Thursday, January 29, 2015


 Last week I finally discovered what was wrong with me.  I was having difficulty sleeping and my waking hours were filled with visions of undulating strings.  My mail had come earlier in the day, and I received two packages with prescriptions of how often to use the contents and not to worry if one took an overdose.

I was overjoyed with the selection of Strathmore artist tiles of various shapes, colors, textures and sizes in one of the containers.  The other packet contained the free flowing Sakura of America micron pens that my friends were using on a daily basis. 

Now I could capture those undulating strings on my Strathmore tiles with the myriad assortment of the Sakura archival ink pens. My affliction finally had a name “Zentangle.”  My ability to focus is awesome and I no longer toss and turn each night.  I awake fresh and ready to take on each new patterning challenge. 

Many thanks to Strathmore Paper Company and Sakura Pen Company. You are just what the doctor ordered.  



Wednesday, January 28, 2015


By Sindy P.
I recently received this delightful Zentangle book created by the talented photographer, Sindy P.  She is a certified Zentangle teacher, who has incorporated her keen eye for the essence of objects with the wonderful meditative art form Zentangle. 

Her photographs in the book are enhanced with eye popping patterns which take the viewer along on her journeys.  Starting with either undulating or simple forms, each object is transformed by structured patterns.  One can follow this path by viewing both the before and after images. 

Sindy gives the viewer to opportunity to create their own zentangles on some of her photographs replicated in this book.  One does not have to acquire a large cache of supplies; a couple of micro pens and some white or black zentangle tiles will complete the list. 

If one is interested in purchasing this book, “Real Life Strings,” you can contact Sindy at and you will soon be on your way to join her on this wonderful trip.  No extra baggage needed, just a desire for the experiences of a lifetime.


Sunday, January 25, 2015

Alphabet Stencil Book

Stencil Fonts by Jeff Levine

 This book is a wonderful tool for capturing both letter and number images.  There is also a small section with beautiful borders and an assortment of other images.  The stencils are created on heavy paper and the lines are very sharp.  Each page has a perforated edge and therefore it is easy to place the stenciled images anywhere.  

If one doesn’t have the artistic ability, but still a creative eye, everything is here.  Lettering and numbering of all shapes and sizes are available to explore. There is a very good section on “how to.”  Brushes, and techniques are described in detail.  I recently started a beading project utilizing the “bird” image and was absolutely delighted how easy it was.  No messy transfer agents, hot iron, or ink jet printer to utilize.  Within a very short time my stenciled project was ready to enhance with the tiny seed beads.
My collection of stencils is quite large, but all of them require a sharp knife and a keen and steady hand.  This book makes the act of stenciling quite easy and very professional looking.  Way to go!



Friday, January 23, 2015

The Book of Zentangle

Rick Roberts and Maria Thomas

Do you believe in fate, or do events just occur happenstance?  This is a question I often ponder.

How fortunate that these two kindred souls came together and created Zentangle, a meditative form of art.  This book presents a most joyous presentation of the history and discovery of Zentangle. 

When reviewing other Zentangle books, I told Maria the patterning reminded me of the beautiful illuminated manuscripts that I had studied while pursuing my Art-Education degree, and the fractal concept discussed with one of my professors. She agreed and in fact there is a beautiful example of a manuscript on page 14. 

In their book, “The Book of Zentangle,” one’s focus is on creating basic repeating patterns and together they brought their zen like concept of this methodology to fruition.  Tools, methods, exercises, and projects are handled in great detail. Stories and comments are shared about the feelings of contentment and peace one achieves putting pen to the paper tile and taking their life on this new path of discovery.

Fate, or happenstance – you be the judge!

Thursday, January 22, 2015

500 Tangled Artworks

One doesn’t need soft or loud music or a partner to “tangle.”  A pencil, micron 01 black pen, and 3 ½” square drawing paper tile are all of the supplies needed to begin the dance.

Quarry Books and Beckah Krahula has produced a masterful book “500 Tangled Artworks” – a Showcase of Inspired Illustrated Designs.  The drawings, both in black and white are examples of creativity at its apex.  The art is a visual meandering journey seen through the eyes of the creator.

The zentangles in this exciting book illustrate movements both spontaneous and fluid.  Many of the drawings are abstract, while many others take on a recognizable form with tangled components.

The use of colored pencils and paints add another dimension to these luscious reproductions.  The fractal nature of the colored sunflower center is a wonderful model of the zentangle patterning.

I had a stimulating conversation with Jan Huling, one of the featured artists.  She creates intricate beaded structures while exploring the zentagle concepts.  Her use of tiny round seed beads paints a fascinating utilization of both the material and technique.

I have picked up this book several times and enjoyed the contents immensely.  There is always something new to discover in their inspirational course.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

The Beauty of Zentangle

I have been a doodler since childhood and still meditate to this day.  When one is presented with the ability to combine both, it is an empowering experience. 

Individuals of all ages are capable of drawing Zentangles.  One can begin with a simple spiral and complete the section by repeating the spiral design, similar to the fractal repetition of a sunflower, and then go on by adding repetitious curves, lines, shading, etc.  In other words, the skies the limit. 

Design Originals has published a bevy of wonderful books covering the subject “Zentangles.”  This art form and method was created by Rick Roberts & Maria Thomas.  The “Zen” is defined as a meditative state.  Maria began by drawing background patterns on a manuscript.  She stated that during the process, she experienced a tremendous sense of well being and ability to focus her energy to the task at hand.  She shared this powerful sensation with Rick and thus “Zentangle” was created. 

As I viewed many of the patterns so beautifully presented in “The Beauty of Zentangle,” I thought of the wonderful illustrated manuscripts created by the monks hundreds of centuries ago.  I’m sure they experienced an exceptional feeling of self-discovery upon the execution and completion of their work.

I marveled at the beauty of the forms and the serenity it must have provided each of the artisans whose work was presented in this book.  Design Originals, an Imprint of Fox Chapel Publishing provides us all with a myriad of books on this subject so one can begin a wonderful new journey of creativity and meditation.

Friday, January 9, 2015

Mah Jongg-The Art of the Game

First of all, I thought this was a wonderful title for this beautifully photographed and researched book about Mah Jongg.  The authors, Ann M. Israel and Gregg Swain took me on their painstaking journey of discovery.  The lush photographs are a compilation of tiles created from a variety of materials starting with simple paper sets, tin, rubber, and Bakelite, to exquisitely engraved mother-of-pearl and ivory.  Many of these elaborately carved tiles depict celebrations featuring musicians and dancers.  The artistry is lovely with their full color palettes.

Chapter I provides a brief history of the game whose earliest name was “Beating the Sparrow.”  I was always under the impression that Mah Jongg was an ancient game and was surprised to learn that it dates to the early to mid 19th century in China.  Joseph Babcock, an American working in China was astute and very entrepreneurial.  He became fascinated with the game and exported it home.

Some of the members of my Mah Jongg groups own sets.  Most of them are plastic.  Their cases are aluminum or faux leather.  The Lucite pushers help keep the rows of tiles as straight as soldiers as each player breaks her wall.  But none of our sets have the charm and amazing presentation of the colorful tiles, racks, and storage cabinets featured in this book. 

There is a definite rhythm and cadence as each tile is discarded in the center of the table.  This book “Mah Jongg - The Art of the Game” rekindled in me an appreciation of this lovely art form’s both frustrating and exhilarating experience of playing this game with friends of all ages.

I am looking forward to sharing this book with both my artist and Mah Jongg friends and placing it front and center on my coffee table.