I heard of Zentangle for the first time about a month ago when Diane, my Airbnb host, invited me to a Portland Zentangle Meetup last October. I had nothing to do that day and I thought: why not!
Diane was pretty new at it too, but she briefly explained that it was a kind of “artistic meditation.” And the website says: “It increases focus and creativity, provides artistic satisfaction along with an increased sense of personal well being.”
To be honest, the whole thing sounded like a bunch of baloney to me until she showed me some examples of the art. That’s when I got interested. My first thought was that it looked like my doodles, but nicer. I doodle a lot; I doodle when I talk on the phone, or I’m stressed, or bored, or trying to avoid listen to a conversation that is in the same room as I am. My doodles usually consist of abstract drawings created by layered structural patterns.
And guess what? “Zentangles are pieces of unplanned, abstract, black and white art created through a very specific Method from an ensemble of simple, structured patterns on a 3.5-inch (89 mm) square paper tile.”
Simple, structured patterns, that’s what I do, without all the other rules.
The rules of a Zentangle according to the creators are:
- use a 3.5 inch square paper called a “tile.” (The purpose of the tile is so that the artist is able to rotate the tile and allow the patterns to be taken in different directions.)
- with a pencil, draw four points inside the square
- connect the points
- divide the new area into sections with lines called a “string”
- with a permanent pen (Micron pens recommended) fill each section with a different pattern called a “tangle”
- add shading with a pencil
- sign and date
So, rather than following all the rules and steps of a Zentangle, I decided to embrace Zentangle by simply taking inspiration from it by learning new pattern ideas to create more beautiful doodles than I used to.
I attended a second Zentangle Meetup. The theme of the night was Holiday Zentangles since it was November. We watched a short video of some pattern examples, we went through a bunch of papers with pattern inspiration, and we spent about an hour creating a Zentangle.
It was very interesting to compare all of our zentangles and see how we all have vastly different styles and brains.
There tons of books about Zentangle out there. I bought this zentangle 9-piece set on amazon that comes with 3 micron pens, 1 pencil and 5 small original tiles. They also have the 3-piece and 11-piece sets.
What I learned from Zentangling:
- It’s fun.
- It looks cool.
- It’s easy. (You can make it as complicated or as easy as you want)
- You can mess up and non one will notice.
- It focuses and relaxes my mind.
- It doesn’t relax my body. But that’s because I tense up when I do art because I like being precise. In fact, after an hour, I felt tired from drawing and needed to take a break to relax physically.
- I need to work on holding the pen lightly and relaxing my shoulders.
- You can do cool art with just a pen and a notebook or paper. (A thin marker and textured or thick paper is best.)
- I want to keep doing it and I think it’s a perfect activity idea for traveling.
Have you ever heard of this? Would you try it?