Category Archives: health

Alive and kicking – just about! And playing with Japanese brush pens.


It has been almost two months since I posted to this blog, for a good reason.  In the middle of last month, almost 3 years since my major stroke, I had a mini stroke.  It absolutely knocked me for six and for several days I couldn’t draw at all because my right hand was shaking so much.  It really scared me, thinking that I may never be able to draw again.

At the beginning of the month, before this occurred, I tangled this macaw, using Staedler fine-liners  and some new Japanese watercolour brushpens that I treated myself to from Amazon.

macaw72The pens are wonderful, they hold a fine point so are good for detail, yet you can also cover large areas quickly.  They can be dipped into water to create lighter shades and blend beautifully.  As the packaging was in Japanese, I had to learn to use them by trial and error, but found it quite instinctive.

I had started this owl just before my mini stroke and finished it a few weeks later, once my right hand had resumed almost normal service.  Some of my lines are a little wobbly but I am satisfied with the result – again the brush pens came into play.

owl72And once I started drawing again, I could not stop!  So a few days later and again with the assistance of the brush pens, along came this festive bauble!

bauble72(2)I would recommend these pens by Acacia to anyone, so put them on your list to Santa or head over to Amazon and treat yourself now.



There are no mistakes in Zentangle


It is said that there are no mistakes in Zentangle –  a comforting assertion but one that I found to not exactly be true when last week I attempted the weekly template from Ben Kwok’s OrnationCreation.  The maneki neko (lucky cat) refused to be lucky for me and I kept making mistakes – glaringly obvious ones (block patterns out of sequence being the most frequent).  I eventually completed on my fifth attempt, but am still not sure whether I like it or not.  I think my judgement may be somewhat soured by the battle I had just to complete it.  Hoping for greater success this week.

Maneki neko72Meanwhile, with Ben’s kind permission, I have sent up a new card store at Greeting Card Universe, where you can find all of these designs.  I will be splitting any proceeds between a number of different Stroke charities in recognition of how Zentangle has helped me on my long road to relative recovery.

Using Zentangle templates


Last week, when googling “Zentangle templates”, I was fortunate to come across the wonderful illustrator, Ben Kwok, and from there found his Facebook page Ornation Creation

Each Monday, Ben posts a new template for members to tangle ornately.  Last week, it was a butterfly.   This piece took me two days to complete and I chose a colour palette of healing watery blues and greens.  I was overwhelmed by the response – over 150 likes on Facebook!  I’ve never had so many before, not even learning to walk again after my stroke.


butterfly72Having greatly enjoyed this project, I’ve started working my way through the back catalogue of Ben’s templates, starting with this perky little flycatcher in ink and graphite.  I drew this on Monday whilst at Paint Box art club in Reddish.  It is attended mostly by pensioners who like what I’m doing but can’t quite understand why.  Zentangle means nothing to them and I struggle to find ways to explain it to them.


One Zentangle a Day: days 16, 17 and 18


I’ve given myself a good kicking and now it is time to catch up on my blog and my Zentangle  – the sun is shining so once this is written, I’m out into the garden with my sketchbook and Beckah Krahula’s fabulous book to discover what day 19 has in store.  As you may have noticed, somewhere along the  line, I got the numbering of the days mixed up.  My Stroke has left me notoriously bad with dates and numbers.

Day 16 introduced me to the tangle ‘Pepper’ which looks a lot like ‘Festune’ and was very simple to draw.  I also learned ‘Ynix’ and ‘Squid’ (which reminded me of a chrysanthemum).  I chose to do my Zentangle on blue paper which combined with the black ink and grey pencil shading, gives a cold feeling.  I chose mostly organic tangle patterns and think the overall effect looks like plants growing on a sea bed.

day16Day 17 and I was not impressed!  I found all three tangles quite ugly – ‘Viruvius’, ‘Courant’ and ‘Sedgling’ so I doubt if I’ll be using them very often.

day 17Day 18 and back on more comfortable ground with ‘Gneiss’ (goodness knows how that is pronounced – who thinks up these names?), ‘Cadent’,  and ‘Huggins’.  I had to study the latter two quite closely to understand how the lines moved around the circles and dots.

day 18

One Zentangle a Day: day 13


day 13It has been a while since I last Zentangled or dipped in to Beckah Kahula’s excellent book, but this week I got back to it and picked up from where I left off – so day 13, ironically created on Friday 13th.  I learnt three new tangles, ‘Yincut’, ‘Locar’ and ‘Verdigôgh’.  The latter two are easier that they look and both remind me of that persistent horse-tail weed that forces its way up through my decking each summer.  I then used them and previously learnt tangles to complete the final tile.

A brief interlude fron Zentangle


Many thanks to all who are wishing me well with my new business venture.  There is a very kind and su[[prtive article in this week’s Stockport Express which you can read here –

One Zentangle a Day: Days 9 and 10

One Zentangle a Day: Days 9 and 10

Apologies that it has been quite a while since my last post.  Ongoing health problens resulting frommy stroke have forced me to give up my job, and I am now putting most of my energy into starting up a new business from home – more of thatin another post!

Between times, I am continuing to follow Beckah Kraulah’s excellent book, ‘One Zentangle a Day’.  Day 9 does not introduce any new tangles but challenges you to create a Zentangle on a black tile, using a white gel pen and a white coloured pencil for shading purposes.  Buying a white gel pen was quite a challenge, there are few to be found here in Stockport.  And I was only able to complete these three tiles before it ran out!

Working in white on black changes and pretty much reverses the tonal values of the tangles, with the one exception of Knightsbridge, which by and large remains unchanged.

day9Day 10 introduces three new tangles, ‘Finery’, ‘Echoism’ and ‘Flukes’.  I’m not keen on ‘Finery’ but may use it in small doses when a lighter pattern is needed. ‘Echoism’ I  enjoyed.  It took me a little time to get used to ‘Flukes’ but once my brain had recognised that it uses rectangles, it got easier and with shading is pretty effective.  For the completed tile, the challenge was to produce a ‘landscape’ effect.  By using a darker, heavier tangle in the foreground, and gradually using lighter tangles as you move back, a receding effect is created, as you see in thee landscape.

day 10


One Zentangle a Day – Day 7


Day 7  of Bekah Krahula’s book offers us a further introduction to tangellations.  A tangellation is formed when an existing tangle pattern is somehow changed.  This could be by changing its shape, changing how it is shaded or combining two or more tangles together.  I practising combining various tangles before completing a tile using tangellations.


Zentangle Inspired Pictures

Zentangle Inspired Pictures

I  started Zentangling this Chinese dragon at Chinese New Year and it has taken me almost a month to complete, working on it a little each day.  The shape was taken from a Dreamscape stencil.  The main tangle used is Knightsbridge.

This week my ill health resulting from my Stroke has forced me to give up my job.  I will now be concentrating on being a full-time artist and from July will be teaching arts and crafts to children.  Working on this picture really helped me to relax this week at a time when I was pretty ill from the preparation for a colonoscopy.  It gave me something else to focus upon rather than the griping pains in my stomach and helped me to de-stress.

Zentangle inspired dragon

Zentangle inspired dragon

One Zentangle a Day – day two


Today’s new tangles are Knightsbridge, Fesch and Nekton.  Even with a step by step demo, I found Nekton difficult and couldn’t really understand how to put it together or which direction my lines should go in next.  I think my future use of it will be quite negligible.  Finally I was tasked with producing a Zentangle that incorporated all 6 tangles learnt so far.