Monday, October 31, 2011

Link: Watercolor with Lian Quan Zhen: Grapes

THIS WEEK'S NEW ART WORKSHOP VIDEO at   I love Lian Quan Zhen's version of fingerpainting!

Link: Link to tangle pattern Dancet at

Margaret Bremner's tangle pattern Dancet  is linked to at

Link: Pixie Dust Paperie November Giveaway

This month the Pixie Dust Paperie is giving away FOUR prizes!

Link: The Robin's Nest is having a Blog Hop--Score some Blog Candy!

The Robin's Nest Design team is having a blog hop.  There will be a giveaway at each stop, so hop, hop, hop for chances to win some blog hop candy of the strictly non-caloric kind!

Link: Weekly Challenge No 46: "All Hallow's Eve"

Laura Harms' Weekly Challenge #46: "All Hallow's Eve".

Link: Win An IPod Touch, Nano, Or Shuffle!

Shoplet and Gojo have a contest going on.  Head on over for a chance to Win An IPod Touch, Nano, Or Shuffle.

Mis?Adventures in Watercolor-Splash & Saran Wrap

The triad I played with this weekend is one I came up with on my own.  I like it, includes Rose of Ultramarine.  A beautiful color, but only Lightfast II.  Some still consider that lightfast enough, but you use it at your own risk, lol!  Rose of Ultramarine is a two tone color that lays down as rosy violet.  However, it granulates, and the particles that settle are Ultramarine Blue--so you get a lovely violet with blue specks.  You control the effect to some extent by the amount of water you use.  Laid down as pure pigment, you get a darkish purple.

Instead of doing the last step of painting circle over circles, I decided to try the Splash technique show in
Watercolor Without Boundaries with Karlyn Holman, Part 1.  I got some interesting effects, but found it harder to control than shown in the video.  As always, practice, practice, practice is the key!

And, after I did it, I coulda kicked myself.  I wanted to show you the Rose of Ultramarine effect, and the splashes kind of hid it!

Colors: Rose of Ultramarine, Sap Green, New Gamboge

From Watercolor without Boundaries Part III, I tried this Saran Wrap technique.  It's a little different from the technique I've seen in other places (but I'll let you watch the video to see how, rather than trying to explain).

This is the result.  I added a 4th color, because I wanted to see which lines went with which technique.  I'm not sure what I want to do with it--leave it or try to make something from it.  I may use pen and ink and turn it into a zentangle.

Colors: Ultramarine Blue, Azo Yellow, Pyrrol Red and Rose of Ultramarine.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Genevieve Crabe's Weekly Roundup 10/28/11

Genevieve Crabe
Weekly roundup of and drawing articles, tutorials, and new tangles.

365 Things to Write About: A Review and A Story

A couple of weeks ago, I won a copy of 365 Things To Write About from Julie O'Kami (she wrote a review).

The book itself is simple in design--lined pages with a prompt, and nothing more.  But that leaves you lots of room to write in, and that's what this book is all about.  The extra comes in the form of a Facebook Page: 365 Things to Write About, and a blog  If you are considering the NanoWriMo challenge (National Novel Writing Month--every November, this group challenges you to write a novel), this book might prove invaluable.

Besides the looming onset of Nano WriMo, if you buy a copy of the book by October 31, 2011, the authors are donating 100% of the their royalties from the sales to the Los Angeles Fund for Public Education.  So if you are in the market for something like this, don't wait--

I'm not going to attempt the NaNo WriMo--I've done that foolishness before, and this year I've got other foolishnessess that I've already launched, lol.  I intend to join the 365 Things community though, and maybe do a little more writing.

In that spirit, I blocked out an idea from the first prompt, and spent the day writing a short story.

Usually, my stories tend to the humorous, and I suppose there is an odd humor to this one.  But it is the spooky season, and this story is definitely darker than most of mine you've seen.

I misread the prompt at first, seeing '24-hour diner' as '24-hour dinner'.   I decided that one could easily lead to the other.

Coming in at 2336 words, unbetaed, and unedited, I give you:

 The Midnight Menu
The clock said “Midnight” when I entered the diner.  Actually, spoke the word.  “Midnight.”  Some kind of talking clock.  Cheesy, like the rest of the place.  Outside, the neon sign on the window,  burned out and dusty,  perched over the words  ’Home of the Midnight Menu-Eat All You Want.  Open 24 hours.’

Not usually my kind of place, but as the clock said, it was midnight, so if I wanted to eat, this was it.  I lingered in the doorway,  scanning the customers, losers hunched over their meals.  They lived here.  You could tell.  Maybe they had apartments and houses.   But this was their social life.

My gut churned, not just with hunger.  I shouldn’t be eating in a place like this.  My lousy job and all its lousy overtime for a lousy, measly salary.  Sure, I got it.  Times were tough, and people had been laid off.  And I was willing to put out extra effort.  Some.  But I had a social life.  Stress on had, now.  If you didn’t have the moolah and you didn’t have the time, the party moved on without you.

“Good Morning, Sir!”  the host, proprieter, waiter, whatever he was, broke into my thoughts.  His name tag said, “Robert.  “Welcome to the home of the Midnight Menu!”   He looked at me appraisingly.  “Please.  Allow me to show you to a table.”

I shivered.  Something about him.  Like he was offering me a choice, and knew exactly how I’d choose. I didn’t like it, and briefly thought about turning and walking away.

But the only thing I had in the apartment was a banana.  More bruise than banana.  When I’d picked it up, it moved, so soft the pulp inside slid and oozed out the peel.  I wiped my fingers against the inside of my pocket, just from the memory.

Bob smiled and moved toward a table, and I followed.

“You’ve entered our fine establishment at midnight, sir, and that qualifies you for the Midnight Meal,” Bob said.  I wasn’t paying much attention.  I wasn’t there to talk.  I just wanted to get the menu and pick  out my dinner.

As if he read my mind, Bob said, “There is no menu for the Midnight Meal.  A ‘paperless’ menu, if you would.”  Bob’s smile widened.  “You decide you want, and you decide what you pay.”

I snorted.  “What if I want antelope horns in bear’s urine?”  What a rip.  Like this place would have anything I wanted.

“If that’s want you desire, we’ll do our best to satisfy.  But we find, generally, that most people want the same things.”  His smile was genial, but his eyes glittered.  I was reminded of my banana.  Like there was something soft and oozy inside him.

“Yeah. How much?”  Not that it mattered, really.  How much could the ‘Midnight Meal’ strain my credit card?  I was still paying on the Hawaiian vacation I took two years ago, and college, and the five-year old leather coat sitting in my closet.  The bill for this meal would be lost in the sands of time, unremembered.

 “We take our purpose here very seriously, sir.  The Midnight Meal has no menu.  You decide the meal and you decide the cost.  We attempt to satisfy, and you pay us with what you have,” Bob  said.

I blinked.  “I decide what to pay you?  What if I’m not satisfied?  Is the meal free?”

Bob  smiled, again.  “No money changes hands until you’re satisfied.”

I drummed my fingers.  A free meal.  Because I wasn’t going to like whatever they had.  My mouth watered at the thought of Pan-roasted Quail with Port Sauce.  Like they would have it.  I could order the kind of food I should be eating,  and just eat what they gave me, instead.  They wouldn’t be able to satisfy me, and I’d eat for free.  Even if they, by some freak-a-zoid chance, had a decent pantry, it wouldn’t be cooked to my standards.  I wondered if you could do this Midnight Meal thing more than once.

Bob  slid a cup of coffee onto the table, and I started.  I must have been lost in thought, because I hadn’t seen him leave.

“Your meal will be here in a few moments, sir.  May I bring you some cream?”

Words of protest rose to my lips.  I hadn’t ordered.  But then the aroma hit my nose.  That coffee aroma.  The aroma that warms you, briefly, when you pass a coffeehouse on a cold night.  That takes you from half-sleeping to half-awake in the morning.  All potential and power and energy.  My hands almost shook with anticipation, and my lips hit the cup eagerly. 

I almost moaned with disappointment.  The coffee was good.  But just coffee.  Not… It was missing something.  That aroma had promised me something, and the coffee didn’t deliver.  I drained the cup.  Well.  If the food was like this, it wouldn’t be so bad.  Edible, but it wasn’t going to satisfy.

To my surprise, Bob  appeared in my view, and I realized that he must have left again and come back.  I shook my head.  I was even more tired than I thought, getting too wrapped up in my own head and losing track of the world around me.  Curiosity stirred.  What had he brought?  Wouldn’t it be funny if were Quail?

It wasn’t, but I didn’t complain.  A simple meal.  Filet Mignon, seared and rare, heaped with mushrooms.  Asparagus spears on the side—not those limp, dreary things you see so often.  These were tenderly steamed.  Okay.  I was surprised.  Hell, I was amazed.  And free, too. 

I’ll give credit where it’s due.  The steak was near perfection.  I didn’t even need my knife.  No sauces, no gravies.  Just a touch of spice, an excellent cut of meat, and fresh vegetables.  This place had a cook with a light touch.  As I chewed my way through the meal, though, I began to enjoy it less and less.  I’d had my tongue set for quail, and the mushrooms weren’t the kind I’d have chosen.  Asparagus wasn’t really my favorite.  A good meal, but it wasn’t what I wanted, so, yeah.  It was going to be free.

I wasn’t surprised when Bob re-appeared before I’d even finished.  He said nothing, just slapped down the latest dish.  I didn’t like his look.  Sort of a knowing look.  He left without removing the previous dishes or coffee cup, which I found even more annoying.  I pushed them aside, and examined his new offering.

A heavier meal this time.  Crown Roast of Pork with apple stuffing and baby greens.  A glass of hard cider.  I won’t bore you with a repetition of the first meal.  I’m not a gravy man, and things just went downhill from there.

Bob kept bringing dishes.  Chicken Kebabs, and Gnocchi and Grilled Salmon with a Red Wine Sauce.  Even Lobster, but each meal was less and less flavorful.  Always, it smelled spectacular, arranged on the plate to delight the eyes.  Always it promised delectation beyond compare, and always it failed to deliver on its promise.  Nothing was ever bad, just… there had to be something better.

Bored with my food, I people-watched.  People came and went, but a lot of customers were those present when I arrived at midnight.  The lady next to the door wasn’t eating any more, her head sunk down onto her hands.  I think she might have been crying, but I looked away before I was sure.  You never want to make eye contact with someone like that, because they’ll suck you up into their own personal misery.  Like a drowning victim, pulling you down.

A younger couple sat across the way, a toddler spewing spit at them from his baby-chair.  And Bob  had let them order.  Given them a menu and let them study it.  They studied hard, obviously worried over the prices.  Guess they didn’t qualify for the Midnight Menu. 

I almost choked on the Linguini I was eating.  Of course, they didn’t qualify.  Pale morning grey had replaced the black of night.  My eyes swung to the clock, which said, “6:00 A.M.”  I’d swear there was  mockery in its tone.

The couple agreed to split a croissant and some fruit, and when Bob  brought them a second croissant, free, explaining it was the last of yesterday’s and needed to be used, you’d have thought he’d given them a diamond. 

They really seemed to enjoy it, though.  I’d had a croissant earlier, and it wasn’t so great.  I thought about leaving, but, obviously, these guys were getting better food.  It wasn’t right.  I should be getting the good stuff, too.  When Bob passed, I flagged him down, even though he juggled three trays precariously between arms and chin.

“I want another croissant.  Not from last night.  One of the new batch.”  I glared at him, making sure he understood I wasn’t going to put up with leftovers like the younger couple did.  Bob, studied me.  No smile now, just a faint twist to his lips.  “Of course, sir,” he said.

He took his time, which fried my bacon.  He’d hear about it when he got back.  I shoved at my plate, pushing it into the stack that surrounded me.  I’d asked Bob to clear them, and he hadn’t, and I’d be saying something about that too.

Shouts erupted from the other wing of the diner, back where I couldn’t see.   Some loon shrieking that he wasn’t a prisoner and they’d better let him go.  I slammed as far back in my booth as I could get.  Someone would call the cops.  As soon as they arrived,  I’d leave.  There was thumping and pounding, Bob demanding that the loon settle down and the loon screaming.  Then, suddenly, shockingly, there was quiet.  A man in an apron, the first employee I’d seen besides Bob, streaked out of the kitchen with a drop cloth in his hands.  I heard a shuffling sound, murmurs.  I couldn’t tell if the loon’s voice was one of them. 

The couple had left before the disturbance, laughing and hugging.  They’d left.

I craned my head cautiously, as I took account of everyone I could see.  They were all Midnighters.  The same customers, who were here at midnight.  Others had arrived later and left, and they’d been happy, exclaiming, obviously enjoying themselves.  The breakfast crowd had come and gone.  The midnighters, like me, we were the only ones present now.  Our tables were heaped with dirty dishes and we all slumped, sort of caved-in on ourselves, in various poses of misery.  The edges of the table cut into my palm, I gripped it so hard.  What would happen if I tried to leave?  My heart pounded at the thought.  None of the others were leaving.  Why?  What would happen if one of us did?  What did just happen?  Why hadn’t anyone called the police?  Was the loon alive?  I hadn’t seen anything. 

When Bob arrived with my croissant and hot chocolate, I didn’t look up.  He didn’t speak and neither did I.  The croissant was tough and stale, and the chocolate already had a skin on it, thick and scudgy. 

I’d walked into some kind of trap.  I don’t know why I hadn’t seen it before.  This midnight menu was some kind of scam.  They weren’t going to give me all this food for free.  Probably if I tried to leave, I’d be slammed with some kind of bill that would bankrupt me.  Or maybe it was some kind of cult thing.  I might even be beaten if I tried to leave.  What had Bob said?  I’d pay with what I had?  Those words seemed sinister now.  Given the incident with the loon, maybe they’d cut off a finger or arm if one of us tried to escape.  Why else would they be staying.  They knew something I didn’t.  Something had happened before I arrived, and they knew something I didn’t. 

Trying to leave was dangerous.  Let someone else try.  As soon as someone else got out, then I would.
And then Bob was at my table, again.  He wore a fresh suit of clothes.

“Pan-roasted Quail with Port Sauce, sir,” he said.  “I’m sorry it took so long, but sometimes we do have to call out.”  He smiled, and I quailed.  What had I gotten into?  He waited and watched as I took the first bite.  It tasted like cardboard.  Why was he watching me?  He’d wasn’t  watching me before.

I sighed with relief  when he finally left, and shoved the Quail onto the heap of dishes.  Everything started to slide, and I did some fancy work, heaping left-over food into piles, and stacking like-sized plates together and glasses into glasses, until the mess finally stabilized.  I wasn’t sure how long I could keep the whole thing from collapsing.

Bob continued bringing dishes—burgers, tacos, braised cabbage with bacon.  Chocolate cake, apple pie, green tea ice cream.  Wine, soda, coffee, coffee, coffee.  Everything tasted sour and greasy.  I could smell my own sweat. 

I could leave.  Get up and walk.  But every time I made the decision, got my feet beneath me, ready to leave, Bob would bring another dish, and watch until I took a few bites.  He’d murmur words of encouragement, and he’d smile.  I shuddered every time he smiled.  The lunch crowd came in and left, then the dinner crowd, and still Bob brought me food.

Suddenly, the clock said “Midnight”.  I looked up at the woman who’d just entered.  Good.  Maybe Bob would focus on her and I’d have a chance to escape.  I thought briefly of warning her.  Jumping up and screaming at her to leave.  But I stared at the greasy fries, the meatloaf congealing in globs of gravy.  The stinking heap of spoiling food that threatened to crash down on me. 

I didn’t have anything.  Why should anyone else.

Link: MyOats Online Design Community

Beth Skipper sent me the link to an online community that hosts a doodle software that allows you to create beautiful designs and share them with the community.  The software lends itself to creating mandalas, but it is possible to draw other things as well.

I've got a couple of deadlines to meet so I didn't take the time to draw anything or join up--but I hope to soon.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Link: Free Downloadable video-How to Draw Noses

Darrell Tank, of the 5-pencil method, has a new free video lesson available for download (until Nov. 1).  If you are new to his 5-pencil method, be sure to check out his website.  There are other free lessons, and lots of lovely DVDs to buy as well!

Link: Win a copy of 'How to Draw Steampunk'

Enter Craftside's giveaway for a chance to win a copy of How to Draw Steampunk' .

Links to tangle pattern Gigi and Joie

Lizzie Mayne has posted steps to her tangle patterns Gigi and Joie.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Link:Improve Your Watercolor with Chinese Techniques with Lian Quan Zhen

Video: Improve Your Watercolor with Chinese Techniques with Lian Quan Zhen

Link: A Zentangle Tile Book Giveaway from Jane Monk

CZT Jane Monk is giving away a handmade Zentangle Tile Book.

Link: Steampunk Horse by Cindy Dauer

A guest tutorial by Cindy Dauer at the Copic blog.  Really cool!

Link: Watercolor and Graphite Sketches as Compositional Studies

Watercolor and Graphite Sketches as Compositional Studies by Chris Bacon

Link: Free Downloadable Art Video

Larry Weiss has a video lesson in watercolor painting free for downloading.

Link: Make a Spiderweb Barrette with Creative Paperclay® & Amazing Mold Putty

Learn to make a cool Spiderweb Barrette made using Creative Paperclay® and Amazing Mold Putty.  I can't wait to get hold of some of the Amazing Mold Putty to try out!

Link to tangle patterns Anuz and Oakie

CZT Norma J Burnell has posted steps to her tangle patterns Anuz and Oakie.

Link to tangle patterns Fanz and Blowin' Leaf

Carol Ottaway has posted steps to her tangle patterns Fanz and Blowin' Leaf.

Link: Colouring Challenge #5 from Letraset-free downloadable art

Letraset is having its fifth Coloring Challenge. Download the free line art and color for your own pleasure, or enter it for the chance to win a ProMarker 12 Set (winners choice)plus a Colour Me Good Colouring Book.

Death and Immigration-a short story

A few years back I did quite a bit of writing.  I was going through some old disks and came across this file.  It seems a fit for the season and I thought you might enjoy it.

December 22, 2006, 16:26
This isn’t exactly a Halloween story.  But it warns against a very real danger. I based it on a really, totally true story I heard from my husband's aunt, who heard it from a second cousin once removed, who overheard the neighbor's pool-cleaner talking about it.

Death and Immigration

"What do you mean I can't enter the country? I'm a United States citizen."

"Well, technically, not any more, sir," the immigration officer stated, his voice even, but firm. "Your SPR levels--Supernatural-Paranormal Readings--were off the scale. You're a vampire, sir. That means you died, and hence, are no longer a legal citizen of the United States. You are now considered to be a contagious disease."

I frowned, started to shake my head, and stopped. I was coming home from a sci-fi/fantasy convention in Toronto. The weekend had been a frenetic, but perfectly normal convention weekend. This morning, I had wakened with a horrible thirst, and I did throw up at the sight of food, and my head still felt like a clawed creature was scraping its way free from my brain. But hey. What good hangover doesn't cause symptoms like that?

"Well, I did fall in with those Buffy the Vampire Slayer people. A little weird, but none of them acted like vampires--they just wanted to watch vampires. There must be some kind of mistake. Paranormal readings? Is this something to do with the War on Terror?"

"Oh no, sir. We've been checking on supernatural beings for years. It isn't really a secret. It's just that no one in their right mind tends to believe it."

"Huh. How do I go about proving I'm perfectly normal instead of paranormal?"

The immigration officer smiled with condescension barely disguised as pity. "I'm afraid there's been no mistake. The information's already in the computers. Besides, I can see your fangs."

My hand flew to my mouth, and, damn, if he wasn't right. I immediately sliced my tongue. Now that I was aware of the pointed ends, my teeth felt awkward and alien in my mouth. Like new fillings do after a visit to the dentist. I studied the taste of my blood. Still metallic, and cloying. Maybe other people's blood would be tastier.

"So. I have to stay in Canada, then?" I asked. The officer snorted, and then acted like he was coughing. I was well aware that he was laughing.

"I'm afraid not, sir. The Canadians don't want vampires any more than we do. It's the life span, you see. Werewolves aren't so bad, but you know what even a few vampires can do to Social Security or socialized medicine?"

It was beginning to dawn on me that I might have a serious problem. I had questions to ask, but I was distracted when a group of men in contamination suits burst into the immigration hall. Hadn't this guy said something about contagious diseases?

The officer rose from his desk, and began backing away. "Good day, sir. And allow me to convey my condolences over your loss."

"You've been keeping me here!" I jerked as my teeth suddenly transformed. Not just growing longer, but thicker. I ran my tongue around my mouth, and felt how crooked and rough they were. Each tooth was rough with cork-screw ridges. The better to drill you with, I thought.

"No, no," the officer exclaimed with fervor. "We wouldn't try to trick you that way. We aren't part of Health Services, so your elimination doesn't fall under our jurisdiction. We're just here to keep you out of the country." He smiled again, then turned and ran.

A blood red mist fell over my eyes, and a strange, violent lust seemed to pulse in my veins. I swung around to face the on-coming contamination team.

They looked just like foil-wrapped TV dinners.

Okay.  So this isn’t a true story.  But I’m willing to bet that if you ever become a vampire, the experience will be something like this, lol!

Mis?Adventures in Watercolor-Self Portrait in California Quail

While I was playing around with the colors from Daniel Smith's California Quail triad, I suspected that they would be good colors for portrait. They are very versatile colors.

I've thought about painting a self portrait for a while, and decided to give it a whirl.

Way back when, some 35 years ago or so, I painted portraits in oils.  I was surprised how easily the skill came back.  But what you have here is essentially an oil-painting done using watercolors, lol!

I'm not unhappy with it, but I want to do more watercolory things!

Colors: Lunar Blue, Quinacridone Burnt Orange and French Ochre.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Link: October Coloring Contest at Copic

Download free line art, and color for your own pleasure, or follow the directions and enter it to win the Copic Marker of your choice!

Link: The link for tangle pattern Woven posted at

The link for Suzanne McNeil's tangle pattern Woven has been posted at

Link: Dangerous Doodle - 'Awesome Overlap' pattern

Miraculous Mosquito has posted a video showing how to draw her latest Dangerous Doodle!

Link: Weekly Challenge #45: New Tangle Punzel

Laura Harms' latest challenge is to use the new 'official' tangle Punzel.

Review of a Zentangle case

A while back I won a cool hard drive case perfect for carrying Zentangle supplies with a hand-made customized zipper pull from Erin, of the Bright Owl blog.

About the time my prize arrived, I thought I'd be going to the Oregon Coast.  "Wow!" I thought.  "I can take some fantastic pictures of this case, bristling with zentangle supples, against a backdrop of cascading waves.  It'll be so perfect!"

Well.  The trip didn't happen.  Hubby had to work, but promised we'd go soon.

I can be incredibly stubborn.  I really, really, really wanted shots of this case, using a vacation setting.  But nearly two months later, I know the vacation isn't happening any time soon.

So I've settled for shooting the case against a backdrop of a pillow slip, lol.

I've managed to get a Rhodia graph paper journal, zentangle cards from Sandra Bartholomew, several 3.5 x 3.5 paper tiles, a golf pencil, a micron, a Pentel gel pen, and a watermelon-color Sharpie Finepoint in here, and there is still plenty of room!  If I had stayed with Micron-sized pens, I think I could easily have fit 7 or 8 pens.

Erin says that these cases have been discontinued, so if you see any, I recommend snapping them up.

Thank you Erin, for a fantastic prize!

I want to point your attention to the customized zipper pull that was handmade by Erin's friend, Suhdalia.  It's so beautiful!  I couldn't seem to get a photo that was both in focus, and showed the lovely colors, so you get bit of both.  But wouldn't this have been an awesome photo with the sun sparkling against the Swarovski crystal and out-of-focus ocean waves in the background?

I'll get that shot some day!

Bleedthrumanade-Shaped by Insomnia

Insomnia, my old friend, has come visiting again, so of course I resort to tangling away the night hours.  I drag all day, and I'm horribly cranky, but in the deep of night, when the earth is still, there is a strange peace. Huddled on the couch, with a blanket wrapped around me and tangling away, there is a calm that's not found by day.  I'm going to accept that as a gift, and stop fighting the lack of sleep.  I suspect I'll get past the insomnia all the faster for doing that.

In other words--got lemons?  Make lemonade.  Got marker bleedthru, make bleedthrumanade.

Ingredients: Letraset Promarkers, Rhodia 'R' Pad, Pentel Pocket Brush Pen.

Link to tangle pattern Organza Again

Texasdoxiemama, aka Linda Rea, has posted steps to her tangle pattern Organza Again.

Link: Orange and Black Halloween Office Supply Giveaway from Shoplet

Shoplet is having an Orange and Black Halloween Office Supply giveaway at their blog!  Three winners will get a a package of color-co-ordinated office supplies!

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Link to tangle pattern Strata

CZT Jane Monk has posted steps to her tangle pattern Strata.

Links to tangle patterns Chainging and Punzel

Rick and Maria Thomas have posted the latest newsletter with steps to their official tangle Chainging and a tangleation Punzel.

Mis?Adventures in Watercolor: Circle Triad Tutorial Part 1

I’ve been getting lots of questions about the process I’m using with my circle triads, and how to get the circles, so I decided to write up a tutorial. Painting a circle triad is actually a simple process.  Explaining it however, isn’t.  I wish I could just show you, but a tutorial will have to do.

I’ve split this into two posts.   This first post concerns the decision making.  I’m basing it on the questions I’ve been getting—how to choose the colors for a triad; what supplies are needed, etc.

The second post will be a step-by-step with photos, and very simple explanations

Circle triads

What’s a circle triad?  The word triad means a group of three.  If you limit your palette to three colors, it is easier to see how they work together and what colors can be mixed by blending them.  Students are often set to doing triad paintings, and some artists do little else.

I fine color charts and color wheels to be frustrating.  They work well to explain theory, but my brain doesn’t translate what it sees in a color chart into what I’d get with a painting.  I wanted a method of learning color mixing that was simple, but engaged me in the same way painting a picture would.

I chose to use Linda Kemp’s method of negative painting,  which calls for you to layer one color over another.  Pretty much the same as creating a chart, right?  Only more fun.  I do depart from her method at whim.

Painting circles seemed a good way to improve my brush control.

So, for lack of another term, I’ve been calling these experiments Circle Triads.  

How do you decide what colors to use?  I’ve  done a couple of experiments with my own choices, such as my Lunar Flowers, but honestly, at the moment, I’m using triads that I find from people who know what they are doing. 

My sources:
I think this would be a good method for trying out any group of colors that you were curious about.  It wouldn’t have to be a triad—but a triad keeps it simple.

Are you mixing colors on the paper or on the palette?  I’m mixing on the paper.  Mostly I’m glazing (layering wet color over dried color until you get the mix you want), but I’m also letting colors flow into one another.  The glazing gives you more control, and the flow gives you cooler effects.

How do you get the circles? In essence, I paint the diamond shapes around the circles.  It’s much harder to explain than to show, so I’ll leave the rest of the explanation for the step-by-step.

What size paper should I use?  You need room to get many combinations of the three colors, but small enough that you don’t get sick of drawing circles.  I’ve gone as small as 4x4 where I only have a small amount of paint, and the largest so far has been 8x10.  I’d suggest staying around that range to keep things simple.

What supplies do I need?
The best quality watercolor paint you can afford.    
140 lb Watercolor paper or watercolor board. 
A large brush for wetting the paper.  A Hake brush is a good choice.
A smaller brush for the circles.  Size depends on the painting. ½ inch would be good for the 8x10 and smaller.  Good choices would be rounds, daggers, cat’s tongue or waterbrushes.

I’m using:
Paper-Arches watercolor paper, 140lb and Arches watercolor board. 
Brushes-Connoisseur Risslon Dagger brushes & a Hake brush.
Watercolors-from Daniel Smith, M. Graham and Winsor Newton. 

Quality counts.  More so in watercolor than with any other medium I’ve used.  There are decent student quality paints, but you will be limited.  Watercolors designed for craftwork won’t necessarily give you the same effects as fine art watercolors.

Cheap brushes will drive you crazy.  I don’t find the paper quite as important (though others do) but you should have at least 140lb, and you’ll need to tape or staple it down to keep it from buckling.  Watercolor board is nice because it won’t buckle (though it will curve a bit). Usually though, you have to buy larger sheets and cut them down.

If you already have supplies, try them.  If you like what you get, then they are good enough.  If you can’t get a wash, or your colors are too opaque, then check your wallet book and buy the best you can afford.

Mis?Adventures in Watercolor: Circle Triad Tutorial Part 2

I’ve been getting lots of questions about the process I’m using with my circle triads, and how to get the circles, so I decided to write up a tutorial. Painting a circle triad is actually a simple process.  Explaining it however, isn’t.  I wish I could just show you, but a tutorial will have to do.

I’ve split this into two posts.  The first post concerns the decision making.  I’m basing it on the questions I’ve been getting—how to choose the colors for a triad; what supplies are needed, etc.

This second post will be a step-by-step with photos, and very simple explanations

Circle triads step-by-step

The colors used in this step-by-step are those from the Old Masters Triad—Yellow Ochre, Burnt Sienna and Payne’s Gray.  But the steps are the same no matter what colors you are using, so I will refer to these colors as yellow, red, and blue throughout the tutorial.

Step 1. I like to start with a wash.  I want the values to be light or it is difficult to build a range of light to dark. With this step, I am learning how to judge the amount of water I need for a very light wash or glaze.  Colors that granulate (darker particles settle down in the paper, leaving a speckled appearance) do so when your wash is thin, so this step can also help me learn how much my colors granulate.

Wet your paper down with the Hake (pronounced Hockey) brush or dip into a pan or sink.  The paper should shine with moisture.
Load your smaller brush with one of the colors and start dotting in onto the paper in one corner.  Rinse your brush, load another color and dot into a different corner.  Repeat with the third color.  Do this quickly so that the paper is still wet.  The color should pool and run on the paper.

Start tilting the paper so that the colors run into one another.  Try to cover the entire paper.  Add more color if necessary.

When the paint dries it should look something like this.  If your colors dry too dark, then you need more water-to-paint. 

Step 2. With this step, I paint the first layer of circles.  I’ve exaggerated the beginning to help show how the negative painting works—I actually paint diamond-shapes rather than circles.

Load your brush with your yellowish or lightest color.  Paint diamond-shapes that leave circles in negative space around them.  Layer the yellow over each of the color-yellow over yellow, yellow over red, yellow over blue.  But leave some red and some blue untouched.  Your painting should look something like this.

Rinse and wipe your brush and load it with red, then paint some more diamonds.  Paint over some of the yellow, some of the red, and some of the blue.  Be sure to leave some of the blue untouched. 

Don’t worry if some of your paint bleeds into the diamonds shapes that you just painted.  If your paint beads up, this bleeding will happen.  It’s one of the critical techniques you should learn in water painting.  The effects can’t be totally controlled, but they are usually very cool.  If you don’t want the bleed, then you need more paint added to the water.  If you want the effect, and can’t get it, you need more water added to your paint.  Note too, when the two colors mingle, what new color results.

Rinse and wipe your brush, then load it with blue and finish covering the paper.  Set it aside and wait for the paint to dry.

Notice that I’ve started distorting the diamond-shapes so that I get different sized circles.  I prefer different sizes, but if you want something more exact like a zentangle pattern, there is nothing wrong with that.  It’s the artist’s choice.

Step 3. In this step I paint another layer of circles.  Layering wet paint over dry is called glazing.  If your second color is very transparent, the color beneath will show through partially.  If your second color is opaque it will completely hide the color underneath.  A semi-transparent color allows less of the first color to show.  With this step, I am learning how transparent  or opaque my colors are and what colors I get through this method of layering.

Load your brush with yellow.  Paint squarish or diamond shapes within your first layer of diamond-shapes to create new circles.  If you have trouble understanding this step, watch Linda Kemp’s video.

Paint new yellow (negative)circles over some  yellow diamond-shapes, over some red-diamond-shapes and over some blue diamond-shapes, but leave some of each color untouched.

If your circle edges are rough (this occurs with the beaded water and mingling), you can smooth them out.  You’ll be starting a process where some of your circles are more than one color.

Do the rinse and wipe, then load up with red.  Paint new circles in the yellow diamond-shapes, the red diamond-shapes, and the blue diamond-shapes, but leave some of each uncolor untouched.

Repeat the process with the blue until you feel you’ve got a wide range of color mixes

At this point, if you love what you have, and feel you’ve really explored all the mixing, you can stop.  But if you want to continue, go on to Step 4.

Step 4.  At this point, I deviate from Linda Kemp’s method of negative painting.  She you to resist painting in those negative spaces.  But there they are, almost white at this point, great big unused space that I could use for more glazing.

Note in this close-up, how I sometimes create a circle that includes both a circle beneath and part of the diamond-shapes or other circles beneath.  I kind of like the effect this gives—sort of like the after-images you get behind your eyelids.  And you get the chance to learn a little more about color mixing. But It can get a little messy.

I do the over-circles with yellow, then red, then blue.  Sometimes, I leave some circles untouched.  I keep going until I think I've got as much out the painting as I'm going to get.

Old Masters Triad.  Colors: Burnt Sienna, Yellow Ochre, and Payne's Gray

I hope I was able to answer most of your questions, and that you learn and have fun if you try it.
Please feel free to ask further questions.  I’ll try to answer them—but remember.  I’m doing this to learn myself, so I may still be looking for the answers myself, lol!

Links to tangle patterns Torzon Lace, Flez and Wirlz

Lacefairy1, aka Lori Howe, has just posted steps to her tangle patterns, Torzon Lace, Flez and Wirlz!

Saturday, October 22, 2011

I'm a member of the Creative Paperclay® Design Team!

If you follow my blog, you've most likely noticed that I've been posting links to Creative Paperclay® projects, and have posted a project or two of my own.  I love this product--it's easy to handle, and it air-dries. A novice can learn to use it quickly, and an expert can make it sing!  It's perfect for an experimenter like myself.
 When the call for a design team went out last month, I was intrigued. I've never been on a design team before, and had been wondering what it was all about.  I'd been talking with Terri Sproul, the Design team co-ordinator, and she encouraged me to try out.

I did, and I was accepted.  I'm so excited to begin this new adventure.

Do all you know me?  I'd like to think so, lol, but I should introduce myself.  My name is Sandra Strait, but my online persona is Molossus.  That's an obsolete term for a big dog (such as my two boys (gone, alas) who were mastiffs, weighing in around 250 lbs)  It's also a term for certain kinds of snakes, bats and a metrical foot used in formal poetry.  I deny any relationship with snakes or bats, but I am a poet, if doggerel counts.

For a couple of years now, I've focused mostly on zentangle, a method of drawing designs in a way that makes complex patterns simple, and helps put you in a zen-like state.  I do bleedthrumanades (got lemons, make lemonade, got marker bleed-thru, make bleedthrumanades), and I've recently started exploring watercolor triads. I've done a little writing, a little crocheting and I've had some kind of pen or pencil in my hand for most of my waking hours.  Some of the sleeping ones too--I do my best art when I'm sleeping.  If only I could figure out how to keep those dreams from fading once I wake!
I like to experiment and am not afraid to make mistakes.  One of my joys in life is figuring out how to 'save' a mistake, and I like to share those experiences.  

I'm looking forward to sharing my paperclay experiences over the next six months!

Check out the Creative Paperclay® blog to learn who my design team-mates are, and for lots of information about Creative Paperclay®.  You can also find lots of tutorials and tips at the Creative Paperclay®  website.


Friday, October 21, 2011

Geneviève Crabe's Weekly Roundup 10/21/11
Zentangle Harmony - Zentangle art, classes, and more

Link to tangle pattern Tyled

Texasdoxiemama, aka Linda Rea, has posted steps to her tangle pattern Tyled.

Link to tangle patterns Turtz and Flyz

Lacefairy1, aka Lori Howe, has posted to her tangle pattern Turtz and Flyz.

Link: New ProMarker Ultra-fine Edition – HAIR

The HAIR colour set  contains Chesnut, Walnut, Ginger, Pastel Yellow & Buttercup.  Great for hair, but these would make a fabulous bleedthrumanade too!
Each ProMarker Ultra-fine Edition set also contains 5 ultra-fine nib attachments, and these are perfect for adding shading and texture to small areas of hair.

Link to tangle pattern Golven

Mariët has posted steps to her tangle pattern Golven.

Link:130 Creative Paperclay® Apple Ornaments

How to create Apple ornaments with Creative  Paperclay®.

Link to tangle patterns Dewdrops, Biters and Flourish

Sandy Bartholomew introduces Jennifer Carson and her three tangle patterns Dewdrop, Biters and Flourish.

Jennifer is an artist of many facets (I won a fantastic Lake Nessie pattern from her a few months ago, it is awesome). Sandy has a video, illustrations and information on Jennifer's new book project.  She is looking for funding for her book Hapenny Magic--go to Kickstarter to learn what wonderful gifts you can get for pledges.

Special on Letraset Aqua Markers this weekend.

This weekend only at, Letraset is offering a £3 voucher for use on Aqua Marker products and 50% off their range of Aqua Inks.  (There is a slideshow type banner toward the top of the page.  If you don't see the voucher offer immediately, wait a few seconds and it will slide into view).

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Link to tangle pattern Swurly

CZT Lara Williams, has posted steps to her tangle pattern Swurly.

Link: Zentangle'Ween Art Cards - A Blockheads Design Team Project!

Zentangle'Ween Art Cards - A Blockheads Design Team Project!  Some cool Halloween cards that use zentangle!

Link to tangle pattern Scallops

Suzanne McNeil has posted steps to her tangle pattern Scallops, as well as a link to a video showing how to zentangle your pumpkins!

Link to tangle pattern Wimple

Zendoodle-Wege, aka Phine has posted the steps to her tangle pattern Wimpel.

Mis?Adventures in Watercolor-Where's the Blue?

Yes!  Two Mis?Adventures in one day!

I may come back and work more on this to deepen the values, but I was getting caught up in trying to create flowers, not explore colors, so I stopped.

Don't ask what kind of flowers, lol!  They are actually just patterns, not much different than doing the circles.

Turns out that Lunar Blue makes a nice green and violet, but loses the blue very quickly.

Colors: Lunar Blue, Rhodonite Genuine and Azo Yellow.

Link: Capturing Green

While playing with my triads, I've definitely found that green is the hardest to come by, at least when glazing (layering colors and letting the transparent pigments show through rather than mixing on the palette). Oranges and purples and grays and browns seem to take care of themselves, but green takes some work.

Linda Farmer sent me a link to an article by Charles Sovek on mixing greens and it's one that is useful for watercolor, oils or acrylics.

Charles has many other articles as well, and the few I've read so far are all excellent, and good for more than one medium. I particularly like his article on Finding the Three Shapes Under Everything and Creating Effective Shadows.

Link: Meet the CZT #7 graduating class

Read about the graduating CZTs of class #7 at

Mis?Adventures in Watercolor-Introducing Lunar Blue

A while back I posted about the California Quail triad from Daniel Smith.  I really liked the colors and with what I've learned the past couple of weeks between my class and my triad experiments, I knew I'd get more out of this pigments this time around.

Lunar Blue is a fantastic color.  If you paint it thick, it's a dark gray, similar to Payne's gray.  But juice it up with lots of water, and the most wonderful thing happens.  Look at this close-up.  Particles in the pigment separate, and you get an almost Robin's Egg blue with marvelous black specks.

Mix that with French Ochre (very similar to Yellow Ochre) and Quinacridone Burnt Orange) and you think rocks and deserts, and parched stone.  But remember.  Daniel Smith chose to use it to paint a quail!  It's surprisingly versatile.  After painting this, I'm of a mind to try for a painting of small brook with water running over the stones, and perhaps a brilliant tiny fish or two, weaving around them.

I won a Snow Shoe kit from the Pixie Dust Paperie!

Squeee!  I won again! I won the SNOW SHOE kit from the Pixie Dust Paperie!!!!
I won't list all the items in the kit (though you can see them listed at their store) until I can post pictures, but meanwhile I asked Kirsty Vittetoe, the Pixie-in-Chief, to tell me more about the Pixie Dust Paperie, and this is what she has to say:
Pixie Dust Paperie is a monthly kit club dedicated to bringing you the newest products available in the paper crafting industry. Each month, you will receive a beautifully designed kit with the latest papers and embellishments, all designed to coordinate perfectly, and ready for you to create, whether it's scrapbook pages, cards, a mini album, a coffee table brag book, or altered projects, you will find lots of inspiration and new ideas here at Pixie Dust Paperie.
Consider checking out their blog.  They have pixie challenges on the 20th of each month, new projects every day using the current kit for the month, and a giveaway every month. Plus the Pixie Blog is where you can get special coupon codes for discounts at the Pixie Shop.
Squeee!  I'm so excited!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Links to tangle patterns Opposites, Curtain, NEWS, Tacks & Clockwises

Belatrix29, aka Helena, has posted steps to her tangle patterns:






Mis?Adventures in Watercolor-Controlling the Pigment

I had my second watercolor class yesterday.  I won't post what I painted because it is ghastly and not worth trying to save.  But, in painting it I worked through some problems I've had controlling values because my water to paint ratio was messed up.  I thought I was using enough water, but  wasn't, and the answer that made me laugh...

I was struggling to figure how much water I needed, for the values I needed to establish the composition, and the teacher walked by.  "I usually mix up my paints to a consistency before I start painting," she said.  "That way I'm stuck with it."

Lol!  How simple.  Mix to one consistency beforehand.  That way you learn to use that consistency.  No decisions as you are painting, and you can concentrate on other things.  You can always try a different consistency on your next painting.

When I got home, I tried this out on a circle triad, and Yes!  I did have a great deal more control.  I mixed up a circle of paint about the width of my smallest fingertip (just the surface, not the whole fingerwidth) with about two tablespoons of water.  With this consistency, I got a very thin wash, which allowed me to build and achieve a very wide range of values.  I got more of the green values than I have been.  This mixture also showed up the granulating properties of Ultramarine Blue.

I'm not as happy with the triad itself, though it is one of the possible combinations suggested by my teacher.  I did use a lot of red, and I'm not much of a red person.  I may do this one again, letting the yellow dominate.

Colors: Pyrrole Red, Ultramarine Blue and Gamboge.

Link: Pouring Watercolor on Canvas

Video demo showing how to paint by pouring watercolor on canvas.

Link: Thumbtack Pumpkins

Shoplet shows us some pumpkins decorated with thumb tacks! What a quick and easy idea, but these are gorgeous!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Link: Doll made with Creative Paperclay®

It's amazing what you can do with Creative Paperclay®.  I just love this doll.

Link: Win Letraset Promarker End Dots

Letraset now carries End Dots--digitally printed dots that you can stick to the end of your Promarkers to identify the color.  Each set has pre-printed colors, plus blank dots that you can color yourself.
Check out the Letraset blog for a chance to win a set. 

Link: Lights and Shadows by Brandi York

A Tutorial in drawing a portrait with Copics.

Mis?Adventures in Watercolor: Dahlia-ence with a Triad

Nita Leland's high-key triad uses Transparent Yellow, Permanent Rose, and Cobalt Blue.  I don't have any of those colors in my palette, and after a little research, I determined that the closest I come is Hansa Yellow Light, Quinacridone Rose, and Phthalo Blue (RedShade).  I doubt I got the same effect she is trying to give us.  But hey!  I'm not buying any more watercolors, lol!

To vary things a bit, I decided to try out one of the Arches Watercolor boards that I bought for my class (new class coming up this afternoon--yay!)  I picked up three sheets of the coldpress surface, and when I got home, realized that two sheets had a smoother surface (probably hotpress).  They had already been cut to size, and I'm never loathe to try something new, so I decided to use them anyway.

The color doesn't flow easily on this surface so it's hard to get a juicy wash.  On the other hand, it's easier to control the paint because it doesn't run as much.  I enjoyed working on this surface, but it wouldn't be good for some techniques.

I also chose to do a dahlia rather than the circles.  This makes for a nice change, but where I loaded my brush with excess water, or applied the pigment thickly, it looks like an error. It doesn't so much with the circles.  In some ways, the 'dahlia's make a nice check on how I'm coming with my brush work and paint to water ratio, but they also take away from seeing how the three colors work with each other.

I'll continue to do both type of experiment, but for different reasons.

What I learned from this painting, or rather confirmed.  It's a lot easier to get the violet and orange shades than it is to get the greens.  I am glazing (painting one pure color over another color ) and so mixing on the paper not the palette.  The greens might come eventually if I keep adding layers, but I think I'll start trying some mixes on the palette and see what happens.

The colors: Hansa Yellow Light, Quinacridone Rose, and Phthalo Blue (RedShade)

Ginger Horse #ZentangleInspiredArt #FountainPen #PenAndInk

You know how sometimes a work just fights you while you're trying to draw it?  I had an idea tickling my brain, a desire to combine styl...