Thursday, 22 February 2018

Happy New Year.

Welcome to the year of the Earth Dog.

We had a wonderful weekend of celebrations for Lo-gSar (Tibetan New Year), and I enjoyed wearing Tibetan clothing for the Saturday, and Bhutanese clothing for the Sunday.

Hopefully this will be a fruitful and creative year. My latest book is coming on well and will hopefully be published this year. It is on the subject of bLo-sByong (Lo-jong - Mind Training) by 'Chhad-kha-ba Yes-shes rDo-rJe (Chekawa Yeshé Dorje, 1101-1175), and the 59 slogans.

I will also be creating zentangles, which I find a most enjoyable occupation. I introduced zentangling in an earlier post. It is an artistic form which embraces non-figurative creativity. The work is turned as it is created so that it is free from the concept of orientation. The piece evolves of itself from the tangles (patterns) employed. The tangles are created from five elements: the dot, the straight line, the curved line, the reverse curved line, and the orb or circle. Here is a recent piece.

Monday, 4 December 2017

Happy birthday one year old

Today was my grandson’s first birthday. My how they change in the first year! He is such a little personality now and an absolute delight. I am thoroughly enjoying being a grandmother.

Smiley and happy from an early age.
Richard and Steph have adopted an interesting approach to feeding. As soon as Sam started taking solid food they gave him pieces to pick up and eat by himself. They did not puree food or feed him from a spoon. I was a bit dubious at first, but it has proved to be brilliant. His manual dexterity is unusually good. He can pick up single peas, with ease. It has also meant that family meals are a really shared experience. No one has to have their meal going cold while they help Sam, because Sam just feeds himself.
He loves books.
I am looking forward to seeing how he changes in the next year, and starting to walk and talk. I will be looking after him for two days a week in January as his nursery place will not be available for a full week  until February - so that should be fun.

Wednesday, 29 November 2017


I find zentangling very relaxing and artistically satisfying. The use of simple lines and shading creates artistic surprises. Usually I do not have any expectation of how a piece will look when I start out. The experience has become even better since I started tangling on square cards 9cm x 9cm, rather than in a sketchbook, because I naturally turn the square as I work. This overcomes the fixation with what is the top and what is the bottom and seems to free the mind even more. This is part of the ethos of zentangling.
First attempt to draw 'jewels'

There is a back story to zentangling that can present it as a spiritual practice. I would not go so far as to say that my zentangles are spiritual works! They are fun. Sometimes I am happy with them; sometimes I am less happy with them. I enjoy that they are small and can be completed in a session, or two at most. I value trying to perfect a line - but am still too slapdash at this. There are many people out there who generously share their ideas and I enjoy learning from them all.

Created from a FB prompt
I follow and enjoy using their strings and patterns. I have just started following Studio ML and using the weekly challenge she sets as a starting point. There are also a number of groups on FaceBook, some of whom will offer prompts from time to time. Sometimes the limitation of a prompt is a good starting point. At the bottom are a few more links in case you want to have a go. Beware of those who are making a business out of zentangling - there is a sufficient community of open-hearted contributors giving ideas for free.

From Studio ML prompt #342
FB Zen Treasure Trove
FB Zentangle Enthusiasts
FB For the Love of Tangling
FB Entangled in Zentangle

Sunday, 26 November 2017

Art Journalling and Zentangling

I began art journalling in 2014 because I wanted to start bringing a little artwork back into my life. I enjoyed the first year of challenges offered by the Facebook group ‘A Documented Life.’ I greatly valued the range of artistic ideas the challenges provided, and enjoyed many of the prompts.
2014 Art Journal week 23 - things to be grateful for
I enjoyed the project even more in 2015, with each week offering a prompt for a particular artistic technique and medium. I was starting to find it difficult trying to keep up with producing a weekly piece though, and by the end of the year I was  not so sure about continuing.

2015 Art Journal: a featured motif + watercolour crayons
After musing about whether to continue with A Documented Life in 2016, they announced that they were introducing a fee for people to be a member and access the challenges and prompts, and so  I decided not to continue with them. I was not particularly interested in furthering my involvement with techniques like collage, stamping, colour exercises, printing, using back paper, and so on, but it had been a delight to have these re-introduced me to. I also wanted to explore zentangling. I decided to created a piece of artwork a month in the form of a concertina-shaped book. Nearly all of that year’s images were based on photographs I had taken that month, and many of them used zentangling. The ‘journal’ aspect of the work became increasingly tenuous however, and was sometimes tagged on almost as an afterthought. I fully recognised that it was creating pieces of art that was the interest, not the journalling.

I started again in 2017 and produced January to March, but realised that my heart was no longer in it. I did not feel the need to journal my life. There did not seem to be more that I wanted to explore in terms of working from photographs to artwork. I gave myself permission to stop. I will always be grateful to the five artists of the Documented Life Project for getting me back into creating on paper. I was fully back into creating regular artwork, but zentangling had become my passion.

One of my earliest zentangles

Thursday, 23 November 2017

Bhutan Pilgrimage

Dordenma Buddha statue, Thimphu
I have just been fortunate in having the most amazing experience - a pilgrimage to Bhutan. It is an extraordinary country and the most civilised place I have ever been. They may not be at the forefront of development and modern living standards, but they absolutely understand that civilisation is not about how much you earn or how much you own. Their focus is on ‘Gross National Happiness’ and the West can learn a lot from them.
Dochula Pass
As a practitioner of Vajrayana Buddhism, it was so valuable to visit a Vajrayana country. Even more so than in Nepal or India, being a practitioner, and displaying that in my dress and demeanour, is totally understood and respected. The landscape is spectacular, and the manner in which they are protecting their religion, culture and heritage is exemplary. It is not possible to gush too much about Bhutan!

At Tak-tsang, Tiger's Nest
It is expensive to visit, but once you have arrived everything is taken care of - from bottles of water while travelling, to picnic lunches, to admissions to sites, and so on. There is no need to pay for anything extra if you do not want to. Our only real extra expenditure was donations at lhakhangs (temples). Our group has created a Flickr account with photos of the pilgrimage:

I have been able to meditate in some of the most inspiring places on Earth - places where Padmasambhava practised, as well as many other great historic practitioners. It has been inspiring beyond words.

Tuesday, 30 May 2017

Newyddion yn Gymraeg a Saesneg - news in Welsh and English

Dw i wedi gwneud 'Say Something in Welsh' am dipyn. Ond am ychydig o fis dw i wedi gneud bron bob dydd. Dw i'n teimlo bod fy Nghymraeg i'n well iawn. Dw i wedi bod yn ysgrifennu dyddiadur yn Gymraeg a bydda i benderfyni ysgrifennu fy blog i yn Gymraeg a Saesneg.

Wythnos diwetha, nes i warchod fy ŵyr i am y tro cyntaf. Canais i 'Ten Men in a Boat' lawer o weithiau! Mwynheais i warchod iddo fe, ond o’n i wedi blino dydd nesa. 'ö-Dzin a fi bydd trio siarad â Sam yn Gymraeg. Doedd ei rieni e ddim yn hoffi cyhoeddus o luniau o Sam. Dw i'n barch hynny, felly fydda i ddim yn dangos lluniau o Sam yma.

Amser hir yn ôl, o'n i'n gweithio mewn ffatri ffabrig. Ro'n i'n gweithio 3 peiriant dylif. Roedd yr edafedd ar silindr cardbord cryf. Ro'n i'n creu mobile (allai i ddim ffeindio'r gair Cymraeg) o un o silindr. Ydy e hen nawr a gwyw, felly o’n i'n creu amineiddiad ohono fe o 32 lluniau. Dw i'n hapus gyda fe.
I have been doing 'Say Something in Welsh' for a while. But for a few months I have been doing it nearly every day. I feel that my Welsh is improving well.I have been writing a diary in Welsh and have decided to write my blog in Welsh and English.

Last week I babysat for my grandson for the first time. I sang 'Ten Men in a Boat' many times! I enjoyed babysitting him, but I was very tired next day. ’ö-Dzin and I will try and talk Welsh to him. his parents do not like to publish pictures of Same. I respect that, so I will not publish pictures of him on my blog.

A long time ago, I worked in a textiles factory. I worked 3 warp machines. The yarn was on strong cardboard cylinders. I made a mobile from one of the cylinders. It is now rather old and faded, so I have made an animation of it from 32 photos. I'm pleased with the result.

Friday, 7 April 2017

Teaching and walking; sunshine, woodland, and anemones

The spring weather has been so glorious that we decided we had to get out into the countryside for a walk over the weekend, even though we were busy. On the Saturday we taught at Aro Ling Cardiff. This went well and we also had a few for the morning practice session on Sunday. Then the rest of the day was free.

Sunday was also ’ö-Dzin’s birthday. The sun was shining, the birds singing, and our hearts were joyful. We did not want to spend hours in a car, so we explored the area east of Caerphilly, not far from home. We had hoped to find a Ridgeway walk, but didn’t quite succeed in this. Next time.

We had lunch at the Hollybush in Draethen – a lovely meal. Then we drove back to Llwyn Hir woodland and walked for a couple of hours. It was delightful to be warm enough without a coat. The woodland anemones were shining in the undergrowth, blooming boldly before the trees are in leaf. It took a while to find a high enough and open enough space to sit and practice sem-dzin, but eventually we did. We were surprised to be able to see the Severn Bridge in the far distance.

We are going on pilgrimage to Bhutan in October and will need to be fit for walking, so this was useful exercise in preparation. It is good to find inspiring walks near to home.