Tuesday, January 26, 2016

ARTFUL JOURNEYS - New Weekly Feature!

Starting today, Tuesday January 26, 2016, we're going to add in a new feature to your journaling activities. One in which you can use repeatedly in your journals!


Each Tuesday, we are going to submit a new tangle or official Zentangle (c) design for you to learn. We will start with some easy, basic designs to get you warmed up and progress to more complicated designs.

Zentangle designs are the "official" patterns developed for Zentangle and the term "zentangle" is a registered trademark.  Tangles, Dangles or other such generic derivatives loosely apply to doodles in general. 

Official Zentangle patterns are generally worked in black ink only. It is recommended you use a permanent ink  (see below for recommendations) in the event  you want to colorize in a variety of methods later.  Zentangles are traditionally practiced on 3.5" x 3.5" tiles (you can cut cardstock, Bristol, watercolor paper, etc) to size, use gridded or plain index cards, draw out in your journal or on a practice page or you can purchase these official tiles directly from Zentangle.  You really don't need any special "stuff" other than a good, permanent ink.

We do not intend to reinvent the wheel, and will be using links to Linda Farmer's TanglePatterns.com site because, primarily, the directions are clear, concise and easy to follow and her site is an excellent reference tool.  Linda is a certified Zentangle Teacher (CZT) -- yes, you have to be "certified" to teach these designs officially.  We're not teaching them. We are leading you to the water in hopes that you drink, and we can all learn something new to add to our artistic repetoire each week!  I will be learning right along with you.

Recommended Pens:  

  • Sakura Micron Pens.  You will ultimately want assorted pen widths, but an .05 is a good mid-range pen to start.  Perhaps select another that is extra fine, like a .01. 
  • Sakura Gelly Pen, in black.  This pen has a fine point, and works excellently.
  • Faber-Castell Pitt Artist Pens - Fine and XS are good choices
  • Signo Uniball Pen - micro and bold tips both work well
  • For practice work, you may also want a RED pen.  I use a Sakura Gelly pen.  Your choice.
You can use whatever you want, of course, but I know that these pens will not bleed if you are practicing on thin paper (I do practice squares in my Miguel Ruiz planner, which has very thin paper and is gridded (also helpful).  You could purchase some gridded index cards and practice on those, or just draw out the practice grids into your journal like I did.  I am accumulating quite a collection of separate tiles that I am going to ring bind for future reference as a permanent kind of thing. That's a project for later.  For now, my tiles are living in a recipe box.

When I do a design the first time, as I am prone to mistakes, I use a pencil in lieu of pen for my learning squares for the "black" ink.  I make the second and subsequent strokes with red pen, but you could use a red pencil.  By using two colors, you can see how each Zentangle is formed, step by step.  When I get to the final square, I work the whole pattern in ink, following along the instructions that I have just practiced.  Here's one I did last week in my planner:

There are a number of errors on this.  First, I got the tiles out of order. I didn't do an "inked" final, just the variation in ink.  As  you can see, I did all the study in pencil and ink until the last square. I had many erasures on this tile because I joined the "leaves" (for lack of a better term). I corrected my error and just numbered the tiles for future reference. 

Generally, you can set up a practice grid that consists of 6 individual squares. Each of these squares is 6x6 grid squares, inside a 3.5" x 3.5" "tile". 

Without further adieu, here is this week's pattern.  It's called 4 Corners and was designed by Barbara Finwall.   You can visit the site and read all about it HERE.

Isn't the full Zentangle with variations of this pattern totally awesome?

Please familiarize yourself with Linda's site for all her helpful tips and suggestions.  Start HERE

I'm excited to share this fun and versatile technique with you all each week, and as I said, I will be learning these patterns right along with you each week!

As always, keep your world artful.

~~Betty aka Arty Auntie

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Artful Tactics with Shana - Painting a face using Dylusions paints

Sooooo.... I did the art journal prompt #17 yesterday using the Dylusions paint and the main question I received was how I created the smooth skin and shadows of the whimsy girl face in my spread, so I decided to do a video of just a basic face to show how to create the facial contours using a very basic pallet.

Creating a smooth face with shadows is all about blending so using the Dylusions paints already makes the process easier since they are made to blend. Normally when I do a face I either work quickly so the paint is still blend-able or I mix my mediums so I can blend in the highlights and shadows over top of the paint. Additive can be used if you only want to use acrylic paint like slow-dry mediums or using many wet layers of paint.

I love that I can just use the Dylusions paints without having to hurry or work so hard at blending, I used mainly my fingers to create the blends. In the blog I will show you the step by steps of creating the skin, I will also put the video of the full process below!

The 1st step is to create the outline, these are also the darkest shadows in the face.

I used the the Melted Chocolate to make this outline, Melted Chocolate would be the 1st step in any natural color skin tone.

The second step is to clean the brush and remove the excess water, you still want the brush to be damp.

Using the clean damp brush blend or smooth out the lines, don't worry about it being neat! details come later!

Now its time for the magic to happen, grab your White Linen paint.

Load your brush up and smoosh the paint all over the face, again, it doesn't need to be beautiful at this point!

Here is where we get our hands dirty!

Use your fingers to blend the colors together, I suppose a tool could be used but I have never used one, I just love having painty hands!

if at any time you have trouble blending dampen your finger with water, you do not want dripping water, if you can wet a sponge to use to dampen your finger.

 Apply two dots, these are actually a bit to much, of Postbox Red to the cheeks

and use your finger to blend, the picture on the right is after blending the red in, Note the lack of perfection!

We now need to add another layer of White Linen to tone down the cheeks a bit! again we are blending with out fingers! also at this point if you feel (as I did) the nose is to short or needs additional highlight add a bit more white at the tip and blend up into the forehead.

The last step is to go back to your original base color, in this case the Chocolate Brown, add more shadows and blend if needed.

You can finally pick your brush back up, add your darkest shadowed features, top lip, bottom lip shadow, bottom of nose and the top lash line of the eyes.

You now have a wonderful blank face to add features to! If you watch the video below you can see how I completed the simple faced girl!

Hope you try it! Have fun!!

-Big Hugs and Mushy Stuff

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Artful Tactics with Shana! DecoArt Media Misters

Don't get me wrong, I LOVE the Dylusions sprays, but sometimes you just want the background to stay put without the extra step of putting a fixative on it. I have found a new love--The DecoArt Media Misters.

The Inks sprays are great, they come in a bunch of colors and the awesome added bonus-- once they are dry they will not be reactivated with wet media you put on top of them! I did a quick video today of some play time with them just to show you how nice they are. I used Hot press watercolor paper and put a base of gesso down on half of it so you could see how it reacts.

The other added bonus is that is if you are like me and always 'forget' to clean your stencils after using inks sprays you don't have to worry about the cross contamination when you use them again because the ink will not reactivate.

I will still use my Dylusions sprays but I love having another awesome medium in my arsenal of creativity!

I hope you enjoy my little video of my playtime!

Big Hugs and Mushy stuff!

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Finding True Happiness

Yesterday, I watched Oprah Winfrey's Super Soul Sunday with Shawn Achor, author of four books, two most recent publications being The Happiness Advantage and his latest, Before Happiness.  Achor is a graduate of Harvard University, and a leading researcher in Positive Psychology.  Both of these hour-long programs were powerful, uplifting and spoke to me in a way I have never thought about happiness before. I will be re-watching them again and again.  Hooray for TiVo! 

This is rather a long-winded post, but it is important, at least to me, to share this information, and to help you help yourselves.  I am sharing my happiness and this lesson so that you, too, can find this for yourself.

Achor says that the ancient Greeks defined happiness as "The joy that we feel striving for our potential."  And we tend to search for happiness in all the wrong ways.  Happiness tied to tangible things is fleeting. For instance -- if we "just get that raise" or "make that sale" or get "that promotion" - the momentary feeling of happiness is great and wonderful, but dissipates quickly.  True feelings of happiness has to be defined to the way we live our lives.  The true feelings of happiness come from our external circumstances, how we live our lives, how we interact with others, how we spread the joy and happiness around us.  Success and wealth does not always lead to happiness. Optimism is the key.   How we live our lives, how we interact with others, how we share with the world links us inextricably to happiness.

During the course of Oprah's interview, Achor says it doesn't matter if you were born predisposed to being happy or not. It matters not whether you see the glass as half full or half empty, because the "pitcher" is right there, available for you to fill up your glass, and the glass of others at any time.  If we choose to create positive habits in our lives, happiness becomes easier and easier.  The more we connect to other people fills up our glass, and by doing so, it fills the glass of others around us, allowing them to see happiness and be happy too.   And happiness can be a learned condition.  By reinforcing the positive things in your life and being happy, you radiate this happiness to others, helping them choose to be happier.  Choosing to make happiness for ourselves in the present, we make it possible for others to do the same.  You are continually filling your glass. It matters not how you perceive it.  Change your life by choosing happiness

5 habits of "happiness hygiene" were identified.  Everyone has a "happiness bar" -- that level where you feel happiness, joy and contentment.  But you can easily raise the bar by developing happiness habits over a 21 day period of "habit forming."  Remember, we already talked about developing good habits, like writing in  your journal every day.  At the end of the 21 day exercise, you will have formed a habit of gratitude, thankfulness and improved your happiness bar. Keep it up, and keep raising that bar and turning your life to full-on happiness.

1.  Every morning, list three (3) new things you are grateful for.  Put them in your journal; say them out loud to yourself.  Smile more. It changes your brain chemistry, and according to Ophrah, "gratitude can change your vibrational frequency in the world." Gratitude changes what is drawn to you, and shows your mind that your behavior matters.
2.  Identify one (1) meaningful experience that occurred over the last 24 hours. Journal about this experience in full detail, reinforcing how it was meaningful, why it was meaningful and how it made you feel. Do this for 21 days.  Simple changes in our outlook have the power to make us happier.
3.  Write a 2-minute email or message thanking or praising someone. By phone or in person is even better.  Choose a different person every day for 21 days.  You are extending gratitude and happiness to others, and the impact on you and your life are measurably improved by it.
4.  Exercise - by exercising at least 15 minutes a day, you signal your brain that your behavior matters. You free your mind from unnecessary life noise and the endorphins experienced during exercise lighten your mood.  Do something cardio in nature -- even just a simple 15 minute walk.
5.  Meditation - the more time you can spend in stillness or silence reaps exponential benefit.  If you are like me and many others -- your mind won't settle down and is all over the place when trying to "meditate" -- spend 2 minutes watching your breath go in and out.  Your mind and your body will relax.  Again you are reinforcing good body behavior to your brain.

All of these five habits create a positive ripple effect to the people around you and to whom you are connected.

Identify and cultivate parts of your life that are meaningful.  For instance, if you have only one thing in your life that is meaningful (ie your child, your job, a sale, a simple 'thing'), then you are in a very fragile place.  If you have more meaningful parts of your life, you can be buoyed by them and not hit rock bottom when the one singular thing you hold meaningful falls apart.  You can still feel meaning so you can keep moving forward in your life.  You can use these multiple meaningful points to work on the area that is frustrating.  These multiple meaningful areas of your life sustain you with hope, promise and gratitude, to see you through the rough times.

Achor also believes that spirituality is tied directly to happiness. And there are immeasurable avenues for you to explore your spiritual past and your own spirituality.  Spirituality is a way of BEING - not necessarily a way of faith or worship.  It is a way of living. A way of doing. A way of living your life. Your own spirituality will guide you to happiness.  In giving an example based on Romans 2:12, Achor quoted: "No longer conform to the patterns of this world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind ... "  There are many versions and translations of this verse in many cultures worldwide, but the thought is the same.  You can change your mind from what is learned from the world, to find good, joy and happiness through study, practice and implementation.  We can learn to be happy, despite the world around us.

Life in our world is bombarded by our hyper-connectivity, making our lives and our brains exceptionally noisy.  Eliminating this "noise" is one of the biggest hurdles when it comes to being happy according to Achor.  Our minds are huge noisemakers in our lives. It's that EGO, the constant chatter in our heads that cause us to doubt, fear, and make bad choices.  All that noise is deafening, blocking out the positive signals that are always around us, which blocks us from true happiness.  Clearing your mind of the noise, the worry (which is brain noise) and seeking the quiet time for ourselves, achieved during meditation or quiet reflection, will free us from the negative noise and allow positive thoughts and energy into our brains.  Worry eats away at people's happiness -- and it gets in the way. The brain processes "noise" first (the negative), and then it processes the meaning.  If your brain has a lot of "noise" it never gets the meaning or gratitude in your life.  If you don't block out the noise, this also will up the stress levels of your life,  By decreasing the amount of external noise or information coming into our brains, we can find quiet meaning and a sense of worth and gratitude.

We all know that the world is mostly negative.  The more you "study" the negative and reinforce it, you become it, absorbing that noise.  If you're late for a meeting, you constantly look at your watch, reinforcing the negative. Look for something positive in the face of negativity and negative impacts in your life.  You can always use a mantra as a "noise" canceller.  Quit feeding the noise and focus the brain on things on things to move you forward.

Making us happy right now ...

If you fully visualize something you are looking forward to, a vacation, a special engagement, by living the event fully before it happens, with all the joy and anticipation of feeling 'happy' -- your brain doesn't know the difference between visualization and actual experience.  So if you are visualizing something positive that is going to happen in the future, you are literally doubling the positive effect on your life, causing you to not only feel it when it happens, but helping you to feel it now.  So in effect, that future positive event if affecting and shaping how you feel when you wake up in the morning, and the way you interact with others.

Recognize that happy moments show up in your life for a reason. 
Use random acts of kindness as a happiness multiplier.  We have the power to change the reality around us, by helping others choose happiness.

Happiness requires openness.
  This feeling of happiness is a perception you have to be open to receiving.  You deserve to be happy.  Stop hoping for a singular thing to make you happy. It won't. Create your own happiness by receiving it, creating it for others, being receptive to the moments, the lifestyle and the feeling of gratitude and meaning.  By changing your thought processes to a more positive self image and self awareness, you affect the world around you.

By figuring out what happiness really is, you will redefine what happiness is to you.  Find joy in the every day, the moments, the special people in your lives.  Choose to be happy. Choose to be grateful. Choose to spread happiness out into the world, making your own life more joyful.

I choose these things.  Go forth and be happy.


Want to continue to nurture your soul, your mind and your spirit?  Come join us at ARTFUL WRITING by clicking HERE.  We have probing, mindful and creative writing prompts for each day of the year!