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!
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.
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.
Most CZRs –that’s Certified Zentangle Teachers — practice what they plan to teach. Usually we practice a lot. This year, I thought it might be fun to tangle on wood ornaments instead of paper. So I came up with these.
All but one of these figures are painted and tangled on both sides. The one in the second photo–with the gold hanging cord–is tangled only on the front, as the wood on the back is so beautiful.
The reason for the stars is that everyone is special–a real star!–on Valentine’s Day.
These were put together quickly as an experiment of both the quality of the wood and the coverage of my paints. The ornaments were not expensive, and I used student grade acrylic paint for the backgrounds. Acrylics dry pretty quickly, and the paint tubes were small enough to allow me to vary colors, as well as get to tangling quickly. For the two-sided items, by the time I finished painting one side of a second item, the first was dry enough to flip over to paint the back. I painted each side a different color and tangled with different patterns so that I could turn it to fit my mood at a given moment.
Each of the patterns tangled on these ornaments are ones that can easily be learned during the first two beginning classes. Realistically, once you learn the first two tangles—Crescent Moon and Hollibaugh—the rest of these are easy to learn and use creatively.
Since most of the hearts don’t have holes, I will drill them before class. If you give me a color preference or two, I can paint a heart, Star, or both for you before class.
Let me know if you are interested. If you live in St. Martin or Sint Maarten–or plan a visit–leave me a message that you are interested. I will contact you with times, dates, venues, and expected cost of class depending on venue but including materials and snacks. And if you buy or order official Zentangle supplies through me (check out Zentangle.com), you save shipping costs and Florida taxes. We islanders understand that last one. 😁 I’m not allowed to undersell the official prices, but at least I can save you money on orders totaling $25 or more.
Yesterday, I completed 12 tanging days on a Zentangle®️ project. The project, which can be purchased on the official Zentangle web site (Project Pack page), uses the tag #PP04 on the Mosaic app, in the official Zentangle newsletter, and in various other venues. Each project pack contains all the materials needed to create the project, from appropriate or special tiles to pen, pencil, and other basic supplies.
Project Pack 4 (or PP04) contains two 9-3/4″ spinner tiles, spinner device, two watercolor pencils, a good quality paint brush, a Micron 01 pen, a small Zentangle graphite pencil, and a tortillion (or blending stump). A video series on YouTube instructs you from tile preparation (ironing the creases from the tiles, coloring in the wedges of the spinner tile, directions for tangling the patterns, etc.) to finishing off your tile and inserting the spinner. You can find the Preparation Day video here.
One of the best uses for the completed spinner tile is to help me select patterns to tangle on days when I just can’t get started. There are days when no tangle comes to mind.
Another use for the spinner is for on-the-spot tangling suggestions during an advanced class. It can be a fun way of selecting patterns to learn, if a tangle has not been used before; or just playing with sets or individual types of patterns. For example, the spinner can be used to select a border to use during tangling. It may be a pattern that would not come to mind on its own. After all, there are over 50 tangle patterns on the wheel.
Rather impatiently, I am waiting for the post-Project instructions. I don’t want to jam the spinner into the spinner tile the wrong way, making it non-functional. I also want to cruise the Mosaic app to look at other tanglers’ embellishments for inspiration on tangling the center and other undecorated areas. I already added Mooka and ‘Nzeppel to opposite corners.
Meanwhile, I am about to start on the second spinner tile, using brighter colors and tangles of my own choice.
Tangling from the beautiful Caribbean island of St. Martin
Let’s finish that first tile. If you lost it, don’t worry. You can tangle on any paper, with any very fine marker type black pen, the darkest regular pencil you have or a 3B graphite drawing pencil, and a tortillion ( blending stump). At class, you used a black Pigma Micron PN pen with a .45mm tip and a General’s 3B graphite pencil. The tile is 100% cotton fiber watercolor paper. Instead of a blending stump, you can use a Q-Tip or other swab, or you can search YouTube for a video on how to make your own blending stump.
Here is where we left off, with Crescent Moon and Hollibaugh. For a quick refresher, click here.
Today, we will add the tangle patterns Bales and Tipple in the two remaining spaces.
(First, take a few deep cleansing breaths and relax all your muscles, especially the ones in your hands and arms.)
Bales is a grid pattern. That means it is worked in a grid.
Grids can have all sorts of shapes, but we will start with the simplest one that is just lines going across and up and down.
The corner is where I added my simple grid. It’s not a full grid, but I wanted to show how we can use the under or behind technique of the Hollibaugh pattern with other patterns, too.
The Bales tangle, or pattern, can be drawn using the following step-out directions. There are several ways to draw the basic Bales pattern, but this is the one I use most often. It keeps my hand and pen moving in the same repetitive stroke, and so has a calming effect on me as I draw.
Now I am ready to fill my grid with Bales.
Before I shade this section, I will tangle the second pattern, Tipple, in the last unused space.
Here is the step-out for how I tangle Tipple. There are many ways to draw this pattern. The orbs can be all the same size, or all different sizes. Tipple orbs can be drawn in rows, in spirals, in rings, or randomly. The most important thing is to be mindful of how you draw the orbs so they are closed where you started them, and as close to round as you can make them. My choice today for drawing Tipple starts in the center of the space.
Notice that in the fourth step I went back and added small orbs in the spaces formed between circles or along the border. It is perfectly OK to draw half orbs along borders, too.
Here is how Tipple looks when added on my tile.
Finally, let’s shade Tipple and Bales. Starting with Tipple, pick up your graphite pencil and, using some of the side of the tip, lay a heavy border of graphite around the inside boundary of your drawing space. Then, using your tortillion and small, light circular motions, “pull” the graphite from the border into the space. Like this.
For Bales, use your pencil to make a large graphite dot where the “petals” touch. Using your tortillion with the same light, circular motion, draw out the graphite about 1/4 of the way along the petals. Like this.
When you are finished, your tile will look something like this–although you may have chosen to put your tangles in different spaces.
And you are done! Congratulations on completing your first Zentangle tile! Take some time to admire your work. Don’t critique it; there are no mistakes in Zentangle.
Feel free to share your results in the comments section of this post. I would love to see how you did, as would my readers. If you have any questions, the comments is a good place to put them. I usually respond the same day, as WordPress lets me know when a comment is waiting for me.
Until next time, whether in a class or here on my blog, Happy Tangling!
Tangling from the wonderful island of St. Martin, in the country of Sint Maarten
Last week, my class at MFH was much shorter than expected. It seems two activities were scheduled for the same time. So we got through only half of a first tile. Thankfully, we did the two foundation patterns: Crescent Moon and Hollibaugh. I promised to include the remainder of the tile here on my blog. But first, here is some beautiful creative work that came from roughly half an hour of a first class.
Now, I would like to review what we already did.
Using the pencil, we drew: Corner dots, a border (connecting the dots), and a string (Z) to divide the tile into smaller areas in which to tangle.
Next, we chose one of the four sections formed by the zed and border–or any created space–and drew half-moon “ladybug” shapes. The ladybugs were filled in and a halo (that we tanglers call an aura) was added along the curved edge. Then we aura-ed again. And again… When we ran out of aura space, we shaded with the pencil and the tortillion (a paper stump that we use to smooth the graphite from the pencil and spread the graphite out for a shadow effect).
After Crescent Moon, we used a different area created by the zed and added a pattern called Hollibaugh. Hollibaugh is an important pattern because it shows us how to draw “under” or “behind.” Hollibaugh can look like construction boards that are in a scattered pile, or a combination of straight and curved figures that are piled loosely one atop another. I chose a long area in which to tangle Hollibaugh. Then we shaded to make the first few “boards” stand out more and help with the illusion of under or behind.
And that’s when class came to an end.
Before everyone left, I promised to continue the “first tile” lesson on my blog space. And we will continue in Part 2 of Promise to my class… Part 2 will be published later tonight.
Hope you enjoyed this review of what we did complete.