Tuesday, 29 September 2015

Diva challenge #237

Welcome to my blog and thanks for visiting. 

I have only had my blog going for a couple of weeks but have already received hundreds of page views as well as some lovely comments. Your comments and page views have given me confidence in my drawing skills and encourage me to keep exploring drawing.

This week's challenge was to use a stencil to create the string. I found this challenging in two ways. One was to create a mess, when Zentangle is such a mess-free medium.  Here's my messy kitchen bench. What you don't see in the photo are my blue-green stained fingers (my spray bottles didn't spray so I had to blot with cotton swabs)..

The second challenging aspect of this challenge was the actual tangling. I found it hard to decide whether to tangle the coloured or white spaces, and to decide what tangles to use. I quite liked to unadorned, stencilled tiles, so choosing how to add to them was quite difficult.

Below is the tile I'm most happy with.

This tile uses waves, barber pole and elements of zenith in black ink. Then crescent moon, tipple, random squiggly lines, random straight lines and auras in metallic gold gel pen. Finally, I added fading/ shading (?) with a white pencil.  

Here are the other tiles I made today.

If you've been to the home page of my blog you will see that the photo of the week is a photo of my cat Dobby. Dobby passed away a few days ago from kidney cancer. 

Below is an opus tile I created last night for him. It's titled 'Thanks for the memories". The tangles I used were verdigogh, shattuck, oke and Luv-a.  I didn't use a string, except as a guide to keep verdigogh neat. 

Thanks for viewing this page.

Miss L

Monday, 28 September 2015

ZIA fence art instructions


  • recycled cupboard door or picture frames
  • thin MDF or other backing board
  • white exterior paint
  • paint pens
  • spray sealant.

Last week the Diva challenged her followers to tangle on something different. I received lots of lovely feedback on my efforts as well as questions about how to create the ZIA fence art.

This is the ZIA that I'm referring to.

The design for this piece was inspired by a design in Rick and Maria's gallery on their Zentangle website. I created 3 pieces over a couple of days. Here they are.

The materials I used were all inexpensive and easy to obtain. The frames are cupboard doors that I purchased from my local recycling centre. I took the glass front off and gave the frames a clean with a damp cloth.

The backing board is made from 2mm thick MDF. This is a strong, inexpensive reconstituted wood product that I bought from my local hardware store. A $6 sheet was more than enough for all three doors.

I cut the boards to size then painted them with several coats of a standard exterior white paint.

I then followed the usual process for drawing, using strings and selecting tangles. The pens I used were Liquitex paint markers. I purchased them from my local art store. I chose them over Sharpie markers as I thought they would be more durable outside.

Finally, I sealed the artworks with 2 coats of a spray sealer. I used a spray sealer rather than a paint-on sealer because the spray dealer didn't make the design run or blur.

I don't know how permanent the artworks are going to be. That's not important. At the moment the artworks are providing visual interest to an otherwise grey fence. 

Here are some more ZIA fence art that I'm yet to hang.

Let me know if you found this blog post helpful or if it has inspired you to create your own outdoors ZIA. 


Miss L

Sunday, 27 September 2015

ZIA Opus tile - almost

Below is the artwork that I've been working on this week. It's the size of an opus tile but created on artist's paper. 

I've used a few different techniques to create it. One is to cut the paper into strips. I've seen this done at school with the infants and primary students and thought I might try it out. The second was to use the Zentangle method of drawing a string over multiple tiles, tangling each tile, then putting it all back together again. This is called creating an ensemble. (see the Zentangle website for more information).

I used Reeves' acrylic painting pad, 300 gsm, which is my favourite alternative to Zentangle paper.

The tangles I used include (from left to right, starting at the top): cyme, bunzo, hibred, pop cloud, zenith, rixty, wist, crescent moon, sedgling, knightsbridge, keeko and mak-rah-mee.

The words are from Bijou. I have these words hung around the art wall in my study.

The only non-Zentangle thing on the pin board is my school timetable (I teacher Year 7 history and English). All the drawings are my own except the Bijou quotes.


Miss L

Friday, 25 September 2015

Palliative care for my cat

Update: Saturday 26 Sept.

Dobby passed away this afternoon. He declined very quickly from Thursday afternoon to this morning. He was in a lot of pain despite the pain medication he was given. 

Dobby spent yesterday hiding from us under the couch, not wanting to be touched. He spent today sitting nearby Moo and myself, wanting pats and wanting to be near us but unable to be picked up and cuddled. He enjoyed his treat of salami. 

Dobby passed peacefully in my arms at our local vet clinic. 

How do you process the imminent death of a much loved family pet? How do you cope when the news is utterly unexpected and the death very near?

This is Dobby, the elder of our two cats. Dobby is almost 8 years old. He is a moggy from the local RSPCA. We think he has a lot of Abyssinian in him given his colouring and his liking for being very firmly patted (even whacked) on his rump. The RSPCA calls his breed domestic short hair. He's been in our family since January 2008.

Dobby was named after a house elf who featured prominently in several of the Harry Potter books, and was Harry's saviour in the final book.

Dobby is dying. We found out this evening that he has advanced, terminal lymphoma that has almost destroyed both his kidneys. The disease is untreatable at any stage of diagnosis. Dobby's only sign of illness has been weight loss, which is what prompted me to take him to the vet today *.

* I say 'today' but I mean Thursday afternoon and evening. I'm writing this at 2.30am Friday morning. Sleep is not something that is going to happen to me for some hours yet.

Dobby is at home with us until we decide that his pain and discomfort are too great for him to bear. He could have a couple of days with us, maybe more. 

I don't think he has long. He has been avoiding me all night, which is out of character. He won't let me pat him for more than a few seconds. Totally, totally out of character, even after a visit to the vet. 

How am I meant to process this? 

Expect more Dobby-focused blog posts over the coming days.

Miss L

Tuesday, 22 September 2015

Diva challenge #236 - Tangle the unexpected

I look forward to coming home from work on a Tuesday and finding the latest Diva challenge to work on. While I have been tangling for over a year now, and have attempted some Diva challenges in the past, it is only now that I have this blog that I do the challenges regularly.

I live on the other side of the world to the Diva, so her Monday challenge becomes a Tuesday evening one for me (and many other Aussie Tanglers, I'm sure).

The challenge this week was to tangle on something unexpected. I chose to tangle on some old scrapbooking paper. I'm really, really pleased with both my efforts. I think my first attempt is one of the best tiles I've ever created. 

The tile features dex, betweed and a tiny bit of tipple. I've merged the original print with the tangles by adding an aura and copying elements of the original. I've also highlighted elements of the brown print.

Here's the un-tangled original.

My next attempt at the challenge was to reproduce a design I've used before but on a patterned 'tile'. The tile in this case is more scrapbooking paper.

This tile uses cyme. Shelly Beauchamp CZT uses this tangle to great effect in her work.

Finally, I have an example of ZIA that hangs on my side fence. I created the piece months ago. It is about 80cm tall by 40cm wide. It is particle board with a frame made from an old cupboard door. I have several versions of these on the fence. 

The ZIA fence art has been weather-proofed with a product called Mat Spray, which is described as a permanent mat finish for all papers and boards. The boards have been up for several months during a wet, windy Canberra winter. So far, so good. 

Please feel free to comment on the artwork you see on my blog.


Miss L

Thanks to all the people commenting about this week's Diva challenge. It is rewarding to have such supportive comments about my work.  Come back to this blog in the next week or so to see a feature about my ZIA door art.

Miss L

I've created a blog post with instructions and materials list for the ZIA fence art. 

ZIA fence art instructions

Sunday, 20 September 2015

Opus tile with teapot

My obsession with teapots continues with another Opus tile featuring a teapot. 

This my second opus tile with teapot. This time I made the teapot larger. The bowl of the teapot is actually stuck on over the top of a complete mess I made underneath.

Have you ever had the experience in art where a piece is almost finished and you add a final touch, but that touch ruins the whole thing? It's a bit like skiing and deciding to do one final run. That final run, if you do do it, is the one where you are most likely to injure yourself.  At least with Zentangle I can cover the mistake.

The teapot comprises printemps, knightsbridge and arrowheads with quibs used as the steam. The surrounds, starting bottom left, are arukas, wist, tagh, finery, tripoli and rixty. There's also boarder of something like a chain that I found in some artwork by Shelly Beauchamp (CZT). 

One of the many things I learnt from Shelly was how to link tangles. The rixty and wist coming out of arukas is something I've seen in Shelly's as-yet-unpublished book. Shelley also does lovely, even tripoli. I'm yet to get mine as even as hers. Check out Shelly's blog at:  http://shellybeauch.blogspot.com.au/.

This weekend the Husband and I went for a drive to Yass. We'd won a gift voucher for a nursery there so made an afternoon of visiting the town. We had lunch, wondered down the main street, bought some plants and ventured into an antique/ brick-a-brack store. There I found a couple of teapots.

I found one and was about to pay for it when the shop owner asked if I'd seen this other one like it. I bought both.

So tacky but charming too. 

One last photo is an unexpected find in my travels. The Husband and I were travelling around Tasmania last year. I chose our accommodation in Launceston. The building dated from about 1850, so suited our interest in colonial history and buildings with a bit of character.

The photo is of the breakfast room in the Old Bakery Inn B & B. 

These are just a couple of the many, many unique and quirky teapots on show in this room. I'm on the hunt for my own.

Enjoy and keep drawing.

Suggestions for what to include on this blog are welcome.

Miss L

Saturday, 19 September 2015

What's for dinner?

Today, being Saturday, I decided to cook something that takes a bit of time. I'm also enjoying having an oven that works properly, so my thinking was around using the oven. 

My initial idea was to do a basic roast chicken. That idea lasted until I didn't get to the shops till nearly 4pm and could no longer be bothered with doing a roast. Plus, when I make a roast chicken I usually make quite a bit of mess or create a lot of washing up. As I'd already done that once today (see what I made for dessert!), I went for something simpler.

So, tonight's dinner was tarragon chicken with roast potato and sweet potato and lovely spring green beans. Dessert was chocolate brownie and berry cheesecake stack. 

Tuesday, 15 September 2015

Diva Challenge #235

This week's I am the Diva challenge was to use a string made of horizontal lines.

This tile features a variant of Purk, linked by Betweed, and bordered with Shattuck. I used a Renaissance tile as I wanted to see how it would work with Purk and a white wax pencil for highlights. 

I'm still struggling with Betweed. The heavy weights at the end of each line go lumpy for me. Any suggestions?

This second tile is another Renaissance tile and a white waxed pencil. I started with two Barber Poles (take a look at my recent Opus tiles to see how I've used them), added some Tripoli to accidentally create a brick-like string and then went a bit crazy adding other tangles. Printemps, Tipple, Tagh, Quabog and another tangle I don't know the name of are here. This is a good argument that less is best. Not one of my better tiles but it's the process that counts, right?

Finally I have an original tile with an old favourite, Knightsbridge. Knightsbridge was one of the first tangles I learnt and one of the first I started to Tangleate (?). Behind Knightsbridge is Quib, cornered by Oke and Squill.


Miss L

Monday, 14 September 2015

Opus tile with teapot

Today I created an opus tile that I'm happy with. It features one of my favourite motifs, which is a teapot.

The photo doesn't show it but the teapot is sitting about 2mm off the tile, using little foam blocks. Next time I'll make the teapot bigger. I'm pleased with the overall effect though. I enjoyed the process, which is main thing in Zentangle anyway.

Your thoughts? I appreciate comments on my blog and I try to reply. 

Why the teapot?

I like tea. I drink it most days - black, no sugar, and a splash of cold water to bring the temperature down a notch. Can't stand coffee. 

I drink regularly from a selection of about several black teas (Prince of Wales, Earl Grey Blue Flower, and some Assam teas). Then there's another 8 or more teas that I drink occasionally (black tea with chocolate, vanilla, Monk pear, and a tea called Stockholm Blend fall into this category). 

My tea collection includes teapots. I love their shape and how artists/designers play with this basic shape and function. Pictured below are a few of my teapots. Each has a story or memory associated. 

Since learning to Tangle, I've played with teapots as a motif. Pictured below is a large framed collection of mono-tangled teapots that I created for a friend. One day I will tangle an actual porcelain teapot, when I find the right materials to use. 


Miss L

Sunday, 13 September 2015

What's for dinner?

Tonight's dinner was a family favourite - homemade sweet potato gnocchi.

The gnocchi is equal parts sweet potato and plain flour, with a handful of parmesan and a little salt. It's finished with prosciutto, sage, butter and a touch of lemon-infused olive oil. 

Saturday, 12 September 2015

Creating something lovely with Opus tiles

This week I've been working on an Opus tile. Opus tiles are Zentangle tiles that are much bigger.

The standard Zentangle tile is 3 inches square. An opus tile is 9 inches. 

This the finished tile.

The challenge in moving from small to large is that there is so much space to fill. Errors in proportion and tangle selection really show up. Lack of confidence in myself as an artist is also a big issue for these sized tiles.

Anyway ....

When in doubt, go back to basics. For Zentangle that means:

  • Be still: relax, be calm, allow yourself to let go.
  • Frame: create the border on your tile
  • String: divide the space into sections
  • Fill: fill each section, focusing on each section at a time
  • Shade: add shading and dimension
  • Finish: take time to admire your art.
Additional basic steps for me are:

  • Focus on each section as I draw and stop worrying about the next one
  • Turn off the self critical person sitting on my shoulder
  • Enjoy the process as a process and try not to think of the outcome.
  • Admire my art at each stage of the process.
  • Look for ways to add little touches to the tile to bring it all together.
  • Celebrate my creativity by sharing it on my blog.
Below are some of the steps along the way of creating this tile.

Start with a string. This string has more elements that I'd use for a traditional tile.

My first tangle was barber poles. I like the 3D effect it has, even before shading.

I next added dex, which is a new tangle for me, then flux on one side, and poke root and poke leaf on the other.

Then I started to file the top half of the tile. I decided to focus on angular tangles as a contrast to the flowing designs on the bottom half.
The tile is almost finished here. All the strings have been filled. The next steps were to shade and then add final elements. Final elements included adding the tangle tipple into the spaces of flux and poke root and leaf, and to add little floating squares into the void between barber poles and dex. I also extended flux out just a little to break up the hard border.

Can you see the difference that shading and those final touches make? I learnt about the importance of adding those final, small details from Michelle Beauchamp CZT when I visited here earlier this year. 

I hope you enjoy reading this blog. Comments are welcome.

Miss L

Sunday, 6 September 2015

What's for dinner?

Dinner last night (Saturday night) was based on a recipes in the latest 'taste' magazine.

I don't normally buy this magazine as I have enough cook books to last my family and I a long, long time. I bought this edition because the cover looked so appealing and I have a new oven which has got me motivated to bake again.

For mains I cooked 'throw-it-all-together' chicken dinner (p88) and for dessert I modified the recipe for 'Louise's baked pumpkin doughnuts'.

The chicken dinner recipe was pretty easy. There was a marinade of yogurt, coriander, ginger, garlic and chilli. I marinated the chicken for a few hours then stuck it in the oven. The butcher at the markets cut a whole chicken for me, which was nice of him. Any bits of chicken I didn't cook went to one very happy dog.

I served the chicken on a basic leafy salad with a yogurt, mint and lemon juice dressing for the adults, which a side of toasty Lebanese bread. For the no-veggies-for-me kids I turned the meal into a sandwich. 

Here's how it turned out.

The recipe for dessert was this lovely-looking oven baked doughnut. I didn't have a pan for this so used some mini-muffin trays instead. 

The premise of this recipe was to offer a 'nice', that is healthy, alternative to the 'naughty' recipe made by another chef. 

The recipe used pumpkin puree with eggs, brown sugar, olive oil and SR flour. To the cinnamon in the recipe I added ground cardamon and freshly ground nutmeg. I served my mini muffins on a bed of apples and whipped cream. 

I cooked the apples in butter, maple-flavoured castor sugar and pear schnapps . The pear schnapps intensified the flavour of the Royal Gala apples I used. I added the maple sugar to the cream as well. If I'd had pecans they may have gone in too.

Here's the result.

This is a recipe I will use again. The muffins were incredibly light. I did not expect that as I thought the pumpkin puree would be dense. It wasn't and the muffins were delicious. Don't think I need to bother getting a doughnut pan as the muffin pan worked fine, even for the normal sized ones I also made. 

Dinner tonight will be homemade hamburgers. Hamburgers are an easy way for the adults to get a veggie fix while the kids continue to avoid them. 

A note about children and vegetables

My kids are Moo* who is 18, a girl and at uni, and BoyBoy* who is 16, a boy and in Year 10 (* not their real names). We introduced them to a wide variety of fresh and homemade food from the time they started on solid food. We tried hiding vegetables, we tried getting the kids to help cook, we tried bribery, we tried guilt and tantrums (from the adults), we tried tantrums (from them this time), we tried getting them to grow their own food, we tried taking them to restaurants (they behaved well or were taken outside for some quiet time). 

Nothing has worked.

My kids are great with any legume you care to name. They love sweet potato. Carrots are Ok for both but not cooked, I think ? Peas are fine for one. Corn is fine for the other. Both will eat corn on the cob, but only one will eat it if it is boiled while the other can handle it either boiled or BBQ'd. Onions and anything in the onion family are out, out, out. 

My kids are also great with cheese. While BoyBoy isn't fond of parmesan he will enjoy goat. Moo likes any cheese except goat. Neither are into Blue but that I can live with.

On the plus side both kids are healthy, active, and mostly good company. The time for them to explore food and broaden their taste horizons will probably come when they leave home and are in control of the whole process. That's what happened to me.

At uni I acquired a social life that involved eating at different styles of restaurants and helping prepare food for others. My love for middle eastern food and my utter dislike of firm tofu probably date from those experiences. 

Anyway ....

I hope you like reading this blog. Comments are welcome.


Miss L

Saturday, 5 September 2015

Framz - a new tangle for me

Today I taught myself a new tangle. It's called 'Framz' and I found it in my Tangle Guide which is an ebook I purchased from TanglePatterns.com. 

This book and website are my main reference sources. I use them to find new tangles to learn and to remind myself how to draw tangles that I haven't used for a while. The website links to the step outs of a tangle, which is then followed by some examples of how to use it.  I often use the examples as a guide as I practice, learn and experiment with new tangles.

Anyway ..... Here's my play with Framz.

One of the wonderful things about Zentangle is that mistakes or not-turning-out-as-I-expected-oh-dear-it-looks-a-mess is that the art form is forgiving. A good example is the tile which has Framz used a frame. 

This tile did not work as expected. I added the curly edges to each frame, as I'd seen in Tangle Patterns. The curly edges looked good in the book but not here. So I added a little bit of colour. The colour makes it less busy somehow. The very simple Auraknot in the middle also draws my eye away from the bits I don't really like.

Earlier this week I played with strings, or rather one string. 

Here we have one string four ways.

My favourite of the four versions is the top left, which is Purk and Florz. I'm also happy with the top right which is Bales surrounded by all time favourite Flux. 

The point of Zentangle is the doing, not the done. The process, not the product. This is something I have to work on. It is easy to be critical of yourself. Much harder to be forgiving and accepting. On this blog you will many examples of work that I'm not happy with. I'll share the work any way.

Thanks for commenting on my blog. 


Miss L

Wednesday, 2 September 2015

Today I'm......

Today I am:

  • Finally getting my voice back after over two weeks of laryngitis. This is not a great illness to have when you are a teacher. Two days off work and not talking much has helped.
  • Feeling good for my friend who has just won a permanent position at my school. 
  • Enjoying having a working oven again. Ours died about 6 weeks ago. It was 14 years old so time to go?
  • Enjoying eating the triple choc cookies that daughter Moo made in the new oven. I could only have one but "I don't have a sweet tooth" husband had two.
  • Enjoying the spring weather.
  • Not enjoying the start of hay fever season. 
  • Continuing to binge-watch Scrubs. It is a moderately funny US sitcom set in a hospital. Not very original but easy watching. Husband and I watch a couple of episodes each night. Nothing worth watching on free TV.
  • Continuing to read Terry Pratchett's Disc World novels. I'm currently reading 'Going Postal'. As soon as I finish this book I'll read 'The Shepherd's Crown' which has recently been published.

A note about Sir Terry Pratchett
  • Pratchett's Disc World novels are my favourite books.
  • I have been re-reading them solidly since Pratchett died a few months ago as homage to his work.
  • While I love the Disc World novels, I just can't get into any of his other works. I also struggle with the Disc World for younger reader books. 
  • I owe a huge debt of gratitude to my friend Spud who introduced me to these books many, many years ago.

Today's tangles

I didn't feel up to drawing today. Instead, I stuck a lot of finished tiles in my display book. The photo below is a collection of small squares mono-tangles that I finally stuck on card board. I created the squares after seeing a display of tiles at a Nandos store. Inspiration can come from unexpected places.

Miss L


I am the Diva weekly challenge #233

This week's challenge is to explore the new tangle 'Zenith'. I combined one version with quabog to make something that reminds me of a carpet. In the other I simply repeated the pattern across the whole tile.

Here's my attempts. Sometimes it's hard to remember that there are no mistakes in Zentangle and to value whatever it is you end up with on your tile. 


Miss L

Tuesday, 1 September 2015

Zentangle and me

The official description: 
Zentangle is an easy to learn method of creating beautiful images from repetitive patterns.
The Zentangle art form and method was created by Rick Roberts and Maria Thomas. Zentangle® is a registered trademark of Zentangle, Inc. Learn more at zentangle.com.

My description: 
Zentangle is an easy to learn method of creating beautiful images from repetitive patterns.
My experience:

This art form is easy to learn. It can also be incredibly complicated too, so no limits to creativity for either the beginner or expert.

I have been teaching myself this art form for a year. I stumbled on it by accident when searching Amazon for a book on doodling that I could use with students for my before school drawing club. The book Pattern Play by Cris Letourneau and Sonya Yencer came up as 'customers who bought this also bought ....'.

Pattern Play was the beginning of my Zentangle life. 

I loved the concept that you don't need to know how to draw to be able to create beautiful drawings. You don't need many materials. It is mess-free. It is portable. It has clear 'rules' which allow you to be free to explore your own creativity. 

My next purchase was One Zentangle a Day by Beckah Krahula. This book introduced a bit of discipline to my learning and drawing. It gave me a focus and helped me understand some of the concepts better, such as the use of strings. 

At first I used visual diaries and standard felt tip pens for my Zentangle drawings, ignoring the advice in Pattern Play and on the official Zentangle website about using the special tiles and the top quality Sakura pens. 

Later, once I'd proven to myself that this art form was something I was going to stick with, I purchased a starter kit and book from the Zentangle website.

The starter kit introduced me to the importance of using quality materials. The paper and pens do make a difference. They are wonderful to work with and they help me value my own creative efforts.

I expanded my learning when I discovered www.tanglepatterns.com. This is website is my go-to for instructions on tangles that I'm learning or can't remember how to draw. 

The next so so important step for me was to work with a CZT. A CZT is a Certified Zentangle Teacher. CZT's can be found on the Zentangle website.

I spent two incredible days in July working with Michelle Beauchamp. Shelly tangles at the blog http://shellybeauch.blogspot.com.au. By working with Shelly I was able to refine my drawing skills and learn how to incorporate colour into my art work. 

Shelly was also able to demonstrate how to draw some the tangles that I just couldn't make sense of otherwise. I'm talking about the tangles B'tweed, aura knots, fengle and tripoli here. 

I hope to visit Shelly again next year. Maybe I'll also travel to the States to become a CZT myself.

For now, I draw most days. I use the Sakura pens and I draw on either original Zentangle tiles, Bijou tiles or Opus tiles (my new favourite). Sometimes I use artist acrylic paper with a GSM of 200+.

Drawing is fun, relaxing and the best creative outlet that I've tried so far.

Here is my latest Opus tile.


Miss L