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Zen From A Liner Brush

I am always on the prowl for new art forms and trends. I had seen some black and white art in one of the altered art magazines that caught my eye. The name of the art was “Zentangle,” made by using repetitive patterns in black on a white background. I started researching other black on white art techniques and came up with pen drawings and ink, this started me thinking.

Zentangle is similar to doodle art, it is as addictive and meditative. Jentangles have a few rules and I am not much of a rule follower, so I ignored them and jumped right in. When you get into the actual method of it all, anyone can do it, and you have probably done some of it with a paper and pen when you were bored in a meeting or on the phone and did not even recognize that you were doing art!

You know how when you open your mind to spotting trends or being super creative how you begin to see things that you had been totally ignoring in the past. Well, while I was demonstrating my favorite fine line pen and liner basics at the booth in Wichita, along comes this lady with a Zentangle necklace! She had taken the design chips for laminates (rectangles with holes in the top from her favorite hardware store) and actually made it into a necklace. She told me how she had used a different subject for each of the rectangles, divided them into sections and then began to fill them in. One of them was a fish, another was curlicues, etc. When all of them were displayed together they meshed well because no mater what the subject was, the black and white on the unifying rectangles made it work. That got me thinking! I am an avid collector of anything with a heart shape (you should see my heart shaped rock collection!). I thought it would be great to work on a heart shaped wood piece and turn it into a wearable piece of art. I had some of the Woodsie wood shapes at home, even some heart shapes, but what I really imagined was not coming together. But...when I overlapped two Woodsie teardrops and they created a heart, I was on my way. I began by sketching out a circle for a floral design because I have been really into Jacobean floral, but then I decided to put heart shaped designs on the heart. I had such a blast that I decided to make special ones for my booth mates by hiding their favorite things within the designs. One of the theories of Zentangles is that they are produced in single sitting so it makes it very satisfying and easy to get lost in. The best part of the whole process was the practice I got using my liner brush and the Fine Line Pen. Here are a couple of secrets for you when designing your own “Zentangle”. Prep and seal the wood with your favorite method. When dry, lightly sand and apply several coats of white paint. If you want to sketch in your divided sections to begin, use a pencil with light pressure. You will find later that you don’t even need this step because you are filling in as you go. When using the liner brush, be sure that you make the black paint about the consistency of ink and really load it into your pen so it is soupy. Wipe off the water bubble that may have accumulated on the ferrule of your brush and then level out the load by either laying the hairs horizontally and lifting, or by rolling the tip to a point. This technique helps you to keep all of the lines the same size from start to finish. Keep the handle of the brush vertical so that the paint flow will last a long time and drag the tip as you apply the paint. Keeping the handle vertically also helps the gravity flow of the paint and allows you more flexibility by using your wrist, elbow and shoulder without restrictions.

Fill in the areas using patterns and shapes like circles, spirals, feather patterns, stripes, wavy lines, triangles, crosshatching, and add contrast by filling in some of the shapes with your brush. Part of the fun is to discover how many patterns you can use. I know that the original intention of Zentangles or Doodle Art was to use a pen and paper, but as artists and designers we just cannot follow those rules. By using a liner I am able to correct any little stray lines with my trusty cotton swab- a feat not managed by the ink and paper doodlers.

The next zentangles I create will be in red or blue liner…gotta stay walkin’ on that edge!

Take out your liner brush –two bottles of paint and a fun surface and let’s just see how creative you can be!

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