Saturday, 20 December 2014

simple symmetry

It's a hectic time of year - the to-do list grows a little longer with every item I cross off.  It would be easy to fall away from tangling, but that would be a great shame - as it's the perfect chance to have a little burst of downtime, of calm and focus.  But now is not the time for learning new tangles, or trying complicated designs.  The Diva knows this as evidenced by her challenge for this week.

Simplicity is the key.  And what could be simpler than Bales.  Drawn out of a grid but following the lines to form a cluster of snowflakes shapes.

Best wishes to my fellow tanglers for the festive season and the year ahead.  May all your ink flow smoothly, and your pencil stay sharp, and may you find pleasing splashes of colour wherever you desire them!

Sunday, 14 December 2014

it's a wrap

Having submitted a very lively tile for this week's It's a String Thing challenge I decided to draw a second tile, to simplify things and hopefully calm my seasonally over-agitated mind.

And there it is.  Verdigogh wrapping itself round the edges of the string shape and Pauline's Pigtail doing the same on three little balls.  It gives both tangles a slightly new look - both wintery, like bare branches and festive, like ribbons and strings.

the magic word

A new official tangle feels like getting an early Christmas present.  And it's a good one - with a name that makes me think of the kind of word used to finalise a magician's spell.  Arukas!

Bands of Arukas
I started playing about with it a bit last week and popped a few simple variations into some pentagon outlines I used a template to draw.  These are simple versions, but which effectively show how slight changes, for instance by darkening different parts, can really change the look of the tangle. 

Arukas in bloom
Gridded Arukas
I think I could carry on with these slight variations for an endless amount of time, but when the Diva Challenge invited us to use Arukas I decided to push things a bit further and see how the tangle would look used in different ways - and I was quite pleased with some of the results.

These are hasty practices in my sketchbook, but thought it would be good to share them with others.  I can't wait to use some in forthcoming proper tiles.  Each brings a different dimension to the tangle.  Putting it in bands seems to emphasis its Art Deco nature.  In a grid it adds depth and dimension and would work well with tangles like Cubine.  Formed into a flower shape with Onamato between was fun and free-form.  But my favourite for now is placing it within Ing. 

A warm winter greeting from me to Arukas - you're welcome to stay!


Friday, 5 December 2014

four by four

I knew I wanted to re-visit one of the ideas I came up with in last week's Diva Challenge post.  In fact I'm sure in time I'll re-visit all of them, and perhaps do more explorations with other tangles.  But for now I wanted to trying gridded-Aquafleur on a tile.  I used another of my recycled packaging tiles - I can't get enough of that look at the moment! 

 And I love the result.  Simple, striking and satisfying to draw.  What more could you ask for?

Thursday, 27 November 2014

make or break

In this week's guest Diva challenge Sandy Hunter asked us to shake up the way we use our tangles.  If it's in a grid break it free, and if it's freeform make it work within a grid.  I love this kind of challenge - tangleations are a delicious part of the world of Zentangle - and I don't work with them as often as I should.  In doing different things with a tangle you get to see its potential as well as knowing its core even better. 

First off I started with Printemps and placed it in a vaguely Florz inspired grid.  I'm never that neat with this tangle, but I like the way it looks organic and lively and makes interesting and uneven shapes within the grid.

Then I played with the wonderful Aquafleur and had it wrapping around square sections within a parallel-line grid.  I with I'd left those black orbs out but this is just a practice piece.

Then I switched things round and lifted something from a grid and set it free.  I used Ciceron and let it roam around the page.  I struggled to keep the aura lines even on this tangle, but like the overall look and imagine it could look effective laid over another tangle.

And lastly I freed Ticking, from rows rather than a grid, but I think it looks beautiful this way, still retaining that great sense of curve that the shading gives it but with the added bonus of it being able to loop and overlap in all sorts of ways.

All of these are just practice pieces lifted straight from my sketchbook where I worked them out, hence them looking a bit rough and ready.  I'd like to take time to use them use them in some finished tiles, and really see what they can do, but I'm pleased with my haul.  It was a challenge that's offered some unexpected rewards. 

Friday, 21 November 2014

whichever way you look at it

No theme or grand plan or challenge entry - this is a tile drawn for the sake of drawing alone.

I used another of the tiles cut from old packaging that I debuted last week.  The colour combination is so warming it seems to pull whatever you put on it closer together.

I used a couple of the recent new tangles featured on TanglePatterns.  Whirlee is a delight -  I love the way it appears so natural, like sycamore keys, while also looking mechanical like propellers.  Twizted is mesmerising in its repetive strokes and makes me think of the corn dollies my mother used to collect and hang above the kitchen window.  I love it when a tangle dislodges a long forgotten memory in that way.

I felt like some symmetry so that explains the layout.  And added a bit of colour using dry Inktense pencils.  One strange thing happened with those.  Last time I placed the colour after the lines of black Micron and it dulled the black.  But this time I placed and blended the brown first and then drew over it with the Micron - with no problem.  But when I went to do the same on the white of the Whirlee the pen kept clogging.  Somehow the white pencil must be made slightly differently?  It proved to be a labour of love as I had to wipe clean my pen point after almost every Tipple!

The finished piece makes me think of the shift of seasons which is creeping closer every day - autumn in its bronzed glory humbly stepping aside for the chill cloak of winter.  

Monday, 10 November 2014

waste not, want not

This week's guest Diva challenge invited us to draw a tritangle while contemplating the notion of thanks.

A while ago I cut a few tiles out of some card mailing envelopes that my second-hand books had arrived in. Today seemed a good day to use one.  I like using fine papers, but there is something appealing about using what would otherwise head to the recycling bin too!  I like reading new books, those crisp pages, and unbroken spine.  But there's appeal in the old yellow ones too - thinking of all those hands they have passed through.

Muted pleasures - Trio, Huggins and XYP
- coloured with dry Inktense pencil

While I tangled I thought about some of the things that made me thankful in that moment.  These pens I was using to create line and the pencils to add colour.  The bones and muscles that facilitated the movement that turned my ideas into something tanglible.  The light (as dim as it was on this rainy November day) that lit me as I drew.  The square of card that was receiving the ink.  The envelope that travelled to me delivering a book I will enjoy reading, gaining pleasurable or education or both.  And the tree that grew to eventually form both the book and the envelope and the tile.  It's all quite incredible when you start to think of it like that!

Saturday, 8 November 2014

obscured view

Life is still getting in the way of tangling.  I've started to  make brief visits to my sketchbook again, but actually drawing on a tile has been rare.  And posting and sharing those results even rarer.

But here's a little something I knocked out for this week's Diva Challenge.  I wasn't in the calmest frame of mind when I drew it and that shows in the wobbly lines, but Seton is forgiving tangle, that turns wobbles into rustic charm.

I adore how Seton provides the bare framework for us to embellish in endless ways.  Here I chose to use my own tangle, Kitl for the fill.  For some strange reason I often forget to use my own tangles when drawing!

A bit of colour and I'm quite pleased with the finished image.  I like the strange sense of looking through bars onto a patterned wall, or seen another way a tiled wall.  This confusion sums up my state of mind of late - sometimes it's hard to know quite what you're looking at.

Wednesday, 22 October 2014

rolling in the deep

I haven't been tangling that much lately - sometimes life gets in the way.  But I'm starting to warm up and get back into it.  Zentangle is such a welcoming old friend - it doesn't judge you if it hasn't seen you for a while, it opens the door, ushers you inside and lets you take back your favourite seat.  I've warmed up gently, by enjoying the sensation of pen moving across paper, of following a line, rather than trying to tame it.  And what wonderful things that can lead to... 

I had read this post from the always inspirational Helen Williams - and went away with the intention of playing with her Steps tangle.  But something went a bit wrong, but I really like the wrongness.  The way the thing bulges and twists and fills out in some areas but not in others.  Like a creature from the deepest seas - part fish, part plant.  I surround it with a few sympathetic friends, and colour the tile in murky blues and greys.

It has sat on my shelf in a little frame for the last week or so, watching me without eyes - waiting and knowing that more lines of ink will surely follow.  And they do.

Friday, 12 September 2014

clouds and memories

For this week's It's a String Thing challenge we were offered the chance to explore a lovely loopy string and four eager tangles.  I'd worked with none of them before so had fun learning them, putting them through their paces, and seeing together what we could achieve.  I drew quite a flouncy tile which I've submitted to Adele, but I fancied seeing what a stripped-back version, using only two of the tangles and a bit of colour might look like.  And the answer is this -

I drew some Drip Drop along part of the string line, and then added some Inktense colour into two of the sections.  Once dry I tangled these with Dust Bunny - a tangle that is easy to underestimate - it looks like quite lazy bumpy spirals, but with some gentle placement and shading it looks wonderful - like stirred clouds, or the kind of fabric pattern long lost to easier decades.  I did my final shading with a Zig Clean Color brush pen.

And once I'd finished I realised I'd dislodged a long lost memory.  I used to own a single earring, bands of black and silver and crushed turquoise.  It looked a whole lot like one of the Drip Drops.  I don't know where I got it from, and I only ever had one.  I used to wear it all the time.  It was second hand, which doesn't seem that hygienic but when you're young you care less about that kind of thing.  I presume someone had lost it and I found it.  I don't know where it is now, I haven't seen it in years.  Perhaps it's moved on to a new owner, or found its way back to its mate.

Wednesday, 10 September 2014

in the arms of the angles

With added Knight's Bridge and Onamato-ish orbs
When a new official tangle was released last week it was only to be expected that it would feature in the following week's Diva Challenge!  And so I spent time playing and thereby practicing Ing.  And what a joy it is.  Boundless scope for variation - I know I've merely scratched the surface of its potential.  I even find myself thinking about it at times when I'm not near pen and paper!

Some new tangles seem to encourage me to play with them using multiple lines - somehow this helps me feel the shape of them, get to know how they move and work, and thereby draw them again and again by feeling the tangle as opposed to thinking of how to draw it.  So that's where I started with Ing - as can be seen in these two tiles.

Perhaps not my most elegant tile but somehow quite amusing!
The first features the curvy version, which gives it a more ribbon like effect.  I filled the back panels (as I like to think of those last sections you draw) with different tangles to break away from the planty look that was developing.  Having done the three Ings I wondered about adding more to the tile but thought it was time to stop.

On the next tile I did three vertical straight edged Ing.  They look so architectural and sharp - metallic but also wooden, and also icy.  I wrapped an odd tube thing round them with a few tangle-tendrils coming from the ends.  And I though I'd leave it there - but it felt a bit lacking - so some Msst from above and a few shiny stones below and a bit more balance was achieved.

It's hard to believe that pen and pencil on paper can convey such solidity and such movement - but they do.  I know I won't be the only one Ing-ing for quite some time!

Thursday, 4 September 2014

x-did done good

Stage 1 - my pencil lines went diagonally
from bottom left to top right

I couldn't immediately see my way into this week's Diva Challenge.  I liked the look of Annette Carlo's X-Did but didn't want to just use it in stripes as that felt too close to like week's tile.  I sat with it for a couple of days, played about in my sketchbook and today decided to see what I could do.

Stage 2 - getting there
I've chosen to share a few work-in-progress images as I was pleasantly surprised to see how it came together in the later stages.  I knew I wanted to break out from the striped form, so I lightly pencilled in the parallel lines and then later erased them (cheating the pure Zentangle form, but sometimes I need a little help to get the results I want!).  I then drew in all the basic outlining of the tangle, offsetting the rows from each other, so large diamonds were above small etc.  That stage took focus to remember which lines were meant to be going where.  It's also hard to keep the lines parallel to each other.  It can look good when warped too, but I wanted to keep it quite even throughout.

That done I knew that I most liked the tangleation Annette drew where the sections appear sunken (Variation 1) on her step-out, and that was the one I wanted to use for my tile.  I then put in all the inner lines.  I failed to keep their depth equal throughout which would have been preferable.  I also darkened the middle diamonds.

Stage 3 - ta da!
It still didn't look that good but I hoped that shading would work its graphite magic.  Which it did, but something was still missing.  So I rounded the outer edges of each section, which seemed to work a treat - tying the whole together as well as smoothing out any wonky lines or untidy corners.

I'm quite happy with the result.  It looks slightly different each time I glance at it.  Sometimes it could be the pattern on a blanket.  At others a web of jewelled beads strung together.  And then I see a smooth surface with little dips just begging me to poke my fingers in.

Thursday, 28 August 2014

circus of horrors

For this week's It's A String Thing challenge, Adele invites us to use the beautifully loopy String 055 - and just one official tangle - Striping.  And also the Tangle enhancer known as Sparkle!  Sounds simple enough.  Which it is.  But it's also as complex as you want it to be.

For a start Striping is essentially just multiple parallel lines, with every other filled in black.  But it only really works, truly comes alive (at least to me), if the lines travel in different directions in each adjacent string section.  These junctions allow for great shading, and suddenly a stripey patch starts to bulge and curve to the eye. 

It takes patience and lots of ink to fill those bands.  Usually I practice for any challenge in my sketchbook, trying out tangles, ideas etc.  But this week I thought, why not make a little Bijou sized tile to see how it might look?  So I did.  The first with straight forward Striping.  And then I did another with fine line stripes - but that essentially turns it into Isochor right?

Time to make the full sized tile.  I drew the string, then coloured part of it using Inktense and water.  Once dry I started placing my Striping.  I used a few fills, which perhaps lessen the impact of the straight black and white, but ramp up the fun too?  I also introduce a bit of Sparkle - first by just leaving a dash of white on the curved parts, and later adding a bit more with the white Inktense pencil (I don't feel this technique worked that well - it just looks grubby!).  Sparkle is always hit and miss for me - sometimes it makes a band look like light bouncing off an old LP, at other times like a little creature has been scratching at my tile.  But that's part of the joy of Zentangle - it has a life of its own, and you never know quite what you'll end up with each time!

We watched Stephen King's IT on DVD this week.  I'd read it as a teenager but wanted to see if it was as scary as I recalled.  It wasn't.  Although Pennywise the clown was still deliciously insane.  And I think him and his blood-filled balloons influenced this tile.  That and the thought of those red and white stripped barber-shop poles.  I love the gruesome history behind a simple striped pattern.

Wednesday, 27 August 2014

five bar greys

I kept it simple for this week's Diva Challenge.  No colour, just the standard tile size, the Micron and the pencil.  And stripes crossing each other, some filled with Shattuck, others with Rain.  A bit of sparkle, which came out like little scratches - it happens sometimes! 

It was a cloudy and rainy day when I drew this.  I could hear the rain begin, and end, only to begin again.  I made a note that read 'to write about water without knowing where to start'.  I found myself singing James Taylor's 'Fire and Rain' in my head while I drew - not quite, but close enough!

Wednesday, 20 August 2014

something in the way

This week's Diva Challenge was to tangle something inspired by water. 

I love water.  I live by the sea and view her like a true and trusted friend - she's always there for me when anything and everyone else might not be.  I think and in turn write about water a great deal.  I am amazed that it can take so many different forms.  I am stunned at its patience and the damage it can cause.  And I am forever grateful that I can turn on a tap and find a ready and safe supply of it.

Yesterday we received our half-yearly water bill and were told our usage was well below average.  We have developed little everyday habits to avoid waste.  We collect rainwater in a butt to water our garden.  We were thanked on the bill for 'using water wisely'.

And so to the tangling.  I toyed with a few other ideas, but when this one came it seemed simple and somehow perfect.  A circular tile with strips of colour from a watercolour brush pen.  With lines of Printemps over the top (my trials with this tangle have been documented elsewhere).  Some Msst in between.  A touch of shading and there you have it.

Friday, 15 August 2014

something wicked this way comes

During my tanglings this week I've been trying to listen to my instincts, not plan or force designs in any particular direction, not get too hung up on the concept of the challenges I take part in, but focus more on the opportunity to tangle.  I've had a bit more time to spend on the pure pleasure of making these little pictures, and I've made sure to enjoy that.

Sometimes lately I've fallen into trying to cram every tangle on offer into my tile for Adele's It's a String Thing challenges, but this week I stopped myself.  Because very clearly I could feel that two tangles worked well together, and so did the other two - but four might have made an uneasy crowd.  Onomato and Hurray! are working together for the tile I've submitted to Challenge #53 - but here I present the one's that got away.

The wonderful Planateen which starts as a thin bolt of lightning and then magically transforms into curvaceous overlapping roof tiles ripe for a bit of shading.   And tumbling down across that the ever lively Pokeleaf (the official foliage of the Pokeroot plant!).  A bit of colour from some used-dry and blended Inktense pencils and I'm pleased with the result but slightly worried that I might set autumn in motion with the colour of those leaves!

I've always loved the way roofs work - that all those individual tiles aren't stuck down, but hold together by the way they overlap.  And I'm even more impressed by the way plants try to claim any and every space they can.  We dare not stand still for too long!

Thursday, 14 August 2014

under the bridge

When the latest Diva Challenge was announced earlier this week I took a look and had a go at drawing MacDee (the tangle we were invited to use).  Usually I quickly think of something I want to do with it - an idea, even a sketchy one starts to form.  But nothing came.  Days went by and still nothing... I was all set to think that maybe I wouldn't do a tile for this challenge and then this morning, flicking through my sketch book I spotted Girdy which I'd practiced a few weeks ago.  And suddenly there was my perfect mate for MacDee. 

The tile then came together pretty quickly.  Just the two tangles, and MacDee drawn with coloured pens which I don't do often, but which added a bit of pop.  And as I was drawing I started to work out why, for me, Girdy was so ready to receive MacDee - because MacDee is obviously a lot like tartan, and Girdy is a chunky industrial tangle and Scotland was always know for its ironworks.  And whenever I've been to Scotland the long railway bridge that crosses the Tay and curves into Dundee is the sure sign that I've arrived.  Isn't it funny how the mind works?!

Monday, 11 August 2014

going round the bend

A couple of weeks ago my latest tangle was added to the amazing array at Tangle Patterns. 

Kitl feels like a natural progression from my first tangle, Snag, but heads off in its own direction.

Maybe I'm in danger of sounding like a proud parent, but I think it's got lots of potential for tangleation.  I'm interested to see what others do with it.  But in the meantime I had a bit of a play on a rainy Sunday and came up with a couple of variations.

In the first I've essentially auraed each loop, thereby making them look solid, and able to be linked onto other tangles.  It also shows how lining the Kitl up can make the tangle work as a filler.  TIP - when doing this I find that making a slight pen mark where each crossover will be allows you to keep your Kitl evenly spaced.

In the second I've popped them in small arcs inside a basic square grid, which here become Bales, but could stand alone or fit with any other grid tangle.

I hope you have fun with Kitl and please feel free to ask me to come and take a look at how you've used it!

Wednesday, 6 August 2014

on the trail

When I first read about Bijou the snail in the Zentangle newsletter at the weekend I thought Rick and Maria had gone a bit mad.  Then I thought about it a bit more and cynically assumed it was a marketing ploy to shift more products.  And then I thought about it a bit more and realised it was quite fun.  And funny too - he makes me laugh and smile - he encourages playfulness.  And then I thought it was quite clever, and profound and very much in keeping with the whole Zentangle ethos.  And all this before I'd even tried a Bijou sized tile!

No surprise that this week's Diva Challenge encourages us to try our hand at these scaled-down tiles.  Always thrifty and keen to make precious materials go further I was thrilled to find that I could cut 5 2 by 2 inch squares from the remains left from cutting two round tiles from a sheet of A4 watercolour paper.  And a good job I did because the Diva was right when she said we wouldn't stop at doing just one...

[click to enlarge]
Tangles used - Nzeppel, Purk, Bales, Fescu, Pepper and Tipple
I did three.  Each with two official tangles on it.  And I loved the process.  To begin with I thought there wouldn't be enough space to fit anything worthwhile onto the tile - but then as I did it I really felt the 'less is more' - the sense of choice of tangle, delicacy, care and patience.  And these finished tiles feel even more precious because of their diminished scale.  In my other pen-work I write - and in part I write poetry, and mostly I write haiku - one of the smallest sorts of poems you can find.  Distilling everyday wonders into limited syllables that pack as big a punch as the greatest epic.  And Bijou's tiles feel a lot like that.

In just a few days of reading and thinking and tangling my way around this Bijou thing I've come on quite a little journey - without ever leaving the table!  And by the looks of it Bijou passed through too - look at that trail running through the tiles!

[click to enlarge]
Bijou - coming to a tile near you, fairly soon!

Friday, 1 August 2014

back to black

We reach a new chapter in One Zentangle a Day and for Day 29 Krahula suggests that now we've learned some of the rules it's time to start bending and breaking them.

For the first exercise she gets us drawing feathers, building on the technique for drawing the Verdigogh tangle.  At the moment I can't see a great deal of different between my feathers and my Verdigogh - but both are pure pleasure to draw and add a pleasing softness to any tile.  In my tile I had them puffing out from behind some Showgirl.  I added a border of Quatiny - which is a quirky little tangle that I discovered recently which can be a great way to introduce a bit of solidity and three dimensionality to a tile.  I'd already coloured the tile with Inktense pencils and water.  I've found it's handy to do a block of colouring at one point, then let the tiles dry and tuck them away for the day I want to grab one for a bit of colour work.  I like this tile a lot - the tangles sit well together and it looks lively and inviting.  The graphite pencil shading muted it a bit - next time I'll try to shade with the Inktense themselves.  I think it looks like a grown-up version of the second tile on this post

For the second tile of the Day Krahula asked us to draw a black tile, but this time introduce colour.  I've never particularly enjoyed the black tile tangling.  The pen feels so thick after the Micron 01 and I've struggled to find a decent way to shade in white.  Today's attempt went better - thanks to the Inktense pencils, which show up in white and colour on the tile.  And I know now that I have to do a different sort of tangling on the black - far less detail and taking care not to smudge.  I used the new to Tangle Patterns Meringue (by Kelley Kelly) - which flowed well across the tile.  I then popped in string of Beadline in gold and coloured some areas with a green Inktense and then put Tipple over the top with the Micron - which doesn't show that well.  The black tile looks better to the eye than to the scanner but I like it.  I think of lights strung in trees, or underwater, and little pockets of treasure.

Wednesday, 30 July 2014

double duo

I loved the idea for this week's Diva Challenge - a duotangle with names beginning with the letters of our initials.  I choose to try two new tangles - starting with a J and an M (for my real name Jem Miller).  I picked Japonica (by Sandra Strait) and Me Three (by Cindy Pope).

Both were a pleasure to learn and play with - but somehow they didn't hang together quite as well as I hoped on the finished tile.  I tried again with some variations but still didn't really like the result.  But in the spirit of 'no mistakes' I thought I'd share them anyway.

I like the sense of taughtness in the monochrome one - I feel like I could reach in and twang the Japonica straps - or poke my fingers through the Me Three holes.

For the second attempt I decided to straighten the edges of the Me Three sections - turning circles into hexagons and suddenly I had honeycomb.  But then the Japonicas seemed like bulging larvae burrowing their way into the comb.  Quite creepy!

I think that some place between the two tiles would have been preferable.  I little less Me Three than the first, but sticking with the taught rather than bulging Japonica.  Oh well, there's always next time!

Tuesday, 22 July 2014

melting point

For this week's guest Diva Challenge post, Caroline Broady invites us to play with her tangle Truffle.

It's one of those really good tangles, as delicious as the confectionery it shares its name with.  It melts in the mouth, it delights with surprises hidden within.  It invites all manner of tweaks and changes and never looks the same twice.

I kept it simple and put it in a circle (confession - I used a template to get my circle neat!).  I filled the middle with a burst of a recent Tangle Patterns offering - Xplode.  I went for the aura version and heaped on the black ink to make it pop out.

The temperature has been rising lately, causing uncommonly hot weather for the UK.  We've had lightning storms strobing us from sleep.  We've been turning to face the electric fan like its some futuristic deity we need to worship.  And I think a bit of that atmosphere has seeped into this tile.

Tuesday, 15 July 2014

fortune favours the brave

The guest-posted Diva Challenge this week is to Bring Your Own Beverage.  And what a delight that invitation is - it feels like permission to be a child again, to play with my food, to make a mess, to make things up as I go along.

I'm English - I bracket sections of my day between cups of tea.  I don't have blue blood but significant traces of tannin surely run through my veins.  The first cup of today, we save a teabag.  I plonk it down on a round of paper - once, twice.  It makes strange rose-like imprints - ghost roses, or fading photos of continents long lost beneath the seas.  I squeeze three drops and let them sit before running them off the paper - far more Miss Marple than Jackson Pollock.  And finally I tear open the bag and scatter some leaves on the paper.  Later it is dry, I brush off the leaves and take up my pen - ready to read my own fortune in the patterns left behind.

The bag-printed rose islands seem too precious to overload with tangles.  I decide to merely aura them and anchor them with a stem.  A cluster of Pozer works well over the leaf-tinted area.  I think of how the touches of colour look like real-flowers, the way nature does random so well.  And those drips turn into wonderful Zingers - if you could shake them you would hear them rattle - dried and full to bursting with seeds ready to fall and grow next year's dreams.  A little border to hold it all in place and I'm done.  I sit back and sigh and feel as if I've just enjoyed a good cup of tea.

Thursday, 10 July 2014

Eke and ye shall find

One of the things I love about Zentangle is its unpredictability.  A tangle can morph into something quite unexpected at the end of my pen.  Two tangles can meet and make beautiful music together.  Two's company, but sometimes three's a crowd - tangles sitting on a tile barely making eye contact.  Even so, I'm learning to love the days when it doesn't go that well. 

For One Zentangle a Day 27 we learnt Meer (which I had used before and like a lot), Enyshou (which is surely related to Squid) and Reef.  Somewhat inevitably an underwater vibe took over my tile.  But something didn't quite come together, and it looks a bit unfinished.  With hindsight I could go back and darken the background to make the tangles stand out, but sometimes it's good to have an example of something not quite right to learn from?

Who knew Eke could even work in a grid?
Day 28's tile felt like a vast improvement.  Krahula taught us Eke, and a tangleation of it and Sez (which I just couldn't get on with - sometimes the simplest ones are like that).  When I first encountered Eke a while back I thought it was particularly lame.  Just a loopy line, which didn't suggest much potential - and that surprised me because the official tangles are usually so well chosen and engaging.  But, revisiting it, something clicked, and I could see so many different ways it could be drawn and darkened and changed.  And now I thoroughly love it - enough to do a monotangle featuring nothing but Eke.

A simple string, a muted palette of my new Inktense pencils and a lot of gentle looping back and forth.  Mesmerising to draw, and pleasing to look at.  I can see a tree rising up from from the depths of a valley.  Draped fabric.  And the strange spine of a long extinct beast.

Monday, 7 July 2014

four sure

Sometimes a challenge makes me want to get clever, to push myself and think of new things to try.  At other times I simply want to play and see what happens.  And that's what I did this week, with the Diva Challenge asking us to use Crux (by Henrike Bratz).  With nods to Bales and 4 Corners I just let my pen roam, picking out or omitting parts as I fancied.  And I popped each Crux pattern on top of a square of Inktense colour (trying out some new pencils I just got for my birthday).

I toyed with the idea of putting something else around the squares, to link them together maybe - but in the end decided less is more? 

Perhaps my subconscious was at work while I drew - as she texted to ask me for directions to the fabric shop.  She came home empty handed but my tile seems to have four swatches of fabric on it.  Or perhaps some nice Moroccan tiles.

Wednesday, 25 June 2014

come again

Things took a different turn over at the Diva's place this week - where guest Sharla Hicks asked us to Redux / Remix / Revisit one or two of our frequently used tangles.

I varied the size and direction of Flux
and had Tipple pooling and dripping
down.  I tried to shade with watercolour
and stippled with a coloured pen.
One of the things I like about Zentangle is its mindlessness - no, that's not quite right, its mindfree nature.  The fact I can sit and let the pen make strokes and see where they take me.  But sometimes it's good to make it a more mindful activity.  To really worship the form and honour it and see if it's willing to grace us with even more beauty and pleasure.

I tried to make Tipple textural by having
it wrap the columns and I let Flux tumble
free.  I tried to shade more heavily than
I would usually.
To choose which tangles to redux I went back to some of the first ones I learned and those I use often but tend to be lazy with - using them over and over in the same ways I originally learned them.  The two culprits I chose were Flux and Tipple.  Flux I always have as meandering vine with even sized leaves on each side.  Only once or twice have I drawn it as a fixed clump.  And Tipple is always a helpful little filler, but never much of a star in its own right.

I altered Flux and drew it as a freehand
grid 'wrapping' a solid.  I tried to alter the
size of Tipple to create dark and light
but lost focus a bit!
In addition I wanted to try to give more thought to shading, and to the layout of my tangles on the tile - I always tend to stick to the square border and fill it - but often admire the tiles of those who deviate from this.

I spent a long time playing in my sketchbook and then produced three tiles (click on any image to enlarge) over two days - each to some degree succeeding in doing something new.  It was a great challenge, and has opened a new way of exploring tangles.  I know I'll do this again.

Wednesday, 18 June 2014

under my skin

One of the great things about a good tangle is that it has room to grow.  You can get to know it.  You can develop a rapport.  It can accompany you to new and unexpected places.  A good tangle is much like a good friend.  While Mooka and I still have an uneasy alliance, Auraknot excites me and my ease with Auraknot encouraged me to try something different with Mooka.  This is the result -

Diva Challenge #172 - take two
To begin with I wasn't that happy with the colour combination I'd used on this tile - there was something a bit 'off' about it - but she said it looked okay, a bit like bruised skin, and I kind of liked that so stuck with it.  Mooka wrapping a dark border and an Auraknot centrepiece.  Some stippling with the Micron, and it all comes together looking a lot like a tattoo.  Which is apt as the Diva's original post mentioned her Mooka tattoo.  And while I'm not likely to get a Zentangle tattoo, I'm sure to use these tangles again.

Tuesday, 17 June 2014

catch it while you can

Some tangles take a bit of getting used to.  And so it goes with Auraknot, which I encountered for the first time yesterday via the Diva's latest challenge.  I had a go, following one of the written step-outs and got in a terrible mess.  It was like that the first time I tried Baton and Betweed.  Lines firing off in all directions, and few reaching their target.  I didn't feel much pleasure from the process at that stage.

Later in the day, I sat for twenty minutes and watch the official video of how to draw it, and in Rick and Maria's capable hands I saw that I could do this.  At one point I heard Rick in the background saying how the tangle was forgiving - and that worked like a magic word.  I grabbed a piece of scrap paper and went for it - and filled two sides with some passable Auraknots.  It had clicked.

And so today I did this -

Never that comfortable with Mooka I just put in a few 'Mooka clips', to hold down my Auraknot.  I might come back at some point and add a little colour, or maybe not.  As it is I think it gives a nod to my youth, my fascination with fantasy and magic.  It reminds me of those dream-catchers we all had in our windows at one time.  I wonder what dreams this will catch?

Thursday, 12 June 2014

hundreds and thousands

Last Sunday I was idly tangling in the sun.  And I found myself drawing a few strings of tiny beads.  I find I often reach for the tangle Beadlines when I'm stuck with a way to bring two areas together. 

Come Monday, the Diva introduces her bead based challenge and tells us about Beads of Courage.  I'd never heard of the idea before and presumed it was just a US thing - then on the tv that night, I see a girl with her own string of such beads.

It took me till today to work out how I wanted to take on the challenge - and then it fell into place.  I'd printed out two copies of the Bright Owl Zendala #94, one for that challenge and one as a spare - and suddenly I could see all those faint printed lines as strings for my tiny Sunday beads.  In uncharacteristic bright and warm colours, my partner pointed out that some even look like bees!

The finished Zendala reminds me of summer's long gone - of tied-dyed dresses and drinking cider from bendy plastic pint glasses.  Of hayfever and live music lost to the sky.  And wearing far more beads than is strictly necessary.


I only discovered Erin the Bright Owl shortly before she flew away for a short break.  But this week she's back on her branch, with a new challenge template for us to play with.

Her suggested theme is Happy.  Well, obviously tangling makes me happy.  But this week summer seems to have properly arrived and that's filling my thoughts, my writing and my tangling too.  Everything I tangle seems brighter, looser, more airy.

And again I find I like the different approach that Zendala asks for.  The decision as to whether to join or subdivide sections.  The choice of what tangle will work in these small spaces.  The repetition through each section of the tile.  The symmetry.

When I read I like to shift between books.  When I write I like to work a bit on one project, then move to another. I find it is at these junctions and shifts that the sparks really happen.  And so it is with Zentangle.  I wouldn't want to focus solely on Zendala, traditional tiles or ZIA.  But shifting between them, picking up ideas from one and trying them in the next place - that's where the magic happens.  That's when I'm happy.

And so to my take on Zendala #94 -

Only a few proper tangles appear here.  Some Flux, Eke, something a bit Aquafleur-ish round the edge.  I've been playing with Meer lately and that influenced the lined parts which look like clover now they're finished.  It's definitely got a summery vibe -  I feel like I could lay back on it and watch the sky spin on forever!

Wednesday, 4 June 2014

sound the Bugles

A downwards progression - featuring Msst,
Prestwood and Tipple
One of the many interesting aspects of Zentangle is the way the tangles are meant to be non-representational.  This is one of the keys that really allows us to unleash our carefree artist selves - without the fear of whether what we draw looks like what it's meant to be.

For me it's a great outlet from my daily writing work, where I'm striving hard to make each word I chose capture as best I can whatever I'm trying to get across.  A break with a tile and pen allows movement and freedom and blissful meaninglessness.  However, as soon as I put that pen down and look at my tile, I snap back into the represented world.  I start to see all sort of things in my tile.  But that's fine, by then I need to get back to noticing things in that way.

Bunch of delights - Diva Dance, Rain,
Verdigogh and Henna Drum
When I set out playing with Bugles for this week's Diva Challenge I happily drew away thinking of nothing more than where the pen might take me, where a straight or a curve line might work, where dark and light should meet or steer clear of one another.  But when I stepped back from the finished tile, true to form, I saw all sorts of things that tied in with what I'd been reading earlier that day.  I could see rain dripping down to a parched and buckled land.  I could see elephant trunks.  I could see childhood beaches and ice-cream cornets.  And all that without me intending any of it.

Keeping it simple - with added Cruffle
I thought it might be fun for a second tile to swing wildly the other way - to intend to draw something, to set out to make a picture with the tangles.  I deconstructed Bugles - lifting the cones from the Bales-like connectors.  Set that way they reminded me of those plastic cones that florists sell flowers in - and if tangles grew on trees, what a bouquet that would be!

For some reason then I felt that I should come back round, to where we start from, an intention of no intention.  A third and final tile - with Bugles again lifted from it's moorings.  And tucked a little more snuggly into each of it's neighbours.  A simple square of paper and ink - and nothing more to it that whatever you want it to be.