Friday, 18 May 2018

coming around again

I've carried the idea for my Diva Challenge tile all week.  I knew I wanted to take a simple tangle and aura it in different ways.  Which is what I did with Flux on this unstrung Zendala tile.  I knew I wanted to colour the sections between.  And all that went much as hoped -  but then it came to the shading, the part I often enjoy the most - and then I got stuck.  I find shading auras tricky.  And shading Flux can either be very time-consuming (if you shade each leaf) or a bit basic if you just run a line down the middle.  I went with the latter approach, but wonder if it's lacking something?

But sometimes the most important thing Zentangle gives me is learning to live with imperfections.  Inadequacies.  Of time, ability, energy.  It reminds me that even with short supply of any or all of those you can still make something and hold it in your hand at the end of a week and say 'I made this'!

Flux - aura - repeat! 

I haven't always had time, ability or energy to draw a tile for Adele's weekly It's a String Thing Challenge recently - but I've managed to catch up on those I've missed on the limited space of a Bijou tile.  I've played with different colours and shading techniques - some I like more than others.

Top row - IAST #232, #233 and #236 
Bottom Row - IAST #240, #241 and 242

Do you find your art seems to come in ebbs and flows? I have patches where I'm really feeling it, in tune with the materials, brimming with ideas and loving the results.  And then I hit a patch where nothing seems to come good.  And looking back you think that the work you were doing months or years ago looks better than what you're producing now?  But then another day you can see the progress you are making, the skill and confidence that is steadily growing.  Do you feel that and think it's just you - it's not - it's me too!

Thursday, 10 May 2018

the sum of our parts

I haven't had that much time to tangle of late.  But I couldn't miss the oppurtunity to join in with the latest Mosaik Project run by Annette P.  I'd urge you to take part - copying the string is easy to do and the results are so much fun.  Even if you don't want to join in, please do take a look at the results of the previous Projects.

Each time Annette devises a string, asks us to copy it faithfully and fill it with tangles in black and white or suggested colour schemes.  Once she gathers copies of our tiles she works her magic, turning and flipping them into all manner of amazing permutations.  Not only that but she generously sends a mini-mosaic made with just your own tile.

These are the tiles I sent to her for the previous 3 projects -

For Project #11, an Escher-themed lizard, I sent two tiles as requested, one positive and one negative

And these are some of the mini-mosaics she sent back to me.


And that's just what she did with my tile.  Imagine the results with many talented tanglers tied together!  This time the string is simple and basic black and white tangling was asked for.  This is my contribution -

Tangles used - Krokus, Fassett, Moonpie

The deadline closes on the 15th May and Annette suggests she will share the results on the 23rd!  I can't wait to see what happens this time!

Wednesday, 18 April 2018

going full circle

Sometimes it takes me a while to decide my approach to a weekly challenge, and sometimes things just fall into place almost effortlessly. I noted that this weeks challenge from the Diva was numbered 360 – perhaps she missed a trick in not making it a challenge based on circles, but I didn't! I also knew I wanted to link my pieces for the Diva and Joey challenges, as I was pleased with the result when I did that before.

I decided to work on two tiles from my Leftovers pile  - in this case tiles previously created for a challenge that involved tangling over marks made by spilling a drink, in my case tea.  I'm slowly but surely working through the stash of tiles in my little basket, the tiles I start and then lose my way with. Some of these have been completed and have appeared in posts on this blog. There's quite a few still waiting for my attention, and a handful have traveled to other tanglers to see if they can take the tile somewhere new.

A rogues' gallery - including the tiles I used today

For my Diva tile I used a small circle of watercolour paper which had been dip dyed resulting in bands of deepening colour. I vaguely followed those bands, drawing my Shattuck with rounded ends and occasional appearances of Tripoli. Some bands of light and dark aura along with some simple shading pulled the finish tile together.

Uneven spacing improved by added aura

I needed a bit more room when it came to the tile I want to make in response to Joey's recent challenge. I decided to combine the tangled starters from her last three weeks into one – so I needed space to allow three tangles room to dance.  From my stash I chose a larger paper circle splattered with dropped tea and patterned with teabag prints - I started to draw, allowing the tangles to claim the space as they would.

Featuring - Breach, Mak-Rah-Mee and Relly Telly One 

Once I'd added all my tangling I realised perhaps I didn't need quite as much space as I first thought, as my tangles seem to sit some way apart from one another with no real connection or energy. I toyed with additional tangling or shading but then I had an idea - stippling. I haven't used it in a long time but I thought it might just work. And it did, but it took a very long time to do, and more than once I cursed the fact that I'd even started!  But it's good to remember it as a technique, and I may revisit it in smaller doses.  Linda Farmer has written a helpful article about it on her wonderful website.

I like the finished piece, the areas of colour versus those without, the tangles and the spaces between them. And I can't help but smile when I look at all those hundreds of tiny dots and think about all those tea leaves in the bag that originally coloured this tile.

Tuesday, 3 April 2018

good enough to eat

Over the long weekend I worked on one thing, and one thing only - Zenbuttons!

These are the creation of Marguerite Samama of Happy Tangling.  They seem to be popping up in various Zentangle places I frequent and so I wanted to give them a go while they were hot!

Done well they have an amazing dimension and shine and seem to pop right off the tile.  See some mesmerising examples by Laurel Storey.  She won't burden you with words like me, just tonnes of great pictures!

I wanted to do them justice, so I bought Marguerite's instructions.  I usually wing it when new techniques appear, and often I manage to get to the desired result through trial and error.  But I wanted the foolproof method.  And it worked first time!

My first four Zenbuttons were done by sticking pretty close to the instructions.   I used fragments inside the reticula and shaded as suggested.  I drew them onto tan paper, but I did them Bijou sized - for some reason I like to start small when practicing something new.

My first four buttons - in black in with added brown,
wine, purple and olive ink

They look great to me.  In fact the hardest thing is getting a photo or scan do them justice, they look even more dimensional to the naked eye.

I then tried things a different way, using coloured pastel paper.  And on some of the Zenbuttons I used a single tangle round the entire band as opposed to fragments.  I think the blue ones work well, but the orange less so - and the orange one with Printemps the least - something just doesn't pop!  I've got an instinctual feel that some tangles / fragments work better than others, but it's early days.

Mixed success - but the blue ones I like.  Top right looks almost metallic -
bottom left has extra colour laid down first and in the shading

But imagine the possibilities - this is just the start.  I want to try them on different tonal papers, in different colours, I want to try them larger.  I wonder how I might combine them with other tangling.

If the world is my oyster, it won't contain a pearl but a button!

Friday, 23 March 2018

a visit to the dark side

I've long considered white pen on black tiles the weak link in my Zentangle chain.  I love how it can look in the right hands, but I was never truly satisfied with my own results.  And because I wasn't satisfied I rarely tangled using that combination.  Every now and then I would try a black tile, and admittedly my results improved a little over the years.

The sum total of my black tiles from 2016-2017

That last tile came closest, and I posted it here last October.  At that time Zentangle HQ released their Project Pack #1 videos to celebrate the release of a new finer white Gelly Roll 05.  I felt that the finer pen might be what I needed but I had to wait a while for it to reach the UK.  In the end I had to contact my favourite online pen vendor and politely request they stock it!

Since my pen arrived I have set aside a little time each week to try a black tile.  I've reminded myself throughout about the core values of the Zentangle method - taking time, appreciating the opportunity, the tools.  I've worked slowly and deliberately, but also without planning.  White on black is different than black on white.  The ink moves differently, dries slower.  Highlights and shadows rewrite the rules.  Even making images of the finished tiles is more challenging.  But I think the results are worth it.

Not a tangle - just a pattern based on a top a woman
in the background on a new story was wearing!

Fili - tangled during a rare fall of snow, mid February

Bands of Mooka, filled with Shattuck, with a touch of Flux

Simply Molygon

I'm not sure I believe that practice makes perfect - who wants perfect? But practice makes my technique stronger which makes me enjoy the process and the results.

Wednesday, 14 March 2018

bathing in the purple rain

Particulars - fountain pen loaded with Diamine Damson ink,
black pigment pen, coloured pencil, graphite
 On Monday 12th the Google doodle commemorated the birthday of William Henry Perkin - who stumbled across a consistent purple dye while working to better understand quinine.  I've always been fascinated by these unintended scientific discoveries, and I've long had a soft spot for purple too.  So in the spirit of Perkin, this week I worked on a couple of challenges using purple ink.  I also tried to channel the spirit of wild experimentation - trying new things, not planning, just following instinct.

Joey gave us a ribbon and a pinch of Poke Leaf to start with, then invited us to finish her tile.  The Pokes are a lot like Mooka to me.  I love the way they can look in others hands, but struggle to find one of my own that I like.  But I stuck with Mooka, trying it many different ways and I have a couple of variations that I now draw and am happy with.  The Pokes took longer - but I think this week I may have found an approach to Pokeleaf that I like - adding a few auras on each side - it seems to give it a bit of bulk which I prefer.   The finished tile reminds me of something quite old and elegant - possibly the cover of a Victorian lady's journal, perhaps one where she notes the changes in her cottage garden.

Particulars - watercolour tile with two green brush pen lines.
  Purple Copic SP pen.  Coloured pencil, graphite.
I switched to a more controllable pen for my contribution to the Diva's Challenge - this week featuring one of my favourite tangles, Verve.  I thought it would be fun to let the tangle break free, hence the twists and points and bumps it's showing here.  There really seem to be endless variations to those winding auras.  I could have happily filled the entire tile but thought a bit of breathing space would be welcome.  It looks quite lively, like a mutant species is spreading and taking over.

I like the way that although the materials I used differed between my two tiles, the colours were similar which gives a pleasing sense of harmony.

Saturday, 10 March 2018

showing my workings

It's been a while since I aired my dirty laundry in public - otherwise known as sharing pages from my sketchbook!

Sketchbook pages are interesting places - the place where the rawest materials are held.  Where ideas form and fall apart as often as they evolve into something that will take the leap from the sketchbook to the tile.  Pens are tested, colours considered.  Old tangles revisited, new ones met.

My sketchbook pages have changed a lot since I first started tangling, when they were orderly and sparse, tiny little squares with neatly drawn tangles within them.  A couple of years ago when I shared a few on here they were starting to get a little darker and more disorderly.  Now they are a sprawling mass / mess and as much as I'm tempted to keep them to myself, I love looking at those belonging to other people, so it only seems fair that I share mine.

These are the four I've filled so far this year.

Points of interest - a trial run of my idea for IAST #225 which actually ended
up smaller as a Bijou.  Rediscovery of the wonderful Exis tangle.
  An interesting variation of Bales (top-right)

Points of interest - Dublin, which I could have hours of fun with.
  A few tangles that I like a lot but haven't yet used - Irradial,
Zigzag Track and Dollpin.  And a test of a few new pens / colours.

Points of interest - newly discovered treasures Floid and Wavlin.
  The ever challenging Mistura.  Tying myself in knots with Elven and Buckled Up!
  Triangular Hollibaugh and fragmented N'Zeppel.

Points of interest - new ways with String Rose.
  Scraps of tangles featured in recent challenges.
Vivi - which seems like it could come in handy.
  A possible new tangle - to work on. 
And playing around with Pokeroot in ink.

And that's all for now!