Thursday, March 10, 2016

Diva Challenge #258 Rautyflex, SQ1 Yuma and Zonked, Zentangle Primer, and Spring has come to the Valley!

Gentle Readers,

I am reminded this week that good things do take some time.  We must begin with a good foundation, provide some nurture and have patience.  Just when you think things are stuck at a certain level, you can get a surprise. 

Five years ago we moved to the Phoenix area after living our lives in the Midwest climate of the Chicago area.  We knew there that if you plant bulbs in the fall, you get tulips in the spring.  If you sow grass seed or lay sod, your lawn will be green and lush by May (barring any nasty surprises like grubs, etc.)  The leaves on your maple tree are green all summer, turn red in the fall, drop in winter and reappear in the spring.   All these things work on an annual cycle, and you can pretty much count on that.

Here in this desert climate, nature works a bit differently.  You plant something and then, with reliable irrigation systems, you hope it takes hold.  Sometimes it does, sometimes you get a withered stump of whatever it was no matter how nicely you talk to it, pamper it or pray over it!  Sometimes the rabbits get your lovely baby shrub and decimate it in one night.  Once in a while, it can even be a Javelina who chomps away at your fresh little yucca that you bought because it was rabbit-proof.  A big fat one - likely over 70 pounds - was casually strolling through our back yard two days ago!  He looked pretty much like this but maybe a bit more burley.  Yikes!  I would have taken my own photo, but hubby wouldn't let me open the back door.  Spoil sport!

If your beloved plant does take hold, it can look the same for years before anything exciting happens.
Our little Mexican lime tree FINALLY seems to be filling in and is blooming like nobody's business.  After five years, perhaps we will get more than the handful of pitiful looking, olive sized limes we have had so far.  Our olive tree and pigmy date palm (non fruit bearing per municipal regulations!) are lush and full.  Our cacti are expanding nicely and have produced a few blossoms from time to time.  Yay!

Today, however, I got such a surprise!  These things pop up overnight like some fairy-tale beanstalk.  Our blue yucca is blooming!  Big time!  When I see things like this, I feel like I am on some other planet.  This is no petunia, folks!  It's HUGE!

The first Hibiscus blossom of the season has made an appearance.

Our bougainvillea, which was looking decidedly peaked over the winter has surged back in full, living color.

So, spring has sprung in the Valley.  We must enjoy now, as soon it will be blast furnace time!

I received my new Zentangle Primer yesterday, and was reminded again, through the gentle guidance from Rick and Maria, that we must learn to slow down, to not compare our progress to that of others, to be patient and just see what happens.  "Start at the very beginning - a very good place to start..."  Surprises in Zentangle happen all the time!  You look back at what you did a year ago, and find that your line work is much more steady.  You realize that instead of just filling in the spaces of your string with separate tangles, you now can connect and morph your tangles, or maybe you finally understand how to finish off  the edges without them just ending unceremoniously at your pencil border.  You fill one tangle with another one or combine variations to add interest to your design.  You try a few tricks, such as tracing one tile on top of another to make your string, or draw a little "slit" in the tile and tuck your tangle into it.  In this new book, Rick and Maria introduce the concept of Reticula and Fragment.  They call the grid form, whether squares, triangles, circles or whatever, the "Reticula" and the filler designs - often a portion of a named tangle - are called "Fragments".  Placing these Fragments within the Reticula in varying directions can produce what they call a "Metadesign", which offers up the surprise!  Oh, my sketchbook is already getting a workout with all these new (and reminder) ideas!

This was a new tangle for me, and one that I found somewhat challenging.  I was tempted to stop at step four of the stepout, as I liked the lightning look to it, but decided to persevere and do the thing right.  I wasn't comfortable enough to get crazy with curving the grid or making up some "fantasy" version of it, so I just drew the pattern on a straightforward, evenly spaced grid on top of my simple V-string.  Then I drew the pattern variations to change right at the string line.  I shaded the edges in the hopes that it would look as though each version overlapped the next one.  Successful or not, I am pretty happy with how this turned out.  It reminds me of straw, metal and paper.  Perhaps I could have used some heavier black in the center section to give it some drama, but you know what they say about hindsight...

I haven't been up to date over the last few weeks, so I am including entries for two focus tangles.  For Zonked, I immediately started sketching Mooka with it.  I saw on Facebook that others made that same connection.  What is it about those two?  At any rate, here is my version.

Yuma is one of those tangles that can play many rolls.  It can carry bold stripes, hold gems in its center, curve into petal shapes or take on any number of looks and play with other tangles.  I approached it with simplicity.  Each of my tiles is a monotangle, although the second one maybe evolves into Steps. In the first one, as I filled in lines, I found I liked the look of the white spaces.  Negative can be very positive, as it were.  At any rate, they have very different looks.  I like Yuma!

Here is one I did just for fun - different than my usual style, but I enjoyed this.  I always admire when others use a mix of brown and black, and here I added a thick black border with white ink on top.  This was a good reminder of why I love Zentangle - no challenge requirements, no strict guidelines about color or which tangles to use, just having fun!

So, Dear Readers, I hope you are seeing signs of spring where you live, or if it is autumn in your part of the world, I hope you are enjoying the ripeness of that golden time of year.  Whichever it is, please enjoy the changing that it brings.  Always look forward to your own changes, and enjoy looking back to see how far you have come.  Then focus on the present moment and be one with it. 

Thank you for stopping by, listening to my ramblings, and taking a look at my own humble offerings.  Know that I cherish all your thoughts and look forward to your comments.


Thursday, March 3, 2016

Diva Challenge #257 - Shiny! and Bugtangles

Hello Gentle Readers,

I disappoint myself sometimes by my flagging commitment to this blog and to the Zentangle challenges that have engaged my energy and attention over the last two years. Apologies to my readers.  Sometimes our hearts and bodies tell us what our minds cannot.  But all is well, and I am still lurking around the edges, putting in my two cents on Facebook and other places.

One thing I want to say to those I admire on the various blogs is that I have found it impossible in quite a few cases to leave comments.  I don't know why.  I use my Google profile or my website link, or I sign into one of the other website accounts if I have it.  Still problems.  I click on the links on the Diva challenge board and once on the contributor's blog, I can admire all I see but am unable to post a comment.  Guys, I still love you!  Has anyone else had this problem?

That said, I think perhaps I am in a shifting mode.  Where I have been dedicated to the most basic forms of Zentangle - tile with border, string, pattern, shading and sign - I am dipping my toe into some other expressions of this art form.  I am trying to branch into some calligraphy, although my dedication there leaves something to be desired as well.  I have slipped into my toddler span of attention in many cases.  I have fallen in love with the ZenGems, so named by Eni Oken, the master of shading.  My tools of choice for these gems is colored pencil and gray markers.  You can see them used in my latest large work posted in this blog.  And my brain is working overtime on cooking tools and techniques.  My Amazon account is ready to explode with all the pans, utensils, specialty grocery items and cookbooks I have ordered or at least "wish-listed".  I have been much more faithful with my yoga exercises than ever before, and am actually seeing results!  What?  Me, whose body has NEVER been my friend?  I actually look forward to my yoga routine, no matter how baby beginner it is.  That is a FIRST in my lifetime.   How much can one old lady do?

Beyond that, my loving husband is on a travel kick.  He feels (perhaps rightly so) that we should not let the grass grow under our feet at this stage, since in five or ten years we may not be able to pick up and go as we do now.  The suitcases are dust-free these days, to say the least.  I certainly can't complain about that, as we are having a ball!  Just unpacked from a lovely trip to Tucson and ready to re-pack for Las Vegas.  More trips in the hopper beyond that, too.

So, here I am after a month of neglect and really wanting to get a little traction back on the blog scene. 

Starting a couple years ago I did a series of insect ZIAs on Renaissance tiles.  The were a pleasure to do and a minor hit with my vast fan club!   ;-D  I have been experimenting with new types of pens and paper, and bought a few precious sheets of papyrus.  I decided to continue that theme of antiquity and design a bejeweled scarab.  This was a major project, and has left me limp as a dishrag after all the preliminary sketches, trials of various techniques and media on the paper, and the effort itself of working on this delicate textured paper. I used some distress inks to give the paper an aged look.  I used a dip pen with calligraphy ink to draw and did shading with alcohol based markers in shades of gray.  I used colored pencil for the gems.   C'est finit!  This guy is on a sheet of paper 25x17 inches, and is now hanging in our front entry.  I'm in love with a bug!!

This week's guest blogger on the Diva website has challenged us to do something shiny, specifically  metallic.  I like how the metallic pens look on black, but since I am still hooked on Gems, I decided to combine the two.  This tile has both gold and silver ink.  I did some highlighting with white chalk pencil and shading with a black colored pencil.  So far, that has been the least messy option I have tried using the metallic gel pens.  Some markers work on the white pens without dissolving the ink, but on the metallic ink, I still find problems there. 
I have been struggling to bridge the difference between the transparent looking cabochon type gems with the solid stones like lapis and turquoise.  Here I have attempted some turquoise stones, but am not fully satisfied yet.  They are better than my previous attempts, and I do like how the black tile paper works with these gems.  The black gives you ready-made shadow edges and you just build up from there.  It also leaves some bits of texture showing through, which is easy to convert into little fissures in the stones.  There is much to be said here.  I am still not sure of my color choices, though, and will keep working at this.  

So, Gentle Readers, thank you for stopping by today.  Know that I cherish all  your thoughts and comments and would love to hear from you.  Until next time...