Saturday, June 4, 2016

Stuck? Mix it up!

I've posted before about the benefits of participating in group art challenges where the challenge constraints help you achieve focused practice. When my choices are limited to a subject or a style, I'm pushed to really consider how I can make something unique, how I can really make it mine, and how I can use the challenge as an opportunity to grow as an artist.

The main philosophy behind The Zentangle Method® is cultivating a calm, meditative state through the mindful repetition of simple shapes that build naturally into ornamental patterns.
there are no mistakes

There are no mistakes when drawing this way, only opportunities to witness what shows up, to accept each unexpected visitor that appears, and to allow these surprises to inform the process.

When I participate in a group art challenge like It's a String Thing Challenge #147I want to hold space for the mindful awareness that sees no mistakes, only opportunities. At the same time, I want to commit to pushing myself somewhere new with my art. 

I looked at the string. I looked at the tangles. My brain jumped immediately to an obvious "solution" to the puzzle of what should go whereAnd yet, I wasn't excited about it.

Worse than that, I was disconnected, bored. Maybe I should skip the challenge this week, I thought. I mean, I didn't want to just dial it in. That would be a waste of an opportunity and the time available to me to work on my art is too precious to me for that. But I didn't want to give up either. I felt stuck. I had artist block. Then I remembered:

resistance is a message

When we feel resistance to taking some action in our life, we are getting a message from our subconscious: Yield, Proceed With Caution. It can be a protective instinct, a warning, a fear of failure or being vulnerable, or even just a signal to pause, reflect, and connect with what you really need and want.

I realized that what I really needed was to flip the script for myself and try something that would take me more into the unknown.

Julie Bazuzi (c)2016
drawing tools for black paper
Julie Bazuzi (c)2016
So I dug out my black drawing paper and my white pens and pencils. Suddenly a composition that wasn't inspiring me in predictable black ink on white paper felt like a whole new adventure. 

I still used the predetermined composition and patterns in pretty much the same way my brain originally devised, but by reversing the colors: I would have to use chalk instead of graphite, my value scale would go from dark to light instead of my usual light to dark, and I would have to think in terms of highlights instead of shadows.

Everything was inside out.

Time to experiment and see what happens. I felt connected to what I really wanted and need out of this art practice, and suddenly it was exciting again!

abstract flower, flower drawing, white gel pen, black paper
mixed media on paper
Julie Bazuzi (c)2016


  1. I will keep your words in mind and you created something special.

  2. I like your description of the Zentangle method. It's helpful to be reminded of the process we follow to create this art form. Your tile is beautiful.