Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Zentangle Art Show in December!



ITTY BITTY ART SHOW AND SALE 

 ZENTANGLE INSPIRED ART

BY LORETTA WEST, CERTIFIED ZENTANGLE TEACHER

WHEN: SATURDAY, DECEMBER 12TH

        NOON TO 2 PM (SHORT AND SWEET)

WHERE: MELLOW MONKEY YOGA

           9017 E EUCLID, MILLWOOD, ARGONNE EXIT

INFO: 509 -995 1647 

Friday, November 13, 2015

 

 

November Funk? Pause is good.

If I had my choice I think that in every November I would head to Hawaii, sit on the beach with an improving drink and good book and wait for it to be over, or when someone calls to say that  the ski trails are open.  It has to be one of my least favorite months.  It's kind of like an in between month.  In between the warmth of summer and fall and the crispness and coziness of winter.

I do all I can to resist going inside, both bodily and spiritually, even though I know that it is what I need the most. A time to clear out my inner closet of the stuff that has been brewing on the back burner far too long.  My mood gets a bit bleaker and when my husband gets the Happy Light out of the garage....well that's the hint that he's had enough and it's time to get to work for me.

However, nearing the middle of the month,  I start to appreciate November a bit more....warming good food, like soups and stews, fire place crackling while the wind and rain hit the windows. Friends who you haven't heard from most of the warm months are present again. More time for tangling and other art projects. Oh yes, and Netflix binges, can't forget those!

On our recent vacation in Europe we grew to appreciate a really good morning cappuccino...it's something about that Euro-cow's milk that makes it taste so good.  We started a bit of a habit just before heading out for the day or in the midst of our morning, which was to stop at an outdoor café and have a nice cup.  It was a time to pause, to reconnect with each other and watch the locals as they chatted and read actual paper books!  Starbucks has nothing on the café culture in Europe, it's a special society onto itself.  Cafes are everywhere and open all day so you can sit outside (as many have awnings and heaters) and relax.  So we have started doing this at home in the mornings (though inside), having bought a stove top espresso maker.  It's not sitting by the Mediterranean watching the waves roll in, but it is just fine to sit and watch the November winds whip by the window as we sip together.

I think I have now accepted that November is good...it's about taking a pause, clearing out and breathing in some space in your heart before the Holidays happen again.  One day I may even look forward to it.

When I'm not sipping you can find me this month teaching FREE Zentangle Classes through the Spokane County Libraries.  We are doing variations of a different tangle for each class.

Wed, Nov 18 @ 1 pm - Cheney Library
Thurs, Nov 19 @ 7 pm - North Spokane Library
Tues, Nov 24 @ 1 pm - Airway Heights Library
Wed, Nov 25 @ 7 pm - Argonne Library



And Speaking of Libraries don't forget to see the display at the downtown Library of Zendalas on the second floor.  This photo  is just a small bit of it. Big Applause to all the folks at the libraries for bringing FREE Zentangle Classes to you!!!!



 
Ring-a-Ding-Ding...

It's A Special Zentangle Holiday Workshop!


When: Sat. Dec 5th from 10 am to 1 pm

Where: Spokane Art Supply, 1303 N Monroe, Spokane

Cost: $40 per person prepaid

Includes all supplies

Using the Zentangle Method, we will create beautiful tangle inspired Holiday Ornaments to compliment any décor.   Beginners welcome!

To register: you can go to this link
 Click on the classes tab and then the Buy Now Baby Button!  and you're in business!

Or contact me via email...colorgardenstudio@comcast.net or call or text to 509-995-1647 and we'll get you signed up via invoice.

Get your Bells on and we'll see you on the 5th!!



Art Show and Sale Saturday, Dec 12  
When it comes to showing my work in PUBLIC (YIKES!) I am a bit of an introvert okay a lot of an introvert. So you'd better mark your calendars because it's been a long time and I am coming out!
 I will be showing and selling (yes, that's right, you like it and buy it kind of thing) my art work!!!
It will be part of the open house and craft sale at the Mellow Monkey Yoga Studio where I bend my body into different pretzel shapes. at 9017 E Euclid, Millwood (off of Argonne Exit)

The open house is on Saturday, December 12th from noon to 4 pm and I will be there from noon to 2 p.m.
Hope to see you there!!


 

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Taking a Pause - Nature does not hurry, yet everything is accomplished. - Lao Tzu




Autumn....a favorite season of mine.  A closing of the summer and a turning to the inside.  Inside our homes, inside our familial and friendship ties and inside our hearts.  Yes, it is also a very busy time as well, as people return to school, and the summer growth is preserved and the circle of life continues. 

For me it is a very busy time as more classes are taught in the colder months and more art work is created for myself and others. I have so many lists in my head. So yesterday I escaped!

I had a million and one things on my to do list that HAD to be done and I had just finished a spell of errands on the east side of town.  The day was warm for this time of year, the sky mostly blue, not to be squandered.  I calculated that if  I just left town right then I could be sitting on our sailboat in about an hour with a stop to pick up lunch on the way.  In the space of driving a block I had an argument in my head about rest vs. getting things done!  What a battle!  In the end the call of the interstate exit was overpowering and off I went. As I drove I could literally feel the anxiety of responsibility shed off my skin.  Then when I got to the lake, it was quiet and soft. The minute I stepped on the dock, I was a new person.

Artwork by Loretta West completed for traveling the world journal
 
On the previous weekend, I talked with a couple of girl friends while out kayaking about the effect of water on the soul.  What a balm just floating can be and how cares just drift away as if the water is a wonderful barrier between our true relaxed selves and the outside world. A remembrance of the womb, perhaps. Contrary to many beliefs the doing task driven self is not who you truly are, that's just what you do.  It is the relaxed self that is your true self.   I think that down deep we all know this and crave the peace that relaxation brings.

By the time I got home in the evening, I felt refreshed and able to focus on my tasks in a more relaxed way.  Concentrate on what was most important and let the rest of it just fall away....most was just add on noise anyway. 

So how we find these pauses or breaks throughout the day when we can't escape as I did?  It's kind of like exercise.  If you look at exercise as having to find the time to put in 30 minutes per day in one chunk, many folks can't find the time, but if you do it in increments then it becomes available.  Just like Zentangle which is divided into small areas and can be completed in small increments, so can relaxation pauses throughout your day.

We are similar to a computer in some ways.  Ever try to do too many tasks too fast on your computer and it gets stuck or crashes all together because it's overloaded?  We are the same, we have limits and when we are overwhelmed by too many tasks we can become stuck and anxious or depressed. Here are some other tools besides tangling that I have found useful over the years when I have been snowed under by tasks. 



1.  Do small things greatly.  That is to say, make the daily tasks a mindful experience.  For example, when you head to the fridge, think about every step you take to get there, how does your foot feel on the floor when it lands?  Can you slow it down and really feel it? When you reach for the fridge handle, can you really feel it with your hands and slow down the action to feel the force that you are pulling against?  When you open the door really take a moment to feel the coolness of the air, maybe even the smell? Ewe?.... Maybe not that bit.  You get the picture.  When I am in a hurry which is a lot of the time, I try very hard to slow myself down and do things with this mindful approach. It helps.  It also prevents me from breaking dishes, or loosing my keys, or wondering what I am doing in this room?  When you eat, just eat, don't read, don't watch a screen, just concentrate on every bite as it if it were nectar the of the Gods!  Savor it.

2. Take mini breaks.  You can put your Zentangle tools in a spot in your home or work space which you pass and when you pass by sit down and tangle a few minutes, take some deep breaths and then carry on. Create a little Zentangle relaxation station of tiles, pencils, pens and step outs in the break room at work so everyone can try it.  I also keep my supplies in my car so that I can tangle when I am stuck in traffic or waiting for a train and the time flies.  Even taking a couple of minutes to look out the window at nature can help you.  You can also place little cards or post it notes around that simply says the word: BREATHE.  This will remind  you to pause and do just that.  A few deep breaths can be refreshing.

3. Walk in nature.  When I worked at a very high pressure job, contrary to my co-workers who ate lunch at their desks while glaring at their computers, (then at me as I left the office); I decided that it would be much better for me to get out!  So most lunch hours (notice that...I took a whole hour!)  I would eat my lunch and then head out for a walk.  Though it was an urban setting I found nature as much as I could from the birds flitting overhead to a blooming tree. Those walks were life saving!  You can also use this time as a contemplative walking meditation. Here's a link to what we know about the benefits of walking in nature:
http://www.rochester.edu/news/show.php?id=3639

4. Take three breaths.  I am a big reader and love the writings of the gentle Thich Nhat Hanh.
 http://plumvillage.org/about/thich-nhat-hanh/
No matter what your beliefs, you can glean something from his wisdom.  One of his teachings involves taking three breaths before you do anything.  So as an example: you hear the phone ring and instead to picking it up right away take three mindful breaths and then answer it.  You will then be ready to listen to the other person. 

5.  Try a bit of meditation.  Like Zentangle, meditation helps us to relax and concentrate, to become our true relaxed being.  I like to do a bit of tangling in the early morning when all is quiet and then sit for a short meditation. I find this is a good marriage, as the tangling helps to quiet my chatty mind and readies my mind for a deeper meditation.  Try it for just five minutes at first or even one minute and slowly increase the time.  It's like a little vacation for the mind and so refreshing!  I love this app on my phone which allows me to take my meditation practice anywhere even noisy places with my earbuds.  You can do guided or non guided meditation, when you start, the guided ones are helpful.
http://www.calm.com/

6.  Yoga, Tai Chi, Qigong.  All of these are mindful practices and a meditation for body, soul and mind.  I love to practice them in the morning or evening and mix them up, as I like variety.  I love to do the shortened yoga practices at my desk, here's a link:
http://www.yogajournal.com/video/video/chair-warrior/

For a gentle longer practice you may like Yin Yoga which is also downloadable on Amazon:
http://www.amazon.com/Deep-Stretch-Yoga-Mimi-Solaire/dp/B001JT6Y8S

I also love Qigong and here is a link to a video you can download which is long, but you'll feel so refreshed after that you won't regret the time!  You can just do it by segment; a few minutes at a time.  It's downloadable from Amazon.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IYf6IpwwlO4

7. A friend told me about this gal, Donna Eden who deals with energetic healing and self healing.  I like to do this short 5 minute sequence when I feel warn out and have to keep going. It really is a boost!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vr-FEoY440g

8. SIT AND DO NOTHING!! When is the last time you did that? 

If you would like to try Zentangle as a tool for relaxation, then please join me this winter!  I have a number of introductory classes I am teaching through the Spokane County Libraries and a Holiday Workshop coming up in December.  If you click on the Classes Link you can find out more.

Also, be sure to check out the ZENDALA exhibit completed by Zentangle participants through the Spokane Public Library.  It's on the Second Floor of the Main downtown library for Create Spokane in October 2015!!



Hope to see or hear from you soon!! 

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Zentangle Rain Dance!

Bloom by Loretta West, CZT

Water, we can't live without it.  We are experiencing drought conditions in Washington State.  It's hard to tell this in the city where it seems plentiful and there are no watering restrictions...yet.  Though perhaps there should be.  This drought condition not only effects farmers, and wild life, but it creates wild fires, something that has become all too familiar in recent summers as temperatures soar.



The drought is more evident out of town, especially in Lake Roosevelt which is way down.  We witnessed this first hand last weekend when we took a mini vacation up to Penticton BC, Canada. We like to go there in May to bike the Kettle Valley Rail trail while stopping in at the many wineries that surround Lake Okanogan.  It's a pretty sweet get away.

We love to drive along the beautiful Kettle River as it winds it's way north and south across the border.  It provides some breath taking views and we have many photos from our journeys along it's banks.

Last summer, in July, we stopped at a state park just north of Kettle Falls where the south fork of the Kettle flows by.  There is a large estuary off of this fork which was full in a hot and dry month.  As we ate our picnic we heard loud splashing below us and stood up to see very large Dolly Varden trout surfacing, and splashing and rolling in the water, going after surface bugs. It was quite the sight to see so many big fish so close to the surface.  There were also lots of birds around and bald eagles swooping at the water.  It was like a delightful patch of Eden.

Kettle River Campground July 2014

Fast forward to May of this year when we stopped for lunch at the same spot, hoping to see the fish again.  When we got out of the car we looked over the banks and saw this scene which really speaks for itself.  I heard one lonely little song bird.  The south fork of the kettle was still flowing, but the level was way, way down.  In fact so much so, that the dock was high and dry. 

Same area high and dry May 2014


You may be wondering how all this relates to Zentangle?  Good question.

One of the ways to use Zentangle is to help a person or situation, by keeping the person or situation in mind and setting a good intention while we tangle.  So recently, I taught two classes where the tangles I taught related to water in the hopes that such focused energy might bring some much needed rain not only to our area but to where water is needed around the globe.

Mosaic from Zentangle Rain Dance Class

Strangely enough we had a huge thunder and lightning storm last night with a good down pour of rain, so maybe it worked!

I invite you to try it yourself , it can't hurt.  So here are the tangles with links and you may find some on your own to try at www.zentanglepatterns.com

River: http://tanglepatterns.com/2011/04/how-to-draw-river.html

Msst:  http://tanglepatterns.com/2010/05/how-to-draw-msst.html

Rain:  http://tanglepatterns.com/2010/07/how-to-draw-rain.html

PopCloud: http://tanglepatterns.com/2012/07/how-to-draw-pop-cloud.html

This rain sure helped the garden and the early blooming flowers inspired me to do a painting just for my studio to greet visitors as they enter. This is a Zentangle inspired mixed media painting entitled Bloom and is pictured at the top of this post. 

This then led to the idea of a Zentangle Mixed Media Workshop; Flower Power; that I will be teaching on Saturday, June 13th at Spokane Art Supply.  It's gonna be fun, so you'll want to sign up right away by clicking on the Zentangle classes button and then you can register online via paypal by clicking on the link in the class description and your done and ready to go!!

Other stuff that's happening to watch out for are more free introductory classes through the City and County Library system and I'll be putting up the dates soon.

AND.....I'm teaming up with two other teachers, to bring you , drum roll please....

A Mindful Arts Day featuring SoulCollage®, Zentangle & Mandala

I hope that you will continue to practice Zentangle this summer, even just a little bit helps and perhaps join me in a class or workshop too!  

All the best for a fabulous and not too dry summer!

Loretta



Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Paper? Well, it's Personal.



I have had many students ask me about what paper to use in what instance.  What works well for tangling, or colored pencils or water media or mixing it up?  There are so many papers out there, how do you choose?  So here is a boiled down version of what I have gleaned from my own years of experience and with the help of other CZT's who have graciously shared their knowledge.

What is this weight thing, anyway?

If you've looked at art papers closely you may see a reference to poundage, as in 90 lb paper.  Here is a good explanation from Print Outlet.US:

Paper is measured in pounds per 500 sheets (one Ream of paper) of a standard size of sheet based on the group or category of papers the grade. The different types of grades are Bond, Book, Text, Cover etc. Each group of the grade of paper is assigned a standard size that all weights are referred to. The basics of this standard are as follows:
Bond has a standard size of 17 x 22" and this is the size that is measured for 500 sheets. If 500 sheets of this size weigh 20lbs., then the paper is classified as a 20lb. bond. Heavier and lighter stocks will obviously be thicker or thinner than the 20lb. Therefore 16lb. Bond or 24lb. Bond will be the variations on this.
Now the confusion... the weight of 500 sheets of the standard sheet size (also known as the basis size) is commonly known as the paper's basis weight and is always noted as a weight in lbs.
Seeing that the above only offers a vague indication to the thickness or the weight of the actual size, further confusion awaits !
 
A sheet size different than the above is calculated as a fraction or multiple of the basis weight and is normally noted for 1,000 sheets rather than 500. The weight thus calculated of the acutal sheet size is always noted in weight per thousand (M in roman numerals) and therefore said to be 19 X 25" - 100M meaning that 1,000 sheets of 19 x 25" will weigh 100 lbs.
 
Generally, I find that the lower the number of lbs say 90 lb is a thinner paper than a 140 lb paper.  I say generally, because there is always an exception.
 
So, how does this effect my artwork?  If I am going to just use "dry" mediums, like ink from a pen, or colored pencil or pastels, I can choose a thinner paper.  Adding water to these surfaces usually causes it to buckle as they are not thick enough nor do they have the surface to stand up to water. Try spraying water or bond paper and see what happens.  But....there is always a but.....I have with success sprayed on dylusions ink lightly onto Strathmore 400 paper (80 lb) and it dried flat!  So it could take a bit of H2O but not much!  See result in the photo below:



When it comes to applying wet medium for larger formats than the Zentangle tiles, like watercolor, inktense, thin acrylics I choose a thicker paper, 140 lb or higher which when wet, buckles less. My favorite paper surface for water media and tangling is Arches Hot Press 140# paper because it has a smooth surface and can take some abuse.  Usually when I combine tangling with water media, I use the water media with less water and sparingly.  If I am planning to soak that baby, I will stretch the paper first (unless it's 300 lb, which requires no stretching)  so that it will dry flat.  Here's a link on how to stretch watercolor paper.  I prefer the staple method, no accidental tearing from tape with resulting salty tears.
http://www.watercolorpainting.com/stretchingpaper.htmM

                                  



Why Use the Official Zentangle Tiles?

It's like the age old question, why not use the good china?  The founders of Zentangle took great care in choosing the right paper to tangle on.  It is a Fabriano printing paper and is smooth with a tiny bit of tooth which holds the ink.  I has a cushioned surface which allows the pen to make a groove into the topside of the paper and then the ink flows into that groove.  Because of this, after a very few seconds the ink does not smear.  Also, it takes wet media well, so it's well worth the money.   I've tried other paper tiles and none compare to the quality of the official Zentangle tiles which come in tan, buff and black and now in different sizes too, from the bitty Bijou to the 10.5 inch square Opus.

 

What about card stock?

Let's talk about feeling the paper.  Yep, get your hands in there. The most considerate way to feel paper is with the back of your clean hand, the palms and finger tips leave oils on the paper, not so nice for the person who comes after you and picks up the paper to buy.  What you are looking for in a tangling paper is something that is smooth, no bumps, like cold or rough press paper, but not slick like card stock.  Preferably you want a paper which a little cushion on top like the Fabriano printing paper used for the official Zentangle tiles.  This is how good papers work with pen ink:  If they have a cushioned top layer the pen nib goes into the paper a bit and that creates a tiny trench into which the ink can flow.  Card stock will work, but it usually  as a hard top layer and so there is no penetration of the ink and unless you are careful not to touch the ink until it is well dry, you get the dreaded....SMEAR!



 
 
My Sketchbooks and Why I Love Them
 
If, heaven forbid, we ever had a house fire, I would be hard pressed deciding which to save first, the photos or my sketchbooks.  The sketchbooks and pads I own, and I have a few, are where I work things out, art things, spiritual things, and just plain old confusing things and, like shoes, I have to have lots of them!  Some are large like my big old faithful Aquabee 80lb ( so buckles some under water), where I work on silly new ideas and  who stays in the studio.


My other sketchbooks that stay home are the Strathmore 400 series drawing paper, which I have in various sizes, smooth, but not slick, and bit of cushion.  This is my get to work paper in a lot of instances.  Plus, the stare of the model for this cover graphic looks like serious business to me!

 
They also have a heavy weight drawing paper at 100 lbs. It has the same surface texture as the 400 series, just a bit heavier.
 
 
Then, there are smaller sketchbooks and pads which I can work on here or take out for walks.  When I took the training to become a CZT, we were given a Global Art Materials Hand Book.  The cover was hand drawn by Maria Thomas and I save it for very good, like that little black dress.  It's paper is smooth, a bit spongy and a bit hairy to it takes ink very well.  I also has a pocket in the back for more stuff.  It only goes out on sunny days as I don't think it likes rain much.


 
I splurged one day and bought a Stillman & Birn smooth 180 lb. sketchbook.  Sort of like the Ford pickup of papers as at that weight, you can pretty much put anything in it's payload and come out smiling.  I've glued stuff, painted stuff and spilled stuff and the paper stays down!  Well worth the price.

 
 
Strathmore Mixed Media Visual Journal, a good economical choice with smooth-ish 90 lb paper.  It takes ink and watermedia well, but there can be some bleed through so let your paper dry well before closing the book on it.

 
Currently I am test driving the Strathmore paper for Colored Pencils.  It has a slightly pebbly texture, so on my first pass it did a really great job at wearing down the felt tip on my Sakura micron....another note to self there.  So then I switched to a Sensei Sakura pen with a hard nib and problem solved!  It takes the Prisma colored pencils like a dream, worth the loss of my micron. 
 

 
 
When I was thinking about this article, I posted it on the CZT communication page and many said they like using the Canson 90# cold press water color papers for tangling and adding wet media sparingly, but if using more water a 140# paper is better.  I have not tangled on this paper myself, but will give it a try. I have preferred to use the smooth surface of Arches Hot Press paper when combining tangling with water media, but am not adverse to another trip for art supplies! 
 
 
Another economical option is the soft Stonehenge Print making paper, commonly used in book binding too.  I have not tested it, but the website says it can be used for watercolor as well.
 
 
I invite you to try my suggestions but also experiment with any papers that speak to you.  Plan an experiment, make notes about what papers work best for which mediums.  Make a night of it; invite friends, drink wine!  Tangle around the wine stains!  Have fun, because in the end, it's only paper!
 
My many thanks to the Certified Zentangle Teachers who contributed to this article....You all Rock!!
 
Here they are with more websites for you to check out:
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Zentangle for the New Year!

Happy New Year!  I hope that you had a wonderful Holiday and were able to sneak in some tangling by the fire.  I had a lovely time with family and friends and one of the warmest memories was the look on the face of our aged neighbor when a group us arrived to sing carols on her door step.  She didn't expect it and was delighted!   Next year, we'll start earlier and do more houses.  Might have to make more fortified eggnog for that!

It wasn't only the fire which warmed me this Christmas, it was also all the warm memories of the wonderful classes I had the privilege of teaching this past year and of all the fantastically nice folks I met.  I really do feel blessed to have the desire and ability to not only love art but to be able to share it with so many people, many of whom never believed they could draw! 

Here is a photo montage of some of the classes with my own studio work mixed in from 2014....Enjoy and Thank you so very much for enriching my life!  I value each one of you! 

Be sure to click on the classes tap to see what's being offered in February and March.