Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Putting the Zen in Zentangle

Big conversations going on in the world of Zentangle. I recently posted to our CZT discussion group asking for a ready reply to a situation I had encountered. Twice in so many weeks when I shared my Zentangle art with someone and they knocked it down with "That's not art that's just doodling." I wanted to draw on the experiences and the expertise of the wonderful CZT group. I got some really awesome replies. Lots of really good information that has prepared me for the next time.

At the same time Rick and Maria posted a similiar discussion on their own blog, which you can see here http://zentangle.blogspot.com/2010/11/conversation.html . I just have to say the email sent by that person was in turns hurtful, insulting and annoying. I wonder why people take the time...if you don't like tangling, ignore it, no one is forcing a Micron pen and lovely Italian paper into your hand.

For some reason I had never thought to look up the actual definition of the word doodle. Here is what I found on three different web dictionaries.
A doodle is a type of sketch, an unfocused drawing made while a person's attention is otherwise occupied.
make a doodle; draw aimlessly
doodle - scribble: an aimless drawing

Zentangle is the opposite of every red word you see above. It is focused, purposeful, and intentional drawing. As you create, it will draw you in and center you. It's breaking patterns down and reinventing them. It is relaxing and fun.

What I gained from all of the comments and discussions is a greater understanding and even more enthusiasm for this art. The bottom line for me is Zentangle is a philosophy, a method of drawing patterns that can be taught in many variations. I can also say with certainty that had I sent a question out to the universe about the process of doodling, I would never have been wrapped in the supportive arms of community or encouraged with words of wisdom as I was by my fellow CZTs when I posted my Zentangle question.

I'll close with one of my favorite comments, one by Nancy Ubin: There is room for all perspectives, turn your tile. Not only important in tangling, but also in life!

Monday, November 8, 2010

See Something Different

I've always loved looking at things a different way. Like the cloud game most of us played as kids. In fact, just recently my daughter and I saw a really awesome rabbit in the clouds.

I found a great site which has a collection of animals seen by people as they looked at the map for the Underground subway system in London. It's really amazing what people see! I love the snail. http://www.animalsontheunderground.com/the_animals.html

Take time everyday to look at the ordinary and see the exceptional.

Thursday, October 28, 2010


Wednesday, October 20, 2010

More on Zentangle

I really had to think hard about this, but I just couldn't change the name of my blog. My Invisible Muse has so much meaning in my life. It's the inner voice I ignored for so many years. The voice that my inner critic drowned out everytime I tried something new or even leaned towards calling myself an artist. My Invisible Muse is what led me to Zentangle and is the voice that now encourages me and tells me that I can do or be whatever I want.

I have added a new tag line though. Because my blog will be shifting slightly towards my new love of tangling and the art of Zentangle. I will of course continue to talk about any art adventures just because it's fun to share these experiences.

As you read in my last post I recently became a CZT or Certified Zentangle Trainer. I read the best description on Jane Monk's blog about our training she wrote "Going to Rick and Maria's is almost like a pilgrimage, it has certainly changed my outlook and ideas about Zentangle." Such a great description Jane! I can't imagine taking this class anywhere else. So I came up with the following list...if you know me you know I love a good list!

Reasons Why We Tangle in Whitinsville

1. Rick and Maria. Okay they are portable but their house isn't! I thought I took good pictures but they just don't capture the warm, friendly, welcoming feeling of visiting their home and studio. Gracious, loving, wonderful, creative, funny, kind, and generous...I could go on.
2. Oakhurst. Wow. Let's see...history, wood work, huge, gorgeous, lovely, open, patterns, patterns, and patterns! And don't even get me started on the food...more on this later.
3. Terry and Ed. Also portable, but they can't bring Oakhurst with them! They are the ingredient that makes what could be just a huge, empty Victorian mansion feel like home. And speaking of ingredients man can they cook! Delicious food morning, noon and night...and coffee all day long. They were over the top helpful with anything we needed. Wonderful people.
4.Atmosphere. This one is harder to describe. Can I just say that I have been to many conferences and stayed in many hotels where conferences are held...I have never experienced the atmosphere of creativity, shared joy, enthusiasm, and focus like I experienced in Whitinsville. I was sad to leave because I didn't want that feeling to end.
5. Family. Now this one might sound a bit strange. But there was something that made the experience seem more personal. Rick and Maria surround themselves with family. We all met members of their family, talked with them, learned from them, heard stories about them and were helped by them. It creates a feeling of trust and acceptance that can't be replaced and can not be found anywhere else but Whitinsville.

So there's my list. Traveling to Whitinsville is one of the most wonderful art experiences I've ever had and probably ever will. Thank you Rick and Maria for making it possible.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Want to see my Zentangles?

I just had an AMAZING experience in a small town called Whitinsville, MA. Of course I can’t even write the word “amazing” without hearing Kass Hall say it with her lovely Australian accent.

I really can't wait to see where this takes me. I like the idea that it is art for everyone, artist and non-artist alike!

I learned so much about the art of Zentangle and I can't wait to start teaching everyone I know. So you may see me carrying around Micron pens and smallish sheets of paper. If you are interested in learning more about Zentangle let me know!

Here are a few pieces of the work I did while I was there.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

What's on your windowsill?

I sometimes think you can learn a lot about a person based on what is on the windowsill in their kitchen. Is it crammed with whatever? Decorated? Empty? Think about it. Does your windowsill have the same things on it your mom's windowsill did? Did you learn that was what people keep there by her example or did her windowsill drive you crazy so now you do something totally different.

I'm not sure what it says about me, but mine is a combination of utilitarian and decorative. I have a collection of old glass bottles that I love. So I keep them on the windowsill organizing them in pleasing arrangements and using them by turns as flower containers or a place to dry my brushes. I happen to like the look of the brushes in the window. It's kind of decorative and at the same time reminds me that I have recently found time in my busy schedule to do the thing I love...art.

One of the jars always contains loose change. You can pretty much tell the financial tides of the month with this jar. The rest of the sill is kind of messy with the collected clutter of the season...a smooth stone I like to pick up and hold in my hand sometimes just because it reminds me that time changes things as much as it keeps things the same. Right now a small collection of shells also sits on the sill. A sign that it's summer and that Meghan hasn't put them away in whatever nook in her room that is, by now, overflowing with shells from many beaches. There is also a tomato sitting there....this was definitely something my mom did. It has something to do with letting them ripen I think. But anytime a get a tomato from someone it goes on the sill.

Feel free to post links to pictures of your windowsills here...I'd love to see what your windowsill says about you!

Monday, July 12, 2010

To Market, To Market

Manteo's Waterfront Farmer's Market...fresh produce, baked goods and art. Hello, does it get any better?

I did not purchase any of the fresh produce even though it looked fabulous. However, the baked goods and art are another matter. Life is an adventure so why not try the weird foods, the stuff you never heard of before. So at a baked goods stand Meghan and I bought some lemon and lavender cookies. I know! Sounds strange...I mean isn't lavendar something you stick in your closet and drawers so your clothes smell nice? Or spray on your pillow so you get a good nights sleep? Well, apparently you can also eat it in a cookie! I have to admit I was expecting it to taste like a mouthful of potpourri...but it was delicious!

Lots of great art. Sea glass jewelry, bags, beaded jewelry, wrist/ankle bands and some cool stuff by the art guild. One of the really neat things we saw were journals made from board games and old books. I was thinking of making some with watercolor paper inside so I could art journal with them. We saw some really pretty and unique items.

I did buy some joint support herbal salve from my favorite herbal remedy shop called Sea Willow Herbs. I year ago I purchased some muscle salve from them and it was the only thing that worked on my shoulder and arm pain. It feels marvelous, smell fabulous and works on the pain!! She has an Etsy shop now so you can check these products out at http://www.etsy.com/shop/seawillowherbs .

I have to say, I love a farmer's market. The stuff is unique, the people are friendly and there is lots of free air to breathe. If you are headed to OBX this summer check out the Manteo Waterfront market, it's worth the short drive. And if you are planning a staycation instead...do a search on Google for farmer's markets in your area!

Sidenote:I came to realize on our trip to Manteo why I can't eat the tomatos we buy in the store. I'm convinced they are cardboard replicas of the real thing. Three tomatos out of my dad's backyard and I was transported back in time to when my mom grew tomatoes in our yard. Red, juicy, full of flavor slices of lycopene heaven. Slice them and top with a sprinkle of sea salt and fresh pepper....yum. Do not spoil the flavor with mayo or bread (although I ate my share of those delicious sandwiches my mom made). I'm thinking next year we will be growing some maters in our yard!

Monday, May 10, 2010

Life Really Is a Beach!

On Mother's Day the choice was mine. Where should we go and what should we do? I decided I wanted to go for a walk on Grandview Beach to look for sea glass. I wanted to find some nice pieces for a Sea Glass Transfer class I'm taking this month at Art and Soul. The weather was absolutely beautiful and although it's a bit of a hike to get to the beach it's well worth it! I have never been on a beach with such variety of fun stuff to look at and collect. Smooth stones, sea shells, interesting sponges, colorful corals, and of course sea glass.

When you first get to the beach it's a little rough looking. You can't get to the water because of the stumps and growth near the water line. You have to keep walking to get to the good stuff. But really even the stumpy growth was neat to look at, just not to walk on!

We kept walking and got to the part where we could walk down to the water with ease. So the hunt began. Steve and Chris took off at a brisk walk and soon we couldn't see them any more. Meghan and I meandered in a zig zag down the beach. Sometimes at the waters edge and sometimes high up in the soft sand near the sea grass. With our heads down in search of glass. We found beautiful shell linings that look like mica, sheer and gold in color. We found smooth round flat stones great for stacking. And lots of sea glass.

We had the best time just finding things and looking around at the scenery. We saw stone patterns in the sand. This one looked like the wings I draw on my signature! We couldn't figure out if they were man made or if the tide just carried them up and left them in that pattern. I like to think the water left them there.
I was thinking about our day and how Meghan and I took so long to make our way along the beach. Most of the time we were looking straight down, looking at the small details in the sand and focusing on one thing at a time, glass or rocks. We almost walked past a small rock island a short distance off shore without seeing it because we were focused and looking down. I realized a lot of the time that's how I live my life. Always looking at the small details and never taking enough time to look up at the big picture. If we hadn't stopped occasionally to look up and look around, we would have missed some beautiful scenery...the big picture. I really should take more time in my day to reflect on the bigger issues and events in my life. Like most things in life it's all about balance. There is no way to avoid the small details of everyday life. I just need to find a better balance. Take a step back to see the big picture and enjoy the scenery or it will all pass me by.
Sometimes it seems just a blink of an eye between my kids being babies and being teenagers now. The small details fill up each day in a frenzy and before you know it the time is gone. I'm setting a goal for myself to slow it down and enjoy the view. Our day at Grandview was one of those occasions...time with my family, slow it down, soak it up and enjoy the view. Enjoy those conversations in the car and at the dinner table. Because in the next blink they will be gone...adults with families of their own.

As far as a beach walk is concerned, there is something to be said for looking down at what's right in front of you from time to time...there are jewels just waiting to be found.

All photos on this page were taken by Meghan Garrity.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Beautiful Lampwork

Headed over to d'Art Center, which had moved and with the light rail constuction was a nightmare to find. Anyhoo, on this trip I met a lampwork artist by the name of Cathy Jo Ramsey. Truly one of the loveliest people I have ever met. Her space at d'Art is filled with her beautiful glasswork, thousands of glass rods stored in and on antique furniture pieces and her work station. She worked as a PE teacher for 30 years. Retired now, she is following her artist heart to working with glass. She began as a glass blower and has now moved into lampwork. I have to say she was so much fun to watch and speak with. She demonstrated how she makes her signature piece, a glass oyster on the half shell. Take a look at her work here http://www.glass-imaginings.com/index.html . The way she blends the glass color and curls the edges was truly fascinating. She was very encouraging when I spoke with her about trying lampwork myself. I had to say though I would probably end up with a blob of ugly glass! I guess as with any art it takes a lot of practice to become good at what you do. I told her she would be a great vendor at Art and Soul. I'm sure her items would sell like hotcakes. If you are ever at d'Art Center make sure you stop by to see this wonderful lady and stay awhile to watch and chat.

Not much else was open in the d'Art center on a Sunday afternoon but with all glass fronts you could see the work of other artists. Normally they are there working and sell their art. Apparently, during the week they have lunch events with music. It is definitely a place to visit again, perhaps on a Saturday when more artists are around. Check out their website http://www.d-artcenter.org/splash.html. If you park at MacAuthor mall it's just a two block walk. Directions, hours and parking suggestions are listed on the website.

As usual another art adventure leads to lovely things and lovely people!

Sunday, April 11, 2010

An April Ramble

Yesterday I took off to explore. I headed out to Hampton to Queens Way. This shopping/restaurant area consists of small shops all in a row with brick sidewalks and housed in old buildings. Great ambience. I wish there were more stores to peruse because the ones that are there are great! I started off in a cottage store called Shabby Chic (47 E Queens Way). Wonderful paint flaked windows, sea glass, and all other sorts of old stuff. They have these wonderful mermaids cut from old wood then embellished with sea glass and sea shells. One of those would look so nice in my new bathroom!

At the back of the store you walk through an open area and up some stairs and find yourself in another store, Modernlux. Great retro stuff! Loved the kitschy zippered pouches and shopping bags. A bonus for the green me, they are made from 90% reclaimed materials. If you are lookinig for something mid-century this store is the place to hit. You can become a fan/friend on their Facebook page, Modernlux Hampton.

My next stop was Something Different (19 E Queens Way). Great combination of architectural elements, signs, and garden items interspersed with antiques. I saw several architectural elements I would have loved to hang in my studio. I'll be back for another visit once I get my studio reorganized and figure out what to do with my walls that aren't being used for storage!

Just walking through this area on a beautiful Spring day was a joy. I cut through to W. Queens Way, passing by one of the best tea rooms in the area, The Grey Goose. The menu offers a lot of variety. For those of you not vegetarian, this is one of the places you can get a bowl of Brunswick Stew and Virginia Ham biscuits...two VA treats. Not only great food, but they offer music and dinner theater events which they have dubbed Dinnertainment. One of my favorite director/actors Roxanne Whitmore Kohlman performs at the Grey Goose. By eating here you would also support 3/50 Projects "Eat down the street" initative! (More on this later.)

As I looped back around to my car I meandered through the Blue Skies Gallery. This art gallery contains work from many local artists all for sale. A couple of my favorite picks: The pottery by David Fletcher which is fired in an actual open flame fire instead of a kiln. The markings on the pieces are gorgeous. The assemblage art by Susan Bastinelli. I'm usually not an assemblage fan, due to the fact it often frightens me in a Sid Phillips tortured toys sort of way. However, the piece she has at the Blue Sky Galleries is great. Normal everyday objects and a clock casing used to create a quirky and fun face with a tuft of broom hair. And of course all of the jewelry! I love art jewelry and have gotten to the point where that's about all I wear anymore. I could have dropped big dollars on jewelry here but I was really trying to be good!

Speaking of spending money, if you aren't aware of the 3/50 project click on the link to the right on my blog and find out more. In a nutshell it's about spending your money locally to save the small privately owned business in your community. You pick three and spend a total of $50 dollars each month. Something you might not know is that for every $100 dollars spent at locally owned independent stores $68 stays in the community through taxes, wages and other expenditures. If you spend it at a national chain only $43 stays here. They have created another promotion on their site called "Eat down the street." It's the same kind of concept only it involves eating once a week at one of the local, privately owned restaurants instead of a big chain restaurants. One of my favorite locally owned restaurants is Papou George's. The food is great and the atmosphere is fun. If you go get the homemade potato chips! So, if you are planning to spend the day shopping and maybe stop for a bite to eat...support our local businesses!

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Spring is Here!

Spring has arrived. She came to my studio just this week. Yes, I know Spring started on March 20th. But her representative, also named Spring, found me at Tuesday Morning and came home with me. She looks great with one of my background pieces behind her, doesn't she? She now resides on my desk and reminds me of all things spring-ish.

This is my favorite season. I love the weather and the feeling of new beginnings. It's like everything is in a refresh mode. Trees are greening, flowers are blooming, and everyone is sprucing up their homes. The only thing I don't like is the pollen. It's on everything, in my eyes and making my sinuses go crazy. It rises from the streets in plums as cars drive by.

I'm excited to say I have completed a piece for a friend who just moved into a new place. I was inspired by an article in Cloth, Paper, Scissors by Jenn Mason (she is also a CPS editor). So I went to work yesterday and completed it today. I'm happy to have my hands in the paint again. It's been a long dry spell with little creativity except for the theater sort. I was one of the chairwomen for the Dinner Theater production held by the Junior Women's Club of Hilton Village. So I got to reconnect with my theater background which was a lot of fun. But I really found I was missing my art and working in my studio to create. I have been so busy with all the other things in my life and have made little time for my art. But it's Spring Break and I found the time! Yay!

I was so busy I missed an issue of CPS! I can't believe it, I never do that! Also, in this current issue of CPS is a reader challenge called "Fly Your Creative Flag". I will definitely be participating in that challenge!

I'm also in the count down stage for Art and Soul which is May 20-24. I haven't even started making trades. I have some ideas and may have to scale back some in order to get them done. The theme this year is Wonderland so the trades will be fun I'm sure. I'm not taking as many classes, I wish I could take more. But the ones I'm taking sound so good.

I hope this re-birth of art in my life stays around for longer than just Spring!