Friday, March 4, 2016

Finding and Breaking Down Patterns for Inspiration

At the end of last year, I signed up for a year-long mixed media class called Wanderlust. One of the techniques taught so far is Zentangle. The same weekend I was practicing my first tangles, we went to the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto (during the COLDEST weekend of the winter thus far. BRRR!). 

dinosaur skeleton royal ontario museum

Because I had been practicing Zentangles during down time in the hotel room, I was particularly tuned into patterns while we were at the museum. We spent the majority of our time in the Made in China: Cultural Encounters in Export Art exhibit. Other than the dinosaur photo above, every picture I took was mostly about pattern. These are just a few examples:

pattern selections Made in China Exhibit Royal Ontario Museum

The plan was to draw them into a pattern of some kind to keep for future reference and inspiration. I decided to play with the photo below first.

pattern selection Made in China Exhibit Royal Ontario Museum

On my first attempt, I tried keeping the branches, but it just looked blah. So then I just focused on the flowers. I did practice these a few times in a few different ways before doing my final pattern stepped out for you below to use if you want to try it. 

pattern drawing for use and inspiration

Step 1- Top Left: Draw a few random circles spread out. These circles will remain on top of the stack of circles. Add the pattern to the interior of the circles.

Step 2 - Top Right: Draw partial circles peeking out from behind the full circles you drew first. 

Step 3 - Bottom Left: Continue drawing more partial circles, add more full circles (that are top of the stack) as needed and fill in. Draw the interior circle patterns. You can leave it like this if you want. 

Optional Step 4 - Bottom Right: Start shading. The pattern is lovely on its own, but shading gives it so much more depth and interest in the sketchbook format. You can use a regular #2 pencil or if you have graphite drawing pencils, this is a good time to play with those. You will also want to use a tortillon. For this pattern, I start by shading a shadow cast down from all the top circles onto the bottom circles. In this photo, I've started shading the last half, leaving the right half alone. 

pattern drawing for use and inspiration

Option Step 5: After creating a shadow under all the top circles, I decided it needed more. So I imagined a light coming from the top left side, and shaded the bottom right of the circles. 

pattern drawing for use and inspiration

This is my final product. I have a Pogo printer (similar to this) that I will print out a photo of the original inspiration. It's a sticker, so then I will just stick it to the top of the page where there is a blank space.

I use a small 5.5" x 8" sketchbook to play with markers for tangling or for watercolor markers, etc. It isn't really meant for water, but this book isn't precious, so it isn't a big deal if I destroy a few pages playing with marker techniques and patterns, etc.


Here are a couple tangles I've tried from a book I have. You can see where it's hardly professional quality. I'm just playing with it to see how it feels and how it works:

practice zentangles

You can try this technique with any pattern you find that you think is interesting. You can find pattern in so many places if you pay attention. It can be in nature, fabrics, buildings, art, jewelry, and so much more.

jen cameron glass addictions bio

1 comment :

  1. Awesome Jen, I can see I'll have to make a trip to the ROM!


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