Category Archives: Art and Tangle Musings

On Following “The Rules”…

Happy Labor Day, everyone! I hope you are all enjoying this extra day to rest. I wanted to share something near and dear to my heart, the reasons why I love Zentangle® so much and credit it with my creative awakening. I’ve included here some wonderful words by CZT Sandy Hunter on the “rules” that separate Zentangle® from other forms of art such as doodling or line weaving. Here is a link to the post, I hope you take a moment to check out her site, it’s chock full of goodies!

 

Wednesday, September 02, 2015

a post with no pictures.

“I don’t really care what the “rules” of Zentangle are! I’m not a rule-follower…it’s my art and I’ll do what I want!”
I see this subject get kicked around on Zentangle fan forums from time to time. I don’t normally engage because I don’t really feel like handing angry people a stick to beat me with, but it’s hard for me to see something so inherently good and useful be misunderstood. So, I want to try to explain it. Please bear in mind that this is my own point of view and I’m not representing anyone else.
Books and Pinterest and YouTube videos are all wonderful sources for patterns for doodling/tangling/patterning/line weaving…. but all of those words are used interchangeably, and that’s where the conflict arises. The confusion seems to come from the fact that that people will refer to any intricate piece of line art as a Zentangle, because they think that’s just the latest buzzword for ‘that thing I was already doing years ago in the margins of notebooks’.
It is possible to place identical drawings side by side where one is a doodle, and the other is a Zentangle. The reason that’s possible is because the art itself does not make a drawing a Zentangle. The art is the byproduct of the complete mental immersion in the process of ‘tangling’. It all depends on where your mind is when you do it. If you’re in this for the art, these guidelines don’t matter one iota. Doodle/draw/sketch away. But if you’re craving a temporary, effective escape plan from pain, grief, or stress (or you just need a mental break) read on, because this information just might come in handy one day.
Yes, the rumors are true: there are guidelines (they’re just roads to a destination, really) with Zentangle. And they don’t exist to crush your spirit. Think of them as stout little pillars that work together to support a single purpose: to refocus the mind. Zentangle is mindfulEvery guideline exists to make that complete mental immersion possible, and sustain it. That’s no easy task in a fast-paced culture (with a constant barrage of distractions) like ours.
#1: The first step in starting a Zentangle: a border and ’string’, drawn lightly in pencil.
Reason: The pencil line, or string, creates sections to draw within. The string line is merely a suggestion and a place to begin. It is drawn lightly in pencil so that it will disappear behind the ink that follows. Some people have never faced a blank piece of paper and been intimidated and overwhelmed by it, but for those who have, something as simple as having a place to start is a huge relief and can easily mean the difference between success and failure.
#2: Zentangles are completely abstract.
Reason: This eliminates the preoccupation with whether something looks ‘right’. If it’s supposed to look like a bird but something about it doesn’t look the way it should, that is what you will be preoccupied with. This actually eliminates a whole bunch of other mental hurdles that go along with drawing specific things, e.g. proportion, placement, what goes around it, etc.
#3: Zentangles are drawn only in black ink.
Reason: This keeps the tangling process as right-brained as possible. To keep the focus on the repetition of the patterns, the slow, deliberate drag of the nib across the paper, the ink soaking into the paper in its wake. With color, decisions must be made: Paint or gel pens? Or marker? How many colors? Which ones? Where do I add them? Do they work together? If you start to add color, that is what you will be preoccupied with. And limiting drawing materials can inspire creativity in surprising ways.
#4: Patterns should be created by drawing repetitive strokes… structured, non-representational, and easy to draw in a limited number of steps.
Reason: The goal is to focus on the strokes of the pen used to create the pattern, and the controlled breathing that happens along with it. The primary goal of drawing a Zentangle is not to draw complicated tangle patterns. Some people are in it for the Zen, some are in it for the art… and there can be a pretty big difference in the way it looks. Which brings us to…
#5: No planned outcome.
Reason: This aligns with minimizing decision-making. Relaxing into the process and just letting a Zentangle unfold as it appears line by line is calming, and it’s fun to see all those little nuances coming together here and there when opportunities present themselves.
#6: Paper, or ‘tiles’, are 3.5 inches square.
Reason: Zentangles are designed to be finished in a short time. They’re friendly. They’re manageable. There is a sense of accomplishment that comes from creating something beautiful from start to finish in one sitting. The small size also makes it portable (Doctor’s waiting room? No problem. Two-hour wait for an oil change? Yes please!). And because it’s small, it’s easy to turn, making drawing in one direction over another more comfortable.
#7: No using stencils, rulers, or graph paper.
Reason: In short, there is no zen to be had in the preoccupation with perfection. There’s a certain joy in letting the pen wander without being confined to a grid or rigid space. Imperfection makes art more interesting… embrace it! Also, see #2.
“It is the nature of all greatness not to be exact.” -Edmund Burke
#8 No erasers.
Reason: Anything that interrupts the drawing process is going to create a shift in focus. Then it becomes less about drawing those slow deliberate lines and breathing, and more about fixing/changing stuff. Just keep drawing and let it evolve. Get comfortable with the idea that mistakes can be turned into something good and unexpected (and exciting!).
If you’re not a rule-follower, it’s ok. Not following these steps does not mean your line art is in any way bad or wrong; it just means it’s not technically a Zentangle. I’m a CZT and 99% of what I draw isn’t technically Zentangle… I’m here for the art too. It’s good to know the difference, but don’t let it be a label and keep you from enjoying the journey.
• ❃ • ❋ • ❁ • ✿ • ✽ • ❀ •
Thanks for stopping by!
Feel free to join me here,
where I frequently share artsy things that inspire me,
invite tanglers to share art,
crack silly jokes,
and offer up the
occasional
tangle
prompt.
:oD

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New Skillshare Class! And a FREE one!!

I have a new Skillshare class available! Zentangle® 102 covers what we usually do in my physical classes, during the second tile. For a limited time, I’ve made my Zentangle® 101 class FREE! So please go check it out and give it a thumbs up, if you like it 🙂

Even if you’ve taken my classes before, this is a great opportunity to brush up on what you learned. I’ll also be putting more and more videos up, my goal is 2-4 per month! I’ll focus on Zentangle and mandalas, but if there is something you’re interested in, let me know by emailing me or contacting me on any one of my social media platforms 🙂

If you’ve never tried Skillshare, I highly recommend it. For less than $100 a year you can learn anything from marketing to watercolor. I absolutely love it and try to tell anyone I meet who loves learning! Here is a link to check it out, and you can also access the Zentangle 101 and 102 classes there!

I’ve also been working on some fun mandalas the past two weeks. I’ve been inspired by dreamcatchers and have been experimenting with different ways to create dreamcatcher mandalas!

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’ve been exploring ways to do the same thing over and over again, but still produce different results. In my next post I’ll write a bit about my experience with “tangles stuck in my head.” Think of how you get a song stuck in your head, but instead it’s a set of pretty visual patterns! Until next time!

 

Cheers!

 

Sarah

Zen & Zin

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Filed under Art and Tangle Musings, Certified Zentangle Teacher, Fun Updates, Products I Love

Principles of Zentangle® Series, Part 2: Unknown Outcomes

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.

Luckily, my husband is a tabletop gamer and I have tons of pretty dice to choose from! 😀

 

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!

Tiles all tangled within 72 hours of each other. Each with a weird or non-square strings, or no string at all

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!

Cheers,

Sarah

* Affiliate links allow me to share products I stand behind while receiving compensation from Amazon, this helps me with expenses related to managing my blog. The products do not change in price for you, and I will only use affiliate links for products I actually use and recommend! I will also let you know when I’m including an affiliate link. If not otherwise noted, the links I include are not affiliate links but instead links to other bloggers, artists, resources I have found helpful, or products I use and like but do not receive compensation for. 

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Filed under Art and Tangle Musings, Certified Zentangle Teacher, Products I Love

Challenges and Focus

It’s been a nuts-o week here at Zen & Zin. Lots of things in the works (more news to come on that in the next few weeks). My Zentangle® practice has kept me sane and mostly centered as I weave my way through everything.

I even squeezed in another Scallamp tile 😀

The Diva’s Weekly Challenge this week was a focus/study on the pattern Molygon…a pattern I adore and use A LOT, especially in pieces bigger than the traditional Zentangle tiles. I appreciated having this challenge this week since I was making SO many decisions in my business and personal life, having the decisions made for what to focus on in my Zentangle practice made life a lot easier. And, as you can see, I had a lot of fun!

I tangled these molygons in my Shizen Design Faux Leather Journal. The paper is a lovely smooth black and the faux leather is creamy. It’s easy to tangle in since the cover is so flexible. I then used my Prismacolor Colored Pencils (*affiliate link) to make them glow! I love that Prismacolors show up so deliciously on black paper!

 

I have also been playing with the 14 Shades of Grey method (available for purchase again after May 15th). The CZT that came up with this method did so by exploring the boundaries of what can be done with traditional Zentangle materials. I LOOOOOVE the effect it gives, and I totally have a new appreciation for graphite!

So, if you’re experiencing a similar time in your life when too many decisions make your creative time a little more dubious…find a weekly challenge like The Diva’s or even the Square One Facebook Group. Take that challenge and do it over and over and over. You’ll gain the benefits of having that time for yourself, renewing your energy and focus, but taking the work of decision-making off your own shoulders!

Leave a comment below, let me know, what’s your go-to Zentangle pattern or other creative outlet?

Cheers,

Sarah, Zen & Zin

* Affiliate links allow me to share products I stand behind while receiving compensation from Amazon, this helps me with expenses related to managing my blog. The products do not change in price for you, and I will only use affiliate links for products I actually use and recommend! I will also let you know when I’m including an affiliate link. If not otherwise noted, the links I include are not affiliate links but instead links to other bloggers, artists, resources I have found helpful, or products I use and like but do not receive compensation for. 

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Ups and Downs, Tangles All Around

This week has been full of emotions and ups and downs. I’m riding on the high of having taught new students over the weekend, but also dealing with that weird post-stress slump that tends to lead to lower productivity. It’s always a balancing act 🙂

Dark and drizzly days sometimes lead to dark and moody tangles….

…next day!! So much SUN!!!

…and then, the next day! Crazy thunderstorms!

Rainy days lead to playing with Dingbatz!

In exciting news, my tangle Scallamp is featured on The Diva’s Weekly Challenge. It was super exhilarating to wake up Monday morning to emails and notifications full of people trying my deconstruction out. I love seeing everyone’s renditions, and I’m still working my way through everyone’s posts! I even played with the tangle a bit more this week, too.

A string for a Scallamp-y tile

Scallamp and an abundant amount of Joki (have I mentioned I’m pretty much obsessed with Joki???)

Scallamp in a Dingbatz frame

Scallamp and crazy Huggins on a black Zentangle tile

Scallamp on a black zendala

 

In less exciting news, my fellow CZT Lily is experiencing an heartbreaking loss in her family. It’s never fun to learn that someone else is hurting so badly. As a Zentangle community, there’s a project to complete tiles with her tangles, using a heart string, and penciling words of encouragement, which will then be mailed to Lily.

It’s one of the many things I love about the Zentangle community, the fact that we’ll band together to hold each other up when we need it. Check out the Square One Facebook Group to see what everyone has come up with.

So, check out The Diva’s challenge this week, try out Scallamp (and let me know when you post it!), and keep Lily in your minds as you tangle and create. There is no such thing as too many positive thoughts, prayers, good vibes, or good energy that you can send to people in need.

Cheers,

Sarah, Zen & Zin

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Filed under Art and Tangle Musings, Certified Zentangle Teacher, Challenge/Focus