Monday, December 30, 2013

Shading the brown pens

When the new Renaissance tiles came out from Zentangle I was a very happy camper. Shading and highlighting are some of my favorite things to do on any tile and now that the tan tiles encourage us to use the brown Micron pens - well I had to shade them too! But how? And what color to shade them with? 

There are many possible ways to shade them - watercolors, pastels, markers, etc. I choose to use colored pencils. There too, there are several good brands of colored pencils available. The brand that I have on hand is Prismacolor. I set out to see what color would work best.

First off, I want to be sure you understand WHICH Pigma Micron pen I'm using. There are two brown colors that are on the market. One is this reddish brown color, and the other is a very, dark brown (they call it sepia). If you look at the barrel of the pen in the store, look for the number XSDK05 #12 - The #12 is the important number. You can use an 01 or 05 size. (My preference is the 05.) Good art supply stores will sell the pens. Some of the big box art supply stores may have them too.

I picked out every single color that I had on hand that sort of looked like it might work and made up this chart. (Keep scrolling for bigger pictures) With the brown pen I made a series of lines and below that I did a solid patch with the brown pen. I repeated this for each test sample. With the colored pencil I lightly added color over the series of lines and also to the side of the solid patch. I stress the word lightly because I always start my shading off with a very light touch. It's easy to add more color if needed but hard to take it away. At the right of the color name I used the color full strength. I seldom use a colored pencil full strength, but I wanted to have it as reference.

If you want to see a color chart online for Prismacolor pencils, here are two links.

By the way, the paper I used is a pure white - not a grey as it appears in the photograph. Be aware that the colors you see on your screen may be slightly different when you do them at home.

Also, you can click on any picture and make it bigger.

These colored pencils all have sort of an orange tint to them - and surprise! They ended up being the ones I liked best.

These colored pencils were more reddish. The Henna one might work, but I didn't like the others.

These colors are the ones that are more typically thought of as 'brown'. I wasn't really liking any of these. The Chocolate color though, might be useful if I want to add an extra dark color in small places.

Here are my top choices on the back of a Renaissance tile. My top choices are the Terra Cotta or the Burnt Ochre. The other two colors are ones I will also use but more for my colored tiles or for layering colors.

This is one of my hand colored zendalas where I did the tangles using the brown pen, highlighted it with white and shaded with one of my colored pencils. I did this a while ago so I can't be sure, but it was probably the Terra Cotta pencil.

Have fun playing with your art supplies and finding the best color for you!

Friday, December 27, 2013


Now that Christmas is over I'm trying to get my house back in order. For a procrastinator like me, that's not easy. I was looking at the tree last night, thinking about when I wanted to get started on taking it down. (Probably not soon!) So I thought today might be a good day to show you a tile I did last week that I call 'Ornaments'. It's not complicated and was fun to use it as a sampler to put different tangle patterns in each ball. I used a lot of stippling (many small dots) to do the shading between the balls and around the holly leaves. Stippling takes quite a bit of time but I do love the way it looks!

Monday, December 23, 2013

Peace - Love - Joy

Wishing you the best for the holiday season!

These tiles started from an inspiration I got from Ellen Wolters. She provided the template for the Love tile. After I did that I wanted to go on with other sentiments for the holidays. I looked through the books I have by Joanne Fink - 'Zenspirations' and 'Dangle Designs'. That's where I found ideas for the lettering.

Each of these tiles started out with a tile I had previously hand colored with water color paints. I did the line work with whichever Micron pen coordinated best with the background color. The colored pencils I used for shading were chosen based on the background color also.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Baby, it's cold outside!

Erin at The Bright Owl posted a new zendala template with the extra challenge to use the cold as an inspiration. It's a great template that I really enjoyed working with.

Blue watercolor paint was used for the background and I ended up lifting color out of the white(ish) ovals.  I used a white gelly roll pen and a blue Micron pen for the tangling.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

The reason for the season two

Earlier today I posted a zendala I did using mooka as the basis for a contemporary nativity (Joseph, Mary and the Babe). I enjoyed doing it so much that I wanted to try another variation on the same theme. Here I started out with a white tile. After doing the basic Mooka tangle I added halos with a gold Gelly roll pen and then had fun adding color with various colored pencils.

Have a Blessed and Happy Holiday!

the reason for the season

When I first saw the tangle pattern 'Mooka' demonstrated I was struck by the basic simplicity, the continuity of the line, and how it flowed together. It also struck me that it looked a little like a nativity scene, so I wanted to wish you all holiday greetings by playing up that idea. My 'Mooka' has three heads with halos, to represent Joseph, Mary and the baby Jesus. I only tangled the halos with a metallic gold gelli roll pen and added some highlights and shadows to keep the basic theme as simple as possible. (I started with a blue round cut from posterboard.)

May you all enjoy a blessed and very happy holiday.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Mundelein girl scouts 12-15

The girl scouts in Mundelein worked on their drawing badge today as they learned zentangle. We all did the same basic tangles but it was wonderful to see how each of the girls had their own style and interpreted the tangles in her own way. A few of the moms sat in back and commented on how quiet and focused the girls were as they worked. We created our mosaic and had a little art show at the end. Thanks ladies!

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Visions of Sugarplums

I love Christmas! So there is lots of Christmas imagery sneaking into my tiles at this time of year. It's not pure Zentangle because it's way too representational (it looks like something). And of course my use of color veers away from pure Zentangle too. But it's fun!

I used a pink hand colored tile and a purple pen. I highlighted with both a zenstone and a white colored pencil. Shading was added with two shades of pink and purple colored pencils.

Monday, December 9, 2013

string 20 - Mooka + Moving Day

Adele Bruno over at Tickled To Tangle has been giving out new challenges every week now. She picks a string and a couple of tangles that usually use the letters of the string creator's name as inspiration. This week it's a string from Margaret Bremner and the tangles are Mooka and Moving Day.

String 20 is a beautiful string to work with. I love the simplicity and the way you can fill the sections with tangles. But these two tangles? Yikes, I didn't think these two worked together and putting 'Mooka' inside the lines of the string didn't appeal to me. So I started thinking outside the box like I often do. That's how I ended up with 'Moving Day' as my string. Then I could simply weave my 'Mooka' in and out.

I also tried a new technique here that I learned from Cris Letourneau. The ghost Mooka that you see in the corners was done by using just my dirty paper stump. So simple!

Friday, December 6, 2013


This zendala was a fun one for me. I liked the template but felt I just needed to do a little tweaking to it. And since I always tell my students that the strings are just suggestions, and, it's not a coloring book where you have to stay within the lines, I really played with the original. I made my circles much bigger - and I actually had one less circle in each line. 

You see, when I looked at this template I saw bubbles. My granddaughters love to blow bubbles with the wand and soap solution. They chase them until they can pop them. And I love to see the iridescent colors that the bubbles have if they catch the light just right!

One of the sheets of hand colored papers I did had that magical combination of colors so I used it as my background paper. I did just a smidge of tangling on each bubble. The shading was done with colored pencil and highlights were done with my zen stone.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Boo Kee and Fremont

This tile features a tangle called Boo Kee - named and stepouts by Laura Harms CZT. As I played with this tangle I kept seeing pearls - and what goes with pearls, diamonds of course! I looked up images of diamond drawing on the web to get ideas of how to draw the diamond shapes. And the lace tangles I played with behind just seemed to enhance the theme. 

These pictures are from the presentation at the Fremont Public Library in Mundelein last night. We used basic tangles to create a card for the holidays. I am always so excited to put all of our cards together to see how everyone uses the same tangles but comes out with so many wonderful tangleations.

Monday, December 2, 2013


Heartstrings is a tangle pattern from Helen Williams. It's easy to draw and when you get going it just flows - just as any good tangle pattern invites the 'zen'. I did it using string 18 from However, rather than try to fit different variations of the tangle into each section, I decided to simply change the color of the pen I used whenever I came to a string line. I used a purple colored tile and shaded with coordinating colored pencils.