Friday, January 31, 2014

A Little Bit About that Zentangle Thing

I will post a health update soon.


A little while ago I posted some pictures and introduced a new word to many of you -- Zentangle (which is a registered trademark and is supposed to have that little R in a circle thing, but I don't know how to do that on here so let's pretend this is a really long version of that).

A few of you have said you looked into it a bit or thought about trying it but haven't really found your way.  So I thought it might help if I shared my Zentangle (still trademarked and you'll have to assume that from now on) journey with you.

I first saw the Zentangle art form over a year ago on my cyber-friend's blog (Sherri -- not to be confused with a cyberman, for all you Whovians).  She fights MS and talked about how tangling helped her.  Even though I don't have MS, a lot of the symptoms I have are similar to things she struggles with.  I was intrigued but didn't think I could do it.  I doodled in junior high and high school and used to copy the illustrations in my Peanuts book and took a basic art class in seventh grade.  That was about the extent of my drawing experience.  I just kind of filed it away in the back of my mind as an if-I-ever-feel-well-again-I-will-try-this thing.

I don't know why I suddenly decided the time was right a week before Thanksgiving this last year, but I did.  I thought about it for a day or two.  Looked it up a bit.  And then went out and bought what I thought were the absolute basics I'd need.  A sketchbook and pens.  A six dollar sketchbook from Walmart and a fine and medium Sharpie (also from Walmart).  Within a few days I'd added a pencil (just a regular one from the drawer) and some Q-tips to my supplies.  A few days later I bought a gum eraser and a paper stump (for blending, which is what I'd been using the Q-tips for).
These are the basics.  That's what the Sharpie packaging looks like in case you want to buy some.
This is my sketchbook, which has my name on the cover because two of my daughters have the same kind.

For the first little while I just drew in my sketchbook.  I searched out some of the basic patterns and copied them in my book, for practice and reference.  I drew some simple tangles.  I was really enjoying it, even though it caused me to fight my perfectionist tendencies. 

Then, as he was looking at my latest tangle, my husband said he wanted to color it.  Which, of course, I wouldn't let him because it was my art.  Hello?  But it inspired an idea.  I decided to make a coloring book for him for Christmas (which I did and made several for my kids and a few friends, too; I have these in a pdf file and you are welcome to it if you want it, just shoot me your email address).  That's when I bought some linen paper (because I love the texture of it) and got out the clipboard and started drawing on 8 1/2 x 11 paper.

I don't think this is the traditional journey to Zentangle, but who knows.  Zentangle is an art form that started around 2005ish when a former Buddhist monk was watching his artist wife add detailing to a piece she was working on.  She described what she felt as she did it and he told her it was just like meditation.  They worked together to create a simple system so others could enjoy a similar experience.  Their tag line is, "Anything is possible one stroke at a time."  They also say there are no mistakes, just opportunities to discover new patterns and go in unexpected directions.

They teach their method to others who then become Certified Zentangle Teachers (CZTs).  There are CZTs all over the world, although there isn't one close by me.

Zentangle is done in black and white, with shading (although there are variations on this and lots of people add color).  It is done with pigment pens (so many to choose from, but the Sharpies worked just fine for me for a long time and were the least expensive option).  It is taught on tiles (3.5 inch squares of paper sold by the company).  The tiles now come in white, black, and Renaissance (which are tan).  They also have black and white circles.  These are all about the size of a drink coaster.  They also have black and white ATC-sized cards.

Anyone who has done paper crafts knows you can buy all the stuff from the main company and get great stuff but pay a lot or buy similar stuff at your local craft store and pay a lot less.  It's fun to have some genuine Zentangle supplies, but not necessary.

(Yes, I know my "little bit" about Zentangle is turning into a "lotta bit."  But I want to keep it in one post.  Deal with it.)

You start with a string, which is basically just a line of any shape.  Then you use the Zentangle patterns to fill in the spaces this line created.  The line is your skeleton.  The patterns are the muscles and skin.  The shading is the beautiful clothing.  Or something like that.

Most of the patterns have step-outs available.  This is a step by step illustration of how to do what they did.  There are so many patterns that look complex but are so simple (like Paradox).  The best resource for tangle patterns is  I have spent a lot of time there doing things like this:
A page of patterns from my sketchbook.  Make sure you include the name of the pattern in case you need to look it up again.  Also, if I figure anything out as I draw it, I make note of it next to the pattern.  Because I am old and won't remember.
But sometimes I do this:
This has some tangle patterns I saw and wanted to try, one I tried to draw but it sucked so I gave up and crossed it out, and those dark swirl things.  That's a loose recreation of the pattern on the carpet outside of my therapist's office.  Cool patterns are everywhere!
There are also a lot of YouTube videos that teach Zentangle.  One of my favorite YouTube teachers is Ellen Wolters.

I'm still finding my way, deciding what works for me and what doesn't.  I think my art will continue to expand.  It's been very enjoyable for me.

And before you tell me you can't do it, let me tell you this.  My husband has started tangling.  My can't-draw-a-straight-line-or-a-circle-either-for-that-matter husband.  And he loves it.  His tangles turn out very different from mine, but they are still cool and it's very satisfying and soothing for him.  And he doesn't have the same perfectionist issues I do, so he tends to experiment more.  His are very creative.

If you think you'd like to try but want someone next to you to walk you through it (and are in my general area), let me know and we'll find some time to get together so I can show you the basics that I've learned.  I am absolutely NOT a CZT.  I am just a self-taught novice who is willing to share what she's learned.


I have added a tab, Tangled Art, under my blog header.  For now, this is where I will put pictures of the pieces I create.  Hopefully, I will find a better option for this eventually.


I am participating this week in two Zentangle based challenges.

First, the I Am the Diva Weekly Challenge #152 -- Aquafleur:
This is the first time I've drawn a tangle in anything other than black.  It was fun.  Plus, I love Widgets and wanted to try making a Widget the center of a tangle.

I know Aquafleur is all about the look of a water flower, but to me it always looks like a ribbon around something.  I wanted to try something other than a flower.

And second, Adele Bruno's "It's a String Thing" #25 - using Fassett:
I started building this from the center out.  Soon it was this fun twisty pillar shape.  And whenever I see Fassett done randomly, I see these star shaped flowers.  I wanted to bring a few out with color.

I thought about trying Fassett in the grid style.  But as I looked at the given string, I decided it didn't really lend itself easily to a grid pattern.  Then I wondered what kind of shapes I'd get if I overlaid a grid on top of the string.  This is what I got.  I love the pinwheel shape that emerged.  I kept everything minimal (just a few sections with Fassett and a bit of shading and embellishment) because I liked the blend of the string and grid so much and wanted that to show.
If I didn't know these last two tiles shared the same string, I don't know if I'd have guessed it.

These two challenges were the first time I've worked on the 3.5" squares.  It was fun.


Samara Smith said...

These are beautiful. Fassett in that string stumped me but I love your two.

Mamapotamus said...

I've never heard of this before... not surprising because although I oddly know a large number of artists, I know nothing about art. I'll just learn under your tutelage and then impress them with things I learn from your blog.

Anne's tangle blog said...

Wow, that's quite a long post. Thanks for sharing your way to Zentangle and the explanation.
I have been tangling for almost 3 years now and still hooked.
Your Aquafleur tiles are very beautiful and have great designs. So has the String Thing.

Annie Taylor said...

Robin - your Zentangle journey is lovely to read. And how far you've come in so little time!! Your challenge pieces are all so creative and well-executed! Love the widget aquafleur. I've done the Fassett one too and love it and yours is a beautiful example with a clever final version. Great work! Enjoy. Axxx

Emily said...

I love the black and white aquafleur that you wrapped around some pebble like tangle… I really like that back ground and how you drew it. Also the last tangle you posted is very neat and interesting to me. I love how much white space you left while still being able to achieve the feeling of intricacy. Thank you! Nicely done.

Emily said...

Okay so after my last comment I scrolled back up and the second to last tangle struck me big time… love the line work and the pop of color. Again, nice job!

LonettA said...

Lovely pieces! My favorite is your second tile with Aquafleur! It´s great!

Susan Wojtkowski said...

Very cool! I love Zentangling..don't do it as often as I'd like though. Your Zentangles are awesome!

The Dose of Reality said...

I love, love, LOVE these!! They are so cool! I still have to say there is no way I could do this because I have NO artistic talent at all...but the fact that your husband isn't an artist and he is enjoying it...well, that has inspired me! --Lisa

Jean Chaney said...

I have looked at your beautiful work and then looked more closely at your blog. I am so happy you have found Zentangle. When used properly, it can be a very soothing and meditative tool that is very helpful in calming "storms." Just remember, one foot in front of the other and keep a pencil in hand. Hugs :)

1 Art Lady Kate, Tangles and More said...

How wonderful for you to share your story with us! Your tiles are beautiful. I love it that you moved widgets into something so more! It's really cool. I had a duh moment thinking why didn't I think about changing the scale. :) So fun that you got your husband in on it too! Happy Tangling!

Donald Wilka said...

It is always interesting to hear about how people found Zentangle®. It is varied. Many do not have the opportunity to learn from a CZT even though they are all over the world. Glad that you stuck with it. You have created some beautiful tiles. But the other aspect of Zentangle is the process and enjoying the journey. What you stated about how your husbands tangles look different than yours is one of the neat things about this art form. When I teach classes, I really encourage students to see what I am doing as a guide line and to make it their own. That is a hard concept for many at first but once they embrace it they have a great time.

Lila Popcheff said...

Oh what a fab post, sometimes there's a lot to cover - love your matter of fact style too :) I really like your rendition of Auafleur, love the colours in the first and the 'kappows' coming out. I also think of Aquafleur as ribbons :) you've made a beautiful Fasset, with just the right amount of colour. thanks for sharing.

Diane Clancy said...

Really enjoyed your post about your journey!! Read every word. My favorite Aquafleur is the black and white round one. I am new to this and you have more courage to experiment so far :) ~ Diane

Adrian's Crazy Life said...

Small world! I've been Zentangling for several months now. I'm like your husband - couldn't draw a straight line, so I've been really pleased with all the cool patterns I've been able to draw. I have a Pinterest board for all my Zentangles. It's a group board, so just leave me a comment if you'd like to post to it. I also have a weekly Email I get from a lady named Linda Farmer that is a great resource for me. #SITSSharefest

Paula (PEP) said...

It's interesting to read your story & how your are finding your own way. Funnily I too thought that Aquafleur represented ribbons round something & I absolutely love your black & white tile with it - the way it looks like one a glass paperweight& actually curves over the edge which looks almost transparent.
The Perfectionist Imp gets around doesn't he?? He likes to sit on my shoulder chattering in my ear!!
Take care of yourself & may He richly bless you.
Paula (PEP)

Tinkered Art said...

Wonderful post loved reading your story. The black and white Aquafleur - wow - looks like a nice polished stone. Actually I really like all the different tiles you posted! said...

Very cool. I'm not artistic but it looks like something I would enjoy.