Searching for that “it” factor

It’s that time of year again when I realize I am truly awful at regularly blogging! What can I say? I prefer drawing to writing and other responsibilities!

Mental Health day from work turned into drawing a lot, a lot, a lot of lines!

I’ve spent this year trying to identify my creative aesthetic. What do I love doing most? What do I love most about others’ work? What pushes my creative buttons, inspires me to continue on? What makes me go “Oh, I love that!” or “How can I do that myself?”

A lot of this introspection and observation also reminded me of my Dynamics of Psychology in my undergrad program. While the first half of the class had me scratching my head and questioning everything I had learned about psychology thus far, I’ve realized years later that what I didn’t seem to learn in that class left an impression on me. Without getting too sciencey and breaking my own brain trying to explain, I’ll explain a little about what I absorbed from that class.

Fractals are everywhere. Repeating endlessly to eternity, forming the fabric of the existence of everything physically tangible. How it relates to psychology? I dont quite remember, but they’re pretty! And they consist of repeated lines and patterns. Sound familiar?

Fractals in kale!

And, humans and other living creatures will continue to behave a certain way until they approach an event or stimulus that causes them to change their actions or way of thinking, even if minutely. That small factor can completely change their lives both immediately and forever. Kind of like the butterfly effect, but not really. Again. Repeated behaviors, linear until they’re not.

Hmmm… brain broken yet? Mine is a little!

So how does this relate to my art and Zentangle practice? Let’s go back to my journey to discover that “it” factor.

It comes down to auras. Repeated lines. Echos. Halos. Vibrations. Rings from drops of water in a puddle. The steam rising from a pot of boiling water. Rays of light emanating from the sun and the moon and the stars.

So what if I just draw a line and aura it over and over? What if my pen gets bumped and now that line is no longer perfectly straight? Aura that new silhouette, that’s what!

And so, I set about to intentionally focus on auras in my work. Sometimes a border, sometimes wiggly lines over and over and over.

So now, a technique introduced to me by the Zentangle Method has woven itself into my life and my creative work in a way that I can only explain as revolutionary.

Am I being dramatic about a silly little concept? Probably. But for me, this epiphany and exploration has been really grounding and a great wellspring of creativity for me.

A 9x12ish canvas painted with super matte black, and tangled on with white ink

So, do you want to learn how to harness the power of the aura? I have just the thing for you (you saw this coming, right?).

Yep, I have a new Skillshare class available! I had every intention to publish this class 3 months ago, but life and excuses, excuses.

As always I am giving my email subscribers a free access link and a 2 months free link – use whichever you prefer! Skillshare does require an account, but if you’re just using the free access link you shouldn’t need to enter any payment information. If you decide to use the 2 free months, you will need to enter payment information. But, I know for a fact that it is SUPER easy to cancel your subscription and Skillshare doesn’t make it difficult or give you a guilt trip for doing so.

Free Access Link: https://skl.sh/2qOyUTQ

2 Free Months Link: https://skl.sh/2QThdxc

If you can leave a review, you’ll have my eternal gratitude! And I’ll have your feedback to use to improve or keep doing what I’m doing!

Examples from the Auras class

I hope you’ll enjoy!

Ups and Downs, Tangles All Around

This week has been full of emotions and ups and downs. I’m riding on the high of having taught new students over the weekend, but also dealing with that weird post-stress slump that tends to lead to lower productivity. It’s always a balancing act 🙂

Dark and drizzly days sometimes lead to dark and moody tangles….

…next day!! So much SUN!!!

…and then, the next day! Crazy thunderstorms!

Rainy days lead to playing with Dingbatz!

In exciting news, my tangle Scallamp is featured on The Diva’s Weekly Challenge. It was super exhilarating to wake up Monday morning to emails and notifications full of people trying my deconstruction out. I love seeing everyone’s renditions, and I’m still working my way through everyone’s posts! I even played with the tangle a bit more this week, too.

A string for a Scallamp-y tile

Scallamp and an abundant amount of Joki (have I mentioned I’m pretty much obsessed with Joki???)

Scallamp in a Dingbatz frame

Scallamp and crazy Huggins on a black Zentangle tile

Scallamp on a black zendala

 

In less exciting news, my fellow CZT Lily is experiencing an heartbreaking loss in her family. It’s never fun to learn that someone else is hurting so badly. As a Zentangle community, there’s a project to complete tiles with her tangles, using a heart string, and penciling words of encouragement, which will then be mailed to Lily.

It’s one of the many things I love about the Zentangle community, the fact that we’ll band together to hold each other up when we need it. Check out the Square One Facebook Group to see what everyone has come up with.

So, check out The Diva’s challenge this week, try out Scallamp (and let me know when you post it!), and keep Lily in your minds as you tangle and create. There is no such thing as too many positive thoughts, prayers, good vibes, or good energy that you can send to people in need.

Cheers,

Sarah, Zen & Zin

Tips for Staying Inspired!

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It happens to the best of us. It’s a sometimes terrifying feeling, convincing us that we may never get it back. What will I do without it?

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What am I talking about? INSPIRATION. Or, lack of it. Also known as a creative block. It’s actually happened to me so often that I’ve started to notice the signs, and take measures to keep inspiration coming. And, now, it’s also not so terrifying anymore.

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A blank page

So, what’s the fix for lacking creative juice or inspiration? I have a few ideas to share with you! Try them out, even if you’re rich in inspiration already! If you’re not a Zentangle artist, this post can still apply to you! And, I highly recommend trying Zentangle to help keep your own inspiration flowing!
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If you’ve never learned Zentangle® from a Certified Zentangle Teacher, or at all, please check out my upcoming classes! I am currently teaching in the Portland, Oregon area and on Skillshare. I’ll be adding more classes to Skillshare very soon, and if you’re in a neighboring state to Oregon and want to learn Zentangle, reach out to me and we can set something up!

1. Be Open To New Ideas… ALWAYS

Whether it’s a new tangle pattern that shows up in your feed but is a little intimidating or some crazy Pinterest project, try it out! I’ve recently been playing with a new spirograph and with the Echo Lines concept by Eni Oken. Before I got Eni’s book, I had been playing with auras a lot, so I was happy to add another tangleation to my repetoire. I have a tendency to hoard collect books and lessons from other Certified Zentangle Teachers and artists, so that when I run out of inspiration, I can whip out a lesson and learn something new!
Shameless plug here… Last year I joined Skillshare, initially to help me learn Photoshop and other graphic design software. Then, I branched and started learning other forms or art and techniques. It’s pretty amazing! I even starting teaching for them! Check it out here. Learning new skills, even if not directly related to Zentangle®, help keep that inspiration fresh!
I also love the Travelling Tangles Project. It’s like pen pals for tangling! Check out the Facebook Group here, or start your own art-sharing group!

2. Change Your Environment

If you’re always creating at home, your studio, or even your office, try some place different. I love to go to bars, cafes, parks, even libraries to get some fresh scenery. A bonus to changing your environment is that you won’t be distracted by the normal everyday things! Instead, you’ll get to see new people, new plants, new patterns and architecture…the list is long! Getting out of your comfort zone is a great way to refresh your inspiration.

I recently went to the worst place on Earth laundromat. Instead of reading old editions of donated magazines, I took my kit and sketchbook with me! I had so much fun, even though I was doing a chore I normally dislike!

Tanglin’ at the ‘mat

I also went to my favorite donut and chai shop (Seriously, if you’re in Portland GO HERE). And lo and behold! I was inspired by their dishware and carboholic delights donuts! I’d been here many times before, but I happened to have my kit with me and my brain was open for inspiration! Tangle away, I did!

Made-fresh mini donuts with a Meyer Lemon and Pear butter? YES PLEASE! And that design is so simple, but so eye catching!

3. Pick a favorite, add a twist

When I’m feeling stumped or out of inspiration, this is something I’ll often do. Pick a favorite or often-used tangle pattern, color, or activity. Do it over and over and over again, adding embellishments, playing with scale and overlap, making little tweaks. See where this takes you. I’ll often find myself coming up with other ideas while doing this, and I’ll store them in my mental inspiration bank for later!

Printemps, printemps, printemps!

4. Change your tunes

I love to listen to music or audiobooks while I’m creating. It helps me stay focused on what I’m doing, instead of letting my mind wander to all the other things I could/should be doing (like those stupid chores!). I love apps like Spotify and Amazon Music, they make it super easy to find new music. Try a new genre or a new artist. I like to go for really obscure stuff when I’m looking for new music, it awakens the inspiration nicely!

New-to-me music, weekly!

5. Join the art/creative community

I may be a little over-zealous when it comes to social media. I’m on Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, Mosaic, and Twitter. Instagram happens to be my favorite. Not only do I share my art and promote myself there, I get to build relationships with other artists, see what they are creating, and talk about new/old/fun techniques. You’re not plagiarizing if you happen to be inspired by something someone else is doing.

I’ve started doing some live videos on Instagram myself (check out the social media buttons on the right side bar to follow me), and actually doing the videos gave me inspiration. There’s a little bit of pressure to keep tangling, so it puts my inspiration reserves in overdrive, which is exhilarating!

Comment below and let me know how these tips worked for you, or add some tips of your own!

Cheers!

Sarah, Zen & Zin

 

Some tangling I did while live on Instagram last weekend