Posted in Zentangle

Quiet day…

Today was the first quiet day–afternoon, actually, but still quiet–that I have had in quite a while. I am finally happy with my temporary work space setup, and continue to await construction completion and furniture delivery. But this afternoon…

This is the first experimentation I have done in quite a while. I used a Magic Pencil (available at many art stores and at Amazon), which changes color as you draw. I’ve done a few of these in the past on white tiles, but this is the first time I tried it on a black tile.

For the shading/highlighting, I used General’s Charcoal White, a sort of white pastel type pencil that is the “official” whit shading pencil of the Zentangle community. Despite its versatility when used with other media, I found it difficult to use as effectively as I would have liked with the very waxy Magic Pencil. As I said, an experiment. For two reasons 1) to test hoe the two pencils interact; and 2) to ease my way into using black tiles again.

Black tiles are great until you draw your first white Gelly Roll pen on it. We are used to seeing black ink on white paper, but less often see white pen on a black surface. Thus, originally, it took me many months to feel brave enough to tangle on black tiles. So I deliberately purchased a big box of the tiles. The moment I had lots of them, my fear disappeared, and I was drawing all sorts of beautiful designs while experimenting with several brands of white gel pen. The moment I found my perfect combination (a fine-line Angelic gel pen), I took to black tiles like s fish to water.

After Hurricane Irma, when I had fewer supplies than I was used to (I thought all were lost during Irma, but was flooded with donations from the Zentangle community), my fear of tangling on black tiles returned in proportion to the decrease in my supply of these tiles. For me, it must be the knowledge that I could “ruin” lots of black tiles and still have many more left to explore.

I think I spoke in previous posts about the generosity of the Zentangle community (especially of Zentangle’s HQ and many of the CZTs (Certified Zentangle Teachers) and regular tanglers from the Zentangle Mosaic app (available in free and full subscription forms from Google’s Play Store for Android devices and from the Apple Store for iOS versions for iPads and iPhones). They sent tiles (mostly white, and in various sizes and shapes), as well as Micron pens, Zentangle and other B3 drawing pencils, sketch pads, colorful Prismacolor Pencils, watercolor pencils, color Microns, color staining tissue, watercolor sets– well, everything and anything anyone has seen me use on the app. One CZT, @JodyGenovese, even sent me river rocks to tangle! It seems the community loved my color-touched tiles as much as (more than?) my black ink on white paper tiles.

Alas, I finally had to break down and buy a box of black tiles again, even though I waited until we reached the UK. And I did take advantage of those black tiles again! Unfortunately, there are only so many supplies you can cart around the world, so many donations and personal purchases were shared as I traveled, and before returning to Sint Maarten.

It took me months to get back to my island home (St. Martin island) and discover that many of my blank tiles and tangling supplies were in great shape after Irma. As Irma was threatening to bear down on us, I stored as many raw paper and pen supplies as I could in watertight plastic storage containers. I doubted that they could survive a hurricane of Irma’s strength, but the boxes had been expensive enough when I bought them, and I figured my supplies had the best chance of surviving in them. Well, as unpacked or paper box packed items and books turned to pulp around these boxes, and the Irma-given skylight in the ceiling let in all water possible, the items in the boxes survived! Among the supplies were many black tiles and white gel pens and pencils.

It took a while longer to set up a quiet place for meditative tangling, but a few days ago I succeeded, and drew my first white on black tile in ages. That’s the one featured. I was afraid I had lost both my passion for tangling and my ability to produce creative tiles, but I learned with this featured tile that maybe I just need more practice–maybe start at the beginning again– to regain my confidence as well as my meditation abilities.

Sometimes all I need is a bit of encouragement from the wonderful people on the Zentangle Mosaic app, and a stack of black tiles, to find my niche again.

Thank you to all who helped with stuff and with emotional support during a very trying period of my life. I am all set now to go out into the community and volunteer to teach with free supplies to community groups who continue to help those in need, whether children who need to learn to sit still for 15 minutes, or adults dealing with serious health and post-Irma trauma issues. The Mosaic community has provided me with so many supplies to share that I needed extra suitcases and several parcels to bring supplies home with me to share with those in need. I need to buy a few items where Irma shorted me, but I have plenty of supplies to get started here in Sint Maarten (the Dutch side of St. Martin, where my home is). One school has already asked me to teach it’s teachers so they can pass on the anxiety reducing Method to their students. Other organizations are considering. Other groups are putting me in touch with yet more groups. I hope to be really busy soon, and leave the house and contractors to themselves and my Cujo-wannabe dog. Sharing the Zentangle Method. Rings me incredible joy and peace. I want to share that with my ravaged community as we all pitch into the rebuilding effort.

Happy tangling!

Posted in Zentangle

Feeling Guilty

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.

Until next time, Happy Tangling! 

Posted in Zentangle

Humble Beginnings

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!

Until next time, Happy Tangling!

Posted in Zentangle

First Six (Through 12 or so…)

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!


More to be posted soon!

Happy tangling!

Posted in Zentangle

Tangling on Black Tiles

A month ago, the thought of tangling on a black tile–especially with a white Gelly Roll® pen–made my stomach knot up. I kept trying, but it was more difficult to conquer the fear of black tiles than anything I’ve ever done–except quitting smoking; I’m still working hard on that.

When I was at CZT Seminar 27 last month in Providence, RI, the topic came up in a conversation with Maria Thomas, one of the Zentangle® founders, about fear of tangling on black. Every wobble of the white pen is so vivid. Amazingly, many talented tanglers had trouble working with black tiles. Maria thought about it for a moment and said, “Start with gray.” The next session was starting, so there was no opportunity for clarification. But I thought about that, and thought hard. 

When I returned home, I tried several things. I tried gray markers and brush pens first, but they just disappeared into the black tiles. Next, I tried some light gray color pencils, which worked OK in terms of showing up on the black tile, but required a lot of pressure and constant sharpening. Using gray gel pens produced better results. I even tried using gray markers and gel pens on top of white ink. Nothing was working for me. So I simply turned to some of the less bright Gelly Roll Moonlight pens I had in my arsenal. Those gave me a feeling that not every wobble was showing up on my tiles, and helped me get comfortable with tangling on black. 

Finally, I started tangling on black tiles with white gel pens again–but not with the recommended Gelly Roll. Instead, I used a slightly finer tipped white pen by Uniball, called Angelic. That slightly finer line made the difference for me. From there, it was nothing to pick up the white Gelly Roll without thinking, and tangling away without fear, and quite happily!

For me, it was a process to lose the fear of tangling white on black. Although I am still unclear of what Maria meant by suggesting I start with gray, her suggestion got me trying new things with black tiles. I found that tangling with colors was a lot less scary. I also found that moving to a finer white pen helped a lot, especially with working towards using the broader white Gelly Roll pen. And sometimes, we need that process of discovering what works better for us before we can pick up the expected tools again. 

Interestingly, cost may have been a factor for me. I started tangling white on black using the far less expensive black tiles from Peter Pauper Press. Official Zentangle black tiles are costly in comparison. I had tons of PPP tiles, but only a handful of the Zentangle tiles. At the Zentangle store during Seminar, I bought tons of official black tiles. When I came home, I pretty much dropped the less expensive tiles. That recommendation–not using inexpensive black tiles–actually came from a methods e-book by artist and CZT Eni Oken, in Glow on the Dark, an e-book on 3D shading on black tiles (available from EniOken.com). Since I had a bunch of high-quality official black tiles, I was a bit braver about using them for experimentation. [It is so difficult and time-consuming to get specialized stuff on the island that I cringe every time I put in an online order. It doesn’t stop me from buying online, but I still cringe at the extra mailing costs, especially if I don’t want to wait months for postal inspection. (That’s why we use a courier service–stuff gets through so much faster!)]

I guess what I am trying to say is that I couldn’t conquer my fear of tangling in white on black until I had the right tools to play with–tools that made it easier for me to move from cringing to creating.

Happy Tangling!

Exclusive Expose: Tile Abuse

Note to readers: I am the guilty party–I inflicted abuse on a poor defenseless classic black Zentangle® tile. I am ashamed and remorseful, but the fact exists–I mistreated my precious tile.  Below is a reconstruction of the original tangle on this poor tile’s surface.

Reconstruction of original tile
I started out right. I gave thanks and appreciation for my time and the quality of the materials before me, to the comfortable tangling space, for the opportunity to create something beautiful.  However, all this took place under the influence of a little pill meant to help me sleep. That is no excuse for the behavior my tile will explain. But it was a circumstance, one which even led to my dating the original work as June 26, 1921! I can’t even explain where that date came from, or how I could have believed I was creating magic with my tile. But that’s the start of this tale. Only she–my abused tile–can tell the actual non-drug-influenced story.

Good evening, readers. My name isn’t important, but you can call me Glitter, as that’s the name I chose once DrEllie fixed me. But let me start at the beginning.

Ellie is an insomniac. Most nights she fits in a couple of hours of sleep, but sometimes she is awake for 48 hours or more straight. Most prescription sleep aids cause sleep walking. She has already fallen down the steps twice, so she refuses to take them. Instead, her doctor prescribed a tranquilizer that she can take at bedtime–but only half a pill. Those things are wicked! Last night, the half pill was not working, even as she partially tangled tiles to send to friends who sent her some before. She already felt badly about being so far behind. Unfortunately, even the tangling, along with the sleeping dose, were not helping her get sleepy. After a few hours, she decided to take the other half pill. 

Over the next hour or so, I watched as her drawing deteriorated across half a dozen tiles. Crooked lines that didn’t meet, circles that looked like–well, not circles at all. Finally, she picked me up–the first black tile of the bunch. And then she picked up the white gel pen. And I felt her drawing all over me–a sort of curved frame, some “curved” lines in the corners that resembled squiggles more than lines, the worst mooka I’ve seen her draw since she was first learning it–this one looked like a misshapen Meerschaum pipe!–and some really off-base fescue that looked like squiggly blobs with jagged stems. I begged her to stop–that she was destroying my beauty and anything akin to balanced composition. All she did was scowl at me and keep drawing.

Suddenly, she lifted her pen and dropped it on the drawing board. The pen rolled off the surface and out of sight. “I need to cap my pen!” she told the dog who sleepily lifted his head, regarding her through barely open eyes. He was tired, too. He was only there to keep her company. Ellie almost fell off her chair to search for the pen. She began crawling around on hands and knees in her search. And she barely kept herself from toppling over more than once. At least twice, she asked the dog what she was looking for. The dog had fallen asleep again and didn’t answer. Finally, she found the white gel pen (hard to do on white tile flooring with only overhead lights to help see). It took her a while to stand up again, using the chair and table top for support. I watched her sway back and forth as she tried to remember what she needed to do next. “The cap,” she finally whispered. 

The cap was easy enough to find. It was right next to me, on a clean black tile she hadn’t used yet. I guess the tile was patiently awaiting its turn. After three tries, Ellie finally clicked the pen closed and very carefully set it on top of me. Still standing and swaying, she murmured to no one in particular, “I think the meds have kicked in.” I watched as she made a drunkard’s path to the staircase leading to her bedroom. I held my breath as she navigated the steps. The dog, who follows her everywhere and normally pushes past her up the stairs, quietly sat waiting until she reached the bedroom door and turned out the hall light. Then he zipped up after her.

It’s me again–Ellie. I don’t remember climbing into bed, but that’s where I was when I overslept this morning. Ten-thirty! Where had the time gone?

After throwing on some clothes, I made my way downstairs. I made a cup of coffee, and wandered over to my tangling area. I vaguely remembered working on a group of tiles, but it took a few minutes to remember that I was creating some traveling tile project pieces to get in the mail. I saw Glitter–nowhere near resembling her new name–sitting in my active drawing area. Then I saw the pile of started tiles. Setting the coffee mug down, I examined each tile. The first two were awful, but there was improvement as I got deeper into the short stack. I must have tangled the lower ones first, placing each next tile on top as I finished it. I cringed at the higher tiles–a two-year-old would have produced better results. 

Next, I picked up Glitter, and tears began rolling down my face. She was utterly disfigured–and I knew I had done this to her. Only the original border lines were passable. Through my tears, I heard, “You can fix me! There are no mistakes in Zentangle!” I stared at her.

“How?” I asked, barely above a whisper.

“I’m a black tile, right?” I nodded. “You have a whole assortment of black Micron® pens with lots of nib widths, right? Even a black Micron brush pen?” Again I nodded. “Well, sit down and make me something special–something that will help you remember never again to tangle after taking pills.”

Smiling now, I dug out not only my standard supplies, but also my Gelly Roll metalic and Stardust pens. For good measure, I also pulled out my Souffle pens, just in case. Good thing, because I couldn’t find my gray brush pen, and the black Soufflé dries beautifully gray.

It’s Glitter again. I’ll finish the story.

The first thing Ellie did was take out her Micron 08. Where she could, she smoothed out curves, redefined lines, fixed up dangly end where lines met and then some. It sort of tickled, but it also hurt a little.  Next, she obliterated groups of lines that were supposed to be parallel but–well, let’s say they were lines that went in interesting directions, with some even crossing multiple others. That was really painful–like being deliberately abraided!  Somehow, she managed to save and refine the mooka and fixed the fescue. Then she fixed up the crescent moons she had in some interesting corners, redefined some, and used blue gel ink to sort of shade them. None of that hurt as much as the abraiding feel, but it was still uncomfortable. Sitting back, she looked at all the white that disappeared under the black pen. And she stared and stared. 

Finally, she picked up the white gel pen again and redrew those curved parallel lines she obliterated earlier. She looked at the variety of Sakura® gels pens she took out earlier, and I saw her smile. 

First came a small Way Bop, filled in with flat and metallic pens. Then she fixed the corners with the parallel curves, Eni Oken style (or as close as she could get to that). She used that black Soufflé pen for the gray marker area, and added the “sparkle” to the curved areas with white Gellies. With the Stardust pens, she added glittery effects where areas seemed to need very subtle sparkle. Finally, she redefined lines and curves where they needed some clarity, and sat back. “What do you think?” she asked me. “Are you happy with your new look?” 

My tile spirit floated to her shoulder and looked down. “Not bad,” I said. “Not bad at all!” I floated back into myself. “You know,” I told her. “You were really rough on my surface when you scrubbed away those awful white lines. I think I have all sorts of thinner spots, and you changed the texture of my surface in a lot of places. I should report you to the tile protection league, but you really came through. I really love my new look!”

“So, Glitter,” I said. ” I want to formally apologize for abraiding you and hurting you as I redefined lines. I am so sorry for any irreparable destruction I caused to your fragile tooth–that’s surface texture, if you’re wondering if I should send you to a dentist. I didn’t mean to hurt you, but there was no other way to restore your lovely surface. And you have to admit, this design is far nicer than those crazy white lines I drew all over you.”

“This new look suits me,” Glitter replied. I really like the colors–spots of gold, even!–and I feel sparkly and shiny!” Glitter paused for a moment, deep in thought. “Just promise me something.”

“Anything,” I reply.

“Never ever tangle when you’re taking those meds again. I don’t want any friends going through the same experience. Promise me that, and you are forgiven forever.”

“Not a problem, Glitter,” I replied. “I promise. I’ve learned my lesson. Not a problem at all.”

##

Until next time, Happy Tangling!

Posted in Art, Zentangle

It’s SoDeceiving! A New Jutta Gladnigg Pattern

A new pattern from Germany’s Jutta Gladnigg was shared on The Zentangle Mosaic® app recently, and I immediately asked for permission to share it. Jutta has the most amazing eye for finding patterns in unexpected places. This one is based on a logo she spotted on a business vehicle while waiting to cross a busy street. The 3-D effect caught her eye, and she was determined to deconstruct it for tangling. 


Jutta uses bold shading with softer, darker graphite than many tanglers use, and it is that darker shade that give her work such depth and dimension. 

Below is NY tangler and CZT Jody Genovese’s interpretation of SoDeceiving, beautifully filled with the Printemps pattern. Using General’s Charcoal White pencil really brings out the roundness of the columns and adds so much light. 

  This tile was created by Jutta and German tangler and CZT Nadine Roller, incorporating two of Nadine’s beautiful patterns. 

 
My own efforts with SoDeceiving took a rather different direction as I played with variations inspired by the tiles above. 

  
I continue to play with this marvelous pattern. A quick-and-dirty curved version is giving me still more ideas to play with, this one filled with ‘Nzeppel. 

 

Visit Nadine’s website to see her wonderful patterns, read her blogs, and get some wonderful inspiration and lessons. Although mostly in German, there are English language portions, and her step-outs are so clear that language is not a problem.

Today, Jutta has just posted a new flower-like pattern that she shared for the first time on the Zentangle Mosaic® app. Hopefully, she will allow me to post the step-out for it here. You are going to love it! 

Until next time, Happy Tangling! 

The Zentangle Mosaic app is available for the iPhone/iPad from the Apple Store, and for Android devices from the Google Play Store.

Follow Jutta on Mosaic as JuttaGladnigg, Nadine as NadineRollerCZT, Jody as JodyGenoveseCZT, and me as DrEllieCZT.