Are We There Yet?

My daughter attended a wonderful music composition camp last week at Illinois Wesleyan University, “only” 5.5 hours away from home. She (conveniently?) forgot her license, and, since it was just the two of us, I was stuck doing all of the driving. I don’t enjoy driving. I was reminded of our yearly childhood drives from Toronto, Ohio to Ocean City, MD. Every 10 minutes, I or one of my brothers would ask, “Are we there yet?” It didn’t seem like we would EVER get to the beach – or to IWU.

The good thing about these trips is that these is a clear destination, we have a GPS and road signs telling us we are getting closer, and then, finally arriving at our destination. Sometimes our Zentangle journey feels like a road trip with no end in sight. Often this is good. When you sit down with no expectations and just expect to enjoy the ride, all is well. Other times, it can just be frustrating. I will often have students ask me, “How do you know when you’re done?” Sometimes it is hard to tell. For instance, this tile:

Umble flux1
When I first heard the Diva challenge was to use Umble, I was so excited. It is one of my favorite tangles. I thought it would be so fun to combine it with Flux, one of my other favorite tangles. This is step 1. Clearly not done. But, it has so many possibilities.
Umble flux2
When I learned flux, Maria drew orbs/perf/tipple around it, so I added that next.
Umble flux3
Adding shades of gray. Trying to make my flux really dimensional. But failing.
Umble flux4
Yes, usually, the next step after shading is signing, but it still didn’t look done yet to me, so I put very thin auras around all of my umble.
Umble flux5
Still needed more, so I added two more auras. One slightly darker one further away and then a thinner one close to that one. Almost there, I think.
Umble flux6
A bit of rounding and some fassets to fill a few empty corners, and I think I am done. Not sure, but sometimes putting your art away for a while and returning to it later is the trick. I’ll sleep on it.
Umble flux7
This morning, I decided that I really didn’t like my solid black areas with all of that white space, so I got a thicker pen and filled them in. Also, I realized that I didn’t shade next to my umble or around my flux and the whole thing looked a bit flat. Much better, but my flux is still not “popping” like I wanted it to, so I’m going to resort to color!
Umble flux8
Eek! It pops alright. But not in a good way.
Umble flux9
Got out the blending tool and tried to soften up the pink. Also added a bit of gold to accent the fassets. At this point, I just need to say, “enough is enough.”

So, the answer to “How do you know when you’re done?” I always say that the answer is, “When you like it.” But, sometimes the answer is, “Five minutes ago!” The other thing I always tell them is that it is OK if you aren’t in LOVE with every tile you do. Just give it away to someone who thinks it is beautiful. Does anyone want this one? Please leave your comments below. (If there is more than one, I’ll pick at random.)

17 thoughts on “Are We There Yet?

  1. I can understand why it may not be your favourite but I really like it Chris! I truly appreciate that you’ve posted progression photos and explanations. As a beginner I always get hung up on how to develop my overall design as I go. Thank you for the inspiration. Love your work Chris!!!


    1. Thank you so much. Even some of us more experienced tanglers can sometimes get “stuck.” Taking a break helps. Choosing a tangle or tanglenhancer at random can also help get that creativity flowing again.


  2. Following the time stamps you obviously work quickly! I too appreciate the photo progression and though I liked it better in black and white the color version is interesting too.


    1. You think that is quick? I was hesitating about adding the times because I sometimes kind of get embarrassed at how slowly I work. I watch others work quickly and produce beautiful results. If I tangle fast, I make a mess.

      But, it is not a race, and we all work at our own pace. Also, I don’t know what time I started tangling or how much time I spent this morning shading and cleaning up, so it took longer than it appears


  3. I love that you posted this in it’s progression. I too get caught up in that same quandary of knowing when to quit sometimes. I think it’s lovely. You can send it to me;-)

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Nice work. I like the shots showing the progression. I know that you think you do not tangle fast, but I have it from someone who watched you tangle a suitcase on the way to Hideaway, you tangle a lot faster than a lot of folks. The color does bring out the contrast with the white in the Umble.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. It is really interesting to see your process. Several times, I said (to myself)—“Yes, that’s it. I like this one.” But, then I’d like the next one. I think my favorite is the one at 4:23, but if I saw any by themselves, I’d like them just fine.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I LOVE it! And I really like seeing the progression, especially the time lapse! And I think the final one is my favourite – just the right amount of colour, and terrific structure!


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