I’ve been intrigued by mandalas for quite some time. I briefly was making photographic mandalas in Paint Shop Pro and had an etsy shop featuring them. But they didn’t take off and make me famous so I quit making them. But I did have a number of them enlarged and framed and now display them in my house. I recently realized that I doubt most visitors to my home even know that I made them. My biggest failing as an artist is my inability to self promote.
I never lack for great ideas and most of the time am even able to bring my ideas to fruition. But I don’t know how or have the social aptitude to get my work out there to the people. This is why my business failed. Does it really matter? Do I need public acknowledgement to be successful? Is my work less valid because no one pays for it? The artist in me says no, it doesn’t matter. Just make art for art’s sake. The little girl that always wanted to be noticed says yes, I just want to be loved and recognized for my talents.
I want 1000s of blog followers, book deals, appearances on HGTV, a product line and people standing in line at CHA to meet me. Or do I? Maybe I like that I can spend a day on my couch watching stupid tv and alternating between doodling and crocheting. Could I still do that if I had all these followers and fans and work to do? Would I hate it if my passions became work. Or would I be one of those lucky people who could say, “It isn’t work because I get to do what I love everyday.” I call bullshit on that. Sorry, but once you have an obligation to someone else, it becomes work. It may not be shoveling horse shit but it is still work. And let’s be honest, I don’t want to do all the work that it takes to get to that point. We all know that there really is no such thing as an overnight sensation or just being in the right place at the right time. That’s why I think sometimes it is the people with less talent that make it bigger than the more talented person. They have to work harder at whatever skill it is they want to be good at and that puts them out there where those “discoveries” are made.
Is the only reason I jump from one craft to the next because of lack of recognition for my talents in one particular field? Not completely. Frankly I get bored too quickly with doing one thing all the time. I typically circle back to most of my interests at some point. Some of my interests are more seasonal. Sometimes I turn to certain mediums because of an emotional need. Sewing is more solitary and isolating. Knitting and crochet I can do in more social settings. Making Zentangles is somewhere in the middle. Within sewing I find quilting fills one type of need creatively while garment sewing uses a different part of my mind.
Photography is completely different than all my other hand crafts. When I make something be it sewn, knit, crocheted or drawn, I’m creating something out of nothing. Taking basic supplies and putting them together to make something new. When I photograph something I’m looking at something that is already there and trying to capture it the way my mind sees it. Like all art forms there is a combination of artistry and technical skill. Often I think my art is my therapy. It is definitely my meditation.
**All of the above photo Mandalas were made using photographs taken at Rosslyn Chapel and Roslin Glen in Scotland during our 2007 trip.
ETA: I was flipping through my Zentangle Journal right after uploading this post and realized that this Tangle needed to be included in this post even though it wasn’t a mandala or a spiral. The message is the point. The words are part of a lyric from one of my favorite Jason Mraz songs. Unfortunately the song has a title that isn’t easy to share with people without offending.
She’s just winging it and making things up as she goes along. The little dots used for shading are quickly becoming her trademark look. She calls it sand.
I on the other hand am compelled to research as much as possible and learn ALL the patterns on the internet and practice them compulsively. I’m also starting to see patterns and inspiration everywhere. While sitting in church on Easter morning I was noticed some great Tangles in the print of my dress. It took all I had to sit politely and listen to the sermon and not grab my sketch book out of my purse and put some of the flowers to paper. But as soon as I got in the car I put pen to paper.
Of course I’ve already been asked, “What are these for?” Like all art it is next to impossible to explain what it is for. To me these are more than art, they are a form of meditation and mental exercises. Plus there is a challenge here for me. I used to sketch a lot as a kid but haven’t done much as an adult, it’s not something I’m really comfortable doing. I see similar work online and want to be as good as everyone else (maybe even better than some. I’m naturally competitive.)
I’m also a natural collector of art supplies. When I was heavy into embroidery & cross-stitch I had to have every color of floss. When I scrapbooked, I had to have every color and collection of paper, brads, and other doodads. With Zentangles all I need is paper and a pen (not that I didn’t run out and look for a variety of styles of pens!) But there are lists of “official” Zentangle patterns and of course I feel the compulsion to learn and use them all. If I still had my store I might consider taking the training courses and become a Certified Zentangle Teacher, but I don’t see the point right now. But you can be sure that there will be some books purchased in the near future. I just can’t control myself!
I have a new mini-obsession. They are called Zentangles. My friend Nicole posted something about them in the past month or so on our private Facebook group and on her Pinterest board and I was intrigued. I have seen this kind of pen and ink art before but didn’t know that it had a name or was a “thing”. It always looked too complicated for me to wrap my head around so I admired it from afar.
But then I started doing some internet time-wasting the other day and came across them again and decided to see what it was all about. Oh hey, I have ultra-fine black Sharpie around here someplace! Cardstock? Yep I have that too. Well, how about that! I have all the supplies needed for a new obsession.
There are a plethora of blogs, websites and Flickr groups to keep you inspired and to show you new patterns to try. I’m not very good yet but I’m just playing with patterns and ideas right now. I look at it a lot like yoga. It isn’t about being good or better than someone else. It is about stretching your creative muscles and just getting better for yourself.
Each Tangle is only about 3” square so it doesn’t take long, is inexpensive and portable.
I can see where this would also help me to improve my free motion quilting skills. It also just helps to calm my monkey mind and to relax. It is a cool combination between doodling and coloring. Adults should color in coloring books more often. It is very relaxing and mind freeing.
This is also a good thing to combine with sewing. I obviously love to sew. But I find that sewing is so often about following an order and a specific way of doing things. I enjoy the precision and continuing to try to get my finished project as professional looking as possible. But sometimes you need to break away from that and free your mind. I suppose I could decide on a whim to sew a sleeve coming out of the seat of my pants but I don’t think that would accomplish what my brain needs. It doesn’t need absurdity for the sake of absurdity. It needs to be free to roam the outer edges and to find beauty and patterns in the chaos. To sort itself out and make sense of nonsense. Not to make nonsense from sense. I clearly need some Zen in my life.
This is a work in progress. It is pretty much a copy of one I found in my internet travels. This one is all about filling in the voids, the negative space. I’ll probably be working on this one for a while. I may even need new pen.
Another thing I find attractive about a lot of the Zentangle drawings I’m coming across is their resemblance to Tim Burton’s world. Weird shapes, repetitive patterns, black and white.
I’d better run and go gather my supplies and get ready for work. I have my first Jeans Class that I’m teaching at work today. I’m nervous and excited about it. It is one thing to do something yourself and a whole other thing to teach it to someone else. I may have to Tangle between classes!