02/06/14 By Jennifer Gaudet
Penny Raile's journey to become an artist involves getting out of your own head and letting go of fear—her story encourages the creator in each of us that it's never too late to trust your talents and pursue what you love. Although Penny discovered a love for art in college, for years afterward she felt compelled to craft, draw, and paint, but struggled with self-doubt. In recent years, she has explored and stepped into a new identity as an artist, personally and professionally. Today she works and makes her home in a 1600 square-foot Los Angeles studio full of color and inspiration.
Personalizing her studio space was the blank canvas of Penny's dreams, with its open layout, high-loft-style ceilings, and view of Los Angeles' artist's district below. She has filled it with whimsical accents, including staining the concrete floors turquoise and brown, painting the walls deep, dramatic shades, and mixing in her own imaginative creations.
Penny is primarily self-taught, and works in acrylic paint, pastels, graphic design, and Zentangle® art. She is a CZT (Certified Zentangle® Teacher), and one of the talented contributors to Walter Foster's recent release The Art of Zentangle®. Among her various pieces replete with flourishes, patterns, and swirls is a 20-foot tangle-in-process crawling up the wall just inside her entryway.
After discovering Zentangle® on another artist's blog, the meditative art form quickly became one of Penny's favorite past-times. She loves the process for its accessible, relaxing nature and endless range of possibility.
"You have the freedom to create your own unique style because the inspiration comes from everywhere and anywhere. Anyone can tangle if they learn the basics!" Penny says.
In fact, the Zen-like effect of the art has since helped her manage everyday anxieties such as fear of flying, waiting in a doctor's office, or even sitting in LA traffic.
"I love sitting down with a piece of paper without any idea of what I will do with it—the challenge of not knowing the outcome is so exciting to me," Penny says.
Whether a tangled tile or a colorful painting, however, Penny's signature touch of whimsy is present in all of her pieces. She also finds inspiration in intricate, black-and-white line work, including the creative style of Tim Burton.
"There's something about ink on paper that draws me in," she says.
Penny has found a way to integrate an artistic component into other areas of work as well. Much of her time outside the studio is spent as development director for a nonprofit organization named Amanecer, which offers community counseling for adults and children battling mental illness. One of Penny's recent initiatives is a children's art therapy program; including a summer project titled "Happiness is Homemade," which involves making a miniature world out of recycled art complete with buildings, animals, and characters, to be exhibited downtown in September.
Penny stays motivated as an artist by looking inward and outward for inspiration—everything from a neighborhood walk to a monologue from her own imagination. In addition, the subconscious aspect of tangling her designs leads her to new ideas.
"Often it's just about forcing the mind to quit thinking, stop worrying, and letting the hand move in front of the brain," Penny says.
Penny feels one of the major ways her work has evolved over time is simply in becoming more comfortable in her own skin. Part of this process has included accepting imperfections. She credits the perspective she once learned from an improv comedy workshop—to loosen up and not take herself so seriously—as wisdom she tries to mirror as an artist.
"I always thought that if I put pencil to paper it had to be perfect the first time. One day it finally hit me—what matters the most is that this is what I love to do," Penny says.
For Penny, creating art is freeing, therapeutic, and the truest form of self-expression. She would encourage beginning artists to give themselves permission to just go for it!
To learn more about Penny's work visit http://raile.typepad.com/ or http://www.tangletangletangle.typepad.com/. To see more inspiration from Certified Zentangle® Teachers and learn how to tangle yourself, order your copy of The Art of Zentangle® today! You can also find some tangling fun from Penny Raile on Facebook at facebook.com/railetangles
Photos by Jennifer Gaudet & Angela Corpus
Jennifer is Associate Editor at Walter Foster Publishing. Lover of the written word and strong coffee, mostly anti-domestic, lifelong journal-keeper. Collector of anything striped.
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