Witty quote

"I am always ready to learn although I do not always like being taught." (Winston Churchill)....Men can starve from a lack of self-realization as much as they can from a lack of bread. (Richard Wright)....Remember to look up at the stars and not down at your feet (Stephen Hawking)

Thursday, 27 November 2014


I've just re-discovered this blog, which was intended to house my visual attempts at being an artist. I've been writing a lot lately, so the drawing and painting have been neglected. Not really a good reason.... Here are a few recent drawings to relaunch this blog. I'll be back!

The drawings below are mainly from a collection I've called "new age" because I'm trying to free myself from any cramped patterns I've been struggling with. But some are in the old style: more colour, lots more patters, a fair amount of pattern desperation, humdrum to draw sometimes, and much less relaxed! The busy ones are named "new bits". The last drawing is a mixture of the two styles and will probably herald a new style evolved out of the blend of elegant curve and itsy-bitsy pattern.

Monday, 2 June 2014

Taking a break...

After nearly 2 years scribbling away at doodles, I've finally ground to a halt. I realized at the weekend that my motivation had gone for this type of artwork. I've been painting a lot and once I start painting, every other visual art form takes a back seat. It's happened before. I put painting on the back burner when I started the zentangle inspired art and zen doodling nearly two years ago. I suppose the intensity with which I pursue whatever it is I'm doing at the moment tends to blind out other things.
But I always come back to painting. My most recent canvases have been of a large sunflower. The month of May was often grey and the light poor. Working with shades of yellow raised my spirits and brought sunshine into my studio. I painted the same flower twice, because I gave the first painting away and decided I'd like to have it! Below are a few more sunflower paintings done down the years. There are lots more, but the ones shown are the better ones! I hope to improve my watercolours through intense practice this summer!

small sunflower acrylics 40x40cm

big sunflower acrylics 60x60cm

I did not use a photo of the smaller edition to paint the larger one, so they are not identical and not like the original photo, which I took many years ago against a different background. I decided to leave out the objects in the original photo - looking at the two paintings together, I realize that I put the pole in on the right. I don't know why and I've no idea what it represents. The larger version might get some more work done on it, but not till after a break, so that I can see more clearly what else I would like to add (or remove!).
These are not my first sunflower paintings. Recently I did an acrylic version of a pastel I gave to friends years ago. Although I'd used good quality pastels, they were fading. 

sunflowers original version in pastels
on dark green paper

sunflowers later version in acrylics
the acrylic version hanging

sunflower composition in oils

watercolour study with ink
watercolour study

watercolour study

Since I am not going to do zen doodling for a while, I will probably not update this blog until after the summer break. I haven't decided what art tools to take on holiday. At the moment I'm working on an oil painting that needs completing, and trying some watercolour studies, but in the south of France, where I shall be spending some time, the light is marvellous and there are plenty of flowers waiting to be painted. 

Till we meet again, happy art-making! 

Sunday, 4 May 2014

Tackle it Tuesday -'A' patterns

Having stumbled over this blog, I was overjoyed to discover that I had also stumbled over a new, interesting and absorbing challenge! 
All the patterns ('tangles') were to start with the letter 'A'. I counted 51 pattern instruction files so there were plenty to choose from. I decied to use an A3 sheet of raw watercolour paper and had fun drawing the following patterns, either in their original form or as variations ('tangleations'):
aquafleur (enhanced by my leaf pattern: 'aqualeaf')
arc flower
amoebae (a wiggly line filler pattern specially invented for this drawing)

medley 11 with 'A' patterns
amaze; aquafleur; assunta; allium; agua; afterglo; adente;
A-fog; arc-flower; aura-leah; aerial-views; amoebae

Tuesday, 22 April 2014

a confused interwoven mass

What's that? (meaning the title of this post)

In this morning's Gardian crossword that was the clue to the word TANGLE - and is exactly how I thought of  tangles in the past.
But who am I to dispute the new use of the word as a synonym for pattern - when a tangle is linguistically the opposite of a pattern. After all, we have buses in PCs and it follows a long line of English language tradition to borrow simple, practical words and use them as required. In computing they hit the ceiling with that method of describing something quite new (in those days).
At which point I have to voice my annoyance that the German language has borrowed the word 'handy' to mean cell/mobile phone. I can't bring myself to use that without cringing inside.

To get back to the real point of this comment, let's tangle, and hopefully we do mean orderly, methodical use of the patterns available to use when drawing in any given style, including zen of course.

Language, especially the English language, is fickle! Zen is not normally a word or part of a word used to describe drawing anything. It's again a borrowed plume, but  to repeat the old saying: if the cap fits, wear it!
One more bit of trivia: Did you know that the word 'zen' is not in the official Scrabble dictionary? Silly that, considering how few words there are starting with Z that would fit in a scrabble game. And even sillier that there is a watchdog hanging over scrabble boards, checking that no disallowed words are used to solve linguistic tangles! 

Challenge 164  is to reflect on the Earth. A nice idea that will take us on long journeys and reflect some of our love of the world we live in. The choice of tangle patterns is endless - anything goes, really, and I think I'm going to use the centre of a large drawing I'm working on at the moment. Here's the bit I mean:

earth matters - detail of line drawing for ch164

I might print this part as a 10x10 drawing to achieve a 10x10cm format. I think it would work. The A3 drawing will be the final one in a presentation book of oversized drawings. I was ambitious about drawing on such a scale, but now I'm hooked and have already bought a second folder to store the 40 as yet undrawn abstract doodles I hope to make in the coming months. Today's task is to finish this one - or at least the part shown here.

Sunday, 20 April 2014

borderline case 01

NB: Scroll down for Challenge 163 in the previous post.

This title is rather a play on words. I was looking at my collection of borders and wondering why I can never think of any at the right moment. I expect that happens to us all now and again with all types of pattern, e.g. you have a splendid empty space and can't think of a different filler, or if, like me this time, you've made a string using 2 pencils together instead of one and you've ended up with lovely ribbons crying out for borders, finding the right pattern gets even more complcated. Part of the problem here was that some of the tracks were too narrow. In the end I got a bit tired of the drawing, so my main aim was then to finish it! It does have a variation of rixty in there somewhere, but since it is similar to other solutions, you may not want to think of mine as rixty. 
I did find one or two original ideas for borders, which I will take up again. One was inspired by the back of a mushroom, where the stalk emerges. That's much more interesting than the smooth top of a mushroom. There are of course lots more fungi to explore. Some look like little trees. All the mushroom shown HERE are apparently edible! I don't think they all look appetizing, however.

new series "borderline case" 01 (A3)

It was quite a shock drawing large format after a few days of 10x10cm doodles, which don't take very long to complete, so I might go back to that format for a restful week, but first I want to work on a drawing to be done over watercolour. I found this unfinished painting this morning and it's ideal for a floral, I think. 

watercolour base (30x30cm = 12x12in)

Wednesday, 16 April 2014

challenge 163

I have to confess that for the rixty challenge I took an older coloured drawing (see small image below the finished drawing). I had never finished it, not knowing what to do next in the old days. Rixty came to the rescue! I took the colour out, removed the bird border, then printed the drawing original size and carried on from there..

The 10x10cm drawing below emerged after I accidentally ripped a corner of really nice paper, so got my cutter out and rescued the rest of it for little squares. I'm gradually decorating them, sometimes using "borrowed" strings, sometimes not!

Although the rixty pattern consists of angles, it's actually quite floristic, I think. A nice addition to the organic repertoire!

rixty joins the club (A4)

old drawing long BEFORE rixty

a bit more rixty (10x10cm)

Monday, 14 April 2014

pattern-making and 10x10s

First a video, drawn by one of my favourite doodlers, in which he also explains how he finds new patterns. His drawings are spectacular. You can link to his website from this video at YouTube.

I can't compete, so I won't try, not least because I don't have a bison skull handy! 

Last night I damaged a large sheet of raw watercolour paper I was going to use for a large doodle with water media added. I didn't want to lose the whole sheet so I got my cutter out and made some 10x10cm bits with the intention of trying some tiny drawings for a change from the big ones. My cutter can make a wavy line edge so I used that and it's decorative on the originals but will not scan properly, so I have taken it out of these copies of the doodles. I cut an undamaged sheet of paper up, too, so I now have about 20 little supports to decorate, and I'm considering using one or two of the official strings you can find here. At that link you will also find all the officially sanctioned socalled "tangles", which are the patterns designed by the founders of the zentangle movement. But lots of others are included and you can find lots more e.g. here or here. I usually draw my own strings (curved or straight guidelines in pencil) and then as likely as not ignore them. You can see from the video that the artist is working without any guidelines, but he probably has a vision of what it might look like! It's advisable - if you are not this artist - to design your mandalas in detail before adding patterns.

The first of my tiny doodles got its colour later. The drawing isn't very good and started as a scribble to use up the paper. I needed time to mentally switch to the small format. By the time I started 'floral' I was starting to like the tiny size so I'm hoping for better results today!




Below are a few old sketchbook entries (about 13x18cm) which I have never published. They are much more skillfully drawn and probably took ages. The secret is to have really fine-pointed micron to work with. They are not edited for colour correction.







Saturday, 12 April 2014

Just in time for Challenge 162

Though I've stopped entering challenges for the time being, I could not resist this one, and really, the challenges are a good way of  applying oneself to a task one would otherwise not have thought of.

So it was with Challenge 162 this week, which I happened to see this morning.

I have 4 initials to choose from (FAPJ) and did drawings for the first two, but I only sort of like the one for A so here it is.

A for Ann

Thanks for looking. I am not publishing comments because someone is playing tricks on me!  I again received a complaint for one of my posts (from Xmas!). When I tried to look what was wrong with it the content had completely disappeared although blogspot said it would appear as a draft. I never post any drawings I have not made myself and link to anything that crops up in a post. I fail to understand how any of my posts can fall foul to a complaint since I am never abusive and never say anything I cannot back up.

I suppose that's the negative side of blogs. I stopped programming websites because I just can't spare the time. I will probably look for a different blog provider, in which case I will link to it here, or go back to Wordpress, which I have never used regularly up to now (well, the last entry seems to be 2 years old!).

Monday, 7 April 2014

4 of a kind

I set myself a task for the weekend - at least 4 new mandalas. I achieved that, but I have to admit that towards the end I was getting tired of thinking in the round. So this week I'm going to draw another really big doodle, maybe inspired by one of my favourite male doodlers around - there aren't that many of them (well, they don't publicize as much). Look at his website here. I've never tried anything as complicated as his drawings, but I think I'll enjoy the experience. My mandalas look very modest in comparison:

PS This morning I read on one of the most dominant blog that zentangle and zentangle inspired are are not the same, because in zentangle the strings "disappear" under the patterns whereas in zentangle inspired art the strings are heavily outlined. 
I've no idea whether that's a legitimate description, but I know I don't adhere to anything as clear cut. For me, the patterns are the most important. They sometimes spill over a string I have drawn and I certainly don't do  strong outlines to define a string.

I really would like to point out that strings can also be in the mind. I know they are published as official kick-off scribbles for 'official' zentangle drawings (i.e. c. 9x9cm), but that does not make them binding. If a string is in the way, IGNORE IT, and if pencil marks are visible when you have finished drawing, erase them, for goodness' sake.

Saturday, 5 April 2014

The wandering path of ribbons set free as a wandering melody

When I was little, my mother always styled my hair into bushy bunches tied with pretty ribbons. A few decades later I'm trying to control my willful hair all by myself - usually with some kind of permanent wave, but this year with an ultra short cut supported by about 5 different products, including oil and stuff to make it stay put. At the latest after 3 weeks and several bottles of hair cosmetics, my hair has assumed control and it's time for another visit to the hairdresser's.

The only reason for writing about my hair is the association with the ribbons I drew on an A3 sheet of drawing paper this week. It was too late in the planning phase to use the ribbons as a main theme, so I plan to draw another version doing just that. This one has lots of twists and turns and I enjoy doing large size doodles because I sort of grow with them. Last night I decided this one was finished. I'm using Tombow brush pens and they are really glorious and probably even more effective on watercolour paper. Some colours are gel pens, which I also love using. 

There isn't a mandala (zendala) dare to try each week at the moment, so I'm going to have to do some without the compulsion of sending them in. I miss mandalas when I'm not doing any, so this weekend I'll print or draw a few templates and devote a few hours to catching up on the mandala thing. 

This really is doodling - just thinking up something to put in a space, then scribbling away. Sometimes the patterns don't do what I intended, but that's the intriguing part of the game I'm freed of the compulsion to stick to some kind of rule. I don't have to fill every space, make a statement, or otherwise prove something. Art doodles are just that. I'm not even sure if the claim "art" is justified, but I suppose it is, since the main feature of art is arguably its uniqueness, and my drawings are unique even though they are recognizable from the style that creeps in as I proceed. 

Curiously, these improvisations are even freer than most jazz since they don't need a tune to set them off. Even more curiously, since my synaesthetic ego tends to couple shapes and colours with sounds, I could be said to be drawing jazz. A nice thought for a Saturday morning....

medley 09 - ribbons
(drawn mostly this way up)

Wednesday, 26 March 2014


I had just fished out a nautilus shell to copy the wonderful spiral, 
when the new challenge to do a sprial-based doodle arrived. 
What a coincidence!
Here's the result and below that a photo of the shell.

nautilus (challenge 160)
(shading did not scan well)

nautilus shell c. 8.5cm at widest point

Sunday, 23 March 2014

Daisy Duck - Princess of the Pond

Hardly had I finished the previous oversized drawing (and discovered it would not fit into the sleeve of my large folder folded once, so it's now resting on my piano stand), than I scribbled a quick string on a sheet of A3 paper. That's the size I like best (double letter size). Hardly had I finished a garland pattern right of centre than I could clearly see a duck! She could not be ignored, so I gave her a sleepy eye and a beak. It then became important to make the shapes fit a fat little duck. I scanned the raw drawing in and here it is:

Daisy Duck before shading and colour
A couple more sessions and the duck is now arrayed in pretty colours:

Daisy Duck in her Sunday best

Experimental editing

After finishing the large drawing shown in the previous post, I decided to see what would happen if I made bits into digital squares resembling 'zentangle' size doodles. I chopped up some of the scans to achieve this. Not only was it a challenge to find suitable bits that could be separated from the rest, it was also exploring the unknown! Not all the details could be cut out the same size because some needed the matching or contrasting patterns around them. I loved doing some of the patterns and disliked others (but had started so had to go on!). The grey shading might have been a mistake. I think coloured pencils or watercolour (not possible on this Bristol drawing paper) are probably more effective. But it's all over now. The only way I can get a copy of the unshaded drawing would be to print it out on several sheets of paper and glue it together. On some of the extracts you can almost see a string, while on others I have obviously improvised and ignored the string! These little extracts are all edited to be the same size! I could have made a dozen or so more, but I want to move on now! I noticed that the outer edges of the drawing are almost all "stringless". I started drawing in the centre (see previous post), which probably explains why the centre part is patterned in greater detail. I think the centre needs more light (in the big picture which proceeds the extracts). I have turned and twisted some of the small bits to get the best angle.

original A2 poster

This is arguably one of the most successful extracts

I adapted the new pattern 'rixty' in this extract

Rixty in focus

These odd-shaped flowers were fun to draw

This could go 90^to the left, but I wanted the black bits to go upwards

This shows the sunflower grid (my invention) but is not a good tile

Lots going on here - a bit like a knitting pattern!

A nice string vusubke here!

Busy, busy...

I avoided old patterns, but the birds sneaked in!

Lots of space in this one - and games of noughts + crosses?

A dizzy-making extract but an interesting string

Lots of light and I love the gold squiggles!

The pattern combination is nice, I think.
I used my new tombow orange for the flowers.

Quite jolly, but I do not like the 'thing' I drew on the right.

The combination of the fat fly-away flower and the wiggles is one I'm sure to repeat.

Another busy bit, bit with better spacing

Different angle and cutout.