Sunday, October 31, 2010

Tools not Rules

Whenever a system of structure is presented, it seems the first thing many of us do is put that structure in the "rules" category of our brain. It's a safe place to put things, but not always the appropriate story to tell ourselves.
     An example that comes to mind is learning a line dance. (I'm talking regular people, not professional dancers!) There is a sequence of steps to follow so that a group of people can all do the same movements at the same time to the same music. It's a unifying and fun thing for a group of people to do the same thing at once. But do they all look the same or feel it the same way? Some put a little more wiggle in their hip, some do a little shoulder shimmy, some do a kick high, some barely do a kick, some stomp hard, others tap lightly. The structure and sequence of the dance provides a way for them to connect and experience the music and the dance. But the experience, even when done in a group, is a very personal one.
   Creating a Zentangle tile begins with a structure, and the tangles have sequential steps that make them easy to learn. Just like a line dance (and yes, our tangle lines do dance!), learning the steps is just the doorway to enjoying the dance and the music in your own special way. How you shimmy or don't shimmy is your own relationship with the dance. And if, in the middle of the song, you decide to step out of the line and whirl around the room, then thank the steps (tools) that let you do that!
   If we can challenge our "rule story", we might find that all along, the rules were just tools.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Wonders of the Robin's Egg

Imagine the feeling of finding a robin's egg on the ground. When I really think about it, I'm amazed at how many people have experienced this. A caretaking tenderness may over us, and we might even reach down, pick it up, and hold it in our hands. It's one of the most delicate and tender experiences that we share. We hold an egg that's ready to get cracked into a pan, and it's not the same. Even though we know that a robin's egg on the ground means the end of its ability to become a robin, there is still a sense of potential there... the wonder of 'what if.' The feeling of tenderness as we hold it in our hands is the lingering potential of the life that is possible.
   So during the Zentangle certification seminar, when Maria Thomas asked us to hold our pencils and pens as though we were holding a robin's egg, of course we all knew what she meant. I sometimes forget about the robin on my more stressful days. But I know that if I can be conscious each time I pick up my pen, I will remember and take that advice. The simple thought of the robin's egg while holding my pen triggers that caretaking and tender response.  Starting with a relaxed intent can create relaxation and openness. This is often the doorway to allowing all that creating a Zentangle has to give, and the joy of exploring the 'what ifs'.
   As my friend Lois might say: Mahalo, dear robin (and dear Maria)!

Monday, October 25, 2010

Baton Steps

What I call Baton is simply sets of parallel lines that are made go anywhere you want them to. I was inspired to do this background after seeing what one of our Wednesday night students did with something similar. Thanks, Cittie! Cittie is a real inspiration and her Zentangle art gets more amazing each time we see her.
    The steps to Baton are very easy. I usually begin in a small corner with some parallel lines. I turn my tile just a bit, and make the next set of parallel lines. Turn the tile a bit, repeat. The lines can either fill the string, or stop them wherever you like. There is no real rule to this one, it's all about the rhythm that seems to take over once you get started!
    I like to fill in the little corners with black, which helps define the angles. And the shading on this is just too much fun. 
   This tangle is especially fun with more complicated strings. As the sections run into each other, some interesting shapes and angles can emerge!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Straight and Narrow

I suppose playing so long with Mikee Huber's Pais, with its fluid, roundy flow, the natural next thing would be straight lines! The circles in the middle kept it a little less rigid. What I really fell in love with was the rhythm of making of the lines. I also love shading all those little matchstick-like sections. 
    I don't know if this pattern is already out there, or what the name might be. It seems so simple that I'm sure it's somewhere. If not, I am naming this one Baton. If anyone knows of another name for this or has a link, please post! There are so many wonderful tangles all over the place, it's very hard to keep track of all the new creations.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Pais by Mikee Huber

Mikee Huber came to a Zentangle class a couple months ago. Last week at our Zentangle Lovers group night, as I was looking at some of her work, I just had to ask: "What the heck is that??" It looked like so much fluid tangle fun I had to try it right away. The tangle that Mikee had created (and that night was named "Pais") reminded me of a cross between Hairy and Opus. There is something about Pais that won't let me go! I really don't want to stop once I get started!
   Here is what Mikee has to say about her tangle creation: "I like for the lines to come from a point, and build off of it. I mostly work from the outer line, inwards. If I feel a Pais needs more, I add to the outside, trying to keep the look that the Pais is blooming or growing.  The shapes flow together and take on a life of their own. I like to fill the openings between the shapes with Stipple.  Pais also looks great with Printemps surrounding it. Shading adds depth to the tangle."

   Mikee is a graphic designer who has many other artsy ways to have fun: basketweaving, gourds, jewelry, painting...just to name the ones I know about. I hope we see more from her! Thanks so much for letting me share this, Mikee! Your work is beautiful!

This is how much I love Pais... Thanks, Mikee!!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

How High the Moon?

I figured since I spent last weekend immersed in the same tangles over and over, I may as well see how far it could go... 
    This is what happened to Crescent Moon as the week wore on. It looks more like a sea creature than something from the heavens! It was tons of fun to do and I got lost in all the little circles. Any ideas for names out there?

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Always New

Last night's Intro to Zentangle class was another reminder of the endless newness that the process of Zentangle allows for. Each person brings their own "stuff" to this process. Some are anxious to begin, some are apprehensive, some are eager, some don't really care... but all bring something to their own class experience. And once that is mixed with the process of creating a Zentangle, magical things can happen. The chatty may become quiet, the anxious may become calm, the eager may mellow out, and ones who may not care might be lit with a spark. All that can happen in one little hour.
   When the class is almost over, we lay our tiles on the floor all together to make a little Zentangle commune. At that point, there is no way of knowing what "stuff" is what and even whose is whose. All different in the same way. Every time. Gotta love it.
   Thanks to Loretta Puncer at Gallery 510 in Dayton's Oregon District for being such a wonderful hostess every month!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Breathe, repeat and grow!

In offering Zentangle® mini classes at our booth at the Universal Light Expo, Peg and I picked five basic tangles to teach the students. We did one-on-one classes, so that means we tangled the same five patterns over and over. We even used the same basic string on each. This made it simple for everyone, and one would think, maybe a little tiresome for us. BUT.... not so! The repetition is the good part! 
     As the day wore on, I found myself having more fun than ever watching what happened to Crescent Moon, Florz, Poke Root and Printemps.

Here is a group using Meers.

As you can see, even using the same string and the same tangles, it's always a wonderful surprise to see how different each tile is.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Toes in the Water

Peg Farmer, Cathy Helmers and I just returned from a weekend at the Universal Light Expo in Columbus, Ohio. It was our first time with a Zentangle inspired booth. We had lots of beautiful tangled items for sale, and we also offered attendees a mini class where they could learn the basics of creating a Zentangle tile. Most of the people who stopped by were new to Zentangle, so it was lots of fun spreading the word!
    It's a natural thing to want to assess the outcome of such an outlay of energy, time and money. I find myself trying to "figure out" whether we should do it again, did we make our expenses, did enough people find us, etc. etc!
    I go back to the experience of each Zentangle tile I have ever created. Did I worry about how much time it took? No. Do I labor over what it looks like? No. Do I question if it was worth doing? Not ever. Do I try to figure out what the next one will look like or even if I should do another tile? Silly. I can't know that until I have pen in hand and a tile in front of me.
     So what is the difference between each tile and a weekend at the ULE? None really. The experience of each stands as it is. So I am grateful for another day of breathing and knowing that all things are in their place.
     Thanks, Cath and Peg for being with me on our journey.

Cath's Featherhead doll dancing above the table
Peg with one of her Zentangle students
Another Community Zentangle!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Monday, October 4, 2010


A few years ago, a bunch of beaders gathered for a weekend of quiet (ok, sometimes NOT quiet) beading fun at Kirkmont Retreat Center in Ohio. From Thursday til Sunday, we float between beading, eating, talking, walking, napping, (and in the past year, tangling)... whatever strikes our fancy at the moment. A few of us usually teach classes for those who want to learn a little something new. We usually design something simple and easy to finish. This year I taught a design I call Awesome Blossom. It's a simple pendant piece, but uses a different construction than expected, so in that way, it's a little new. Here is the original piece:

About ten people took the class on Friday morning, and by Friday evening, there were quite a few iterations of this project floating about. I don't know what kind of vortex was hovering, but the inspiration and creative juices were crazy. I don't think I had ever seen that concentration of "cross pollination" in one place in such a short time. Here are the pieces that these creative women came up with...

They, in turn, got ME going again. So here is what happened to me in the vortex..

Awesome Blossom cross-pollination. Gotta love it. Thanks, ladies!!!