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Thursday, February 28, 2013

Why Zentangle®? Who owns ya, baby?

A few days ago a friend asked me that question. It was an unexpected question I didn't know how to answer till she followed with "Isn't it just doodling?"

And then I understood - especially when she said she'd taken a class and was unimpressed and saddened that somebody would need to be taught to doodle - or given permission to.

Which reminded me of a neighbor - a young wife - back in the early 1970's - who had gone to a seminar based on Marabelle Morgan's book The Total Woman. She was visiting her sister in another state and was given an assignment ... to call her husband and tell him she loved him and missed him, intimately. She was blown away by how happily he greeted her when he picked her up at the airport. The most important thing she learned, she told me was that she should "Never insult my husband in front of his friends ... even in a joking way!!!!"

I was 20 at the time. I remember standing there, utterly flabbergasted, thinking - "If you didn't know you shouldn't insult the people you love, thank goodness there is a class somewhere that will teach it to you." 

And maybe that's how I feel about the Zentangle® drawing book. There are a lot of people out in the world who would like to draw but don't feel confident enough - or perhaps lack the 'permission' to give it a go. Rick Roberts and Maria Thomas have written a book that gives permission to do something a school teacher would scold you for doing - doodling (notice how much that sounds like dawdling?) And if someone didn't have the focus to finish a whole drawing, the creators help by showing how to draw small abstract shapes and fill them with more abstract shapes. 

As for the zen aspect - well - yeah. Sure. If you relax, breathe deeply, take stock of your surroundings, concentrate on something small with no associations to your daily life - something abstract - you very well may slip into a meditative state. In fact - I did just that the first time I tried one of their drawings. But I have been working with meditation for many years. I'm still a neophyte with it but I know when I've slipped into that deep place.

What I was a little creeped out by are their not-so-vague copyright threats. I'll admit it. I've never invented something that someone else both claimed and made money off of - and it is possible that Roberts and Thomas were experiencing just that. Even if they weren't, I'm sure they want to prevent it in the future. Who can blame them? The have a whole page on their website stating their copyright claims. They name each little squiggly shape so that it can be 'owned' and issued a blanket title of Zentangle® Inspired Art (ZIA) for drawings that have repeated shapes.  I believe in a courtroom they would lose, if you made a drawing of repeated cherry shapes and sold it and didn't give them copyright credit or royalties for it. But if you called it by the squiggly shape name they gave it - you might be in trouble. For sure, they can copyright their name, their logo and their classroom materials - and if someone used any of those things without authorization, it would be theft.

I was first intrigued and then inspired to purchase a Zentangle®  book. Then I made a bunch of drawings based on the shapes in the book. I've never considered playing around with abstract drawings before - I'm way too much a Virgo realist. Yes, I've doodled all my life but never with abstract shapes. Roberts and Thomas prompted me to explore something new. Out of respect for what they created, I gave them credit and used their name ... this time, complete with the little ®  symbol, since that's what they asked people to do on their website. Can they make any further claims on whatever else I do as I build upon skills I learned from them? I doubt it. But it's a slippery slope - this issue of copyright - and I'm no lawyer.

So. that's about all the answer I have to the question "Why Zentangle® ?" except that - it's fun - but then, I think all drawing is fun.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

What's going on - and where's the knitting?

Mea culpa. I know. I promised to come back and to write about knitting and fiber and all the things that are supposed to be going on in TheCastle. And there is a wee tee tiny bit of knitting going on. Nothing seems to be getting finished, but just let me finish this row and maybe I'll have something to show for the months of long silence.

You see here photographic proof of knitting (PPOK?) I must be the last knitter on earth to get around to making one of those fluffy ruffled scarves (dark red yarn with fat needles). And yes. I only cast this on so that I'd have something to knit on while ThePrinceConsort read Treasure Island to me these last few weeks. The unfinished sock on the right is LD's Christmas sock. It's too short - I will have to rip out the toe decreases and add another 1/2 inch. Thank goodness it's the Second Sock. That's how I know it's too short.  The grey cuff is a desperation project I began so that I'd have something to knit on while watching the super bowl. Happily I had so much fun with the other non-watchers at C&T's that I didn't actually need an emergency project. But it's a nice sock and I'll knit away on it. Somebody needs another pair of socks.

Well durn. The left justification button on blogger won't work and I hate centered text unless it's a caption. I always suspect something's wrong with my computer when stuff like that doesn't work but maybe this time it's blogger's fault. right. Unimportant non-fact.

This dearth of knitting has its origins in the epiphany I had last fall when I brought down the winter clothes. I have (had) SO MANY clothes. I could dress everyone down here on the point with the clothes I own (owned). I will blame my obsessive clothes collecting on the slick marketing of my youth, the fact that I wore a uniform in high school and today's relatively low cost for basic garments. It's easier to just buy a new cotton t-shirt than root around in the attic when you get a sudden warm spell at the end of winter.

As I stood in the upstairs hallway and stared at the 12 foot long 3 foot high pile of clothes at my feet, a great wave of repulsion washed over me. I had a passionate desire to own only the clothes I really wore and what fit into the space I have to hold them. I have a minimalist's amount of closet and drawer space and yet, it's probably quite enough for the amount of clothing I actually wear. I gave away or threw away more than half that pile and I still have a tight fit in the closet. There's one more drawer in my dresser that I can empty and when I do I believe I will have the perfect marriage of clothing and space.

And inside that space there are about 8 very nice sweaters that I have knit for myself. Mind now - I live in the south. We have only had about 10 cold days all winter. I tend to spill stuff on my clothes so I don't wear sweaters around the house - at least, not ones that I spent weeks making and will have to wash by hand. My poor sweaters don't see that much daylight.  Worse yet! There is an almost completed sweater on needles - an almost completed sweater that has wonky shoulders - an almost completed sweater that will need to be frogged and re-knit. That sweater oozes complaint and disapproval all through the house - a black miasma-like fog of shame-inducing frustration. The guilt is immobilizing. The wailing lament that sweater issues is supported by a figured base thrumming from enough yarn to knit a half dozen More Sweaters. And we will not even talk about the 3 summer weight cotton garments languishing in project bags, tossed in a heap in the spare upstairs room that has turned into the true junk room you love to avoid. Is it any wonder there has been so little knitting in TheCastle?   

Fear not. All things flow - even the clutter in the attic - even knitting projects. Just ... not right now. 

Anyway - so what the heck is going on with TheQueen and why did she let her 10 year blogging anniversary go unheralded? 

I can't tell you. I don't know. I've just been very Someplace Else this year. I haven't yet finished formulating my New Years Resolutions beyond a vague Go With the Flow intention. I'm not sure if this Silence of Desire is caused by Dread of Auditors (they come on Friday) or Fear of Budget (that starts the following week) or if it's because I really am tapping into TheForce and feeling its strength. (and why do these guys always look so pissed off? Can't TF be used for cool stuff, good stuff, happy stuff? It's such a guy thing, I guess)

I have done a fair bit of gadding about in 2013. The first weekend we zipped up to New York City. At least, it felt like a zip - I don't do the driving. ThePrinceConsort does and we actually made the trip in just under 6 hours - which is what it should take if you don't have any traffic. Obviously there was traffic but it always moved - whence the sensation of zipping for 600 miles. We had a fabulous time - as anyone would who stayed with B&M - ate amazingly good food, visited both the Botanical Gardens and the Metropolitan Museum. NYC rocks but it's always best when you have a native guide. Thank you B&M!  

The next weekend we had beloved cousins visited for puppy play and oyster pie. It was unseasonably warm but that's just what you want when you have two growley tussling puppies. Their favorite spot to wrestle was in the front hall where they could slam each other against the door and make it rattle. 

It was still pretty warm when we celebrated Mama's 90th birthday on the 22. The day was crystal clear and gentle. Sister and I had a little party for her in the activity room, with sushi and cake and balloons and gifts - and Chloe - the fashion accessory dog. BD, like the true prince he is, came with me and we shared the poignant, slightly bittersweet tenderness of memories, in the sharp light of the setting January sun, on the drive back. I would love to write more about this but the emotions still pinch my heart. It's just too easy to start to weep about all that's gone forever and what will soon be flying away from me. How can a heart hold so much happiness and so much sadness at the same time?

But you are not to think that there has been a lack of creativity in the Life-0-TheQueen. There has been ART at TheCastle. A new kind of art that is as addictive as any ball of cashmere lace weight yarn and some brand new Addi Lace needles. While pouring over some art supply catalogs last fall, looking for gold felt tipped calligraphy pens, I read a blurb about Sakura Pigma Micron pens having been chosen as The Pen for Zentangle.

Of course I had to click on over to here to find out what Zentangle is and right away knew I was in love. I immediately bought this for the library
Product Details 

and  told one of my girlfriends that I wanted a set of those pens for Christmas. 

Before the holiday was over I was loosing myself in the zen of pen and having absolutely too much fun. Here are a few of the drawings I've done so far:


Now you know what's been going on and where the knitting is and where TheQueen's head is. I make no promises about how soon I'll be back with More Information Than You Ever Wanted about life in TheCastle - but I will be back. Ta.