April 1: Art and #AtoZChallenge

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“A sense of humor is a major defense against minor troubles.”~Mignon McLaughlin, American writer
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Welcome to Day 1 of the AtoZ Blog Challenge. Today I feel more Zzzzzz than Awake. April is just one of those busy months. And, really, how did it become the 4th month of 2016 already?

I chose an easy enough theme this year so I could actually complete AtoZ this year, and I totally forgot what April is. April is National Poetry Month. That I knew, but I wasn’t thinking about that at all when I decided to do Alphabet Haiku as my AtoZ Challenge.

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What I didn’t know is that this year marks the 20th anniversary of National Poetry Month. The social media hashtag #NationalPoetryMonth is exploding throughout the creative writing world.

Creating writing and catching up is just another theme with me this month, as I will complete the remaining letters of last year’s AtoZ Challenge: 26 Ways to Distract a Writer. Did you ever have one of those nagging things that you just can’t let go of, no matter how practical or useful it is to do that? For me, last year’s AtoZ is that. I’ll post those new links here as they get posted, which means you’ll have to come back every day if you want to find out how Jayne and her Writerself tale ends…for now.

If you want an idea of what Jayne is up to, read about her first day on the procrastination journey here.

Art is something I’ve struggled with lately, from Artist Trading Cards to Zentangle. I was an active member on ATCs For All, a delightfully creative online site for people to trade art with other artists. One of the most delightful events there was the monthly Bizarre Holiday Swap. Even my husband enjoyed seeing those cards! This is a mixed-media card I made from one of the those swaps:


Today’s Bizarre Holiday: One Cent Day. One cent and the 1st day of April. No April Fools here.

It’s been awhile since I’ve created art like that. I stepped back from that because I lost the interest and the thrill. I know when I feel the pull of it again, I’ll enjoy it even more.

For now, I’m enjoying my poetry journey. I hope you do, too.

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Zentangle, cancer, Penn State: In a good way, they relate

“A lie can travel half way around the world while the truth is putting on its shoes.”~Charles Spurgeon, British preacher

We are…Penn State.
I am…Penn State.
I am proud to have graduated from Penn State University.
I know child abuse is bad.

Penn State alumni who defend the ongoing Penn State sex scandal–note, media does not call it the Sandusky Sex Scandal–don’t mention the last part because we feel that should be obvious.

If you swallow everything the media feeds you, then you must believe that all Penn State alumni, employees, parents, fans, sponsors, students and everyone related are the devil incarnate. If you think that of me, stop reading right now.

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Thank you for continuing to read. The university is a dynamic academic institution. If you care to dare talk about the university’s sports in a positive manner, Penn State ranks number one in football player graduation rate. No one focuses on the positive stories like that, or the causes that alumni and especially students support, several of which deal with cancer.

The Lady Lions basketball team’s Pink Zone donated $197,000 for cancer this year. Check out these photos from the 10th Annual Penn State Football Uplifting Athletes “Lift For Life. The current Nittany Lions football players raised more than $110,000 for the Kidney Cancer Association.

2012 Penn State Lift for Life

photo by Joe Hermitt, The Patriot-News, pennlive.com

2012 Penn State Lift for Life

photo by Joe Hermitt, The Patriot-News, pennlive.com

Our love of Penn State has nothing to do with wins-losses but with the spirit. Cheering at sporting events is simply the highest-profile way we show that school pride. Plus, it’s fun. At least…it used to be.

Let’s never, ever forget the $10.68 million raised last year in Penn State’s student-run THON. Check out the Diva Challenge #58: Diamonds and my THON blog posts about this amazing organization that raises money to battle childhood cancer.

This week’s Diva Zentangle Challenge #81 is a guest post from Erin Olson, a CZT who will be walking in her local Relay For Life event. As a paramedic, she deals with cancer daily; this 24-hour walking event is one way she is giving back. Having walked a Relay for Life myself, I know the dedication, so I’ve given back with a donation to her. You can do the same at her fundraising page. You go, girl!

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The tangles I used: Purk, Sez, Pepper, Scarabou, Pinch, Shattuck, Patena and Snail.

My husband has been nag–I mean, encouraging me to use colors in my Zentangles more often, so in honor of my alma mater, this week’s challenge is done in various shades of blue reflecting the school’s colors of Blue-and-White.

While the media razed on and on about who supposedly knew what when, they missed the story that Penn State researchers may be closer to finding a cure for breast cancer than ever before. I guess football issues are more newsworthy than cancer victims.

Sketchbook Project 2012 in “Tour”onto

“An artist’s responsibility is more complex than people realize.”~Jodie Foster, American actress

I love my GPS. I hate my GPS.

The wonderful Christmas present from my in-laws proved invaluable navigating the twisty turns of Pittsburgh side streets. It does, however, stop talking to me on long highway drives. Combine that with the fact that the direction it takes me is different from my iPhone’s map app, Unnerving in your own country, but when you’re traveling abroad…. *shiver*

After spending a zombifying day catching up on sleep after CHA and doing laundry, I drove this morning to meet my friend, Deb. Our long-planned-but-never-executed trip to Toronto, Canada finally came to fruition as it collided with The Sketchbook Project tour. I had to show her my two books in person.

Toronto’s tour stop was at The Gladstone Hotel. Unlike the wide, bright and roomy Hyde Park Art Center in Chicago, the space in this older, perhaps historic, building was smaller and darker. When the line was long, it snaked into the hallway.

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We huddled together on lightweight plastic folding chairs, squeezing nine people around the two 6-person tables. The large balcony window was open to pull a cool breeze into the otherwise stuffy space.

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Any inconveniences were overshadowed by the incredible art we passed among ourselves on the table. One book opened into a circus tent/merry-go-round, and it took three people reading the instructions to construct it.

I arrived with two lists of books to checkout and Deb helped me with that. There were fellow Certified Zentangle Teachers with books on tour as well as online friends’ books to view. Here’s a picture of me with my favorite page from ATCsForAll member, Dina Haskins. I also love her textured sand page.

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The books seem to be paired ay checkout. We all share books we get, whether someone else at the table gasps at work they see or we declare to everyone around that “you have to see this book!” I recognized the book that came with one of mine. Tiny color-full diamond leaves that blew across one of the page spreads. Perhaps I’ll test that theory and check my books out one last time in Philadelphia. For now, Deb and I pose with my Teddy Bear Companion sketchbook.

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My anxiety over the GPS was worth it to see my friends face light up in awe for others’ artbooks, including mine.

Zentangle Day–CHA Summer 2012: Press pass Day 2

“A background is a background because it’s in the background.”~Dyan Reaveley, instructor, Ranger Industries

Manufacturer press kits are cool. Best presentation goes to Sizzix for their cloth-wrapped package. Most taste-fulll kit goes to Bo Bunny’s bag of sugar-coated popcorn. Kudos to Pioneer for their 12×12 albums.

I didn’t see much of the show today because I was connecting with CZTs.

CZT4 Marie Browning worked the Tombow booth. I *so* want the fluorescent glow-in-the-black-light Irojitien colored pencils. They look supersonic on black Zentangle tiles. Here’s Marie with her recent cover photo layout for Scrapbooking & Beyond.

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Over at Fox Chapel Publishing, Sue Jacobs, CZT5, did Zentangle demo make-n-takes.

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Then I ran into two CZT7s again: Sharon Caforio and Tina Christensen. We met last night at the Chicagoland Scrapbooker Magazine launch party. Zentangle geek that I am, I noticed them because one of them was writing with a Micron pen. What a waste, I thought, taking notes with such a fine pen. When I walked by, I saw she was tangling. That’s better! We shared stories about classes, our workshop experiences and using CD cases for Zendala keepers.

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In a final show serendipity, I had a glitter tattoo put on my hand. The guy called it my “Zen dragon.”

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I spent the eve with my Chicago peeps for dinner, a night full of spooky serendipity and Mexican fusion. That’s another post for another day.

An international Zentangle experience

“A good teacher can inspire hope, ignite the imagination, and instill a love of learning.”~Brad Henry, former Governor of Oklahoma

Memorial Day in the U.S. and what do we do? We leave the country.

Our semi-annual jaunts across the Detroit River into Canada always start the same way: lunch at Bubi’s (pronounced buh-bees). The sign outside reads Awesome Eats, so how could we pass that up? The restaurant is famous for putting its garlick sauce and cream cheez on just about every sandwich they make. I’m not as big a fan of garlic as my husband is, but the spicy, creamy combo whips any mayo or special sauce.

From there, we walk into downtown Windsor where he goes shopping for CDs and I usually journal in the nearby Starbucks. He asked me during lunch, “Did you bring any Zentangle stuff to do?” knowing I could be waiting in Starbucks for awhile. “Of course,” I replied, knowing I could be waiting in Starbucks for awhile. I ordered a grande frapp.

It was a great time to work on the Diva’s Challenge #72: monotangle Crescent Moon. I always start with this tangle in classes; it’s a disservice not to include it. A memorable moment was telling a tween class what they can do with it to refresh a stale tangle. “Think about using triangles or squares instead of half circles” and hearing the collective gasp as lightbulbs popped over everyone’s head. Now time for me to experiment and refresh.

Tempted to draw a string complementary to to the tangle, I chose one of my ensemble tile. I’m about halfway through and excited to see what I create! I wanted to fill a tile with moons, but I randomly chose a corner piece. The first part I tangled was the center section, one I’m proud of because the 3D effect was achieved without any shading. I experimented with triangles and squares; I want to use squares more, as the section I completed didn’t give me enough room to play. It’s fun putting tangles inside the tangle, still so many more ideas. I adore the teeny tiny triangle I Moon’d in.

My husband arrived earlier than expected and he waited for me to finish. “That takes a steady hand,” he said, commenting on a few areas he liked. “Talented pea.” I smiled politely–of course he’ll say that; he’s my husband–and replied, “Noooooo,” thinking the tile a tad busy. “Poppycock! You’re talented,” he said. And that was that.

In Memorial…

My father no longer walks this earth. He’s not flying with the angels, either; he never liked to fly. I imagine he’s sitting in his comfy chair next to mom discussing the weather with her or complaining about some sports team. Or he’s taking a walk.

Dad was drafted into the army during World War II. He never saw battle, but that one act saved a life: his.
Without the medical attention from the Veteran’s Administration medical system, he would not have lived beyond his 2-year prognosis from pulmonary fibrosis. He would not have had monitoring care of his heart issues. He would not have escaped dialysis or had the care that he had for his cancer. He would not have had the support to maintain his charming good nature, his annoying-but-friendly sense of humor.

I would not have had almost 10 years to say goodbye. That was more than I could have hoped for, and yet still not enough.

Happy Memorial Day. Enjoy your walk, Dad.

Do you play the game?

“God does not play dice.”~Albert Einstein, German scientist

But we do.

If you had told me that someday I would love a phone for being more than a phone, I would have laughed in your face. I just need a phone to call people. You also get nice flip phones for free with your contract, so why would I ever buy a phone? Then I discovered phones could take pictures and do this thing called texting Then I discovered smartphones that had maps and games and things called apps. You could even call and talk to people on them.

When I finally caved under braces-adjusting pain to buy one, I said, Oh I’ll never have more than a page or two of apps. I’ll just get free apps. After all, what do I need on a device that should just call people? Six screens later, I wonder how my life was ever meaningful without them?

I love blogging from my phone app. It allows me to share photos like this one, created in Halftone:

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I found Zentangle inspiration at a coffee shop

“But making mistakes is part of life’s imperfections…Is it so wrong to be human after all?”~Level 42, “Something About You”

I took my tangling on the road today to a new favorite coffee house. It’s a quiet place on the corner where they roast their own beans fresh, give you a pour-over cup of coffee, offer such specialties as a lavender coffee and have a selection of loose-leaf tea in an atmosphere where you don’t walk out smelling like burnt coffee grounds (like a favorite chain store of mine does).

I parked in a two-hour parking spot, so I had to run my errands, drink coffee and finish this week’s Diva Challenge in that timeframe. Deadlines help. Deadlines scare the freak outta me.

No sooner had I launched into the new tangle, pea-nuckle, when I got lost. You’d think this was my first time doing it, but maybe the pressure of time squeezed the concentration out of me. Much like Knightsbridge, a simple checkerboard, one mis-count and the pattern as planned is lost. So happened here, connecting wrong sections of one “S” chain. Nothing to do but skip over it, move to the next line, continue.

Feeling mopey, I wanted a dash of color, so the pink I brought with me perked me up just fine. I went on to the rest of the tangles, but I didn’t color in every space edge-to-edge. Lines weren’t even. There were stray chunks where I stopped my pen, lifted it and then fumbled to reconnect. I walked in with these expectations, forgiving myself for the rush job, knowing that’s okay sometimes, especially today. I finished before the timer on my phone went off.

The owner and I got talking, and I showed her my Zentangle tile. Her eyes widened. “Oh, my. This is beautiful. You did this?”

“Yes,” I replied, “while I was sitting here.” I was blushing and feeling very proud of myself. Even moreso when she held the tile out and, without any prompting, turned the tile to view it at different angles. Inspiring. Some people get it without knowing it.

She ooh’d and ahh’d over it a bit more, over my rush job, over my careless strokes. It was my less-than-best work. It was beautiful and amazing.

“I really like this splash of color here,” she said, losing herself in my tile for more than a few moments.

If only we could see the world more with others’ eyes.

Color me sepia once again

“If you want to kiss the sky, better learn how to kneel.”~U2, “Mysterious Ways”

I just couldn’t resist: Diva Sepia challenge Take Two. I used one of my ensemble tiles and I mixed Micron Sepia pens with Zig brown ink. Love it!

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