Tiny Tiles – Zentangle Inspired Art for Random Acts of Kindness.

Click on this link to view the accompanying video on YouTube.

I had an idea. It may not be a great idea. It may not be executed in the best way today. But it’s a start, but first, some background as to how this idea came about before I explain myself.

Last week, I went to a local café for a late lunch. So late that it was almost tea time! The first time I’ve been out for lunch by myself since the start of the Covid pandemic. I’ve had lunch out three times with a friend in this time, but I still rarely leave my home for such things.

It was a lovely lunch, broccoli and stilton soup with a large pot of tea. The people working in the cafe were lovely and helpful. The food was delicious and beautifully presented. I was made to feel very welcome there.

So, it took a few days, but yesterday I woke with an idea. Why don’t I do some tiny artworks to leave for people to discover. Little notes to thank those who run a café or restaurant. Little notes of kindness, inspiration, or compassion are on the back for strangers who may need to read them. Little notes to brighten up someone’s day. And maybe put my email address/blog address on there. Maybe. I’ve not decided if that will be a thing, yet.

So, the first step was to see what sizes of little envelopes I could buy. I really wanted glassine ones, so the tile is protected but visible. But the only tiny ones I could find were 6.5cm square (that’s 2.5″). So some have been ordered, and some watercolour card has been cut into pieces 6cm square, ready to use! The tiles in the image are 6cm square in size. So quite tiny!

The others I found are so sweet. They have a heart fastening on the rear flap and are made of kraft paper. Perfect! That way, what’s inside will be a surprise and, hopefully, a pleasant one for those who find it. These are a bit bigger at 10.5cm x 7 cm (approx 4.13″ x 2.75″), which is about the size of a gift card, business card or credit card. So, I cut paper to 10cm x 6.5 cm to fit these envelopes.

For this morning’s video, I decided to use two of the small squares. I started by colouring one side with Distress Inks. Then I drew the designs with various black fineliner pens. Next, I added more colour with Inktense pencils and a water-brush. Finally, highlights were added with white gel pens and a gold gel pen on the Aquafleur design. Not sure the gold pen was a good idea; I might have been better off using a dip pen and gold ink. It’s all a learning process!

Then, it was time to hand-letter a message on the back and decorate. This is where I think things went a tad to pot. In hindsight, I wish I’d coloured the reverse of the tile too, as, the white looks so stark. But they’ll do. My hand-lettering isn’t the best, but again it will do. My biggest problem is not letting the ink dry fully before erasing pencil lines and/or adding Inktense pencils. But they’re not too shabby…possibly.

What I may try doing, as these are test pieces, is using some Microglaze to seal them. Not only will it seal the Distress Ink, but will give a glossy finish that will bring out the colours more. The problem with Micro glaze is that it smears the black pen lines. But as these are test pieces, if that happens, I’ll learn not to do it again in the future, or use different kinds of pens. I wonder how the Dokumentas in the Twisbi’s will react to Micro glaze? That is an experiment I need to try out!

My only problem once I’m happy with this, apart from learning how to take better photographs of my work, is finding the courage to leave these things. The intense embarrassment and shame I know I’ll feel will be great. That will come out of the old fear that no one will like what I do or appreciate it or understand that it comes from a place of unconditional love and gratitude for our connections. And this is the reason why I’m dithering about whether or not to include my email.

I’ll work it out. I usually do, eventually! Until then, I have a small pile of tiles to decorate, Micro glaze and different pens to experiment with, and how to put messages on the back… part of me thinks printing them out and glueing them on could be a way to go. I have actually turned one of my hand-lettering styles into a font! Something else for me to think about.

Mushrooms!

Click on this link to view the accompanying Draw With Me tutorial video on YouTube

Today was a day to draw some mushrooms! I do love them, especially the quirky, whimsical and cute ones. These fit the bill, I think, a little resplendent in their autumnal tones.

As far as I’m concerned, I don’t think there is such a thing as too much whimsy or cuteness. Ever. Though I may seemingly stray away from things cute and kawaii from time to time, it’s not long before I feel the pull to add some more whimsy to this worrisome world.

There’s such a huge variety of fungi on the Earth, so much inspiration to draw from. But today, I kept it fairly simple.

To add colour, I used Inktense pencils with a Kuretake Zig water-brush. Oh, and the ‘frame’ was coloured with iridescent gold watercolour paint. And that gave me the perfect excuse, not that I needed one, to scatter some gold dots around the background. Oh, the white dots on the ‘shrooms and foliage were applied with a Sakura white Soufflé pen. Its opaque white ink is perfect for this job, especially as it doesn’t seem to pick up any underlying colours. Must remember to get some more of them.

Zentangle Patterns Aquafleur, Pepper and Dra-wings

View the accompanying YouTube video by clicking on this link.

Today seems to have disappeared. I have been lost in arty pursuits since around 10:30. It’s now 14:49. The video that goes with the drawings has finally uploaded. The three drawings I started in the video are now all completed and shown here.

It’s actually been a lovely way to spend a Saturday. It’s beautifully sunny out, but there’s a coolness in the air that is absolutely delightful and so reminiscent of many early Septembers in the past. All I want to do is curl up in bed and listen to the sounds of the world outside; a car every now and then, the varied sounds of a rugby match, the twitter of birds and the clattering of jackdaws.

All of this has been a lovely soundtrack to do my art to! And I suppose I should talk about that.

Yesterday, I took a look at the tangle pattern Aquafleur. As I was drawing it, the way I made pen strokes reminded me of two other tangle patterns – Pepper and Dra-wings (or Drawings). So, I decided to look at them in today’s video.

One of my YouTube subscribers had left a comment saying they weren’t sure how to get their Aquafleur to spiral inwards like mine did. So, I started the video by showing how to do that.

And it was rather fortuitous that I was asked about that as it meant I had an example of Aquafleur to compare to Pepper and Drawings! The similarity is in how the various segments are shaped. But by some simple adjustments, you end up with three different end results.

Although I left each drawing incomplete at the end of the video, I did show in the Pepper and Drawings tiles how I was planning to add shade and light to them. I wasn’t even sure I would complete the Aquafleur, but I am glad I did.

I’m not sure whether I have a favourite out of the trio of tiles. Each has its own charm and allure.

Zentangle Tangle Pattern “Aquafleur”

To watch the accompanying tutorial video on YouTube, just click on this link.

Aquafleur is a lovely, organic tangle pattern that creates layers as you draw. The result is reminiscent of a flower, coral, seashell or sea plant. It’s also a bold, high-contrast tangle with a lot of dimension. It’s not a tangle pattern I can remember tackling, and the version you see above is actually my second attempt! I misunderstood the Aquafleur deconstruction by Zentangle Inc.

Like most tangle patterns, Aquafleur is quite easy to construct once you’ve made sense of the pattern’s step out (deconstruction).

I used a graphite pencil and a paper stump to add shadow to the purks (nestled orbs). Highlights I added using white charcoal on the purks and a white Gellyroll on the black sections.

But this design needed something a bit more. So, I got a dip pen and a bottle of gold acrylic ink and added stripes of gold to the Aquafleur. Then, I added a few sprigs of golden leafy loveliness to the design and called it done.

I rather like how this has turned out. I particularly like the opulence of the gold against the very graphic black and white. I decided to leave this motif and the sprigs as they were, nothing else added to fill the piece of paper. I could add a drop shadow around the Aquafleur to lift it up. However, I like it just as it is!

Exploring Triangular Zentangle Fragments

Click on this link to watch the accompanying YouTube drawing tutorial.

This morning I just wanted to mess around with some fragments, and triangular ones seemed the way to go! ‘Fragments’ is the Zentangle term for the cells that make up a repeating pattern.

I started with a simple fragment of a circle (orb in Zentangle-speak) inside a triangle. All of these fragments have orbs as part of them, and I’m not sure if I’ve done many of them before.

I’ve written it before, and no doubt will again, that exploring both fragments and tangle patterns is an absorbing activity. No matter how often I look at one particular fragment, there are endless variations that can result. Some may be of use in a ‘reticulum’ (Zentangle-ese for the grid upon which a pattern is formed), others may just be for the experience of being curious and seeing what happens if I do x, y or z…

This is also a great warm-up activity. It gets my hand-eye coordination and fine motor control working well. My creative brain gets flexed and exercised too. It is also an opportunity to try out new drawing tools and media.

Another big benefit of this practice is that there is no pressure to complete a finished artwork. There’s the implied permission to make mistakes, for things to not work out. Indeed, I learn more from those that don’t work out or where a mistake is made than anything that works out well.

I’m always amazed by how many fragments can be made from a simple start. In this case a circle within a triangle.

My A3 Drawing Board, side 1.

Over the past two or three weeks, I’ve been gradually decorating my A3 drawing board. The board is made from compressed wood chips and has a dull, pale brown colour. That means I chose colours that would work well on this brown.

I drew the black lines with a Tombow Fudenosuke brush pen, which is now almost empty of ink! The brush tip is a tad worn but functioning well all the same.

I added colour with Arteza EverBlend marker pens. The white highlights were added with a white Posca pen.

There are only two things left for me to do. Firstly, use a spray varnish on this side to protect the drawing. The second is to decorate the other side too!

It has taken me many hours of work, some of them when I wake in the middle of the night with my mind whirring. Eventually, my mind calms down, and I can get back to sleep. Lying in bed, tossing and turning, is useless to me. I much prefer to do some intuitive art like this. Something I don’t need to think about, just let it happen, and that in itself quietens my mind down.

Narfello – A Zentangle Tangle Pattern Exploration.

Carrying on with the flowy pattern theme, I explore the Zentangle tangle pattern “Narfello” today.

This pattern is based on wavy lines and is easy to construct. The fun lies in all the variations that are possible. The first three steps in setting the tangle pattern up give an unusual grid that can be filled in so very, very many ways.

I always enjoy exploring patterns. It is, for me, a way of practising creativity, giving myself permission to draw without the end product being as nearly perfect as possible. It’s about trying things out to see what happens; if I don’t like what I’ve done, it’s no biggie! I can learn from it or, even better, work on how to change what I’ve done to make it something I like.

It doesn’t matter how many times I explore a pattern or fragment (the basic cell of a repeating pattern); there are always more things to discover and to use. It is quite addictive at times, that’s for sure!

A flowy, abstract pen drawing.

Click on this link to view the accompanying YouTube Draw With Me tutorial video.

I was asked to look at the absolutely beautiful work by Angel_Draws on Instagram, use the work as inspiration, and explain how to create similar texture and volume.

I chose to use an extra fine Twisbi Eco fountain pen. The paper is Moss toned paper by Fabriano, which measures approximately 12.5cm square (approx 5″). For the shade, I used a Prismacolour Ebony graphite pencil. A General’s white charcoal pencil was my choice for the highlights.

I’ve had a go and done it my way, that’s for sure. I enjoyed creating lines that give the illusion of volume in the drawing. Adding shade and light really brought the appearance of folded space out.

It’s also complex, intricate, convoluted, and maelstrom-like, reminding me of roiling, billowing clouds. The textures of clouds are fascinating to me at this time. I’ve seen some amazing ones recently.

I’m not sure if this drawing is finished or whether I’ll add more of the frilly stuff around it. Only time and a good night’s sleep, or several, will tell!

Exploring Stylised Flower Motifs

This morning I wanted to do something fairly simple, soothing and relaxing. So, I chose to look at some variations of a stylised flower motif.

The version I started with is in the centre bottom of the design.

I used various Distress Watercolour Pencils and a water brush to add colour.

The white and gold highlights and patterns were added using gold and white acrylic ink and a dip pen.

Finally, the more intense shade was added using a graphite pencil and a paper stump. I even put some graphite around the gold foliage surrounding the design.

Overall, I’m quite happy with this one. I like the mostly monochrome blue/teal colour scheme on the grey tile. I wasn’t sure bout the gold patterns, but now it’s finished, I think It’s turned out just fine.

Exploring a square Zentangle fragment

Click on this link to view the accompanying video on YouTube.

Time seems to fly when I get engrossed in a task. Today, that was exploring a simple Zentangle fragment – a circle in a square.

In Zentangle terms, a fragment is the basic unit of a repeating pattern, whether repeated as is or rotated/reflected.

It is always a lot of fun to see what kinds of fragments I can develop using the chosen one to spark some creativity.

It’s always lovely, too, to work on toned paper, in this case, it’s from Fabriano and is in the colour ‘Clay’. Whenever I use toned paper, I realise I’m drawing in shadow and light; the paper is the mid-tone. This is why I love to colour plain paper with Distress Inks or NeoColor II water-soluble wax crayons. The colour immediately becomes the backdrop for dark and light and a strong contrast ‘twixt the two extremes.

In art, chiaroscuro is the term used for the use of high contrast between light and dark in a composition. In drawing, this is affected by using a coloured background, and black and white ink or media are used to create the drawing.

As I was typing this, I realized I’ve long loved working in this way. Since my early days of exploring my artistic nature that started some 20 years ago, I discovered I loved to use coloured paper with white and a black or much darker tone of the paper to draw with. It was far more fascinating to me to draw in light and shade rather than tones of grey graphite on white paper. It was my chosen way to work when I did some life drawing. When I go out and about sketching, I will colour the pages in my sketchbook with Distress Inks and use black and white pens/pencils to draw on them. The shapes of shadows and highlights fascinate me; everything becomes very architectural.

I’ve often mentioned the only oil paintings I’ve ever done and how three-dimensional they appear. When people see them for the first time, they’ll touch them because they think they are dimensional and are always surprised to find out they are totally flat. The high contrast I favour in my work creates the illusion of volume.

This little journey down the pathways of memory has allowed me to make some connections. I’m smiling as some pieces of the jigsaw puzzle that is me fall into place, clicking together satisfyingly.

There are times when I have to work with black pen on white paper, but there are many times when I can choose what colour paper to use. And going forward, I think much of my entangled drawing that isn’t for colouring books will be done on toned paper.