Wednesday, July 30, 2014

AlphaTangled! The NEW Card Collection (and contest!)

If you read my blog post in June about the addition to the Tangle Library App and cursed loudly because you don't do i-anything, you own an Android, or you just really love the feel of real cards in your hands - curse no more!

I am proud to announce a new collection...  the AlphaTangled Tangle Cards!

[Just to clarify - the book is a collection of "AlphaTangles," this is a collection of "AlphaTangled cards".]

AlphaTangled Tangle Cards © Sandy Steen Bartholomew
These cards were self-published and I can't tell you HOW EXCITED I was to open the box from the printer and spill out 50 smaller boxes all over the table... while Bonnie looked on in horror. I have a weird obsession with stacks of cards or new books... sigh. Whereas Bonnie was already thinking of how it would fall to her to sort out all the designs, (alphabetized of course), collate the cards into sets and fill all the boxes. Squeeeee! They look even lovelier stacked up in their little boxes!

AlphaTangled Tangle Cards © Sandy Steen Bartholomew
The AlphaTangled card collection has 40 tangle cards - all traditional Zentangle® patterns, a cover card, 3 blank template cards, and a card with a "prize" on it (sticker, tattoo or pin). They are all housed in a clear storage box.

The cards are 2.5x3.5 inches, baseball/ATC sized. If you are into being super organized... Ahem... they can fit into baseball card sleeves in a binder. Or if you own all my other card packs already, you might like to sort them all together into categories like "borders," "backgrounds"... etc. On the fronts of all the cards, there is a little box in the upper right corner. This set has "ZT" pre-printed, but there is space to add your own code too. The previous sets of cards have an Index card and space to write out your codes. I use "ZT" to show all cards that are traditional Zentangle patterns. The only card in this pack that is repeated in another pack, is the "Zander" tangle. But this one shows a slight variation and has different art.

When the first three packs of cards came out - a year ago! - I did a bunch of challenges with card packs as prizes. I think we should do that again to celebrate this pack too. Since I will be away on an adventure with my family, I will give an extended deadline.

Here's the challenge:

Create a Zentangle using your name 
or nickname as the string, and only 
traditional tangle patterns to fill it in.

You may interpret the challenge however you like, but stick to black, white and red, and shading, for your color palette. Any size.

Post it to my studio Facebook page. I set up an AlphaTangle Album to make it easier to view all the art together.

Deadline will be August 18th, so you have plenty of time.

What might you win?!
There will be two winners. One will be chosen by me (and Bonnie) and they will win a pack of the new cards and an AlphaTangle poster or an original AlphaTangle book (vintage, black cover).
The second winner will be chosen by popular choice - the most "Likes" on Facebook - and they will win a new pack of cards and a copy of AlphaTangle with the red cover (Design Originals).

I will post all the entries here on the blog.

If you want your AlphaTangled cards NOW, you can get them at my Etsy store, or on my website. All the other packs of cards, and the AlphaTangle books, are also available on those sites.

These new cards are not available at wholesale, but the Totally Tangled, Yoga for Your Brain, and Kidz! Editions are available by contacting Judith McCabe at Fox Chapel Publishing.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Ms. Moffatt's Meditative Mandala Masterpieces - A Review

Last fall, on the way home from Bonnie's Zentangle certification seminar in Providence, we had the good fortune to visit the studio of my friend, and master childrens' book illustrator, Judith Moffatt! Her studio was charming and highly distracting as every inch was covered in pictures and framed artwork. She's illustrated a gazillion books using her distinctive cut-paper style illustrations and she teaches at RISD.

We met at a childrens' book illustrators' art exhibit at Mill Brook Gallery about three years ago. Her art was cut-paper, my pieces were all Zentangle related. Our correspondence after that was all about Zentangle and I loved her resulting tangled images.

So it shouldn't have been a surprise when we were seated on her studio couch, that she asked if we wanted to see her newest creations. It's so hard to explain... we were surrounded by framed pages from her books... pieces of colored papers so tiny they had to be placed with tweezers... whimsical children playing... and she shows us these exquisite pen and ink mandalas with tangles and mermaids and flowers and birds...!

Bonnie and I were gobsmacked into silence. Just the sound of drool dripping. (Ick.) But, seriously, these drawings were so beautiful we wanted to grab them and shout out to the world "Whoa!!" And Judy tells us they are her secret work and we can't say anything. BUT, she is working on a coloring book with some of the drawings and she'll let us know when it's ready.

.... IT'S READY!!

And she sent me a copy to play with!!

Lilah and I have spent the past three days, in our pajamas, coloring. If you'd like to see our masterpieces and our review of the Mandala Coloring book, continue reading on after Judy's description and art.

© Judith Moffatt
Judy's description of the coloring book:
It took me a year to create the 9 Mandalas in this 20 page book. Each spread has an ink drawing of a Mandala on the right hand side, and a description of the inspiration for the Mandala with some of the symbolism explained on the left hand side. Two pages in the front teach about the best way to choose colors, what a Mandala is, and how I create my own type of Mandala. The front and backs of the cover are full color heavy stock (100 lb. paper) and the pages are a great quality white paper (80 lb.). Recommended for kids who have outgrown their juvenile coloring books to adults. A great way to relax.
Book is a nice portable size: 8 1/2 by 10

© Judith Moffatt
One tip I give my friends: if they are buying my book as a gift, include a package of Crayola twistable colored pencils. Pack of 18 only $2 at Target and they are pretty darn good!

© Judith Moffatt
Moon mandala © Judith Moffatt

My moon Mandala is one of my favorites and the Loves Garden Mandala makes a great wedding gift (I also sell Giclee prints on Etsy).

Loves Garden mandala © Judith Moffatt
 Judy's blog is a great place to learn more about her cut paper art and her current projects.
 and you can get the Mandala coloring book on her Etsy shop  -  MsMoffat

7/29/14 Note: You guys are amazing! Judy sold out of the coloring books - thanks to you-all. But she will have more by next week, so do not fear. :-)

If you are interested in seeing more, read on to see what Lilah and I discovered.

Lilah learned right away that markers are not the right tool for this book. Although the colors look great on this paper, they bleed through and ruin the next page...

If you like to use markers, I suggest you make a copy of the page to work on. We ended up making a few copies of certain pages so that Lilah and I wouldn't fight over them!

It is also a good idea to slide a clean sheet of paper under the drawing you are working on so that color from other pages doesn't get transferred to the back of the page. If you are planning on using the finished pieces as gifts - cut the pages out of the book before you start coloring.

Colored pencils are the perfect medium for this paper - we used Prismacolors - and coloring was a dream. Keep the pencils nice and sharp so you can color the little details.

Lilah had a heavy hand with her application, but her color choices were inspiring.

Rolling River mandala - colored by Lilah B.

And she loved recording her choices on the color palette for each image.

When she finished the piece, above, she looked over at the Sun mandala I was working on and made comparisons etc. between our works. I explained that I had been practicing all my life and had learned some little tricks.

I showed her how to vary the amount of pressure put on the pencil to achieve lighter and darker areas with the same color (red ring, blue backgrounds, and body of fish)...

And how to outline an area with more pressure, then ease up in the center space (the orange face in the middle).

And her favorite - how to blend two colors together! I start with a darker color, like orange on the fat end of the sun rays. It is darker (more pressure) at first, then I ease up as I spread into the ray. I go back over the whole section with a lighter color, like yellow, and blend it all together. I did the same thing on the blue rays - starting with a nice deep blue, then going back over with a light blue color, but pressing harder.

Lilah watched carefully, then applied these tips to her second page, the Moon mandala. She varied her pressure and blended colors...

Wow. That is quite a transformation!

And she taught me about choosing colors fearlessly...

... and knowing when to stop!!  Did you know that it is OK to stop coloring, even if all the spaces aren't filled yet?

I chose bright colors for mine.

But I insisted that I LIKE to fill in all the spaces...

Sun mandala - colored by Sandy B.

...although I agreed that leaving some spots white looks very nice.

While waiting for our lunch at The Foothills, we passed a story-picture back and forth. It was funny to watch it develop... it started with Lilah drawing a smiling face that was divided in half, just like those from the mandalas, with detailed eyes. When I embellished her simple seagulls so that they looked like they might be attacking the sun - Lilah changed the sun to be a pig (from Angry Birds). And then there were more birds, and bombs, and a story, and we were applying skills from Comic Camp...

Sun-pig mandala-comic - by Sandy and Lilah B.

And then we came home and colored some more!

I picked the color palette - fearlessly.

And Lilah decided we would each work on the Mother Nature mandala.

"Nice blending, Lilah!"

"Nice white space, Mom!"

Mother Nature mandala - colored by Sandy B.

I love to color. I had forgotten. If you love to color too - you'll adore this little book. There are nine mandalas and they are just the right size to work on comfortably. I enjoyed learning about the symbolism of the images too. My advice, if you plan on using this with your kids, grandkids, or students, is - get more than one copy! My... ahem... "our"  copy is quite beat up now. [Each book is only $8 and the shipping is very reasonable the more copies you buy. Click here for more info.]

Oh - and one more useful tip! If you mount your finished mandala on black cardstock or black matboard, you won't see any shadows of text from the back of the page.

I plan to bring the book with us on our adventure next week - I still have seven more mandalas to color!

Minou and Lilah both find mandalas to be very relaxing.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

June Journal Pages

Here are my pages for Journal52 - I'm trying to keep up with July's and forgot to post June's!

Week 22 - Traveling

This is my favorite way to travel... by book. But that might just be because I have never gone first class. Next time I go to Egypt, I would love to see it from the luxury-travel point of view. I've been-there-done-that as "family trip," "archaeology student," and "tourists packed into a motorcoach." Maybe it's a bit shallow of me, but I want to know my salad hasn't been served to someone before me, and my mattress is 100% synthetic - not one bit of camel hair included! ;-) I don't mind get dusty and sweaty climbing through tombs and pyramids, but at the end of the day, I want a clean shower in a safe hotel.

This drawing was done with a UniPin pen, Tombow and Koi markers, and a waterbrush.

© Sandy Steen Bartholomew

Week 23 - Passion

Passion... I am actually struggling with this very thing right now. I know when I am excited about something, but I can't seem to make a list of passions to help me decide what to focus on... So I did a journal page more on the topic of what "Passion" feels like to me. Parts are a bit muddy, but this is not meant to be negative - there's a lot of cool colors and patterns in there.

© Sandy Steen Bartholomew
 I used Tombow markers to draw the word "Passion," then coated it with a Gelly Glaze pen and drew all the designs with the Glaze pen too. Then I poured acrylic inks over it. Let it dry, drew more with the Glaze pen, added more ink. Finally, I drew the other words, and outlined "Passion" with a white Souffle pen. Seemed kind of symbolic since it started out nice and clean and pretty - and ended up looking like a mess. But that is what I had intended.

Week 24 - Courage 

I saw this prompt one morning as I was panic-ing about an upcoming meeting. I was trying to distract myself by scanning email and was drawn to this quote in a post from the FoodBabe: 

"First they ignore you, 
then they laugh at you, 
then they fight you, 
then you win." 
- Mahatma Gandhi 

And I realized that was the path of my entire marriage. And my divorce. Except for the actual legal part of the proceedings... we didn't "fight". And that's where I lost. I knew what was right, what I "should" do, but I lost my courage. 

I'm not sure why this popped into my head as a "comic" - maybe the irony? 
It's drawn with a UniPin pen and colored with Tombow markers.

© Sandy Steen Bartholomew
Week 25  - Nature Inspired

I guess life inspires art.
I wasn't picturing anything for this prompt except pretty landscapes, etc. But I don't DO pretty landscapes. So I was stuck.

Then one day, I had just returned home from an awful meeting and was trying to decide if I should just sit in my carport and cry? I didn't want to bring all my yuck-brain into my house. 

As I sat,  I realized I was watching a very pretty spider wrap a much larger, very ugly spider, in her web. I was fascinated, and strangely encouraged. "If she can do it - I can do it." Plus... the image would work for this week's journal homework. Yeah!

The whole piece is done in watercolors. I was going to say "No spiders were harmed in the making of this piece..." but, well... that's just not true. 
© Sandy Steen Bartholomew

Week 26 - Under the Sea

Materials: crayons and small children
I spent the day at a Garden Party. I felt out of place among the big people (I never know what to talk about!) Then, I saw two small tables with tiny chairs and crayons and piles of white paper and tiny people...OMG... my tribe! Along with my daughter, my nieces, and some other random little boys - we drew lots of horses, unicorns, seahorses, unicorn-seahorses... and mermaids. This one was my favorite! (I'm completely in love with my daughter's seahorses!) 

When I saw this week's prompt, I was SO excited! 
I've GOT this!! Yeah!

© Sandy Steen Bartholomew

Since I had quite a bit of...assistance... with this piece, I thought I should include a piece I did on my own as well. The day after the Mermaid fiesta, I drew this one with a Papermate ballpoint pen while my daughter tried, unsuccessfully, to displace all the water from the hotel pool!

© Sandy Steen Bartholomew

Wow - we are halfway through the year - how crazy is that? I'm hoping I can keep motivating myself to make these journal pages!

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Blip, Bleep! >Sigh< - Comic Camp

The >Sigh< is because today was the last day of my comic adventure. But it was a great way to end it. Marek Bennett spoke for most of the day with a presentation after lunch by Cara Bean. Marek had been tutoring my son in Spanish for years so I know how multi-talented he is... languages, musician, world-traveler... cartoonist. He also travels to Nicaragua and draws with the younger kids who aren't out working on the coffee production.

He led us in some exercises that would work great in a classroom. But they would also work well with reluctant adults!

One of my favorites was to start by folding a paper into 8 sections. Each person makes a random doodle shape in one box, then passes the paper to the person on their left. Everyone makes another shape in a box and passes it to their left. This continues until all boxes have some kind of mark/shape in them. The papers are passed one more time. Then each person looks at the shapes on their page until they start to see some kind of image emerging. We added Faces, Action, Text, and Settings (F.A.T.S.) to change the doodle shapes into tiny comics or characters.

Then we created a three panel page. We could choose to do it with the big box on the top... with a large Setting to begin, then an Action, then a Result in the last box. Or flipped over, these with two Detail shots and then a Result shot in the big box. I chose the second one.

I took the birds from the first two boxes of the first exercise (did you notice that all my doodles turned into birds of some kind?) and the action from the 6th box. In this new page, the birds are attracted to each other - one is stunned, the other, a bit shy. But, together, they are unstoppable on the dance floor!

We also created a little strip to show what we would like to do with comics. In my case, I'd like to work with younger kids to write and illustrate their stories and turn them into little comics. Marek showed us how to make very cute, very simple, teeny comic books out of one sheet of paper. Here's a link to a site that is a great resource if you are interested in one sheet comic books.

My favorite take-away from Cara Bean's presentation was that it is very important for the teachers to practice cartooning - not just the students. It changes your outlook on life... not only can you communicate information with your students, but really crazy days and incidents become fodder for your own comics! Her blog is Bad Gigi and she started an illustration class and comic book art club at her school in Lexington, MA. The students became so passionate about comics, they started their own convention, called "Lexicon" (held in May each year) and they have some big names in the industry join them for the two days.

And speaking of kids... here's a picture of my Lilah showing her own comics to Marek. He's seen her work before (when he was tutoring my son), but Lilah has learned a lot this week about comics. Although she wasn't officially IN the camp, she spent a lot of time hearing about projects and exercises (and trying them out), using a dip pen to ink her comics, and lots of time in the comic library. She is working on a comic about a girl from India, who goes to Germany and then takes a boat to the US. Her drawings of the Statue of Liberty are adorable. Her character has very sweet braids and the details in her scenes are mind-blowing. She has a scene of a decrepit playground and all the rungs on the ladders (monkey bars and slides) are split in two and pointing every which way.

She wants to do some more work on it, but when it is finished we'll scan it and put it on her blog. She wants to make some mini-comics of it too.

 Looks like I achieved more than my own goals this week! I wanted to get inspired, get back to pursuing my love of comics and sequential art, get a taste of what going to this school would be like, and learn how to get kids motivated to write and draw using comics. I'd say I could definitely check off the entire list!

If you get the chance to attend a program or workshop at the Center for Cartoon Studies, go for it. You won't regret it!

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Zip! Squeeee! - Comic Camp

We finally got to hold our comics in our hot little hands! To recap - yesterday, we had two hours to draw our page and ink it. We went from brainstorming the story, characters, etc. right through to silkscreening and assemble... in one day. Phew. Today we did a critique of the pages.

Here's the front and back covers:

Here's a collage of some parts of interior pages by various classmates:

And here is mine, page 16, the FINAL page:

 And a couple close-ups:

The evil doctor, Snackenstein, gets pulled up into the disco ball by the ghost of Lord Clefer. It snaps shut behind them. In the next scene Miss Terry, the sleuth, is back on the train, having solved the problem of the Zombie food and the grateful Danceylvanians are dancing her off at the station. Frankfort, the dog, has eaten way too much de-zombie-fied food. Yes. It IS a very strange story!

 Oh, and in case you were wondering, yes, I did illustrate my notes this week:

After the critique, we had a great presentation from Steve Bissette about producing, distributing and marketing our comics. He gave us all copies of his comic, Tyrant, and I got mine signed.

 Although he draws mostly monsters, he draws them SO well. And I grew up reading Swamp Thing and seeing his name on the covers. It is just so cool to have had two classes with him this week. (He also did the post-apocalyptic movie night). It was sad to have the camp end. :-( And most are headed back to their regular lives. A few of us are continuing with the Symposium.

During lunch - I FINALLY got to walk around the corner and visit Vermont Salvage. Amazing place filled with reclaimed clawfoot tubs, doors, weird furniture, doorknobs.... I saw so many things I wanted to photograph and sketch. And a few things I wanted to own!

The antique train is parked at the train station. It provides an incredible contrast to the Amtrak trains screeching by and the train that pulls the huge packs from the paper mill.

Then, it was time for Part Two of the comic adventure. This one is more theory, not drawing. The Symposium for Applied Cartooning is geared toward teachers and librarians and how to use comics and cartooning in the classroom. I am really intrigued by "Applied" cartooning and want to learn more about it.

As an aside, two asides... 1. My Zentangle for Kids! book is now part of the Schulz Library collection! Woohoo! and 2. Although I have no need for another tote bag, these we pretty cute. Linus is on the other side. Someday, I might write a comic book about all the retreats and conventions I've been too, called "Yet Another Tote Bag."

The keynote was by James Sturm who founded the Center for Cartoon Studies in 2005. He did an interesting lecture on the history of Haiti (none of which I knew) and then told a story about a Haitian hobo and his monkey in White River Junction, fruit from Haiti that came through on the train, voodoo curses, lost comic artwork, and bizarre serendipitous events. All to illustrate how a good story can pique the listener's interest, make them care about something (like the history of Haiti) and intrigue them enough to do more research to learn what is fact or fiction.

We had some discussions, varying opinions, about how to plan a curriculum and the validity of using fiction with kids who are increasingly susceptible to believing everything they hear and see (I don't believe that) and how to get people to draw comic images, even if they don't believe they can draw. Ed Emberley was mentioned because he uses shapes and icons to represent characters and objects and anyone can draw his shapes. Comics are about telling a story, not just illustrating a picture, so the quality and detail of the images are not as important as getting the story across.

 Later, for her birthday dinner, we took my mom out to Elixir's, an upscale restaurant, with no childrens' menu, but farm to table food. I can't even describe how delicious the food was, but Lilah gobbled down everything in front of her (as did mom and I!). I'm sure you are very curious to see what our deserts looked like? They were so pretty we had to take pictures before we would dare to eat them. Lilah noticed that each was served on a different shaped plate!

Bananas Foster cake with toasted cinnamon ice cream and caramel-something sauce, on a square plate...

 So good!

 Chocolate-almond-something cake ice cream sandwich on a rectangular plate...

Yes. So, SO good!

 And mom had strawberry-pineapple (?) sorbet on a triangular plate...

Even the ice cream was made at Elixir's.
I think we all felt like the dog in the last panel of the comic book! (see above).
But very happy. :-)


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