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Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Lucky 13

I am loving this ATC swap!  Here are three more I created this week.  I have completed 13 out of 53 and am on a roll.  I used several of my favorite patterns to complete these three pieces.

I love the two with the Twinkling H2O backgrounds and glue resists.  The greenish one is a monotangle of Paradox.  This pattern is interesting because it has different twists and turns depending on which way you form your lines.  I think the two versions look like fans and rigatoni!

The pink bubble card features the random version of 'Nzeppel.  I started with the space between the bubbles then added a magnified version of the pattern inside the circles.  I enjoy how the colored pencil shading makes the bubbles look like they're floating.  

The center tile features Cyme and Poke Leaf and some quick colored pencil.

It's Never Too Late

I could bemoan the fact that I am 20 or so Diva challenges behind, or I could choose to look at this as a fun, creative endeavor.  I pick the latter!

So what if I'm behind?  So what if it's likely no one will see my posts on the Diva's site?  I love to share it with others, but ultimately, I create my Zentangle® art for me.

I have decided to go back and complete the challenges that I missed when life's craziness got in the way.  I will work backwards until I meet up with the last challenge that I had completed.

I love the challenges and the opportunity to try ideas, patterns, and techniques that I might not have considered previously.  This is also a great way to help me get more of my ATCs done for the swap.  

I love the newer Zentangle® pattern Quib.  It offers such creative opportunities, although it does tend to take over a piece with those fun tentacles.  

Here are my two ATCs (9 & 10 of 53) featuring Quib for Diva challenge 145:

Back to the Well

I'll admit it.  I'm still not sure I like the pattern Well.  I've seen some beautiful uses of the pattern, but it just doesn't come easily to me.

I believe in trying patterns several times, and if they don't sit well (ha!), I put them aside for a while.  I come back at a later date to practice them again rather than giving up on them completely.  Some patterns make it into my regular repertoire, and some are occasional visitors.  I think Well just might be one of those "on occasion" patterns for me.

I don't mind if a pattern requires a bit more thought.  Sometimes it's fun to give myself a challenge and to work on a piece that needs a little planning.  If patterns become frustrating or have too many requirements, however, I find that they interfere with my creative process.  I don't want a patten to harsh my zen!

For this week's Diva challenge, I enjoyed playing with Pea-nuckle, but I wasn't too sure about Well.  I decided to give it another go.

I used a tangleation of Pea-nuckle using C-shapes rather than the full S-shapes.  I love how the pattern ends up looking like laces.

Next I added a few bands of Well in the background playing with the fillers.  I like the largest one with the extra petals and auras.  The more I filled in the squares, the more I liked it.  Well, isn't that swell?

Here's my third attempt at Well and my 11th ATC for the swap:

Normally I believe in trying something new and practicing until it feels comfortable.  With patterns, like books, I tend to believe that there are many others out there to experience.  If I don't enjoy a book after giving it a valiant effort, I switch to a different one.  I tend to do something similar with tangle patterns, although I do try to come back to experiment with them again another time.  

I don't look at this as quitting.  I see my choice to switch to other patterns as a way of reducing barriers to my creativity.  If I'm not enjoying the process, I'm missing the point!

I love that there are different approaches to creating Zentangle® art.  We can make our art and process individual--choosing techniques and patterns that inspire us.  It's wonderful to enjoy something that has so much freedom!

Monday, November 25, 2013

Tangled Craft Fairs

This weekend, I participated in a fun craft fair in Billerica.  It was wonderful to talk with people who had never heard about the Zentangle Method®.  It's always exciting to see eyes light up when people learn about something that might be perfect for them or for a loved one.  I enjoyed having the opportunity to talk about my passion!

Here is my pre-edited booth.  I ended up paring back before the sale opened.

Check out my next craft fair on Saturday, December 7 at First Parish UU in Chelmsford, MA.  The sale runs from 8am-2pm.  Stock up on Zentangle® supplies and gift ideas including handmade magnets and greeting cards featuring my original Zentangle® art.

The highlight of my day was having one of my students stop by specifically to find my booth.  She has been very stressed lately and hasn't tangled in ages.  She has wanted to tangle but didn't feel like she had the time.  I think that if you have the time to think about not having the time, that you probably have enough time to tangle just a bit.

I encouraged her to go home that night and start tangling a piece even if only for a few minutes.  She could work with one pattern--whichever one she likes or feels the most competent with--to eliminate decisions.  The important thing was to start.

I hoped that she could work on a piece a little bit each day even if it took three weeks to finish a tile that she hated.  It wasn't about the end result (it never is!), it was about starting, putting pen to paper, and trying to find a way to cope at this stressful time in her life.

Unless we find a way to relieve it, stress will continue to build.  It will build until we either explode or implode.

It can be hard, especially when we are busy and stressed, to make time for ourselves.  I think that is the most important time to take a break.  I know that when I am stressed, I approach my family, life, and challenges differently than when I am calm.  When I can allow myself a few minutes to breathe and to tangle, I become more focused and centered and better able to handle whatever is thrown at me next.

Taking time for yourself isn't selfish!  It's essential for getting through challenges and stressful times in life.

I wish you all a happy holiday season filled with relaxing moments just for you.  You've earned it, and your loved ones will benefit from your peace of mind.

Plugging Away

I love signing up for swaps--cookie swaps, recipe swaps, gift swaps, art swaps!  While they may seem a bit stressful due to the deadline and expectation, swaps can be a fun way to let yourself explore.  I often use the experience as a way to try a new recipe or be more creative with my shopping.  

For this artist trading card swap (ATC), I get to make 53 cards that are all different!  It's quite freeing to have each and every card have a different feel or design.  I'm sure several will have similarities when I feel inspired by a particular idea, but they don't have to be the same.

Here are cards 6 and 7 out of 53.  The first has a watercolor background made with Twinkling H2Os and a glue resist.  I love how planetary it looks.  The second has a traditional string filled with patterns.  

46 to go!

Well, well, well

This week marks my return to the fabulous Diva challenges!  I had to take a break because the assignments and deadlines were becoming barriers to my creativity during a busy time of my life.  Now that I've made some life changes, I have more time and energy to jump back into the challenges.  Yippee!  Laura always comes up with awesome ideas for the weekly challenge.  It's bothered me that I haven't been able to do them.  Maybe I'll go catch up on the 20 or so challenges I missed.

For this week's challenge, the Diva asked us to work with two tangle patterns, or as named on the Diva's blog, a Duotangle.  The task was to create a piece of art using only Pea-nuckle and Well, official Zentangle® patterns.

I have loved Pea-nuckle since I learned it at my CZT training from the creator Molly Hollibaugh (yes, if you tangle, that name should sound familiar!).  I think it's a pattern that takes a little thinking and works best when the original columns of S's line up closely.  I sometimes find that patterns like this can require a bit more focus.  I have to be in the right state of mind to use patterns like Pea-nuckle, and as in this challenge, Well.  This was definitely a thinking challenge.

I don't feel like I've totally embraced the pattern Well yet.  Every time I go to draw it, I end up with a variation of Yew-Dee by CZT Peg Farmer.  I love Yew-Dee.  My first attempt at the challenge ended up with Pea-nunckle in one corner and a Bales-free version of Yew-Dee because my tangle memory directed my Micron to follow its usual Yew-Dee flow.  I still love how this piece came out.

The second one features several sizes of Pea-nuckle and two versions of Well.

These are numbers 4 and 5 of my 53 card ATC swap.  Only 48 to go!

Sunday, November 17, 2013

53 Pickup

Have you ever played 52 pickup?  You know the game.  One person throws all the cards into the air while the unsuspecting player has to pick them all up.

I'm participating in an ATC (Artist Trading Card) swap with fellow Certified Zentangle® Teachers (CZTs).  Each person will create 53 cards to swap (a full deck plus an extra).

The project sounds daunting--53 cards due in a couple months.  I'll be swapping ATCs with artists whose work I admire regularly.  Ack!  My immediate thoughts were...

Am I good enough?
How will my art compare?
Can I finish that many pieces?
What did I sign up for?
Why did I do this?

I keep reminding myself that the Zentangle® Method is not judgmental. The process and enjoyment of it is more important than the finished project.  If I have fun exploring while becoming focused and relaxed, my art will be better.  It's not about loving each piece; it's about loving the journey and not being afraid to take it.

Another question... Where do I start?  Like anything else start at the beginning.  I picked up my blank ATCs and started tangling a mini garden which I suspect will soon receive a color treatment.

I am looking at this swap as a fun adventure in creativity.  Each person will be receiving one ATC from each other participant so the decks will be quite a creative hodgepodge.  That's very freeing because I don't have to make all 53 look alike or even have any similar features.  I can pick up each blank and start fresh in any creative direction I feel like heading.

I expect my ATCs will be of different styles--black and white, color, color wash, stencils, gardens, and all of the other techniques that I enjoy.  Maybe I'll try some new ones too!  This small size is quick to complete and fun to explore.

Here are ATCs 1-3.  50 to go!

Happy Tangled Birthday

I spent a recent evening teaching as part of a birthday slumber party for six ten year olds.  The birthday girl had been inspired by her mother's tangling, after a class with me, and wanted to learn more.  

The girls were attentive and enthusiastic.  They dove into the patterns fearlessly and felt inspired to explore their own pattern variations.  

I love the energy of any new tangler learning this method, and I find kids are even more enthusiastic.  I think it's because they're more open to trying new things and less afraid of making mistakes.  

Maybe adults are further away from the experience of playing that they forget how fun it can be to try something for the first time.  As we grow older, do we lose a little bit of our curiosity?  Does responsibility interfere with exploration?  How many adults actually check off items on their bucket lists if they even create a list in the first place?  I hope everyone achieves--or at least tries--every item on those wish lists.  Life is an adventure filled with new experiences, feelings, and dreams if we're ready for them.  

Maybe being a mom has changed me more than I realized.  I find myself seeing the world through my daughter's beautiful blue eyes and wondering about the world around us.  The way she approaches things baffles my responsibility-ridden adult mind.  Even when I understand the particular developmental stage she's at, I frequently state that "I never would have thought of doing that."  I watch in awe at how she plays, makes up games, tells stories, and finds ways to amuse herself every second of the day.  She is the happiest person I have ever known.  I hope she stays that way her whole life and doesn't let the world's heaviness weigh on her.

Kids get it.  They explore, they try, they take chances.  They fall down, get up, and try again.  

I loved sharing the Zentangle® Method with this group of smart and creative girls.  They gave me a look into my daughter's future when she's older.  I loved seeing the excitement and thrill of creating alive in each of them.  It was a joy to work with them.

One of the girls said that she loves that she doesn't have to be an artist to do this.  She said it's pretty easy to do and only takes simple lines and patterns to make art.  She liked that there were no mistakes too.  I think she got it!

Check out the beautiful animal scratch art pieces they created:

Take a Few Minutes for Yourself

We all get busy.  

I've been so busy lately that I haven't been able to blog even though the words and art have been eager to jump onto the screen.  Sometimes work, family, the house, and the thousand other things that fill our days take priority over our passions.  Of course we have to pay the bills and feed our children, but we are better able to do all those important things when we are in a better place personally.  

It's like we're instructed on an airplane in case of emergency--put your own oxygen mask on before assisting someone else.  How good are we to others if we're struggling--for air, sanity, or relaxation?

Life takes over easily, and we can forget to take care of ourselves.  When that happens, I try to fit in a little tangling even if it's just for a few minutes.  I may not have been able to blog lately or even turn my computer on much, but I have managed to tangle.

With each breath and line, I become more focused and able to complete the many daily tasks on my to-do list.  Sometimes lists can seem daunting, but with a little perspective achieved from focus and relaxation, I'm able to check off the items happily.

Amid the craziness lately, I taught a wonderful class at Memorial Hall Library.  I enjoyed sharing the Zentangle® Method with about 18 new tanglers.  

We started with a breathing and line exercise inspired by Netherlands artist John Franzen.  Please check out his web site for some truly inspirational and talented videos.  From there, we explored a variety of patterns and shading techniques.

The class marveled at the beautiful mosaic they created at the end.  They commented, praised, noticed the subtle differences, and took lots of pictures.  I love hearing new students admire favorite spots in another person's work while forgetting those areas in their own work that they might not have liked.  

There is something truly special about the shared experience that happens when people come together to learn or to continue their Zentangle® practice.

After class, a woman told me that she didn't think this class would do anything for her.  She was stressed and tired and hesitant about the meditative aspect of the class.  She loved the class and was surprised she was able to let go of her day while relaxing and creating.  I enjoyed watching her explore her art in class and was honored to hear about her experience.   

Sometimes it can be difficult to explain that the Zentangle® Method just works.  You have to try it to see for yourself.  What's the worst that can happen?  You get a few minutes for yourself.