Friday, 20 November 2015

a three-cornered problem

I have mixed feelings about Tripoli.  I quite like drawing it, and I like the look of it when it's done, and in some people's hands it is a wonderful tangle.  But I'm never really sure what to do with it.  And quite often, in fact usually, I draw a bit of it, on its own on a tile, and never really know what to do with it.  Whether to include other tangles, or let it stand alone.  In fact I usually end up with an unfinished tile.  I've got quite a few of them sitting in my little tangle basket - maybe I need to think about a project to finish the unfinished... 

But anyway, when the Diva challenged us to work with Tripoli I knew it would be a tough one.  I started well, laying down lots of triangles with my thick Sanguine Pitt Pen.  I like the way it looked a bit like potato-printing.  Once dry I went back and added some details with my Micron.

Work in progress

 But then I got stuck - with Tripoli hanging there in a unfinished state.  And it sat like that for days, and it could have ended there... but I risked inking in a few tendrils, so that the Tripoli looked like it was attached to something, like it belonged.
Done and dusted

And I think that worked out okay - I think it's good enough to call it finished.  Not an easy one, but a sense of accomplishment nonetheless.

Thursday, 12 November 2015


For this week's Diva Challenge we were encouraged to give 'just a tiny taste' of tangle to our tile.  Easier said than done when that pen wants to lead a merry dance and fill every inch of those little paper squares.  But I was determined to make it happen...  I took a deep breath and waited a few days before even stepping near a tile.  Time to let all those crazy grand impulses subside.  Time to let the symphony settle down and just listen to the echoes.

XYP - with white highlights and arua

Hamail with Antidot-style fill and white highlights
It's a process I enjoyed very much.  It allows for a tile to be 'done' when there is less time available, but more than that it allows for far closer attention to the tangle in question, making it the star of the show.  And I felt thoroughly involved in the process.  Thanks to the Diva for the encouragement, it's a style I know I'll revisit.

Tuesday, 6 October 2015

trying to be everywhere

Tri-Bee, the tangle chosen for this week's Use My Tangle Diva Challenge, is one that is so addictive and mesmerising to draw it's a wonder I didn't carry on and fill every inch of my tile, and even then draw on across the table beneath.

But I stopped myself, constrained the spikey wonderland with a basic string line, and added detail down both the inner and outer arcs.  At that point it started to look a bit like a flamey biker tattoo - nothing wrong with that, but not what I wanted, so a few Fescu softened the mood.

And there you have it.  No doubt Tri-Bee will be a great tangle to have in mind to fill those areas where you want something not quite straight, but not too round. 

Tuesday, 1 September 2015

a long, long time ago

Not a lot of time this week.  No time for pondering and deliberation - just time to grab the pen and draw a frame using a couple of the variations of (the newly released official tangle) Zenith as encouraged by this week's Diva Challenge.

And in my head while I'm drawing I have American Pie on an incessant loop - and it's only when I'm finished that the line I keep coming back to is the one about the jester - and in a way that's what I've drawn - a thorny crown for the jester, so he doesn't need to steal the Kings.

Friday, 28 August 2015

in bloom

And then in other bursts of broken minutes I did another Zendala - Bright Owl's #107.

I used X-ess, Mr. E and Tearce.  And if the Owl's recent tangle, Mushnik, were to flower - it might well look like this!

hidden stars

Sometimes my days don't allow a reasonable piece of time to settle to truly mindful tangling. 

But there are usually at least a few minutes here and there to put Micron to paper and fill in a section of a Zendala. 

So that's what I did.

With Baton and Antidots and the Bright Owl's #106 Zendala.

Wednesday, 19 August 2015

the long and winding road

The last time Sharla Hicks visited the Diva's place I ended up learning loads of news ways to work with FluxThis time - not only has she encouraged me to develop my appreciation of curved tangles - but also the wonders that can arise when working in a series.

It's all too easy for Zentangle to become just another box on today's tick list.  Especially when one is trying to make a tile for this or that 'challenge'.  Sometimes they are the perfect kick-start.  But all too often they become constrained by themselves and possibly overshadow the finer point of Zentangle. Which for me is about getting lost in the doing of it - picking up the pen with no plan and being surprised every time by what I end up with.

Working in a series encourages you to limit your parameters - and thereby expand your horizons.  It's about having only a vague destination in mind, and getting thoroughly, blissfully lost along the way.

I decided to focus on Unyun (by Carole Ohl) as it has both an S and a C curve.  Previously I've only used it in its basic described form, as so

which is fair enough but I wondered if it could do more.  After a little bit of playing about in my sketchbook I found three different looks that I wanted to try out on tiles.  I did these quite quickly on fairly smooth white paper, as these are just practice pieces in my view.  I took scans at various stages in the drawing so I would have a record of how they developed.

[click to enlarge]  The top row shows basic outline drawing.
In the lower row I have darkened certain areas and thickened lines.

Smooth white isn't the most amenable paper to shade but still - here are the finished pieces. 

The reverberating one - this makes me think of a sound wave,
with echoes spreading out from the initial noise.  Two rows
of Unyun, mirroring each other, and then aured
and intersecting the auras as it expands.

The crazy one - like eyes and mouths in a hall of mirrors.
  I pencilled 3 initial lines and placed Unyun against them,
but then reversed the direction of the C curves.

The lacey one - I see ruffles around the necks of old Queens,
or piped icing around a cake.  Two double rows of basic Unyum,
darked in the centre. 

Each significantly different while still retaining the essence of Unyun. And even better, I'm brimming with more ideas to try out, which I'll add here once they see the light of day.

Tuesday, 11 August 2015

we have lift off

For this week's guest-hosted Diva Challenge, the lovely Bright Owl asked us to have fun with one of her Zendala templates. 

I only discovered the pleasure of Zendalas and Erin's weekly challenges shortly before she took a break - but now she's back and I want to get back into doing them.  They offer a subtly different experience than other types of tangling.

I used the graphite transfer technique to copy the template onto a standard (9cm x 9cm) sized tile and it worked way better than I expected!  This would also offer a great chance to alter or omit any lines you don't fancy using.

And then I went in with my Micron - popping Sandy Hunter's delicious new Papermint tangle into the circular sections, and then a sort of Ticking variant into the leaf shapes and then a few bits of Beadlines and some tufts and dots and shading and there you have it! 

It looks like it's about to fly away, and I feel a fair bit lighter than I did when I started it! 

Tuesday, 4 August 2015

the beautiful silence

For this week's guest-hosted Diva Challenge Sandy Hunter asked us to leave some white space untangled on our tile.

I pencilled a quick looped string and then it seemed to say that it would welcome woven type tangles, so I popped one each into the four quarters.

Featuring Harfe, Bask-it, Looplopp and Keeko

One of the things I love about Zentangle is that while I'm drawing my mind seems to drift in directions it might not otherwise take - sparks of ideas form, and elusive realisations come into focus.

While drawing this tile it started to dawn on me that sometimes we are so keen to fill every moment of our days with activity that we leave no space to appreciate or enjoy the unplanned.  The moment that arises without warning that might be the truest treasure in our all hustle and bustle.  The voids also leave valuable breathing room for the presences - they allow them to be more alive than if they are squeezed into a limited space.

So I'm going to try for the rest of this week, in my tiles as well as my days, to leave a little space.  I wonder if you will too?

Friday, 31 July 2015

I'll grow wherever you will grow

For this week's guest-hosted Diva Challenge we were asked to celebrate the organic.

I began with no destination in mind and this is where I ended up.  A fusion of two tangles recently introduced on Tangle Patterns.  Mei providing the swirled trellis, with little Flux leaves appearing along its branches.  And a deconstructed Dicso appear at the cross points. 

It took quite a long time to draw.  Mostly because I wanted to have that thick and heavy look to all the lines - they suited the gothic garden image I had in mind.  But it was a tile I did in multiple sittings - adding a little bit more each time I had five minutes to spare.  It grew, almost by itself.  Spreading across my initial framework.  As if by magic.  As if by the magic of nature itself.

Despite spending most of my adult life lost in books, I read very little as a child.  But I do remember one hot summer, ill and lying on a mattress by an open door reading from a hardback copy of The Secret Garden (Frances Hodgson Burnett).  And I wonder if a little bit of that garden stayed with me, and regrew this week.

Friday, 24 July 2015

send in the clowns

On the surface it might appear that I have abandoned the wonderful world of Zentangle.  Not so - I just haven't posted anything on my blog for a while.  I've been mostly caught up making ATCs for the swap organised on the Facebook based group for art that is Stacked and Tangled.

Now that they have safely arrived in Arizona I can turn my attention to other things.  And one of my first stops is the latest Diva Challenge.

I'm not a big fan of the circus, although I did go quite a few times in my childhood.  And the thought of using bright colours freaks me out a bit - but I pushed myself to stick with it and I'm really pleased with the result.
Entertainment provide by Cack, Tropicana and Linq

Tuesday, 14 April 2015

what a hoot

It would have been so easy to get carried away by this week's Diva Challenge.  I could have spent ages searching the house for exciting things to use to make my string, but then I would never have got to the tangling!  Instead I grabbed the first thing that came to hand from the stationary drawer.

And this is the result.  A strange tulip? An owl perhaps, with Crescent Moon eyes and Onamato beak? or maybe just a pair of scissors filled with Baton, and a sort-of Balo going down onto the blades.

Friday, 10 April 2015

dream a little dream

For this week's Diva Challenge we were invited to use Fanz.  I liked its shape straightaway, but couldn't find quite the right fill.  I put a few down in my sketchbook, went away, came back, added a few more, tinkered and tried and then... suddenly I hit on this fill.  And I loved the way it looked like wrought iron. 

And I thought about how one of the many dreams my partner and I have (and we have many and most of them will remain unfulfilled, but that's okay because we believe that sometimes just having the dream is enough) is to have a design cast in metal which we would position against a brightly painted shed. 

And if we did, and we allowed things to grow up it, like Shelly Beauch's beautiful Wist, maybe it would look a bit like this tile.

Friday, 3 April 2015

a feast of flux

If I take the time to sit with one tangle, and really get to know it, drawing it over and over again, in new and/or similar ways, I always seem to get pleasing results.  The simpler the tangle the broader the results.  This happened when I worked with Flux on a previous Diva Challenge with these results.  This week's Diva Challenge asked us to look again at this humble tangle and I loved every minute of time I spend in its company.  I feel I've expanded on some of the previous ways I used it and taken it in new directions too.

Flux Framed - some with darkened centres,
and some slighty blotchy block shading.

Puddle of Flux - dodging this way and that, with
darkened N'Zeppel between rather than the usual Tipple

Flux Squared - I just wanted to see if it would work
in a grid.  And it did.  With sepia lines, a couple of different
centre details and some rounding to add weight.

Monday, 30 March 2015

it's a spring thing too

I was also late in completing my tile for last week's It's a String Thing Challenge.  So I thought I'd pop it here instead of it lurking, forever unseen, in one of my many hiding places for finished tiles!

I often notice other tanglers having very distinctive styles or looks to their work.  I'm not sure I've found my personal style just yet.  But I do seem to go through certain phases where my designs show similarities.  And at the moment I seem to be in quite a light, airy mode.  I think it's probably all down to Spring, to the lightening and lengthening of days.  To new growth appearing everywhere and coaxing me to bend and sway with it.

And so a weaving double-threaded string, blooming with little individual bursts of Mumsy, and Printemps patterned Kelp leaves.  I can almost imagine looking out of the window and seeing this growing up and over the fence!

ever decreasing circles

One of the current themes in my life is plentiful ideas but limited time to put them into practice.  Hence drawing this tile a full week after the Diva Challenge was issued.  

But I'm glad I made time to get it down on paper, as it came out fairly close to how I saw it in my head. 

A simple spiral of Jujubeedze snapped and dropped onto a background of Florz. 

(The white highlights were done using a fine pointed Zig chalk writer - the white colour doesn't appear for the first few seconds but it goes on in a less gloopy way than other white ink pens.)

Thursday, 12 March 2015

ripe and ready

It's been an age since I did a Diva Challenge and I nearly didn't do this one - because I struggle with Pokeroot.  It never looks nice, always a bit too big or two small.  Or messy, or uptight.  But I think I hit on a way to work with it that I like. 

And it all came about by working with it alongside the boxy delight that is Cubine!  Now when I draw Pokeroot I imagine it has to fit into a small square space, in this case a border, but then let it bulge out a bit.  And suddenly I like it!

warming up

It's been too long.  Days and weeks tumbling over one another, each leaving no room to tangle.  But I'm getting there.  And what better way that by playing with a new tangle shared by my long-time Tangle Mentor Adele Bruno.  Teenos is welcoming and lively and keen to let you have fun with it.  And so I did, having a bunch of smaller ones burst out of a couple of large, and a border of dark disappearing into white and so on.

With no intention to be representational I find I've made an image very reminiscent of this week - the first real stirrings of spring - flowers popping up everywhere you look and a sense that the year is starting to really get going at long last.

Friday, 16 January 2015

off with a blast

What better way to come back to the wonderful world of Zentangle following my Christmas / New Year break than with a celebratory Diva Challenge!  She had reached the 200 milestone and is still going strong!  She invites us to use our go-to tangle and fill that tile!

So I grabbed a brand new Micron (there is nothing quite like that smooth flow of darkest black ink!) and went to work with Ticking.  I still don't have a go-to tangle as such - whichever one I fancy at any precise moment is the one I use.  But certain ones feel very satisfying to draw and Ticking is one of those.  So methodical and even and so tactile once you add the shading.

A couple of gaps in the bands and a couple of curved arcs of it as discovered in a previous unpacking of the tangle.  I darkened a couple of the edges just for added contrast and there you have it!  Like ropes pulling us into the new year.  Like elephant trunks trumpeting our arrival!