Inktober Tangles 2021 Day 23 and Sketchbook Saturday

Inktober Tangles 2021 Day 23 “Ple-A” by Apple Lim CZT

This was a new tangle to me, but not any more!

It took a while for me to understand it’s basic structure. Then, it was experimenting with it to fill (mostly) a page of my A5 sketchbook with just a few possibilities.

I did start adding shadow and highlight, but went on to focus on patterns in both black and colour. I may return to add those shadows and highlights to increase the illusion of volume.

Sketchbook Saturday – My week in art

It took nearly an hour for me to look back on my week in art. I didn’t think I’d done this much as I’d been unwell for a few days and needed to sleep a lot.

In the video, I share with you my observations, reflections and lessons from all of this work.

Inktober Tangles 2021 | Day 18 “Moonpie”


Moonpie is a tangle pattern by Zentangle Inc. It’s based on crescent moon, another pattern by Zentangle Inc. In keeping with that, I divided the triangular segment up in the way that crescent moon is drawn – in circular arcs. Next, the addition of patterns to the segments.

This motif is something that is a familiar feature of my art, usually nestled betwixt arches or other elements of the design. The variations are endless.

Shadow and highlight, and/or colour really helps to bring these drawings to life.

I thought it would be fun to add stems to some of the moonpies. Some end up looking like flowers, others like very architectural seedpods! And, of course, I started the whole page with a couple of wobbly moonpie pies!

Matt graphite pencils?

I have long disliked using the humble drawing pencil to add shading to drawings. It’s also rather reflective, giving a sheen to the drawing that obscures the pen lines, no matter how carefully the graphite is blended out.

Towards the end of last week, a video popped up You-Tube for some pencils that claim to be matt graphite pencils. These are the Pitt Graphite Matt pencils by Faber-Castell. I watched the video and the review for them seemed to be fab. So, I had to get some to try.

In the same video, Staedtler Mars Lumograph Black pencils were mentioned as having less shine than traditional graphite drawing pencils. So, I thought I’d try those out too.

The result? They are a lot less shiny than traditional graphite pencils! They don’t blend out as far as traditional pencils do, which is fine by me as it really helps to keep the shading in the area you want it.

There’s still a little shine with them; graphite is a shiny material. When I was a science teacher, it was always surprising to myself and my students how slippery a piece of shiny-grey graphite feels. It really is shiny too. So that doesn’t surprise me. So, it’s not the graphite that’s less shiny itself, it’s what is included in the mix.

Carbon and charcoal pencils are duller, but messier and impossible to erase if you need to. I think this may be one of the ingredients in the pencil ‘leads’ in both makes. The Mars Lumograph Black also seem waxier, though I’m not sure of that yet.

I’ve only been using these for a couple of days, and so far I much prefer them to traditional graphite pencils. Time and use will tell if they become my go-to drawing pencils for shading.

Inktober Tangles 2021 | Day 16 “Ecstatic” by Jem Miller

I wondered what I was going to be able to do with this tangle, which is essentially a series of zig=zags that become broken and smaller so that they seem to be wearing ‘hats’.

Surprisingly, I found it a really interesting tangle to work with, especially with the addition of shadow and highlights. They really bring the tangle alive.

It is, however, fun to add ‘dangle’ elements to the peaks of the design, both above and below, or ornaments that act like finials atop roofs.

I think there’s a lot more exploring of this pattern.

Inktober Tangles 2021 Day 16 “Moonesque” and Saturday Sketchbook – My week in art.


Today’s tangle pattern is the lovely grid based tangle ‘Moonesque’ by Leslee Feiwus CZT.

Grid based tangles are often my favourites, though during Inktober I’ve discovered that I really like other tangles too.

All grid based tangles are full of opportunities for variations, and so a page full of them was the most natural thing for me to do. And there’s only a few possible variations here.

Sketchbook Saturday – My week in art.

It’s become my habit to take a look back at my week in art with you via a video. It’s a really good way for me to reflect on my recent art and insights gained about myself and my arty journey.

This week, I think it’s discovering how valuable it is to work on variations of a motif or pattern. This aids in understanding the design, but also leads to variations that, perhaps. are more my style. I really think I’m going to do this with more of my favourite motifs and patterns going forward too. The result could be both a library of inspiration for myself, and a regular art practice too.

I wondered if people would like me to share that daily (or almost daily) practice with them, explaining how I draw various patterns and motifs. If it’s something you’d like to see, leave me a comment!

It’s also been a surprise that I’ve enjoyed drawing motifs and patterns on a larger scale than I would usually. That gives me much more space, both on the page and in my mind, to explore and experiment. That’s saying something from me, who tends towards the small and highly detailed, fussy kind of line drawings!

Discovering that using graphite pencils for shading can be useful and attractive is another surprise of the past couple of days. I’m not entirely convinced it will be something I use regularly in any work I do; I think it’s likely to depend on my mood at the time as well as the colours/media upon which I add it. Still, it was a surprise!

Inktober Tangles 2021 | Days 14 and 15

C-Knots by Valli Ganti CZT

This is an absolutely lovely tangle. Curves that are interwoven. Those delightful c-shaped arcs that create fan shapes that remind me of ginko leaves. The finished tangles remind me so much of medieval brooches.

It took me a little while to work out how the placement of the starting grid influences the final shape of the pattern. That was an interesting way to give my analytical mind a bit of a work out.

I did struggle finding different ways to complete the design, though I have started on a second page in my sketchbook just for this tangle. I also haven’t tried turning it into a border or repeating pattern…yet. As much of my signature art includes motifs rather than patterns, it’ll be a really useful pattern going forward I think.

Ing by Zentangle Inc

This is a rather angular pattern, which are not my favourite types. About the only thing that can be done with Ink is to fill the triangular spaces with patterns. That’s what I chose to do, not sticking to one pattern on each ‘ing’, but different ones to see how they worked (or didn’t) in the spaces.

I did, however, try to use a wavy line rather than a zig zag as the foundation of the pattern. It actually worked out, which surprised me. Whereas the zig-zag ing can look like folded paper, the sinuous version is much more like a ribbon, depending on the patterns that are placed in the sections.

I took this pattern as an opportunity to work on shading and highlight. I could kick myself with the lines of gel pen I used as stark highlights on this page. Goodness knows what I was thinking! Most probably not thinking is the more correct statement. Still, it’s only by doing can I learn, eventually, about what works and what doesn’t for me.

Some reflections…

I’m surprised how much I’m enjoying drawing the patterns much bigger than I would usually do. Despite my reticence about using other patterns to fill spaces, I think I’m learning that it just depends on what pattern you choose to fill the space.

In the ING wavy variation, I really like the nested tear-drops towards the bottom of the pattern. They really seen to give a lot of volume to that part of the design. I’m sure I could use nested triangles in the ziggy-zaggy version. However, I’m not sure the effect would be quite as dramatic.

Previously, I’ve used my finger to smudge white Gelly roll lines, which gives a softer edged highlight that is brighter than white charcoal. Today, I didn’t do that. I wish I had, or at least used broken lines or dotty lines.

Surprisingly, I’m using a 2B pencil more and more for shading. Today, I didn’t seem to have that ‘it looks grimy and I don’t like it’ thought. Maybe it’s just my mood today that appreciates that kind of shading. It’s certainly useful for adding shadow around motifs/patterns if nothing else.

Inktober Tangles 2021 – Day 12 “Yumemi”

Pretty flowers, yeuchy colours.

Yumemi is a lovely floral tangle pattern by Shie Naritomi. I enjoyed drawing not just the original form of the pattern, but working with variations too. Things went downhill when I started to add colour.

I know I used a piece of cut ‘n’ dry foam to add distress ink to the paper. The colour looked as soft as it does when I use make-up brushes to add distress ink. I discovered today that cut ‘n’ dry foam lays down a lot more ink, and it coloured everything.

In the flowers that look grungier, it actually reminded me of the effect you get when you use water with black Quink fountain pen ink. But not quite as colourful. I used graphitint pencils and a waterbrush for these flowers.

I switched to chalk pastels for the more colourful ones, which were a bit better but … well.

As unhappy as I am with the colours, I can learn from the process, even if it seems to be a repeating pattern for me where colour is concerned. And this reminds me of the value of working in a sketchbook – the permission to experiment, explore, make art that I’m not happy with, and even record it in writing for future reference.

Inktober Tangles 2021

Inktober Tangles 2021 | Day 9

Today’s tangle is ‘Xac’ by Susan Yeo CZT. It’s another floral kind of pattern, which has plenty of possibilities for variations. This sketchbook page contains just a few. The spiral variation reminds me of a succulent. I particularly like the individual leaves/petals; they look like odd seedpods, and that is something I’d like to explore more, maybe.

Sketchbook Saturday | My week in art.

In this vlog, I look back at the first nine days of Inktober.

Inktober Tangles 2021 | Day 7 and 8

I’ve had a lovely tangle-y, arty, creative morning. Some good stuff. Some experiments that worked, some that didn’t quite. Either way, I have two more pages in my sketchbook filled with explorations of Zentangle patterns.

On the left is the page of explorations of Morrisseau by Cheryl Moote CZT. The white lines in the wavy border are just … too stark and a clear line/edge that I don’t like much, at the moment. I much prefer the dotty embellishments! Having said that, the white lines that turn areas of the design into shell-like fragments work rather nicely. The more I play around with Morrisseau, the more it’s becoming one of my favourite tangle patterns. I have a lot more exploring to do with it, no doubt too.

On the right is a page of explorations of today’s tangle, Zenith, by Zentangle Inc. This was kind of fun to play around with, some ideas more successful than others. less colour on this page, but plenty of dots and white highlights!

As these are pages in my sketchbook, I feel no need to finish them completely. They’re there as a reference for ideas growing forward. Also, they’re a record showing how I’m working at developing both patterns and addition of colour, shadow and highlight.

For colour, I’ve used Graphitint pencils with a damp brush to activate the colour and gently spread it out. I like the earthier tones much more than the bright and intense colours of the Ecoline pens at the moment.

For shadow and highlight on the Zenith page, I used charcoal pencils. Now, these I like far more than graphite pencils. They don’t add any shine at all. Hurrah!

For white highlights, a white Sakura Soufflé pen was used, both before and after adding colour/shadow/highlight. With the charcoal pencils it really needs to be added afterwards as the charcoal is abrasive enough to stick to the dry pen. With graphitint it doesn’t matter. Indeed, the way colour pools around the white dots/lines adds depth and interest to the colour.

I’ve also used some metallic paints that are fairly opaque in some of the drawings. I enjoyed doing this, especially as I could add different shades of gold to add a highlight. I think I’ll be using these more going forward; they give a much smoother finish in large-ish areas than a metallic gel pen would. I like smooth finishes with metallics. The uneven colour that results from spreading the graphitint pencils pleases me too.

Inktober 2021 | Day 4 “Knot”

What else would the word ‘knot’ conjure up for me but Celtic knotwork!

I’ve loved it since I was a child. The intricacy and puzzlement about how they were created, the repetition and symmetry are all things that please my arty heart.

From Early Celtic art of the Iron Age (La Tene), to Anglo-Saxon and Viking ornamentation and sculpture, to the wonderful illuminated manuscripts of the early Medieval period, to the present day, knotwork has a fascination that seems to speak to the human psyche in some way.

It’s been many long years since I had a go at learning how to draw knotwork. I seem to remember I found it easier than I did today! Perhaps my younger brain was able to deal with the intricacies. However, once I found a method I could follow I found it easier, though not without mistakes.

I dug out my copy of “Celtic Knotwork Designs” by Sheila Sturrock, and re-created these few, simple patterns.

Not perfect. Not finished. Wibbly, wobbly grids and lines mean they are imperfect, but perfectly imperfect and somehow feel more an expression of my inner being. I may continue exploring knotwork now I’ve opened the door on it once again.

Inktober Tangles 2021 | Day 4

The tangle for day 4 is ‘WhipDCreem” by Doris Bisschop CZT. You can see how I used it at the bottom of the image.

Yeuch to my addition of colour/shading on this one. Reminder to self – don’t use drawing pencils and a blender pencil!!!! Stick to pastel pencils …

The design is fine, I think, the colour is not so fine, generally. Still, it’s all a learning experience, even if I keep repeating the same mistakes with colour.

I’ve yet to do the Inktober 2021 Day 4 prompt, which is ‘knot’. I feel a Celtic knot coming on … possibly …

I’ve done a quick vlog showing my sketchbook pages for the first four days of Inktober Tangles 2021. You can view it here.