Tuesday, 25 March 2014

Magnolia dreaming

Yesterday there was an impossibly blue sky and it seemed the perfect time to check out a magnolia tree heavy with flowers. I always said if I had an outdoor space to call my own, I'd have a built-in barbecue, a herb garden, a swing and a magnolia or two. But I have a windowsill, so for now maybe I'll grow herbs in a window box and I'll admire other people's magnolias.

Saturday, 22 March 2014

Untangling tangling

I discovered the art of Zentangles at the end of January and got instantly hooked. As I been showing off my tiny doodles, I've been asked repeatedly if have I really drawn them (yes I have, honestly!) and how you create one. In answer to the latter, I thought I'd try a stop-action series of photographs to illustrate the process from start to finish.

You don't require a whole load of kit, a soft 2B pencil, a fine black pen (01 ideally) and some paper (good quality preferably), I started with an old pocket Moleskine which is similar width-wise to the official tiles. The pens that are recommended are the Sakura Micron but I discovered the Uni Pin fine line in my local Ryman's and these do the trick perfectly for me. To my essential kit I added an 005 pen too and a blending stub as it's more precise than using my finger.

Very soon I was compelled to order a set of tiles from the creators of the Zentangle method, Maria Thomas and Rick Roberts, and I can see the allure. The paper has been chosen to slow you down to make more precise little strokes and hence a finer finish, and 3 1/2" square the size to be portable and you can finish in 15 minutes. Clearly I'm a novice, I take way longer than 15 minutes, I'm doodling for at least an hour but sometimes it is because I can't decide what tangle to tackle next. I've since been introduced to a fabulous app (Doodle Organiser) with a library of tangles and the ability to upload your own, and a very useful randomizer button to choose for you)

This tile I knew who the recipient would be, and luckily Jo had already picked out some of her favourite tangles from my earlier efforts. So decision made I just need to take pen to paper, or initially pencil.

Step 1 : with a pencil draw four dots, one in each corner and join with a light line making a vague border

Step 2 : still with the pencil, draw a random string to divide the area into smaller shapes. These are pencil because they are not hard and fast, I find most of my Zentangles grow organically and I'm not sure where I'm going until I get there. The only time you need to adhere to the "string" is if you're creating a tile for a collaborative piece and you want the shape to flow across tiles.

Step 3 : pick a point and start erasing that white. I choose a favourite Flux to start my journey. And started the framework for B'tweed, another in my top ten.

B'tweed is finished

Next I add Tipple in the gap underneath B'tweed and I have to admit that these bubbles appear pretty much on every Zentangle I create. Poke Root also appear frequently, these 'magic mushrooms' are pleasing entwining themselves around each other. I was introduced Poke Root on my third day of tangling, whilst I was working through One Zentangle a Day - a six week course in creative drawing for relaxation, inspiration and fun. I rushed through the book as six weeks seemed way to long to wait start tangling the world, but Poke Root got me hooked.

I finish off Poke Root by shading between the stalks and start filling the landscape with the slightly more complex Nzeppel.

The tiny loop was just crying out for a teeny Purk, looking like a diminutive bejewelled Fabergé egg and a smattering of Shattuck in the corner

Loving the name of Diva Dance and according to Maria, Queen of Zentangles, this variation is rock 'n roll. The left hand bottom corner has a sprinking of a variation on Florz.

The middle of this file was looking too empty and the lines above B'tweed were crying out to become the start of something else. If I hadn't added Poke Root already, this would have been a good time to do so. It was a toss up between Poke Leaf (too,similar maybe) or the Zinger I plumped for.

The final favorite tangle was the fabulously curvy Mooka with some tiny black inside auras. This pattern was inspired by Art Nouveau style of Alphonse Mucha. I'd stumbled across a YouTube video of Maria introducing this tangle and demonstrating the method before I'd reached the stage in my book. It felt curiously subversive to be practising a pattern intended for a later stage of my education.

Step 4 : when all the tangles are drawn, grab the 2B pencil again and add some shading and blending to add depth and contouring to the finished piece.

Step 5 : Add a signature that you've designated will complete each Zentangle.

I add a step 6, which apparently is not prescribed (as "there are no erasers in life"), I remove any obvious pencil marks from the original border or string as I have a tendency to wander over them and I think they look better gone. But that's me.


Sunday, 16 March 2014

Easy like a Sunday evening

It's one of those perfect Spring nights down by the river. I'm waiting to meet AL for a spot of Sunday night dinner and I'm drawn, as so many are, to sit by the river and enjoy the colours of the sun's diminishing rays in a beautiful setting.

We've had so much rain but we're lucky tonight we having a taste of warmer months. When I arrived there were plenty milling in front of the White Cross pub, I was rather taken with the golden halos as the buzzy crowd bathed in the golden glow. The sun's rays are dancing on the surface of the water occasionally rippled by passing ducks and row boats.

As the sun sinks lower, a local musician plays a set to an appreciate crowd lining the terraces of the Riverside Development. There's an animated group perched on the the edge of the slipway sharing a drink and a joke. Their laughter floats over to where I'm seated and I'm determined to try and catch their exuberance. After a few shots I'm happy to catch them, one of the last boats being rowed down the Thames here and above, a jet approaching Heathrow airport. I'm reminded again I live in a gorgeous place and I should really enjoy it more often than I do.


Sunday, 9 March 2014

A suitable box

I'm starting to accumulate a few bits and bobs of Zentangle paraphernalia so I thought I'd look out for a box to store it in. I was looking at fancy mirrored boxes and finely inlaid boxes but this cheap wooden box from Joy fit the bill perfectly. And to my joy, it was the perfect medium for tangling itself. After creating the ZIA in the shape of a butterfly for Y the other day, the design seemed to be a sign itself, and the fret cut top gave me enticing little tendrils to tangle.



Friday, 7 March 2014

Reflecting on the OXO Tower

There's something about this building. I'm always elevated when I catch sight of it, peeking out from behind other buildings, on the skyline or a glimpse as you cross over the walkway from Waterloo station to Waterloo East on the way to London Bridge. I've had some great times there, fine cocktails, delicious food and fabulous company but that's not the reason.

There's something iconic and retro about it, timeless and unique. Tonight I was dangerously close but couldn't get a good photograph and then I spotted this reflection in a window.

I have a flashback to trying some ICM (intentional camera movement) shots from Waterloo Bridge last year, and finding it crucial to get a definable image of the OXO tower on the horizon.