Sunday, November 6, 2016

From the tiniest acorn grows the mighty oak

I love acorns probably as much as squirrels do! Maybe it's because gathering them in the park across from my childhood home was like finding a treasure of scattered pearls in an enchanted forest.

Maybe it's their earthy nutty smell - or the mighty trees they fall from. Maybe it's the juxtaposition of their design; smooth shiny, often brilliantly colored shell compared to the bumpy, woody, dull or neutral-colored cap.

Intrinsically we all love acorns for the power they hold. That is so aptly illustrated in Ralph Waldo Emerson's famous quote, "The creation of a thousand forests is in one acorn."

Anyway - I've often incorporated acorns in my work, whether as a botanical illustrator, fiber artist, or now as a "Zentangler." Here are a few examples. I hope they give you food for thought and inspire you to realize your own strength and confidence in self expression.
The original "Botangle" drawing in black and white that I then colored as shown above.
This is a miniature piece that I drew in colored pencil for a "Drawing on History" class I taught at the Denver Botanic Gardens School for Botanical Illustration. It is in the style of famous 16th century artist Joris Hoefnagel. He was commissioned by Emperor Rudolf II to illustrate the Mira calligraphiae monumenta  or Model Book of Calligraphy that inspired this piece.

I've been obsessed with fiber and fiber arts for decades. Here are some colorful acorns that I felted and adorned with the caps from real acorns. A few real "McCoys" are scattered amongst that I recently gathered when I visited my daughter in Houston.

P.S. Did you know that there are BLUE acorns?!!

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Look at These Gems!

A beautiful collection of  my students' "Gemtangles"
waiting to be completed with embellishing "tangles."
Now look at the "gems" who drew them!

What fun it was today creating Gemtangles" or "Gemzens" with this lovely bunch of ladies! I was so surprised when I showed up to class that I knew each and every one. Though they had taken classes with me in the past, this was their first time ever making gemstones. I am so impressed with their results that I had to share them.

This Sunday afternoon customers streamed into my favorite, colorful, jam-packed-with uniques-things-store, Two Hands Paperie, where we held class. The ladies were so engrossed in their project that they didn't take note - or notice the many onlookers amazed at what they were working on. They were too busy adding shading here, veining there, feathering-in highlights, and adding the finishing touch; sparkles with white gel pens.

We started by learning some pencil stroke techniques that I taught as a botanical illustrator at the Denver Botanic Gardens. I included other traditional illustration techniques; color layering and grisaille (a method of painting in gray monochrome, typically to imitate sculpture, and in our case form.) Our first practice mini gems included a drop shadow with reflective light; not so traditional, but they make the 2-D drawing so believable, and as if the little stones are glowing.

Next we progressed to our main attraction; the big gem that would be embellished with tangle patterns. Here are some of those plain stones, smooth and burnished, some already with highlights and veining.

One of my sample pieces.

My sample for this class.

Sunday, August 28, 2016

My Most Unusual Zentangle Canvas

When my friend Debe asked me if I'd do a creative project for her, I immediately said, "yes!" Debe and I are soul sisters when it comes to creativity. She's a superb quilter with a great sense for design and color. So I knew that the application she had in mind for my Zentangle skills would be ever so creative. So here's the story.

Debe and her husband recently purchased a cute house in Frutta, Colorado, on the Western Slope. The bungalow is a wonderful little fixer upper (especially after the water pipes froze over the winter and flooded the whole place!) They've been redoing floors, drywall, kitchen, painting, etc.

Additionally, this is a house that has an unusual feature:
When you walk in from the back patio, you face the furnace room. From there you turn one way into the living room and another way into the master bedroom; not a really desirable look. But it would be too costly to change.

So brilliant Debe said, "why don't we have Annie zentangle something on the panel covering the gas heater." And I did!

I'll show you a progression of my project leading off with the final piece mounted on the heating element. Debe plans to paint the heater too to make the whole thing more attractive.

In any case, this has been my most unusual canvas to date!

Luckily this project came up during the summer months, and I was able to work on it nearly exclusively from my back yard.

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Next Classes Posted

I am pleased to announce that my next two classes at Two Hands Paperie in Boulder have been posted. Click on the photo captions and read all the details for signing up. Space is limited to six in both cases so sign up soon!

These will be really fun - something new for those of you who have taken classes with me in the past. I look forward to seeing familiar faces there!

Gemtangle Class - October 23

Bijou Class - December 4

Bijou dangle

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Journal Flourishes

At this time of the year I am inspired to pick up my handmade journals to make nature notes and drawings; wildflowers, landscapes, sketches of summer impressions, travel memories, etc. I wanted to share with you that this is a great opportunity to incorporate Zentangles into these special pages of journal reflections/entries. Here are a few examples of flourishes and boarders that I think you will recognize have been inspired by the Zentangle drawing method.
Try it and have fun!

Inside cover of my new "cross-structure" bound book. -

Here, the same journal with my contact information added. The inside covers are adorned with an old print I bought in Europe (1978) of Prague, depicted in the 1600s.

The top polished green leather journal is where the above flourishes reside.

From a travel journal I made for a special tour I took with the
Denver Botanic Gardens Illustrators Program in 2013.
This illuminated, 24-karat gold embellished letter "F" is part of a travel journal, as we visited Finland. You may notice that the page is a bit distorted because the letter was drawn
on reindeer vellum (skin) that won't lye flat in the book.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Flutter By

Up here in the Colorado high country, the butterflies are out in force. Maybe that's because it's also been another stellar summer for wildflowers. As a botanical illustrator, I often incorporate butterflies, moths, and other flying pollinators in my work. So today I'll share an older print that I made and hand colored (watercolor) for a pollinators show at the Denver Botanic Gardens. This one is a moth, though often mistaken for a butterfly. Its common name is the Madagascan Sunset Moth. Since this piece was a print, I had several uncolored ones and used one to tangle around. I love the process of creating. So I'm showing you the intaglio print plain, the intaglio print painted, and the intaglio print "tangled" and painted. Actually, I also used colored pencil on this final to build the layers; so it's really a multimedia piece.
The 'tangled" Sunset Moth, tinted with watercolor, colored pencil, and a delicate wash of gold that you can't see on the screen. It makes the wings shimmer. I used a variety of Copic pen sizes for the tangles and graphite for shading.

This is the intaglio print that I used as a background for the Botangle.

The colored (watercolor) intaglio print of the above.
A trip to see my dear friend in Florida inspired me to create this piece. We visited the butterfly pavilion on a "girl's weekend" in Key West. It was magical. Thus, the key in the illustration. The background consists of bathymetric contour lines (I traced and quality controlled myself years ago at work.) Bathymetry is the topography of the ocean. I loved doing this work for the scientist who was mapping the Seychelles Islands ocean floor. I knew I'd find an artistic use for it someday! I love how the contour lines of the background make for the perfect  "string" in the Zentangle technique. Please note the use of negative space.

I also did a piece for a show at the Broomfield Butterfly Pavilion that I tinted with colored pencil. This time I tangled the inside of the butterfly.

I hope these and those gorgeous real butterflies in your area inspire you to try tangling with a similar motiv. Enjoy the summer!

Sunday, May 22, 2016

April Showers Bring May Flowers

In April, I was pretty busy with my "day job" and also preparing for a couple of Botangle classes that I wanted to have a new spring templates ready for my students to use. So while it was snowing in the Rocky Mountains, I was sketching daffodils in the hopes that by doing so I could coax spring our way. So far it's still been pretty cool and wet (good news for a great wildflower season) but things are slow to bloom up here.

So enjoy this May flower now just really taking off (so late). I am posting a series of steps on how to create this Botangle so you can see how I started and ended with the final colored piece. This was done on 120-lb Arches watercolor paper. I used graphite shading under watercolor and went on top with colored pencils and white charcoal (as well as my favorite white highlighter, the Zenstone from Zentangle. It allows for more subtle whites than the white charcoal.

Now it's May and I've spent the entire weekend adding a "birdwatcher" garden for the high country in our backyard. I can't wait for those new plants to flourish and bloom, giving me much more inspiration for future Botangles!

My finished Botangle daffodils, 5.5x5.5 inches.

I began with this basic contour drawing.

Next I added shading with graphite. Here you can see that I already started adding Zentangle patterns on the stems.

More pattern work.

At this point I decided I liked keeping the inside bell of the daffodils and a few leaves "untangled" for compositional balance and interst.

Close up of the final.

Thursday, March 31, 2016

I Love Bijou Tiles!

I knew that the reason I had never gotten my little square tin box of Bijou tiles from Zentangle out of my art cabinet is that I would like them too much. That's exactly what happened. These 2x2-inch squares are addictive. They tangle up so quickly and look like little jewels when finished. In just one day, I created those shown below arranged in a circle because I couldn't stop!

Recently I took them with me on a trip and ended up teaching a couple of friends to do Zentangle drawing method on them. It went fast enough that even with a couple glasses of wine and lively conversation, the new ZT students stuck with it and produced some beautiful results! This could definitely turn into a regular class or intro to another Zentangle-related project/two-part class.

Thumbs up for Bijou!

This gives you a better idea of the tile size (2x2).

The Bijou tiles are sold in this lovely and practical tin box great for changing out the display of your current favorite tile. The Bijou story is fun too.

Results from my impromptu class with Lanny and Michael at the neighborhood cafe/bar.

I showed them how easy it is to add interest to their work with my traveling watercolor materials; a Peerless book of watercolor pigments and water-fillable brush.

Michael and Lanny giving Bijou a thumbs up too.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

One Last Hurrah for the Sake of Love

Since I taught two classes in February that included the heart theme, I'll post my newest "Botangle" that I developed for the class at the Denver Botanic Gardens for my last February post. Last Saturday's class was held at the beautiful historic Waring House on site and my students worked up some incredible designs. We didn't get finished with the shading and coloring so I'm only posting my sample piece; a Bleeding Heart Botangle.

I'm also showing you another coffee mug I tangled with hearts that were inspired by Maria Thomas hearts I've seen in the Zentangle Newsletter. I love the wrapping  "Umble" pattern. Unfortunately, it's impossible to shade the cup designs as they are only drawn on with Identi Pens and Sharpies in varying sizes.

I cleaned my cups thoroughly with spirits of some kind before drawing. After completing the drawing, I let them dry overnight and baked them at 400 degrees in the over for about 20 minutes to a half an hour. I must say, that's what I read on line about how to do this and they are definitely NOT dishwasher safe. I learned the hard way and lost one cup that I spent a couple of hours tangling. I've been washing my cups by hand and that seems to work fine. I am researching better ways to make these designs dishwasher durable.

I hope these heart tangles inspire you to continue to experiment with the design that speaks to our own hearts and keep love in your lives!