I had a request from one of my subscribers on YouTube asking how I create this kind of art. Well, a nice request has to be met with a response, in this case, a YouTube video.
I’d tried out this way of working a week or so ago. I’m trying out different ways of combining hand-lettering with my kind of entangled kind of abstract art. In fact, I’m trying to work out my hand-lettering artistic voice. It’s very much a work in progress.
I’m really rather pleasantly surprised with this page. It’s not finished but is a melange of different ideas and pen types. There are a lot of ideas to take away from this and a lot to think upon.
I particularly like how I eventually worked out I could have patterns weaving in and out of the letters, again messing around with volume/dimension/space. I’ve yet to work out how this could work, but I’ve made a start.
My fingers are itching to get to work on something similar to this. I am, however, feeling totally exhausted. I didn’t sleep well last night, and my eyes are constantly on the point of closing as I fall I asleep where I sit.
I have a delivery due soon, I hope. And after that, I’m going to crash and have a nap. Then, I’ll see what happens this evening, as far as art goes!
Looks like yesterday and today are my ‘weekend’ this week. I do know, from past experience, that if I try to do some serious work while falling asleep, I’ll just mess up and have to repeat it again. So, time for self-care for sure.
How I spent my afternoon – adding colour to this particular design. The colour isn’t even, but I’m fine with that as I do want to add subtle patterns in the coloured sections eventually, I think.
I’m now taking a break from this as I just don’t know what to do next. Do I add more colour? Or is it time to add more pattern or texture? Or, do the patterned areas need shadows and highlights added rather than colour. Dare I add any sparkle and shimmer in places?
I just don’t know at the moment. What I do know is I quite like this way of combining words and patterns – two things I love very much.
A second thing I know is that it’s time for a mug of tea, a biscuit, maybe, and some slow stitching. Oh, and watch episode 3 of Obi-Wan Kenobi!
I’ve seen a bit about slow stitching recently. It kept on catching my attention, so time to take a look at it a bit more.
Permission is given!
I lost my way with textile art many years ago – my attention went to other things. I still have a sizeable stash of threads and beads and sequins and so on. I got a couple of Slow Stitching books on my Kindle, had a quick read/flick through and had a realisation. Slow stitching gives me permission to create with stitches with a similar mindset to my more abstract art – to lose myself in the flow of creating, of just letting things happen and going with it and enjoying the process!
Being given permission – that is such a powerful thing! So often many ‘rules’ seem to be set about how you ‘should’ use a particular medium, or how you ‘should’ draw or create. It’s so refreshing when someone gives you permission to just do want you want, whatever brings you relaxation and pleasure (talking about stitching here!).
The stitching doesn’t have to be perfect. It doesn’t have to look like anything. It’s just creating pattern and texture with colour and so on in a way that is pleasurable to you, to me.
It’s taken me a long time to give myself permission to draw the whimsical art I draw, or the more abstract stuff I do. But sometimes it really does take someone else to give that permission, either overtly or tacitly.
So, last night I dug out some felt and embroidery threads and needles and just started to stitch – cross stitch, seed stitch, running stitch and French knots. I’ve never been able to do French knots before!
Fond stitchy memories
As I stitched I had fond memories of Friday afternoons in primary school, I must’ve been 9 or 10, and being able to take out a sturdy cardboard box that stored my sewing project. Everyone in the class had one of these – boys and girls. A rectangle of navy blue Aida fabric, with the holes forming fairly large grids. A blunt needle was carefully stored in the fabric, and there was a selection of embroidery silks on the teacher’s desk to choose from.
Each week, we added another border or row to this fabric, learning different kinds of decorative stitches as we went. The Aida fabric made it easy to do, the only tricky things were not pulling the thread too tight and getting twisted, tangled and knotted thread!
Eventually, a panel was completed and the entire project was turned into a kind of pouch for pens and pencils. I had to add a linking – bright red – and stitch everything together by hand.
I remember being really proud of what I’d made and I treasured that pouch for years, even when black ink stained it, in one corner. I don’t know what happened to it. It just seemed to disappear at some point never to be found again by me. I remember being a bit upset at it going missing.
When I was in University, studying Chemistry and Environmental Pollution Science, I often used to get acid splashes on my jeans. So, rather than throwing them out, it seemed sensible that I use simple stitches to turn the holes into flowers and extend that pattern beyond the holes.
Over the years I’ve dabbled with cross-stitch and stitched tapestry and patchwork, but nothing really grabbed my attention until I did a lot of textile work during my A-Level art in my early 40s. Yet, that went by the by as other art took over, particularly when I started to work for publishers. I even won an art competition with one textile piece.
Returning from a little trip down memory lane, I wanted to take a look at this slow stitching. It feels right that I revisit stitching with the aim of incorporating it into my drawing and hand-lettering work. It may take me a while to work out how I’m going to do that, but unless I make a start it may never happen.
Felt is OK to work on, and I may return to needle-felting beautiful fibres onto black felt and then using slow stitching and beads to embellish the work. First, I have to get some black felt! I have loads of the rest of the stuff in my stash!
I also want to explore stitching on paper, using the stitches as a way to collage papers and so on. Like in the photo above.
Working on paper also gives me the opportunity to draw and/or paint patterns or textures alongside the stitches; giving me the opportunity to find different ways to combine my favourite things!
It may not be everyone’s cuppa, but my first attempt is making me smile and there’s a small sense of achievement.
I have no idea where this will take me, nor how persistent I’ll be with the stitching thing. It is, however, one more technique to add to my toolbox of arty techniques to choose from. And another one that is both relaxing and pleasurable, especially now it’s ok for me to do what I want when it comes to stitching!
Finishing my work quota for the day deserves a treat, and that involved some hand lettering practice and exploration. So, these two pages from my A4 lettering sketchbook have been worked on over the past couple of evenings.
I still haven’t found a way of lettering that resonates with me, though both of these pages resonate with me more than other lettering work I’ve done. I really want to combine lettering and my love of patterns and abstract design. Working out how to do that in a way that feels right and makes my heart smile, is proving to be a difficult task!
I think, however, that I may be circling in on some ways of achieving this. One style that may bear fruit I stumbled upon several days ago and I blogged about it then (Hand Lettering and Entangled Art). Thoughts and quotes and words in shapes with entangled, zentangle inspired, patterns connecting them and creating a background pattern. I’m still not sure about this particular mode of expression. But I’ll work with it and see where it leads me in time.
Another way of lettering I stumbled upon was in lettering an alphabet in the style of “Hand-lettered capital I”. That was the inspiration for the image on the left above.
Last weekend, I bumbled my way through “Choose to Shine”, and the abstract patterns in the background gave me an idea to try out. Which I did in the right-hand image above.
There’s a fair amount for me to think about with these experiments. I’ve finally found a way to make use of Gelly Roll Moonlight pens – both for drawing patterns in letters, but also as patterns that flow over or behind letters – as in Shine and Because in the right-hand image. I also used the Moonlight pens, along with some Zig Writers and some vintage coloured gel pens in the left-hand image and the “A Curious Pattern” and “Never give up” designs in the right-hand image.
It’s so unusual for me to draw in colour. I usually stick to black ink for drawing, but suddenly I may have found a way for colour to appear in my whimsical and entangled worlds.
At the moment, though, I’m still not at all sure about this. My head hurts (another migraine feels like it’s on the way) and I’m not able to think clearly or write all that coherently, or so it seems to me.
One last thought to share. For both of these pages, the only thing I may have looked back on was my own work. I didn’t look in books or at work online for inspiration, I only used my lettering sketchbook and my love of abstract patterns. Learning not to compare my work to others, trusting myself that what I produce is good enough because it is an expression of myself, is not an easy thing to do. But I’m working on it and here it may have paid off with examples of lettering by me that I kind of like.
I’ve finished it, I think. I’m feeling a bit happier with it now. I really like the abstract, curvy, swirly bits that remind me of La Tene (early Celtic) art. I’m still not happy with that central ‘moat’, though.
Oh, I’m also really pleased I stuck to an analogous colour scheme, mostly. Having the words in an almost complementary colour to the blues and purples makes them stand out. But I still rather like the swirly abstract patterns, and I’m so glad I added them!
I’ve not quite found my way with hand-lettering. I keep trying new and different things out, but nothing seems to sit well with me yet. Although I like the more formal lettering layouts, I don’t think that’s for me. I tend to work fairly instinctively and intuitively with little forethought or planning. When I do think my way through something, that’s when disaster tends to strike!
I suspect a looser, expressive, intuitive kind of style is going to work for me, along with my style of entangled, abstract art. Probably. Possibly. Perhaps…
I’m a tad out of sorts today, just a dose of gloomy emotional weather, that’s all. It’s also beginning to pass on by too, which is a good thing! Even with the gloomy weather, I’ve been able to feel the touchstone of contentment within me, but my thoughts have been on shaky ground concerning art.
I was drawing last night, and this morning a different page, and lots of questions came up about my art style. I wasn’t feeling happy with my hand-lettering journey and what my ‘style’ is. I’m finding it really hard to feel comfortable with the hand-lettering I’ve been doing lately. I don’t know why that is, not entirely anyway.
So, my solution is to draw! Well, hand-letter and then draw, but hand-lettering is drawing letters rather than writing. So drawing it is!
Instead of popping words/phrases into my ‘entangled’ art style as I draw, I thought I’d place them on the page first. Then I can do the pattern stuff, repeating various motifs to bring some coherence to the whole design. Not sure I’ve managed it.
Instead of filling the whole space with lots of black pen work, I thought that I could use a brown pen to add just lines to the spaces between. I think I like this as the spaces just looked cold and empty before.
I’m still not sure I’m finding my way with this. I know I do get all flustered and fed up with my art from time to time and start to question myself and be quite harsh with myself.
Working on this, and talking my way through some of it in today’s video, has certainly helped, and my mood is lifting. But regardless of my emotional weather, this was something that still needed to be thought through to do my best to pinpoint what I was struggling with when it comes to including hand-lettering in my art.
Watching some arty videos yesterday, I stumbled upon one that involved creating “Polaroid Pops”, part of a challenge hosted by AALL and Create back in January 2022. In this challenge, you had to create mixed media polaroid ‘photos’ using stamps by a specific artist in the AALL and Create range.
I really liked the format of the images created and thought it could be fun to try this for myself!
Polaroid photos have the following dimensions: The image is 3.1″ x 3.1″ (approx. 8cm x 8cm) The whole photo is 3.5″ x 4.2″ (approx 9cm x 11cm).
So, yesterday I cut up some of my Neocolour II backgrounds to 8cm x 8cm and got to drawing on them!
I really like the square format. At 3.1″ x 3.1″ (8cm x 8cm), they’re only a wee bit smaller than a standard Zentangle tile. And they do look fab when mounted on the white card to create the polaroid.
After drawing a kind of botanical scene in silhouette (not quite my thing, but you have to try, you know.), I tried popping a hand-lettered monogram into the square and using Zentangle patterns to fill in the negative space.
That was much more ‘me’. And in today’s video, I continue with the letter B, though it looks like an R because I deliberately drew it as bigger than the ‘photo’. Duh, didn’t check for it looking weird before inking it in. Luckily, there’s space on the white background to write in what it is!
While the video was uploading and processing, I drew the ‘H’.
I think I may make an alphabet collection for future reference and inspiration! So, if you fancy having a go take a look at today’s video on YouTube.
I wanted to put the letters of “shrouded” overlapping, cwtched close together as if they were covering and protecting each other, apart from that brave S at the front (which I may alter digitally when I’ve finished this off). And that is one of the meanings of shrouded – to be protected and/or covered.
Naturally, stars had to feature in the entangled artwork around the hand lettering. What better to represent “celestial”, though the flowers and plants and seeds are related in a roundabout way.
Our sun is the star nearest to us and the source of natural light. The moon is closer, but it doesn’t generate any light itself, the light we see from the moon is reflected sunlight. Anyhoo, most life, as we know it, on Earth depends on the sun’s energy to remain alive. Without photosynthesis in green plants, there’d be no food. Some living things can exist without any energy from the sun, but they are extremophiles and live around extreme habitats, such as the deep ocean volcanically driven ‘smokers’.
I’ve digressed and slipped into science teacher mode! The point is, that though flowers and plants and seeds don’t seem to have a link to celestial light, they do, as they depend on sunlight to produce food, which gives them the energy they need to live and grow and reproduce and so on. All of us here on the Earth are shrouded in celestial light!
I really wasn’t sure how this was going to work out without a definite frame for the words, but I think by placing clouds and drifts of other things around the lettering it kind of looks like a view through to the celestial night sky, perhaps, with a bit of fanciful whimsy.
I had the hand-lettered part of this sketchbook page completed a couple of days ago. I didn’t really know what else to do with it. I knew adding colour with traditional media was likely to be a disaster.
This morning I woke up knowing what to do with this, along with other things. So, I spent some time adding a border around the lettering and starting to add patterns and motifs. And arches, lots of arches!
I then thought it would be nice to share some of the drawing process through a video, which you can see by clicking this link.
It feels like a long while since I did any entangled style art. The hand-lettering isn’t perfect, nor is the frame around it. But that’s OK. I think it goes with the ‘chaos’, the imperfection, the touch of an imperfect human hand.
A couple of months ago, I may have tried to do something like this, and would likely have been really dissatisfied with the result. Mainly because I wasn’t at all happy with my hand-lettering attempt. But now, after just a couple of months of working in lettering sketchbooks, working with different ways to form letters and finally accepting that whatever lettering I do doesn’t have to be perfect – good enough is good enough!
I’m using variations in the density of pattern and ink to create shadows and highlights in the design. I have no intention of using pencil or markers to add grey shadows to this one. If I decide to add colour, it will be in the style of a linocut or hand-coloured print, perhaps with some extra shadow and highlight added by the depth of colour. Perhaps. Maybe. And if I do, digital is the way I’ll go! First, though, I have to finish drawing this design.