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...)

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Dancing in the Moonlight

"Shoot for the moon and if you miss you will still be among the stars."   Les Brown

A while ago Sakura (pen company) came out with new Moonlight Gelly Roll pens that have a finer tip than the originals. In case you haven't used them and don't know about them, the Moonlight pens are nice bright, neon type colors, and some even glow under black light. They can be used on white tiles or paper, but I love them for the way they look on black. I've had the original pens for some time, and always wished they made them with a finer tip since the wider tip makes it hard to tangle many patterns. Well, my wishes came true, and they now come in a finer tip. I was very excited about them, bought them right away, then put them aside for when I had time to play with them, and as things go, that time didn't come for a few months. 

I finally got around to it, and here is my first try. I used Strathmore Artagain black paper, cut into 3.5 inch squares. I found that the pens work better on this paper than they do on the black Zentangle tiles, which seem to soak up the ink more. But even on this paper, I had to go over some of my lines to get the real bright color I wanted. After I had tangled with the Moonlights, I did a couple of auras with my favorite white pen, the Uni-ball Signo UM 153, and then added some shadowy effects with a white charcoal pencil. 

I wanted to work some more with the pens, so when I went out of town last weekend I brought them with me. I never travel without some of my Zentangle supplies, but unfortunately this time I forgot to bring my rings full of patterns to inspire me. Luckily I have Sandy Steen Bartholomew's tangle library app on my phone, so I pulled that out. Here I used the pattern Dyon, along with some embellishments. And again, some white charcoal shading.

I decided to do one more "tile."  I chose Sandy's pattern Falls since I had spent some time viewing and photographing waterfalls that afternoon. Because it was Halloween that day, I used the orange Moonlight Gelly Roll, along with white. Then I added another of Sandy's patterns, Quiff, which reminds me of clouds, in remembrance of the cloudy skies that hovered above us at the waterfalls. And of course some shading.

I love the way the white pen looks with the neon colors. If you haven't tried the Moonlight Gelly Rolls yet, you really should. They're quite fun as a break from the traditional black and white (which will always be my favorite way to tangle).