Monday 24 December 2018

Another Tiny Sketchbook

  In case you've missed it, here's a flip-through of my new tiny sketchbook.

  It's made up of Fabriano paper that I cut down to size and then stitched together by hand... Then I did a watercolour wash on each of the pages. Then it sat in my art pouch for a good long while until I decided one day to complete it. I went through all the pages in two days. It was a good exercise.

  Here's the cover:

  Maybe next time I'll film the drawing process. ;)

Saturday 15 December 2018

What I've been up to lately....

  This is going to be a long post with lots of pictures, and honestly... this kind of blog posts are my favourite. hehe

  My Certified Zentangle Teacher friend, Debbie New, taught a closed-door class on Whatz-Itz. It's a technique that she came up with that teaches students how to layer tangles in an easy-to-understand manner. The participants who attended this class were all either CZTs, or were going to get certified next year. (My mum attended, too. Hi, mum!) The class mosaic was amazing. Mine is the one with the most amount of tangles on it, cause I like to draw so big. hahaha. My mum's one is the one with the curvy Diva Dance.

  And then I got home and completed my tile... Very pleased with how it turned out.

  Debbie also got me to join a Whatsapp group hosted by Alicia Rey, a CZT based in Spain. She hosts a weekly challenge called "retomindandtangle", and I've taken part in it for the past few weeks...

  Here's #136, which also is a Travelling Tangles tile with Debbie New. She started the Cabbit and Flux, plus the Borbz. I did the rest plus the shading. Still not sure whether I like this tile. Sometimes I think it’s great, other times I think it’s meh.... Ever had a tile like that? I like that I used blue for some of the shading, though. Gives it a nice contrast against all that pink.

  This was for challenge #138. The string was the challenge. The tile's colours were done by Debbie and I wanted them to shine through, so that’s why I stuck with something simple. Just Flux.

  Debbie asked why I always use Flux... I think it’s my “comfort tangle”... The tangle I go to when I want to draw something but don’t want to think too much. Do you have a comfort tangle?

  And then this was this week's challenge... #139... Featuring the tangle "Palrevo". I had this idea pop into my head about cutting out the areas that would have been filled in, and using my surroundings as the "colour" for those areas... Here's how that idea turned out:

  Quite cool, if I say so myself.

  And then I did some tiles just for fun. A tiny Bijou with pretty colours... With Flux drawn in a slightly different way...

  And a tile I did to test this black paper, and try out Debbie's Whatz-Itz method again, I added the gold on a whim. I just wanted to do one aura, but then it was so fun that I kept going until I filled the entire tile. The gold is Kuretake's Gansai Tambi gold paints.

  Every once in a while, I draw something realistic just to benchmark how much my art has improved. I find it interesting that creating Zentangle art has an effect on my general art skills.... Because you wouldn't think doing abstract, non-representational art would make your realistic skills improve... but it does!

  Here's a study of Gustav Klimt's "Judith II (Salome)". I know it's not an exact replica, but that wasn't the point of this exercise... I wanted to capture the energy in the piece. I used a ballpoint pen to do the base drawing (no erasers! no try-agains!) and then used Caran D'ache's Neocolor II for the colours. I then burnished the colours using a large tortillon so that the white of the paper wouldn't show through so much.

  It was really fun to do. I might do it again soon. :)

  Then last week, I had brunch with two of Alex's cousin- Isabelle and Rafael. They're my daughter's godparents, and are lovely people all around. We ate at Wild Blooms. The food was great. Very hipster cafe. Here's a pretty selfie I took while there... The windows were tinted blue and pink, which made for very interesting shadows.

  And then after that, Rafael went off to donate blood (he's a saint). While Isabelle and I went back to my place to have an Introduction to Zentangle class. Here's what she and I created:

  So that's been my past two weeks... Next week is going to be a little more quiet for me, before we actually enter Christmas week. I hope you're having a wonderful start to your weekend, and maybe you'll create something lovely this week.

Wednesday 12 December 2018

My Christmas/New Years Cards For 2018

  I'm Eurasian- half French, half Singaporean Chinese... And let's just say my family is really mixed. My mother is Chinese with Christian leanings. My godmother is a black women whom is Jewish. One of my favourite uncle is African Muslim. I married into a Catholic family. And both of my best friends are Christian. I also have another uncle and a dear friend whom are both atheist.. So the holiday season is a little crazy for me... Some people get Christmas cards. The rest get New Years cards because they don't celebrate Christmas.

  But I love making hand-made cards. It's time-consuming but it's a labour of love. I also think in this electronic era, where people often opt to send text messages to say "Merry Christmas" or "Happy New Year", a hand-made card is all the more treasured.

  So here are all the cards I made this year for the important people in my life. I thought you might be inspired by them, somehow.

  What I'm showing you are tiles that I then slipped into plain square cards, and then I wrote messages inside the cards. So, for example... This is the tile I created....

  And then on a plain dark blue card, I drew Flux using a white pen, then used a penknife to cut slits along the Flux... Then I slipped the tile into those slits.

  And then I stuck a white tile on the inside of the card, so that I could pen down a message. :)

  Here are the rest of the tiles I created:

  The backgrounds were created using my faux watercolour technique with Tombow's dual brush markers. Here's a link to a video tutorial on how to create your own faux watercolour background:

  If you'd like to learn how to draw gemstones, I also have a playlist of tutorials right here.

  The gold paint is Kuretake's Gansai Tambi paints. Shading was added using Derwent's Coloursoft coloured pencils. And the white highlights were added using a Uni-ball Signo Broad pen.

  I hope you're having a great December... I know the end of the year can be a little crazy for some of us, but I also think it's great to remember that the holidays are about spending time with the people you love... making goals for the upcoming year... and being grateful for the wonderful memories you've made in the past year.

  May 2019 be your best year yet.

Much Love,

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...