly the way they look in person, so I adjusted them a little in Lightroom to make them as close to reality as possible. That's why the colors in the before and after pictures might not match exactly. This first one is probably my favorite one of all that I made.

Since I loved the colors here so much, I wanted them to really shine through and chose a couple of light and airy patterns, Tofube by Damy, and Lichen by Jennifer Hohensteiner, which I think go very well together.

Next I tried one of the Zendala tiles I had cut. I like the way this one turned out, except for the yellow spot, the result of one of my fingertips that still had color from another tile, touching it.

Luckily, after tangling, that yellow spot was disguised at least a little bit. For this one I decided to use a stencil I have from Acadia Laser Creations. It was hard to get a good picture of the stencil since it's made from clear plastic, but this gives you the idea.

And here's how it turned out. I used the pattern Hi-Cs by Anita Roby-Lavery. It's normally a grid pattern but I did what I call "taking a pattern out of the grid" to give it a totally different look.Then I filled the outside sections with Knightsbridge and finished it off with some line work.

If you'd like to try the tissue paper method for making colored tiles, you can find the tutorial that I used here. I found the tissue paper on Amazon. It's a lot of tissue paper that will last me a lifetime! I have several more tiles that I made, so when I get around to tangling them I'll post them another time. If you decide to try it, I'd love to see your tiles!

Monday, November 17, 2014

In the Groove

"Once we get into the groove, we're kind of like long-distance runners - that adrenalin kicks in for me and I just keep running - and I don't stop."   Keith Urban

On a recent lunch stop at a restaurant I've never been to before, I saw the following piece of stained glass. (I know it's not a very good photo, but I just took it while sitting at my table, purely for inspiration).

I immediately saw the pattern Flux, and couldn't wait to sit down and try to create this very swirly, flowing look that is different than any Flux I've ever drawn before. Later that evening this is what emerged.

I began with a pattern in the round center, but it quickly became overwhelmed by the Flux and didn't look right at all. So I decided to just blacken it in, which adds to the boldness of this tile, and I love it! This is exactly the style I was talking about in my recent blog post What 's Your Style?, bold yet airy (sounds like I'm describing wine!)

I've also been working on some more tiles that illustrate the style that I love. The first one here was drawn on one of my hand-colored tiles, using the pattern Y.A.F. with some variations. I filled the background with orbs. Lots of strong contrast here. It feels very tropical to me.

For another one with contrast, I used my tangle pattern Canz, and surrounded it with Bunzo.

I'm glad to say that since spending some time analyzing what I liked and didn't like in my Zentangles, I think I've found my groove! I know I'll still create some pieces that I'm not all that happy with, but hopefully that will happen a lot less often.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Mr. Sandman

"It is our art that has an opportunity to leave a footprint in the sand."     Hugh Newell Jacobsen

What an adventure we had this past Friday! 

Inspired by Simon Beck's and Andres Amador's snow and sand art work, I recently asked several of my tangling buddies (former students) if they would like to join me to tangle in the sand at the beach. I was so excited when most of them said that they'd love to do it. I wasn't too sure if they would just think I was crazy. 

But I guess they didn't think I was totally crazy, so the planning began. Thanks to Barb Round, fellow CZT from Vancouver Island, Canada, for sharing with me some information and tips from when she tangled in the sand. Living in the Charleston, SC area, there were various beach spots I could have chosen. One of my friends accompanied me on a session to scout out these areas and decide what would work best. The tide charts needed to be studied to determine when the sand would be wet enough to work, the tide would be low enough to give us space, but not too low that it would start coming back up and wash us away before we were finished. I finally worked through all that and chose a date (and a rain date just in case).

I told everybody what supplies they would need - rakes and poles (one person brought hula hoops to help mark circles!) I worked out a sketch of a design that we would start with, kind of like the string for a traditional Zentangle. I thought about the best way to get the design laid out so it would be fairly symmetrical. Here's the sketch I drew of what I envisioned.

Friday morning proved to be absolutely beautiful, with pure blue skies and a temperature around 60 degrees. We could not have asked for a more perfect day. When we arrived at our spot, there were several people out walking and biking on the beach. As soon as we started setting up, people came over to see what we were doing and I handed out a few brochures about Zentangle.

I could keep you in suspense, but I will start by showing you the finished Zentangle art work we created.

Picture taking was going to be a challenge. We were tangling right next to a pier which would provide great photos from above, but it is really the property of some condos, and it's gated and can only be accessed with a code. So I brought a 6 foot ladder to get up as high as we could. As we were taking some of the first photos from the ladder, a woman came over who was watching us and taking some pictures of her own. She asked if she could get up on the ladder to get some photos. She said, "You know you can get some good photos from up on the pier." When I told her you need a code to get through the gate, she said, "I have the code."  And she was willing to give it to me! I think she was from out of town and staying in a condo there. What a stroke of luck. So some of the pictures you will see here were taken from the ground, some from the ladder, and some from the pier. They were also taken on 3 different cameras which each produce a little bit of a different tone in the images.

Here we are in the beginning stages, using string and poles and hula hoops to measure out and mark the design. I must say that we worked together very well as a team to get this done.

Next we drew Knightsbridge (a checkerboard ) in the "arms" of the design to give it a uniform look.

Here the knightsbridge is completed and each tangler is working on the in-between parts with tangles that they were comfortable with.

Here are a couple of pier views as the work progressed nicely.

The happy (and tired) tanglers posing for the picture.

Putting the finishing touches on as the ladder stands by.

Some more posing for the camera.

Everyone decided to put their name outside the section they worked on.

A couple of last pictures of the completed project with the pier as a beautiful backdrop.

I had a blast working on this little (maybe I should say big, or even super-sized) project and my friends all said they did too (I hope they meant it). We were all tired, some of us with achy backs and feet, but were very proud of what we had accomplished. I think I learned a couple of things that I would do differently if I ever do this again. One of those things being that I think the patterns that have areas "blackened" in show up better and make more of an impact than the ones that are mostly comprised of lines. 

Later that evening when I looked at my watch and realized it was about high tide time again, I sadly pictured the smooth sand left behind where our masterpiece had been. 

I want to thank Cindi, Celia, Tammy, Cheryl, Jamila, and Jill (in no particular order) for going along with me on this adventure. If I decide to give it another go, I'll let you all know. (They're probably all running to hide right now...)