Review 'Tangle Starts' New book by Alice Hendon, CZT

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    Sandra Strait

    You can find the full review of this book at my Life Imitates Doodles blog.

    My friend, Alice Hendon, has published a book that consists of 57 beautifully colored backgrounds for you to draw, tangle, doodle, and paint on.

    It is called Tangle Starts.

    Paperback: 122 pages
    Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform;
    Language: English
    Size: 8 x 0.3 x 10 inches
    Shipping Weight: 11.7 ounces
    Binding: Glued
    Author: Alice Hendon, CZT

    Look & Feel
    The first thing you want to know is what is in this book.  It is a collection of art pages for you to use as a background.  In some ways it isn’t a book – it’s an art journal, or a file of collage papers, or a sketchbook.  There are many ways to use it.

    More specifically, it has two pages of information explaining how to use the book and what Tangle art is. There are three blank pages for you to test your pens, markers, and paints, to see how they will work on the paper.

    The rest of book has pages of intense, colorful backgrounds. Alice used India Inks, water-based ink sprays, gelli-plates, stamps and stencils to create them.

    The cover is a medium-weight card stock and the binding is glued.  It’s a sturdy glue job.  I folded my book back until the spine creased, held a page by the corner and shook. There was no hint of pages coming loose.  However, if I took care, I could tear a page out without unwanted ripping.  I do recommend folding the book back at the page you want to tear out and applying some pressure along the spine before tearing.

    The binding is tight enough that if you intend to do a lot of collage, you will probably want to do the chunky book routine, where you tear out some pages and rip off pieces to glue back onto the remaining pages.

    Some of the backgrounds have been stenciled or stamped…

    …others are just pure, flowing colors.

    The book has three blank pages so you can test whether your ink or paint will bleed through the paper. Clear gesso on the page is recommended to stop bleed-through.

    Don’t want to use clear gesso? The back of each background page is blank. You can just slip a piece of cardstock or cardboard underneath to protect the next page and let the color bleed through.  I like to do this so I can use the color that bleeds through to create a second drawing or a collage.

    The book lies flat after you fold it back in a few places. With 122 pages, it is thick enough that you get some slope towards the middle of the book. This shouldn’t be too much problem if you work on a solid surface.

    The pages are smooth. The colors are so bright, you might think they’re glossy but they aren’t. Working on these pages is similar to working on magazine pages, though they take ink better than most magazines I’ve worked on.

    Alice explains that you can use this book like a sketchbook, doing your artwork on the pages, or you can use the backgrounds to tear up for collage.  I did tear out pages, mostly to see if I could.

    Permanent Ink
    The minimum you would need to use this book would be a bold pen.  I used a Zebra Zensations brush pen for this silhouette drawing.  The crow, trees, and branches are my work.  The color is all Tangle Starts background. There was no feathering, skipping or bleed-through to the back.

    At the last minute, I realized that I hadn’t test the blank side of the page, so I did a quick little tangle with a Zebra Zensations Technical Pen.  The blank side is actually quite nice to work on.  The paper is white, but has a grayish undertone.  Ink goes down smoothly without skipping, feathering or bleeding through. The ink flowed nicely

    Watercolor, clear gesso and opaque white ink
    I wanted to see how the paper held up to watercolor.  I actually expected the paper to wrinkle. Instead, the paint just beaded up and had to be wiped off.  So, I coated the page with clear gesso and once it had dried, I painted my tree.

    If you have ever painted watercolor on gesso, it is a bit different than painting on paper, but you can get some lovely effects.  I went for a muted green that wouldn’t fight the background.

    I used white opaque cartoonist ink to paint in the lights.  White gesso would also have worked, but the opaque ink is shinier. Then I used yellow watercolor to add to the glow and unite the tree’s color with the background’s.

    There was no dimpling or curl.  There was a slight buckling where I painted the snow with a heavy application of the opaque ink, because it was the heaviest part of the painting.

    Technical Pen and Colored Pencils
    Although the paper is not glossy or slick, I wasn’t sure if colored pencil would work on it.  So, of course, I had to try it.  First, I outlined my wreath and words using a Zebra Zensations Technical Pen. Then I used colored pencil to color the holly, fill in the spaces of the wreath and the lettering.  I used more colored pencil to deepen the color around the edges of the wreath and letters.

    I did have to work to get deep color, and I couldn’t layer the colors very much.  In part that was because colored pencil is semi-transparent and part of it was the smoothness of the paper.  Colored pencil rubs off most paper that isn’t specially formulated, and more easily when the paper is smooth.  I’d apply clear gesso if that is a concern for you.

    Acrylic Paint

    For my last test, I used acrylic paints to do a European Robin.  I chose this background so I could use the orange of the background for the robin’s red breast.  Acrylic is an easy medium so I didn’t expect any trouble, and I had none.  The paint moved well.  I was able to apply it thickly, and also to use it like watercolor.  There was no wrinkling, buckling or curling, even where I used the most watery paint.

    Alice has used other mediums on these pages – you can see what she’s been doing at her blog, The Creator’s Leaf.  And if you haven’t entered both giveaways, you can enter hers here and mine here.

    Both Tangle Starts giveaways end on 12/9/17.  If you don’t want to wait to see if you won, you can find the book on Amazon in most countries.  For the U.S. go here.

    Disclaimer: I received a copy of Tangle Starts for purposes of this review, and I’m hosting a giveaway, but Alice Hendon is supplying the prize copy.  Alice is a good friend, but I’ve tried to make this review as honest as possible. All opinions are my own.

    Teri Casper

    Fantastic review Sandra and fantastic art as well.

    Thank you for the review.

    Sandra Strait

    Thank you, Teri.  I’m really impressed by the backgrounds that Alice created.

    Sharon Nolfi

    Great review! It looks like something that would be fun to experiment with.

    Sandra Strait

    Thank you! I’ve sure been having fun with it!

    Pamela Smith

    Thorough review as always, thank you…these backgrounds and your artwork are beautiful.

    Sandra Strait

    Thank you, Pamela!

    Jennifer McLean

    Sandra, have you tried watercolor pencils instead of regular pencil crayons on the paper?

    Sandra Strait

    Jennifer, I haven’t tried watercolor pencils on the ‘Tangle Starts’ paper.  I don’t have any, believe it or not. Not sure how that happened.

    Jennifer McLean

    My god, the sacrilege!! How is that possible??? hhehe. They worked really well on the paper, I didn’t have any of the problems you mentioned. I’m guessing it has to do with too much wax in the pencil crayons as opposed to the watercolor pencils. I was actually really shocked how well they worked, the paper is quite smooth so when it worked I was thrilled.

    (for anyone who wants to see how pencil crayons work on this background paper, here’s the link to my review of Alice Hendon’s “Tangle Starts”. Great book for mixed media, I so agree with Sandra! )

    Sandra Strait

    I think you are probably right about the wax.  Regular colored pencils would need more tooth to pull out the pigment where with watercolor pencils it would disperse with the water.  Actually, I was surprised that my colored pencils worked as well as they did.

    Jennifer McLean

    I actually didn’t even use water at all. I used them like you would pencil crayons, that’s it. I was thrilled how they worked on the paper

    Sandra Strait

    Cool!  Did you see that Alice now has a Bullet Style journal out? It just came out this morning. It’s black and white though, so she could offer it at a lower price.

    Jennifer McLean

    Yes, I heard from Alice that she wanted it out by Christmas. I’m so glad to hear she did it. She’s such a go getter. It must be awesome to be an author with your name on actual books!!! Thanks for the link, I’m going to check it now!

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