Preparing for upcoming classes is so exciting…and a wee bit stressful. I love putting kits together and updating my class outline. Handouts are fun to make, too.
But, I spend the majority of my time wondering about my students! I get so excited to teach new people and introduce them to Zentangle®. I hope they’ll love it as much as I do.
I then start to think of my first Zentangle class. My mom convinced me to go with her, and one of her friends (now someone I also call a friend) joined us. Learning Zentangle was like discovering a new color (I think Maria at Zentangle HQ said that, too!). I had always loved coloring books and doodling on the side of my exam papers in school, but I couldn’t find the door to opening more creativity. Zentangle did that for me.
So, every new class, I hope I show at least one person to that door, behind which lay hundreds of creative possibilities.
I want to take a few moments to expand on the Zentangle® concept of “No Mistakes.” When I first mention this in my classes, I always feel it necessary to expand and explain that “No Mistakes” means that you are incapable of making mistakes, not that you’re not allowed to make mistakes.
It breaks my heart anytime I hear someone disparage their art or their tangles. It shatters my heart to see people rip up their work. No!!! Don’t ever, ever, ever throw away your work. Put it aside if you must, come back to it another day. But don’t throw it out!
When we say there are no mistakes in Zentangle® it opens up the space for MORE. More ideas, more patterns, more possibilities. I’ve run into issues a thousand times…I missed a step in the pattern, I did too much of a step, or I just plain didn’t like the composition. I’ve even had mishaps like spilled ink. Stuff happens.
So, I have three suggestions when you make a mistake run into a bump in the road. First, you can draw some Bronx Cheer over the spot, or fill in the area completely with ink, then go over in white gelly roll (or any gelly roll for that matter!).
Second, you can put the tile away for another day; I’ve done this often and it works like a charm.
Third, you can just.keep.going. This last suggestion is often the hardest to execute, but I’ve found that in the end I don’t see the mistake, but a beautiful piece of work!
Remember, the mistakes, mishaps, and troubles we have while being creative are what make us better artists, better people. We also become more intuned with our inner muse. When you’re in one of my classes, or another’s class, try not to compare your work to others’ as a way of confirming you’re “doing it right.” We’re all following the same steps, interpreting them differently, and executing unique and beautiful pieces! Of course, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t ask for help, as a teacher I will do everything in my power to help you! If you need to email me after class, go ahead! I’m here!
It happens to the best of us. It’s a sometimes terrifying feeling, convincing us that we may never get it back. What will I do without it?
What am I talking about? INSPIRATION. Or, lack of it. Also known as a creative block. It’s actually happened to me so often that I’ve started to notice the signs, and take measures to keep inspiration coming. And, now, it’s also not so terrifying anymore.
So, what’s the fix for lacking creative juice or inspiration? I have a few ideas to share with you! Try them out, even if you’re rich in inspiration already! If you’re not a Zentangle artist, this post can still apply to you! And, I highly recommend trying Zentangle to help keep your own inspiration flowing!
If you’ve never learned Zentangle® from a Certified Zentangle Teacher, or at all, please check out my upcoming classes! I am currently teaching in the Portland, Oregon area and on Skillshare. I’ll be adding more classes to Skillshare very soon, and if you’re in a neighboring state to Oregon and want to learn Zentangle, reach out to me and we can set something up!
1. Be Open To New Ideas… ALWAYS
Whether it’s a new tangle pattern that shows up in your feed but is a little intimidating or some crazy Pinterest project, try it out! I’ve recently been playing with a new spirograph and with the Echo Lines concept by Eni Oken. Before I got Eni’s book, I had been playing with auras a lot, so I was happy to add another tangleation to my repetoire. I have a tendency to hoard collect books and lessons from other Certified Zentangle Teachers and artists, so that when I run out of inspiration, I can whip out a lesson and learn something new!
Shameless plug here… Last year I joined Skillshare, initially to help me learn Photoshop and other graphic design software. Then, I branched and started learning other forms or art and techniques. It’s pretty amazing! I even starting teaching for them! Check it out here. Learning new skills, even if not directly related to Zentangle®, help keep that inspiration fresh!
I also love the Travelling Tangles Project. It’s like pen pals for tangling! Check out the Facebook Group here, or start your own art-sharing group!
2. Change Your Environment
If you’re always creating at home, your studio, or even your office, try some place different. I love to go to bars, cafes, parks, even libraries to get some fresh scenery. A bonus to changing your environment is that you won’t be distracted by the normal everyday things! Instead, you’ll get to see new people, new plants, new patterns and architecture…the list is long! Getting out of your comfort zone is a great way to refresh your inspiration.
I recently went to the worst place on Earth laundromat. Instead of reading old editions of donated magazines, I took my kit and sketchbook with me! I had so much fun, even though I was doing a chore I normally dislike!
I also went to my favorite donut and chai shop (Seriously, if you’re in Portland GO HERE). And lo and behold! I was inspired by their dishware and carboholic delights donuts! I’d been here many times before, but I happened to have my kit with me and my brain was open for inspiration! Tangle away, I did!
3. Pick a favorite, add a twist
When I’m feeling stumped or out of inspiration, this is something I’ll often do. Pick a favorite or often-used tangle pattern, color, or activity. Do it over and over and over again, adding embellishments, playing with scale and overlap, making little tweaks. See where this takes you. I’ll often find myself coming up with other ideas while doing this, and I’ll store them in my mental inspiration bank for later!
4. Change your tunes
I love to listen to music or audiobooks while I’m creating. It helps me stay focused on what I’m doing, instead of letting my mind wander to all the other things I could/should be doing (like those stupid chores!). I love apps like Spotify and Amazon Music, they make it super easy to find new music. Try a new genre or a new artist. I like to go for really obscure stuff when I’m looking for new music, it awakens the inspiration nicely!
5. Join the art/creative community
I may be a little over-zealous when it comes to social media. I’m on Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, Mosaic, and Twitter. Instagram happens to be my favorite. Not only do I share my art and promote myself there, I get to build relationships with other artists, see what they are creating, and talk about new/old/fun techniques. You’re not plagiarizing if you happen to be inspired by something someone else is doing.
I’ve started doing some live videos on Instagram myself (check out the social media buttons on the right side bar to follow me), and actually doing the videos gave me inspiration. There’s a little bit of pressure to keep tangling, so it puts my inspiration reserves in overdrive, which is exhilarating!
Comment below and let me know how these tips worked for you, or add some tips of your own!
I hope everyone has had a fun, productive, interesting, and adventurous 2017 so far! I have been super busy myself with making art, teaching classes, and travelling! The year kicked off with a bang with four awesome classes I taught for three different groups, I also created a lot of fun art for my DesignByHumans and Redbubble stores, as well as commission work! Then, my husband and I made the 1,200 mile trek back to Portland, Oregon!
I’m now ramping up business and hoping to start offering some public classes in Portland and surrounding areas. Tangles on the Oregon coast, anyone??? If you have an art studio, winery, or coffee house that you LOVE going to and think would be a great place for a Zentangle class, let me know and I’ll see what I can do to set something up!
The classes I taught in January and February were SO fun! We did Zen Gems and feathers, stained tiles, beginner’s lessons, and some more advanced techniques for returning students. It was really neat to see some returning students and how far they’ve come in their confidence to complete patterns, or see the patterns and have that “Ah-ha!” moment of understanding just how simple the steps really are.
I think my favorite classes will always be beginner’s and first-timers. It warms my heart to see people who didn’t believe they had creative or artistic talent take pride in the tiles they completed. Zentangle® is always about the process and the method first, artwork and artistry last.
In December I was hired to complete a commission project, my clients wanted their first names in a tangled piece and then a bigger piece with their last name. I decided to do their last name in a mandala…it turned out AMAZING!
Which is good, because it took me 40 hours to complete that one piece…it would have been a bummer if my vision didn’t turn out…ha! I’m offering prints of this commission, with your own last name of course, in my Etsy shop. Check it out if’d you like your own!
I am so excited to be back in the Portland area. Since we’re travelling in our motorhome full time, we are popping back and forth between the Oregon Coast and Mount Hood areas, with stops in between, too! Both locales give us the option to pop into the city pretty easily. I’ve already visited a few of my favorite places and some friends, too!
I’m really looking forward to the coming months and hope to share some exciting updates with you along the way! Let me know how your year is going so far in the comments!
I have received a lot of questions lately from friends, family, and strangers, about how they can support me and other artists they know. Some folks don’t have the funds or the space to buy art from us, or they just plain don’t know where to start. So, I thought I’d share a guide to help those who want to support artists like me. Some of these things will be specific to me as an artist, but it will still help you determine how you might support your own favorite or local artists, and can also apply to musicians, dancers, and entrepreneurs.
Keep in mind that artists don’t necessarily have the luxury to make art all day, every day. Instead we’re working on our accounting, maintaining households, bugging people on social media to like and follow them, and trying to find additional streams of income. Many even work full or part-time jobs in addition to working as an artist.
So, how can you support your favorite artist?
LIKE, COMMENT, SHARE, AND SUBSCRIBE!
Money and exposure go hand-in-hand and are the best ways you can help an artist. If you don’t have money (Welcome to the club!) or room in your budget to spend, you can still help your favorite artist! Sharing the artist’s social media posts and telling your friends and family about the artist, what kind of art they make, and how they can purchase that art. Exposure leads to the possibility of future sales. If you know an organization or an art gallery that might like to show a new artist, give them a referral!
REFER, REFER, REFER!
For Certified Zentangle Teachers™, like me, we also appreciate folks who take our classes and refer their friends to take our classes. We’re also interested in new venues to teach at, so if you know a venue that would benefit from a Zentangle® class, let them know about your favorite CZT!
Buying an artist’s designs is also a great way to support them. You’re not only contributing to their piggy bank, you’re also showing the rest of the world their art by displaying it. It’s also a great confidence boost for the artist to actually make a sale. Many towns and cities hold art nights and art walks, take the time to attend these events and talk to artists. Many times you can even buy small prints of their art as a way to support them. Every little bit helps.
And, here are some ways you can support me specifically (Many artists have the same streams of income, so check out their websites and social media to see how you can help them):
Connect with me on social media and share my posts! When you interact with your favorite artists on social media, you increase their exposure! This means we have more opportunity to sell our art and products to more people! So, please do not hesitate to like, comment, share, and subscribe! Every social media platform gives you the opportunity to “Turn On Notifications” so you can be notified when we post!
Subscribe to my newsletter! This allows me to communicate with you directly and know that you’re receiving the message 🙂 Plus, it means you’ll further stay connected and know when I have new products, classes, or artwork available!
Buy my art. This one seems pretty straightforward, but if you buy art you’re not only financially supporting your artist, but hopefully your friends, co-workers, or family members will see the art and want to buy some, too!
Great reasons to buy art – birthdays, holidays, graduations, anniversaries, baby showers, bridal/wedding showers, retirements, good grades, promotions, new homes. Basically, any time you might give a gift, give art!
Etsy – buy art, supply kits, and coloring books! Favorite my shop and share it with your friends!
Design By Humans – buy prints or wear clothes with my designs on them, I gain a commission, you look g
reat, and your friends mights be interested in wearing cool art, too! (Are you starting to sense a pattern here???)
YouTube – YouTube allows artists to monetize their videos, so please subscribe, watch, like, comment and share to help us earn a few extra bucks. Plus, who doesn’t like watching fun videos?
Skillshare – I’ll be teaching on Skillshare this year, so you get a chance to learn Zentangle on your own time! Skillshare teachers earn a commission, so make sure to recommend lessons you liked!
(Skillshare IS a paid subscription-based program, but it is
cost-effective and you can learn more than just Zentangle!)
Order a commission! If you’re looking for one-of-a-kind, custom art the best option is to order a commission! Contact me directly to let me know what you have in mind and I can provide you a quote.
Give me money…. ok, not really…. maybe…. but if you’re feelin’ it, go right ahead 😉 (But, I’d rather make you art and trade it for money!)
Book a class – Contact me directly to book a Zentangle class for you and your friends! If you know a local business like a wine bar or cafe that wants to hold art classes, refer refer refer!
Tell your friends! Direct referrals are always the best way to gain new followers and potential customers.
If you’ve made it this far through the post, thank you for taking the time to consider how you can support me and other artists! As a token of my appreciation, here’s a coloring page that you can print out and color!
When you’re done coloring, take a picture and share with me on social media or email me to show me your creation (firstname.lastname@example.org)!
Sarah, CZT, Zen & Zin
*THE ZENTANGLE® METHOD IS AN EASY-TO-LEARN, RELAXING, AND FUN WAY TO CREATE BEAUTIFUL IMAGES BY DRAWING STRUCTURED PATTERNS. IT WAS CREATED BY RICK ROBERTS AND MARIA THOMAS. “ZENTANGLE” IS A REGISTERED TRADEMARK OF ZENTANGLE, INC. LEARN MORE AT ZENTANGLE.COM.
Wow! I cannot believe it is already 2017 . Oh, wait, yes I can. 2016 was a wild year, it went by so quickly yet SO much happened. My husband and I fulfilled our dream of living and travelling full-time in our RV, we plan to continue to do so in 2017 with just a slightly altered travel schedule (i.e. not travelling coast to coast and back in 4 months!). We’ve also both committed ourselves to growing our craft, he’s a writer and I’m finally identifying as an artist!
I’ve grown a lot in 2016 from figuring out what I want in life to realizing I can make my own decisions as I go. I’ve really started to feel like an artist and have given myself the permission, time, and space to learn new techniques and further my Zentangle® practice. I think this has really helped me as a teacher too, as I am more connected to the art and the method than ever before.
I even finished my Master’s degree in Adult Education and Training!
I also learned that, as an artist, I have a lot more opportunities than I previously realized. I’ve started to partner with some different companies and I hope in 2017 we’ll see a lot of awesome projects come out of those relationships.
I am also focusing more on supporting other artists whether its buying their art, or donating to a GoFundMe campaign when someone is struggling. What goes around comes around and I love to help other artists when I have the opportunity to.
This year has also been a tough one on me personally, as well as for my husband….and I know it’s been extremely difficult for a lot of people everywhere. And while the challenges have really tested the strength of my faith and my resolve, they’ve also strengthened me and remind me why I do this…why I love and teach Zentangle, why I create art, and why art is so important. In a year of uncertainties and emotional roller coasters, art has helped us all get through. It’s soothing, it’s expressive, it’s escapism. Art is awesome that way!
So, join me in 2017. Support art and the artists than share their craft. Take a Zentangle class. Buy an original or order a commissioned piece of art. If it’s me you’d like to support, yay! If not, I hope you have a local artist you’d like to support, they’d sure appreciate it!
This week the Diva (#289) challenged us to include some leaves in our tangles. I went outside, and luckily I’m in Michigan right now, and found some beautifully colored and uniquely-shaped leaves to inspire me.
First, I took some photocopies of these leaves so that I could experiment.
I tangled on color and black-and-white photocopies… The colored ones turned out better I think. Here’s a collage of those:
This black and white photo copy worked out well, I tangled in Metallic and Glaze Gelly Rolls from Sakura. I love the stained-glass look achieved in the top left corner!
I then traced the outlines of a couple of the leaves and used them as a string to tangle within.
I also attempted to use them with my Yupo paper and alcohol inks…
…it didn’t work but the in-process pictures look pretty neat 🙂
This challenge (combined with some insomnia) also inspired me to work with more floral and organic tangles and doodles…which led to me starting a new coloring book. I was “adult coloring” long before the fad set in, and coloring is what led me to Zentangle, so I still hold it near and dear to my heart. I also love that tangling has given me the courage to try my hand at designing and drawing my own coloring books. I have one in my Etsy store already, and now I have two more in the works.
Here’s an example of one page, feel free to download it, print it, and color it. Please don’t redistribute, but share a link to this post with your friends and share your colored masterpiece by posting it on Instagram and tag me @zenandzin_czt or post onto my Facebook page to share! Or, post on your own blog and comment with a link back here! 🙂 I just want to see what everyone comes up with!
I have been working on getting involved in different weekly challenges, it helps me focus on patterns I may not otherwise choose on my own and helps me get involved in the Zentangle community. I am a bit of an introvert, so it is all too easy for me to stay in my comfort zone of alone-ness. This week there have been two challenges, The Diva’s challenge of Guordgeous and the Facebook Square One group’s Antique focus.
Guordgeous just has fall written all over it. It’s so guord-y and pumpkin-y, it’s quite lovely this time of year. And for some reason this pattern as alway eluded me… I can never quite seem to get the hang of it, so I will continue to focus on it for the rest of the month and see if I can grow to love it.
Antique is another pattern that is beautiful, I tend to stay away from the less-than-abstract patterns, but this one is fun and works well as an autumny tangle.
Here is the deconstruction/step-out of my pattern “Scallamp.” I’ve also included a video I shot of myself tangling this pattern with some filler possibilities! Leave a comment to let me know what you think and if you have any questions!
Scallamp was inspired by a lamp I had from Ikea. It tall and had a paper shade with papier-mache-like strips spiraling around it and vertically. It was pretty trippy! It took me a year of playing with the lines and curves to come up with something that was easily repeatable and met a lot of the requirements for a tangle pattern.