Sunday, January 16, 2011

Pen & Ink - Patriotic

Recently I have been looking at black and white ink drawings on-line. Way back in my younger days, when I was in college taking visual art classes, we used to make these very detailed graphic drawings in black and white. Since that time I have been interested in the graphic quality of this type of art. This includes if it is reproduced on fabric as well as other materials via the printing process. That's one reason I was attracted to the black and white prints on the fabric when I was working on my Rattlesnake quilt. That's something I need to finish up this year . . . hmmm . . . UFOs are abundant around here.

Anyway, like I was saying, recently I have been noticing these black and white images on-line alot. There is a whole category of this type of art, created a specific way, known as Zentangle art. You can find more information specifically about this specific art form at the Zentangle website. There it is used as more than just a fun type of art, but more like a meditation to help one relax and direct one's attention in a particular way. I'm not into Zen or the meditative aspect of what they are teaching, but I would agree that repetitive drawing of patterns and designs does help one to focus at times: example when listening a radio or television program, or a professor in a college class. It is the same with doodling on your paper. You can achieve the same sort of thing. I've also heard similar things said about knitting or crochet, or hand quilting. It is an activity that is repetitive so you mind is not primarily focused on the activity, but on the auditory stimulation going on around you. In fact I had a professor who once told us he did not mind if we did other things in class (like knitting or doodling), just to refrain from talking with one another while he was talking. He kind of laughed when he said, "I know I've said something profound or significant when everyone puts down what they're doing and writes something in their notebook". It is kind of funny to experience that as a teacher; to have everyone, at the same time, begin to write something down. Of course you know when, as a teacher, you must be starting to get boring and lost their attention, when they don't write down the important things. I can remember occasionally saying, "You might want to write that down" only to have someone tell me, "Oh, I'll remember that part."

Perhaps the fact I like keeping my hands busy while watching TV and DVDs is based on this habit from years ago. I have to say, there are times with TV you might miss some of the visual clues in a show, but most of the time the background music is ratcheted up during those times as an auditory clue to an upcoming visual dynamic of the show. Most directors follow the same pattern with sound and audio using these things to pace the storyline of the show. And so much that's on TV is predictable, you don't miss much anyway when keeping busy with something else. I rented a DVD this weekend and was planning on watching it while doing some sewing. So far I've put off watching it because it has subtitles. I'll have to just sit and watch (and read) on that one. Didn't notice that when I rented it, hmmm. Was kind of disappointed about it the other day when I was in my studio. So I put on some that I have already watched, so I could get some sewing done. But I digress . . .

The image you see here is one I started working on last night. I cut a stack of some 100 lb. Bristol paper into 3 1/2" squares. I rounded the corners with my 1/4" corner rounder that I use for scrapbooking. I found it better to soften the edges of these "tiles", as they're called on the Zentangle site, with an emery block (used to smooth your nails when doing manicures). The paper was thick enough that upon cutting the squares, the edges seemed very sharp. I just wanted to sand them a bit to blunt the hard edge a bit. The Zentangle web site offers pre-cut tiles and other things if you want to do something like this, but don't want to take the time to do the prep yourself. Since I'm not really doing "zentangle" per se, I decided to just cut my own and use all the supplies I already have on hand. My huge stack of 3 1/2" rounded square tiles was only $7.59 for the pad of 20 sheets of Strathmore Bristol paper I picked up at my local Hobby Lobby . . . plus a bit of my time to prep it to size. And I probably bought the paper during one of their half price sales, too. I ended up getting six tiles per sheet - 120 tiles total. So these should last me for quite awhile. I don't recall if I saw the type of paper they're using at the Zentangle site, but read that it slightly debosses when drawing. The bristol paper does not do that. It is a hard, smooth surface that works wonderfully with mechanical pencils and pen & ink.

I decided to go with the 3 1/2" square size that was suggested. It seems like a nice, small size to work with. Square is nice to be able to rotate when drawing, so all sides are the same and the piece can be turned to look at it from different directions. I'd have to dig them out from their storage area to be sure, but as I recall, the ones we did in college were 6" square with square corners, not rounded. They obviously would take longer to fill with the inking. We had specific instructions on the size to cut the mats for those as well. I can remember during that class, we all brought our matted 6" pen & ink drawings in and lined them up along the chalkboard rails for "judging". Ha, ha - I say that in jest! It wasn't really "judging" exactly, but we did have to speak up and elaborate (defend?) what we chose to do and why we drew things in a particular way. Ha, ha . . . the instructor said that was supposed to help make us learn to talk about our work, learn how to speak about our ideas and help to establish us as artists. It's because artsists face rejection all the time when they go to submit their work to galleries and shows that are juried, and producing and speaking to the public at large when selling your work directly to someone else. You have to be able to promote it, and speak to others about it, and why they want to own it. Sales, sales, sales . . . it is just a part of life. We're always doing that!

Okay . . . I'm getting pretty lengthy here. Didn't know I had so much to say today. This drawing is not done yet, but I'll post another image of it when it is done. At this point I am thinking of calling it "Patriotic" because of the stars. And it all developed because I started wandering around the web looking at black and white graphic drawings. I found the star challenge at I am the Diva website. And get this . . . she's a certified Zentangle instructor. I smiled when I read they were certifying people to teach and sell their product. Yes, it's all about sale, sale, sale. Now, to just get thinking about how I might develop a product to sell . . . hmmm. {Smile!}