So, it’s the last day of 2019, and I have been thinking about high focus tangling. A lot.
A tangle pattern does not need to be difficult to be high focus. Any stroke or combination that is difficult for you (not necessarily for someone else) is high focus, at least initially. For me, any pattern that requires auras is high focus. Even when I maintain my focus, strokes don’t always come out the way I want them to. But that’s OK, because there are no mistakes with Zentangle.
One of the loveliest projects to come out of Zentangle HQ is something called Embedded Letters, tagged #EmbeddedLetters. This project relies heavily on auras. Interestingly enough, even if the auras aren’t perfect, and even without shading, the result is lovely. Here are a few examples of my own embedded letters.
As you can see, they are not perfect, yet the people for whom they were created seem to love them. And I have gone on to embed whole names.
Here is how to get started with your own embedded letters project.
1. Create an outline of the letter (or word) you want to embed.
2. Fill in the outline.
3. Aura around the filled letter(s).
4. Add some embellishments. The easiest is to add a few fescue around the edge. Weight the bottom of the fescue to give it a feel of old fashioned engraving. Add as many as you like, wherever you like.
5. Aura around that embellished layer.
6. Add another layer of embellishments, maybe adding some flux and perfs (or pearls) to fill in spots too small to add other patterns to. Then aura that. Or just add several auras. As you gain confidence, add bits of other patterns. Whatever you do will look great.
Lastly, shade as desired–or don’t shade at all. Either way, you have completed a project that took a bit of focus, a few simple strokes, and a lot of yourself.
Tangling isn’t difficult, but it does take mindfulness to keep strokes even or balanced. The mindfulness is meditative and relaxing. Using the whole 8-step Zentangle Method, from gratitude for time, place, materials in step 1, to appreciation of your accomplishment in step 8, helps to calm your anxieties and stress, at least for a little while.
Happy 2020 to you and yours. As always, Happy Tangling!
Tonight, I did something different and fun. I attended a sip’n’paint event to help sponsor talented SXM (Sint Maarten) kids to travel to NYC for a week to learn not only more about their particular talent ( singing, dance, painting, etc.) but to also take a workshop about the business end of the professional artist. The painting event was led by world renowned St. Martin artist Sir @RowlandRichardson, who showed us how to paint a still life of three colors of bougainvillea in a simple jar vase.
We used exactly three colors–blue, red, yellow–and white to produce a lovely pallet of colors. Here is a photo of my work tonight. How many distinct colors can you see? Certainly more than the three we started with!
This is not to highlight my lack of talent with oil paint, but to show the influence of my Zentangle work and patterns on Zentangle-inspired art ( ZIA). In essence, I tangled a painting of real-life bougainvillea in a simple jar-style vase. Not only that, but it’s my first genuine still life work. That is, working from the real thing instead of a photo.
Note the number of poke leaf and flux in this painting, adding dimension to the simple patterns through how the paint was applied.
I will never be a famous artist, but I am really proud of this silly little piece encouraged by a famous artist, but completed because of the Zentangle Method®️. Tangling is so simple and versatile that it adds richness and texture to a piece that would have been completely flat and dull without my grasp of Zentangle patterns and techniques.
You may not be into Zentangle for the stress reduction, but if you are an artist, the method is definitely worth exploring for its patterns and unique shading techniques. I am proud to be a CZT (Certified Zentangle Teacher). Thank you, @MariaThomas and @RickRoberts! Without your influence, even a master artist like Sir @RolandRichardson could not have helped me do any better than apply dabs of color and hope for the best!
Yes, I am feeling guilty! It has been weeks since I posted. So much has been going on…
Did I mention that I got a job? It’s half-time, on contract, and tons of fun! I get to work with students, teaching them better ways to study, or tweaking their current study skills. A few weeks ago, I even gave a Zentangle workshop for students at the American medical school here (my employer) and a few were young people I helped (hopefully) and encouraged to attend.
The purpose of the workshop was to provide students with one more way to relieve stress and general anxiety. Some students were so tense that 4 Microns had to be replaced. Medical students are probably the most tense group of students under the sun.
As I ran the workshop, I tangled along with them, using a really fancy overhead projector that broadcast to several monitors. Here are my versions.
We had started a third tile, but ran out of time.
We ran short of time because, close to the time of the workshop, the sponsoring department decided to push through a protocol that made the workshop part of a research project. A “before” survey, which was supposed to take two minutes, took up a quarter of an hour. Then time needed to be left at the end for the “after” survey, cutting ten minutes off the end. Still, the students left with supplies and enough information to do some tangling on their own in a very Zen-oriented way.
I really wish there had been time for a photo of the participants’ work. I saw a few tiles that were outstanding. But we go with the flow and do what we can. More workshops are going to be scheduled for the next semester that starts next month with over 200 new students.
Next post, I will share some experimenting I’ve been doing with different pens and colored pencils. You will be left with little doubt that spending just a bit more for better tools can increase your enjoyment and the satisfaction with results many times over.
Tripoli may be a place and a fantastic vacation destination, but tripoli is also a Zentangle pattern. If you have the Zentangle® Mosaic app, you probably saw this week’s Kitchen Tabe Tangling (KTT) video on how to draw tripoli and embellish the elements. Although i have been tangling with tripoli for quite a while, the video added some new information about tripoli that I didn’t think about before. The KTT inspired me to both blog about this versatile pattern as well as to try my hand at something more creative than the mundane way in which I’ve been drawing it.
Tripoli is not a single triangle element, but a bunch of elements connecting to form free-flowing paths and groupings of triangular shapes. Typically, the triangles are filled with “fragments,” which are patterns used in part to fill elements of a grid pattern. Below are a few example of simple grid patterns.
Fragments can be used all sorts of ways, including to fill a shape or to embellish a string.
Usually, when tripoli is tangled, each triangle is filled with a fragment. In the examples shown below, you can see how the tripoli elements build from each other. The next triangle builds from a line that auras one side of the previous triangle.
In these tangles, grouped triangles are about the same size and contain the same fragment pattern. However, there is no hard and fast rule; consecutive triangles can grow or shrink, and fragments can change from one element to the next.
The wonderful thing about tripoli is that the elements don’t need to be filled at all. The individual triangles can be filled with anything that seems to fit the path or grouping as well. In the example below, the paths and groupings reminded me of a bunch of flowers in a garden. So I filled the triangle elements to reflect that. Shading and color smoothed the edges and points to look more like something Nature would do.
Each “petal” and “leaf” is a pointed triangle, and most of the sides of the triangles are slightly curved–mostly because I prefer a bit of curve over straight lines. Each triangle began with an aura of one side of the previous triangle. The aura became the first side of the next triangle. It is even OK to slightly “hook” the aura if you are going for a rounded grouping–or just because. In this example, although some triangles were later filled with a pattern that resembles the veins found on a leaf, the rest were simply filled with color and texture to resemble petals. Even the butterfly body started out as a triangle which was subsequently filled with color.
Tripoli is one of the most versatile Zentangle patterns. It can become a lizzard or a flower and many things in between. The flow of the path or the grouping your pen creates as you tangle suggests an object or design. You fill the triangles with patterns or color or texture to produce beautiful effects.
Remember: Anything is possible one stroke at a time.®
Earlier this week, I posted a picture on the Zentangle Mosaic® app of a holder I made out of an Apprentice tile (4.5 inches square) to keep my brand new 2.5-inch square business cards from VistaPrint®.
This post caused several people to ask how I made the holder, and I promised to post directions here on my blog.
Thinking back to a four-piece bijou puzzle I tangled for Valentangle2017 on Facebook, I thought it might be better to create a bijou-sized holder instead of the business card holder. Where the business cards are 2.5 inches square and need the larger Apprentice tile, bijou tiles are only 2 inches square, so a standard 3.5 inch square tile is plenty large to make a holder. No matter what size holder you need, the procedure is the same.
Step 1: Mark the center and diagonal lines.
With a pencil, find and draw the diagonals and centers on the backs of both your “final size” tile and the tile from which you will make the holder. Measure for accuracy. Your tile will resemble a squared round pizza.
Step 2: Line up the two square tiles, then trace.
Turn your bijou 45 degrees, and match up the bijou’s diagonal lines to the standard tile’s center lines, and the bijou’s center lines to the larger tile’s diagonals. It may not be a perfect match, but match as closely as possible. Once the lines are matched, trace the bijou onto the larger tile.
Step 3: Re-draw 3/16-ths of an inch away.
Aura the bijou outline 3/16-ths of an inch away from the center on all sides.
Step 4: Score for folding.
Line up a ruler or other straight edge tool with the drawn lines. With your favorite paper scoring tool (I use a bamboo skewer), score just outside the pencil lines, going from one edge of the larger tile to the other. Do this for the bijou tracing and for its frame.
Step 5: Fold along scored lines.
Fold along all of the scored lines. At the corners, there will be extra paper. Trim away this extra space with two inward snips along the main fold lines. Cut no further than the inside folds.
Re-fold the tile so the clean side is to the outside. Sharpen the fold lines by pressing on them again with your fingers or with a smooth hard object for a sharper crease.
Step 7: Tangle.
Unfold the box and tangle it any way you like. Remember that three flaps will fold over each other in the box to contain the bijou tiles. You may want to wait until the holder is glued together before tangling the back.
Step 8: Cut some filler.
Before going further, take some time to cut some bijou-sized filler for your holder. I generally fold a newspaper page several times and cut out a section the same size as what I plan to fill with–such as bijou tiles or business cards. While you are at it, cut a piece of waxed paper or baking parchment to the same size. Slide this between your filler and the flaps. The filler makes it easier to glue the flaps together and later tangle the box, as well as provide a surface to cut into if you plan to make a flap tuck for your holder. The square of waxed paper or parchment keeps the filler from being accidentally glued inside the flaps when the glue spreads out inside.
Sometimes, I just carefully wrap bijou tiles or cards in waxed paper and slip them into the holder before gluing. This works best if I use tiny wafer-thin magnets as a closure. The waxed paper does nothing to prevent the X-acto knife from cutting into a good tile or business card!
Step 9: Glue flaps together.
Overlap the two side flaps and glue them together. Next, bring up the bottom flap and glue it in place so the section resembles an envelope. This is far easier to do and let dry with filler inside.
For gluing, I use the same thing I use to seal my artwork–Mod Podge® Matte water-based sealer, glue, and finish. It works great as a glue and as a sealant to protect the paper from wearing too quickly, and to keep my artwork looking fresh longer.
Once the glue is dry, you may want to tangled the back. You can wait until after you have sealed your holder, but you will need to seal the work again, as even Micron® ink can smear when used over the Mod Podge.
Step 10: Seal your work.
To protect your artwork and to extend the life of your holder, seal the entire surface–front, back, sides–with a protective sealer such as Mod Podge Matte or Mod Podge Glossy. Using an inexpensive art brush, cover the front and sides with the sealer, wipe away excess at the edges with a damp cloth, and allow to dry completely.
When dry, flip the holder over and brush the back with sealer. Wipe away any excess, as with the front. If you like, erase any pencil marks from the inside of the loose top flap piece, and seal it, too.
Give the holder time to dry completely before continuing. Mod Podge is dry to the touch in minutes, but could take half an hour or longer to dry through layers.
Step 11: Flap closures.
Once everything is completely dry, fold the top flap over, and make marks to either side of where you want to cut a flap tuck. Using a straight edge and an X-acto knife, cut two parallel lines close together through all thicknesses.
I didn’t wait long enough, and the damp glue not only got all over the knife edge, but also created some problems for cutting through damp paper fibers. The result is a slit that is more ragged than it would have been if I were a little more patient.
If you prefer to use magnets or Velcro as fastenings, this would be a good step to apply those closures.
Step 12: Decorate back, if not done earlier.
All I wanted to do was add a bit of printemps around the flap tuck. You may choose to tangle the whole back, if you haven’t done so in an earlier step. I was going to leave the back untangled, except for the flap which I tangled with the front. However, I got finger smudges along the flap tuck because I cut too soon. I wanted to cover them up a bit.
And the holder is done!
Hope this gives you some ideas about what can be done with tiles, other than draw on them. There are so many beautiful, creative art works by tanglers all over the Internet. Maybe you will add to them to inspire others!
Earlier this week, on the Zentangle® Mosaic® app, founder Maria Thomas shared one of her first tangling pieces from very early in The Zentangle Method®’s history. She encouraged us to share our firsts.
As I read through descriptions of uploaded first works, I marveled at how many tanglers were introduced to Zentangle through use of the book One Zentangle a Day, by Beckah Krahula. Individuals who had not been able to locate a CZT (that’s Certified Zentangle Teacher) began their tangling journey using that book One Zentangle a Day was published in 2012, four years before the more comprehensive Zentangle Primer, Vol. 1 came out. Although Suzanne McNeil had been publishing thin workbook-style books for several years by then, it did not take a rocket scientist’s math abilities to realize that Krahula’s book was more cost-efficient and comprehensive than twelve workbook volumes. Before spending $50 on the official Zentangle kit (available from the Zentangle.com site or from any CZT) and, for the past year, another $50 on the Primer, so many of us took the less expensive introductory experience of purchasing One Zentangle and a stack of inexpensive card stock paper tiles by Peter Pauper Press (probably all purchased via Amazon, too!). Or we used sketchbooks in lieu of tiles. This way, if we didn’t like tangling, we spent less than $30 for book and tools rather than $100 or more to get started. Not one of us regrets having spent that $100 later, though, because the tangling journey made us feel good, and we needed more.
My tangling journey began 15 months ago, with One Zentangle a Day and a sketch book that had many of my traditional drawing attempts in its first half. I worked almost exclusively in the journal for several weeks, mostly because I lacked the confidence to ruin even a cheap tile. Sometimes, I drew 3.5-inch squares to simulate tiles. More often, I simply drew a square that was big enough to tangle in, but was either larger or smaller than an actual tangling tile. Perhaps I was deciding whether I liked tangling, or maybe I was sticking to the sketchbook because I needed the sense of familiarity and security of a well-used surface. It took a while before I started using the inexpensive tiles.
Much of my tangling was originally done in pencil–just in case I wanted to erase, even though we don’t erase in tangling. Then I moved on to more complex tangling as I learned more patterns and came up with more strings. Gradually, my work improved and I out-grew One Zentangle a Day.
That’s when I decided to invest in the Zentangle Kit, the Primer, and finally the Zentangle Mosaic app. Following the lessons in the Primer and getting insight and inspiration from fellow tanglers on Mosaic, I kept tangling and found my art–and my ability to meditate–growing, expanding, evolving. By then, I had also decided that I needed to attend the Zentangle teacher certification Seminar, if for no other reasons than to attend a formal class, and to legitimately spread the love of tangling to the island’s residents so I wouldn’t have to tangle alone.
Maria Thomas’ challenge on the Mosaic app opened so many opportunities to share where many tanglers started, and why we started. Some people took up tangling because they were established artists wanting to learn a new technique. Many started their Zentangle journey because of a major life change–the loss of a loved one, a move to a very different environment, retirement. Still others came across the Zentangle Method when they were searching for a form of meditation that didn’t force physical stillness. A few were introduced to tangling by a close friend. Some simply stumbled across Zentangle on the internet and thought it was pretty. Most started tangling because of several of these reasons, plus others. But we all started somewhere, fell in love with tangling, and continued to grow through certification seminars or various local tangling workshops.
The humble beginnings project got many of us communicating and sharing how the Zentangle Method has helped us personally. Both on this blog and on another blog site (Write of Passage, or dremiller.com), I have shared both why I tangle and what my experiences have been. Among the ways Zentangle has helped me personally is calming my mind, helping me learn (or re-learn) to focus on something, relieving physical and mental tension and anxiety; and providing meditative opportunities to examine my past, including behaviors, and to brain-storm the possible impacts of important decisions. Meditation has helped me explore myself in many ways, with the topic of exploration showing up often in my tangled works.
Why do you tangle? How did you get started? If you have been tangling a while, how has the Zentangle Method helped you with your life and your art? How has your art changed?
Leave a comment to this post and share your tangling journey!
Lately, instead of blogging, I have been tangling away for a “first workshop.” The Zentangle Method® workshop is being conducted for students and faculty of a local medical school. This may be a “one shot” as the group is very busy with classes and studies. So I need to present as many workable tangles as possible into a 2-hour workshop. It’s not for another six weeks or so, but I want to give participants an idea of what can be done with just six or seven basic tangles.
The purpose of the workshop is to help students to learn an active meditation technique. Tangling can help them relax, relieve anxiety especially before exams, and learn focus and concentration tools that can be applied to studying. The purpose of the examples is to help them see the versatility of using only a few patterns to get them started.
These are the first tiles I have tangled with just the first six (or seven) patterns I will be teaching during that workshop. I plan to teach both Tipple and Jetties together, because I kind of think of them as the same basic tangle–a basic version and a version with attitude. The other tangles will include Crescent Moon, Hollibaugh, Florz, Printemps, and Shattuck. And Bales, if there is time. These should provide an idea of the versatility of learning and tangling with such a limited number of patterns.
In addition, I am working up tiles that would include tangles from a second session. That session would include Bales (if not covered in the first session), Knight’s Bridge, Flux (both versions), Mooka, Poke Root and Poke Leaf. So much more versatility with only five more patterns!