Ok, you may be asking, “Zentangle? What is Zentangle? Are you making that word up Cyn?” And no, I didn’t make this word up. I first heard of people talking about it with regards to the Zentangle display at the CHA winter show but I had no idea what it meant. Recently though, through Inspired at Home, I was introduced to what Zentangle is all about and then I did some research on my own.
Zentangles are essentially doodles. The difference between Zentangles and typical doodles is that they are basically contained doodles and they are created within a somewhat meditative process. Rick Roberts and Maria Thomas came up with the term and concept. The story goes that Maria had been doodling one day when Rick came into the room and started talking to her. He had a bit of difficulty initially in getting her attention and realized that she was really lost in what she was working on. When he commented on this to her, she began describing how she had felt while she was working and he realized that she was describing having been in a meditative state.
Zentangle official website: http://www.zentangle.com/index.php
Zentangle is an abstract form of art that is done very intuitively and involves the incorporation of repetitive shapes. The idea behind it is that it is a very accessible artform that anyone can do – there is no right or wrong behind it – and that it is meant to be something very relaxing, something that will open up your mind and your creativity. I guess there is one rule behind making Zentangles. No erasing! I have seen a few people suggest that you start out using pencil and having an eraser nearby but the originators of Zentangle do not suggest this. In fact, working in pencil and erasing your “mistakes” would completely defeat the idea behind Zentangles.
I am finding creating Zentangles valuable in many ways. It is very relaxing and helps me to settle down after a long day and be ready for a restful night’s sleep. I have been working on a Zentangle and then moving into my regular meditation/prayer time just before sleep. It relieves stress for me and so I use it when I feel stuck on a particular art project as a break to refresh and renew and often-times as I work on one, I start finding the inspiration I need to carry my artwork to the next level. Because of that, I have been using Zentangles as a way of warming up prior to beginning my creative work for the day. I have some health conditions that interfere with my ability to concentrate and I find that “Zentangling” has helped to increase my attention span. I also suffer from PTSD and many of the things we were encouraged to do in group (such as creating mandalas and collages and just simply colouring) were very helpful in reducing stress and handling people’s panic attacks and I am sure that creating Zentangles would be a very effective tool in this regard as well. I think another great advantage of Zentangles is that all it requires is a pen and a piece of paper so it’s a very portable form of art. I can envision myself working on these while sitting in the many doctors’ waiting rooms that are a part of my life. A Zentangle only takes 15 minutes to create too!
To create my first Zentangle, I stuck to a very basic rectangle. From there, I drew a couple of intersecting lines to divide up the space. Within each shape that was created, I did a repetitive doodle design. In some areas, I chose to shade in parts of the designs I had made for more depth. I work with a very fine tipped permanent marker (so it doesn’t smear). I am doing mine in a journal of plain unlined paper and found it very important to put waxed paper in behind the page I am working on as some of the markers do bleed through the page a bit. I also place a piece of waxed paper on top of my finished design before I close the book to ensure that it doesn’t spread onto the back of the previous page before it has the chance to thoroughly dry.
I have seen that now people are taking the Zentangle idea and incorporating it into other works of art. For example people are using a Zentangle design as the background for ATC’s, as a border for a journal or scrapbook page, as “coverings” to decoupage onto boxes and other items, and on the following video, it is even demonstrated in combination with Friendly Plastic to make beads!
Now it’s your turn to try out Zentangles. Go ahead, this is a no fear art form that anyone can do! As they say on the Zentangles website, “Anything is possible one stroke at a time.”