Travel Activity: Zentangle (Meditative Doodling Art)

zentangle airplane

A few months ago I posted about Zentangle when I first learned about it and tried it, and since the beginning, I thought it would be a great travel activity for airports, airplanes, and even in-hotel/hostel downtime. Let’s do a refresher:

What is Zentangle?

zentangle 3

“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.”

That is the technical definition by the creators but I describe it as: meditative, stress-relieving, time-passing awesome doodling art.

I’ve always been a doodler, so when I learned about Zentangle it quickly caught my attention as my doodles have always been unstructured repetitive patterns. With Zentangle I learned how to make my doodles more artistic.

How to make a Zentangle in 7 steps

1. 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.)

2. With a pencil, draw four points inside the square.

3. Connect the points. (Lines don’t have to be straight)

4. Divide the new area into sections with lines called a “string.” You can make as many divisions as you want.


5. With a permanent pen (Micron pens recommended) fill each section with a different pattern called a “tangle.”

“Asian Fans” tangle.

6. Add shading with a pencil. (Optional but it adds depth).

See the difference between the middle one and the far right one with and without shading. source

7. Sign and date. (In a corner or at the back of the tile)

These steps are open for interpretation. Feel free to use them as an inspiration guideline. Don’t feel like the tile needs to be 3.5 inches, I started making zentangles in a notebook. Don’t feel that you need to fill all the white space, either. You can make zentangles out of specific shapes like an animal’s silhouette or a flower, it doesn’t have to be a square. And finally, feel free to use color!

  owl zentangles: source


Why is Zentangle a perfect travel activity?

In my most recent trip, I tried zentangle as a travel activity for the first time and it was great. I started a zentangle mid-flight of my first 3-hour flight and finished it in my second 3-hour flight (I’m a slow zentangler). Here is why it was great:

  1. Doing Zentangle increases focus and creativity while relaxing your mind at the same time. Traveling may be stressful for some and zentangling helps keep the stress away.
  2. An obvious but important reason, it keeps you occupied during those boring flying times.
  3. Zentangle tools are extremely portable and TSA hassle-free. The tiles, pens, and pencils are lightweight and don’t take up much space which makes them perfect travel companions.
  4. It provides artistic satisfaction and confidence. It lets you be creative whether you are an artist or not. The magic of this comes from the unpredictable and unplanned nature of a zentangle. You may have a silhouette to begin with but the outcome of the piece is completely unknown and without expectation until you finish it, allowing you to go with the flow of the pen and preventing the kind of disappointment that an artist encounters when a painting looks different to what was pictured in their mind.

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.

This was my travel creation.
This was my travel creation.

9 thoughts on “Travel Activity: Zentangle (Meditative Doodling Art)

  1. Hi Mani – very interesting! I have been looking for long-flight activities and this one seems very compelling as I enjoy drawing and often happen to have to spend long hours on my way. Thanks.
    – Ruta

  2. I have recently come across entangling and had a few tries. Your completed travel piece is beautiful. I really like your writing style. It is easy and conversational. Thank you for sharing 🙂

Share Your Thoughts

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s