Simplicity - Challenge Week #1

I was checking out the zentangle© blog this month and decided to participate in Laura Harms weekly challenge. Challenge for week #1 was to base a tangle on the word "Simplicity". Simplicity for me generates gentle, meandering, organic, flowing... "ease: freedom from difficulty or hardship or effort". A sense of calm and serenity.

This Christmas season has been hectic and generated many sleepless nights while I was finishing projects and getting artwork finished for a craft show. I enjoy delving into my creative side but it can be an all encompassing process. My home becomes one big craft room and I feel like I'm a visitor (worker) in my own home.

Simplicity is a good reminder - taking it one step at a time and being gentle with myself is a good thing. Taking time to touch base with others and look at what is nurturing in my life. Friends, family, laughter, being with those I love, that's what makes my life fuller. Chaos is what drives me at times, but friends and family are what make me feel whole, calm, and fulfilled.

The coming new year is the perfect time to look at the important things that make life worth living. Being grateful.

Christmas Mittens

 This Christmas I'm sending out a zentangle card with a fun pattern I developed. I always love to see children in the winter time with mittens that have strings attached to their sleeves. I even had mitten clips when I was in my twenties! It's reminiscent of the good ol' days when I grew up. That was the inspiration for this tangle pattern. I'm calling it Mitten Madness.

I used the generic Merry Holidays for the inside message that will apply to all my friends no matter what holiday they celebrate at this time of year. Looking forward Christmas.

Chambray Study in Blue

After checking out Sandra Straits Chambray tangle description on SB's most current blog post, I decided to give it a try. Used a pilot blue gel pen - how appropriate, huh? I used the shading technique she described but decided it needed some additional line work to enhance the fold forms against the blue. Not sure it's working, or where this fuzzy little fold guy is going, but it's was a change of pace using a color pen.

Using black ink does make the lines "pop" and I found using the color pen a little more challenging. The black and white makes it easier to focus on the lines and forms, adding color creates its own issues. Not sure if I like the final product but the textures are fun.

I want to try sepia pens some time. I've seen tangles on the flickr zentangle group done in sepia that have an interesting aged feel.

Fun with Lines

I was trying to use basic lines in this tangle. My intention was to give this tangle a little more structure, but then these swirls showed up out of no where. I just couldn't help myself! My tangling style is definitely more organic and free form lines. I find the more structured tangles a little more challenging. Does that speak to my personality? I think it does!

I am a free-form sort of gal in many aspects of life. I find it fascinating that the zentangle experience appeals to so many of us, whether we are "left-brainers" that enjoy the straight measured lines and grids patterns, or the free-form, outside the lines, right-brainers where I consider myself. Both methods work beautifully with the zentangle process. I find that amazing!

Last month I was up north with my sister and participated in a zentangle day with 6 wonderful women. We all brought different talents and mind sets to the process and the result was seven fabulous tangles. All different, but each one beautiful.

Adding Shading to the Tangle

This is my tangle with shading added, it does add a whole new dimension to a tangle. I've been trying to scan my tangles with, and without shading so I have options. I like the depth shading adds to a tangle, but once I've added shading, I can no longer take it into Photoshop to add color or modify it as easily.

Sandy Bartholemew blog features Sandra Straits description of the Chambray tangle fabric shading process from her "Totally Tangled" book for a reader. She demonstrated shading the basic fabric outline before adding the tangle pattern to the fabric folds.

I'm of two minds on that process, first, the pencil shading on top of the micron pens does diminish the intensity of the blacks, but , on the other hand I do like the option of scanning in the two versions of the same tangle for future use. One, the black and white original, scanned in black and white bitmapped high resolution (600 DPI),  next, the shaded version scanned at 300DPI in greyscale.
I'm going to have to play with both options. I do like the idea of creating one tangle that gives me two pieces of art that I have available to go back and play with, hmm...

CZT Training, Here I Come!

I've been sidetracked and not getting my tangles up on the blog. We're having a crafts show on December 11th and my focus is there.

I started tangling in August, and as anyone who's been around me knows, I'm crazy about the zentangle® process. I always have my drawing pad and pen with me and will share my passion with anyone who gives a "hint" they might be interested, or not... It's so weird looking back at my journal, I thought I began my adventure into the process a long time ago but it's only been a few months.

I found out last week that I got the best gift from my wonderful family. Two of my sisters and niece got together and are sending me to the February CZT class to get certified. It's one of the best and thoughtful gifts I've ever received and I'm so excited and thankful. I can hardly wait. My friend Jeanne, who exposed me to the process, is also going. It's going to be a wonderful adventure!

November Tangles

A Touch of Silver... the coming of winter, small frosty diamonds sparkling in the morning sun, each little shimmering frosty reflection means winter is on it's way. A time of quiet reflection and introspection.

Slowly, silently, now the moon
Walks the night in her silver shoon;
This way, and that, she peers, and sees
Silver fruit upon silver trees;
One by one the casements catch
Her beams beneath the silvery thatch;
Couched in his kennel, like a log,
With paws of silver sleeps the dog;
From their shadowy cote the white breasts peep
Of doves in silver feathered sleep
A harvest mouse goes scampering by,
With silver claws, and silver eye;
And moveless fish in the water gleam,
By silver reeds in a silver stream.
-- Walter de la Mare

Black Squirrel Zentangle

I spent a couple of days up north at my sister's place on the Ausable river and saw so many cute little black squirrels that inspired this zentangle. They were so sweet and playful running among the dry leaves and twigs. They represent the perfect little fall animal.

It was so peaceful looking out over the river and seeing these busy little fellows play. I found out that black squirrels and grey squirrels can come from the same litter, interesting, no?

The two cats, Marlo and Little Bit were also fascinated by these little guys! Thank goodness they are speedy and large enough to intimidate these two kiddies.

Play with Lippitz and Jambalee

I was playing with the new listings on; Jambalee, created by Pam Pincha-Wagener, and Limpitz, created by Jo Newsham. I love the fanciful little boxes of Jambalee that look like wonderful bits of confetti floating through the design. After being up north and enjoying our zentangle party I was re-inspired to try and create a tangle a day. It's a great way to center myself and get away from the chaos that is life and be a little more mindful and introspective. Breath...

A Fun Zentangle Fall Experience

I'm visiting my sister in northern michigan and had a wonderful zentangle class experience. I told the ladies I'd get this group picture up right away.

These are the finished tiles we created! These micron pen zentangle tiles were created during a day of tangling with new friends and old. Seven fabulous ladies using the same patterns with wonderfully different outcomes.

Fall Play Day

The new Betweed tangle pattern that Maria Thomas presents in the new zentangle® youtube video inspired this color play. I love the calligraphy pen she uses in the video!

I came across an art case that my mother had given to me about 25 years ago. It contains a watercolor sample set, some oil pastels, and 24 colored pencils. Over the years I dusted it, I moved it, I just didn't use it.  I decided to, finally, put it to good use. Seeing all the colorful posts on the flickr zentangle group inspired me to try a little color. Isn't it great that colored pencils don't expire, they still work after all these years!

Yesterday was a day of walking and tangling with a friend. We sat in her backyard enjoying the sun and fall colors sharing tangles and overlooking the beautiful fields and autumn landscape. The clear blue sky and the golden colors of fall were my inspiration. I wanted to keep it light and airy with a hint of summer breeze soon past!

Fall is in the air

Wednesday was the first day of fall and a full moon and the temp was 86 degrees, welcome to Michigan! It was a lovely evening. Nights that are warm and balmy make me appreciate the lovely, long days that summertime brings.

Saturday will be the autumn equinox and day and night will be equal. It speaks to me of balance and creating harmony in life. Living in Michigan allows me to appreciate the ever changing environment and colors of the seasons. I'm watching the leaves float by and it inspires my airy creation with the floating Ssss.

I'm trying to incorporate letters in my zentangles, so today is S! I've joined the flickr zentangle group which is a great place for inspiration. The little pods were inspired by MariĆ«t Dronten's flickr post.

© Copyright, 2010, Daniele O'Brien Design

Tuesday Panic

Today was one of those days when I felt like the world is was against me. I went to go for a walk this morning, and as I grabbed for my ID realized my car keys were not in their designated area. I'd been working in the yard yesterday and was sure I had either thrown my keys into the leaf bags the city already picked up or ... knocked them into the garbage bag before I threw it out. Either way, I was sure I had thrown away my only set of car keys and fob! Panic does not make processing any easier, in fact, my brain shuts down and I can't think or see, I'm so busy running in circles!

Zentangling is the process of calming your mind and letting intuition flow... that's the path I finally took after checking out for a while. I went into my bedroom and calmly looked through the clothes I'd had on the day before, and miracle of miracles, my keys were in the old pants I'd put on yesterday to dig around in the garden. A moment of sanity and things become clearer. I called the dealership to get a replacement key made and sat down to do a zentangle.

What I learned from this experience... (1) I need a replacement backup key for my car, duh! and (2) be mindful and take the next right step. Panic gets you no where. Zentangling talks about being in the present and being mindful. Program talks about the same process, it is a gentle way to go through life and it works. Whether I'm mindful of where I put my keys or I'm aware of my daily path through life, it's all good. It's not always enjoyable, but it is living life to the fullest and being in the moment.

Lesson learned, at least for today! Zentangle - Breathe!

© Copyright, 2010, Daniele O'Brien Design

Zentangling Sunday morning

I'm continuing the zentangle process and looking for patterns in daily life. I like the simple shapes of everyday elements that lend themselves to the rhythms and shapes of zentangles. These elements create familiar rhythms in our environment.
This weekend was lovely, the leaves are still on the trees and the temperature was balmy but there was the element of fall in the air.
Here in Michigan there is a limited time to enjoy the each season, summer is so short and it makes us appreciate it all the more. Carpe Diem

Waiting for the fish to bite or waiting for wind to fly a kite. Or waiting around for Friday night or waiting perhaps for their Uncle Jake or a pot to boil or a better break or a string of pearls or a pair of pants or a wig with curls or another chance. Everyone is just waiting. ~Dr. Seuss
I was enjoying the sun, nature, and my eggs on Sunday morning. The salt shaker sitting on my table was just waiting to be drawn. Dr Seuss green eggs and ham came to mind, and a zentangle with salt, eggs, and leaves, oh my...

© Copyright, 2010, Daniele O'Brien Design

Zentangle Quilt Inspiration

Some people sew quilts I prefer to draw them. Zentangling squares to create a full drawing quilt is a wonderful process. I downloaded a zendoodle template design from It was the perfect opportunity to work on many of the patterns listed on and add my touches and modifications. I am quickly using up all my ink in the micron, staedtler pigment, and sharpie pens I've collected over the years. I'm trying to find which pens work best for my zendoodling.

I've also realized that I've got to begin making a place for zendoodling; paper, pens, pencils, references, etc. in my environment. I read Linda Farmer's blog article on organizing your patterns and got lot's of great ideas.

© Copyright, 2010, Daniele O'Brien Design

Zentangle kitty

Being into zentangles I'm always looking for inspiration. I talked to Karen, a friend of mine since high school, and we were discussing zentangles (which I do with most people I know!). She asked me to send her a couple of doodles, so she and her kitty, Kallie, are my inspiration.

I love mixing the realistic with zentangle patterns and the more organic elements resonate with me. The curves lend themselves beautifully to the featured image (Kallie). Kallie is an indoor kitty who has never experienced the joys of the outside world, this zentangle allows her to experience nature, at least in my mind!

I've incorporated shading with this zentangle which gives it more depth. I find it challenging to scan in my images and print them out without losing the pencil shading quality. It's a work in process. I love having my originals but I want to be able to scan them to archive without losing the qualities of the originals.

I like to have the option of adding colors to the scanned image in Photoshop if I choose to.

© Copyright, 2010, Daniele O'Brien Design

Birthday Bash Zentangle Creation

This weekend was a milestone birthday for my friend Suzy and we had a party which was a success. It was fun to look over old pictures and memorabilia with friends. Much laughter and merriment was had by all! This, of course, was a great opportunity for me to do some zentangling for party favors. I created table decorations incorporating the zentangle image, it was such fun!

The zentangle size and orientation was based on a dome box template that I found on rubber stamping. I recreated the template in Illustrator and used it as a basis for my party "nut cups". I used the art work that created, scanned it, then manipulated it a bit in Photoshop to make the template work.

The finals were printed in black and white on colorful cardstock, and once printed, I cut along the template outline with my exacto knife, folded the boxes, added tissue paper, nuts, and m&m's and they were good to go!

The red line shows the template cut lines for the dome box. This was a fun project!

© Copyright 2013, Daniele O'Brien Design

Summer Fun

I've found a new wonderful drawing process it's Zentangle®. It was developed by Rick Roberts and Maria Thomas. A friend of mine, Jeanne Kero, was my instructor into the wonderful "zen" world of zentangles. It's an addictive process. There are so many wonderul image references on the web to draw inspiration from. It's my new passion and only enhances my drawing, line skills. The great part is anyone can do it, or show someone else how to start!

When I do the a zentangle it feels like popping bubble wrap, it gives me that same satisfaction!

I've been working on my illustrations for a children's book and have gotten very stale and was losing my inspiration in the drawing process. Doing zentangles reenergized the process for me again.

Coffee cup zentangle

I was doodling away one morining and spilled some of my coffee on my paper. This was a perfect opportunity to inspire a zentangle with my coffee cup, spoon and fun little textures!

The creative process continues

I'm plugging away on my images. I've been creating them directly in Photoshop. It's an evolving process. I'm trying to get the line quality and textures I want.

I think I've reached a happy medium in the process. I found doing my sketches by hand with pencil and ink gives me the line quality I want. I then scan the sketches into Photoshop and clean them up.

Once I get the black and white lines the way I want them, I add color, textures, and blends using Photoshop's capabilities. It's the best of both worlds!

Dancing elf and fairy with petal skirt

These are some of my new creations using my drawing scans.

Mr. Pickle Dances...

Watch Mr. Pickle Dance and Wave!

© Copyright 2010. All rights reserved.

Fairy Land Drawings Continue

I am continuing on my Fairy Land drawings. I'm researching pictures on the web for drawing references. What did illustrators use for references before they had the internet? I would have to have bookcases full of references books to help with my drawings in the past.

Here are the drawings I'm currently working on:
Cattails or "Pickles",  as my friend Lois's grandson Luc identified them.


Hi Luc and Cole, how do you like these pickles?

Fairy with Dragonflies...                                                                  Fairy on Leaping Frog

Click to view larger version of image
© Copyright 2010. All rights reserved.

Drawing fairies

It's March and spring is in the air. I just saw a robin, my day lilies tender little shoots are beginnig to peek out in my garden, and the ground hogs are becoming active, Yikes! Last year I was on ground hog patrol trying to rid my garden of these pesky varmits. I got so tired of them using my garden as a buffet! I digress...

My creative process begins....

I've been working on some illustrations for a friends children's book. I started actively drawing for this project about a year ago and hit an impasse. I'm now re-energized, and for the last week I've been consumed with creating illustrations for a fairy poem.

My favorite childhood book was a Golden Book, illustrated by Garth Williams, not the singer, the artist! It's a wonderful collection of stories and poems collected by Susan Warner. The book is the Big Golden Book of Elves and Fairies. As a child, my mother read it to my sisters and me all the time. I grew up in the 50's, which is when this book first was published. It went out of print in 1957.

I searched for this book most of my adult life. I would cruz every old bookstore I came across hoping to find this book. I could never find it. Finally, I was at a dear friends helping with some organization projects and we came upon this book in her extensive collection of children's books. I commented on the fact that I had loved this book as a child and had looked for it in every old bookstore I had come across for the last twenty years.

She suggested that she call her children, (all adults now), and ask them if she could give their old book to me. She did, and all the siblings agreed it was a wonderful idea to pass this cherished book on to me. I was so touched, it was one of the most wonderful gifts I had ever received. I cherish it.

The Big Golden Book of Elves and Fairies was the inspiration for my illustrations. I've been totally immeshed in the process. I'm doing the illustrations directly on the computer using Adobe Photoshop. It's a great way to work and use my tools of Graphic Design to create these whimsical Illustrations.

I enjoy the process of taking pen in hand and drawing. I connecting with my creative process on a tactile level. I'm a graphic designer and use the computer every day so seperating my process from the computer is freeing. It's an involved process to do my line art by hand, scan drawings, convert the scanned art into clean lines in Photoshop, then add color in Photoshop. I'm now trying to do my painting directly in Photoshop and it's great to generate a digital version of my illustrations directly from my computer.

Please check the website I just designed. I'm part of a group that is publishing children's book. It's an honor to work with these friends. The publishing group is known as Screen Door Publishing. Please check out the website

© Copyright 2010. All rights reserved.