Back to Basics


Let’s go back. Back to the beginning. Back to what we learned to get us started. Back before we learned so much that it is hard to recall how we got hooked in the first place. Back. To the basics.

What am I talking about? I am talking about tangling. The basics, the bare bones, the beginning lines and strokes and drawing that we learned when we first started. Tangling is typically done on a 3.5″ square piece of paper. The thought is if you work small, you can actually finish a piece of art in 10-15 minutes. Sometimes that is all the time you can fit into your already busy, crazy, hectic day. So we work small. In that small space, use a pencil and make a dot in each corner. Then join those dots forming a loose box shape. That is going to be area that you draw – or tangle – inside. I said ‘loose’ because this isn’t cut in stone. It is a guideline. A framework. And in that framework we draw a pencil line to divide our box into sections. Normally this is called a string. Remember that it too is a guideline. Not etched in stone.

Pick 3 or 4 tangle patterns that you are comfortable with and tangle one in each section. That pencil line – don’t worry about it being there. Just draw and keep on going. That line will eventually blend into the background. For tangling, think permanent. My pen of choice is typically a Technical Drawing Pen from Zebra Pen. They come in various nib sizes and they work great. And they are permanent. I started this section with a pattern called hollibaugh, then I added an aura – an outline – around it.

Moving on to my next section, I started the moon shapes for the pattern crescent moon. It is a fun one to use because it makes some crazy lines and it is great for shading practice.

Got to fill those shapes in with some color. I was working in my Baby Leda Pocket Sketchbook from Leda Art Supply. I am an Artist Ambassador for them and I love this book. Just the right size for tangling in, I can carry it when I travel, it takes both wet and dry media, and the paper is so smooth to draw on.

See what I mean about those crazy lines with crescent moon? I love how they stack and pile up! I also filled in the pockets of hollibaugh with color, which created a whole lot of dark down that middle swath. To balance the tile out, I chose to use just one open fill pattern in those outer segments. Printemps. It fills but also leaves some openness which brings balance to the piece. I had started shading in this photo. Graphite and a tortillon. Smudge the graphite wherever there are over-and-under areas, valleys, overlaps, where lines meet.

Last of all I added a bit heavier shading along the inner edges of printemps – where they met crescent moon and hollibaugh. There is a lot you can do with shading. I could have shaded all the way around the outside of the hollibaugh section, but opted to leave it alone at this point. Back to basics. If you are in a tangling slump – go back to basics. If you are new to tangling – start with the basics. Wonder if you have lost your mind because there are literally hundreds, maybe thousands of tangles? Go back to basics. It is the happening place in the tangle world. Peace out.

Oh, need a place to learn more about tangling? Well, this website is loaded with info, but if you want a place to be with a lot of like-minded people, where you can get encouragement and learn and grown at your own pace, head on over to my group on Facebook. It’s called Tangle All Around. We would love to meet you there!

Want to find out more? Click the following links:
Zebra Pen
Tangle Patterns
Leda Art Supply
Tangle All Around

16 thoughts on “Back to Basics

    • yes, it is 🙂 it isn’t snowing here currently but we have plenty. stay inside and warm <3

  1. This is good….very good….
    Being new it can be a little overwhelming with so many tangles!
    I’m working on it…..maybe I’ll post something in about a year! 😂

    • Hahahahahahahaha! Don’t wait a year! Hahahahahaha! Yes, it does get overwhelming. I think that’s the main reason I usually start with printemps. It is my comfort tangle.

  2. Thanks for the reminder. I have been “surfing” a lot of tangle sights lately and it is refreshing to be reminded of how it all started. And I took your advice and actually posted my first tile on Tangle All Around. Love my new found family of tanglers.

    • And your ratoon is amazing. I like how you mixed it with mooka. Glad you posted. You will get lots of positive comments. And love

  3. A really super post – one that people can use as a reference to explain if they’ve not got access to a CZT. I keep coming back to look at your version of Hollibaugh, so so effective. Who’d have thought that Hollibaugh could be so fascinating?

    • I know, right? I like playing with hollibaugh and doing different things with it. really flexible tangle. took me years to figure this out

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