Saturday, 21 June 2014

Mooka and Auraknot - nothing zen about them!

This week the Diva challenge (button right) was anything but zen for me. The challenge was to use only Mooka and Auraknot. Now I love both these tangles, but they bring out my unzen side. To start with, I can't cope with Mooka being open ended at the bottom - I don't know why but I need the 'stems' to meet so that they look properly finished. I decided to give myself a break and allow them to join at the bottom, figuring that Maria and Rick wouldn't want me to stress out over it.

Then I discovered that, for me, Auraknot is a geometric design and I wanted it to be all even and everything. The whole 'there are no mistakes in zentangle' just didn't happen. I wanted it perfect!! I did Auraknot over and over again and it was NEVER PERFECT ENOUGH!!

By now, I knew I'd lost the plot, so I sat down and produced the piece below, vowing that it would be good enough. I am quite pleased with it but if you look closely you can see lots of dots and marks I used to try to get the proportions right which I tried to disguise with a lot of lines but we all know they're still there. Very un-zentangle.

Seriously hoping next week's challenge won't trigger the geometric fiend in me.



After that I decided to satisfy the geometric fiend, and I used paint.net to produce a mandala loosely based on Auraknot. This made me feel much better.


Finally, I didn't have time for last week's challenge - beads of courage - but I did it this week so here it is.


Laura Harms (of I am the Diva) supports the Beads of Courage programme in the US, but I've discovered that it also runs in the UK and the link is here. It's for children who are undergoing extended medical treatments. Each time them have to have another procedure (e.g. an injection, operation, etc) they receive a bead. It sounds very simple and you don't realise its impact until you see the great strings of beads some children have accumulated when it really brings home the amount of procedures they have had to endure. It's tangible proof of the courage and patience they have had to show. I think its a brilliant idea and wanted to post a link to it just to raise awareness. 

Tuesday, 3 June 2014

Zentangle Diva challenge #170

This week's challenge from the Diva (button on the right) was to use the tangle Bugle. These challenges are great for getting you to use a tangle you might not choose to use otherwise. I would never have picked this tangle  but I really like it now. I stole the idea of having it flying off from Kia here. That's another reason why these challenges are so good - you get to see (and steal!) other people's ideas. Thanks Kia.

I've also used Clove and CO2, both for the first time.

Zentangle featuring bugle, clove and co2



Sunday, 1 June 2014

Tangling books - experiments in Zentangle

A couple of days ago I bought an old book in a charity shop. The book was published in 1970 and it's called 'The Shell Natural History of Britain' edited by Maurice Burton. (It's not about shells, 'Shell' refers to the oil company who also used to publish travel books and general interest non-fiction.)

The book has lots of beautiful line drawings and some colour plates which I'm not quite so keen on. I bought it so that I could experiment with tangling on the pictures. Once I'd got over the 'naughtiness' of drawing in a book, I had a great time. It feels like a grown up's colouring book to me now.

The results are variable but my favourites so far are below.

First off I went big and tangled a whole page colour spread.

Zentangle drawn over illustration of plants

Then I found a little line drawing of three plants with a gap between the second and third just crying out for a bit of tangle so I snuck in Dooleedo (thank you Linda Farmer)

Zentangle dooledoo drawn over illustration of plants

Next I found two drab little mushrooms that wanted cheering up. I like this one as I managed not to over do it.
Zentangle drawn over illustration of two mushrooms

Then I started on some fairly unappealing worm type things (I'm not really learning much on the natural history front). Here they are on the complete page so you can get an idea of the layout.
Zentangle drawn over illustration of sea plants

There were more worms further in. I'm not particularly keen on this design but I can't help being amused by the way it came about. The original picture was actually the five horizontal 'shelves' which are in fact pictures of worms. It's a diagram showing how worms squidge up and then stretch out to move. I bet the artist never thought it would be used as a basis for a bit of ZIA!

Zentangle drawn over illustration of worms

The next one was a bit of a no-brainer.  These shells were clearly in need of a bit of Sand Swirl.

Zentangle sand swirl drawn over illustration of shells

Which brought me to the page on shells and rocks. I think I over tangled the rocks a bit so to make them stand out I put in a semi transparent background colour using paint.net. 


Zentangle drawn over illustration of shells and lightly coloured

And finally, my favourite. This was a fairly plain water plant until I got hold of it.

Zentangle drawn over illustration of tall spikey plants

It's a big book with 500 pages so they'll be more to come.

Saturday, 31 May 2014

More Celtic Mandalas

Have got the hang of this Celtic thing now. These two are variations on a theme. They both started with the same pattern but one has been done in a free hand style (though not free hand - still done on paint.net) with gaps between the knot work and the second has been done more formally with no gaps. The centre of the first one is actually my tattoo.

Celtic mandala in orange on yellow background with central cross

Celtic mandala in red, green, blue and yellow with central design surrounded by bands of celtic knotwork

Friday, 30 May 2014

Tree of Life or Octopus mandala?

I spent some time on mandalas again this week and this one was inspired by the tree of life design although I can't help thinking it looks more like an octopus.


I based it loosely on the window below which is very, very beautiful. It is in the Sidi Saiyyad Mosque, Ahmedabad, Gujarat, India. Absolutely remarkable craftsmanship.


Tuesday, 27 May 2014

Zentangle - String Circles

This is my tile for the weekly challenge run by 'I am the Diva'. This is number #169 and the challenge was to use circles for the string.

Since this is my first entry using this blog I'm hoping I manage to attach it right. I've been trying to add her challenge button but with no success - will have to look up how to do it. In the mean time, the link to her blog is here. Edit - sorted it - button should be there now.

Zentangle design featuring overlapping rings


Monday, 26 May 2014

Celtic inspired mandala designs

I love Celtic patterns. In fact my one and only tattoo is a Celtic cross. I have often drawn Celtic patterns in a square or line, but persuading one to go in a circle took me literally hours and hours of trial and error. Anyway, I was quite pleased with the result.

Celtic mandala in red, blue and yellow

Struggles with colour - mandalas

Time after time I design a mandala which I'm really pleased with, then I colour it in and hate it. I just don't seem to have an eye for colour the way some people do. As an example, here are three colour variations of the same Mandala. I think the last one is my favourite but I'm not particularly happy with any of them.






Incidentally, the above design is based on an early seventh Anglo Saxon brooch found at Kingston Down and held at Liverpool museum.


I am the Diva zentangle challenges

Every week Laura Harms at I am the Diva  publishes a zentangle challenge. It's a lovely way to stretch yourself a bit as it makes you use tangles you might not use otherwise. I had given up on Punzel as being too difficult until Laura put it into one of her challenges and now it's one of my favourites. It's also great to look at other people's entries as it gives you loads of ideas (and inevitable makes you wish you were better at it!)

The three designs below are all responses to the Diva's challenges. They are all scans and have not been digitally altered apart from a tiny bit of brightening where the image was a bit dark at times.

This one was a response to the theme 'earth day'. It include Mooka, Sandswirl and Sanibelle. I particularly like the fact that I managed to leave some white space though I wish I'd curved the top right hand side of it. Never happy!

Zentangle featuring Mooka, Sandswirl and Sanibelle

This was a challenge to use Punzel and Well. It took me about a week of practising Punzel before I was happy with it. House was a total mess by the end. (Nothing new there then.) 

Zentangle featuring punzel and well

The last one is for the challenge to use Somnee, which is a tangle designed by Laura Harms (the Diva). I've teamed it with Vigne and something else which may well have a name but I'm not sure. Just to give you an idea of size, the sketch book is about 21cm x 15cm. I attempted some shading in this one - verdict - successful in places. 

Zentangle using somnee and vigne



Art Deco mandala and Ivy mandala

I was quite keen to use some art nouveau style ideas to create a mandala, and then I realised that I didn't know the difference between art nouveau and art deco. I'm still not entirely sure but the mandala below is definitely more deco than nouveau!

Art deco inspired mandala in blues and purples

It's not based on any one source. I started out with the triangular wedge shaped sections and went from there. 

In the same way, but completely different style, the design below started out with one ivy leaf, and then grew. 

Mandala featuring blue and red roses and green ivy trail

This is one of the few pieces I've done where I actually quite like the colour. 

Islamic inspired mandalas

When I began designing mandalas I tended to just make it up as I went along, but I soon found that I had better luck if I used source materials. I came across some pictures of beautiful Islamic tiles and had a go at translating the designs into mandalas. This is the first one I did.


Mandala inspired by Islamic tile

As you can see, it's more or less a copy of the tile I found, which is a 15th Century Islamic tile in the Victoria and Albert Museum in London.

Blue, brown and cream Islamic tile

I did a couple of other similar ones, and then I found a picture of a beautiful carved wall tile from the Alhambra Palace in Spain. This is the tile:

Intricate carved design in Islamic style

And this is the mandala I designed based on it. I tried to keep the colours neutral as I didn't feel the intricate design needed much colour.

Brown and fawn mandala


Friday, 23 May 2014

Christian inspired mandala

The Victoria and Albert Museum in London is my favourite museum. On a recent trip there with my daughter I took some photos of some stained glass and also of a silver alter cross. I can't for the life of me find the pictures now but here is the mandala I designed based on the alter cross.

mandala inspired by Christian cross

I'm not really happy with the colours I've used - but then I never am.