02 February 2011

Just Breathe...


A little back story... 
In April 2010, I fell in love with Zentangle. It was, indeed 'love at first sight' for me... exploring the world of tangles: because of the infinite possibilities; because it was truly about what is Reality in any given Moment; and because it narrowed my focus down to a 3.5" square of reality. 

Meditation – being still, grounded, centred, and (imagine me using Nigella Lawson's voice to say this last bit), "deep, deep contentment." Zentangle improved my focus, concentration, mindfulness, and – an added bonus – all my other artistic endeavours benefited from time spent tangling.

At times I have found I'm almost watching my pen to see what will emerge from my creative subconscious. Not directing the design but, one pen stroke at a time, waiting to see what happens... and then developing that idea (a great way to avoid rules!). This is something I learned many years back, when I first started studying Chinese Brush painting. That art form never really clicked for me until I just 'allowed' the brush to make the marks it was designed to make and stopped trying so hard to produce a specific effect.

I haven't felt, these last ten months, any hint of hard slog practice with Zentangle – only Play! And the more I play, the more I want to. I breathe, relax, let go and I allow the Zentangle or ZIA to happen – not stifling it with any rules that it 'ought' to follow, or preconceived ideas of what it 'should' look like when complete. I believe that, once an idea (artistic, or in any walk of Life) becomes a dogma it ceases to grow. So I push at the boundaries constantly. 

Back to the topic of breathing... these last few months I have also made new discoveries about the way I draw. For example, my pen will draw more flowing, 'dancing' lines on an exhaled breath (it's true!) than on an inhaled breath. So, by becoming aware of my breathing as I create each stroke, the way I draw has been transformed. Here is the Zentangle (traditional format) that I created for the "Breathe" Challenge. 

(Click on image to enlarge.)
Being reminded (once again) to observe my breath, I found that I was creating a very playful design (some elements of which weren't really 'proper' tangles!). Once I'd finished, I finally coloured the Laced blue, as it ran through, across, and around the tile. This brought all the various elements together, to create a linked harmony to the finished piece – and I (yet again) changed the orientation of my tile.


A little more on my philosophical wanderings through Zentangle land?
I've also studied what I watch when I am drawing. For example, if I'm drawing a line parallel to another, I look at the line I'm following (not the line my pen is making). What else do I watch? When I was speaking with a wonderful Chinese calligrapher (a Master of his art), William Lai, he asked me, "What is the most important thing about a beautiful vase?" The answer seemed obvious to me, so I answered, "The empty space within." He smiled his unique and twinkly, wise smile and I knew I'd said the right thing (I was rewarded with a Chinese candy!). So, when making pen strokes, I'm nearly always watching the white space I am drawing 'around'. This, of course affects not only the way that I draw, but also the way I think about the way I draw. (How very existential that is!)

As I contemplated this week's challenge, my mind kept coming back to the chorus of this song by Anna Nalick, "Just Breathe." Of course, while actually tangling, the song in my head was replaced with beautiful, tranquil, silence (tangling being one of the few activities capable of stilling my mind!).

Just Breathe

Because I have received a great deal of feedback about my inclusion in this blog of all the tangles I use, I have included a digitally edited version of this week's Zentangle, naming each of the tangles (if I have any of them incorrectly labelled, CZTs, please let me know!). They are: Laced, Verdigogh, Printemps, Jonqal, Ennies, Pokeleaf, Pokeroot, Fescu, Betweed, W2, Huggins, Cadent (those last three used the same grid, and flowed from one to the next).

(Click on image to enlarge.)
Now that I've bent your ear... I'll go back to my drawing board. For, as much as I love keeping up with what others are creating and sharing inspiration and encouragement (the reason I'm on the Internet so often), I am not able to resist the siren call of my first love for very long — tangling with paper and pen.

28 comments:

  1. I love the blue string......and breathing. I will try to remember what you have shared with us.

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  2. This I think is my favorite of your Zentangles, at least the ones I have seen! Oh my, the flow of it is wonderful!!! I got lost in my journey of looking at each section flowing into the next. Thank you for sharing!

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  3. I always sense the playfulness in your tangles--youthful, carefree joy. Love how your tangles just seem to just happen. You are a great teacher. I will try some of your techniques on where to look, it think watching the white space rather than the line will help with my short circuits. It is always a pleasure to see your work and read your posts. :-)

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  4. Ditto what HeatherCheryl says! Thanks for sharing your discoveries, Kit. Lovely Zentangle.

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  5. Such a lot of helpful thoughts! And wow, wasn't that a beautiful space Anna was dancing through in the video? I want my studio to look like that.
    And, of course I loved your Zentangle.
    Barbara

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  6. I love your tile! Thanks for such a long post, it will be very helpful.

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  7. Thank you for the wonderful tips on line technique. Beautiful, beautiful ZT. Great idea to show what tangles are being used!

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  8. Wonderful post & beautiful tile! Tangle on!

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  9. Great tile and I really enjoyed reading your post. Very enlightening.

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  10. Wonderful tile! Great idea to add the names to the picture! Will have to give that a try soon.
    Thank you for your visit to my blog and to answer your question: Yes, it is done on Strathmore, coldpress 140# wc paper.

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  11. Gorgeous, as usual, Kit :o) I'm lovin' it!

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  12. Kit, This is great. I love the blue thread through the tile too. It's awesome!

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  13. Beauty. Balance. Blessed. Breathing.

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  14. Beautiful post and zentangle. I especially love how you flowed Cadent and Huggins together.

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  15. thank you. I can follow your thoughts about preconceived art and I hope that zentangle will boost my creativity somehow. now about your tile : i find it “breathtaking ” beautiful.

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  16. Thanks Kit for so beautifully telling us your story and putting breathe into your stunning tile! You have made me smile!

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  17. The blue flowing is...well...breathless. And yet, I can feel it breathe into your work. A wonderful interpretation of this week's challenge.

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  18. Kit, I love your tile (the blue is a beautiful addition) and your post. I enjoy your philosophical wanderings. Very nice. Which CZT class are you signed up for? I'm signed up for the one in May.

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  19. Thanks, Jane! I can't get to the USA before September. So I'll be going to the CZT in October (Rick is getting back to me when they have dates organised). Wish I was coming in May... or even February! But I have to do some serious saving up to afford the trans-Pacific airfares. [wry grin]

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  20. Finally got here, Kit! A gorgeous tile and recorded journey. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and naming the patterns. You've done a wonderful job with this post.

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  21. Thank you for sharing your thoughts, your musings and last but not least this wonderful ZT!
    I appreciate the idea of showing the patterns used in a second pic! It´s worth emulating it.

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  22. Thank you.. loved reading your thoughts.. and the explanations...I am just a doodler and am really looking forward to learning more.. the patterns etc.. I had no idea..lol.. thanks for following my blog am following yours too now.. I love your tile for the breathe one.. the blue winding thru is amazing..
    Kathy
    xx

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  23. Kit, Beautiful tangle! I appreaciate you sharing your stories and your process! As a an artist and a historian of art I particularly find it fascinating how we come to our state of creating!
    Great song! Thanks also for sharing that!
    PS..fed your Koi...they looked hungry!

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  24. Hi Leslie, Thanks for feeding the Koi. =) They told me you'd stopped by [grin].

    Hi Everyone, Thank you for your lovely comments - I'm so pleased you all enjoyed reading about my drawing 'process' and philosophies. I'm encouraged to share more in the future!

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  25. Thanks so much for your comment on my blog... I read your post here with great interest and understand what you say... I do Taiji and that breathing thing is so right!!!
    Frankie
    xx

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All comments welcome...