Friday, May 10, 2013

Life - the Ultimate Learning Experience

Two weeks! Yes, I have been away for two weeks. I went to Maine for a fabulous art retreat... by myself. I will do another post to tell you about that, but for this post, I want to tell you about learning experiences.

Every few years, I get an overwhelming urge to go get my Masters... in something. Something artsy. And I start scouring the internet reading descriptions from schools in Vermont, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island. But I can't seem to find the right curriculum. The fact that I can't really leave my kids, and I can't afford the tuition... I could find ways to argue those away - after all, there are some schools with low-residency requirements and scholarships... but I have no interest in writing a thesis or discussing art theory. I even looked into the cartooning school in Vermont which is supposed to be top drawer - but it didn't have the old-school style classes I wanted.

So I decided to create my own program. After all, it's not really the degree that matters, but the info and experience right? And thanks to the internet, I now have access to some fabulous people I have always wanted to study with. Here's my program so far...

Inktense pencil sampler by Sandy Bartholomew
Class #1 - You all know about the Inktense- from Soup to Nuts class with Jessica Wesolek, I've posted some of my art from there in past blog posts. That class finished up and I am proud to say it is one of the few that I was able to keep up with and actually finished all the projects. I adore Inktense pencils and have used them for ages, but I am now armed with some freaking cool tricks and color confidence I did not have before. Plus - it was fun! If you are intrigued by these amazing watercolor-like colored pencils that turn into super bright, permanent inks when wet... good news! Jessica is just about to start up a new session. You don't need to have fabulous drawing talent and this class would also be great for stampers and scrapbookers. So run over to the Inktense info page and sign up! Tell Jessica I sent you. :-) And while you are there, sign up for the Art Journaling in Paradise retreat! There are only a few spots left... I'll write more about that another time.

Making Waves by Sandy Bartholomew
Class #2 - The Mermaid Circus with Teesha Moore and Jane Davenport. I had always wanted, and intended, to go to ArtFest in Port Townsend, WA. Alas, I never made it and last year was the end of it all. Teesha is the mother of "art journaling" as we know it... layers of paint and collage, text, lettering, stripey dunce hats, creepy people... love it. This is the first time she has done an online class - so I jumped on it. Jane is a bubbly mermaid from Australia who has a ton of intriguing online classes. If you have been wanting to really learn to draw faces and figures and all that - Jane has classes that make it easy. This class is awesome fun - but has a lot of videos and homework. And the materials are not very portable. Those aren't complaints, just my minor excuses why I keep falling behind! I did a lot of Mermaid work on my retreat and I will show you more in a later post.

Class #3 - The Art and Business of Surface Pattern Design with Rachael Taylor. This one is the serious, OMG-I'm-back-in-school-class. It runs in three trimesters throughout the year. There is homework and reading every day. Yep. I have fallen behind. If I can carve out some time to concentrate, I think I will be fascinated by the pattern design! My mistake? It overlaps with the Mermaid Circus class, and when that ends, my next class will start. What was I thinking! This segment deals with sketching and creating patterns, so I'm kind of OK. But then it will move on to using Photoshop and Illustrator more intensely. Then the business stuff...

Class #4 - Starts in a few weeks. It's Make Art That Sells! with Lilla Rogers. Lilla Rogers is an illustrator and an artist's rep and she really knows the biz. This class also has multiple segments and it covers everything from illustrating for the giftware market to fabric to kids clothes to childrens' books... and it has the added excitement and stress of trying to get her attention. She only reviews a small handful of work and she has a lot of important contacts. A few of these folks will be doing interviews in the class. She has a book out too called "I Just Like to Make Things" - I love the title because it's just so true for us artists.

As if I weren't overloading my plate as it is - she just announced she'll be doing a Global Talent Search, starting on May 14th! There will be assignments and challenges and the winner gets a two year artist's rep contract with her! OMG! OMG! I'd be absolutely insane to sign up for that right? Right? Insane. Ok, I'm on the wait list to hear when the sign ups open. Sleep is over-rated anyway.

I should probably count the iPad Studio workshop as well... Class #5. This one is waiting for me to come back and finish. I got so terribly distracted by multiple lawyer issues this winter... but now, with all the computer design things in the Surface Design class... and the horror of buying Illustrator for $500 (!?)... I am seeing the appeal of design apps for the iPad that cost less than $30 bucks! The iPad Studio class not only teaches you HOW to create art on the iPad, it gives you step by step instructions for using the best apps. Plus I just bought this really cool stylus that has a paintbrush on one end... I am such a geek, I know.

This last one (so far!) doesn't really count, but I have to tell you anyway. I'll be at the upcoming Zentangle Certification Training in Providence, RI in June. I've lost track of what number it is... I've been to quite a few of them, starting with #1! But this one will be the best training EVER! Why, you ask? Because my son ALEX is getting certified!!! Whooo-hee! Amy Broady's daughter, who is the same age as Alex will also be attending - they may be the youngest CZTs yet. My daughter, Lilah wanted to go too... but 6 seems a bit young and she'd never sit still. ;-) I get to roam around Providence with Amy and schmooze with the ZT innocents.

And speaking of Amy Broady... she made the mistake of telling me that she was retiring from teaching art and trying to decide what to do next... ooooooo! An art teacher and CZT searching for meaning in life... I convinced her to kind-of-sort-of take on the Zentangle for Kids blog!

Be sure to take a look at her amazing series of Earth Day tangled postcards here (strings) and here (pre-shading). And another adorable post about kids' interpretations of Lilah Beans, by CZT Katy Abbott... here.

And the very last thing I want to mention before I finally keel over and crawl into bed... this has to do with the title of this blog post. I decided NOT to rant on and on about something I discovered that upset me really REALLY badly. I'll just say that I learned that my art and ideas from my books were "borrowed"... extensively... in a book that was recently released by another artist (this has nothing to do with my own publisher). My horoscope last week warned me that these very upsetting incidents (that keep happening!) are an indication that "there is something I need to learn." I am desperately hoping that I do indeed LEARN something in one of the above classes that will make this crazy-making stop. There's just so much exciting STUFF going on I don't want to waste any more of my dwindling brain cells gnawing away at anything yucky!


  1. Could you please advise the title of the copycat book so that we can avoid it on principle if we desire? If what the person took from your books is not unlawful it is certainly unethical, and I would not wish to reward that behavior. I'm sorry you are having to deal with this.

  2. I bet I know which books have done that. There is one that just floored me. It even uses the Titles that the Artist - That teaches those Classes and Developed are ongoing on Her Website, I could not believe the this Publisher did not Catch or Understand How students of an artist would react. ( P.S. Yes, I caught some flack from using your book for classes, However, I asked you first! And encouraged the purchase of your Book and Items from your website only! ).
    I do not understand these editors. I still have not heard from the publishers, on the books I have questioned. Oh, yes, I did contact the Artist, Artist told me it was ok! I do not agree! The artist does not give credit for the idea. Yes, it suits Zentangle or as I say: Grand Doodling!
    Sorry, to Hear!
    Oh, I will not be coming to the great Retreat Out West. The company I work for has already allocated all vacation to others. I will just go on my own Retreat everyday, on Ocean Front property. I have Revolutionary Houses just down the Road. I live in Boston, MA after all. I am taking the Inktense Class with Jessica and enjoying it very much, I am so thankful to have my MAC equipment.
    Stay safe.

    1. Yes - I know which ones you are talking about too.

      As for using my books to teach from - that is completely fine. And I ALWAYS appreciate when people ask. No one is allowed to copy pages as handouts or that sort of thing - one could always require the students to buy the book... ;-)

      But I encourage people to use the ideas and patterns to inspire their own work. If someone wants to teach or share the ideas, or write a blog post or whatever - at the very least say something like "this piece/class/post was inspired by an image in Totally Tangled by Sandy Bartholomew".

      Thanks for sharing in my rant, Sherrie. :-)

  3. Great post Sandy! I really don't stay up on what's out there to enjoy online, so this is an excellent list. I have been taking a watercolor lettering class by Val Webb (behind in my work) that is very good too. Thanks for the recommendations!

    1. That's sounds like fun too... could you post the link?

  4. I am interested in the mermaid circus class as well. I've been reading up about it, so I appreciate your comments about it. And I WILL be at the art journalist retreat. Would you please make time - 30 seconds - so I can get someone to shoot a picture of you and me together? It will be a highlight of my trip :) the venue looks beautiful. I can't wait to get there and explore!

    1. YAH! You will have plenty more than 30 seconds... enough time to DRAW a picture of us together! :-D

  5. Sandy, just yesterday I purchased The Joy of Zentangle because your name was listed as a contributor. If this is the book you mention, then I will return it immediately. Please let us know.

    1. No! No no no. I wasn't talking about Joy of Zentangle. That one came out last Fall and it is by Fox Chapel publishing, so they have the right to repackage my work... I wrote about it here:
      And they give me credit, mostly. So go ahead and keep it and enjoy it. It's a nice book. :-)

      I was writing about a new book called "Zen Doodling" from Barron's. Also, a nice looking book... until one looks closely.

  6. Yes, please let us know which book it is. It can't possibly be construed as libel. And we could write the publisher to make it known that we will not buy their books until restitution, in whatever form, is made.

    1. Zen Doodling.

      I wonder if that would work? Honestly, I have no idea what i would even want to see happen - I'm just shocked that it DID happen. I am naive, yes.

  7. Sandy, I am soooo excited that you will be at the CZT Seminar in June. I am going too. I can hardly wait. I hope to see you there.

    1. YAH! Be sure to corner me somewhere and introduce yourself. I have trouble remembering names and I get overwhelmed in crowds... but I LOVE meeting folks from my "tribe"! The training is a huge crowd, but you can always find me near the back or sides of a room. ;-)

  8. I'm sorry that I already bought this book. I would not have had I known. Can't your publisher do something about this? It seems like it would be Copywrite infringement or something. I'm going to Amazon page for that book and put in the review section for people to visit your site so they know before they buy.

    1. Yeah, I realized I hadn't bought, but I still wrote a comment in review section referring them to this blog. Somebody else had already written that the book was a rip off and not buy.

  9. Sandy, as a CZT I am often asked "which books" by the students. I will definitely advise NOT to purchase Zen Doodling because of the theft of your art inspirations. I plan to attend the Providence program in June as well - even though I was at CZT Masters Class with you! I think I need a refresher, and the last time I learned about white pens, we were using Dr. Martin's white with a calligraphic nib! Keep the faith - most of us artists are good and honest folk! Mickey Weitsen, Covington, LA.

  10. Hi Mickey - I remember you - you were near the front with your husband, right? I was in the back row. That doesn't seem to change... but white gel pens - ah, lovely. :-) I can't wait to see you again too!

  11. Sandy - when I read the list of all the wonderful classes you are attending via the computer, I got a bit worried about you! Although you seem to be a wonderful mother, wonderful artist and inspiration, with a lot of scatterbrainedness thrown in for good measure, I also sense that you are also very vulnerable emotionally and physically. As a mother hen (who has reached the ripe old age of 61 and who has shepherded two wonderful vulnerable children through life - and is still hard at work) I cannot but wonder if you, in an excess of enthusiasm, are taking on a bit more at one time than you can really cope with. The getting behind in assignments is a dead give away!! :)
    Perhaps you should cut down your work load - especially as you are also trying to work out your future direction - do I see a bit of avoidance here? If your time is filled with assignments, then you won't have to think about the "hard" stuff!
    We need you to be at the top of your game, because you inspire us, and clearly your children, and to do that you need to have the time and space to explore your creativity with leisure - too many classes and obligations will take that away from you and you will be frustrated and creatively stunted.
    Sorry about the nagging - I've never met you, and would love to do so at some time, but I just got a niggling feeling when I read your post.
    Also, I was thinking of buying "the book" but I certainly will not and I will make sure that anyone I speak to knows that it is plagiarism by someone who really can't see the problem...that is a sad state of affairs.

  12. Sandy,
    The author of the book in question should have, at least, acknowledged the use of your ideas. She is, after all, a well-known illustrator of many books herself. If you feel that your original work has been diminished, or that the sale of your books will suffer, then it seems you have a good case. Perhaps she and her publisher will listen to reason outside of legal action, so that fine reputations are saved, stress is kept to a minimum, and future incidents are avoided.
    I admire your work very much. You are a wonderful inspiration for the artist in all of us!
    Most sincerely,
    Chris, CZT IX

  13. I love how you are organizing your self-education! What really impresses me is that you are devoting days to each subject. My problem is that I get interested in something, begin to execute it, then move on to other subjects. Mainly, I'm a writer (I consider drawing part of writing), so am easily distracted by my verbal self. Still, my takeaway from your post is to spend several days on a subject w/o interruptions.

    With respect to copyright things, god, there would be no comedy if comedians didn't "steal" from one another. Ideas are just ideas. It's how they are executed that is special (IMHO, of course). I am not comfortable with Zentangle calling images that have essentially available throughout history and calling them their own. I am currently in Europe and would be happy to point out all the sources of Zentangle origination.

    Bottom line is there is only one Sandy Bee. I'm buying your stuff (hope you do more ebooks), and hope to join you in one of your classes or retreats in the future.


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