Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Puf Practice

Here is some random Puf. The first is started with triangles, the second done with squares. Instead of starting with a grid, I just made random spirals that backed up to each other. When the corners met up, surprise! I also blackened/shaded to stripe each shape.

Monday, August 30, 2010

An Unboxed Life

This weekend Daved and I traveled to North Carolina to say goodbye to his dear Aunt Dacia. She had passed away early in the week. She was just 84.
  Dacia had visited us this time last year...hopped on a plane in Greensboro, flew to Indianapolis to spend time with her sister, Dora, then on to Dayton to visit us, then back home to Greensboro. At 83. 
  She was an artist and an art teacher in the earlier days of her life. In the later years she devoted her time (among many other things) to being a food activist. After suffering a stroke this past year, Dacia spent time in a nursing home. When the occupational therapist came to interview Dacia about her interests, she told the therapist that she was a food advocate. Apparently the therapist didn't quite know what to do with that bit of information. Thank goodness for the artist/art teacher part of her life, as the therapist DID have a list on her chart that included arts and crafts.
  Dacia led what I would call an 'unboxed' life. 
  She appeared traditional, always dressed perfectly, always put together, involved in all the traditional organizations: church, education, arts... you name it, she participated. But the way she could float with the traditions and still keep her sense of open mindedness and wonder, was truly magical. She was our little bird that bobbed from one thing to the next, celebrating each moment with an uncanny awareness. She allowed for each moment to be itself, letting it lift her to the next moment. How else can one be so happy to get a parking space? She expected nothing, but appreciated everything.
   As we visited with friends and family at her goodbye service, one thing that struck me was a statement I heard over and over: "Dacia told me all about you." This is what almost everyone said to everyone. Dacia had a head for details, and she shared those details whenever she had a chance. I know more about some of her friends (all good things, she never dissed) than I may know about my own friends. Dacia participated in connecting one person to another in such a way, that it seemed she had a needle and thread, and sewed us all together. There are powerful stories about Dacia hooking people together in the most mysterious ways. Yet, when one would try and credit her in any way, she seemed surprised and almost unable to see it.
   Little (all of 100 pounds or less) and large (her energy is far reaching), soft (her voice was very tiny) and strong (her passions unwavering), patient (always a listener) and tenacious (fiercely optimistic, and yes, stubborn). Dacia was a lovely walking paradox. We won't be missing her as she won't be gone. She is there in all the connections she made. Our little bird has flown, but she is definitely still hovering.


Thursday, August 26, 2010


Here are the steps to what is now called Pina. Playing with the shading/blackening on this is fun. You can also try using squares instead of circles. Or mix circles and squares. Have fun!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

A Fruitful Exercise

Barbara Allen, a CZT from California, posted a challenge on deconstructing a particular pattern given to her by one of her students. As we all know, finding a pattern that can easily be drawn is not always as easy as it looks like it will be. When Barbara poked a bunch of Zentangle teachers about a possible solution, she got quite a few suggestions. Even though what I came up with doesn't look exactly like the pattern she was looking for, it was still a fun exercise, and one that was fruitful for me...
   Even though when I look at a pineapple, I don't really see this pattern, the pattern reminds me of a pineapple. I am still playing with developing some simple steps to this tangle, and when I have it down, I will post them.
   Thanks Barbara, and all the energetic participants who generously offered the back and forth of creative cross pollination!

Saturday, August 21, 2010

More Than a Metaphor

Even if you skim the surface, there are metaphors for life in the process of Zentangle. All of the many wonderful things the process shows us can so easily be transposed and applied to situations in our daily lives.
    The more I become immersed in the process, the more I realize that it's much more than metaphor for me: The ACT of creating a Zentangle IS life.
    The act of starting a Zentangle: I step out into a blank space, not knowing what shapes will appear. Ok, so it's a piece of paper, it's not a new job that I start next Monday. But it's still an act of stepping into the unknown. 
    As I draw my string, I have to let go of what I may WANT the Zentangle to look like. I allow my hand to intuitively (without thinking) make a mark. I have to use and trust my intuition, no matter what my big left brain is trying to tell me (and it certainly has a lot to say: "that's not pretty enough, that is too much space, that is not enough space"). The ACT of using my intuition opens up the "intuition pipeline" a little bit more, and the next time I call on my intuition, there just might be an easier flow.
    The act of choosing a tangle: Some days I have a tendency to "think" my way to a tangle: "This one would look better than that one, this one is more fun than the other, this is too light", etc etc etc!! I do my best to ask my thinking brain to step aside and once again let intuition flow. More exercise! If I am not up for that at the moment, I close my eyes and pick a tangle. The act of choosing a tangle, is the ACT of moving forward. After it's been chosen, I don't allow myself to doubt the choice. 
    The act of doing a tangle: As I pick up my pen I am aware that this is an ACT of trust. Using the pen means whatever marks I make cannot be erased. They can be acted on and embellished, but I can only move forward (or stop completely, if I let my left brain get the best of me). 
    As I make my marks, my thinking brain wants to interfere: "go faster, you have a lot of black to fill in; isn't making all those triangles going to be boring?" When these thoughts come, I close my eyes for a second, breathe, and remind myself to savor the moment, savor the stroke. I allow for the act of being in the moment. Now it feels to me like there is no act at all...just being. At this moment, it doesn't matter what comes next, what came before, what looks good, what doesn't. Whatever is, just is.
   It's as if each stroke is a pathway to NOW. As each mark appears, and my eyes and attention follow it, the awareness of NOW gets strengthened. As the awareness becomes stronger, well, it just doesn't matter what happens next.

Thursday, August 19, 2010


This tangle came about in the spring, when all the little spidees are busy building homes. Hepmee is in honor of all the little bugs that will find themselves stuck.

Monday, August 16, 2010

A Natural Progression

I can't help but notice at every turn, the natural flow of Zentangle.
   It begins with nature --the patterns we see all around us all have their beginnings there. Things morph into new things, and often seem unrelated to their beginnings. But sometimes, the morphing is obvious. It's apparent that point A connects to point Z.
   Such is my experience of Cathy Helmers' Zentangle art. Whenever I look at it, I feel like I'm in a garden of pattern, and I am. Her Zentangle designs are so fully floral, and just as in nature, delicately balanced. Strong and soft together.
   Her Zentangle journey has naturally taken her to the next exciting creative chapter: fabric design. She discovered a site called Spoonflower.com, where artists use their own art to design their own fabric that can then be sold on the website. The gorgeous shapes and colors of Cathy's Zentangle creations are beautifully suited for this. Check out more of her designs here.

Cathy's original Zentangle art.

Zentangle turned into fabric!!

Cathy is also a beaded doll artist. She approaches her art doll creations much like Zentangle: with no real plan of what is to happen. It's obvious when you look at her work (both beaded and tangled), that she just lets the doll become what it naturally becomes. Just as nature allows for things to be what they are, when we allow things to flow where they naturally go, wonderful things can happen!

   I can't wait to see what happens when Cath's fabric gets made into dolls! (She already tangles onto her dollies...see the orange doll.) 
  Now that will be a real force of nature!
  If you want to see more of Cathy's dolls, visit Gallery 510 in Dayton's Oregon District.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

The Water's Edge

A couple weeks ago, I was to have lunch with my lovely niece, Claire. She was getting ready to move into her first real apartment, far away from her hometown. It's the next chapter for her and I wanted to give her a little gift to mark the event and send her my good wishes. All along I thought I would tangle the initial, C, but that's as far as my thought went. I had no visual sense of what that would look like, or how big it would be. Two days before our lunch and I still didn't know what I would do, but there is was on the Zentangle blog: The Master Class was doing illuminated letters.
    You know that feeling when you stand at the edge of a pool, knowing the water will be a little cold? You hesitate, but then someone yells, "jump!" You jump and the water washes over you and it feels great.
   I had been feeling all week like I was at the edge of the pool, not even knowing that I was waiting for the push. This was it. I began immediately. Pencil in hand, I swam around the paper with some light marks and a big "C". I boxed in the C, using the Master Class project as my inspiration. A few words  added and a string, and then the pen came out for the rest. I dove deep into the tangles and had a wonderful time. 
   Not only did I now have a gift for my niece, I had a heart full of gratitude for the inspiration that was provided just in time at the water's edge. If we pay attention, we have all we need. Thanks, Rick and Maria and all of the Master Class attendees, for sending your energy far enough for the rest of us to feel it!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Out of Town Guests

Our Florida friend, Diana Olmsted is visiting her family and friends in Dayton. We were lucky that she brought her babies for us to meet. The photos don't do them justice, and there was lots more beautiful beadwork that we had the pleasure of seeing, but here are two of the beautiful dolls she shared with us. Thanks Diana!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Bricks Along the Journey

My art-quilting friend, Cathy Jeffers asked a few of us to participate in a fund raiser for breast cancer awareness.  Bricks Along the Journey is an annual art auction in Cincinnati, Ohio, that raises funds for Breast Cancer Research, Education and Awareness. Artists from all over the area create art on bricks which are then auctioned on Sunday, October 10, 2010 at the Cintas Center in Cincinnati, Ohio.
   Of course, my little brick was asking for a Zentangle kind of dressing, so here it is. I had lots of fun with this. I applied gesso to the brick, then used a Sharpie Paint marker to tangle it. I painted the pink in acrylics, and the shaded with a wash of black acrylic. It was then varnished. I love my little brick and hope that someone else will love it enough to bid on it. Thanks, Cathy, for supplying us with bricks AND inspiration!
   Check out the Bricks Along the Journey gallery to see some awesome brick art from previous years.

Monday, August 9, 2010

On fire

Zentangles ignited the fire, and the fire continued through the weekend. My quarterly bead instructors' meeting is tonight, and I wanted to have some fun new projects to teach. So I spent the whole weekend beading and watching movies (and celebrating Daved's birthday). Yesterday morning was so beautiful that I took my bead table onto the patio with the birdies and the cicadas and the trees. Patterns within patterns... all around me and coming out of me! In a Zentangle frame of mind, a little fire burned steadily and here is what happened:

This last one was an attempt at the tangle, Paradox. It was worth a try, anyway! Maybe...what if..

Friday, August 6, 2010

Zentangle as Ignition

This past week I met with the art director of a local non-profit who is starting a new art program for young adults in the community in which she serves. We talked about Zentangle and its potential for fun and service, and we both agreed that this art form would be the perfect groundwork to begin the visual art portion of the program. As she put it, Zentangle was the "ignition" and that other art forms may come from there.
   Because this art form in designed to be accessible and adaptable, it allows even those who don't yet feel connected to their creative side to tap into and ignite the possibilities. 
   In my own experience, I can say that even a little Zentangle goes a long way to jump-starting other forms of art. Being an avid beader, I sometimes see a Zentangle and a bead design side by side in my mind. They don't often manifest as I see them, but that doesn't matter to me. What matters for me is the ignition. It gives me a spark of a start and then wherever it goes from there, it just goes. It just becomes what it will become.
   Somedays it's like the old question, "Which came first, the chicken or the egg?" This photo sort of illustrates this. Even though one may not look much like the other, these two things were ignited along the same lines and at the same time. I don't know at this point which came first: the bead design or the tangle play, but I do know that the more I tangle, the more my beading designs take on the open-ended process of Zentangle, "one stroke at a time" and one bead a time.
   I can't wait to see what happens with the kids in the new art program!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Class "Zendalas"

Here are three finished mandalas from the Gallery 510 class a couple weeks ago. These were all made from the same template. SO exciting to see completely different things happen from the same starting place.
     Thanks, Cathy, Jann and Peg! I can't wait to see what else happens.

Monday, August 2, 2010


In May I posted about the Dayton Art Doll's adventure of creating an alphabet of art dolls. The face of each doll is a Scrabble tile, and the colors and doodads on the dolls somehow relate to the letter on each doll. 
     The group photos were taken today, (thanks to Daved for the beautiful shots!) and here is a sneak peek at a few of the dollies. They are a beautiful group all together, as well as each one on its own. There is something about the little community of dolls that really speaks to me. Our next step: putting a little book together for each of us to have a record of the process and the done dollies.