Posted in Zentangle

High Focus Tangles… Huh?

As you can probably guess, a high focus tangle is a pattern that requires more than just half of your attention. In fact, if you let your focus drift too much on a high focus pattern, chances are high that you will utter “Oops!” followed by the Zentangle mantra, “There are no mistakes in Zentangle.” You might even add that an “oops” is an opportunity to do something different or try something new.

The starts of two high focus patterns, Rumpus in the center flanked by Arukas, are pictured above. These are difficult on a traditional 3.5 inch square tile (shown on the left for comparison), but become ultra high focus when done on a Zentangle Opus tile. The Opus tile measures three regular tiles across by three down, or 10.5 inches square. Sometimes, when enlarging a pattern in a sketchbook or on an Opus tile, the challenge is to keep in mind exactly where the pen is to end up, as the destination is often covered or obscured by the very hand that is doing the drawing.

For example, just to get this much of the beginning of my tile onto the Opus tile, I counted seven “Oops!” utterances before I stopped counting–the counting was just too distracting! Since my intent is to end up with a frame-able tile, the No Mistakes mantra is probably embedded into the tile itself.

These two tangles are not particularly difficult to master–and I have them down for the traditional tile sizes–but Arukas is primarily inner auras while Rumpus (at least, the way I have drawn it here) is primarily long double Cs or Ss, diverging at the beginning and converging at the end. An easier, and just as pretty, way to draw Rumpus is with doubled lines that are joined with a curve at each end, essentially creating long, thin oblongs; or the doubled line can be connected with points to generate a ribboned effect. Both of these effects can be seen on the new gray traditional sized tile (3.5 inch square) in the basic Rumpus sketch below.

The tangle Rumpus doesn’t end here. As presented in the official step-out for this pattern, it is filled with pearl-like orbs, then richly shaded. If you have the Zentangle Mosaic app on your mobile device, you can see the official step-outs for both Rumpus and Arukas there. If not, here is a Pinterest link for Rumpus that will help: https://pin.it/bz2wa5n6mj5icx ; and one for Arukas: https://pin.it/y6ikp7r6mrlp62 .

Auras are easy, right? You learned about auras with your very first pattern, Crescent Moon. First you created the half-circle and filled it in; next you drew an aura along the curve. You’ve been aura-ing ever since. And so have I, but auras continues to be difficult for me, as I can barely trace well, let alone draw an outline of whatever I just drew. So for me, anything with an aura is a high focus pattern–even Crescent Moon! But that never stops me from taking on even the toughest-looking pattern.

Thankfully, Zentangle is not about the difficulty of the tangle or tile, but about your journey as you learn and conquer more challenging patterns. The step-outs learned during classes and workshops, or online via YouTube or tangle sites, make all the difficult patterns easy to recreate on your own.

Until next time, keep on tangling!

##

Update: here is the completed tile from above.

Yep. High focus.

Posted in Zentangle

Back on Track

I am afraid to look at when I posted my last blog. Please forgive my long absence. It’s been a roller coaster ride for over two years. We’ve finally finished the rebuilding of our home, and are still putting finishing touches on it. One project I’ve been working on is creating lots of Opus tiles (3 standard tiles wide by three high) and those are coming along slowly because they are in color, and I am learning about art and color theories as I go along.

Here is the unframed version of my first Very own Opus tile–and the framed version is nothing short of fabulous.

Patterns: Waybop, Poke Leaf, Perk, Henna Drum, Knightsbridge, Printemps…

This is the first of at least four, all different, all sharing one or more elements, all only partially complete. As I said, I research and learn art techniques as I need them–because I was not trained in art–but they will all be used in future work.

Today’s post is to let you know I am back–no patterns or techniques to share. But that is only today.

Follow me on my journey of mindful meditation through learning and rebuilding. As I learn, the information I am allowed to share will be shared with you, my readers. Whether those are new tangle patterns or tangling embellishments, or whether they are art tips and “tricks,” all will be presented here a bit at a time.

Meanwhile, taking a page or two from several of my tangling friends, I am considering giving live and taped (Incase you miss the live one) online classes. What are your thoughts? Would you be interested in something like that? Et me know what you think, and what you would like to learn if you are interested in online classes. Just say something in the comments section below, and maybe we can get some discussions going.

So glad to be back and feeling artistic again!

Until next time, keep on tangling!

## @DrEllieCZT @educ_dr

Posted in Zentangle

New-to-me Tangle: Skye

For a couple of weeks, I have been trying to chase down a lovely tangle by CZT Margaret Bremner called Skye. It reminds me of a Celtic knot in that it seems to be one continuous line.

[Update: A kind reader has found and sent the link to Margaret Bremner’s original step-out to Skye, which also features beautiful tiles tangled with Skye. Click here to access Margaret Bremner’s version, which is very similar to mine, but may be better/easier to use.]

Although there are several videos on YouTube (search term used: tangle pattern Skye), a Google search came up with no step-outs for Skye, regardless of search wording; and no step-out for Skye appears on TanglePatterns.com). And no matter how good the video, I kept messing up and really thought I needed the step-out to follow step by step without constantly having to pause and advance videos.

By the way, the YouTube video that I found most helpful can be found here. ( https://youtu.be/os0Js_gB0dw ) This tangle looks far more complex than it actually is, by the way. You will amaze yourself in the end.

Since searching yielded no step-out, I thought I would create my own, especially for when I need a reminder of how to tangle this pattern. Red lines indicate new additions.

This step-out is drawn in columns instead of the traditional tile-like steps. So, start with a column of backward Ss, leaving a little space between each one. Note that the top curve of the backward S is smaller than the lower curve. Next, the curve is auraed (haloed or replicated close by), starting outside the smaller curve and ending on the inside of the lower curve, in effect putting a larger curve at the top and a smaller one at the bottom.

Skye is a series of S curves, both backward and forward. They are “woven” using the Hollibaugh effect, the Zentangle term for drawing so it looks like something is going behind or under. A hint for this tangle is to draw the inside of the curved tubes first (right-hand line on the left side of the chain of backward Ss, left-hand line on the right side). This closes the backwards S tubes and helps guide the drawing of the lines.

Finally, connect the start of the tubed curve from nowhere under (behind) the bottom end of first backward S. At the bottom of the chain of backward Ss, and again starting under/behind, connect the top of the bottom backward S around the outside of the S, to the open tube left at the bottom of the fourth step-out column.

Some tanglers “get” this pattern right away. Others, like me, are distracted by openings to be Hollibaughed later, or some other reason; we have a more difficult time with this pattern. But once we get it, it becomes fun and really easy to tangle.

Skye can also be used as a string for tangling:

or (especially if you mess up like I did) become part of a background to be tangled over:

Hope my step-out of Margaret Bremner’s tangle Skye helps you enjoy this beautiful and flowing tangle. I am only starting to experiment with it. Hopefully I will soon be tangling variations and using it in more ways than I have illustrated here.

If you have any questions or suggestions regarding this step-out or Margaret Bremner’s pattern Skye, please leave a comment. I will do my best to address your comment. I am already working on a more detailed step-out that should need no verbal directions.

Until next time, Happy Tangling!

E.

Posted in Zentangle

Make a Tangling Calendar

Looking for a way to help you make time for tangling every day? How about a calendar?

There are two ways to go with tangling calendars: 1) buy an “official” Tangle-a-Day calendar created annually by Certified Zentangle Teacher (CZT) Carole Ohl (2019 calendar is US$ 22.50, plus shipping, available online from this vendor ) or make your own using a sketchbook (from about US$10.00 at art shops or office supply stores in Sint Maarten) or even unlined paper, if price is a major consideration). Top Carrot restaurant in Simpson Bay/Cole Bay has a beautiful assortment of sketchbooks from about $12 or $15.

Here are the cover and a sample tangling page from Carole Ohl’s calendar.

The spiral-bound calendar measures 5×8 inches, and is printed on a decent quality of drawing paper. The pre-drawn tangling spaces are about 2.5 inch square (about 6.5 cm) under the date. Many tanglers tangle the numbers, too, or increase the tangling space by simply tangling over the numbers as though they aren’t there because the lines are printed in gray to resemble graphite pencil. It is also easy to tangle two or three days together. Below are some examples from my own calendar, showing individually and multiply tangled squares on a page.

These calendars are really convenient for tangling each day, but have two drawbacks. First, the cost is fairly high. Second, if you tangle across multiple squares, you can’t erase the printed lines if they get in the way of your tangling, especially if you are using a large, open pattern. Certainly, you can cover the lines with ink or color pencils or pens. But if the pattern ends up straddling the line, sometimes even shading won’t cover them. I realized that today as I tangled this page, where the number lines cut right through parts of the tangling that I couldn’t or didn’t want to shade:

So I worked up a page in a sketchbook to sort of replicate the calendar using pencil to separate the days. The pencil can be blended into shading or erased from a string or pattern.

The approximate page size of this sketchbook is 15×21 cm, or about 6×8.25 inches. I measured off and centered across the page three blocks that measure about 2.5×2.5 inches (6.5×6.5 cm) near the bottom of the page, added an inch (2.5 cm) for the date numbers, and left the top open for the month name, if I want to add it. Everything is drawn in pencil so I can erase or blend in date or border lines if I want so they don’t interfere with whatever patterns I tangle there.

Like in the printed calendar, you can start the first of the month on a new page, or you can simply add it to the end of the previous month’s last page–especially for months with 31 days. In the printed calendar, the 31st day is always on its own page, with plenty of white space to keep tangling.

Although the printed calendar has some lovely tangles on a few separator pages, another drawback is that the pages are printed on both sides. If your tangle has large areas of black ink, or if you use markers or watercolors, there can be bleed-through to either the next page or to tangles you have already drawn. Creating your own calendar gives you the option to choose whether your pages are one-sided or two-sided. If you decide to use one-sided pages, make sure your sketchbook has more than 120 sheets, or buy two sketchbooks, or choose a larger size sketchbook that allows you to draw more calendar squares on a page.

That’s all there is to creating your own beautiful tangle-a-day type calendar!

Good luck!

Until next time, happy tangling!

Dr Ellie, CZT

Posted in Zentangle

A Wonderful Class at MHF Last Evening!

Wow! What a terrific Zentangle class last night at MHF!

Seven students and a staff member participated and produced these fabulous First Tiles.

Tangled on a Z string, each fabulous individual tile produced this beautiful mosaic of their unique styles.

We started with Crescent Moon for the auras and Hollibaugh for the under/behind technique. Then we went on to Printemps (spring) and finished with the grid tangle Florz. We used the new Micron PN pens and, of course, the traditional Zentangle 2B artist pencil. Because I was afraid we would run out of time, we shaded each pattern as we finished it, and used the tortillion to smooth out the graphite shading in various ways.

Unfortunately, we did not have the opportunity to hear Rick Roberts’ “Zentangle Sounds” album, as the PC we were using didn’t seem to want to play anything. However, I think my voice is soporific enough to soothe, and it certainly kept everyone working. Admittedly, I get so into the Zentangle Method®️ when I teach a class that I mellow out and almost– only almost– forget there are others in the room. Next time we will have the soothing original music playing.

I so enjoyed working with this group of people who were so certain they didn’t know how to draw. Gladly, each was proud of the tile he or she produced. Wonderful group, fabulous participants!

Until next time, tangle on!

Dr. Ellie, CZT

Posted in Zentangle

Playing with Color

New approach today– following are the surprises that experimenting with different types of color media can bring. Today I used the German-manufactured Coliro Pearlcolors by Finetec GmbH.

These are not inexpensive, but they are well worth the price.

Today is also a rare one for me: a day in which Tangling inspiration did not come. So I took out some new watercolors and started by making swatches on the three official colors of Zentangle tiles to see how they differ depending on background color. Most watercolors tend to have a bit of transparency to favor light. That is, they let some of the color of the paper through. The colors I used here are opaque–no paper color shows through. Yet, the colors surrounding the swatches make the paint colors look different. A small part of the reason is the pearl essence of these paints. The other, greater reason deals with how our eyes perceive color, and I am not qualified to get into that explanation.

In this photo, taken in natural daylight, all the colors were applied to the tiles in exactly the same order. Yet, the best representation of the colors is on the black tile. If these were a clock, you can see the lilac color on the black tile at 1:00; on the other tiles, that color looks silver (on tan) or pale tan/warm gray (on white). The differences are a bit different “in person,” but not by much.

Making the swatches gave me an idea: Today I would use a few of these paints to create color areas on a tile, and then used those areas in place of a graphite string to tangle some patterns.

The colors here are red violet, blue silver, and blue green.

It took forever for this tile to dry, but here are the boundaries set by the colors. By the way, these pearl colors were harder to apply to the tile than when I was doing swatches. I tried to use the paint as washes rather than painted areas. For some reason, this caused the colors to gather together, like oil does on top of water. Also, I found I could use only the darker colors because of the white background almost absorbs the lighter ones and makes them invisible.

Next decision: tangle over the colors, or tangle a “broken” pattern around the colors? Well, there was very little white left on the tile, so that left tangling over the color areas, using a white gel pen over the blue silver because I suspected black ink would be invisible. Maybe brown ink would work over the blue green area.

What surprises this tile had in store for me! Nothing worked as I thought it would: the white did not show on the dark background of the blue silver at all without help from black ink; ThemMicron brown and black pens worked differently than I expected on all the colors. The pearl paint simply changed the rules on me. Result:

Black ink was needed on the silver, lightened the background colors, and softened the red violet. The beautiful green disappeared with brown ink in the upper left, leaving only a hint of green tint; but brown merely softened the background green of the lower right area; the black enhanced the outline of the red violet, but brown brought out the red and faded the violet, making the color background look more like a red wine stain.

It’s one of the things I love so much about experimenting with colors and standard media–one never knows quite how something new will turn out until one works (OK, plays) with the new. The more I play with color, the more I learn. I especially learn how little I understand color in media and on a variety of surfaces.

Play with your colors and surfaces and find your own surprises. It would be great if you shared your experiences in the comments area, including pics of your results! Zentangle, after all, is not merely for meditation or for art, but an experience to share in a safe community.

Until next time…

Happy tangling!

Dr Ellie, CZT

Posted in Zentangle

Fixing focus on busy tiles

The longer I tangle, the more I believe the Zentangle Method®️ is becoming more of an art form and less of a meditative mindful experience. When in the right frame of mind, Tangling becomes not only meditative as I mindfully draw one line or curve after another, but it has become a way to come to terms with stuff in my life, especially the less than positive or happy stuff. To me, it becomes almost like prayer, but with honest reflection, and often possible sets of solutions.

Most Certified Zentangle Teachers (CZTs) feel as I do–that Zentangle should remain a meditative Method, using mindfulness in tangling, and giving the heart and spirit–and, of course, the mind and body–a bit of calm and respite in a chaotic world. Tangling helps one focus on the patterns, which later translates into focus on tasks and activities. And it is focus that this post is all about.

Today a new technique came to my mind for focusing on specific elements of a rather cluttered looking tangle. The process occurred to me as I was tangling a piece that started out as a good idea, but then became “muddied”. What I mean by that is that suddenly I could not easily discriminate one type of “leaf” from another. I was taught two ways of making elements stand out–1) thicken the outline or heavily shade the form, or 2) aura the form to make it stand out. Well, in the middle of a muddle, adding an aura is almost impossible. And if the forms are intended to have equal ‘weight’ in the design, heavily shading one causes the one next to it to melt into the background. Neither was what I wanted, and it was too late to aura. So what to do?

Let me show you the result (remember, this was a practice and not intended for sharing, so don’t laugh, please).

I can’t blow it up any larger, probably because I have too little space on my iPad, but even at this size, you can see each individual element–some behind others, and some simply sharing the spotlight in an area, as though each leaf were equal there. You might also notice that as borders are crossed, the petals change. They may go from white to black, or to checkerboarded, or half white and half black, or even tangled with printemps (the spiral-like figures inside leaves or outside as background. That is because my “string” divided sections into “pattern areas.” And all that is what made the work look completely cluttered and blob-like. Wish I had thought to take a Before photo, but it’s well after midnight, and I just didn’t think of it in time. But here is how I separated all the leaves without touching the overall design.

First, I outlined each leaf with a 08 Gelly Roll white gel pen. The white ink in this particular pen is opaque enough to cover black if used slowly and carefully, without a lot of pressure on the pen. In a few cases, I outlined inside the original shape to give it better visibility so it would not melt into an adjoining leaf.

After allowing the white ink to dry–it takes about a minute, but here in humid St Maarten, it could take longer, so be patient–I outlined the shapes again in black ink, as much on top or tight against the white ink. I was surprised by how much this process drew out the individual petals, especially from busy background areas.

Since black ink over white gel ink takes a while to set and dry, I waited some more.

Once I was sure the inks had dried completely, I used the graphite drawing pencil (softness 2B) to push the background where it belonged–in the back. I used a fairly heavy hand to darken the background as much as possible, taking care not to get graphite on the black portions of any leaves. Remember to use more side than point as you are doing this. Next, use a tortillion or blending stub or even a cotton swab to spread the graphite into the background and even it out.

Lastly, I shaded my petals as usual, applying graphite to the outside for depth and shadow, and to inner areas to give them dimension. Don’t get too carried away or you will create a second blob. For the most part, shade these areas as you would if you didn’t have the darker background. You will know if you need more shadow, so add several lighter coats rather than one thick and heavy coat.

And voila– a vastly improved tangled piece, with the focus back on your petals, bringing them forward by letting them stand out.

This can work whenever your items blend instead of separate. I got the inspiration for this from a book by Eni Oken’s, who has a beautiful blog and sells wonderful books on drawing techniques specific to tangling. I only have a few, but they left an impression on me that allowed me to take things a step in another direction. As you gain experience, it is amazing how your mind focuses on using techniques learned for one thing and applying them in a whole new way. My inspiration came from Eni’s book on making white seem to sparkle on black tiles.

Hope this helped.

Happy Tangling!

DrEllieCZT