Things continue to progress here at the cat sanctuary, where cats have taken over from the flying monkeys. The new job is going well; the plan to consistently get through workdays without medicating myself is going as planned. In fact, the new job has rekindled an interest in archives and libraries. More on that later as the interest blossoms into a full-blown obsession.
Speaking of obsessions, have you ever felt paper? I mean really felt paper? Good paper. I have fallen in love with the way a Sakura Micron Pigma ink pen feels as it moves across a fine-tooth surface. I use 3 1/2" square tiles made from card stock, and sometimes larger – 5 inch squares – for larger projects. The ink from the pen does not bleed into the paper. I get a nice, crisp line that dries fairly quickly, without any need to blot. As the pen moves across the surface, I don't feel the tooth of the paper breaking. It's smooth, and relaxing and delightful.
Last year I began playing around with Zentangle. I could relate to the explanation of how it started – an artist and a Buddhist monk couple discovered the meditative aspect of art, specifically repeated patterns. It reminded me of when I was younger, of becoming almost intoxicated while working on a drawing project. I would get into a bit of a trance and I would barely register the things happening around me. When I looked up from the drawing, I felt that the songs playing on the radio were so much better, food had so much more flavor. I would be positively radiant with happiness, which made my family give me strange looks. Working from a photo, slipping into the zone of drawing was a physical experience as my eyes moved from the photo to my drawing and my hand moved across the drawing paper, recreating the space relationships and the tonal values with my soft-lead pencil. It's like when you put earbuds in and the sounds from the world turn off, or like when Bilbo Baggins puts on the magical gold ring. Slip, and then I would be in a happy place.
So, now as I think about the story lines that I'm trying to develop, I let my pen work on the simple strokes that make up the Zentangle method – simple strokes that repeat and create patterns, relaxing the mind and letting it wander in a way that cannot happen if I'm staring at a computer monitor. Per the Zentangle method, I write a little note on the back of my tiles and now I have a small artistic journal of my time since I decided to make a change in my life. I've expanded into mandalas – modern mandalas, not the Buddhist or Hindu religious pictures. I feel a little guilty for borrowing a sacred style, but there are mandala coloring books every three feet in bookstores, so I don't think I'm breaking rules or taboos – none that haven't already been trampled to unrecognizable bits anyway.
Below are some of the things I've done.