Welcome back to thetirelesstangler.com and also pattern-collections.com. I have another terrific Artist Focus post for you. Many months ago, I did my first artist focus on a friend from the UK, Sarah Fowler. This week’s artist in focus is Philippa Napper, who is my 2nd artist from England. Philippa is an artist for whom art seems instinctual. (This is my impression) She seems to know which direction to go while I’m floundering for understanding. It is true that she has some education in the arts, but she seems to follow her heart and the results are absolutely amazing! Here’s what Philippa shared about herself, her family and her art!
“I am 42 years old and live in Birmingham, England. I went to University in Liverpool to train to be a PE teacher, but I also had Art & Design as my second subject, although I didn’t actually teach it until my 14th year of teaching! I teach in an inner-city Church of England School in Walsall – just north of Birmingham, which is predominantly Muslim. This might sound odd, but the families really respect the Christian values, which are essentially the same for any faith, and so they send their children to us. It gives us all – pupils and staff – a really good lesson in respect, tolerance and understanding of the differences which make us who we are. We accommodate children from all around the world who, at the last count, speak 67 different languages! I absolutely love the kids at our school.
During school holidays my husband and I head off to a place called Snowdonia in Wales and we walk in the mountains with our dogs or spend time on the beach. On rest days we sit outside in the sun – reading, listening to music and tangling. This is when I am at my happiest..
I first heard the term Zentangle when I visited the art department of another school. One of the teachers was telling me how the children were making 3D sculptures of beetles, covering them with plastic and then decorating them with Zentangle designs. This was in 2014 when adult colouring books were becoming HUGE in the UK, so I was enjoying switching off by doing this, but found myself thinking that I wanted to draw the designs as well as colour them in. I never got round to Googling Zentangle though…
In the Spring of 2015 I discovered a Zentangle ‘bookazine’ by CZT Anya Lothrop. It was really influential because it had step-outs and examples so I now had some context.
It was this that started the Zentangle journey for me. In the beginning I drew in an A6 sketchbook that I took everywhere with me. Often while the kids were getting changed for PE I’d be hunched over this sketchbook grabbing 5min here and there. Staff meetings were great because I’d sit near the back and just tangle away. I’m sure I’m not the only one amongst us that will testify how tangling actually helps you listen and retain information too. I’d look to something I’d drawn and could remember exactly who was talking and what they were saying at that point. Shame it’s hard to convince people of this!!
This (Above) was my first ever proper composition. I hadn’t heard of strings at this point so I just drew instinctively. The second one is supposed to be my take on Umble. I did most of it during parents evening waiting for my appointments to turn up!!
Not long afterwards I found out that our inspiring headteacher was leaving the school. He was such a big part of my professional life I wanted to use my brand new Warm Grey Copics to create a piece for him incorporating the work ‘Magnificent’ which he always used to say to us in staff briefings. Despite this being my first big piece it’s still one of my favorites. Sadly I forgot to take a photo when it was complete so in this picture the orbs are white. Luckily you can’t really tell its incomplete!
After this I kept on tangling at every opportunity – Friday evenings became my ‘art night’ when I would shut myself away upstairs, put on an audiobook and draw for hours!
The next big ‘breakthrough’ was in the summer of 2016 when I started drawing lots of Marie Penzing’s tangle ‘Zing Zing’. I produced a tile using my new Polychromos and I just thought ‘this one is a bit special’. Thankfully I managed to churn out another two to make a Zing Zing triptych! This was also the first time I started doing Sandswirl in the way that I now call ‘Sandswirl 3D’ because it uses echo lines like Eni Oken’s ‘Mooka 3D’.
Since summer 2016, the last 12 months have been largely about colour, and distressed tiles in particular. I’m not a massive fan of graphite – I’d rather use grey Copics for shading, or go full on colour; either watercolour, pencil crayons, or coloured Copics.
This is Zing Zing, and the ribbon is To-To (my only tangle to date!) Done with Copic Original Markers on A4 special Copic suitable paper.
Couple of Tangle It! Facebook group #Go-To tiles from Summer 2017.
This is my absolute favorite colour piece: Drawn on A5 watercolour paper with Inktense Blocks that I just swirled around on their side to create some blocks of colours, and then just got the water brush and mixed them all together. Then used different coloured microns and polychromos.
It’s framed in my study!
And finally, my two most recent, and arguably best, tiles.
I have to say I am so thankful to have come across Eni Oken on Facebook. I have stated elsewhere that I believe the art we produce in the ‘Shading and Exploring Zentangle’ group has really taken Zentangle to another dimension, with regard to the 3-dimensional pieces that are being created. I absolutely adore it – it’s exactly the kind of art I love to produce. With the addition of Art Club Eni has helped me to add those tiny details that make all the difference – weighted lines, darker lines for outside edges, dramatic shading. It’s like the marginal gains maxim in sport. “His belief was that if you improved every area related to cycling by just 1 percent, then those small gains would add up to remarkable improvement.” ( https://jamesclear.com/marginal-gains) – talking about British Cycling coach Sir Dave Brailsford)
Zentangle has become a huge part of my life and I wouldn’t have it any other way. As for the future, I would really like to attend the CZT training one year. I would like to go into Old People’s homes and teach Zentangle as a means of keeping their minds active and maybe with the patients with dementia, art may be as effective as music is for unlocking them, just for that moment. I don’t know but I feel it’s got to be beneficial. That would have to be voluntary as there would be no money in it, so for now it’ a future plan.
Just got to get a passport and start that ball rolling…….”
I think Philippa AND her art are extraordinary! The fact that she added the pictures of her kids (dogs) and said they were rescues, told me she is a kindred spirit. She is currently rehabbing her foot which means we get to enjoy her online a lot right now, so I am enjoying the interaction while we have her before she returns to work. Working with such a diverse group of children must be extremely rewarding! I feel quite blessed to have another friend from “across the pond”!
Enjoy Philippa Napper’s art and don’t forget to check out her new pattern “To-To” in my Tangle Step Outs in the above menu or here at Pattern-collections.com.