new year, new ideas (and familiar ones too)

As the old year closed and the new one circled around with more daylight (and a lot more snow here in Wisconsin), I decided to broaden my Zentangle experience. In addition to my usual black ink and graphite on white tiles, I tried brown inks and colored pencils — and the new Zenstone — on the new brown Renaissance tiles. I also experimented with water soluble graphite and colored pencils on regular white tiles. And then, just to mix it up a little, I went back to the old, familiar white tiles with black ink.


Tangles: flux, tipple, tripoli, a hollibaugh variation, sez, lanie, and eye-wa.

First, I used a really dark brown pen on a Renaissance tile. I also used some Prismacolor pencils, and, in the flux tangle along the top, I highlighted the leaves with my new Zenstone, which I love. It adds a light tone (not quite as white as the white Prismacolor pencil which outlines the tripoli triangles, below the flux), and it is remarkably strong. When I hold it, I am aware of its squareness, and it looks translucent, not like it can produce such a nice light effect.


Tangles: copada, crescent moon, borbz, prestwood, and flukes.

Next, I experimented with colored pencil (the blue and green in the copada) and with water-soluble graphite (Derwent Graphitint) that has just a touch of hue for all the other shading.


Tangles: shattuck, betweed, quandary, well, elven, knase, copada, keeko, and an oval pattern I’ve been working on.

On another Renaissance tile, I used the Sakura Pigma Micron lighter brown ink (more of a sienna than their super dark brown, though when I filled in larger areas the ink really got dark). Then the Zenstone and some Prismacolor pencils. Aside from the ink, I haven’t tried any water-based media on these tiles. They are a little more fragile feeling than the white tiles, and felt like they wouldn’t take water well. They really soaked up the ink to the point of getting really dark.


Tangles: opus, striping, krli-qs, warble, nzeppel, borbz, verdigogh, and flux.

For this tile, I used a water-soluble graphite wash as my string, and tangled on top of it with the dark brown ink. It is really close to black. Then I went in with dark brown and white pencils to add shading and highlights.


Tangles: a variation of well, knase, hibred, meer, shing, striping, festune, and a leafy form like sampson.

Inspired by Margaret Bremner’s houses, I wanted to try some house-like structures, only with a little more abstract quality. Where hers are whimsical and delightful to look at, I wanted mine to be about surface planes. I live on a hill and look down at rooftops. I like how they blend together with the landscape. This tile was still a bit too realistic for me.


Tangles: a variation of florz, dansk, meer, lanie, sanibelle, tipple, nzeppel, and striping.

I returned to the old black-and-white to work on a string made of the forms that suggest the planes of walls and roofs. More abstract; more me.


Tangles: flux, emingle, ynix, knase, tipple, flukes, sez, striping, prestwood, dribbetz, divadance, crescent moon, a variation of chillon, and a variation of bucky.

I added a few more organic elements to the planes and like the results.


Tangles: eye-wa, sand swirls, knightsbridge, warble, sez, and meer.

This one got a lot more flat, and doesn’t suggest landscape as much. It’s more about filling large areas with pattern.

Sometimes a change, or trying something new, doesn’t have to be a big, huge shift. Just a different background, or a dollop of color are all it takes to keep things lively and fresh.


a color theory lesson, and a gray tile

If you want to know about color and how to use it in your art, I have an incredible book for you to work through: Color: A Workshop Approach, by David Hornung.

When I revised the color theory curriculum for the graphic communications students I taught at Waukesha County Technical College here in the southeast corner of Wisconsin, I incorporated many of the ideas I learned from David Hornung. I was never able to take one of his courses, but found his book one of the most enlightening practical art texts I have ever experienced. Really, I mean it.

It’s not only that he explains color in a way that you can understand it, the exercises bring the theoretical ideas to life. I know. I saw it happen with my students. In every class that I explained a concept, in a way that I imagined David Hornung would, and in every exercise, painted diligently with gouache (not a favorite for the computer-based design students I taught), bells rang, whistles blew, and eyes opened wide with new, a-ha! understanding.

I see that he also wrote Color: A Workshop for Artists and Designers, which, from what I can see, incorporates many of the same ideas. I just ordered it from Amazon. Here’s his website, in case you’re interested.

And so, whenever I read a new explanation of color theory, like the scant paragraph Beckah Krahula offers us on Day 22 of One Zentangle A Day, I have not only David Hornung, but piles of research and student experience to measure it by.

And I say: BLAAAHHHH. And Aaargh. Sorry Beckah, this chapter, about warm and cool color wheels, really falls short. If anything, it will confuse any novice to color, and certainly won’t foster a love of practicing warm and cool, or dull and bright, or dark and light color applications. And I don’t know what “boxed sets” you are referring to, but they don’t all include a warm and a cool selection for each of the primary colors. And your color wheel diagram doesn’t really show the difference, either.

I am going to suspend further judgment until I read more. Maybe this was just a brief introduction, not intended to be in-depth (though any discussion of color requires some depth, in my humble opinion). And, the assignment is to learn two new tangles and use them… without color. So here is mine. It’s also kind of a “blaah” tile… maybe a reflection of what I read in the chapter?


Tangles: tagh, tat, quandary, and diva dance.