Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Tangling in Color and Thoughts on Composition

Tangles in color (Tripoli, Paradox, Flukes, Fife,
Crescent Moon,Tipple, Meer, Florz, Betweed, and Pearls)

Before hosting the Zentangle class at home a couple of weeks ago, I made this 15 x 15 drawing on newsprint with Sharpies. This was quite different from the drawings I've been doing for two years, which have been limited more or less to 3.5 x 3.5 tiles, or smaller Bijou tiles (2 x 2), done mostly in black and white. I decided to try drawing larger on newsprint in order to show workshop participants the structure of the tangles in an easier-to-see format. I had also become suddenly curious to see tangles in color. I keep this in my office now and find it cheerful, especially since the landscape outside my window has transformed into its yearly Bruegel canvas. Since it has to be winter now in Minnesota, color is a good thing to remember. (Actually, winter skies in Minnesota offer an amazing array of beautiful colors, but you have to be an early riser to catch the show.)

After returning home from work last night, I was too mentally tired to do any more work involving language, so I settled in to draw for a while. I had the idea of tangling in color in mind, so I gave it another go, this time smaller, to decorate the cover of a moleskin journal I use to practice and experiment with all things Zentangle.

This design uses a tangle (Hi Cs by Anita Robey-Lavery) for the
string and other tangle to fill in the spaces (Crescent Moon,
Shattuck, Striping, Tipple, and Copada by Margaret Bremner)
I'm color shy. Colors have such strong personality, so as one who shuttles between go-with-the-flow mind at one extreme and anxious-worried-perfectionism at the other, I have always felt challenged by managing color effectively in design. Putting anything down on paper already involves many decisions at the structural level -- size, form, direction, value, balance, repetition, symmetry, asymmetry -- color adds one more, very large piece, which I usually feel unprepared to work with.

Moving into color with Zentangle just feels happy. I believe the time I have had to practice the tangles and develop a feel for the character and structure of this art form have freed me to add color with more confidence. Color does not feel overwhelming because I have the other elements reasonably in hand. The other side of the journal (still in progress, I think) is in the usual black and white (or in this case, black and Moleskin dun).
Tangles: Betweed, Flukes, Crescent Moon, Fife, Meer,
'Nzepple, Knightsbridge, Shattuck, Pearls, Quandary,
Copada, and Jetties

Decorating journals is great fun, but the design challenge increases with the size of the canvas. Overall, I like the cover, but the parts could fit together better. Sometimes, tangling intuitively (within a string, but not especially planned outside of that) results in, well, somewhat less than pleasing larger forms that develop unintentionally. These arise from smaller parts that group together visually when the composition is viewed as a single image. (The mind does that, I think. It seeks to see something made of smaller parts as one, big something.)