Crazy Huggins

 

I belong to a wonderful group of artists who get together once a month and Zentangle . We are all Certified Zentangle Teachers (CZTs) and proud of it, even if not many people have ever heard of this title. For us, it means we went to Providence Rhode Island for a 4-day training in how to teach Zentangle. This training was a highlight of my life, four of the most enjoyable days I have ever spent. I go back each year (COVID Permitting) for ZenAgain, a refresher for CZT’s. In our group, all four of us have taught classes, and we all love doing Zentangle. Plus it is a wonderful group of people. I look forward to our meetings.

Each month a different one of us is in charge of bringing a project for us to do, and we meet at that person’s house. There are cookies and sharing and lots of good will. Then the project. Elizabeth was in charge this month, and she asked us to do a big Crazy Huggins on an Opus tile that she provided (expensive, thank you!!), and then to fill in all the areas with different tangle patterns. Let me define some terms

Zentangle, an art form, was invented by Maria Thomas and Rick Roberts as a form that anyone can do. It is true, I have taught it to people who have never done any artwork, who are afraid of doing artwork, and then it clicks for them, and they are off to the races. There are two daughters in the Thomas-Roberts family, and one is Martha Huggins. Rick and Maria invented the Huggins pattern and named it after Martha and family. It looks like this:

This diagram shows what we call the step outs for the tangle pattern. You start with the dots, add concave and convex lines vertically and then horizontally and there you have it. The last image here shows a way to shade the pattern.

Crazy Huggins happens when your dots are not lined up. You put your dots all over and you get this:

The image we made is just like this, but done on an Opus tile, so it’s more than 9 inches square.

Once the Crazy Huggins grid pattern was laid out, this project was a walk down memory lane. Elizabeth asked us to draw a different Zentangle pattern in each little area of the Crazy Huggins grid. I chose my favorites known in Zentangle circles as my “mac and cheese” tangle patterns.  Thanks Elizabeth!

New Zentangle Experiences

I have four new interesting Zentangle experiences to share. The first was ZenAgain 2021. This was a 4-day intensive specifically for Certified Zentangle Teachers. I have attended it a few times in past years. This ZenAgain conference was supposed to be held in Newport, R.I., in November.

November, 2020, that is. But COVID was calling the shots. (Is that a pun?)

Rescheduled for November, 2021, ZenAgain was cancelled-again, and I ended up sitting in front of Zoom for four entire days in my dining room. If I didn’t love Zentangle so much, it would have been difficult. But even on Eastern Time, getting up at 6am for the start of the day, I loved every minute of it. The theme was “It’s About Time.” We created zendalas of the Phases of the Moon, most appropriately coloring them with Moonlight Gelly Roll pens. We visited artists across time, looking at their work and letting that process inspire our own Zentangles: Leonardo da Vinci, William Morris, and Salvador Dali.

Here are a couple of my favorite tangles from ZenAgain.

This first one comprises two new tangle patterns, introduced by the Zentangle team with traditional celebration and fanfare. The first is Pangea. The individual shapes below are the Pangea pattern, separated by white channels of space. They are named for the “original” continent, Pangea, that split apart to make the continents we know today. Pangea was surrounded by Panthalassa, the original ocean.

Inside each Pangea shape reticula is the new tangle Mrth used as a fragment. Mrth has a “hole” in the middle with grassy spikes protruding out, and is covered with radiating, rounded stripes.

My second Zentangle experience I want to tell you about derives from the first. I sent a copy of the above to my friend Christy Tews. Christy has a very high-tech sewing machine, with which she has embroidered everything she could get her hands on. Tea towels, my new favorite blouse, jackets, t-shirts, and more. Somehow, Christy managed to create this embroidery from the drawing. I was simply blown away by the beauty of her creation!

My third Zentangle experience to report was a Project Pack called The Twelve Days of Zentangle. Zentangle has created theses Project Packs for some years now. They snail mail you a package with everything you need, all the pens, papers, and tools, to follow along with a series of videos that guide you in creating beautiful tangles. For this project pack, every day for 12 days, they posted a video guiding us in making a beautiful creation. The theme was 3-D objects. I was not happy about creating a little army of zentangled objects that would sit around and collect dust, but I went ahead anyway and am glad I did. Fewer than half the 12 videos were objects, and some of the rest were amazing.

Here are my favorites.

Again, this Zentangle is using the Pangea pattern. this time the continents are filled with round tipple dots and are floating with the Panthalassa Ocean channels between them. What is amazing to me is that there are pale white Mooka patterns appearing inside the Pangeas but not appearing in the channels between. It was mind bending to make this happen, using black pens on black paper to keep the Panthalassa ocean black.

I just love this zendala. I don’t know why, it just gives me chills. I like the 4 crescent shaped borders with the coffered ceiling shapes. I like the 4 starry night black triangles that add drama. I like the over and under of the swirling leafy shapes.

Creating these above pieces, and for some time now, I have been wanting again to create my own art, rather than following someone who is guiding me to create their vision. I do this with my Alcohol Ink paintings, but not so much with bigger Zentangle projects. This brings me to share my fourth and final Zentangle experience.  Throughout my life, before Zentangle, I always valued being able to see what came from me. It was like a mirror to the inside.

When I discovered Zentangle, I just loved drawing so much, and for all these years of Zentangle I have just said who cares? to all that. I just wanna have fun. I will follow your lead, dear Zentangle teacher, whoever you are, and create your beautiful vision happily alongside you. It didn’t bother me in the slightest. I felt proud of my lack of vanity not needing to be the “creative one.” But then lately, I began to want to look again into that mirror. I felt some trepidation beginning this, but here is my first original Zentangle-style mandala, designed by me.

Zentangle Experience #4.

 

Mooka Feather

I recently decided to take more online classes, thinking I might as well broaden my horizons while spending so much time at home. I will soon be taking a memoir class with some fellow writers from my Novel Writer’s Group. My memoir is all over the map right now, and I need to find a focus. Hoping the class will help with that.

I have also been taking a number of Zentangle classes lately and enjoying them very much. I took a Circus Banner class from Eni Oken. She is an excellent teacher, and I always get a lot out of her classes. I also took two classes from  Laura Marks.

The first was a class where Laura showed us how to tangle over a photograph (see prior post). I can imagine that I will use these techniques to decorate many future photos. Then I attended Laura’s class called “Mooka Feather.”  The word Mooka probably needs a little explanation.

Mooka is a well-loved tangle pattern that looks like this.

 

Here are five Mookas of different heights, facing in different directions. Mooka is a tangle pattern that I did not enjoy at all, never included in my work, and did not understand why everyone loved it so much.  Whenever I tried to include it in a Zentangle, it always looked awkward, never pretty or graceful like other people’s Mookas.

In this recent class, the teacher, Laura Marks, fixed my problem in the first five minutes of the class. She showed us how to draw the tangle pattern. She started at the bottom, and drew an upward line for one side of the stem. Then she drew a circle at the top, which I think she called the “head.” The key point for me waswhen she demonstrated how the little head had to lean forward on the stem and that the “neck” where head ends and the line makes a sharp angle before it heads back down, that little angle had to be very close to the other side of the stem. Mine had always been far away, making big fat ugly stems, and that was my problem. From that moment on I have been loving Mooka. Amazing how a little guidance changed my attitude towards this tangle pattern.

Mooka was invented by Zentangle founders Rick and Maria. Over time, doing classes and projects with them, I realized that Maria loves Mooka and will use it at the drop of a hat.

The tangle was created because Rick and Maria admired the beautiful posters of the French artist Mucha (pronounced Mooka). They especially liked the way he shaped the strands of hair in his subjects, like this:

So, the Mooka tangle pattern imitates these lovely shapes in Mucha’s posters. We Zentanglers sometimes like to reduce all tangle pattern names to their simplest phonetic spellings, hence Mooka. These simple names help me to feel comfortable with new patterns.

The course I was taking from Laura Marks was called Mooka Feather. She explained that the idea was to draw a feather, and that one could draw leaf or branch shapes to fill out the feather. But she loved just using the leaf shapes of the tangle pattern Flux.

Here is my Mooka Feather.

I had such a good time doing this.

I colored the Flux leaves with my new set of General Brand Pastel Chalk pencils. They are very nice to work with, kind of creamy and smooth. I was planning to use watercolors, but Laura, wise teacher, warned me that a nice sharp pointed pencil would be much easier than trying to paint the tiny spaces of the stems with a wet brush. That was good advice!

I only used three colors, the blue for the Mooka’s with a white highlight, then a simple red and a brown for the feathery leaves.

Laura suggested we add some white highlights with a Gelly Roll pen, and then a few Fescu tendrils for the final touch.

I plan to continue to take Zentangle courses. I hope to share more of these  experiences with you here in the future.

PhotoTangle

PhotoTangle

I took a Zentangle class today with a good teacher named Laura Marks. She sent us, before the class, photos of flowers, including this one. Then she demonstrated a number of tangles that she has found to work well for filling in petals, stems, leaves, etc. I had such a good time!