Monday, 26 November 2018

How to Write a Great Newsletter

  I'm not sure whether those of you who follow me on here know that I actually have a newsletter. It's a growing list of more than 200 people. It's a mix of Singapore-based and international subscribers. If you're interested to be a part of the list, you can sign up for it by clicking here.

  I'm constantly trying to learn how to be a better content-creator. I know that when I send out newsletters, I have to include things of value. For me, that's often inspiring photos of my art or my students' art works. Other times, it includes how-to's and tutorials.

  Recently, I read some very helpful articles on a site called "Emma".... From there, I learnt what I should and should NOT to include in my emails. And I thought to share what I'd learnt with you....

Titles Are Important
  Emma says to not use misleading titles- what you say in the subject line should describe what is within your email. Titles should NOT be one word only, nor should they be any longer than about twelve words. I think I'm pretty solid on this matter. I always take a moment to think about an interesting title that describes the email's content.   However, apparently, I'm not supposed to use any phrase with the word “free” in the subject line. This is a problem when I have free workshops.... I always thought it'd be a positive to mention that in the subject line, but supposedly a lot of email providers sort emails with certain keywords in their subject line into the spam folder. Think along the lines of "Guaranteed increase in size!" and "Limited time offer of natural cure to cancer!"... I can see their point.

  For a list of words that you should void, you can refer to this post:

Pre-header Text Are a Thing
  I actually didn't know this was a thing.... Preview text appears right after your subject line. It's usually the first sentence in your email. So you need to ensure that your first sentence will make people want to open your email. I'll definitely be using this nifty trick in my next newsletter.

No SHOUTING or Emojis
  I've never used all CAPS in an email to anyone, ever. So that's good. No emojis, too, they say. Reason being that not all devices can read emojis. So the person reading your email might just see a bunch of boxes... I'll stick to smiley faces. :)

Targetted Emails
  This is something I've never considered. I've never collected details of my subscribers' locations. I don't know how many of them are based locally in Singapore, and how many are international followers.... Emma says it'd be good to send targetted emails to my audience. So, for example, if I'm just talking about local classes, I might choose to not send that email to those subscribers living outside of Singapore. I'll need to sit and think about whether I'd want to find out that info, and how I'd go about collecting that info as well.

Your Subscribers Are Not Hostages
  Therefore you shouldn't make demands. Everything should be phrased as an opportunity for your subscribers, not a command. I'm sitting here, squinting... trying to recall if I've ever made a demand. Does "Sign up soon as slots are limited" sound like a demand? ... I think that doesn't sound so bad. What do you think?

Buttons are The Best
  Emma says that "Calls to Action" buttons can increase click-through rates by 28% compared to traditional hyperlinks. All of my links are traditional links, so I'm going to have to think about how I can change my work flow to include buttons in my newsletters...

One Thing at a Time, Please
  This is something I definitely am at fault for. I will be super excited to tell my subscribers about the hundred and one projects I have going on... and so I will try to include seven pictures, three links, and information about an up-coming class all in one email. hahaha. Apparently, too many choices causes people to not choose anything at all. So my solution is to split different things into different emails, that I will then send out on different days.

  And that about covers all that I've learnt. I hope that this condensed post taught you something for your own newsletters. If you are an artist/art teacher and have your own newsletter, I'd love to be a part of your subscriber list. So I am inviting you to leave a short note on who you are and a link to where I can subscribe to your newsletter in the comments section below. :)

  I hope you're having a great day so far. Much love until time.

Thursday, 15 November 2018

it's been how long since I last posted??!

  It's been a hot minute since I posted on here. Here's a collection of pretty pictures from back when I left for my maternity leave...

  Starting with a class tile:

  I'm so glad I'm back to teaching weekly/private classes and corporate workshops.

A Travelling Tangles Project tile:

  And pages from a hand-stitched mini sketchbook made using Fabriano paper:

  Not so pleased with this page. But it is what it is, and I choose to share my successes AND occasional flops. So here it is.

  And if you haven't seen the flip-through video of the entire sketchbook... Here it is:

  And a Fugu border on a colourful cotton candy coloured tile. Want to learn how to draw this? Click here.

Wednesday, 10 October 2018

Stephanie Jennifer featured in The Business Times

  It is with great joy that I show you this article from The Business Times, where I was featured.

  In case you cannot read the text, it says:

Zentangle is not the name of the latest dance craze, nor is it a hairbrush that promises to keep tangles away while making you feel zen.

Instead, it's a way of creating uncomplicated, abstract drawings using simple repeat patterns. According to Stephanie Jennifer, a certified Zentangle teacher: "As your mind focuses on drawing these patterns, your body relaxes, achieving a state similar to what people feel when they meditate. Time passes without your notice, your thoughts clear, and anxiety fades away."

While Zentangle is fairly new in Singapore, it was first started in 2003, by American artist-couple Rick Robert and Maria Thomas.

Ms Jennifer runs her own art enrichment centre which teaches Zentangle, as well as conducting workshops for kids and companies. There are also online Zentangle kits that you can buy.

Zentangle requires a few materials, namely a pen, a pencil, a tortillon which is a blending stump, and a square piece of drawing paper. "The idea is to make it portable so you can draw anywhere," says Ms Jennifer. "You can even draw in the waiting area of your dentist's office to relax yourself before a dental appointment."

There are eight steps to Zentangle. The first step involves getting comfortable, and appreciating the opportunity to create a piece of art.

The second step is to place a light pencil dot in each corner of a 9cm by 9cm piece of paper, or tile as it is called in Zentangle, about a pen's width from the edges.

Next, create a border by connecting the dots with a light pencil line, to create a square.

The fourth step is to draw a light pencil line or lines inside the border to separate the paper into sections. As there is no right or wrong way to create a Zentangle, the lines inside the border can be curvy or straight.

Next, using a pen, create a tangle, which is a predefined sequence of simple strokes that make up a pattern. Use deliberate strokes, and focus on each stroke rather than the final picture.

You then add shades of gray with a pencil to bring contrast and dimension to the tile. The black and white two-dimensional tangles transform through shading and appear three-dimensional. A tortillion can also be used to soften and blend the graphite.

After that, put an initial on the art piece and there you have it - your own work of art.

Being good at Zentangle doesn't require any prior drawing experience. "Zentangle is abstract. As long as you can draw lines and curves, you can do it," notes Ms Jennifer.

Most tangles are created using two or three repeated strokes. "The simplicity allows you to shut off the logic part of your brain so that you achieve that relaxed state that meditation brings. There is no pre-planning of how your art will turn out, and you take things one line at a time," says Ms Jennifer, whose students range from seven to over 80 years old.

While students start by drawing on 9cm by 9cm tiles, Zentangle art can be created on bags, shoes, gift boxes, T-shirts and coasters.

Kids enjoy Zentangle because they have the freedom to be creative. "Adults join our classes to rediscover that innate ability to draw that everyone has but loses as they grow up," adds Ms Jennifer. "And then it becomes a form of relaxation for them."

Sunday, 9 September 2018

Inktober Tangles 2018 Prompts

   Hello world! As we approach October, I have come up with a list for the annual Inktober challenge. Inktober is an online event where artists all over the world challenge themselves by doing one ink drawing a day the entire month. I adapted the idea to fit with Zentangle art by making each day's prompts be a tangle.

  If you'd like to participate, draw a tile a day using the day's listed tangle, and hashtag your art work using #InktoberTangles so that other people can find out what you create each day. You can post your art on your blog or on your Instagram.

  If you cannot commit to the entire month, you can opt to draw however many tiles you can manage, or you can also combine the prompts of a couple of days into one tile. If you miss a day, don't feel discouraged! Just continue from where you left, or do that day's prompt. The challenge is meant to get you to draw more, not to have you be overwhelmed, so just do what you can and have fun.   For easy reference, I have linked each tangle with their step-outs. So you can just click on them to find out how to draw them. 

  Without further ado, here are the prompts for Inktober Tangles 2018:

  1. Mooka 
  2. YAH 
  3. Ginilli 
  4. Facets 
  5. Fleavy 
  6. Pais 
  7. Onion Drops 
  8. Cockles 'n' Mussels 
  9. Fe-Ba 
  10. Sez 
  11. Copada 
  12. Heartswell 
  13. Dewd 
  14. Ando 
  15. Inapod 
  16. Joki 
  17. Narwal 
  18. Luv-a 
  19. Abeko 
  20. W2 
  21. Hamadox 
  22. Yuma 
  23. Ixorus 
  24. Patience 
  25. Sand Swirl 
  26. Q-belle 
  27. Cross-ur-heart 
  28. Oybay 
  29. Wud 
  30. Frunky 
  31. Cruffle

  You can also save these posters. The black version is a square, to repost on Instagram. The white version is a printable version (to save on printer ink).

   I hope you find something new from this list, and that you have great fun with these prompts.  If you have any questions, leave a comment below. You can also reach me at and you can tag me on Instagram at "havepen_willdraw".

Thursday, 28 June 2018

Stephanie Jennifer's Baby Shower

  On the 17th of June, I had my baby shower. It was a day filled with joy and love, and I wanted to share the day with you... In addition to telling you about the little art projects that I did for the party.

  To answer some questions:

  • We're having a girl.
  • The baby's name is going to be "Charlotte".
  • I am due in mid-July 2018.

  Here's a video I created of the event:

  The idea I had for the party was that I didn't want to spend too much on it, and I wanted the things bought for the party to be useful after the event. With that in mind, here's a run-down on the decorations...

  • The streamers were left-over (unused) decoration from my niece's birthday party.
  • The shiny stars on the wall were from our 2017 Christmas party.
  • The "love" balloon was bought for just under $3 from Aliexpress.
  • The custom onesie was bought from Carousell for about $18.
  • I created the sign for the activity table, and the thumbprint tree myself.
  • Each guest received a hand-made "thank you" card, and a little gift bag filled with candy and chocolate. The gift bag was really pretty and gold (so fancy!) so that guests would be encouraged to reuse it as a jewellery bag or for something else. I sewed two of the bags together to create a little pouch for one of my watercolour palettes.

I bought them from Aliexpress.

  Here's how the thumbprint tree ended up looking like. I will be including the date of birth on the penciled line at the bottom of the page, and then framing it up. :)

  And here's the signed onesie. I absolutely love it. Lights on!

  Lights off! The brown envelope contains confetti from the large LED light balloon. And the pink ribbon and lights in the frame are from that balloon as well.

  Lastly, here are some of the thank you cards that I created for the party... They were really simple. Just a watercolour background wash... Then add a quote on them using Tombow markers. And then some details in gold using Finetec paints.

  Thank you for stopping by. I hope you gained some inspiration, and that you shared in some of the joy that I received on that day.

  Much love. Till' next time...

Saturday, 26 May 2018

throwback to then

  For this week's of Diva's Challenge, we were asked to go back into our stash of tiles and remake one of our favourites. I happened to have spring-cleaned my house and have recently found the sketchbook that was given to me at my CZT seminar. In it, I found this drawing:

Featuring N'zeppel and a pink marker.

  Keeping in mind that was three years ago....

  I re-did it in this way:

This time, I used watercolours and coloured pencils, plus white charcoal for the highlights.

  Keeping to the spirit of re-doing tiles, I did the same for Joey's challenge, which asked us to use Cadent. Here's a tile in my three year old sketchbook that featured Cadent...

  And here's what I created using the tangles Cadent, Crescent Moon, and Printemps. The background is watercolour. The shading is Polychromos coloured pencils. One of my students drew Printemps squished up into an oval shape, with the spirals being very close to one another... I thought it looked lovely. Like the rings of a tree. So that's the idea I tried to re-create in this tile.

  I'm currently 33 weeks pregnant! Can you believe it? I certainly can't.

  There's been a bit of water-retention and sore feet. But other than that, I don't have any other complaints. It's been a very easy pregnancy for me, and I hope my delivery will be the same. I'll be holding my baby shower in three weeks' time. How exciting.

  Even though I was down with the flu earlier this week, I created a Draw With Me tutorial video on how to draw a simplified version of "Oof". Perhaps you'd be interested in it:

  Lastly, here's a tile I completed, just for fun. It was sent to me by Beth Detzler for the Travelling Tangles Project. Here's what she did....

  And here's how I completed it...

Featuring Garlic Cloves.

  Thanks for popping by. I'll see y'all next week!

Wednesday, 16 May 2018

mother's day gems

  Hello lovelies~ How has your week been? Half of my household is down with the flu right now. My husband and I are still going strong, thankfully. I've planned for us to go on a date to a board games cafe today. :) Very excited for that.

  Here's what I did for this week's Zentangle challenges. Joey wanted us to use the tangle, "Friendship". The Diva wanted us to use auras in our tiles. In the top tile, I used Friendship as a border tangle and added Featherfall. With the bottom tile, I echoed the gemstones of Friendship, and used Tripoli and Diva Dance Waltz.
I really like finding ways to join tiles together in a sketchbook.

  For Mother's Day, I created some paper flowers, inspired by the lovely on Instagram. It was great fun, and I might just do a video tutorial on the project some time in the future.

  Even though I'm currently seven months pregnant, it didn't feel very Mother's Day-y for me... I'm guessing perhaps it'd feel more real next year. I did spend a lovely day with my mum. We went out shopping and for tea.
Done with Peerless watercolours.

  If you haven't seen it already, I posted a flip-through video of my Givetangle/Gratitangle 2017 sketchbook...

  I'm working on my spiral-bound Fabriano sketchbook. It contains drawings done using ballpoint pen or Neocolor. Here's one page I completed recently. It is a study done of a painting I found in an instructional book. I really like the colours. Looking at it on screen, I would darken the darks, though.
Neocolor II, used without water.

  And that is all I have for you this week. Thanks for stopping by.

Wednesday, 9 May 2018

tickle me pink

  Here is my sketchbook page for this week's Zentangle challenges. The Diva asked us to use her tangle, "Somnee". Joey asked us to use Whirlee. I didn't really like the Whirlee tile, but I like how the two tiles link up.

  Here's a tile from Sandie McClellan for the Travelling Tangles Project.

  And this is how I finished it.

  Lastly, I completed this canvas drawing last night. :) The pink background was created using acrylics. The tangles were drawn using the fine point of an Identipen. I filmed myself completing the piece, so you should see the process video up on my Youtube channel sometime this week.

Close up of the Singapore Sling on the canvas.

  Thanks for popping by. I'll see you next week. Until then, keep tangling!

Thursday, 3 May 2018


  Here's my sketchbook page for this week's Zentangle challenge. The Diva wanted us to create a tile to celebrate Earth Day, and Joey wanted us to use the tangle "Spoken". I tried to make my page colourful and resembling a sunset.

  Here's a page that I did just for fun. Featuring Fant-ik, Ilac, Diva Dance Waltz, and Printemps. I'll be teaching these patterns in my May classes.

  And here are some envelopes I created for the Travelling Tangles Project.

  I added some wax seals on the back of these envelopes.

  Pretty, isn't it?

  And here are some tiles that two of my students created last week. They are eight and twelve years old.

  Also, if you haven't seen it already, I posted a "How to Draw a Pink Gemstone" tutorial a couple of days ago.

  Thanks for dropping by. I'll see you next week. :)