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Tuesday, February 5, 2019

Two Upcoming Classes

I am going to teach two Introduction to ZentangleTM  classes in March. If you have already taken Introduction to Zentangle, come anyway, and I will customize some new things for you so you are not bored with repetition. Please call me if you have any questions at 530-852-2260 or email me at I hope you can make it.

Sierra College Community Ed, Roseville, Saturday, March 16
The first class is at Sierra College Community Ed in downtown Roseville. It will be held on Saturday, March 16, from 10am to 1pm.  It takes place in a very nice classroom with lots of good tech, overhead projector, Internet, large screen, etc. Cost is $39, plus a $10 materials fee that you pay to me at the class. If you already have the Zentangle kit, just bring your own. You can call Sierra College to register at 916-781-6280, but it's okay to just show up if you need to. You can also register online at their website - just click this link

Dawn's Hallmark Art Supply, Auburn, Saturday, March 2
The second class is at Dawn's Hallmark Art Supply in Auburn. This is a fabulous art supply store, my favorite in the foothills. The class will be on Saturday, March 2, from  10am to noon or maybe a bit later. The class is free, with a $10 materials fee for the Zentangle Kit, and you can bring your own supplies if you have them. Please call me to register, 530-852-2260. You can leave a message if I miss your call. I have two people signed up (a mother and 9-year-old son) and would love to have more, Please come and join us!

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Old Friends and 20-Sided Shapes

This morning I decided to revisit an old friend, the Zentangle Diva at Every Monday morning she posts a challenge for the week. I used to do them all the time, and many times found inspiration in her prompts, so I returned to her website to see what was up. This week she asked for stripes. 

I drew my stripe string first  and started with Betweed, a tangle pattern I  have always loved, but  recently messed it up and realized I had forgotten how to draw it. I practiced with Maria Thomas's instruction video until I felt confident again. Maria says Betweed looks like woven Moroccan leather, but to me it always looks like something a Native American woman might use for a papoose.

Then I did a small area of Shattuck, just because how can you do stripes without Shattuck? For the bottom stripe up I used Zander, one of my favorites, but this time I made it a fun, fat and bulging Zander with a few little jewels on the bands. For even more inspiration I got down the Zentangle Primer and used a little spidery guy in the upper left stripe that somehow turned into a triangle. On page 120 of the Primer are about 100 triangle fragments. This is K12. 

Once I had jumped on the fragment and reticula bus, I remembered how much I liked T5, AKA Sleepy Owl Eyes. So in they went. Only the center remained. I wanted something that would tumble across the stripe and burst out with enthusiam. I went for Flux, which didn't quite burst out, but did have plenty of enthusiam. Done. What fun. While I am tangling, I just feel happy.

A couple of days ago our CZT group met. There are four of us, and we have met for well over a year by now. I am very fond of the women in this group. This month it was my turn to present a project, and I had met Pat Verhagen at ZenAgain in Providence, R.I., last November and seen her Icosahedrons. These are 20 sided figures. I thought they would make a good project for us. Pat was very helpful and very reasonably priced. You can reach her through her wonderfully named store Cut Up And Sew on Palm Coast in Florida. Her well-designed templates made this whole project simple. 

She sent me around a dozen of these Icosahedron templates. This photo shows our CZT group's partly finished efforts.

And this is my final, double-sided-tape-glued-together icosahedron. I enjoyed this very much.

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

ZenAgain 2018

In late November, I attended a seminar for Certified Zentangle Teachers in Providence, R.I. Present at this event were about 200 of the 4,000 CZT's, from all over the world, each of whom is certified by Zentangle's founders Rick Roberts and Maria Thomas. We have all taken the CZT training and are now allowed to teach. Most of us are devoted to Rick and Maria for a number of reasons. For me, first and foremost it is gratitude for creating the Zentangle form and making it available to us. After that, it is because they are warm and friendly and smart and fun. And amazingly creative. They keep coming up with fascinating ideas for things to try. This seminar, called ZenAgain, was no exception.

We started out at our first session with kind of a warm up, doing a simple little variation on Crescent Moon, a tangle pattern always included in everybody's "Tile Number One." This is because it illustrates the important Zentangle concept of Aura. When you aura, you outline a shape that is already on the paper, such as the black half moon shapes you see below. And then the auras can be aura'd. I have heard it said, "When in doubt, Aura!"  This is a Bijou tile, very small, maybe 2 inches square.

One of the themes of ZenAgain was deconstructing works by well-known artists who use patterns.We covered three artists, Gustav Klimt, Keith Haring, Ernst Haeckel, this last artist being new to me. In this blog post I will tell you just a little about each, and show a Zentangle I created, inspired by and giving homage to each.

Gustav Klimt

Klimt painted mostly women, and his work is decorated with patterns. Here is his Woman in Gold.

You may have seen the film about this painting, starring Helen Mirren. The canvas had been placed in a gallery by the Austrian state, and was so beloved that it was known as the Austrian Mona Lisa. The only problem was that the Nazi's had stolen it from the subject's Jewish family, and the rightful heir to the family brought suit to get it back. After some courtroom battles, the Austrian courts did the right thing.They gave the painting back to her. We had fun at ZenAgain finding well-known tangles in Klimt, such as printemps, and making up other tangles after his patterns. Here's a Zentangle based on Klimt.I wish you could see teh beautiful metallic gold.

Keith Haring
The second artist we looked at was Keith Haring. He was a gay New York Steet artist,  during 1980's time of AIDS, from which he died. Here's a sample.

He used signs and symbols in a language all his own. Here's one I did, based on his earlier work where he was practically making his own alphabet out of shapes and well=known symbols like arrows and hearts and orbits. 

Ernst Haeckel

The thrid artist we looked at was Ernst Haeckel. I had never heard of him. Not surprising because he was a biologist, not in any art history courses. I highly recommend the book of his prints, Art Forms in Nature. I simply could not believe that the creatures he drew were real. But they are. I had a similar experience at the Museum of Natural History in New York when I visited the fish room. You might think, ah fish. But think again. There were thousands upon thousands of fish, all stuffed, all pinned to the walls behind glass in a gymnasium-sized room with a 2nd story balcony to double the number of exhibits. I swear that I saw this: a shiny coal black fish who had, sticking out of the top of his square-ish coal black head, mounted on a kind of stem, a second shiny black fish head just like his own. And the second story fish head had a yet a third fish head just like the others sticking out of his head. A fish with a three story head. A true story. New respect for nature's diversity and magic that I still feel now, 30 years later. Haeckel's book is incredible. Here's my Haeckel-inspired jellyfish. Once again the Zentangle team led us through magic worlds.

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Zentangle, Beyond the Basics

I was very happy to attend a Zentangle seminar at 1440 Multiversity this month. If you are not familiar with 1440, I recommend  you check them out at It's in Scott's Valley near Santa Cruz, and it's a learning center with many inspiring courses and teachers. Apparently Silicon Valley billionaire Scott Kriens and his wife Joanie purchased the old, shuttered, 75 acre Bethany Christian College campus and built a center that is a real pleasure to visit. They constructed beautiful buildings for residences and for classrooms. They invited meditation teachers such as Jack Kornfield, art innovators like Zentangle founders Rick Roberts and Maria Thomas, and many other interesting leaders of our time. It's a real pleasure to be there.

Rick and Maria are a delight. Unassuming and full of interesting ideas. The theme was CONTRAST. We did a number of Zentangles that used light and dark creatively. Here are some of mine with a few comments for each. I hope you enjoy them.

This was my favorite. I love Diva Dance Rock 'N Roll on the left, looking for all the world like a rose. The Knightsbridge with its stripes is so dramatic, and it shows the power of the contrasting black and white. Pokeleaf in the middle provides an unexpected contrast between geometric and organic patterns.

My very own Egyptian columns. We used white pencils for highlight and dark shading in between the columns. This is a Renaissance (pale brown) Zendala tile, which is what we used for the rest of the program. Rick showed some slides of DaVinci and Raphael drawings on this light brown colored paper to explain why they named them Renaissance tiles. 

My second favorite. The big overall tangle patttern is WayBop, always fun. It's decorated in the middle cross with some orbs (fancy word for little circles or ovals). The light on dark orbs again show the power of contrast. Pokeroot berries give a dramatic contrast against the black background.  Maria encouraged us to draw some runaway pokeroot berries creeping into the WayBop. She is very whimsical, and that's a good antidote to being to exacting when tangling.

The rest of the time was spent on what Rick and Maria christened "dingsplats." These are named for dingbats. In typography, a dingbat is an ornament or a graphical spacer used between chapters or for other decoration. It was timely for me to hear more about dingbats, because our CZT group had just last month spent a happy morning together learning about them and drawing them. Here are my two Dingbats that I did with the CZT group,so you get the idea. This floral tangle patttern is called Kiss. With some Fescu tendrils creeping out of the rectangle. These dingbats were drawn by me, but designed by CZT group menber Cheryl Wilson.
This one would look good at the start of a chapter.  In late-breaking, non-Zentangle  news,  I am completely thrilled that my new book has been accepted by a publisher. I mention this because I am thinking of having dingbats between the chapters. We shall see. It might  work. I also mention this because it is one of the great things to happen to me in life so far!

This second dingbat uses tangle pattern Mac Rah Mee. I love the woven center that all the tendrils emerge from. This is a dingbat you would put in the corner of a page Again, both these designs are credited to Cheryl. You can see how creative she is!

Rick and Maria named these last three Zentangles dingSplats. This one uses Knightsbridge.  Knightsbridge is a great tangle pattern for experiencing the power of Contrast. You can see how the black and white make a strong statement. I got the idea for why they chose the name dingSplats when Rick said that this one looked like an entire bottle of Knightsbridge had spilled all over the floor. Splat!

Here is Dingsplat #2. Again a lot of contrast created with black and also using a white pencil again. Lotsa orbs. The Zentangle team was orb-smitten at this seminar, to good effect. The center tangle pattern is called SpokeN. As in spokes.

Here is the last Dingsplat. It was fun to revisit the amazing tangle pattern 'NZeppel. It was pointed out that 'NZeppel looks like you are squeezing round balloons into rectangular boxes. I loved that. Both Molly and Martha,daughters of Zentangle founder Maria Thomas, did a lot of demonstrating at our seminar. They are both very talented and articulate, and they both maintain the high level of quality set by Rick and Maria in their demos. Here we have more orbs and "lacy loops," which is what they called the little pulled threads around the outside border.

Once again, just like at my CZT training in 2016, this 1440 Multiversity seminar was just a delight for me. I spent hour after hour in the zone,my favorite place. This fall I am splurging on Zentangle seminars. I'll be at Zenagain, a seminar for CZT's in Providence. It starts in just a few weeks. I will post again when I get back, mid November. Thanks for following all this! I hope it is interesting to you.

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

It's been a long time since my last post here, more than two months! That's because I am working on my book like crazy. I have identified a real publisher that I am hoping  will accept my manuscript. Wish me luck. I am editing and rewriting like crazy. It is feeling much more put together than previously, and I am excited about it.

But back to Zentangling, my CZT group met 10 days ago, and Cheryl Wilson guided us through a fun project that you might want to try. Here's how.

First you fold a piece of paper and cut it the way you would make a snowflake for your Christmas tree:

By cutting off the excess paper in a curve, about 3 inches along the folded edge (shown here on the left side), I got a six inch snowflake. Next you open up the snowflake:

Then you trace it onto a piece of paper that is nice enought to Zentangle onto:

Finally you can Zentangle it. Notice the one I zentangled is rotated from the outline above. You can get more than one look, just by rotating the snowflake a bit and retracing it on a new piece of paper.

I used a lot of tangles, but I was trying to tune in to ones that would work well together. That's Paradox in the middle, and there are four large areas of Fassettoo, one of my all-time, easy as pie favorites. There are four ovals of Tagh, and the other four darker drama tangles are Fengle. Next to the Tagh areas are four sections of Vincut, a tangle I had never used before but quite like, especially with its sparkle enhancement. B'tweed and Mooka are along the outside. I do love B'Tweed. To me it has a magical quality, some Native American essence that I can't explain. Mooka is very hard for me. I never seem to capture the beautiful beer poster Mucha girl's curling tendrils of hair that it is meant in invoke. Mine look more like little nested fetuses clutching their tiny fists and hoping to be born. Hang in there guys, you're going to make it! 

I always find it interesting that what is hard for me is easy for you and then later gets not only easy for me, but I fall in love with it, and by then you have moved on and can't even remember its name.
 Everything Always Changing.

Here is the mosaic by all four of us CZT's who did Cheryl's project. I love mosaics because everybody does the exact same thing, step by step, and then everyone's looks totally different. Mine wasn't finished yet, lower right, but you can see how I started out.

The day after our CZT meeting I left for Playa del Carmen, Mexico, with Stu and friends Dave and Jozeffa. Jozeffa was Zentangling up a storm and she inspired me to join in. Here are a couple of tangles I did with Jozeffa.

This one is Aurakas, one of those tangle patterns that must have center stage at all time. Don't tangle patterns have personalities, like people? This one is wrapped up in herself, but deservedly so, she is beautiful and dynamic! 

She is surrounded by the Poke siblings, -leaf and -root. If you look up Pokeroot on the web, the photograph of the plant looks just like the tangle. That is amazing to me. I thought the tangle pattern was completely fanciful, complete fiction, never dreamed such a fun little fellow could be representational. 
This experience was very similar to finding out that the show Vikings was based on actual Viking history, and that they really did pull off the Sack of Paris in 845AD. I only looked it up because I thought it was completely preposterous and the writers should all be fired for making up such dumb stuff that could never have really happened. I had no idea I was watching history until this plot line arose, halfway into Season 4. Goes to show you.

True confession, this Zentangle I lifted right off the box of Tangle Deck 1. It has the old stand-bys Tipple, Shattuck and Printemps with Florz at the bottom (on the floor). It's the first time I ever used Flukes, and I was surprised by how much I liked it. Lynn Mead's Tangle Decks have become very precious to me. I use them all the time for the step-outs and just for browsing around looking for the next tangle pattern to try. Thank you Lynn.

Next, I tried a pre-strung Zendala. Here I was inspired by my dear friend Jody, who was turning out gorgeous pre-strung Zendala's while we watched the Oscars. Jody has a demanding job and has become an accomplished mindful, multi-tasker. Sound like a contradiction? I don't think so, I've seen it with my own eyes.
Watching Jody made me want to the pre-strung Zendala tile, too. Finally I a round tuit. I started with Paradox in the middle paired with B'Tweed this time. Love them together. Then Munchin in three of the pointy star-arms, Flukes in another three because I hoped they would look like roof tiles and they do! and finally the last three have Hurry. Hurry seems like a tangle you could build pyramids with if needed. Watch out King Tut.

To close, here's a mosaic of  Jozeffa's and my Zentangles from Mexico. You've seen my three above, the rest are gloriously hers. Go Jozeffa!! I can't remember if she inspired me to use Aurakas or vice versa. True collaboration. Love her use of Striping on the left and Flux on the right. 

That's all the Zen that fits. I hope I have made up at least in part for my long silence. I promise to be more frequent, book biz permitting. Best wishes to all of you who made it all the way down to this last paragraph. Here is your well-deserved Easter Egg.

Monday, March 12, 2018

First Opus Tiles - MySwing

My last post was about MySwing, a tangle pattern I just love doing. It's funny how some patterns fit in my hand, and others just don't. All the Zentanglers I know report this phenomenon. For me, MySwing is one of the best. I like it so much, that when I was looking for a nice gift for my brother-in-law Victor, of whom I am very fond, I decided to frame and gift him with one of my favorite tiles, the first MySwing I ever did, that my CZT Cheryl Wilson showed me, and that I posted last month. Oh well, here it is again as I would like to show you the whole progression that started with giving this Zentangle away.

My next step was to do it on a black Apprentice tile with white ink from the dreamy new Sakura Gelly Roll #10 pen. It flows the way the tangle flows in my mind. And I love the ethereal glow you get when you shade with a white pencil and blend it with a tourtillion.

A little backstory: months ago I purchased a small pack of Opus tiles. Opus tiles are a creation, and they are big,10.5" square! They sat on the shelf in their brown wrapper, giving me dirty looks because I was avoiding them. They were right, I just wasn't ready for my first Opus tile. I didn't want to "mess it up." It was expensive and it was gorgeous. It needed an idea worthy of such a fine material. But art starts in the back of the brain, and while doing the above Zentangles, the idea began to form that MySwing would be great on an Opus Tile. I was so happy on the day I finally took out the Opus tile out of its wrapper and covered it my MySwings. Here is Opus Tile Number 1.

I had so much fun doing this! Almost immediately upon finishing it, I thought it would look good with color. Hey, I thought I was done! But no rest for the Zentangler. Each idea is precious and sometimes I feel like I am just a crucible for the Cosmic Zentangle Intelligence. She wants to see what she wants to see next and my number was up. I could only obey.

What to use to add color? I decided to sacrifice one precious Opus tile to try out all the different coloring media that I own, so I could really see with my own two eyes what worked best. I didn't want to guess. I colored all over the Opus test tile. I tried different types of colored pencils. The waxy, Prismacolor pencils and the fluffy Stabilo CarbOthello that are more dusty and soft, like pastels. (I love these!). I tried my small set of Inktense Pencils that you draw with and then brush with water for all kinds of bleeding effects. I drew some MySwings and filled in areas from my small set of Copic markers. These professional quality markers are apparently used by cartoonists worldwide and are just great for filling in color areas with smooth consistent color. But watercolors won. Only watercolor produced the flowing color that went with the flowing tangle pattern. I tested plain watercolor, watercolor mixed with salt, mixed with alcohol, with saran wrap pressed into it while it was wet which makes wonderful strange pale streaks all over. But the salted watercolors were the smoothest and the most peaceful. They were a bit more intense than the plain ones, and they won.

I decided to leave my first Opus tile alone and I set out to create a new one with color. The color came first. This is a great way to add color to the whole Zentangle process. Put the color down first, and then let it be your string, let it show you the composition, and everything will harmonize and look great. We hope. I used a wet-into-wet technique with my good Winsor and Newton tube paints and a big fat fine #12 sable brush. I put the color down first and let it dry completely, for a couple of days in fact. Then I lay the MySwing pattern over it, honoring the color fields with the pattern. A little shading and at the end, I was happy!

I have had a hard time giving away my creations since i started doing Zentangle. I wanted a "record" of what i was doing. I was surprised that the act of giving away the MySwing tile to my brother-in-law created an emptiness in me that I could actually feel. That emptiness was soon filled by the  succession of creative projects as reported here. Things evolved. Good lesson for me: let go. The little words letting go mean exactly the same as that big word  liberation. When you liberate something, you let it go free. Enough hanging on. Come on over and choose a Zentangle that you would like to take home. Maybe we can even find you a frame.

What better thing to do with ones life than to litter the world with beautiful objects?

Sunday, January 21, 2018


I love MySwing,, a tangle from Simone Menzel, CZT. It was shown to me by my Zentangle teacher Cheryl Wilson. Thanks Simone and Cheryl!

I am gearing up to do an Opus tile (large format) for the first time and want to use MySwing. Here are my 2 efforts of today: