Stencilled Zentangle

Thank you to everyone for your heartfelt words and comments on the last post, we both appreciate each and every one.  It’s never easy losing someone and a kind word goes a long way.

I had intended showing you this last week, but there’s always a lot of stuff to sort out when someone dies and I know now how important it is to factor in more rest and more down time to compensate for the emotional drain.

As it happened, we mentioned this Dahlia stencil in last week’s Chocolate Baroque email and it was sold out by the end of the day.  We have more due in tomorrow, so I think it’s now safe to show you how I used it as a Zentangle outline.

Stencils are a really fun way to start off a Zentangle and the Dreamweaver stencils are made from metal, so they are easy to draw around with a fine liner. I used a 0.05mm Pigma micron marker to fill in each segment with pattern then coloured it with a mix of Copic and Promarkers.  I used greys and a colourless blender to add a subtle shadow (imaginary light source is coming from the top).

Stencils are made up of holes and sometimes the lines have to be broken otherwise the stencil will fall apart.  The thin gaps between segments are called ‘bridges’ and there are times when you may feel they interrupt the flow of a design – an example here is the tips of the petals.  After doing this design, I would prefer those tips to be connected, so another time I will make sure I draw to the end of the line, but not all the way around it, then when I remove the stencil, I can draw across where the bridges are and connect up the design.

If you want a more freehand look, draw in pencil then use a pen to go around the outline, connecting up the stencil segments as you go.  Use a broader nib and stay loose on the spirals and you’ll get a more spontaneous doodled look, like this:

Don’t do what I did though – wait for the ink to dry thoroughly before rubbing out your pencil lines or the wet ink will smudge and even lift off the paper slightly!

A sad, but peaceful day

If you have followed my blog for any length of time, you will probably know what Progressive Supranuclear Palsy is – a rare neurological condition which Adrian’s mum, Alma, was first diagnosed with around 16 years ago.

Today Alma no longer suffers from PSP, she passed away quietly in her sleep in the early hours of this morning so she is finally at peace.  Adrian has written more about it over on his blog.

Alma was rare, possibly unique, in that she survived far longer than normal life expectancy for this particular disease and over the last 16 years, we have had a lot of support from the PSP Association.  We’ve also done our bit to put something back their way with fundraising in the past, and indeed we currently have a limited edition ‘Happy Birthday’ stamp with 50p from every sale going to the charity.

We will continue to support the charity in the future, but right now, in honour of Alma, I’d like to share a poster that they have produced to help raise awareness of the illness and drive their “A Million to beat PSP” campaign.

The words ‘rest in peace’ have never felt more appropriate – so Alma, once you and Derrick have finished the wild reunion party, may you both rest in eternal peace.

Ancient Art

I have a beeswax melting pot that I got years ago when I used to do a lot of silk painting and used to use it to do batik with paraffin wax.  I recently excavated it from the depths of a cupboard because I had some thin pieces of wood from the storm damaged shed in the garden and wanted to try creating a piece of art with them.

I’ve seen Suze Weinberg demonstrating some fun techniques with wax at shows, so thought I’d give it a go.  I have some collage paper which features ancient paintings of faces (possibly Roman mummy portraits) and one in particular had a background a very similar colour to my wooden panel.

So I got my hot wax and had fun splodging wax around.  I used a heat tool to move the wax around or smooth it, then when almost set, I used one of the stamps from Dusky Damask to stamp into the wax in places.  I added some mosaic tiles and a piece of paper clay then used Perfect Pearls to highlight the texture.

I added a little Pan Pastel along the way and love the idea that I was using ancient materials – pigment and wax – on a piece with an ancient theme.  I brushed the pastel onto the wax then heated it with the gun and the colour broke up and swirled around in a quite mesmerising way.

It proved rather difficult to photograph as the texture and sheen are hard to capture, so I’ve taken some close ups at different angles.  The wood has a wonderful mix of colours from weathering and the original stain and lots of texture around the edges.  The wax has encapsulated all of that and the colour is actually a very rich and glowing mixture of bronzy browns.

Click on any of the images to enlarge.

I used the long border stamps from Dusky Damask around the edges of the picture and bedded some mosaic tiles into the warm wax, then added another layer of wax over them.

Inspired by the sky

I see that storm we had in Barnard Castle on Wednesday made the news and a couple of local bridges remain closed awaiting structural surveys.  One of them is a wooden bridge at Whorlton which always makes me slightly nervous at the best of times as it literally is wooden planks – you can see right through the gaps to the water below.  It always felt wrong taking a car over it, but I believe it is a listed or protected structure, so even if it needs work, I suspect the wooden planks will stay.

Something I read fairly recently (but can’t remember where) was about the creativity gap.  That’s the difference between what you see in your head and what you end up creating.  You know how you want it to turn out and because it isn’t how you pictured it, your inner critic comes out in full force and tells you it’s rubbish.  The article went on to say that basically you need to practice if you ever want to close that gap.  It’s true, I really believe quality is overrated when it comes to making art – quantity is more important.  Just keep on doing it and the quality will come.

So while my inner critic sits on my shoulder and says “you’re not seriously going to put that on the internet are you”, my wiser self just says “shut the **** up” and is going ahead anyway.

It’s loosely based on the photos I took the other night and no, it’s not quite how it was in my head, but for a first attempt at an actual painting with PanPastels, I’m quietly happy with it.  I’m happy with the sky, but don’t have the fine control of the media yet to do trees as well as I’d like.  Yes, I’m being pernickety, but I think we all are with our own work.  I used an old canvas pad I have and it was actually a bit too textured, so I think I may invest in some pastel paper.

Did you know that research has found looking up at the sky or just looking up in general can combat depression?  I can’t remember where I read that either, so I can’t back it up, but I like the idea a lot.  Not so great in the rain and fog, but most of the time I find the sky an inspiring and uplifting thing to stare at.

So far the sky is looking overcast, but it’s dry at the moment.  Adrian has two gigs this weekend – I’ll be watching him play at The Ship in Richmond tonight, but I’ve cried off Sunday’s afternoon’s performance as it’s in a field at Catterick.  If the weather forecast is right, it will be a bit of a mudbath so I’ll stay at home and pretend I’m a domestic goddess by making sure he has a nice hot dinner ready to come back to.  (My slow cooker is my latest favourite kitchen gadget!)

Have a great weekend, whatever you’re doing, and I hope it stays dry for you.

(My inner critic has flounced off in a huff and is now trying to form a coalition with the time thief…)

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