Saturday, November 30, 2013


Cyrano, Quib, In-a-pod, Panthe, Merryweather, Bridgen

Margaret Bremner just sent out her new tangle, Cyrano.  Actually it looks simpler than it is (at least for me).
She gives about 3-4 versions as examples.  

Even though I have been doing Zentangle for at least two years now...I have never "invented" a tangle of my own.  I am so enthralled with everyone else's that I just don't seem to have the inclination.  There must be easily 800+ that I have personally seen and more books come out all the time with ones I haven't yet seen.  Guess I am more interested in people giving me good inventive elegant ways to USE the tangles and to vary the ones I like.  

Friday, November 29, 2013


Le Pen Sketch with watercolor  5 x 5" Multi-media sketch book

The day after Thanksgiving...It's is sort of like the first day of Christmas now, isn't it?  I know some people are out shopping 'til they drop and that is THEIR tradition.  But our tradition has it that we put up our tree and take out the home decorations and put the Christmas CDs in the player.  Advent starts on Sunday and at church will be "hanging the greens".  Same sort of feeling there too.  I press out the festive holiday table cloths and  look for the wreath to hang on the door.  Despite the palm trees here, Christmas comes just the same!!!    

The smell of turkey still hangs over the kitchen but the wine glasses are washed and put away for green and red takes over the orange and rust color schemes. 

One of the assignments for my sketching class is to sketch "something from the holidays".  So I as I unpacked all those ornaments again this morning I first off rejoiced that I was here to do this familiar task again. And then I lovingly held the angel that has followed us over the years from house to house, smiled over grandson Ben's ceramic ornament, the snowflake I got at breast cancer support's Christmas party so many years ago, the ornaments we collected in our travels...the nutcracker from Germany, the tiny velvet crown from England, the hand woven basket from Kentucky...etc.  So many of the ornaments have a story behind them.  I am sure it is the same for you.

I chose this ornament, hand stitched in yarn for my drawing, however, because it held more memories that I could even imagine.  We give our houses names.  "7 Mile House" was our WI home for 20 years in WI.  It was the first house for Greg and I after we got married 23 years ago.  All our children were married while we lived there and all 12 of our grandchildren were born while we lived there.  The memories piled up like the snow drifts all around the nice ranch house out in the country (7 miles from 4 different towns!).  How we hated to sell it.  But after we retired in 1999, it was time to move on.  

When my friend Kendra made this ornament for us we treasured it as it would remind us of those wonderful times there.  And then, last August, way before her time, Kendra died after a short 3 month illness.  So this is our first Christmas without her.  When this ornament came out of the box, there were tears.  But also smiles.  All those wonderful Christmases with her.  Kendra had the most jolly and infectious laugh. I can hear it still.
Dear Kendra, I loved you well.  

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Tangle a Day Calendar

Carol Ohl's new Zentangle Calendar
I want to highly recommend this amazing Zentangle A Day calendar for 2014.  Just beautifully done and a wonderful gift to yourself or someone who tangles.
Now's the time to order it.  

Go to

I can hardly wait to start mine.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Diva challenge # 146

Well, Pea-nuckle

Sometimes when you are not so fond of a tangle it is time to try it one more time.  I like Well very much.
But Pea-nuckle, which has been around quite awhile, has never been my favorite.  It has some drama to it, but it just is not a favorite and this did nothing really to change my mind.

And I really had a hard time with the two of them together.  Not an easy "marriage" of forms.

The color is watercolor (cobalt violet).

Taking lots of deep breaths

Quib, Mak-rah-mee, Knightsbridge

Just a quiet meditation this morning. Deep breaths. 

I know I should be doing the Diva's challenge but I am not liking the combination she chose this week very much so am procrastinating.  (Pea-nuckle is not my favorite tangle) but then that is why we do challenges. Right?  To try out ones that CHALLENGE us?  Duh. 

So I will try it later today.  I am still entranced by Mak-rah-mee and so am throwing it around in all my tangles this week.  

Many thanks to Barbara Wells, CZT, for sharing her expertise with me a few weeks ago.  We will meet again at the Paradise Retreat in Melbourne in early April.  That is such a delight to think about.

We had a BIG rain storm here in the Orlando area last night...probably over an inch of rain!!!  But sunny and windy now and coolish (65).  Great for my pie baking today.  

We are seating 8 for Thanksgiving here at Mango House in Central Florida and no one has to travel farther than a golf cart ride of a few blocks.  No worry about anyone getting left in a airport!!!

Prayers for all the travelers.  Looks VERY windy in NY for the Macy's Day parade...uh oh.  That is my favorite parade in the whole world!!!  

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

The Gloria Cake

Multi media sketch book, 5 x 6", water soluble pen and watercolor

When I give workshop participants "assignments" I always do them myself.  One assignment was to do a continuous line sketch of something that belongs to someone else IN INK.  Paint it and format it.

I had 17 in the class (see yesterday's blog).  Gloria brought in a beautiful cake for us to sketch but ...we ate it.  SO before we did so, I took a photo.  And while the image was "hot" in my mind...did a little sketch.  Permanent pens are fine for this assignment.

Also, Brenda Swenson recommends Tombow water soluble pens but not having one handy I used a Crayola Fine line Marker color "brown".  (WalMart). 
Not quite as nice but not bad.  Naturally there is some intentional "bleeding" of the line or softening of the line when you add paint.  Brenda says:
My favorite Tombow color is Burnt Sienna #947. It's the only one I use...mixes nicely with watercolors, doesn't stand out or get muddy.

So if you want to try this like the expert does you know!

Monday, November 25, 2013

The meaning of "wonky"

I had 17 show up for my watercolor, ink and sketching class this morning!  Very fun.  We had a lot of fun talking about sketch books, continuous line ink drawing, watercolor and the reasons for sketching. We watched two sections of Brenda Swenson's video.

We explored the meaning of "wonky" which in the dictionary means crooked, off center, askew, unsteady, shaky, faulty, fanciful.  All apply to continuous line sketches!

These two had "such" personality!!!!  The range of experience in the medium was very large from very beginner to quite experienced.  We will meet again on Dec 9.  I have given the class several assignments to practice over the two weeks.  

ps: exciting news.  My daughter and I are signed up to take CZT (Zentangle) training in Providence Rhode Island in June!  We are SO excited!  

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Corner Chompers

Several people have commented on the idea of getting a gadget to "round corners" on tiles.  Memory Keepers is an online store for things like this and they have one on sale (from $25 to $22.49) right now.  click here.  They call them "Corner Chompers".  One really nice thing the more expensive one does is allow you to choose between two sizes of "chomp" where the one above only is one size.  And the more expensive one allows you to cut through plastic and acrylic so I am thinking it might allow you to do more than one paper at a time.  You will also see a video of how to use it at this link.  

They are much more reasonable at Michaels Arts and Crafts.  The one pictured above retails for about $13.00 at Michaels and I got it on sale for $9 last week!  But the drawback is only one size of corner AND only one tile at a time.    

It might be worth the extra money for the fancier one if the rounded corners is important to you and if you are a CZT teaching classes.    

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Horsin' Around

horse statue at the Ocala Civic Theater, Ocala, FL

Here's my hubby standing by the gorgeous horse statue in front of the Ocala Florida Civic Theater this afternoon.  I've seen some of these painted horses in other towns but never one this large or as beautiful.

Ocala is considered the heart of "Florida's Horse Country" and if it were not for the palm trees there are some areas where you would swear you were in Kentucky.  Paddocks of horses as far as you can see in some places.  Lovely barns and stables.  

I could not help but share this...I am sure all the flowers, fruits and vegetables are all grown in Florida.    

Thursday, November 21, 2013


3.5" square  Quib and Mak-rah-mee

It is 8 pm EST.  It is raining steadily in Central Florida...a good soaking lighting or thunder or wind...gentle on the roof and watering the hibiscus!  It is still 73 outside...warm and humid like a July night in Wisconsin.  (It is snowing at our cabin and 32 degrees in northern WI right now.)  ARGHHH.
By Saturday night WI temps will drop to 3 degrees!  

But tonight inside the music is playing softly in the studio and I am immersed in the moment gently watching Quib unfold on my Zentangle for the Diva's challenge this week.  I have snipped off the corners to make the tile "rounded" with my new "corner snipper".  (Who knew they made something for this!)

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Happy surprises

wc and ink on multi-media paper/ 6 x 6"

Today it was my turn to "sit" the art gallery where the Leesburg Art Show is having it's fall show.  This is the view from inside the gallery at the local library out into the hallway with a view of the book store across the hall.  Everyone takes a 4 hour block of time.  It was a rainy afternoon and so we only had about 6 visitors this afternoon.  So I did a little ink/wc sketch.  

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Dip Pen Sketches

Sketch on Multi media paper (about 4 x 5")
Sumi ink and watercolor

I wanted to see if quick sketches were really possible with a dip pen (like Danny Gregory does).  I had some black Sumi ink.  It really works nicely on the multi-media paper which is quite smooth (not Bristol smooth) but close.  

The think I didn't realize was that Sumi ink is not waterproof.  Huh?  I guess I had never painted over it.  Of course it started bleeding out.  Blah!  So India Ink would be much much better, of course.  But I don't have any at the moment.  But the point was using the dip pen and I did like it.  Very easy to work with and light in the hand.  

Not good for portable one wants to carry around a bottle of ink!  But just for sketching your coffee mug, muffin and yogurt in the great.  I used acrylic ink for the muffin (all I had was sepia for that) and I didn't like it as well.  It is too watery.  But it is waterproof.  

You can view Danny doing his here.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Quick Daily Sketch

Daily Sketch examples...12 x 9" Strathmore Visual Journal Mixed Media Paper

In preparation for teaching my 2-part sketching class that starts on Nov 25 here at Hawthorne Park...I am again trying out different paper surfaces for my own daily sketches.  For "around the home" sketches I like a bigger sketch book with smaller studies in it.  For travel and en plein air I often choose a smaller format for ease of carrying.

These sketches are done with black pen first in a continuous line drawing, color added afterwards. 

This is a new journal type...Strathmore's Visual Journals (see Cheap Joe's catalog (Christmas catalog page 48).  I like a lot of about these journals.  They come in two sizes...the 9 x 12 and a smaller 5.5 x 8.
And they come in two papers...watercolor 140# which can allow you to paint on both sides!  And the other choice is the "mixed media" paper of 90# which is good for just about everything (vellum finish) but probably not for painting on both sides).  But you could definitely do dry media on both sides.

Both are SO reasonably priced.  $4.59 for the smaller one and $7.89 for the larger.  This makes it a real bargain and you can surely buy multiples of these.  There are pros and cons to spiral binding of course.  Some people adore that it lays flat and even flips over.  The sketchbooks come with a very hard cover and backing so they have their own "support board".  The idea of a cross-two page spread would be harder in this format.  But if you have one large book and one small one you can just switch back and forth.  

The sketches here are on the 90# multi media paper and I wanted to see if it buckled much and if after dry I could re-lift some highlights.  The re-lifting is best if done while the paint is still slightly damp.  BUT you can go back with a scrubber or slightly stiff brush and lift even after it is bone dry. You just have to work gently so as not to rough up the paper surface.  

I have also sent my students off to see a video of Danny Gregory sketching his breakfast before he eats it. (google Danny Gregory). He uses a dip pen (which I am not suggesting for students) and Dr. Ph Martin's watercolor inks.  The inks are SO concentrated and lovely that I have decided to spring for a small set of them to try them out.  But the idea is more to see how someone does a "quick" and colorful sketch using ink first and then adding color.  
So quickly that your bagel does not dry out.  (hahaha).  I am aiming for the 20-30 minute sketch times here.  I am leaning heavily on Brenda Swenson's method of ink draw, paint, format, print.  
(Brenda's blog is on my list of favorites off to the right).  

Friday, November 15, 2013

Happy Birthday Georgia O'Keefe

Today is the birthday of American artist Georgia O'Keeffe, born in Sun Prairie, Wisconsin (1887). She studied art in college and then supported herself teaching art at various colleges, but she found that teaching left her no time for her own work, and the turpentine smell of the art classrooms made her sick. She went for months and years on end without painting anything, only to start over again and try something new.
On a trip to Taos, New Mexico, O'Keeffe fell in love with the desert. She felt that the thin, dry air helped her to see better, and she devoted the rest of her career to painting desert mountains, flowers, stones, and skulls.
Georgia O'Keeffe said: "Nothing is less real than realism. Details are confusing. It is only by selection, by elimination, by emphasis, that we get at the real meaning of things."

I did get to see the cloud painting in person in Taos one winter on a trip through that area.  For some reason I just fell in love with it.  I am not enamored with all her work...but there are some very beautiful images that I so enjoy.  She was a multi-faceted person.  

Alex Powers has a fascinating article in this most recent issue of International Artist.  All kinds of eclectic essays.  In one section he lists "a partial list of the quality women artists of recent times".  I am shocked that Georgia O'Keefe and Judy Chicago are the only names I recognize out of about 50 names!!!  Of course this is just one person's opinion.  I am now in the process of looking up these other artists!

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Diva's Challenge:'s a bug.

Trust me, I only draw bugs for a challenge.  Bugs are....just not my thing.  I think it's the ticks we get up north in the spring in Wisconsin.  They totally creep me out.

This lady bug ended up look more like a tick.  
You will not be seeing any more Zentangle bugs from me.  

Bugs, with a touch of color was the challenge.
These are markers in metallic lavender and blue.  

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

String theory...

String Thing, Ciceron, Knightsbridge

Nice day today...but VERY windy in central Florida as a front flew through last night and is blowing itself out...I was in jeans and a sweater for the first time since arriving mid-October.  But we'll be back up to 80s in a few days so I am not whining too much.

Had a nice morning as teacher's aid in Leesburg Elementary Schools (Wed mornings).  Got busy with some insurance changes in the afternoon and so my art got set aside...I had time for a little Zentangle after dinner.  It's a curl-up-and-read kind of evening.

I should go and check out the Diva's challenge for this week.  Have a good weekend.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Blips and Borbs...more fun tangles!

Blips, Borbs, Panthe, Cadent, Hollibaugh

I've been away from my Zentangle meditations for a little while...just lots of busy things.  Time to center and settle and begin to set some personal goals for the next few weeks.  

I am very excited that I have signed up to attend the Zentangle Retreat to Paradise in early April.  Sounds like a "wow" event.  See here for details.

Retreat deadline is November 15 although you can enter later for a slight increase in fee.  It will be a 3-day event held near Melbourne, FL.  The focus of the event will be more on the "meditative" nature of Zentangle but all kinds of wonderful workshops will be offered during the 3 days all at the Doubletree Hilton on the Ocean front!  How neat is THAT!

First comes the Fall Leesburg Art Association show (see side bar) and THEN...

.....comes the holidays.  Whew...are you getting that feeling that it's ready to pounce on us!?  I mean it's only 16 days to Thanksgiving!!!  It's especially slippery in Florida where 80 degree sunshine and palm trees just fool you.  But turkeys, mashed potatoes and pumpkin pie come here too!  
It'll be fun.  We are having 4 friends over.  

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Zentangle Workshop Today (Nov 7)

What a great group of gals....I had 15 for the workshop this morning.  We started right at 9:30 and ended at 12:30 without a break.  (I work my participants hard!)

Thanks to everyone for coming and I hope you had a good experience.  Happy tangling!

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Step by step a path, stone by stone, a cathedral.

Sandhill cranes visiting my yard last week

A large # of people who follow my blog have written to me to express their sympathy after reading my blogpost called "Sorrow" last week.  It discussed briefly my sorry and dismay at learning that Robert Genn (a Canadian acrylic artist whose blog I follow) was diagnosed with Pancreatic Cancer and given a year to live.  Even though I do not know Robert personally, blogs, like journals, create intimate friendships.  All of us who follow Robert are in shock.  

Each of his blog posts following his announcement has been filled with such poignant and amazing words of wisdom tinged with sorrow and insight and clarity as to make all of us both weep and laugh.  

This morning his daughter Sara (a fine artist and writer in her own right) wrote the blog.  It came to me at the same time I got a birth announcement with accompanying baby photo from CA from a dear friend announcing her grandson's entry into the world.  I suddenly realized that the baby's name is Robert.  I sat and looked at the baby's angelic face and re-read Sara's letter again, looking out over the lawn you see above and imaging the Sandhill cranes recently there. Realizing that they had come at "the magic hour".    

Here is Sara's letter:

The Magic Hour

November 5, 2013

Dear Ginny,

I have a memory from my childhood of walking alone with my Dad, somewhere in Brittany. I was about eleven. We were talking about the Post-Impressionists and about waiting for the day's end, the best painting light - the "magic hour." It was one of my "firsts": my first recollection of our first conversation on a subject my Dad and I are still getting to the bottom of. I remember how we walked together side by side, Dad and I, his ideas tumbling out of him like paving stones on a path in front of me. He had given me my first journal and my first camera, and he'd even ordered for me my first endive salad, but it was our back and forth that etched the journey.

Today, Dad and I are dividing our time between trips to the BC Cancer Agency, and near-idyllic hours in the studio going over our usual themes: art, music, writing, love. You'd think we'd almost forgotten about the cloud now hanging over us - our timer (a little obscure, dodgy) - brought to our attention by Dr. Cheyne and the CT results.

Today, I also remember Dad sharing with you some words I delivered at his 75th birthday party - just two and a half years ago. It was a rumination on how I might get the entire contents of Dad's brain into my own brain before the end of our allotted time together. My only solution to the panic I was feeling was to keep in mind something I'd recently read in a book on creativity, Stoking the Creative Fires, by San Francisco author Phil Cousineau. The author quoted his own grandfather: "Step by step a path, stone by stone, a cathedral."

Now, it seems, our steps are a little quicker. In these early days of our new paradigm, with the exception of the abrupt awareness of time, I've realized that it's business as usual. Dad's mental leaps around the creation station remain bubbling and intense. He's still tamping down his routes between the writing, painting, thinking, reading and bathtub stations. I'm here, my face in his sweater, or leaning forward in the chair across from his. We're going over the same stuff we started in Brittany. The only difference is our unspoken acknowledgement: It's magic hour.



Sunday, November 3, 2013

The New River Train Ride

What an amazing day!  On Oct 20th, we were on the New River Train trip (dome car) taking an all-day round trip from Huntington, WV to Hinton, WV and back.  At Hinton they were having their fall festival and we toured the adorable train museum, ate lunch at a local "tea room" on the front porch in the sunshine and met so many darling folks on the train!

We were served breakfast and dinner on the train too which was an extra special treat.  The train followed several different rivers and went over bridges and we saw amazing bridges too.  Just a wonderful trip. 

We are back to our FL home now...were it is 80 most days!  And the ice is forming on the lakes up at the cabin.  We got out of Dodge just in time!