Friday, April 29, 2011

The White-on-Black Challenge

In my previous post I explained the challenge of White on Black.  I have enjoyed this challenge and as an added bonus, I feel I have started to use Zentangling in a way that reflects me.  I'm not at all sure what it was about putting White on Black ( rather than the other way around ) that triggered the growth, but it did happen.  It is possible that my work will no longer be considered true Zentangles, but rather 'Zentangle Inspired Art' (also known as ZIA) but that is OK with me.  I am content because now I like my work.

So now I would like to share with you my two offerings for this weeks challenge.  First there is a simple little tangle all by itself.  I'm sure it has a name but I don't know what it is.  Anyway, I just really like it.  I have been using it for years in my drawings.


 The next one really looks like one of mine.  I'm not sure if there are any tangles at all in it, but it sure looks tangly.  And it easily could have escaped from one of my coloring books.  It looks a tiny bit creaturish, which much of my work does.  I don't do that on purpose, but my drawings often end up that way.   

So this is my second offering for the challenge.

"Friendly, curious something-or-another"

I am really looking forward to seeing what other folks have done with this challenge.  Thanks, Diva!

First Attempts

    This week, the Divas challenge is to make either a zentangle or a ZIA with White on Black, rather than Black on White.   I decided to use black paper and a white Gel Pen.  

      I was surprised at what happened.  I was expecting the 'negative image' that you might expect.  Besides that, something else happened as well.  But I am getting ahead of myself.
      This was my first attempt.  It just grew, with no effort on my part.  But with almost (I said 'almost') no discernible Zentangle pattern.

      While I liked it very much,   I was very much aware that it did not have a whole lots of tangly stuff in it.  So I decided to try again, this time with particular attention paid to trying to use Zentangles.  And this is what I came up with.

       Interesting.  But not what I had in mind.  So I tried it again, this time with no preconceived ideas. 

      Surprise!  I really liked what happened.  Well, this was more like it!  This is what I had in mind.  Feeling pretty good, I started a fourth design.


      Now, I enjoyed this all very much.  I started realizing that my work was beginning to look like my style -- which I never felt my Zentangles did before.  I used to do tons of designs, whole pages of them.  In fact I made a coloring book out of them.  It was great fun.   But I was getting tired of the 'same old designs', so I went looking on the Internet for new ideas for designs.  Lo and Behold!  I found Zentangles.  Zentangles had all these wonderful designs and a special way of doing them, and even a recommended size.  I loved it.  But after a while I became unhappy with some of my work because I saw no focal point, no design factor.  It looked unfinished, unfocused to me.  I became self-conscience and the Zentangles started looking like all the others.  It did not look individual.  It did not look like me.

      So whatever was happening, reflected me.  It was definitely my work.

      I did two more, which I will post tomorrow, for the Challenge.  And I think they really look like my work.  Meantime, enjoy these efforts. 

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

The Power of Math

OK, here is some weirdness for you.
In this year, we have 4 unusual dates:
1/1/11 January 1, 2011;
1/11/11 January 11, 2011;
11/1/11 November 1, 2011; and
11/11/11 November 11, 2011

But that's not all.

Here's something that will make you say,'Wow!' Take a last 2 figures of your birth year, and add to it the age you will be on your birthday this year and... the result will be 111 for everyone.
For example:
Harry was born in 1957, and this year he will have his 54th birthday:
So, 57 +54= 111.

According to Fen Shui, this year is a Money year.
In this year, we will have the wonderful month of October. There will be 5 Sundays, 5 Mondays, 5 Saturdays. This happens once every 823 years. It is called 'Money Bags Year.'


Dragon   6" by 10"
Freehand Embroidery w/ French Knots & Beads

Saturday, April 23, 2011


This week, the challenge over at IamtheDiva is to Zentangle an egg shape – or maybe even Zentangle an egg!  Well, I wanted to put in my two cents about eggs, actually more like five cents.
Many thousands of years ago, when I was middle-aged, I discovered polymer clay (long story in and of itself, but not relevant here).  At the time I was doing art in many different media: Acrylic paints, Oils, original needleworks, strange concoctions with tissue paper, the list goes on -- endlessly.  But when I discovered polymer clay, everything else fell away.  I loved it!  I could do so much with it: decorate anything you could heat up in an oven, sculpture of all kinds, pet portraits you could wear as broaches, even painting pictures with clay!  For over ten solid years I did nothing but polymer clay.  It was wonderful.
Anyway, one of the things I used to love most was covering egg (real eggs) with clay.  I was pretty good at it (she said modestly) and did a lot of them.  Here is one that uses mokume gane.

In many cultures, eggs have a spiritual meaning.  They represent the obvious: beginning, innocence, hope, redemption.  And eggs, especially polymer clay eggs, are sensual to hold.  So I made lots and lots of them. 
One form of decoration fascinated me the most.  It’s called the medallion design.  In many ways it is similar to a Mandala.  Here is an example of a Medallion egg:

Both of these pictures were taken against a mirror, so you can see just a bit of the other side of them.

Back to the Challenge.  The Diva has called for a Zentangle Egg.  I comply.  Here is my effort to add to the collection.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Tiffany Clone (1)

This watercolor is obviously a tribute to Tiffany Stained Glass Windows.  I fell in love with his work and did a number of Pen & Ink/Watercolors that are 'in the style of Tiffany".

It's been a long day, but I feel virtuous because I accomplished so much.  Funny how our expectations guide our moods.  If I expect to get three things done, and I accomplish four, then I feel great.  If only two things get done, I feel lousy.  Yet in both cases I am the same person.

Of course, this may lead to a plethora of lowered expectations, because I do enjoy it when I like myself.  It's much more fun to be around me when I am in a good mood.  And since I do have to live with myself, it bodes well to have me be nice to me.

On the other hand, my Puritan ancestors would be horrified, because they would think I was "not living up to my full potential" -- Like anybody does!  But in one sense, I do agree with them:  I am not comfortable setting my goals too low.  It makes me feel like a slackard.

So I guess I will have to come up with a realistic middle ground of expectations.

In the meantime, I will continue to enjoy today, because it is ending with Time to do Art.  Sigh.  Happiness.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

A Very First Watercolor

8" by 10"

As far as I can find, This is my very first watercolor, using watercolor pencils.  I love this piece.  It looks like an early attempt at Zentangles.  It also looks like a strange attempt at Paisley.  In Real Life, the colors are much brighter and even a little sparkly.

Very Early Watercolor

24 x 32 (?)

This one of my very first Watercolors.  It is large, which is not a size I enjoy doing.  I prefer miniatures. 
But recently, I showed a picture here of a watercolor dragon that showed my current level of expertise (not!) in watercolor.  I thought it might be fun to look at some of my earlier work, so I looked up my fledgling portfolios.  Sadly, some of the pages are yellowing.  I'm thinking that I would like to put together a portfolio on-line, if I can figure out how to do it and what software to use.  I do have a flickr account, but I think I would like to have it more 'professional-looking' and flexible.  Anyway, I thought I would share some of my earlier work with you.

Sadly, I do not have many pictures of my polymer clay work.  Most of it has long been sold or given away.  I have rather little of it in my possession.

I do like this particular piece..  Already I can see my attraction to the semi-representational and semi-abstract.  I love the organic suggestion of the work.  Nowadays, I do a lot of Zentangles, which are also semi-representational and semi-abstract. 

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

nine years ago this week

True Story.

Jamez was the foster son of Linda, a sister of my heart.  He was young and angry, a perfect candidate for delinquency even though he was only 10 years old.  But he was unprepared for Linda.

Linda may be one of the strongest, gentlest people I have ever known.  Great wisdom and acceptance.   She lived her life with authenticity and love.  She taught music and lived ethically, close to the earth.  She had an industrial-strength garden that supplied much of the food her family ate.  And it was all natural, no pesticides or growth hormones.

Linda was (and is ) a healer by nature, but it is a quiet healing.  Healing when you might not notice it, healing of the heart and spirit.

Jamez never had a chance.  The moment he set foot on her place, he was hooked.  Jamez loved animals, which was good, because Linda lived with dogs and cats and horses, wild ducks that let her hold them, a flock of humming birds that graced her feeder and various other critters from time to time.  And then there were the children.  Linda's own, plus more friends, students and relates than one can count.

 Jamez was hooked.  Jamez, you see, loved animals.  And when he saw how Linda treated the animals, something inside him began to heal.  And he made friends with the other children, and with the adults, too.  Perhaps for the first time in his life, he was accepted and even appreciated.

It was slow going at first.  He had a terrible temper.  But Linda wouldn't say a word, she would just take his hand and quietly stroke it while he ranted.  She trusted him with the animals, too.  That made Jamez very proud and he slowly began to trust himself.

As the years went by, Jamez began to grow into a handsome, thoughtful young man.  He laughed a lot, had a delightful sense of humor.  He loved to play card games and loved to be with the animals.  He gathered folks around him with his magnetic personality.  He began to pay the world back for the love and care that Linda had given him.  He volunteered for all sorts of things, but particularly for events that had to do with children at risk.  He enrolled in collage and took drama classes.  He had tons of friends that came to the weekly campfires at Linda's home.

One night he was walking the fields with Linda when he said, "Man! I am so glad I am not your natural-born son!"  Startled, Linda asked "Why?"  Jamez twirled around, his arms outstretched, "Because then I would take all of this for granted." and then he hugged her.

Not too long after that on a balmy April night, Jamez was supposed to show up for a campfire gathering, but he was late.  As his foster family, girlfriend and friends waited, he still did not show.  They called his dorm room.  No answer.  Perhaps he was with some of the kids he was working with?  No, they had not seen him that evening.

The night was long as Linda called everyone she could think of.  But no Jamez.  The next day the police were called.  No Jamez.   His car was found abandoned.  It had been used to hold up a small branch bank.  But still no sign of Jamez.

Days went by with no word.  Days became weeks and then became months.  Every Friday night, Jamez friends would show up at Lindas for a campfire dinner, and they would all talk about Jamez, hoping for his return.  The police at first did suspect that Jamez had something to do with the bank robbery, but as they began to get to know him through Linda and his friends, they became convinced that Jamez had nothing to do with it.

It was not until August that his body was found.  By then, we adults had already figured out that he wouldn't be coming back, but his friends and girlfriend still held out hope.  But the body dashed their hopes.  Yes, the bank robbers had killed him for his car.

Nine years ago this week, Jamez died.  But he left behind a remarkable legacy of love and friendship.  He also left behind a story of transformation, because Jamez could have walked a very different path.  Instead, Jamez chose to take in what Linda offered him.  He made a fine person of himself, one that was dearly loved by friends and family.  We still hold him in our hearts.  I know Linda does.

At his memorial service, there were a number of photos of him.  My favorite was one that was taken when he was around 15 or so.  His head was down but he was looking up, his bright blue eyes twinkling with mischief as he peered up at the camera.  And sitting on the top of his head was a hamster making a nest with Jamez long blond hair.

That was Jamez.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011


Above is another page from one of my coloring books.  It contains a few of my favorite words.  I have cut them up for Art Cards, used them in collages and in greeting cards.  And while I love the design part of it all (this was before I discovered Zentangles), What is important to me are the words.

I like words, what they mean, how they affect us.   Words can be healing.  Words can inspire confidence.  Words can give hope.   Yes, words can also undo all those things, too, but I try to use words that will give comfort and joy.

Recently, I read about someone who teaches her students to make lists (I think she teaches philosophy in a collage setting).  Like a list of 10 folks who have most affected them into being who they are now,  Or a list of 10 people they admire.

Just for the fun of it, I made up a list of lists.  Someday I will do some of the lists.  Each list would contain at least 10 different entries.  So, here is my list of lists for now.

My greatest fears
Lessons I should have learned by now
Lessons I don’t want to learn
Favorite Color Combinations
Events in History that I wish had not happened
Things I wish I had done
Reasons I don’t want to be Cool (unmoved by anything)
Things I’m glad I failed at
Expectations of my parents that I did not fulfill
Expectations of my family that I did fulfill
10 things I wish God would do

I invite you to fill out a list (one of these or one of your own choice), or to make a lists of lists you think might be helpful for you.

Monday, April 11, 2011

First Watercolor

The other day some friends of mine came over to spend some time doing artwork.  We try to get together every Sat., and we make it more often than not. 

My friends are going to Europe in the Fall, to take some classes in Watercolor.  Neither of them have ever done any watercolor, so they signed up for classes locally so that they would have a little bit of a background when they try painting in Europe.  They are both enjoying the classes, but one of them has really taken off.  She started as a rank beginner and within just four or five weeks she is doing credible work. ( I try not to be jealous.  Watercolor is not my thing.  I did some in Collage, but all my teachers were seriously into large, big paintings and I am into small, sometime miniature work.   Since now most of my work is done in bed, I absolutely have to keep things small.)

Anyway, this week, she asked me to keep her company by doing watercolor with her rather than some other medium.  OK, what the heck?  But I still prefer small pictures, so I  wanted something on a 5" by 7" piece of watercolor paper.  First I had to find a picture I liked.  I found one in one of my instructional art books and drew it.  Then I began to paint.  I was surprized at how it turned out.  While it is not great, still, for someone who has not done any watercolor for at least 35 years (and wasn't very good to begin with), I like it.

So, here is my first attempt at watercolor in this century:

I'm now in the mood for dragons.  I think I might try some more.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Three O'clock in the Morning

As I type this, it is three o'clock in the morning --- one of my favorite times of the day.  Whether I stay up for it or get up, this time of day has a beauty not easily  put into words. 

I look out my window and see the lights from the street and porch lights on other homes whose inhabitants are long asleep.  Most of my cats are sprawled on the bed with me, some still sleeping, some licking their coats even more beautiful, one merely blinking a greeting of welcome to me..  Two of the dogs are burrowed under the covers and are warming the bed, almost too much.  And I lie here, listening to the sounds of the early morning, the creaking of the house, the sleepy complaining of a bird that objects to the streetlight in its eyes.  I hear a train in the far distance and an owl, softly calling.   The very darkness of the night wraps me in gratitude.

In this tiny corner of the world, it is safe.  It is peaceful.  I am aware of wonder, and the grace of awe.  The deepening of the night sky calls to me and fills me with quiet joy. 

I wish this peace for all my brothers and sisters in every country and climate.  I pray for peace and contentment.

May it be so.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011


Take what you like and leave the rest.

Like most folks, I experience, from time to time, all the prerequisite human emotions.  The way I learned them was: Sad, Mad, Glad, Fear.   Like most other humans, I laugh, cry, cringe and get mad.  But lately I have begun to suspect that I have an unusual relationship with anger.

Most folks get angry and blow up,  or else they simmer and wait for the right time.  Now, I do that.  I do both.  I blow up and I simmer, depending on the incident.  But sometimes, when I feel mad, I have other reactions.

Certain situations bring out something strange.

Trying to give the dog a bath, for instance.  She hates getting wet, so she does whatever she can to get out of it.  She hides, she tries to get under the bed, she runs away.  I keep going after her, getting madder and madder.  After a while she tries passive resistance, simply putting all four paws down firmly on the floor and refusing to move as I try to pull her towards the bathroom.  It makes me very mad, but the whole situation also strikes me as ridiculous.   So I start laughing.

Now, don't get me wrong -- I'm mad enough to chew nails.  I'm furious with the dog. 

But I'm also laughing. 

And I'm laughing so hard I get weak.  Sometimes I can't stand up because of the laughter.

I can't even yell at them, because my breath is all taken up with laughing.

I wet my pants, which makes me even angrier, which makes me laugh harder.

This tends to send mixed signals to the dogs and cats in my life (fortunately, I have had relatively few opportunities to warp the minds of children).  They simply cannot understand if I am angry or amused.  They get very confused.

I'm not doing it on purpose, I assure you.  I hate it that I laugh.  No one knows what the heck is going on and I can't blame them.  It confuses me too.

I'm pretty sure my husband doesn't understand it either.

Now, I don't always laugh when I'm angry.  (The laughter seems to happen most often when I am frustrated, especially if it involves Animals or small children.)  I do have other reactions, more normal.

But even the so-called normal reactions can have ramifications.

For instance, housework.  I am incapable of doing housework unless I am very, very angry.

I do hate doing housework --- that is a given.  But I also want a reasonably clean home. 

So when the house gets to the point where the dust bunnies should be charged rent, I clean. 

But it's a struggle of unbelievable proportions.  Just getting started is like pushing 75 pounds of wet cement across the floor -- and just about as appealing.

I find myself getting angry as I clean.  Angrier and angrier.  I will drag up things from years ago, things that don't really even bother me any more, but I will get angry all over again about them. 

But as I get angry, I get more energetic.  I channel that energy  into cleaning.  The dust flies, the broom takes on a life of it's own, piles of 'stuff' slowly melt as places are found for them  and the house gets clean (or at least cleaner), but I am in a terrible mood!

Sometimes when I am angry, I choose that time to do the cleaning, because since I am already angry, I might as well get something done. 

There is an upside.  You see, I have friends who have offered to get me angry when I am at their house so that I can clean their place.   That might work.

 If I play my cards right, my anger could end up being very, very popular.

Saturday, April 2, 2011


This is my entry for this week's challenge from the Diva.   Whew!  I made it in time!


Well, life has been going on, even when I don't post.  A few of the highlights: 
- My car got broke.  I took it in and had it fixed.  Then it died again (different symptoms) and again I had it fixed.  I did not have the money for any of this.  I guess we will all be eating lightly this month.
- I worked on a whole bunch of Mandalas, in particular, some clay ones.  And a friend of mine cut the boards so I can do more.
- That same friend fell down and broke his hip.  He is now in the Hospital and may go home tomorrow.  Since I now have a working car, I may play Angel of Mercy and buy him some groceries.
- I finally have a new roommate.  She will be moving in this week-end.
- I actually did the Zentangle challenge this week.  Now we will see if I post it in time (it's due by tomorrow night)
-And ---- drum roll please ---- I finally put up one item on my Artfire account for sale.  I actually figured out how to do it!  Of course, I may never be able to repeat the experience, but then again, now there is hope that I may actually be able to do it again.

4" by 4"   Clay Mandala

So, my task for the near future is to take some photos for uploading and make more to put on the web.

Wish me luck.