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Monday, April 29, 2013

Blind Challenge

I'm not feeling very philosophical today thanks to a stomach bug so this post will be brief (unlike my last Diva challenge post!)

This week the Diva challenged us to tangle with a blind string--close your eyes, and draw the string.  Let yourself go, and trust the Zemtangle method.  It doesn't matter if your lines are straight or connected.  Blind strings can be pretty wonky, but they are just guides.  Use the string, or let your tangles take you outside the lines.  Be free to explore your creativity!

I decided to work with a blank Zendala tile.  Here is my blind string:

The finished version (sorry about the image quality.  I'll scan and upload a better copy when I'm better):

I loved playing with a few new-to-me patterns in this piece.  I started with Lilypads by CZT Margaret Bremner.  I think a new favorite is Block'd by CZT Jane Eileen.  

I learned that tangling can help take the mind off a bug for a little while.  If only I could find a way to tangle to make me forget being sick completely!

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Waiting for Oliver!

I celebrated with several of my mom friends this weekend as we prepared to welcome baby Oliver into our play group.  I created this tangled name sign for his room.  I tangled around fuzzy black Thicker letter stickers.  I like using floating frames for larger pieces. 

I debated about coloring the ZIA with primary colors, but I couldn't resist shading my Static!  :-)  

I can't wait to welcome you to the world, little Oliver!

Note to self:  scan artwork before framing.  :-)

Tangling for Focus

I love being able to use the Zentangle® method to increase my focus.  I've been impressed by how clearly I can hear narrators on audiobooks or speakers in meetings while I tangle along with them.  Instead of taking notes, which means I'm tracking data rather than listening, when I tangle, I absorb more of the information.  Tangling lets me shut off the part of my brain that tends to roam into other thoughts.

I attended the Massachusetts Library Association conference on Thursday and was glad I brought my tangling supplies!  I took notes during some of the sessions, and I tangled during others.  I enjoyed being able to create while listening.  When I needed to jot something down in my notebook, I did.  Note to self: put the Micron down, and pick up the regular pen next time!  :-)

Here are the pieces I created while being focused on listening:

This tangled library seemed appropriate to create during a library conference session with area authors.  It was fun to balance these heavy books!  I hope that Indyrella fish can breathe.

Why 18, you ask?  I had learned that morning that I was down 18 pounds due to my healthy new way of eating.  Woohoo!  Yeah, me!  My daughter likes this tile because she loves to point out numbers.

I created a smaller tangled garden to see how it would feel on a tile.  The tiles are nice and portable--perfect for meetings!

Missing You

I had a wonderful time teaching my new "My Tangled Garden" class last weekend.  The three attendees said how much they loved this new technique.  It is amazingly fun and relaxing to get lost in these beautiful gardens.

My Missing You garden (#5) features a gate with a little ladybug waiting for her love to join her.  

If I "missed you" at last week's class, I hope you can join us for the next one.  I'll be announcing the date very soon.

Here is a smaller garden on a Zentangle tile created this week.  This technique works well on any size paper, although I missed the toned paper when I wanted to add white highlights.


What is more important--seeing something or experiencing it?

Last weekend, I spent an early morning hour out on my deck, wrapped in a blanket, staring up at the stars with the hope of getting a glimpse of the Lyrid meteor shower.  I braced myself for the dark and the cold; it was 30 something degrees.  I enjoyed the darkness and the quiet.  I was surprised by all of the random noises I heard--neighbors coming home, people laughing indoors, and scurrying critters that I hoped weren't skunks.  Ultimately, I stared up appreciating the calm and quiet.  I enjoyed watching stars popping through the clouds and thinking of my daughter singing "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star."

I didn't see any meteor showers, but I enjoyed the experience of being bundled up staring at the sky and wondering-wondering what was up there, wondering how many other people were looking at the same sky.  It was peaceful to get lost in the vastness especially after the horrible violence in my state earlier in the week.  It was nice to think about bonding with others over this quiet experience rather than over being glued to news reports of bombings, pain, and tragedy.

Sometimes things can make us feel like we're part of a community--like we're part of the victims, like we're part of the heroes, like we're part of the universe.

The next morning, my dad emailed me questioning why I was up with the vampires when I could just look at web sites the next day for pictures.  Sure, the librarian in me knows I would research the shower after the fact, but there's something that web site couldn't give me--the experience.

What's more important--finding the quick answer or taking some quiet time for myself, lying down on my deck, and taking the chance that I might see something I've never seen before in person?

Do you prefer:

  • to view a piece of artwork in a museum to see the brush strokes, the texture, and the size in comparison to other pieces around it, or to look at a dimensionless photo of the same work online?
  • to do a yoga DVD in your living room with the phone and laundry looming in the background, or to visit a studio with a trained instructor who can answer your questions, peaceful music, and other people sharing the experience?
  • to walk down the aisle of silk flowers at a craft store, or, allergies aside, stroll through a rose garden taking in the scents, colors, textures, and pretty visiting pollinators?
Each option is valid and has its merits just like with learning the Zentangle method.  Many of us enjoy finding patterns and being inspired by books, web sites, and other sources, but a web site can't show you everything.  Do you prefer to learn in a creative environment with other tanglers, with a certified teacher (CZT) who can help you over a tangling block, and a relaxing and safe space to try new things?  

Which is more important finding the answer or the experience of getting there?  Again, both ways are valid at times, but I fear that there will be many tanglers who miss the true point of the Zentangle method.  It's not about amassing patterns rather the experience of achieving focus, being centered, and meditating through the process of creating beautiful artwork.  As children teach us, it's about the process not the product.

My week was yet again lost to the universe of an insane schedule, but it gave me more time to think about how important this topic is to me.

Thank you to the Diva for our Earth Day 115 challenge this week.  I used a pre-strung Zendala tile that reminded me of the earth.  I started with some Distress Ink in brown, green, and blue for earth tones.  To break myself out of my usual box, I decided to randomly tangle the Zendala.  Instead of using the symmetry provided by the string, I tangled each area with a different pattern using colors one might see looking at the Earth from space.  I used brown, green, and blue microns, and left white space for the land, sea, and clouds.  It took a long time to create this piece, and while it still feels a bit weird to me because it isn't a traditional Zendala, I enjoyed creating it.  It was fun to think about all the patterns to fill in each space and to play with the colors.  Maybe if you look at it from a far enough distance, while squinting, you might see the Earth.  Then again, does it really matter what it looks like if I enjoyed the process and tried something new?

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Bunzo 'Fro

After bravely creating my first face the other day, I decided I had to keep playing.  It's amazing how trying something new can encourage confidence!  Again, what's the worst that can happen.

I stamped my face image and embellished a bit with my black Micron.  I am a huge fan of Bunzo, so I started with some Bunzo hair.  I was having so much fun I couldn't stop--hence the full Bunzo 'fro!  I tend to like the unfilled variation of Bunzo, but it was a little too open for this piece.  I opted for adding dots to give the "curls" a little more dimension.

This was such a fun piece to create!  I did it while waiting the required thirty minutes after my allergy shot.  I usually despise sitting there for that long, and this time, I stayed past thirty minutes because I lost complete track of time while hair styling my latest figure.  :-)

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Starry Night

This week's Diva challenge was a throwback to one of her early ones featuring stars.  We could use stars in any way that inspired us.

I considered drawing a star, working on a Zendala, or using stars as white space in a design.  Then I realized I was thinking about it too much which wasn't too meditative.

I remembered that I had a pre-cut star shape that might work.  I did a quick coat with Distress Ink then tangled in blue pen.  It was fun and quick to do.  I will probably mount it on some fun starry scrapbook paper and put it in my daughter's room.  She saw it and said it was her star.  I think she's onto something.  :-)

Here's this week's challenge:

Calm Teens - is that an oxymoron?

I had the pleasure of teaching a group of 12-13 year olds at a Girl Scout sleepover the other night.  What surprised me the most was how effective the Zentangle method is when teaching a wide variety of students!  When I arrived, the girls had been throwing a ball around, giggling, and having a crazy fun time.  After a few minutes of tangling, the room was silent.  I didn't think that was possible.  :-)  It's amazing to see what practicing the Zentangle method can do to the brain (and a group of pre-teens)!

After the class was over, the girls resumed their boisterous fun.  They were probably extra focused on it at that point too.  The chaperones were very brave. 

The best compliment I received was when one of the scouts said, "I can do this, and I can't mess it up!" The girls had a great time, they learned a lot, and several said they wanted to learn more.  

I had a great time teaching in a different way to a great audience!  

Check out their awesome tiles:

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Falling for Color

I think I'm making up for lost tangling time this weekend!  Or, maybe my silly foot injury was a blessing in disguise.  :-)

I started this ZIA with a Dreamweaver stencil, filled in with tangles, then colored with my Tombow markers ala Marie Browning.  

My favorite part is the critters.  :-)

Facing Fears

I can't draw.

I can't draw a person.

I can't draw a face.

Why not?

Do I need official art training to be able to draw a face?  Who decides if the face is good enough or realistic enough?  If there is no ideal face in human form, why must there be one in artistic form?  Where is this critic telling me that I can't do these things?

Inside of me.

I am my own worst critic.  I know my talents and strengths, but I have never considered drawing or art to be among these until I discovered Zentangle® art.  I truly feel like an artist now and am thankful that I've let go of the idea of what art should be.  Who says?  Who knows?  Who cares?

I've been proud of the fact that my inner perfectionist seems to be taking a vacation with a raspberry martini in hand.  She no longer wigs about trying new things or failing.  Again, who decides when we fail?  Do we get report cards in life?  Do I need my mom to sign a form saying that I have to try harder?

I used to see work by other artists and think, "I could never do that."  I'm so glad that I've let that silly notion go!  We are all human with various abilities and experiences.  Sure, some people bring more traditional art training to their Zentangle practice, but that doesn't mean I can't try to draw something my own way.  I love that we don't need to be classically trained artists to make relaxing and beautiful art with the Zentangle method.

I have been infinitely inspired by Norma J. Burnell's Fairy Tangles.  She is an amazing artist who combines beauty, nature, and art into her creations.

Instead of staring in jealous admiration, I decided to pick up a pen.  What was the worst that could happen?  I mess up?  I ruin a sacred piece of paper and spend twenty minutes in a lovely state of relaxed focus?  Oh no!

With my tangled gardens, I've loved the free feeling I have while creating.  I can't believe that I had the same feeling while creating my first ever earth goddess!  I used a rubber stamp to create the face and enhanced it a bit with some pen.  Next I started drawing long strands of patterns.  Wow, was this fun!  I didn't care if the strands really looked like hair.  I just filled in the lines with patterns that I enjoy.  Many are the same ones in the garden ZIAs I've been making.  I kept filling in patterns until I decided she was ready for some shading.

Where was the fear?  Why did I worry?  I didn't get struck down because I used a rubber stamp or because I put pen to paper.  Instead of being afraid or believing I couldn't do something, I tried something new with great results!  I loved the process, I felt relaxed and inspired, and I did something new.  Yeah, me!

I may have to start asking myself, "What's the worst thing that could happen?" more often in life.  I'm guessing the answer is much less tragic than my mind can imagine.

What are you afraid to try?  What would happen if you face your fears?

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Come Inside My Tangled Garden

After badly scraping my heel today while trying to calm a nervous toddler, I decided I deserved some much needed tangling!  I pulled out my Toned Gray paper and set off on a new gardening adventure.  

This piece started with the gate.  I wanted to explore the idea of an overgrown garden that can't be contained even when locked up.  I love how the shading on the door came out!  

Do you like my little spider and web?

I'm really loving these gardens.  They are beyond meditative for me.  I draw a stem or leaf, and just let it all go.  I don't even notice where my flowers or other patterns are going.  I let them grow wherever they want to explore.  It's fun and freeing to let art happen without worrying about the consequences.

Three Square Meals: Nourish Yourself!

Whoosh...there goes another week!

Especially when we are busy, it's important to take time to smell the roses, to tangle, and to take a few minutes for ourselves.  Work, family, and house projects compete for our free time making it easy to get lost in the busyness of it all.

Make sure to take some time--even just a few minutes--to regain some sense of focus. Your work, family, and mood with thank you for it!  Sitting to tangle for a few minutes is a wonderful way to calm your mind.  After regaining a little focus, it's that much easier to tackle a big project, deal with a difficult situation, or realistically face the mounting to-do list.

We can get caught up in a hamster spinning wheel, so to speak, letting the momentum carry us along.  If you stop running, the wheel stops, and you can catch your breath.  Once you're in a better state, you can start running again.  Will the world end if you take a break and compose yourself before starting again?

Take a break from the wheel to breathe, read, exercise, tangle, or do something that makes you feel like you again!

It seems so silly to point out to adults to remember to breathe or take a break, yet I, too, am guilty of letting that momentum take over my busy day.  I love being busy and am stimulated by variety and some chaos.  I have to remember to stop myself for my own benefit because I am still human which means I have limitations.  I can't work 24-hours a day.  I have to sleep and eat like the rest of us.  Remember, even machines need to refuel or recharge!

There is no weakness or fault when we take time for ourselves.  We might think this means we're selfish.  Why does that word have a negative association?  When we spend most of our days taking care of others in some way, don't we deserve a few minutes?  What if taking those few minutes makes you better able to do your job or to help others?  That selfish time makes you a better person who is better able to handle what comes next.

I try to tangle even just for a few minutes when things get too crazy.  My mental state improves, and I find it easier to not only face my obligations but also to find joy in meeting them.  Is it enough to get through the work day or a home project, or is it better to do so with a smile and sense of enjoyment?

Clearly, I also take time to pontificate about taking time!  :-)

Here is this week's string theory Diva challenge to work with concentric squares.  I turned my page with each square then filled in with my favorite triangular pattern, Paradox.  I love the depth and controlled chaos of this piece.  Hmm, interesting metaphor, no?

Here is another square piece I had created for a Bright Owl Zendala dare:

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Time for Tuxedo

Does the week ever get away from you?  I started the Diva challenge on Monday when it was released, and it's taken me until almost the end of Saturday to get it posted.  The delay was not for lack of interest or trying.  Sometimes I am amazed by how fast the days can pass by.

My adorable daughter turned two and a half, I learned about her upcoming preschool (OMG again where does the time go?), taught an amazing Zentangle Basics class, and I've been working like crazy.  I'm a person who loves the challenge of a variety of projects, and I get bored easily.  It's sometimes hard for me to say no because I get stimulated by new ideas, and I have a lot of energy.  That said, I'm still human.  I'm so thankful to have my Zentangle practice to keep me grounded and to calm my mind when it gets filled with interesting ideas.

This week's Diva challenge was to use the Tuxedo pattern created by the fabulously talented LeeAnn.  She is a truly inspiring Zentangle artist, and I love to see everything she creates.  Her floral and Christmas designs are breathtaking!  I've joked on her blog that I want to be her when I grow up creatively.

I wasn't sure what to make of Tuxedo at first, but it was fun to play with.  I got a bit literal in my challenge this week.  :)

Friday, April 5, 2013

Billerica Tangles

Thank you to the Billerica Public Library and the Friends of the Library for hosting my Zentangle Basics class last night!  We had a wonderful group of 20+ participants who were almost all new to Zentangle.

The group had a fabulous energy filled with cheerful smiles and enthusiasm.  Throughout the evening, I kept hearing, "That's SO cool!" after a pattern took form or after shading made the images turn 3-dimensional.  I love hearing the surprise as people learn that they can create something stunning with a just simple pen stroke or pencil smudge.  Creating art doesn't have to take hours and hours, although it's wonderful to give yourself that much time to play.  In a matter of minutes, it's possible to create something beautiful and intriguing while achieving a state of relaxed focus.

One of the participants told me that she felt relaxed throughout the class.  I take yawning as a compliment when I'm teaching!  :-)

Thank you to everyone for letting me share my passion with you.

Check out the amazing job they did:

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Know When to Fold 'Em

I've been pretty interested in tangle patterns that look like curling or torn pages.  Check out these interesting patterns by several creative tanglers:

In a recent piece that I shared with fellow CZTs (Certified Zentangle Teachers), I used a shading technique to create a folded look in my tile.  I received such a positive response and a request for the instructions.

Here are my instructions for what I'm calling MomZenArtist's Folded Tile Technique.  I was playing with a new pattern and wanted to do two tangellations, so I divided my tile into two main areas.  With shading and a few tricks, it ended up looking folded.  I came up with this just by playing, but I don't know if the inspiration came from something I had read or seen before.  If so, please let me know.  I always want to give credit where credit is due!

MomZenArtist's Folded Tile Technique 4.13
I'd love to see your pieces if you play with this technique.  :-)

I owe a lot of my shading techniques to Cris Letourneau.  Check out her awesome shading book, Made in the Shade: A Zentangle Workbook!