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Creativity Art Blog

  • Art Profiles: Jonathan Hood


    August's Artist Profile

    We were lucky enough to be able to go and speak to one of WASP Dundee’s resident artists, Jonathan Hood for the second of our Dundee art profiles.

    As always we were interested to know about the artist’s background and artistic education. Hood told us;

    “I went to college straight from school but I was very lucky because my school art teacher just encouraged me the whole way.  I remember a careers officer when I was about 17, and he said, “What is it you want to do?” and I said “I’m very much sold on the idea of going to Art College”.  And he said, “To do what?” And I said, “Drawing and painting”. And his response was, “That’s a woman’s hobby, you can’t do that. How about architecture?”  And eventually he said “We’ll compromise, I’ll put you down for art history”.  And I thought you’re not listening to me…And he wouldn’t hear me.”

    Paris and L'Ecole des Beaux Arts

    Despite this Hood did go on to Art College and studied at Duncan of Jordanstone from 1976 to 1979.  He then left his studies there to follow the route many of the worlds and history’s most famous artists have; to study in Paris.

    “That sounds all very grand and everything,” he says, “but it was basically, well, I got into L’Ecole des Beaux Arts, Paris. It was effectively a drawing class but I learned more there than I learned the whole time in Dundee. I was living along the road from the Jeu de Paume and the Pompidou centre, and all these wonderful little private art galleries dotted about the place. If you go over to the left bank in Paris, round Boulevard du Saint-Michel, Rue Saint- Antoine you’ve got all these different tiny galleries.  There were these immediate connections to things and it really blew me open.  I spent a year there and there’s some wonderful stuff.  The way that France and the French deal with painting is different. Painting is very, very much alive.”

    After this seminal experience in one of the world’s artistic capitals, Hood returned to Scotland.

    Getting Started

    “I came back 1980/81 and had a few years knocking around…trying to be a rock star at one point…that was quite good fun.  But I always painted.  At that point I was self employed and I was beginning to get noticed.  I spent a little bit of time on the dole, which is always, and was especially so in the 1980s, a very character building situation.  But there was this thing called the Enterprise Allowance Scheme so I decided to go on that and got picked up by a couple of galleries in that time and I was doing quite a lot of portraits of people’s dogs and things like that. I paint the whole animal rather than these terrible head and shoulders things.  I’d rather do the whole creature.”

    Whilst Hood attempted to establish himself, he was fortunate to be noticed by Christine Heinzel, an event which may have substantially altered his fortunes.

    “About 20 years ago, 25 years ago, Chris Heinzel walked through that door, and says “I really like your work,” and she had just opened a gallery in Aberdeen; Gallery Heinzel which is still running though it’s not run by her anymore.  One of the best galleries on the East Coast, and I took my work up and she phoned me a week later saying have you got any more?  And I said yeah, well why?  And she said we’ve sold it all….which was a bit of a shock.”

    Inspiration and Method

    It isn’t hard to see why Hood’s eye catching work has proved so popular over the course of his career.  We wanted to know a little more about how he chooses his subject matter, materials and his method.

    “I started off doing these landscapes.  I was going out just taking photographs, going out walking, and then people started appearing in them and then the people sort of took over.”

    Jonathan Hood Artist 3 take 5 - 31x31 inches

    “I use various techniques to achieve various results. Sometimes I use collage, sometimes if I can’t be bothered painting an aeroplane I’ll cut one out and stick it on.  Or taking sports photographs, ripping them up and then sticking them back together, you get all sorts of interesting different forms and shapes.  Predominantly I work in oil,”

    “Before I very rarely used acrylics, but I got started using them through a project.  I was asked if I would paint some murals in a little private zoo near Edinburgh.  Basically painting backdrops, jungle scenes, things like that and I thought why not, it seems like a good way of sort of cleansing the mind.    And I won’t really have to think too much about what’s going where or anything like that.  And that was painted in acrylic.  That got me back into that and I thought ok, I’m going to try something out on hardboard, because I prefer hardboard.  You can get great vibrant colours with acrylic.”

    Jonathan Hood Artist New Work 2015

    Spontaneous inspiration is important to subject selection in Hood’s work also.

    “One of the things that I do sometimes is I see something and I just get that click. It’s about observing and it’s about taking your time. One of the first things I was taught about when I first went to Art College was looking and observing.  And just taking in what you see in front of you, because most people will look at that and say what colour is that wall, well white, but there’s actually all sorts of different things you can be trained to see that aren’t immediately obvious.”

    The Future of Art

    We asked Hood about what he thinks prevents people from getting into or involved with art?

    “There’s a lot of fear surrounds art now.  A lot of people seem to feel it’s far too far above them, or they don’t understand it.”

    We asked about what advise Hood would give to those about to embark on an artistic career, the response was practical but ominous.

    “Students are not taught anything practical at college these days.  We used to have a class, materials and methods.  And we were taught how to make rabbit glue, we were taught how to make varnishes, you were taught how to make your own primer, prepare your own ground, chalk and gesso and so on. These skills are disappearing fast.  I come from a time when we’d spend hours in the dark room processing large black and white prints.  People don’t sit in a dark room breathing fumes anymore, it’s all digital.  These skills are disappearing, and at our peril.”

    Fiona MacHugh


    Jonathan Hood regularly exhibits work in various galleries including the Sun Gallery, Newburgh, Scotland, the Eduardo Allessandro Gallery, Broughty Ferry Scotland,  Abiergo Casanova Gallery,Lucca Italy, Jeanne o Contemporain 2012 Orleans, France and the Laurel Gallery, Stockbridge, Edinburgh, Scotland.

     He welcomes visitors to his WASPS studio during working hours or by appointment, contact: Studio 201, Meadowmill, W. Henderson Wynd, Dundee, DD1 5BY

    Tel:  0772 933 1250

    You can also follow his work on his Facebook page:


  • Adult Colouring Books: A New Art Sensation

    A new trend for the hobby world?

    Adult Colouring books are the new trend sweeping the creative hobby world and tidying up in the top- sellers lists across the world.  The Guardian has run a series of articles commenting on the phenomenon, some supportive, others scathing.  Whether the assessment of the craze is positive or negative the fact that such a major newspaper has dedicated so many column inches to the subject is just one  indication that this trend is attracting quite a bit of attention.

    The books are proving a publishing phenomenon. One Guardian article claimed that the books are now selling faster than cookery books in France, with last years total sales shifting a massive 3.5 m books.  Another stated that last month five of Amazon’s top 10 were adult colouring books, as were six of the top 10 non- fiction books in Brazil.  Scottish Illustrator Johanna Basford whose colouring book The Secret Garden was one of the chart toppers this April has sold over 1.4m copies to date.



    Colouring- in for Adults

    Colouring is still a form of creativity and we shouldn’t have to stop just because we pass a certain age.  Most of us did it and many of us loved it growing up.   But we get to an age, where like so many of these things we think, why am I actually doing this?  What is the reason for it?  Am I going to make money from it?  So many people give up on creative projects when they “grow-up” because it isn’t seen as a valuable use of time.  With this proliferation however of colouring books aimed at adults you can take up the activity again without any fear of social recrimination as not only is it acceptable, it is fashionable.  You can colour everything from Benedict Cumberbatch to Tattoo Designs, fairies and animals to intricate doodles, henna designs, Japanese inspired and funky animals.

    download (1)

    However this new wave of books are not simply being marketed as a way to be creative and get in touch with your inner child.  Many are specifically being marketed as a type of art therapy which is supposed to help people with everything from stress, to sleeplessness to mindfulness.

    Ana McLaughlin, head of publicity and marketing at Michael O’Mara (UK publisher which has sold over 340, 000 adult colouring books) attributes the genres success in main part to this remarketing strategy.

    “The first one we did was in 2012, Creative Colouring for Grown-Ups. It sold strongly and reprinted, but it was last year that it all really mushroomed with Art Therapy, in June. It really took off for us – selling the anti-stress angle gave people permission to enjoy something they might have felt was quite childish,”

    Art Therapy

    Lucy Fyles has a blog, in which she reviews various examples from a mental health point of view.  There are hundreds of testimonies all over the internet from individuals who claim that the activity has helped them deal with everything from the normal daily stresses of life to far more serious forms of mental distress.  The basic principal works on the concept of involvement in an activity which is both simple and absorbing at the same time which quiets the mind and allows the practitioner to disconnect from the general world around them.  The success of this kind of activity shouldn’t really be surprising, an activity with a very similar ethos behind it has also been causing a storm in the art world recently, namely Zentangle.

    download (2)

    Whether people are taking it up as a creative or a therapeutic activity (or a combination of both) there seems to be no doubt that many people are enjoying the activity and feeling the benefits one way or another.  And after all why not?  The books are really just an extension as well of the very popular free downloadable colouring templates which carders have been using for some time as templates.  If you think about it carefully, there isn’t really so much difference between intricate colouring and say creating a cross stitch from a manufactured pattern or following a knitting pattern.  They are all levels of a creative process.  Anything which provides the release of creative energy and decreases stress is something we at iartsupplies can fully get behind.

    Here to Help

    iartsupplies has several product ranges which are ideal for this activity if it is something you are thinking of taking it up.  Although there is no set material which must be used in the activity here are the ones we stock and would recommend to get you started.  Although feel free to check out full range of products, the only limits on your creativity should be the ones you set yourself.

    Our Koi Brush Watercolour Pens come in a vibrant range of colours and are very reasonably priced.  The brush style tips and water based inks mean you can use them like felt tips or combine them with water to create a watercolour effect.

    Want a bolder graphic style?  Why not give our Stylefile markers a shot?  The ink can be blended with the colourless blender, but the real beauty of the Stylefile range is the opaque dense nature of the colour.

    Our pastel pencils are available individually and ranges of colouring, water-colour and pastel pencils are available as sets.  Click here to see the ranges.

    So why not check out the ample range of colouring books on offer at Amazon, The Works or your local book seller, then drop into us for your materials.  You'll never know until you try.


  • Sculptures Nick Mackman


    Fantastic Animal Sculptures

    Nick Mackman produces some truly wonderful animal sculptures which we love to share on our Facebook page. Read about what influences and inspires her on her blog and you can also check out the website on her gallery while you are there.

  • Olivia Rose

    Fantastic Forms, Beautiful Colours and Individual Spirit

    Read this interview with artist Olivia Rose to find out more about her work, the way she produces it and why.  Her artwork is truly inspirational for its fantastic forms, beautiful colours and individual spirit.



  • An Interesting Debate

    mural2An Interesting Debate on who owns street art/ public art and the issues for artists who create this kind of work when somebody wants to destroy it.


  • A Little Inspiration....

    rodgersFeeling stuck for inspiration? Read about how Mike Roger's found his and start getting yours today!


  • Review of Wildlife Artist of the year by Making a Mark Blog Spot

    Here you can read a thorough review of the Wildlife Artist of the Year winners.  Check out winner Nick Mackman's ceramic warthogs, they are amazing!  We also really love the winning Monochrome entry Bee (1) from Patricia Rozental.  Have a look at these and other winners and entries and get inspired!


  • The Wonderful World of Sakura

    Sakura Pens 

    When you start to venture into the market for art pens it can seem overwhelming the number of brands there are to choose from.  This is further complicated by the fact that most artists will have a favourite and different parties will recommend different things.

    My first contact with Sakura products was through the Pigma Micron range of fine liners when doing some research for an article on Zentangle and Zentangle Inspired Art.  The creators of the Zentangle method explicitly recommend the Pigma Micron range for Zentangling because of the quality of the ink and of its free flow from the nib.

    I have to say I was surprised.  I already owned a set of other coloured fine liners and I thought I’ll just use those.  But I found several things right from the get go.  Firstly, the nib was nowhere near fine enough to get the really fine lines that I wanted or for really crisp cross- hatching.  Secondly, the sketchbook I was using (not of a very high quality, and not one stocked by us) obviously didn’t have an amazing quality of paper.  The other fine liners bled instantly and were absolutely no use.

    So I thought, let’s see what all the fuss is about.

    I have to tell you, no word of a lie, I haven’t stopped raving about these pens since.  I started off with three, a 005, a 4 and an 8 to give myself a range of sizes (the pens come in sizes 005 to 08).  Not only was there absolutely no ink bleed, even in exactly the same notebook, but the quality of the line, the flow of the ink and the density of the colour was unbelievable and more than lived up to the hype I had heard.

    But these are just one facet of the incredibly wide range of quality products that Sakura produce.

    Let’s take a look at a few of the ones we stock for you….


    Pigma Micron

    As I’ve said above, the Pigma Micron are an absolutely superb set of fine liner pigment pens, and no customer who I have recommended them to has ever come back unsatisfied.  In fact they have often come back for more in a very short space of time.

    It is over 30 years since Sakura invented and patented the PIGMA® ink.  Based on pigments rather than dyes this archival quality ink is rightly renowned amongst artists, writers and illustrators.  Also ideal for technical drawing the Pigma Micron is the first disposable technical pen to use this type of ink, truly making it a one off.

    The range comes in six sizes: 005= 0.20 mm, 01 = 0.25 mm, 02 = 0.30 mm, 03 = 0.35 mm, 05 = 0.45 mm, and 08 = 0.50 mm.  To see the full range of colours which Sakura produce see Micron Pen Color Chart.  Here at Trinity Arts we stock the black, red, sepia and green ranges, as well as sets of three and six in the black pens.

    Sakura Color Products invented and patented PIGMA ink over 30 years ago with its unique pigment rather than dye formulation. Pigment molecules are 100 times larger and more chemically complex than dye molecules, which makes them less susceptible to UV rays, chemical degradation, pollution from contact with oils and other chemicals, etc. This makes Pigma ink inherently longer lasting than dye-based inks. The quality has made it the standard for reliable, permanent high quality archival ink.  This produces a depth of colour especially in the black pens which is quite astonishing and makes them perfect for working with watercolours as once then ink is dry it will not run.  Learn more about Pigma Inks.

    Pigma Graphic

    Also in the Pigma range are the graphic pens.  These pens were designed to meet the specific needs of illustrators, cartoonists, and manga artists with distinctive nibs to broaden the variety of possible illustration techniques.

    The Pigma Graphic uses the same high quality archival ink as the Micron range and comes in three line-widths of 1mm bullet, 2mm chisel, and 3mm chisel which we stock in black.

     Identi- Pen

    The Identi-pen is a multipurpose permanent marker.  It has a dual point with a fine plastic point for details and a tough fibre point end for broader lines and heavy use.

    Sakura produces eight colours in this pen and we stock the black, green and red.    The pens is permanent on most non- porous surfaces and can be used on leather, wood, CDs, plastic and photographs. Identi-pen can be used on non- porous surfaces but can be removed from these with an alcohol based cleaner.

    Pen- Touch

    Pen- Touch are a valve type paint marker which can be used on a wide variety of surfaces including card, plastic, wood, glass, porcelain, paper and metal.

    Here at Trinity Arts we stock Pen-touch paint markers in white, black, gold, silver, and copper.  The pens show up best on non- absorbent surfaces, like coated paper and are great for cards and invitations of for scrap- booking and journaling.

    The archival quality paint is both water and fade resistant and chemically stable.   The pens come in three point sizes, 0.7mm, 1.0mm and  2.0mm.

    Pen-Touch Calligraphy

    This variation on the Pen-touch is designed to help the user create beautiful decorative text.   They use the same archival quality paint as the Pen-Touch and can be used on most surfaces including glass, wood, porcelain, plastic, paper and metal.  We stock the pens in gold and silver.

    Koi Colouring Brush Pens

    koi_brushpenThe Koi colouring brush pens come in a range of intense colours and have an excellent flow of ink from the brush tip which can hep you to create delicate artworks using coloured markers.

    These dye-based Colouring Brush pens have a durable, flexible nylon nib which can be used to create varying brush strokes.  The water- based dye is odourless and easy to blend and layer. The blender pen can be used to create washes and gradations of colour.  These markers produce the best results when used on a heavy weight, plate-finish paper (smooth but not coated).

    You can download the Koi Coloring Brush color chart to see the range of colours available.  For best results, use on a heavy weight, plate-finish paper (smooth but not coated)



    Gelly- Roll Metallic

    Sakura also produce a range of Gel- pens which we stock three of.  The first is the Gelly- Roll metallic range.  The 1.0 mm roller ball nib (0.4 mm line) delivers a smooth flow of metallic pearlescent colours.  If you are in any doubt of Sakura’s credentials in this area they also invented and patented Gel – ink introducing it to the pen market.  The Sakura gel pen ink is also archival quality and will not bleed or feather and will write on light and dark, glossy and matte surfaces.

     Stardust Glitter Pens

    Very similar to the Metallic range are the Stardust Glitter pens.  Also a roller ball with a pigment- based archival quality ink the added glitter gives a slightly different effect.  These pens work best however on light coloured or matte paper surfaces.  Its technical specifications include a 1.0mm ball with a 0.5mm line, a patented pigment based sparkle ink but although the ink itself is of archival quality the sparkle may lift over time.

    Gelly Roll Stardust Color Reference Chart. ( Click here! )

    Glaze® 3-D Glossy Ink

    The Glaze® pens offer a 3-D ink in a range of glossy, vibrant colours. They leave a raised ink line for giving depth and texture to your designs.   The pens can be used on non-porous surfaces such as plastics, coated papers, acetate, vellums and glass.  The ink is water resistant and can be used to achieve the effect of stained class, batik, heat embossing and professional printing.

    It is best to write slowly with these pens so that you achieve a thick flow of ink. You should also allow time for it to dry fully, around ten minutes should be sufficient.  The best raised effect is achieved on non- porous, clean, smooth matte surfaces.  Due to the nature and thickness of the ink this pen is suited to projects where its use is concentrated and limited.  It is not really ideal for lengthy handwriting.

    The roller nib has a 0.8mm ball producing a 0.70mm bold line width.  For colour availability see the Glaze color chart.

    As you can see the Sakura pen range can provide the necessary materials for a wide range of projects.  Why not pop in and try whichever suits your needs best.  I feel confident you won’t regret it.

  • Art Profiles: Sophie Gackowski

    Sophie Gackowksi of Just Miniature Things (Small Curiosity Shop?) is our first interviewee in our new art profiles series which aims to introduce local artists and their work to our readers. 

    "A vibrant artistic spirit."

    Having started at Art College at 15, Dundee resident Sophie undertook a year of fine art and a year of interior design before making the decision to not continue with a formal art education and to do a degree in literature and philosophy instead.  “So I’ve got two degrees, but nothing arts based” she laughs.

    Sophie now makes 1/12th scale miniatures of normal life size things; amongst the examples she has brought along to show me are a tiny pack of tarot cards, tiny erasers, tiny chocolate bars, tiny everything…

    She first became involved in this nano-world through dolls house miniatures.  A collector herself she was motivated by the prohibitive prices of many pieces to begin making her own.  From there she moved on to making miniature scenes in an attempt to attract interest from outside the dolls house market.  These little sets, as seen in the pictures below can be bought as little ornaments.

    dinnder  violin

    When asked how she sees herself as fitting into the dolls house market which got her started, Sophie feels her position is confused at the moment.  Top end items of the dolls house miniature market she tells me can cost up to £700 or £800.   A lot of the people who make miniatures, like furniture, also make the life size equivalents and so are coming to the table with a very high skill set.  However Sophie doesn’t see this as a problem.  Rather than being boxed in to the dolls house market she is trying to take the concept of miniatures and seeing how they can be developed.

    Sophie uses all kinds of craft materials to create her mini curiosities.

    “That’s the fun of it,” she says, “because you get to work with wood, you get to work with metal, you get to work with sculpture…all kinds of mediums but just sort of condensed.  I use a lot of everyday things which you would just find around the house, cocktail sticks are invaluable, but yeah, Fimo.  I spend a lot of money on Fimo.”

    She also uses a specialised set of tools, including mini fretsaws and chisels.  These items are also quite expensive she tells me; another reason which can make it quite costly to get involved in this area, and which has to be factored into the price of the work.  Sophie is trying however to create a more accessible range of miniatures price wise, the kind of thing that students could buy as gifts, “Because not everyone can afford to spend £50 on something small.”

    After half an hour of speaking to Sophie and seeing her work it is clear that Sophie has a strong creative ethos and a vibrant artistic spirit.  So what was it, I ask, made her decide to abandon her arts degree and go into the humanities and what was it which brought her back to art?

    The short answer was competition she says,

    “Realising there are some fantastic artists out there and seeing yourself perhaps as not as capable, not as talented….and also money.  At the time, when I was sort of sixteen or seventeen I was thinking about getting a job and having money and being able to live a comfortable life, and I thought it would be easier to do that with a degree in literature than in art which is ridiculous.  I think everybody has that idea, and I think a lot of people go into the humanities who are actually quite creative.  So that was what put me off and it took a few years but now I’m finally getting back into it, because now I know that money doesn’t actually matter that much, you just need what you need to get by.”

    “I had a bit of a strange time last year.  I was diagnosed with cancer in August, and had my arm amputated.  So before I had two, which made it a lot easier to do miniatures.  And that completely, completely shifted my perspective.   I thought, no actually I’m going to do the miniatures because I enjoy it and if I don’t make any money out of it then I’m still doing what I enjoy.  I realised that I don’t want a nine to five and I want to do creative things and do arts things, and do what I love.  So I guess that’s what’s happened with regards to going back into art.”

    It is quite simply nothing short of awe inspiring to be in the presence of such a positive attitude of determination not only to not allow this experience to limit her creativity, but also to actively use it as a way to re- embrace her artistic practice.

    Sophie’s philosophy should be an example to all.

    Being creative is a therapeutic thing

    “You don’t have to make money out of it [art]; it’s such a therapeutic thing.  Being creative is the closest thing you can get I think to nurturing your soul and your spirit.  It’s just being kind to yourself. I think more people should just sit down and scribble drawings if they fancy scribbling a drawing.  It can be a kind of diary.  But people don’t often see it like that, and they compare themselves too often to people who are extremely talented artists, who might have huge galleries and exhibitions and make loads of money, and that’s fantastic for them, but its important I think that people don’t perceive it as so elite.”

    This is often such an unusual attitude to encounter in the highly competitive art world that it is extraordinarily refreshing to see this democratising attitude to creativity. ship  tarot

    So how, I wanted to know, does Sophie choose the things she creates?

    “When it was more hobby based,” she tells me, “I would always make things as gifts.  I started out meaning to make things for my own dolls house, and then ended up usually making things as presents for people because that was a good point of reference I suppose.  Like a fiddle workshop I made inside a full- sized violin.  Whereas now I would say I’m less picking up things and thinking I would like to make that and more thinking about what people might be interested in in miniature.  In terms of the dolls house market, I like making curios, because people are very strict about the period their dolls houses are in and the things they put inside, so most people go for Victorian.  The Victorians were massive collectors, so making tiny butterflies, or tiny death masks, things related to palmistry and tarot and things that Victorian people would have had as little knickknacks.  Because the furniture is taken care of,  and the glass and amazing food and things that people can make who are absolute experts at doing that, but there’s not a lot of people producing curios.  It’s fun.  It’s really fun.  I’m thinking of branching out into tiny taxidermy….”

    It’s unusual enough to find somebody who creates life size taxidermy, let alone mini-taxidermy these days.  This is too intriguing an idea not to follow up, how exactly does she intend to create mini taxidermy?

    “ I guess it would have to be sculpture.  My father’s an antique collector and he’s got lots of taxidermy and he has a beautiful parrot under a bell jar.  Whenever I am making things I like to use things that I have around me so I can actually get the scale right, because I’m quite particular about that. So I suppose I would have to sculpt it out of Fimo, and carve into it the feathers and things…”

    So where do all these diminutive creations come into existence?

    “I have a Victorian table in the living room, which comes out and gets covered in things.  Because its tiny things, I don’t have to have a huge amount of space, and then in terms of storing the things, I don’t need much space either.  So there wouldn’t be much point in getting a studio.  Unless I was to be doing this full time.  So I just work from home at the moment.”

    Would she like to be doing this full time?

    “Absolutely, but I’ve never been particularly good at marketing myself.  It’s quite a difficult thing to get set up in and work out “Who are you publicising this to?” Who are your audience and your customers, and I think I need to figure that out first.  If I were to get a stall at the Kensington dolls house show next year I might think about getting a small space.  It would be lovely to be somewhere where I was working with other creative people doing things in arts.”

    With such a positive outlook on what she is doing and why, I wanted to know if Sophie had any advice for those people (potentially our readers) who want to get involved in art?

    “I would say to go into things for the right reasons.  Do it because you love it, and do everything you can to carry on with what it is that you love doing.  For people that don’t necessarily have any experience in the arts you just have to give it a bash.  Its like my background is writing and the first dozen stories that I wrote were awful, but you have to get the bad stuff out before any of the good stuff can come out, and its practice.  Every skill and every kind of art takes practice.  It’s taking that first step of actually putting pen to paper or paintbrush to canvas, or scalpel to a bit of wood and just giving it a go.”

    Sounds like good advice to us.

    Fiona MacHugh


    If you want to see more of Sophie’s work, or are interested in commissioning some of your very own miniatures you can go through either her Etsy site:

     Or contact her through her business e-mail:

  • Zentangle®, Doodle Art and Sakura®

     “Anything is Possible One Stroke at a Time.”[1]

    Zentangle® and its creative outcomes (and offshoots) are probably more familiar to a lot of people than realise.  There has been a veritable explosion of images on Pintrest, Google Search and Fickr of designs which either use the method or a method inspired by the technique.

    The “Zentangle® Method” was developed by Rick Roberts and Maria Thomas as a kind of meditative, artistic practice through the creation of “beautiful images by drawing structured patterns”[2].  According to the Zentangle® website the technique is designed to be intuitive, fun, relaxing, ceremonial, timeless, portable, non-technical and empowering.  Zentangle® patterns are created on “tiles” which measure 3 1/2 inches (89 mm) square and are designed to be completed in a single sitting.  The creators advise that you keep some tiles in your pocket or purse so you can be ready to create at any moment.  True Zentangle® tiles should be non-representative patterns with no distinguishable form to them.   The creators of the method liken the experience of the practice to a Tea Ceremony, or to forms of meditation.

    Creators of Zentangle®,  Maria and Rick state;

    “We believe that life is an art form and that our Zentangle® Method is an elegant metaphor for deliberate artistry in life.”[3]

    The deliberate strokes used in the method are seen by its creators as being representative of the “strokes” we make in life (our actions or thoughts).  “There is no eraser in life, and there is no eraser in a Zentangle Kit” they say.   The idea is to create abstract spontaneous, unplanned patterns without second guessing or correcting them.  “Apparent mistakes can be foundations for new patterns and take you in unexpected and exciting new directions.”  [4]

    The creators of the official Zentangle® method recommend that practitioners take up the technique using Zentangle® kits that can be ordered through the official site or by taking regular courses with qualified Zentangle® instructors.

    A starter Zentangle® kit includes 32 tiles, 2 pens (the site recommends Sakura® Pigma Micron 01 black pens due to the fineness of the line (0.25mm) and due to the permanence of the archival pigment ink which the pens use), pencils and a sharpener (no eraser!) a tortillion or smudge stick,  an instruction booklet and companion DVD,  a Zentangle Legend™ ( a card with 20 numbered and named Zentangles with how-to instructions) and a Icosahedron (20 sided die) so you can use this to choose patterns if you wish.  The legend can also be used as a quick visual reminder of patterns.

    icosahedron Legend

    (Above:  Zentangle Legend™ and Icosahedron)

    All this comes in an easy to carry, book shaped box (5 1/2” x 8”x 1 ¾” or 14cm x20.5cm x4.5cm).  The kits can be purchased for $49.00 (approx. £32.50) form the official Zentangle® Website, although the creators also state that;

    “We provide enough free information in our newsletters, blog and youtubes to get an idea of our Zentangle method. More and more sites and books describe what you can do with the Zentangle method. Even we joke that, "all you need to create Zentangle art is a stick at the beach at low tide." And when you think about it, you probably don't even need a stick.”[5]

    So, given that you could probably put the kit together yourself, why do the creators recommend you buy a Zentangle® kit?

    “To understand and appreciate something fully, it's good to learn the basics as they were developed. We regularly receive emails from people who finally bought a Zentangle Kit and they regularly say how much more they discovered that there is to the Zentangle method, how beautiful the kit is itself, how enjoyable the DVD is and how much more pleasure they now receive from creating Zentangle art.”[6]

    Illustration Art Supplies

    This is probably a good point, but here in Dundee at Trinity Arts (or our UK online store ) we stock most of the kit essentials if you wanted to have a go before buying the full shebang.  We have a range of Sakura Pigma Micron Pens in Black, Red, Green, Sepia and Blue from sizes 005 to 08 and we sell sets of 6 or 3 in the Black Pens (range of sizes).

    We also obviously have a range of pencils and sharpeners to suit your needs, as well as tortillions and tiles can be created using one of our range of papers and cards.

    If this abstract method doesn’t take your fancy though, why not check out some of the Zentangle Inspired creations out there on the internet.   Although these do not follow the true Zentangle® method, they can also be a relaxing and fulfilling activity.   I suppose most are somewhere between this Zentangle® method and a more traditional doodling idea.  With a standard A5 Sketchbook, HB pencil for sharp lines and Black Micron Sakura Pens size 005, 04 and 08 (all of which are available in the shop or online) here’s some of my Zentangle Inspired designs.

    Zentangle Owl 220042015 Zentangle wolf 20042015 Zentangle dog 20042015(







    Above: Doodle/Zentangle Inspired Drawings by Fiona MacHugh)

    Why Sakura Pigma Micron?

    The Sakura Pigma pens are really great for fine line illustration. The flow of ink is fantastic and there is no bleeding (I originally tried using a Stabillo Fineliner but this bled too much to get crisp lines.)  The clarity of the ink and the precision that it is possible with these pens make them a real pleasure to use, and the archival ink is waterproof, chemical resistant, temperature proof and permanent of paper once it dries with the potential to last hundreds of years!  So come on down and try them out, whether you fancy a go at Zentangle®, your own doodles or another kind of pen illustration.

    Useful links to help you be further intrigued and inspired

    Useful links to help you have a go are the Zentangle® YouTube channel ( You can also find plenty of other videos by other users which are not from the official channel for advice and inspiration simply by searching “Zentangle”.  To sign up to the newsletter visit the official Zentangle® website (  where you can also read up more on materials, methods, philosophy and courses.


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