Friday, March 27, 2015

Tangler's Block

It happens to many of us.  Tangle, tangle, tangle, block.  Either life gets in the way or we just get stuck. Sometimes it's life stress, and sometimes we can be become blocked about our tangling.

I recently taught an amazing private lesson with a talented tangler who had been feeling stuck.  She has eagerly learned many exciting techniques and patterns and has been exploring larger works in her sketchbooks.  When I visited, she had half of this page completed and kept talking about how she just couldn't finish.  She was stuck, blocked.  She didn't know where to go.  She sounded discouraged.

When tangling becomes frustrating, it's a good time to get back to basics:

  • Breathe.  
  • Appreciate.  
  • Start small.
  • Find comfort in dots and a border.
  • Hug your canvas with a string.
  • Embrace your personal tangle.  Start with the pattern that comes naturally to you.
  • Start and enjoy.

Her piece was, in fact, stunning as it was with the portion above the center band tangled.  Throughout the lesson, I offered several options but knew that only she could choose her outcome:

1.  Accept the piece for what is and consider it finished.  White space can be fantastic in a piece!
2.  Turn the page and start again with a clean and less stressful page.
3.  Put it aside for a while and come back to it when ready to try again.
4.  Breathe and dive in by adding tangles below the border.
5.  Add string lines below the border to fill.
6.  Get back to basics by tangling on a tile to get the creative juices flowing again.

She loved what she had created and really wanted to finish the page.  I admired her determination and hoped that I could help her to get unstuck.  After our breathing exercises and playing with tiles, strings, and patterns, I think she felt freer to explore her piece.

We spent a lovely afternoon tangling, talking, and breathing.  Sometimes we just need a reminder of how wonderful this process truly can be.

I was thrilled when she wrote to me later the same day to thank me for the lesson.  She told me that I had made the process much more enjoyable for her.  Tears came to my eyes when I opened the attachment.  She had finished her piece!  In the same day she was stuck, she discovered the key to unlock her creativity and her passion.  I was proud of her and happy to have been a part of her journey.  She's even sent me additional pictures of additional pieces she has created illustrating that she is still tangling.

The amazing thing is just how much my students inspire me each and every day.

Hooray, Diane!

ZIA by Diane Gray

Wednesday, March 25, 2015


I taught a fabulously fun home party with fellow moms from a local mother's club.  Since all of the moms I know tend to have a fair amount of stress (along with lots of love, adorableness, and excitement), I thought this group could use a little zen.

Throughout the night, we giggled every time I mentioned the non-representational, handmade aspect of the Zentangle® method.  The concept was fine, but my made up word choices, "roundish," "circle-like shape," and "straightish" induced chuckles.  Laughter is always great for reducing stress!  I also think that hearing the same idea multiple times can help it to resonate.

We don't need to draw perfect circles or straight lines.  Who can without tools anyway?  I know I can't, and I'm okay with that.  I'm human.  I'm an artist.  I am not trying to be a computer or to replicate some form of perfection.  Instead, I breathe and allow my artistic process to take me on a journey--straight lines or not.

Sometimes there is comfort in knowing we don't have to be perfect.  Moms have to do everything, and lately, it seems like they are expected to do it perfectly.  Even among mothers, there are factions disagreeing about the right or wrong way to parent from feeding and diapering to discipline techniques and education.  There is a lot of pressure to be a parent (I know it's hard for dads too, but I am focusing on moms since the class was moms).  There is a lot of stress with trying to make the right choices while  keeping our kids safe and happy.

We don't have to be perfect.  Our circles can be roundish.  Our lines can be straightish.  Our kids will grow up happy even if we have a cranky day, yell occasionally, or forget to use the orange plate.  They will remember their overall childhoods rather than the few days during which we were human.  Maybe they'll learn more from those human days and see that it is okay to make mistakes.  Maybe they'll be compassionate parents who will try to do the best they can too.

There are no erasers in parenting or in Zentangle®.  We can do our best to try to relax, enjoy some quality time, and breathe.

Everything else ends up perfect-ish.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

February is for Love

I had the great privilege of teaching a class at the Hamilton-Wenham Library near Valentine's Day.  It was a lovely evening of tangling.  We had the goal of finding some creativity and relaxation despite the wintery mess we have had in the area lately.  I think we did a great job accomplishing our goal.

Everyone created a stunning tile!  I am impressed by the amazing job they did.

Here is my sample piece I created on a Renaissance tile for the night:

Since the class, I have heard from six participants who professed their love for Zentangle®.  I love when people find a new passion especially when I get to be part of that discovery.  It touches my heart to help someone uncover his or her inner artist through the Zentangle method.  Each of the women has continued to learn more, seek out new books, and ask questions.  One was kind enough to share her beautiful ZIA (Zentangle-inspired artwork) of a tangled heart.  I only taught a few of these tangles in our class together.  :-)  I hope they will all continue on a wonderfully relaxing and creative journey through the Zentangle method.
Tangled heart by Linda Ashley

Monday, January 26, 2015

A New Calendar for a New Year

I had decided that since I was unable to complete my two past Tangle-A-Day calendars from Carole Ohl that I was not getting the 2015 calendar.  Then I got very sad.  I was inspired by all of the wonderful pages people were sharing on Facebook.  I also buy into the starting anew idea each year and love seeing a blank book just waiting for art.  I changed my mind and decided to buy the calendar only to see it backordered.  The Fates agreed with my original choice.  When I checked a few days later, it was in stock again and in my shopping cart.

I am having a blast with the calendar as I get caught up this month.

I think I haven't finished my previous calendars because I got caught up in trying to figure out a plan each day.  Some days were random art, and some were for testing out new-to-me patterns.  I enjoyed the calendars and still go back and fill in empty dates when I want to play.

This year, I am using each lovely block to experiment with a single pattern.  The patterns may be new or familiar to me.  It takes the guesswork out of it and makes it interesting to try new things.  By the end of the year, I'll have a lovely tangle compilation to refer back to while working on other projects too.  Here are a few pages I've enjoyed doing so far:
I tried a few border-style tangles on this page.  Nautica was a fun one with a lot of variety. 

I love Ruflz.  What an elegant tangle.

These were all new to me, and I liked them all.  Jesterz was fun and appealed to the Cadent-lover in me.  Tleaf is quite lovely and delicate.  3 To Go reminded me of cute little break dancers twirling around on the ground.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Mr. Postman, Is There a Tangle for me?

I am finally finishing my 2014 creative pay-it-forward gifts. I've had most of them ready for a while but let life get in the way of my actual mailing. Maybe I just do so much online now that it takes me ages to dig out my address book, stamps, and envelopes. Then addressed, envelopes sit here waiting to actually be sent. I used to be such a great written pen pal back in the day.

I sent some of my tangled dresses from the Christmas tree. I had a fair amount of time and had poured so much love into them, that I thought they would be perfect to send. I also created some artist trading cards (ATCs) to accompany them. Here is one of the items I sent to a fellow artist.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Insane for Renaissance

If Einstein's line about insanity (expecting different results from doing the same thing repeatedly) is true, then I am insane for Renaissance tiles.

I love the variety and depth these Zentangle® tiles provide. It is wonderfully fun to use different pens and pencils to achieve such interesting and vintage looking pieces. 

I've always been inspired by the art of Dr. Meredith Yuhas, CZT. Some of her recent Renaissance work inspired these in me:

Happy 200 to the Diva

Our beloved Diva reached a huge milestone this week--her 200th challenge!  We were invited to create a monotangle with one of our go-to tangles.

I immediately started adding Flux leaves in the center, randomly building outward. I used to not like Flux because I hadn't found my groove with it. Surprisingly, while teaching the pattern in a class, I admired how my friend and student interpreted the leafy shape. Ever since, I have created my Flux like she did--a looser, more leaf or teardrop shape than a comma shape. A new love was born. 

I especially love drawing Flux as a flower or in random spurts with a string. I enjoy letting the petals float, swim, or bloom in various directions. 

It only seemed fitting to think about inspiration for this challenge. I hope that I inspire others when I teach. I am always fascinated by how inspired I am with each of my students. 

Happy 200th, Laura!  Thank you for inspiring us all!

I couldn't stop myself after this one and created a couple of colorful Flux flower ATCs too.  I think I'll be sending these to some of my CZT friends.