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After another long dry spell of feeling completely uninspired but nonetheless itching to create, I decided to try out Zentangling. A friend had recommended it to me as a nice meditative practice that didn’t require much thought or planning. So I got out my nice new apple green sketchbook that I bought myself a while back but had yet to use, and some pens, Googled what this ‘Zentangle’ process really entailed, and launched right in. And indeed it was meditative and nice, but I felt a bit frustrated as well if I’m honest. My abstract ‘doodles’ seemed childish and boring to me. But as I drew little intricate circles, I started to think about how this looked a bit like grains of sand, or the bigger circles like sea urchins, and the swirl ‘string’ I’d started out with reminded me of waves on a stormy sea, and a nautical theme kind of started to come to mind. I’ve been working on a story for a while now that is based on a seafaring village and a storm at sea, and the two kind of merged and I started to think maybe I could turn this zentangle into an artwork kind of based on those sorts of themes. So a big thumbs up to the Zentangling for helping with brainstorming when you don’t have any ideas, but I’m not sure I have the patience for pure Zentangling, which is meant to be purely abstract pattern and only black and white ink. I like colour too much and although I like the abstract motifs as a kind of decorative touch, I like my work to have some semblance of a story to it as well. So what started as a Zentangle ended up really not a Zentangle. In the end, I came up with this:

Sea Shanty

Sea Shanty

This was an interesting and new experience for me in many ways. It feels very different compared to my usual ‘style’ – whatever that may be. I’m not a pen & ink sort of artist usually. I have friends who are professionals in this medium, and compared to them, I feel like a rank amateur, like a little girl playing dress up with her mother’s clothes. I also tend to plan ahead before I start on a work, but this time I wasn’t planning to do anything except put down some random geometric patterns on paper. But nonetheless I’m pretty pleased with the way it turned out for a first attempt, as well as the process. I enjoyed getting to feel absorbed in creating again, something I haven’t really been able to do much lately. This reminded me I must make it more of a priority in life, and make more of an effort to try, even when I’m not feeling the Muse’s presence particularly. This seems like a good method I think for getting me into that mindset when I don’t really feel like I can, which is really useful.

If you’d like to try Zentangle, I can highly recommend it for quieting the mind and relaxing. Adult coloring books, move over! This is much better, because you are really creating something, rather than just decorating a pre-existing pattern with some colour. There is a tonne and a half of stuff out there on YouTube etc, showing you what Zentangle is, how to get started, and some examples of patterns you can use. I found watching people drawing these patterns is itself pretty hypnotic and zen. The basics of Zentangle are really kind of simple – just doodling really, with starting structure, and within bounds. Give it a go sometime!

And here’s a ditty to act as the soundtrack for this piece… ūüėČ

I know we’re well into the new year now, but happy new year anyway!¬† I have been so swamped since Christmas with PhD work.¬† I’m still completely overwhelmed with all the stuff I have to do, but I am about to go completely crazy bonkers mental doing tedious transformational complexity ratings (don’t ask…), so I’ve decided I need a break.¬† I thought I should prove that although I have been remiss in my duties as a blogger, I have nonetheless been quite creative, at least in the run-up to Christmas.¬†

You see, I’m a broke PhD student now, so my gifts had to be relatively cheap, so I decided to make most of them this year.¬† Yeah, just like that…as if it didn’t cost a lot in time, if not money.¬† What a numpty I am.¬† But I think it was a success all round.¬† My thumb got so chafed from all the crocheting that it hasn’t really been the same since, but I was quite pleased with how far I’ve come with the crochet-work.¬† I’ve expanded into the amigurumi stuffed animal arena, which I’ve been thoroughly enjoying, and did my first lacework shawl, which was quite a task, but came out better than I’d anticipated.¬†¬†

However, my loving husband gave me a t-shirt for Christmas that reads: ‘Just because you can crochet something doesn’t mean you should‘.¬† I’m still not entirely sure how to take that – he swears he wasn’t saying my crochet was the problem and was instead referring to¬†hideous projects¬†like this, but I think it’s a sign that maybe I ought to cool it a bit with all the octopi etc… especially when my sister-in-law said, voice full of horror, that she’d seen someone mention crocheted jellyfish and how pointless that seemed to her, and I remembered I had a crochet jellyfish pattern¬†or two saved on my Pinterest crafts board… oops!¬† I’ll just leave it at octopi, whales and little Cthulhus then… that’s normal, right?¬† Right…?!¬†

Anyway, in addition to the crocheting of hats, shawls, blankets, slippers, mittens, wall decorations, and stuffed animals, I also decorated an oil lamp, painted a portrait of my sister’s dog for her birthday, and baked up a storm.¬† Whew!¬† Just as well there’s another year before the next Christmas…

(Click to enlarge)

(Christmas 2012 in a nutshell)


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