Patterns, simple pleasures and muddled minds.

Just got back from the hospital for round 5 of my chemo.  That means I only have one more to go – Hooray!

For any of you who have been through the chemotherapy process you will recognise it when I say that sometimes my brain works so slowly and in such a muddled way that it is like thinking through treacle.  I have to keep things really simple in order to be able to function in a coherent way.  Following a series of instructions, or trying to remember more than one thing at a time seems an impossible thing to achieve now, and it not only has an impact on daily life – following recipes (we have had some very interesting suppers as a result – not!), reading letters and emails that require thoughtful and correctly spelt responses, doing the shopping and coming out with everything on your list.  All these things are proving interesting and sometimes entertaining, but also frustrating.  None more so than in my creative arena.  As the treatment progresses, I find it harder and harder to do anything that is in the least bit complex. consequently I was surprised at the pleasure I found and the relative ease of doing something like Zentangle.  It looks sooooooooo complicated, and I would not have thought to go there if it had not been for my lovely sister in law sending me a book on the subject.  It is called Zentangle Art Therapy by anya Lothrop, and I think I have seen it in the supermarkets with the magazines (can’t seem to find you a link for this, but it is a GMC publication).  Wendy bought it for me because it has a tag line of “Meditative Drawing” and she knows how much I have enjoyed my Mindfulness course.

I have to say it looked a little daunting given my ability to think at the moment, but I gave it a whirl and found that the extremely simple and straight forward instructions with excellent diagrams on how to build a pattern pen stroke by penstroke we really easy to follow.  My very first “Tangle” as they call them is below.  The first pattern in the tangle is the box pattern on the left.  It looks so complicated but was a doddle to build following the picture instructions.


The beauty of Zentangle is that you there is a sort of formula to follow that removes a lot of the decision making process and also the fear of a blank sheet of paper.  You work on small areas at a time and in this form there is no colour so you don’t have to worry about colour choices.  It is just pure pattern in bite size chunks.  You don’t have to have any overall idea of where you are going, just pick a patter and fill a space.  This is absolutely perfect for my level of thinking ability right now, and it is meditative in that you have to concentrate on the pattern without thinking of other things at the same time.



20150515_141323-01 Zentangle number 2.  Don’t go hunting for the mistakes, there are plenty, but I don’t care. For me it is the process that is healing and helpful, and fun.  I feel like I am doing something creative even if my creative input is limited and I am just following a process.


Getting adventurous now – changing my shape, although I think it needs to be rotated clockwise by 90 degrees to make more sense.


Maybe I had polo mints or doughnuts on the brain when I drew this one, but it seemed the perfect vehicle to attempt a more 3D image.


A simple fish shape lent itself very nicely to experimenting with more Zentangle patterns, and it provided the opportunity to think a bit more about the design itself rather than just randomly adding pattern.


Black and white is all very well, but I can’t stay away from colour for too long so I sploshed a bit of water colour onto some water colour paper and then added my tangles.  I went over them with more water colour to help define the patterns.  You can tell I had a bit more brain power for this one than my first one as I had to think about where to place the colours.


Trying out some more patterns that lend themselves to colour.  Made my mistakes, but it doesn’t matter.  These are all done for my pleasure and sense of achievement, and if it weren’t for the fact that it has been ages since I last blogged and I have nothing other than this to share with you, they would have stayed safely out of public view!

20150515_141446-01Then I discovered Joanne Fink and her Zenspirations Dangle Designs workbook.  I just love the zany contemporary feel to these doodles, and I felt compelled to give it a go.  Again, it is easy to follow her instructions to build up the patterns and designs, and I coloured mine with some neon roller ball pens.

20150515_141458-01There is so much scope with these for cards and scrapbooking I think.  I used a little set of Stabilo pens to colour in the shapes.  Choosing a limited palette really helps to get a cohesive look.  These designs are quick.


Getting bolder, and having more fun.


This is not my usual sort of think but I had to give it a go.


This one is for everyone of you who have sent me lovely messages, cards, gifts, flowers and treats.  Every single little thing makes such a difference to me, and lifts my spirits, helping me through the difficult weeks.  And just to show you that today is not a difficult day as chemo went smoothly, and I have every hope that this cycle will be easier than the last. I am armed and prepared with more medication to combat the side effects.  Here is a picture of me today, on return from the hospital sporting my combo head gear of yoga head band, chemo cap and ultra cheap scarf entwined with a Friendly Plastic necklace I made many moons ago.  Friendly Plastic is something I can’t get back to just yet as I need my head to be a little less stupid, but at least I can use what I have already got in a creative manner.


It might take me another couple of weeks or so to post again, but in the mean time, enjoy every moment you have, do things single mindedly, and concentrate on the positive things in life – there are always positives, even when you find it hard to see them, sometimes you just have to look at things from a different angle.