It’s hard to narrow down which one of the principles of Zentangle® are my favorite. Each time I sit down to write about or mention one of these principles I find myself exclaiming, “This is my favorite! I love this one!”
Really, each one serves its purpose in our Zentangle practice. And each principle supports another and relies on the others. Our deliberate focus on each stroke of the pen leads to unknown outcomes, and unknown outcomes lead to abstract characteristics (another principle I’ll cover soon). This scaffolding of principles and ideas in the Zentangle method and theory are what make it so unique. I think Rick and Maria knew this as they were learning and outlining the method!
But, this is also the hardest one to teach in my classes, since we are all completing the same tangles together it’s hard to explain that we do not have a predestined outcome, even though I’ve already picked a set of tangles and a string to use. In a normal, private setting we would sit down to complete a piece of Zentangle art, without any previous ideas in mind. Luckily, the mosaic shows us that we can accomplish different outcomes using the same strokes!
The idea of unknown outcomes takes the stress or concern away that often comes with making decisions in our art. Which figure to draw? What perspective? What medium? No, instead we sit down with our pen and paper and let the pen make the decisions. Maybe we want to try out a certain tangle, but even with some preconceived ideas in our mind, the process of the Zentangle method often takes us places we hadn’t planned on going! The method is kind of like a map and “Choose Your Own Adventure” activity combined, only executed in tangles and strings.
If you feel you’re not quite ready to take the plunge into tangling on your own, or allowing the pen to lead the way, I have an idea for you! Take a list of your favorite tangles (and include some new-to-you ones!), maybe 10-20, and assign a number to them. Then you can grab one die, or several dice (affiliate link*), or even a Dice Rolling app (for Android), and roll a number. Whichever number is shown is the tangle you’ll complete? Same number rolled sequentially? Do that tangle again and play with the scale or auras or embellishments.
The string is also a way that we attain those unknown outcomes. The crazier and more abstract the string, the more possible outcomes! Try to let yourself go when you’re creating your string, adding swooshes and slashes. Remember, you don’t have to use the whole string, you can combine sections of the string, or leave entire sections blank. The string helps to break up that blank piece of paper, to put some initial marks down. You are not required to abide by the string! Push the limits, tangle outside the lines. It’s OK, it’s totally allowed 🙂
When I first started tangling, I tried for awhile to create preconceived ideas. To make something that represented something else. To be inspirational and outwardly creative. Quickly I became discouraged, intimidated. I find this is true among a lot of new tanglers, so if that’s you, it’s totally normal. But, get back to the basics and don’t worry so much about what you are going to create when you tangle, just tangle!
So, don’t fret. Remember, there are no planned outcomes in Zentangle, no mistakes. If there is something keeping you from tangling on your own, the best thing you can do is to… DO IT! You’re totally capable of it.
If you’re still not sure where to begin or how, message me on any of the social media platforms I use. I will respond and I am happy to help! If you’ve taken one of my classes before, remember you can join my Facebook group! Send me an email and I’ll send you an invite if I haven’t already. I’m here to help if you need it 🙂
Leave me a comment below, new tanglers let me know what you struggle with, veteran tanglers share your best tangle-y advice!
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