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Thursday, April 26, 2012

Crazy About Canvas

I really should stay out of craft stores.  There are so many wonderful things to see and to touch.  It is almost impossible for me to go into one and not buy something.  I bet the employees can tell because of the glazed look in my eyes.

It is this habit of wandering around that I found these little 4" canvas.  You can see all of the mini canvas that Michaels has here.  I have limited myself to using the mini canvas and what they call the canvas panels.  Both come in white and black.  

Back of mini canvas

The difference in the mini canvas and the panels are how they are constructed.  As far as I have been able to tell, the canvas on both are the same.  The mini canvas is thicker and requires a lighter touch.  As you can see in the photo I took of the back of the mini canvas, there is a nice wooden frame for support at the edges, but the center is open so pressing hard with your pen is probably not a good idea.  I like how the canvas is wrapped around the sides though.  It makes a good place to hold into while working.  I also like to continue my lines down the edges.  By continuing a pattern, it just gives the design more room.  You can also make a whole new pattern there for added interest.  A word of warning though, you may wish to add lines to the edges last.  I have not and ended up with paint on my fingers and/or smearing what I have just made.

Back of mini panel.

The mini panels are just as easy to work with as the mini canvas and as I said before, seem to be exactly the same on the front.  The back however is quite different.  As you can see to the right, it is solid.  So, anyone with a heavy hand can press down to their hearts delight.  These are a lot thinner however, so there is no edge to add to the design.  These also come 4 to a package where there are just 2 in the canvas.  Both the black and the white are primed with titanium acrylic gesso and have a medium texture surface.  This texture may not be for everyone.  It is very different from the texture on the paper that I usually use. I have not tried painting the surfaces before drawing on them.  It may be that a layer of white/black paint would smooth the surface out.

Now, pens.  I have not tried using my micron pens on these tiles.  I did read up a bit before starting and from comments that I have seen, the gesso surface is a micron killer.  Over the winter I bought some Uchida Decocolor Extra Fine Paint Markers to use on ornaments.  These are not as fine a point as the micron 01 but probably are in the size of the micron 08 tip.  I like how these pens flow on the canvas a lot.  The ink has a steady flow and fills in the texture nicely (meaning that there are no skips in the line.).  One draw back, this is paint and not ink.  Be aware of where you rest your hand or touch with your fingers.  For some of you this may be a no brainer, but I have smeared a bit and forever have bits of design on my fingertips.  :)  The paint has a gloss to it when dry and once totally dry they do not smear or come off when touched.

I tried shading with pencil but I was not happy with the way the pencil went on the canvas.  I used blending stumps and they helped, but on the mini canvas, you just can't push hard enough to get a good blend.  After posting on Facebook about my attempts, Sharon Payne suggested that I use a Bic Mark-It pen for the shading.  Sharon's Facebook page is here.  You should check out her stuff.  She does incredible work.  

After Sharon's suggestion I headed over to Staples to see if by chance they had just a gray pen.  To my great luck they did and I bought two to try out.  The Mark-It pens come in ultra fine and a varity of colors.  I bought a small set a while ago but had not really used them as they bleed when used on paper.  Well guess what?  They don't bleed on these canvas tiles. I tried these on my next tile.  The smaller tip is nice for detail patterns.  They are still bigger and the 01 size of the micron.  I can't say exactly where these measure, maybe at the 05 size. The ink is flat with these markers so more like when tangling on paper.  What I am not find of about these pens is that they "puddle" at the tip as you draw.  This isn't a problem while you are actively drawing but when you stop, if you aren't careful, you can get a spot of extra color where you don't plan.  I usually try to "push" the puddle into a back line where it gets lost or stop my lines at a place where I will go back and add shade later.  A bit of darker color there doesn't seem to matter as much to me.

This is my first mini canvas.  I used white and yellow paint markers.  After I got the grey Mark-It, I went in and added a tiny bit of shading just to see how it would work.

This is a mini canvas done with the black paint marker and pencil shading.  I like the darkness of the pencil but I don't like how it shades the top of the canvas and not the lover part of the texture.  I'm also learning that with the paint markers, an open pattern is better. Patterns with too much detail can run together a bit.  Of course you can probably off set that by making the pattern larger.

I am working on a few more.  I want to see if I can solve my shading issues.  I bought a few larger canvases to try when I am more confortable with this process and happy with the shading.

If anyone has any tips, hints, or stories I would love to hear them.

Earth Day Zentangles

Sunday was Earth Day and I must confess that I was unable to celebrate it in an Earth friendly way.  We spent the day driving home from a wedding in Virginia.  It pleased me though to see that the challenge this week was to create a tile that celebrates our home planet.

I wasn't sure what I was going to create when I read the challenge, but I knew that I was going to use blue and green ink to draw.  Really, a challenge inspired by Earth just called for color to me.

Patterns used: Shattuck, Tripoli, Keeko

When I sat down to start my first tile, I decided that I wanted to draw the Earth in space.  I contemplated  tracing out a map or image of the Earth but then decided that I would just go for a suggestion of Earth rather than a literal translation.  Because I started while sitting in the waiting room at the orthodontist my circle is a bit wonky but no matter.  I added a few shapes to represent land and I was off.  I made my blue section first and then went and added my green.  I think that I should have stopped and not added the black, however. I think that I liked the tile better before.  I added the "stars" with the Sakura glitter pen to break up the darkness.  Plus, if we were looking at Earth from space we'd see stars too.

Patterns used: Tagh, Hibred, Baton, Pokeroot, Paradox, Organza

After finishing my first tile, I wanted to do another one.  Since I found some 4" canvases at Michaels, I've been a bit obsessed with them.  This second Earth is done on a 4" canvas "tile".  I say tile as it is solid all the way through.  It is some hard material (cardboard maybe) covered in canvas.  The tile is thin and pretty easy to work with.  I will be doing a post on the canvas and pens that I use next so check back if you'd like to see more.

I decided that I wanted this one to be more of a suggestion of Earth.  I started with a circle and then added Organza to divide the circle.  For this tile I used Bic Mark-It pens with the ultra fine tip.  The green that I have is very light and I ended up going over my lines several times to get them as dark as they are.  I am still working out the shading on the canvas though.  In some places, I think that the grey pen is successful but in others not so much.  I find that the Bic pen kind of "puddles" at the tip so that a spot of extra ink can be left when you pick your pen up.  You can see this best in the green sections.  I find though, that it I end my gray lines on a black one, that the dot blends into the black and is no longer an issue.

I like this tile and think that I will use the divided circle again.  I really like how it looks.

Thanks to Laura for another great challenge.  I hope that your foot is doing much better.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Laura's Auras - Challenge # 66

Spring break is over for me and the family and while I had fun, I'm glad to be back to the routine.  Also back this week, is the Diva's challenge.  Laura's youngest son was in the hospital last week but I am so very glad that they are now home.  I'm so happy that Artoo is doing better.  A speedy recovery for Artoo and some rest for Laura are my wishes for this week.

Auras in Zentangle are a repeated outline around a pattern.  While these are often used to great effect and can fill a space nicely, I don't really use them unless a pattern has an aura in the design.  At first I thought about taking a pattern that doesn't usually have an aura and adding one on to it. But then I thought that I'd use Opus and Flux, two patterns that often have auras but are patterns that I don't normally use.

I think that my Opus is awkward but Flux turned out pretty well.  I'm proudest of my shading on Flux.  It turned out pretty well if I do say so myself. I had started this tile with a pretty tight string but as I added Flux, the whole string went out the window.  I'm finding myself ignoring my string lately.  Often I use the string as a defining point of the tile.  Like a coloring book, I usually stick to the lines and don't really stray beyond them.  I have been working on relaxing that a bit and fear that I am starting to swing the other way. 

I hope that you all have a great week!  I wanted to say how very much I enjoyed seeing your interpretations of Huggy Bear a few weeks ago.  They were all so incredible!  The challenge really showed me how much creativity you all have and also how rigid I can sometimes be in my own vision.  Thanks for such a fabulous experience everyone!

Friday, April 13, 2012

Illuminated Letter

I have finally finished a piece that I have been working on for several weeks.  Some friends of ours are getting married next weekend and I made a piece for them.  Usually I would get a couple something from their registry but these two don't want anything.  They have been together for a while and have bought or collected most of what a couple starting out would want.  Something they do have is a new home.  The house is really beautiful and has lots of wall space.  Naturally, I thought that I would make them something to hang on them!

I really admire the work done at the Zentangle Illuminated Letters master class that was held in Rhode Island.  What incredible art was made there.  Taking the idea, I decided to try my hand at making one of my own. 

I am not a calligrapher nor is my handwriting very good, so I chose a font that I liked and traced out my letter L.  From there I divided the space and kind of made it up as I went along.  I am quite pleased with the final product.

I toyed with the idea of adding some light washes of color with watercolor paint but I think I need to learn more and practice before I add to this work.  It is hard to see the shading here but the patterns really popped out once the shade was added.  This was done on 12"X18" watercolor paper using micron pens, pencil, and the Sakura Pen-touch gold marker.  I was going to use my gold leafing pen but it was not working well.  I think the pen-touch did a great job.  It covered really well and the shine is nice.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Use My Tangle!

I can't express how honored and excited I was when I checked The Diva's challenge today. Laura has chosen my tangle pattern Huggy Bear for this month's Use My Tangle challenge.  I have such respect and awe for Laura's work.  Thank you Laura for this.

I was actually thinking that I would skip the challenge this week.  I am looking at a busy week as spring break begins on Friday.  We are heading out to do some camping and that means a week of planning and packing.  There is also a wedding ZIA that I am racing to finish before the big day.  Of course once I saw the challenge I had to get right down to it.  I chose tangles that would be quick for me to do.  I wanted to get his posted quickly so I can concentrate on seeing all of the faboulos tiles you all make!

In addition to Huggy Bear, I used Gingham, Oof, and Beeline.  I also kept the shading to a minimum. 

Thanks again Laura for this opportunity.  Your tile is wonderful and I ADORE how you used Huggy Bear.  What a fun way to vary it.  I can't wait to see what everyone does!