Friday, 27 July 2012

Shading & Subconscious Swirls

It really is strange how one thing leads to another sometimes as I'd really not thought I'd be entering either of the challenges that I am nor that I'd be trying to incorporate shading.

The Diva's Challenge this week is to use the tangle Mi2 & since I still have limited knowledge of tangle patterns I keep an eye out for what both Laura Harms (The Diva) & Laura Palmer ( post regarding patterns & strings & use those to tinker about with in pencil when I have an odd moment. I was in the middle of working through some patterns in my Basics Zentangle book this afternoon when I made myself a cup of tea & happened to see one of those pencil tinkerings. Somehow I ended up making this tile which I realised that I could then enter into The Diva's challenge. One of the patterns I was working on from the books today was Swirls & that sort of crept in all by itself & that was how I recalled having seen a challenge that Alice (The Creator's Leaf) had mentioned based upon swirls in artwork.

tangles: Crescent Moon, Mi2, Swirls
The 3½ inch square tile is mounted onto a slightly larger piece of black cardstock.

Tuesday, 24 July 2012

More Pens & Cardstock

Since some of my assumptions about cardstock in relation to the Sakura Pigma Micron pen were proved wrong by the testing in my previous posting I decided that it would be worth applying the same test to the 3 different watercolour papers that I have. It was whilst doing these swatches that I noticed how scratchy the Pilot pen is when compared to the Pigma Micron. At first I thought it was only my imagination but when I sat down & tested the two pens again on various pieces of cardstock I became even more aware of it. The Pilot's tip has a dragging scratchy feel whereas the Pigma Micron is beautifully smooth with almost a gliding sensation in use - the difference between opening a door which hasn't been oiled as opposed to one which has.

My resistance to using watercolour paper when tangling is that it seems impossible to find one that is sufficiently smooth plus white (as opposed to cream which does not contrast as well as white with the black pen) at a reasonable price.

Daler-Rowney Langton 300gsm Hot Pressed Extra Smooth
I tend not to use this watercolour paper when I'm watercolouring with inks - stamping & using a damp brush to drag the colour out - as the ink colours seem to lose their vibrancy. I believe this bleaching effect has something to do with the amount/type of size used during watercolour paper manufacture & therefore varies with type & brand.

The Pigma Micron pen is an absolute joy to use on this giving beautiful coverage when filling in solid areas. The Polychromos pencil also blended magnificently with the tortillon.

If it were not for the creamy colour, I would rate this above the W H Smith 220gsm White Card that came out best in my previous testing. It is also  more costly & far more difficult to obtain than the W H Smith card.

Winsor & Newton Cotman 190gsm Cold Pressed/NOT Grain Fin
The 190gsm weight of this paper makes it ideal for using when an image is to be cut out as well as watercoloured. It is therefore the one that I use most frequently, especially as it is extremely economical in price.

When it came to the Pigma Micron pen the coverage when filling in a solid area was very good - not as good as the Langton - but perfectly good enough. The Polychromos pencil also blended smoothly but again the Langton gave the superior result.

The colour is creamy so once more I would prefer to use the W H Smith 220gsm White Card for tangling, especially as the latter is so economical.

W H Smith 300gsm Watercolour Paper
This was my first encounter with watercolour paper, before I knew very much about how differently various paper surfaces respond to inks & pens etc... I tend to use it only for making colour charts of media which require the application of water for use.

This gave very good coverage when filling in a solid area with the Pigma Micron pen but only allowed very patchy blending of the Polychromos pencil.

The colour is predictably creamy but I would not use this for tangling anyway. I shall use up my supply for making colour charts but doubt that I will buy any more of it.

The W H Smith 220gsm White Card remains my favourite for tangling, especially if I am going to layer it onto another piece of cardstock. If I want more weight to my project without another layer I would use the Langton - the price differential will probably become immaterial when more than one layer is brought into the equation & I may find that in time I shall prefer the subtler contrast against the black provided by the creamy colour.

Sunday, 22 July 2012

Pens & Cardstock

I picked my favourite cardstocks for pencil colouring (the W H Smith & the two Southfields in the top row) & then a selection of cardstocks normally recommended for use with alcohol markers (the three in the second row & the single in the third). Each piece of cardstock is labelled & the various test pieces all marked according to pen type except for the quartet of squares bottom right on each swatch - this was an afterthought where I used a Faber-Castell Polychromos black pencil, blending the top left square with a tortillon & then doing the same but also pulling the colour out from the bottom right square into the bottom left square. I hope that my explanations are sufficiently clear but if not please do not hesitate to ask.

I wanted to see how the Sakura Pigma Micron Pen compared with a similar ordinary fineliner pen available off the shelf from a good Stationers - in this case a Pilot V5 Hi-tecpoint. Of the two I much prefer the Pigma Micron for it has a far superior feel in the hand & has a more consistent line when applied to cardstock. It also has the advantage of being available in differing line widths & is marketed as being waterproof & fade proof. The Pilot's barrel gives no indication of anything but the name. I'd use the Pilot for rough drafts & when practising a new pattern but not for 'proper' tangled artwork.

I was astonished by the cardstock results with the best one, in my opinion, being the relatively inexpensive W H Smith 220 gsm White Card which is readily available throughout the UK.

The W H Smith cardstock gave the most even coverage when it came to filling in solid areas with the Pigma Micron & also gave a nice crisp distinct line. The Polychromos pencil also blends very well on this as there is a little tooth in the surface.

The two Southfield cardstocks, if anything, gave crisper & more distinct lines but disappointingly caught & started to pill the surface when it came to filling in a solid area. The Polychromos pencil blends beautifully on these & a little more evenly than the W H Smith but it is quite a marginal difference for me. When it comes to stamping detailed images these cardstocks are magnificent & I prefer them to the W H Smith  but that wasn't what I was testing for here.

The remaining four cardstocks were all rather disappointing when it came to filling in an area, for the coverage was patchy with the pen's ink seeming almost to pool & stick in areas. To my astonishment there was feathering of the ink on the Neenah & a clear distinct line almost impossible to achieve. None of these four cardstocks allowed the Polychromos pencil to blend smoothly either for they were somehow almost too slick.

These differences may not be visible from a distance or to a non-crafter but in my opinion they affect the overall experience of creating & ultimately the artwork produced as a whole. 

I include close-ups of the what I deemed the 'best' (W H Smith) & the 'worst' (Neenah). In all the photos I have edited out as much of the shadowing as possible & increased both definition & sharpness settings to the maximum.

Friday, 20 July 2012

Nothing Ventured, Nothing Gained

This week Rho Densmore is hosting the weekly challenge run by Laura Harms (also known as The Diva HERE) based upon the Olympic Games & their 1894 motto for taking part:
“The most important thing is not to win but to take part!"

Rho goes on to say:
"In other words, the outcome is not as important as participating in the process. It is the act of being involved that is the greatest victory of all; pushing beyond our personal boundaries, reaching outside our comfort zone, striving to do our best. The results become the “icing on the cake” for our personal journey along the way.
It is this same message that is at the heart of Zentangle, the outcome is not as important as the process. It is the journey each one of us takes one stroke at a time, every time we take our pen and put it to paper. What better way to honor the heart of both endeavors than to have an Olympic inspired Diva Challenge less than a month away from the 2012 Olympic Games in London?"
When I first saw the challenge with the above I didn't dream of taking part, even less so when I started looking at the entries submitted. But, a seed had lodged itself in my mind & I wanted to see how the Olympic logo's rings intertwined & started deconstructing them with pencil & paper. Once I'd worked out how to replicate the logo I combined it with a "Z" string (the basis for a little task I'm involved with on the Chocolate Baroque Forum) in my Rhodia Notebook. Working in my notebook is itself a milestone for me as I'm actually working IN my book not just looking at it afraid of making a mistake & spoiling the page.

tangles: Growth (variation), Cross Stitch, Chillon, Compass
Fear of failure can be very debilitating but unless one tries one will never know. Secondly, what one person sees as 'failure' may be deemed 'success' by another.

Challenge Entered
I am the diva Weekly Challenge 79: Citius, Altius, Fortius

Monday, 16 July 2012

Rock Pool Twinchie

When I first saw the subject of Summer for the second Twinchie challenge I didn't think I'd be entering anything. I'm not quite sure how it came about but I found myself thinking about looking into a rock pool to find shells - a typical summer pastime when holidaying by the sea &, since I had a vague recollection of seeing some kind of shell tangle somewhere, that's where I began.

tangles: Sanibelle, Squid
I recently ordered the Official Zentangle® Kit from run by Linda Farmer as I was particularly attracted by the idea of the 20-sided die & Zentangle Legend™ that it contains. At the moment Linda includes an interactive e-book (emailed as a pdf file) of official tangles with purchases from her site. As I've already received the pdf file I printed it out & had a look through. It's a lovely comprehensive graphic guide - as is Linda's web site which I find myself turning to as well as the Suzanne McNeill books. Imagine my delight when I saw several shell patterns & then stumbled upon this rather magnificent squid. So here I am entering a tangled Summer Twinchie after all - I do hope it is acceptable to enter tangled Twinchies as I can see me doing this upon a regular basis now that I think there might be a way of interpreting the challenge themes.

Challenge Entered

Tuesday, 10 July 2012

Auraknot Twinchie

I didn't for one moment think I'd be making this. In fact I had a completely different idea started in a sketchbook which is rapidly becoming a journal page bit by bit: I shall post that when it is complete. Tangling is becoming quite an adventure for me - I have discovered that there are border tangles in Suzanne McNeill's Zentangle 2 book but am determined to work through the patterns in the Basics book first. It won't be the same for others but I work best with a systematic approach.

Having said that I couldn't resist watching the Auraknot tangle video. As I did so there was a kind of quickening of my heart & I just wanted to have a go to see if I could actually draw such a tangle. I then had an idea for a four-pointed knot with a simple border for a Twinchie but, imagine my astonishment when I found myself adding bits here & there & before I knew it I had a piece of Zentangle Inspired Artwork (or ZIA for short).
tangles: Auraknot, Waves

When I came to upload my photo from the camera I found a photo taken a few days ago when I got carried away making my husband's supper. Is it just my imagination or are there similarities of patterning? I find I'm beginning to 'see' patterns all over the place, the bedroom curtains & the duvet cover amongst them. This is becoming a most intriguing adventure: the thrill of spontaneously completing a project - albeit a small one - in less than one day feels like a tremendous accomplishment.

Challenges Entered
Show us your Twinchies Challenge 1 - Anything Goes
I am the diva Weekly Challenge 78 - "New Official Tangle: Auraknot"

Friday, 6 July 2012

Tangled Twinchie

I decided I would post this - though it seems a very ordinary creation to me - as it might encourage others who are setting out upon something new. It is based upon the first tangle (Crescent Moon) in Suzanne McNeill's Zentangle Basics book. I started out with something else in mind & tried using a stamped image but quickly discovered that I was trying to run before learning to walk - something that I have been reminded of time & again over the last week.

In the past an aspiring artist learnt by serving an apprenticeship & copying his Master's work, he didn't just dive in & produce his first painting, but learnt about his materials & went on from there working on a sound foundation (aha! That's why Art Degrees have Foundation Courses). So, why do I expect myself to be able to produce a stamped or complex piece of artwork with tangling just by looking at the directions & jumping in? Some may find that a congenial approach but I find I am discouraged - that is one of those important lessons that I have been re-learning this week.

So, I have to start from where I am, serving my own apprenticeship & in that way I will relax & learn systematically how to create the complex tangled masterpieces that I see in the blogosphere. Correction: learn how to create more complex tangled pieces according to my own style! Systematic practice is the key coupled with knowledge of materials - I was reminded that the relationship between different papers & pens will give varying results as I wandered away from using the recommended Sakura Pigma Micron Pen on smooth paper.

I had to laugh for as I started to write the above I saw this post, became distracted & began to skim it through but stopped when I came to the story about Maria & Rick testing pens & papers for I wanted to write the above first. I have now avidly read Erin's Zendala Dare 13 through & know from a little experience that what she describes is absolutely true.

Challenge Entered
Show us your Twinchies Challenge 1 - Anything Goes