Wednesday, December 28, 2011


Since I have started drawing tangles/ repeat patterns/ Zentangles I have found some wonderful people that share their time, lives and tangle patterns with anyone interested enough to go find them on the internet. Not only do they take the time to post some amazing pictures they also organize drawing challenges and supply prizes. I was a winner of one of these and very excited when I opened the package containing 7 pens and a copy of Tangle Journal 2012, created by Genevieve Crabe.

I have entered the Diva's challenges,, a couple times and the last one was #52 Give, create a Zentangle and give it away. Well I tangled the snowman at the top of my blog, turned him into my Christmas cards and gave many of them away so I think that should qualify for an entry.

I have also entered the Grand Opening Events at since I found Cindy Go there to see all the wonderful art if you like.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Christmas Eve Message

It's a quiet day. I cleaned up my studio/spare room/ office space yesterday and it looks nice so I'm not in a hurry to mess it up right now. I organized my craft supplies with an assortment of plastic salad containers. You know the ones you buy with "spring mix" or "baby spinach" in. Well they make great places to stash all my stuff. I can see into them and they stack really nice one on top of the other. I should make cute stickers on the front telling what's in each of them, I'm sure Martha Stewart has a template for that. She has one for everything else.

Since getting to Texas I have been keeping busy crafting and drawing. I took a pottery class at the South Padre Island Art Space and made a bird house using a slab roller. I would love to do more pottery but without handy access to a kiln it's something I will have to save for special occasions. I'm heading back to the SPI Art Space on the 6th of Jan to learn how to make a scarf by felting on netting. Sounds interesting and I know nothing about felting so will be a great learning experience for me.

I also lead a fun Arts and Crafts group in the community I live in. We meet every Wednesday morning and I try to come up with something interesting to do with the group. We started by learning some tangle pattern drawing and then got a little Christmas spirit going by making a felt wine bottle cover and then recycled advertising fliers into a little table top tree. I have 12 more Wednesdays to teach so will be busy looking for other interesting arts and crafts to do.

I'm pretty pleased with how my drawing is progressing. My "Zentangle" obsession has continued and expanded. I am trying to incorporate the tangle patterns into actual drawings and so far am really pleased with the results. Palm trees, sea turtles and tropical fish have joined the snowmen, ornaments and pine trees in my portfolio and everyone of them is decorated with swirls, bubbles, dots and crosshatches.

My winter of crafting is going great and I have lots of ideas for future projects. Living here in Brownsville, close to all the hobby shops really helps but I'm also having fun shopping on line for art supplies. I don't have those options back home in Saskatchewan during the summer so I plan to make the most of it. I will try to keep you posted as the winter moves to spring and if you have any ideas for my classes of for something you would like to see drawn up and tangled then leave a comment.

I would like to wish you the very Merriest of Christmas's. I hope that you are surrounded by family and friends, get at least one of the things you asked Santa for, eat lots, drink a little less than you eat and find peace and fulfillment this holiday season.


Thursday, November 10, 2011

Crafting Season is starting!

How many Craftaholics are like me and can hardly wait for winter so we can settle into a cozy corner and try out the new craft ideas we saw during the busy summer?

With company, kids, cabins and cucumbers there just is no time during July, August and September for much crafting, but in October we can start browsing through the internet or craft shops for the newest and most exciting ideas to try when things finally slow down. Slow down...hmmm.

Well it's finally November and it's time to start crafting! And if we need an excuse, we have Christmas to prepare for. That means wreaths to hot glue, mittens to knit, scarves to crochet and cards to make. Have you seen that amazing new yarn called Ruffelina by Bernat? I saw a scarf made with it this summer and it was beautiful. Mary Maxim has it in pink for a Breast Cancer fundraising campaign, item # 1406732 but I have not seen it in any of the big craft supply stores yet. I will keep looking and keep you posted.

Scrap booking started being popular a long time ago and except for a half-hearted attempt at making some memory books for my 3 kids when I wanted to clean out some boxes of photographs I have never really spent much time doing it. Now that I have become obsessed with Zentangle patterns I have started paying more attention to scrapbook paper, pens and stamps. I have to come up with a purpose for all the Tangles I create. Maybe I will sent out some Handmade Christmas Cards this year.

Lurking through the internet looking for zentangle ideas often leads me to discover new artists. The things they do are amazing. This isn't the old "sticker and ribbon" type of scrapbooking either, what they make are called Art Journal pages. The pages are beautiful works of mixed media art. It's not unheard of to find paint, ink, fabric, stencils, stamps and amazing lettering all on one page. Check out Julie Jei-Fan Balzer at . Her work is something else and she has lots of You-Tube instructions to view as well. Maybe she will inspire you to try something new, too.

So between my painting, tangling, knitting, embroidery and hopefully trying my hand at some quilting and art journal pages I think winter will be great fun and maybe even over before I know it.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Scratched one more off my Bucket List

I have always admired Georgia O'Keeffe's big paintings of flowers and hoped to see one in person some day. Well I did yesterday.

Santa Fe, New Mexico, her home from the 1940's until she died in 1986 is not too far off the route to our home in Texas so on our way south for the winter we zipped over to New Mexico and went straight to the Georgia O"Keeffe Museum.

Seeing her painting Jimson Weed up close takes your breath away but I was also impressed with her paintings of the landscape around her homes in New Mexico.

Instead of painting the view in front of her she painted the spirit and essence of the scene. She used her modernist vision to produce paintings in her own style. By doing so and being so successful as a female artist in a male dominated realm she opened the doors for more women artists to follow.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Healing Patterns

When creating I strive to go into a meditative like state, where nothing can disturb me and the work just flows from my brush. When that happens I can finish 3 or 4 paintings a day but it doesn't happen very often. What is more likely to happen is the exact opposite and I struggle with every brush stroke, over thinking and over stressing about my art work, taking days or weeks to get close to finishing a painting and then leaving it unsigned in the corner of my studio somewhere until I finally decide if it is actually done.

That didn't happen when I was learning Zentangle this summer. It was so easy to do the 2 or 3 stroke patterns. If I didn't do it exactly like the instructions all I had to do was cover the mistake over with a thicker line or a different pattern. It was repeated often by some of the CZT (Certified Zentangle Teachers) that there are no mistakes only happy accidents. I found that doing this type of drawing not only relaxed me but energized me as well. I felt motivated to try more things that I didn't think I would be very good at. I learned to clear my mind of everything that was bothering me while I focused on the drawing.

Maria Thomas and Rick Roberts are the founders of Zentangle and have a web site where they show their latest zentangle patterns, sell their Zentangle learning kits as well as advertise their up coming seminars. They mentioned in the last newsletter that a local college had sent a PhD to learn Zentangle and become a CZT. This college is setting up a clinical trial that will be focusing on the health benefits of the Zentangle drawing method. I have also read that it has been used by some doctors as a therapy for Autism patients.


There is a weekly Zentangle challenge posted by "I am the Diva - CZT" on her blog and this week she wanted us to do a tangle with the pattern called punzel. I attempted it in the long braid down the left of my drawing. I also added fifolia, the flowers, floating away. I will think of the fifolia's as all my stresses and worries.

Saturday, October 15, 2011


Life is full of challenges but the ones that " I am the Diva CZT " puts on her blog every monday are great fun. I have secretly been doing them for a few weeks now but never posted them. Today I think I will attempt to add the Sunflower Challenge to her list of entries.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Zentangles in the woods

Since the middle of August when I first heard of the word Zen Tangle I think there have been only one or two days when I have not taken pen to paper and let the world melt away while I doodled, drew and even painted my way through learning as many new patterns as I could.

This week I will be doing my drawing at a picnic table in the yard beside our cabin in the woods.  One ear will be listening for the bear that has been sniffing around camp and the other ear will be enjoying the chickadees, poplar leaves and motor boats that I can hear down the hill on the Saskatchewan River.  The rest of me will be lost on the page.

A couple weekends ago I was able to talk my friend Karen into showing me how she makes her Garden Spirit sculptures.  I have been intrigued by her sculptures since she posted her first pictures on Facebook and talked about the class she took at Red Roof Studio in Alberta.  I had heard that she was going back for another class and had brought back enough supplies to show a few people how to make them.   We enjoyed another beautiful fall day in the gazebo in her back yard while I learned how to build a sculpture out of wire, tinfoil and masking tape.  Then we cut up some old white t-shirts into strips and soaked them in the special GSM, looks like white glue that we added color to.  We wrapped the soaked material around the tinfoil form.  It looked like a mummy when we were done.  If you don't mind messes and having glue stuck all the way up to your elbows then you may enjoy this!  Once the mummy was wrapped we got to dress it.  Again material cut and dipped in the GSM and draped over the form.  Everything had to dry for a couple days and then it was painted to look like aged bronze and sealed so it can live out in the garden with out being bothered by the rain or snow.  I think my sculpture looks pretty good, for the first attempt.  Maybe I will make her a friend to share her rock with, wouldn't want her to be lonely in my garden.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Tangle Obsession

It's been 3 weeks of total immersion in zentangle and I have never enjoyed something so much.  It's easy, quick and you can be creative anywhere.  I was waiting for my daughter to meet me for lunch and took out my tangles, I can do it while waiting for a program or some photos to load on my computer and it's easy to sit with my feet up in front of the TV in the evening and do a little doodle.

I spent $12 on some nice card stock, $19 on a good enough paper cutter and bought a package of fine point Sharpies to practice with.  I already have a good set of Staedtler pigment liners but honestly the Sharpies work so well that I use them often.

Thanks to all the talented zentangle artists sharing their patterns and ideas I have found just about everything I needed to learn this art on line.  I did buy 3 zentangle books through Amazon though.  The first one is Zentangle Basics by Suzanne McNeill.  She is a certified zentangle teacher, who knew there was such a thing! This book is just like it said, Basic.  By the time the book got to me in the mail I had already learned the patterns in the book from all the information on line.  Calista, she is my niece, if you are reading this I think I will send this book to you to help you get started zentangling!  The next book was also by Suzanne McNeill and it is her fabric arts, quilting and embroidery book.  This whole journey started with me looking for an interesting quilt idea so I hope to put this book to good use.  The last book is Yoga for your Brain by Sandy Steen Bartholomew and by far the best of the three.  It has great patterns that I have never seen before, and exercises to teach you how to turn things you see everyday into more tangle patterns.  I love that!

Both Sandy Steen Bartholomew and Suzanne McNeiil have great blogs and Suzanne has a whole bunch of You Tube videos about zentangle.  You can see Sandy's blog at Her last blog was called Tangle Homework and she challenged her readers to take the zentangle original pattern Bales and see how many variations you could make.  I decided to take that challenge and this is what I came up with.

This is about 5.5 inches by 3.5 inches.  I have 8 variations of bales, but if I had started on a bigger piece of card stock I think I could have done many more.  Once your pen starts it's like there is no stopping it!

Try Zentangle and see if you like it as much as I do.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

One thing leads to another

I was searching the internet for ideas for quilting. Its been 15 or more years since I started my first Log Cabin Quilt, it's still not done. The poor thing is folded away in a box somewhere and I keep promising to find it and get it done but that never seems to happen. It got packed up when I moved to Cold Lake, AB. I have moved three times since then. I wonder how many more boxes never got opened?!?

Anyway it's fall, hubby is going to be busy with harvest for the next month or so and I need something to fill the hours between making lunches and running out to the field. I thought a quilt would be interesting to try my hand at again, or that is what I was thinking as I searched the web for easy and interesting ideas. I came across a 10 minute block pattern by Suzanne McNeill and that lead me to her blog She was talking about something called ZenTangle. Never heard of it. So I googled it. Wow, jackpot!

Zen Tangle is doodling with a purpose. The pictures that the Zen Tangle artists were making were amazing, so detailed and intricate. I was intrigued and needed to try this. All I needed was a pen and some paper, I have that! I use some pretty nice Staedtler pigment liners in my acrylic paintings from time to time, so dug those out and picked up my handy, dandy sketch diary and started to doodle... or zentangle.

I needed to learn some designs and found another wonderful web site Hundreds of designs are broken down into 4 or more steps so you can see how each is really made. Some of the most detailed become the easiest when you know how to start. I bought a note book with graph paper and set out to learn as many as I could. I think the ideas will be endless because now I see tangles everywhere and I can't wait to start designing my own tangle patterns.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Busy Summer

Well we are back at the farm to start preparing for the harvest. Keep your fingers crossed, it has not been a very good year for farmers, what with the late spring then all the rain, hail, wind and flooded fields. I am still trying to get used to a business where you take $300,000 and bury it in a hole in the ground in the spring and then hope that you can dig it up in the fall and find more $$.

Anyway, that is another story for another day. We left the cabin on Monday and it was a sad farewell. As we drove away Bernie and I promised ourselves and each other that we would do what ever it took to get back there in the fall before we left for Texas and our winter. We didn't manage to do that last year and really regretted not being able to spend at least a weekend when we could enjoy the crisp weather, the trees changing color and No bugs!

We did not get started on the "big cabin" like we had hoped too, it just didn't seem like a good idea until we are more certain that we will have a crop to sell this fall. Instead we spent our summer working Bernie's sawmill and making a small mountain of wood siding for the interior walls and boards that will be used for trim around doors and windows inside the cabin when we do get building. The plan is to have a contractor build the cabin, putting on the metal roof, installing the windows, doors, basically take it what they call the lock up stage. Then Bernie and I will finish the inside. That will include covering all the inside walls, floors and ceiling with wood. Hopefully wood that we have cut on our sawmill from the trees that came down to make the road into our property.

Working a sawmill was certainly a new thing for me but I'm game for new things and actually really enjoyed the physical labor. A pair of work boots, some comfy pants, t-shirt, leather gloves and a hat was my wardrobe. Bernie had a pair of coveralls. You know the kind, full sleeve, step into the legs and pull the zipper up to your neck. Well when we get to the Brownsville flea market this winter I'm going to look for a pair of coveralls for myself. I won't look pretty but I will be much more comfortable. You see pants and a shirt is fine but I get covered in sawdust, again that is ok until you have to make a trip to the biffy (aka outhouse). It is impossible to keep that sawdust from falling off your cloths and sticking to your hot sweaty skin. Boys don't have to worry about this problem as they never have to actually pull anything down to use the facilities, not that they would ever use the facilities, the world is their urinal after all, but us girls are not so lucky.

First of all the biffy is a long way from the sawmill so planning is pertinent but very rarely done. That means a brisk walk, well waddle if I waited to long and then getting those pants down as fast as possible once I'm in there. I never though about dusting off the sawdust from my back, I did the front, arms and knees, but who thinks of dusting off their back? I did mention that this was physical work right and, well, I sweat, really sweat, not a lady like kind of sweat but the kind that soaks into your shirt and runs down your back to catch in the waist band
of your pants sweat. The kind that soaks the band in your hat and then runs into your eyes sweat. The kind that leaves your whole body wet and the kind that sawdust likes to stick to.

Working with Bernie milling the logs that will eventually become the walls of our cabin is a lot of fun, working with Bernie milling the logs that will eventually become the walls of our cabin while I have sawdust stuck to my butt and itching me like crazy is absolutely not fun!

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Driving toward Winter

Packing up one home and moving every 6 months is not an easy chore but something we do every year. That is how we manage to miss out on the Cold Canadian Winters. Or so I thought. We left Texas and drove through land covered with blooming cactus. Very pretty, dry and hot. Well into the 30's Celsius or for those that don't speak Canadian weather, about 95 degrees Fahrenheit.

As we got farther north it seems like we were going backward in seasons. We went from hot summer to spring then finally to late winter as we drove through Colorado, Wyoming and then finally Montana and back to Saskatchewan. The leaves were well out on the trees when we left Texas then as we got farther north the leaves got thinner and thinner until there was just a faint green glow at the ends of the branches. Lots of blooms on the fruit trees in Denver and then as we got to Wyoming the the flowers and the leaves were gone and the grass was brown. We watched water pouring through culverts and saw creeks that were now rivers and ponds that had turned into lakes but I was not prepared for the sight I saw as we pulled into our yard. We had over 4 feet of snow on the driveway and covering most of my yard, heavy, wet and not going anywhere very soon. Bernie, luckily, has a monster front end loader so he started that up and started moving his way up the driveway. After an hour I was able to get the truck into the yard and started unpacking but it took him a couple more hours to make enough room so we could get to the barn and the garage.

When we built our little Saskatchewan Prairie home we knew that we would not be there all winter so never made our water supply " winter proof". As a result, no running water until the ground thaws, or at least no running water inside the house. We can fill pails at the well and carry them in and then warm the water on the stove or in the kettle when we need it hot. I'm sure that there are people that could never manage that, but it really doesn't bother either of us. 6 pails warmed up with 3 pails of cold is enough to have a bath.

By our second day at home we could notice that the snow was melting really fast and I don't think it will last too long into May. The robins are back in the maple trees and I could hear frogs down by the dugout so I'm almost positive that spring will actually find it's way to me here at my Northern home.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Can't seem to Stop

It's been at least a year since I last blogged. I know, the point is to do it regular and keep people interested in what is happening in your work but sometimes that work gets in the way. I'm not going to go into all the excuses about why I have not kept up but I'm going to attempt to do better in the future.

I kept really busy this winter at our Texas place. We live in a small self contained community of Winter Texans, people that leave the north, be it Canada or the northern states and come to Brownsville to enjoy the weather. I got busy right away with teaching art and craft classes, helped cook Thanksgiving for our American friends. Turkey and fixins for 200+. I organized an Art Show and Sale that was amazingly successful and finally on the first Saturday of March helped coordinate over 200 volunteers at our Open House and Fun Day. When all that was over I didn't want to do anything else but paint.

Since the beginning of March I have painted and painted and painted, well over 50 paintings actually. I'm on a roll and can't seem to stop. Most artists know that creating is something that needs to be pushed and we have to force ourselves to do something every day or at least set aside some time every week to paint. When I start painting I can't stop. One idea leads to the next and the next or I will try one scene 3 or 4 different ways. Trying new colors, different brushes and looking for the perfect combination. I will do an abstract and follow with a traditional scenery and then decide to do a figure. I will notice how 2 colors laying beside each other really look amazing together so I will do a whole painting with just those colors.

I'm on a roll right now and don't want to lose the momentum but I must Stop. I am leaving Texas in a week to drive back to Saskatchewan and I need to clean up my house, pack and figure out how the heck I'm going to get all these paintings into the truck without messing them up. Thank goodness I paint with acrylic, oil paintings would never have been dry in time. It's only Thursday and I don't leave until next Sunday so maybe I can paint until Monday or maybe next Thursday and then really work fast to get things cleaned and packed.

How hard can it be.