Thursday, April 21, 2011

Ferdinand in my Heart. Janis Tan.


Ferdinand in my Heart.
Janis Tan.
Travel Journal.


about the piece.
This is what I did for my journal page for the travel journal.

After I decided to participate I had a feeling, an idea of what I wanted to do. But concretely, I really did not know. I went to the craft stores and tried to find my ideas in concrete forms. I went home with stuff, I started, I stalled.

Then, life got in the way.

And I kept emailing Angie that yes, I was going to do it, next week, next week, next week.

And weeks went by, temperatures plunged and my young little one refused to be put down for her naps. Which meant I never got my hands free from October until now.

In the meantime, I discovered Zentangle and was really drawn to it. When I had a few minutes (while waiting for pasta to cook, water to boil...) I would doodle a little on bits of scrap paper.

And eventually, I knew Zentangle was the answer to what I wanted to create for my journal page. I immediately had the vision of a heart, filled with so many things: memories, heartaches, hurt, love, my precious Ferdinand, hope, strength, friendship. I left some small spaces here and there.

I kind of made a "draft" before I started, just to visualize for myself what it may look like when I brought together elements that called to my heart. But the actual work proved rather different.

First, I was drawing on a larger piece of paper. Second, I could not really stop. I stayed up late one night to allow myself a good stretch of time to do it; I would never find a good two hours during a day with no interruptions. Third, I did not feel I could stop, artistically. Fourth, I changed my mind about some motifs as I went along, and new ones sprung to my head/heart. Fifth, it was tiring on my wrist and fingers and I made imperfections here and there, but a re-do was out of the question (the lines were like manifestations of feelings, emotions and memories, which was why I felt I could not stop), so I just let the imperfections be a part of the work, my heart.

As I was drawing, I thought too of the twins I miscarried last August. And when I finally finished and stepped back and looked I saw elements that represented the twins too.

This is Ferdinand in my heart. All the love, all the loss, everything.

- Janis 

about the artist.
Janis Tan writes on Ferdinand's Gifts. She also gathers recipes her family loved and enjoyed at My Sweet Life. She is still trying to put together the puzzle of her life after her son Ferdinand died, but there is always a missing piece.


  1. I absolutely love this image. I love this way of drawing, but I've never been brave enough to do such a large piece, it really has turned out beautifully. A wonderful tribute. x

  2. I love it! Just beautiful and so intricate. The heart that has a zoom photo of it is extra lovely!


  4. I loved this image just of itself, but really liked hearing your story about it.

  5. Beautiful! Also, I love the idea that drawing these "zentangles" is a form of meditation. The sort of basket weave pattern that you use is something that I doodle ALL the time. I do it especially when I'm feeling stressed and need to take my mind off something. I had never considered it meditation, but I suppose it sort of has the same effect of calming on me. I am going to have to try my hand at this sometime soon. Thanks for sharing.

  6. Thank you for all your kind comments.
    It indeed is rather meditative, I highly recommend everyone to try! xo

  7. This is so wonderful. Im glad it is a part of the travel journal


What do you think?