I Dare You Fun & Easy Landscape Challenge with Zentangle® step-by-step #Fun&EasyLandscape #Zentangle #StepByStep

I was asked to provide a challenge for this week's 'I Dare You' challenge at the Zentangle All Around Facebook Group, using one of my Fun & Easy Landscapes.

The challenge is posted every Wednesday, and I went a little crazy and decided to do a Fun & Easy Landscape step-by-step that covered everything from drawing to shading through coloring.  Hah! Real Life laughted at me, and I ended up with two finished pieces, a step-by-step for one, and a partial step-by-step of the second.

Zentangle is all about relaxing, not worrying over choices and going with the flow.  Fun & Easy  Landscapes are about discussing why one might make the decisions they do, and what to look for if you are unhappy with your finished work.  If you are more into the Zentangle aspect, just scroll past the explanations, and learn from the artwork.  If you are more into the Fun & Easy Landscape, read the explanations and learn from the artwork too.

A tangled artwork where the patterns are the focus of the piece
The focus of the step-by-steps are the two ways of approaching a Zentangle-Inspired Art and Fun & Easy Landscapes.  The finished work can be tangled art with landscape motifs or it can be a landscape with tangle patterns added.

Pattern Motif: A motif  is an element of the artistic work. It can be a single image or, the important emphasis for this discussion, a  motif may be an image that is repeated in order to create a pattern.  If you draw a circle several times, it is a motif for a pattern of circles.  If you draw a circle, a square and a banana grouped together, and then repeat that grouped image again in the same work, the whole group is a motif. In essence, you can make a pattern from almost anything, if you repeat it.

Fun & Easy Landscape where the landscape elements are the focus rather than the tangle patterns 

Paper: Clairefontaine  Habana Journal Paper.  I used this paper because I knew it work well with pens and markers I intended to use.
Line work: Pigma Micron pen.  I used this pen because the ink is waterproof and I could use my coloring pens over it.
Coloring: Tombow Dual Brush pens (Glacier Blue, Orchid, Tan, Peach, Pale Yellow) and Sakura Koi Watercolor Brush Pens (Lime Green, Green, Yellow).  I used the pens dry, without adding water.
Fixing Mistakes: Yeah *sighs*  I make those.  I use a Sharpie White Acrylic marker to lighten (it won't cover the color completely) the area.  I let it dry and then re-color.  You can see where it was used, so I only use it for very small mistakes or very large mistakes.

FUN & EASY LANDSCAPE STEP-OUTS USED: Who-lee Tree, Shaggy Plant, Use.
For a full list of Fun & Easy Landscape Step-outs, Step-by-steps, Step-wiselys, glossary and guide rules go here.

Guide rule: If you are going to fill your Fun & Easy Landscape with tangle patterns, keep your landscape elements simple.  

TANGLE PATTERNS USED:  Tootsie MoonTweetyHeartFlow,  Sand-Swirl.

Step-by-step ONE

In Zentangle, you have strings - lines drawn to separate the art into sections.  When combining tangles with a landscape the division of the landscape becomes your strings.  I chose three hills and the sky for my sections.  You might have a pond or lake surrounded by land and the sky, or the land with mountains and the sky for your sections.  The variety is endless, but try to keep it simple.

Since I want the focus to be on the patterns for this drawing, I kept my landscape elements smaller, used as I would patterns, and centered everything, which I wouldn't do in a landscape.

Things to notice about the above step:

  • The landscape elements are drawn first.
  • The three hills are a pattern motiff as well as a landscape element as well as strings.
  • The trees (Who-lee Tree) are pattern motifs as well as a landscape element.  
    • The 'holes' in the tree are part of the tree pattern.
  • The sheep (Use) and the bush (Shaggy Plant) echo each other, but aren't really a pattern.  
    • If I had done two sheep, each alike, then the sheep would be a pattern motif.
  • The sheep, the shaggy plant and the who-lee trees all echo one another being similar in size, having similar contrast values (light and dark) and being about the same distance.  This gives each area the same amount of weight. 

When you add patterns to your landscape, the whole piece gets busy and can easily confuse the eye.  In past step-by-steps, I've talked about the importance of weight and interest and leading the eye with direction and values.  With tangles, it is equally important to watch the direction of your patterns, because the viewer will follow them as much or more as the values.

In the step above, I chose Tweety, because:

  • I felt the 'wavy' movement had the feel of a rocky or tiered hillside.
  • I could wrap it around the hill, leading the eye toward the center of the drawing - which is where I'm hoping to direct the viewer.
  • It provides a medium value to the light of the bush's foliage, and the dark of the trunk.

Note that the motif in Tweety is two circles inside hourglass shaped lines.

In the step above, I chose Tootsie Moon, because:
  • I felt the 'wavy' movement had the feel of a rocky or tiered hillside.
  • It is similar to Tweety but different enough to add interest
  • It creates a darker value than the other patterns I chose, making the center of the drawing the overall darkest, which is something that will draw the viewer's eye.
  • I could wrap it around the hill, leading the eye toward the center of the drawing - which is where I'm hoping to direct the viewer.
Note that the motif in Tootsie Moon is two half-moons bisected by a line and surrounded by wavy lines.

I left the top of the hill blank, because I want light reflecting there.

In the step above, I chose HeartFlow, because:
  • It is different enough from Tweety and Tootsie Moon, but has a similar flow
  • It looks like foliage
  • I can choose how dark it gets by how I shade or color the different parts of the motif.
  • It provides a medium value to the light of the sheep's wool, and the dark of the face and legs.
Note that the motif in Heartflow is two circles joined by a crescent shape with one or two heart shapes on each side of the crescent.

As I started to draw the Sand-Swirl pattern, I realized I want a different structure than the pattern creates, and started using it by alternating between the top and bottom as one would when drawing the pattern Paradox.  I felt this framed the center more.

For the above step, I chose a Sand-Swirl variation, because:

  • It is psychedelic and I like that, lol.
  • The loop and line are similar to the 'gust' lines often used in pen and ink drawings to illustrate the clouds, sky and wind
  • The straight lines are a complete contrast to the other patterns used
  • The overall value of the pattern is lighter than the other three patterns
Note that the motif in Sand-swirl is a line that ends by curling into a loop.

Step-by-step TWO

I was running out of time (it's 03:30 am Monday morning as I write this) so I only have two steps for this drawing.  My choices for the patterns are pretty much the same, so I think you'll get the gist.

Things to notice about the above step:

  • The landscape elements are drawn first.
  • Because I want the landscape to dominate over the patterns, I drew more, larger elements and placed them in a more natural order for a landscape.
  • I used two variations of the Shaggy Plant. Even though this means the Shaggy plant is repeated, it is not a pattern motif because they are not the same shape.
  • The elements still echo each other in approximate size, contrast and values.
    • The exception is the second group of trees which are smaller to give a sense of distance.
  • By using the second group of trees, which is grouped in the same way as the first, the group of trees becomes a pattern motif as well as landscape elements.  
    • Each tree within both groups is also a motif.

Things to notice about the above step:

  • Because I didn't center this drawing, and because I want the sheep to be the focal point, I changed the direction of the patterns.  
    • Tootsie Moon flows toward the sheep
    • I changed the placement of Tweety and Heartflow so that both would flow toward the sheep.
  • I used the original version of sand-swirl this time to imply wind rather than emphasize pattern.
  • I haven't filled in any of the darker values - the face, legs, tree trunk, holes or any of the pattern elements.  I knew this would be a busy landscape, and I wanted to get a sense of the finished piece before I decided where the darkest values would go.
At the black and white stage of these drawings, shading is sorely needed to give some separation to the sections and help the eye decide where to go.  I chose to shade with color, but it could be done with pencil, pen or gray marker.

Critique Discussion
I'm pretty happy with both of these drawings in the finished color stage.  In the first version, I played with fairly realistic light and shadows to give a sense of drama to the patterns.  The only thing I would change would be to have two sheep instead of a sheep and a tree.  I did do the sheep and tree on purpose though, in order to further explain the idea of the pattern motif.

With the second drawing my Orchid Tombow ran out of color so I had to mix blue and peach and I don't like the color as well.  I got the shaggy plants too dark, so the contrast values didn't work with the sheep.  That I fixed using the white sharpie.

However, in looking at it, the squared Shaggy plants seem to lead the eye to the outside of the page instead of the sheep, as I intended.  Next time, I would move them to the right and make them parallelograms leaning toward the sheep.

I hope you've found something of interest in all this jibber-jabber.  If you want to explore more of my Fun & Easy Landscape series, you can find links to everything here.