Stencilled Zentangle

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!

Tangled Heart

tangled heart

I’ve doodled for as long as I can remember, and it’s obviously a family trait – last weekend my Dad and I were comparing doodles!  His are more angular and mine tend to have more rounded shapes, maybe it’s a masculine/feminine tendency?  A few weeks ago, the subject of Zentangle came up on our weekly chat* and it intrigued people enough that I have started stocking Zentangle books and Pigma Micron drawing pens in the shop.

Zentangle is basically structured doodling.  It’s ideal for those who want to loosen up and don’t know how to doodle or where to start.  It’s also quite meditation-like once you get into it, so it can be a great counter to stress or take your mind off pain.  However, a word of caution – it can also lead to pain if you don’t make sure you are sitting comfortably and have good lighting (and the right glasses on).  Like colouring in, you need to be aware of what your shoulders are doing and if you find that you’re concentrating so hard that you’re hunched up and your shoulders are creeping up around your ears, then  you are setting yourself up for a nice little tension headache or a cricked neck.  I used to walk around my colouring workshops gently pressing down on my students shoulders to remind them to relax!

The Zentangle books are slim paperbacks with about 40 different ‘tangle’ patterns in each (there are 5 books on the site at the moment).  Some of the patterns that look complex are broken down into easy steps with very clear diagrams.  When I first got myself a Zentangle book (OK, I actually got the first three all together), I remember thinking the way the patterns were broken down was like learning how a magician pulls a rabbit out of a hat – it’s so easy when you know how!

Cupcake stamp with Zentangle

Zentangle can be done beautifully in conjunction with stamping too.  Open line drawings can be filled in with tangles, or solid stamps can become part of a tangle.

And here’s one of my first attempts at Zentangle using a flower from a set that’s now been retired, but I’m sure you could so something similar with the new Sunny Sunflowers.

So I hope that’s de-mystified Zentangle for anyone who has been wondering what it was about and if you want to give it a go, I recommend starting with the Zentangle Basics book and a fine line waterproof pen.  And if you just like looking, you might also enjoy my Doodles board on Pinterest.

* We have a live chat at 8pm every Wednesday on the Chocolate Baroque Forum

Tangling Time

Tangle wip

It’s still very unpredictable weather here in the Highlands – you can see the weather moving across the distant hills – columns of cloud sweep over the skyline obliterating sections of the islands while the sun is shining here.  Then it flips around and the rain patters on the glass roof at the back of the house and you see the distant islands bathed in sunlight.  We’ve seen quite a few rainbows – often doubles.

We really are taking it super easy and enjoying every minute.

We found a little market in Poolewe yesterday and I fell in love with some hand thrown pottery.  I think we may invest in some to take home with us.  She had a limited range with her, so we’re hoping to pop into her studio sometime next week.  She told us it was in an out of the way little place called Logie near Ullapool and obviously didn’t expect us to have ever heard of it.  When we both said, ah yes we know where that is, she was so suprised, we explained it was the place we stayed on our honeymoon 15 years ago!

We spent most of today in the house, apart from a short walk along the beach at Melon Udrigle which is the northern headland of Gruinard Bay.  Although it was cold and slightly wet, it was lovely to just watch and listen to the surf gently pounding the rocks and the sand.

Back at the cottage, I got engrossed in some Zentangle doodling.  It’s still a work in progress, but I thought I’d show you where I’m up to.  This is an A4 sketchbook, so it’s quite big.  In the background the circles you see are textured fabric on a footstool which is what inspired me to start doodling this morning.

I’ve added subtle coloured shading using some pencils I’ve had for a while, but not used very much – Derwent Graphitint.  They are water soluble graphite pencils with a hint of colour, but because of the graphite, they are all very grey tones. They look particularly grey and pencil like before adding water, but the water brings out the colour.  I’m still getting to know them, but liking the range so far.  Then again, it’s a coloured pencil, what’s not to like?!

You might be amazed to hear that we still have half the pack of Tunnocks left – how good are we!  Yes, well before I polish the halo, I’ll just go and hide the locally baked lemon drizzle cake that we found at the market yesterday … ahem!

I’ll leave you with a couple of photos from our beach walk today.


Click on any of the photos for a larger view.  You can see more photos in my Flickr stream – just look for the Flickr photos in my side bar and click on any one to go look at the whole set.