give me a daisy

~ ~ ~ ~ read ~ write ~ look ~ listen ~ create

Archive for the tag “art”

celebrating zentangle

zentangle1Zentangle, you say? What the heck is that?

The short and simple answer is that it’s a combination of meditation and doodling. Maybe it could have been called moodling, but I like zentangle better.

I will let the folks who created this process describe it.

Anything is Possible One Stroke at a Time

At first glance, a Zentangle creation can seem intricate and complicated. But, when you learn how it is done, you realize how simple it is . . . sort of like learning the secret behind a magic trick. Then, when you create a piece of Zentangle art, you realize how fun and engrossing the process itself is.

Zentangle uses “simple deliberate strokes which build on each other in beautiful, mesmerizing and surprising ways.” The tools of this art are few, simple, and portable. You need some black micron pens, a couple of blending tortillons, maybe a pencil or two, and a handful of 4.5″ x 4.5″ tiles to draw on.

Opening (2)Although you can get creative with color if you like, most zentangle art is done in black and white. Using different width pens, soft pencils, and the tortillon for shading gives a three-dimensional appearance while allowing you to focus on the patterns. I have a few colored pens, but so far I’ve only used the black ones.

Fortunately no artistic talent is required to engage in this activity. Since I already had a habit of doodling, zentangling just took it to the next level. Above and to the right are a couple of my attempts. The first is called opening and the second springing forth.

Springing Forth (2)The “tangle” in zentangle is the free-form outline you begin with. In the example above you can see the rectangular outline and the strong lines running through it. The design is created by filling in the open spaces.

The one on the right is a little more loopy.

The appeal of zentangle is that it’s very relaxing, even meditative. One of the few rules is “no erasing!” So if you make a so-called mistake, you simply incorporate it into your drawing. It’s sort of like life, which also doesn’t come equipped with an eraser.

My favorite way to zentangle is to get out my pattern books and my supplies, create my tangle on a tile, and decide which patterns I want to start with. I always like to try one or two new patterns. Music is a good accompaniment. So is a cup of hot tea or even a glass of wine.

If you haven’t heard of zentangle yet, you’ll be surprised to discover how many books, websites, and even videos are available to show you how to do it. Should you decide to try zentangling, be aware that it can be addicting. But I suspect we could all use more quiet, focused time in our lives, and zentangle can be used as a practice, the same way meditation and writing and walking are used.

This post is part of April’s 30 Days of Celebration. To read more, click on the Celebration category link.

Advertisements

celebrating public art

public art1No matter what part of Albuquerque you travel through, you’re bound to encounter one or more of the 800 works of public art scattered across the city. Many of them are the result of Albuquerque’s 1978 Art in Municipal Places Program, which sets aside 1% of City construction funds for the purchase or commission of works of art.

Whether you love or hate individual pieces, you can’t deny that all of these sculptures, murals, and colorful mosaics add immeasurably to the sense of place.

I particularly enjoy the gorgeous mosaics that decorate the entrance to my local library as well as the downtown Convention Center. This (below) is one portion of the Juan Tabo Public Library facade.

public art6

Here are a few more. Which ones do you like best?

GE

public art3public art4

public art5

This post is part of April’s 30 Days of Celebration. To read more, click on the Celebration category link.

celebrating bright things redux

sparkleThe world is full of poetry.
The air is living with its spirit;
and the waves dance
to the music of its melodies,
and sparkle in its brightness.

–James Gates Percival

One cold, dark winter afternoon when the temperature never rose above freezing all day and I felt trapped inside my office in front of my computer, I looked around the room at all the bright things I’ve put here.

I won’t go so far as to say say my world is full of poetry right now, but there’s a hint of its brightness here and there.

Butterfly

Butterfly

Lizards

Lizards

Suncatcher

Suncatcher

Tiger

Tiger

Mandala

Mandala

Vase (underwater upside down)

Vase (underwater upside down)

Reality (ala Brian Andreas)

Reality (ala Brian Andreas)

Good Advice!

Good Advice!

A bit of brightness landed on that one. Happy Saturday!


Note: This was originally published in January 2013. If anything, my office (a/k/a my playroom, at least on a good day) is filled with even more bright things.


This post is part of April’s 30 Days of Celebration. To read more, click on the Celebration category link.

Your Brain on Art, Writing, and Music

brain

 

 

Here are some recent stories about what goes on in the brain when we’re writing, making music, and appreciating art. (Originally posted on Farther to Go!)

Click on the titles to read the complete articles.

 

Our Brains Are Made for Enjoying Art

Ann Lukits (The Wall Street Journal)

Analysis suggests art appreciation is a natural biological process.

“Viewing paintings engages a number of different regions of the brain, suggesting art appreciation is a natural biological process, according to the report in the June issue of the journal Brain and Cognition. The study found that paintings activated areas of the brain involved in vision, pleasure, memory, recognition and emotions, in addition to systems that underlie the conscious processing of new information to give it meaning.”

This is Your Brain on Writing

Carl Zimmer (The New York Times)

Becoming skilled at writing may activate the same areas of the brain that are activated in people who are skilled at other things, such as sports or music. This study showed that the areas of the brain activated in novice writers were not the same as those activated in the skilled, “professionally trained,” writers.

“During brainstorming, the novice writers activated their visual centers. By contrast, the brains of expert writers showed more activity in regions involved in speech.”

It would appear that training is training is training—no matter what the training is for.

Musical Training Increases Executive Brain Function in Adults and Children

Jeremy Dean (PsyBlog)

“Both the brains and behaviour of adult and child musicians were compared with non-musicians in the study by researchers at the Boston Children’s Hospital. They found that adult musicians compared to non-musicians showed enhanced performance on measures of cognitive flexibility, working memory, and verbal fluency. And musically trained children showed enhanced performance on measures of verbal fluency and processing speed.”

Music Changes the Way You Think

Daniel A. Yudkin and Yaacov Trope (Scientific American)

Different music encourages different frames of mind.

“Tiny, almost immeasurable features in a piece of music have the power to elicit deeply personal and specific patterns of thought and emotion in human listeners….Ponderous, resonant, unfamiliar tonalities—the proverbial “auditory forest”—cause people to construe things abstractly. By contrast, the rapid, consonant, familiar chords of the perfect fifth—the “auditory trees”—bring out the concrete mindset….That music can move us is no surprise; it’s the point of the art form, after all. What’s new here is the manner in which the researchers have quantified in fine-grained detail the cognitive ramifications of unpacked melodic compounds.”

deep in december

a winter dream of spring

a winter dream of spring (2)

Enhanced by Zemanta

masks

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

“I would but find what’s there to find,
Love or deceit.”
“It was the mask engaged your mind,
And after set your heart to beat,
Not what’s behind.”
–from The Mask, William Butler Yeats

Masks have always fascinated me. People have been making and wearing them for thousands of years. The earliest ones found are over 9,000 years old.

The only piece of art I’ve ever regretted not buying was a teal colored plaster mask of a woman’s face on display in a booth at the Sausalito Art Festival many years ago. The mini installation above consists of a leaf-shaped fan I’ve been carting around for years, an elaborate dream catcher my partner and I got from an artist at the downtown farmers’ market in San Rafael one summer evening, and a paper mache mask he made of the upper part of his face before I met him (and before his deviated septum was corrected).

I’ve always thought it would be interesting to make a mask from a mold of my own face. For a while, I knew of a local artist who taught mask-making classes, but I never followed through. I might yet do it, though. I found these detailed instructions on how to make a paper mache mask. It’s a messy process and seems like the kind of thing that would be more fun to do in a group.

Beyond being fun, making a mask can be a more meaningful, even a transformational, experience:

Artists use a wide range of materials for the masks they make. Spokane artist Annie Libertini makes gorgeous leather masks. Click the link below to check out how she does it and what her creations look like.

Watch Transformational Masks on PBS. See more from Northwest Profiles.

you: a work of art in progress

If you thought of your life as a work of art in progress, what existing art form would it most resemble? The idea of living one’s life as a “work in progress” is not new, and I have come across it many times in my travels. More than a few years ago, when I was struck afresh by the rich possibilities of artistic metaphor, I took a look at my own life in this context and also surveyed some friends. My own answer to the question was immediate and obvious, but I was surprised by every single answer I received from my friends.

An ex-insurance industry executive said that his life would be a multi-media performance piece. A writer described her life as a sculpture, while a musician called his life a “junk” sculpture. A computer  programmer was clear that his life was a symphony. Several years later, I posed the question to several different people and got a whole new set of answers, including:

Kelly words

At that time, I saw my own life as a play and this is what I wrote about it:

The things in my life are all stage props; I’m very aware of setting my scenes. All the people in my life are characters in my play and so, of course, am I. I just happen to be writing, directing, and starring in this production which, a friend remarked, would probably be the most expensive play ever produced.

There’s an inherent discipline in living one’s life as a play in progress. This is different from the discipline that’s part of living life as a sculpture or as a painting or as a symphony. In a play, props and scenery are vital–but only to the scenes in which they belong. One can’t become too attached to any particular props. Staging is also important and so are timing and pacing.

I recall being conscious of things as background props and of people (including myself) as characters from an early age. I wrote plays, read plays, directed amateur productions, and hung out with the local drama group. I thought up names and descriptions of characters, along with elaborate decorating schemes, to amuse myself. When I was old enough to notice I decided this was an odd way to think about things. Whereas other people seemed to make choices almost by instinct, I could consider a range of alternatives: the final choice depended on the requirements of the scene or the plot line; choosing otherwise seemed  arbitrary.

That felt like a strange approach, but strange or not, it was my approach. When it came time for me to reinvent myself at a major twist in the plot, I had no difficulty changing my wardrobe, my style, my attitude, and even my name. After all, this isn’t real life–whatever that’s supposed to be.

I wouldn’t use the same metaphor to describe my life now. Some days it feels like a surrealistic jigsaw puzzle: challenging, colorful, so much to look at, still not put together, and not at all what you’d (or I’d) expect.

What about you? If your life were a work of art in progress, what metaphor would you choose to describe it? Would it be a painting, a sculpture, a black and white photograph? A novel, a short story, a play, a poem, an essay? Would it be a symphony, an opera, a collage, a Rodgers and Hart musical, a movie? Or…what?

mandala daze

An assortment of colored pencils

An assortment of colored pencils (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Under the influence of the friend I stayed with right after I moved to San Francisco in 1974, I bought a box of crayons and some colored pencils and jumped into mandala-making. The practice involved creating a new one each day. My first efforts were kind of crude, but the intention was to develop self-awareness rather than to create works of art.

Nevertheless, I was dissatisfied with the slapdash approach that seemed to be necessary in order to produce a new mandala every day. I started being more deliberate and spending more than one day working on each one. Right around then, I met RC (my partner of 30 years), who was a very talented artist. He was working with the mandala form on both small and large scales. He had a stash of drafting tools (among other stashes) and showed me how to use them (the drafting tools). We got into the habit of spending hours sitting together at the dining table, each working on our own drawings.

I made a couple dozen mandalas using markers and colored pencils and developed a heavy Prismacolor habit. We framed a few and hung them on the wall. But i stuck them inside a manila folder a decade or two ago and filed it away in such a safe place I haven’t been able to lay my hands on it for years. In the course of looking for it, however, I unearthed a number of other things I’d forgotten I’d kept or had lost track of. So it’s fitting that last week, while looking for something entirely unrelated, I finally found the manila folder containing the mandalas!

The ones I like best are:

Mandala #1

Mandala #1

Mandala #2

Mandala #2

Mandala #3

Mandala #3

Mandala #4

Mandala #4

Mandala #5

Mandala #5

Mandala #6

Mandala #6

Mandala #7

Mandala #7

Mandala #8

Mandala #8

All of these were created in 1975 and 1976, before the advent of the personal computer and scanner. It was a different time and place, a different way of life. That’s one of the reasons I’m glad to have found them. They remind me of living at a slower pace, of paying attention to things in a different way, and of the companionable evenings RC and I spent together.

I still enjoy coloring mandalas occasionally, but even though I have that stash (of drafting tools) around here somewhere, I haven’t taken the time to draw my own designs in so long it seems unlikely I’ll ever do it again. But that’s OK. That was then, and this is now.

Is there something you once really got into and enjoyed, but that you no longer do–or maybe no longer even think about?

bright things

Brightness

Brightness (Photo credit: gibsonsgolfer)

The world is full of poetry.
The air is living with its spirit;
and the waves dance to the music of its melodies,
and sparkle in its brightness.

–James Gates Percival

One cold, dark winter afternoon when the temperature never rose above freezing all day and I felt trapped inside my office in front of my computer, I looked around the room at all the bright things I’ve put here.

I won’t go so far as to say say my world is full of poetry right now, but there’s a hint of its brightness here and there.

Butterfly

Butterfly

Lizards

Lizards

Suncatcher

Suncatcher

Tiger

Tiger

Mandala

Mandala

Vase (underwater upside down)

Vase (underwater upside down)

Reality (ala Brian Andreas)

Reality (ala Brian Andreas)

Good Advice!

Good Advice!

A bit of brightness landed on that one. Happy Saturday!

a collaborative adventure

This is a guest post by my friend Sylvia Davis, a very creative quilt artist. She graciously agreed to undertake making something to hang on a wall in my living room. I love the resulting piece.

A group of friends was at my house for dinner, and as often happens, we all gravitated to my workroom to discuss my current quilting projects. Silent amongst them stood Joycelyn, who was looking thoughtfully at each of the wall hangings in the room. These were predominantly modern abstract stained glass-like patterns in bright colors using bias tape and sometimes beading. They had been created over many years sans any formal training other than an occasional quilting class and around working full time and raising teenagers; they were just for fun. Later she asked if I could make one like these for her, as she had a space in her living room that called out for something interesting. And with that, our collaborative adventure began.

Soon I put together many of my design books for stained glass (mostly Dover) and a notebook of my own projects and went over to Joycelyn’s place. We looked around at her living room, noting the design elements and colors that already existed (heavily Southwest), looked at the space above some bookcases where the wall hanging would be hung, and determined a size of 46 x 18 inches. We went through all the idea books, putting Post-Its on all the pages that showed something she liked. Then we went back to each Post-It page one by one and discussed which details she liked, pulling graceful lines from one, circles from another, and placement from yet another as well as the idea of having one design element go outside the basic rectangle. We made a rough drawing of what we had in mind…

…and set off for the quilting shops for fabric. Two stores later, voila! We found a Southwest abstract in several color schemes. There we sat on the floor of a fortunately empty store, bolts all around us and two store cats wending their way in between us, and we made our decisions.

As I drove home after our purchase, I was utterly amazed that in one short afternoon we had both designed the wall hanging and bought the fabric! I had expected a much more laborious process. Our success lay in Joycelyn’s innate design sense, which meant that, even without the element of color, she knew immediately what she liked and didn’t like. Combined with my experience in which details would likely work and which presented too many problems or conflicted with the overall design, we had made short work of the whole designing process.

Then began several weeks of communication with each other whenever there were decisions to be made about colors and other details, sometimes in person and sometimes via photographs and e-mails. We were both startled at the number of times we had been independently thinking of the same change. We progressed through the paper true-to-size layout…

…transfer of the layout to the background light teal fabric, grid quilting of the background…

…placement and sewing of the curving lines, and assembly and attachment of the circles without a hitch.

I couldn’t find the right color of cording for some of the circles, but found crocheting thread and braided it into two sizes, and we both liked the texture the braiding added and the tie-off of the threads that created some draped detail.

When the wall hanging was nearly complete, we met in a gemstone shop to choose the final embellishments. Then, only two months later, her new wall hanging was proudly in place, a bold statement that pulls many elements of her living room together satisfyingly.

What a delightful adventure!

NOTE: I couldn’t agree more. Collaborating with Sylvia was great fun, and after just over six months, I can’t imagine not having this piece hanging on the wall of my living room.  It just seems to belong there. Thank you, Sylvia! Looking forward to our next project together.

Post Navigation

%d bloggers like this: