A Tale of a Tile

In my daily tangling practise yesterday, I pulled out this blue watercolour background tile.  The splotches lent themselves to three different areas to tangle, so I selected three tangles at random and began.

As I tangled, I thought about various aspects of the patterns – I started with the grid area, thinking I’d use Cubine, but changed my mind decided to use Dex, after I’d outlined each box so it would have a coffered look.  

Once Dex was finished I looked at the area where I’d planned Shattuck.  I decided to go for the curvy version to balance the boxiness of Dex.  It looked a little too light, so I used black on the lines and in each corner to give it a little weight.

Now on to the Jetties.  I wanted them big; I usually draw small Jetties so the larger version appealed to me. Making the bands all black seemed like it would look too heavy, so I opted for an airier, echoism-type tangle to fill them in, and used black bands to mirror the Shattuck bands.

Now for the shading.  I picked up my graphite pencil and tried shading. I was in the living room watching TV and my pencils were in another room.  It wasn’t long before I realized graphite was not going to be the look I wanted, so I left the tile until the next day when I could shade it in the way I wanted.

The next day, with my full array of coloured pencils, I went in and softened the graphite look by adding several shades of blue in the shading and finishing with some white coloured pencil for highlights.  As I was shading I realized I’d made one band of Shattuck different from the others – there were three ‘fans’ in a row going in the same direction instead of alternating.  Interesting.

In Zentangle we talk a lot about ‘no mistakes’. I thought this tile was a really good example.  Did it turn out exactly the way I had originally pictured?  No.  Do I like it?  Yes, I’m happy with it.  And one of the things I like best about it is that I can look at this tile and say I learned quite a lot!  I learned about graphite and blue with regards to shading.  I learned that I need to pay closer attention when I’m doing Shattuck – just like Knightsbridge, it’s when you’re doing something ‘easy’ that your brain drifts.  I learned that it might be fun to try Shattuck exactly like that – with all the fans going in the same direction; an idea I wouldn’t have thought of.  And I marvelled yet again that rather than ‘hating’ a tile and being discouraged, I quite enjoyed the ‘oopses’ and the challenge of how to incorporate them into the tile.

As an artist, I try very hard not to point out my mistakes to people.  Often they don’t even notice them, and even if they do, it’s rare that it will be something jarring for them.  It’s my own ego that wants to point them out, as a way of saying – ‘you see, I know this isn’t perfect so you can’t point out my mistake’.  And yes, I’ve had tiles where I couldn’t appreciate the ‘oops’ or I didn’t know what to do with it and couldn’t continue.  That’s when I put it aside and fish it out months (or even years) later with fresh eyes and a little more experience.

As a teacher, I want to point them out to you so that you can experience the same thing in your own work.  It’s okay to make a goof, and you really don’t have to tell anyone.  Eventually, the sense of challenge will arise when something like that happens, and you can honestly enjoy those moments.

And there is no rule that says you have to show any work to anyone else.  This is just for you!

I post my tiles every day as a way of encouraging you to keep trying.  Some are more appealing than others, but don’t let that stop you from creating.  That’s what’s truly important.


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