Friday, July 31, 2009

Keeping Zentangle Tangles

From the Wingdoodle (click here to see images) site:

I wanted to share my idea for saving tangles. It works really great and you always have a reference right on hand wherever you go. I divide a page in my book up into squares and then draw the tangles and label them. Start at the back of the book so you can add tangles as you discover and create more of them . I am never stuck for an idea and only have to carry one book. We also have trading cards that Sandy designed divided up into 6 small squares on the back. That enables you to draw step by step instructions for each tangle. There is a larger space under the small squares where you can write the instructions and then on the front you can do a string and do the tangles plus label and sign the card.

Sher Ree

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Fine Art Discussion

I belong to the NH chapter of the Womens Caucus for Arts. There has been an interesting discussion lately about the differences between commercial art and fine art. I wanted to post the response that I wrote with my own opinions, here on my blog with the hopes that some of you readers might offer your two cents. I think this subject is really fascinating - and of course, has no answer. But I'd love to see your comments!



What a cool tangent from Water Rights! Some very thought provoking arguments. What truly is amazing is that this is even something we can argue about. For most of history, artists were tradesmen. It was just a job you did like making candles. Yes, you could do it really well - you could make exquisite shoes or candles too. But it was just a job. The "fine artists" - the "masters" that we worship at the museums and study in school - were actually just craftsmen and old-time "illustrators". They worked for a client, whether it was the church or a rich family, they did what they were told. If you want to understand that better, watch the movie "Girl with the Pearl Earring." Some of these artists were geniuses. What makes them so amazing is that they found ways to express themselves and add their own opinions into their art created for the client. Whether or not you buy into the whole Dan Brown-thing of secret messages hidden in paintings... you have to concede that "The Last Supper" was technically, just a mural to decorate a cafetaria. The fact that we are all of different opinions - "is that Mary Magdalene?" "What's the knife mean? Who is holding it?" "What's the deal with the food and drink - or lack of it - some Supper!?" We all see this painting in a book, tiny and flat. It's hard to think of it as large and hovering over a roomful of monks quietly eating their own dinner. It's a mural, an illustration, it has messages... it was only created because someone commisioned it. Commercial Art.

Shepard Fairey was in my class at RISD. Illustration department. He became a household word (with coffee table books and retrospective shows) because of a STICKER everybody has on their cars!!! Fine artist? I went to SVA in New York for a little while and it is interesting that fine art was just a style. For example, you could be an illustrator working in an oil paint-like fine art style. Probably using acrylics because they dry faster! The old masters probably would use acrylics today too but they had no choice back then. Anyway, all techniques were taught to all disciplines. Whether you wanted to be a fine artist or a commercial one, you still had to stand in a museum and copy the old masters. At RISD there was a much bigger divide between those of us destined for commercial art and those who were the real artists. And graphic artists. Illustration majors were not allowed to take computer design classes (different department) because we would "never need those skills"!!!? How ironic is that? An illustrator who doesn't know how to email a jpeg within 10 minutes will never survive now. One of my teachers defined the difference as "commercial artists are those that create art for reproduction" like in a magazine or on lunchboxes. But I ask "what about limited edition prints and giclees?" Does that make a fine artist into a commercial artist? And can you do both? Can an illustrator make a watercolor painting just for herself and suddenly be a fine artist? I've been rejected from Art Associations because my work is too "crafty" and I've been rejected from the League because it's not crafty enough and I don't do multiples. I've been rejected because of "commercial intent" (what the heck does that mean? Is it like having impure thoughts?) :-D

Boston Museum of Fine Art? There is not a single item in the Egyptian section that wasn't created for a utilitarian or "commercial" reason!! The beautiful statues were the equivalent of today's billboards or political posters. A really funny, but relevant example of this "stuff becoming art" (just because it happened to survive) is David Macaulay's book "Motel of the Mysteries". The world is flooded by junk mail and perfectly preserved for hundreds of years (like Pompeii). The archaeologists discover a motel room and think it is a tomb full of "wonderful things". It's hysterical to see how they misinterpret the uses of ordinary (to us) objects like toilet plungers.

I have no idea what the answer is - I just think it is so cool to live in a time period where we are at leisure to ponder such a thing. My own view is that the definition is whatever you decide for yourself. If you are a potter, even a really, really good one, but you only do green glazes for your entire life and never grow or change or challenge yourself... you are a craftsman. If you do commercial work, but constantly explore and experiment and strive to be better and learn everything you can... you are an artist. If you see beautiful things around you and yearn to show them to others through your work... you're an artist. If you are horrified by social injustice around you and want others to understand your anger or pain through your photos or paintings ... you are an artist. If you knit wonderful and bizarre creations from your mind, or nature, or microscope slides... if you make deeply personal assemblage boxes that no one ever sees... crayon drawings of angels to express your gratitude at being alive... yup, artist.

-Sandy Bartholomew

PS I agree that the shows should be viewed as challenges and opportunities to stretch ourselves as artists. It's OK to say, "no, I don't want to enter this one" but it's not OK to say "that's not my style". Your style doesn't make you an artist. If it does... well, that's "commercial". Think of it like this... if someone stole your style of painting (etc.) could you re-invent yourself and move on?

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Land Ahoy!


Would you believe that the ground FINALLY feels stable again? For the week after I got home, I kept feeling like the floor was tilting. I went from a bus, to a train, to a boat, to an airplane!! I don't really want to go anywhere for a while now... actually Ken and I are going up to Bar Harbor tomorrow morning to get Alex. He's been up there all month at an arts camp. His sister misses him terribly, but he's off to NYC with his grandparents on Sunday. Whew!

I'm guessing my mother had a very memorable birthday!! She got to celebrate it every night on the boat - and they decorated her cabin with balloons and a cake. She just got back on Monday and I bet she is very tired. She continued on with her adventure after the boat docked (and Ken and I flew home). She took a train to LA to visit my brother, then another train across the country.


I'm hoping my birthday adventure is really fantastic too. But shorter! I'm going to France in September to celebrate my 40th. Seems like an appropriate place to run off to. I am a little disappointed that my husband is not going, but my sister is. That will probably be more fun. And she knows French too - very helpful! Most of the trip is in southern France at an art journaling retreat, but we do have a few days in Paris at the start. And we don't have a hotel yet, so if anyone has any recommendations PLEASE let me know!!!

Tangle of the Week - BB

Depending on how you shade it, BB can look like stacks of books, or a bunch of washers. This one is a lot of fun! To make it even more 3-D, use a very simple background pattern, like Keeko, and use shading to tone it down even further.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Tangling Kids


Yes, even kids have patterns! Well... that's another post, but this one is about finding patterns in the things your kids watch and draw. The image above is a few pages in my Zentangle sketchbook. The first one is from an animated movie called "Happily N'ever After". It was kind of dumb, but the floor of the castle tower had this amazing mosaic pattern on it. Yeh, my kid thought I was whacked when I said, "Oh rewind that, I need to draw the floor!!" The sketch I made is a quick, rough one, but I captured the idea - kind of a Zendala, but more like a game board spinner. Can't you just imagine this with a spinner? What a great way to choose what design to use next, eh? So pay more attention to what's on TV and in catalogs. Kids' clothing catalogs have some great patterns to tangle.

The second page above shows a bunch of little jellybean people and creatures that my daughter has been drawing. She's only 2 and a half now, so I imagine she'll probably have her own line of stamps by the time she is four too (like my son did). I went through her stack of crayon drawings and sketched the little creatures into my notebook. I've been using them - my own interpretation of course! - in some recent journal entries. I love art journals and writing, but I often have a really hard time getting myself to actually journal. So I've been using Zentangles to get started and incorporating quotes or random thoughts, or even song lyrics, into the design. It's very easy. Just start by drawing a "string" (guideline) where you want the text to be. You can even lightly sketch in the words. When you ink them, add little flourishes, then Zentangle around them.

This is a page I did in the same journal, while on my recent adventure. (My mother and I took a train from Boston to Seattle, then a cruise up to Alaska). The train was incredibly BUMPY! and it was hard to tangle and write. So, I used that as my inspiration. notice that I incorporated some of the scenery in along the edge. I used the repetition of the posts and the train cars as a tangle-y pattern. I am really hooked on Lilah's jelly bean people! I even tangled their hair! I did another piece with them that I will upload later.


Tangle of the Week- Cadent


Hey all, I'm back from my Alaska adventure! In case you were wondering why there have been no Tangles for the past few weeks. This week's tangle is one I actually saw on the cruise boat. No kidding! Here's a photo of the hall rug... too weird eh?


And this chair I saw in the Seattle Public market. At first I was intrigued by the pattern on the seat. But then I realized that, not only is the entire chair a Zentangle waiting to happen, but there's "Nightsbridge" (checkerboard) in the background. If I ever catch up to being home again... I'll try creating a tangle from this photo!!

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Bear Hugs from Alaska

That's what it says on my mug. I'm sitting here in the CyberCafe on the Norwegian Star. We are docked in Prince Rupert and I am wading through my email and remembering that I actually have a life waiting for me back home. It's funny how unimportant the "important" things seem when they aren't staring right at you. Perhaps there is some wisdom to be gleaned from that... nah, I'll think it through later. My body finally caved today from the adventure-stress of traveling for too many days in too many ways. I know, can you believe it? But an Alaskan cruise with my mother, preceded by a train trip across the country, is an incredibly exhausting stressful event. We have seen so many amazing things - like glaciers and eagles and little seal-creatures. But I didn't sleep for 3 or 4 days straight and then the time kept changing. My body thinks it is late night! But it is time for a shore excursion. I must remember never to travel by train again if sharing a "roomette." There is barely enough room to stand with the door closed at night and I had to sleep on the upper "shelf". It is literally a shelf. You can't sit up or turn around or stretch out. I'm only 5'7" - so I can't imagine how other larger people fit. I also suffer from claustrophobia and spent the first few nights praying for morning and trying not to burst into tears. During the day it was OK and there were some beautiful views after Chicago. If you are taking a train from Boston, there is very little to see until after Chicago. The Northeast mostly has trees and fences close to the tracks and they block the view and give you motion sickness. After Chicago, the pretty scenery looks the same until you hit the big mountains. The only way to know you have entered a different state is to listen to the changing accents of the new passengers! But we met a lot of very interesting people in the dining car. And my mom can/will talk to anyone about anything. On the way to Albany, we hit someone on the tracks and the train was delayed for 3 hours! We got to Chicago with barely ten minutes to catch our next train. I know that sounds very unfeeling. But they refused to tell us anything at all and it happened at 3am.

The boat, the Norwegian Star, is beautiful and new. It's like a floating, fancy shopping mall. No kidding. There's even an enormous food court and galleria shop. The kids' pool and the main pool each have what looks like a water park, and hot tubs on each corner. There is a spa with a lap pool and different hot tubs, etc. too. A movie theater, an theater bigger than the ones in Boston, basketball court, batting cage thingies, fancy restaurants, sushi... and they fold our bath towels into bunny rabbits every night. Can you imagine LIVING on a ship like this?! The magician who performs on this ship says his daughter grew up on this ship - until she was six and decided she wanted to ride a bicycle (on land). Everything is so amazing, but I admit, I am missing home a bit. And a nap. Even on the nights that I have been able to sleep, my mother gets up at 6am and the boat docks at 7. The time is 3-4 hours behind here. So, when everyone is running up to the lounge to watch the Karaoke Idol competition - my head is saying "it's 3 am!!" Tonight there is a Chocoholic's Buffet -- at 10:30pm. We switched back an hour again last night as we came south, so.... I can't remember, I think that would be around 1 am. But mostly, there is absolutely no way to recharge my introvert batteries. I have been surrounded by people and noise for 13 days straight now. I'm feeling a bit near breaking. I woke up with a cold. I think it's my body's way of saying, "cut the crap!" and giving me permission to avoid people in any way I can. So I gave my mother my spot on the petroglyph excursion and came up here to the Cyber Cafe. I mean, what sort of geeky nut would be in the CyberCafe on a luxury boat parked in Prince Rupert, right? Exactly! It's empty and I have the place to myself. Did I mention there are three glass elevators in the atrium behind me? Weird, eh? I think I'm going to sit in the hot tub in the spa. I mean, what kind of social reject would be sitting in the spa while their boat is docked in Prince Rupert? Yep, I'm hoping it's empty. :-)

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