Category Archives: Certified Zentangle Teacher

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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Summertime Livin’

Summertime and the livin’s…. crazzzzyyyy

I know I have been super quiet these past couple of months, I totally didn’t mean to! I had a few amazing classes in Portland, OR and we created some fun art! I had such a blast teaching at Vine Gogh and Urban Crush, I love meeting new people and hopefully inspiring a few to take on their creative sides!

About two months ago my husband asked me if I was comfortable and had enough space to create art and build my classes. We’d been travelling and living in a motorhome for over a year and while it was SO much fun and an amazing learning experience, we were both starting to feel a little cramped…though, neither one of us wanted to admit it. My art supplies alone took up about 50% of storage in the RV, and I had more in our storage unit! I also had a difficult time creating pieces that took more than a couple of hours, as I would have to clean up each day…which in itself isn’t that big of a deal, but when you have to wait for paint to dry in order to, say, cook dinner, and can get a little frustrating. So, I admitted to my husband that, no, I didn’t have the space I needed, but I was willing to deal with it, don’t worry about lil ol’ me! We didn’t/couldn’t/wouldn’t afford the rent or mortgage for a place in the Portland area without both going back to our corporate worlds, which…. just… NO. I didn’t want to do that, I couldn’t do it again.

So we started thinking about places we’d been during our travels that we enjoyed and might have a lower cost of living. I did NOT want to leave the Portland area, but I also knew it was time to make a change. One city kept popping up in our discussions, that we kept coming back to, and that we always talked about as being our favorite place when we travelled. My husband was also pretty well connected with a community of his own there, so it would be a bit easier for him to integrate. As for me, any city was going to take a little work to get my Zentangle teaching and connection with the creative community established again, so I was open to the possiblities. We made the plan to sell the motorhome and get ready to move by the fall.

Then, I found a job that fit my needs perfectly, and they needed me to start within a month! Fast forward through the scrambling to pack the RV and storage unit, say our “see ya laters,” find housing, and all the other moving accoutrements…..

And, here we are. We’ve moved, the motorhome is on consignment in Portland, and we’re settling in.

In Madison, Wisconsin!

Hopefully soon I can bring you more YouTube videos, SkillShare classes, and Zentangle tips and support! I have been working on organizing my creative space, and it was a little more slow going than I thought it would be (mainly because I am picky! Lol).

If you had asked me 6 months ago if I would be living in an apartment again in a strange city, I would have laughed! But, so far, it seems like this was a perfect idea. Hopefully in the next couple years we’ll get a house with some property where I can hold Zentangle-related retreats! How does tangling and cheese curds sound to you?!

So, again, apologies for the radio silence over here! I hope to be more noisy moving forward, including continuing my Principles of Zentangle series!

Cheers!
Sarah

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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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New Students, New Inspiration!

I love introducing new people to Zentangle®….I love even more when they didn’t even know about Zentangle before they showed up to class!

No pre-conceived notions about how they won’t be able to do it, just fresh curiousity about something they know hardly anything about. And, there’s an amazing thing that happens in every class, with almost every student– the comfort in knowing, discovering, recogniizing they’ve encountered these patterns before. I love seeing that recognition in students’ faces.

That’s what happened with my first Zentangle experience. In a new experience, I found soemthing comforting and creative, and releasing.

I did things a little differently than I normally do… And I was granted the opportunity to do so because my classes were unusually (fantastically) small and intimate (read: totally awesome). I was able to teach some extra tangles that I don’t normally teach AND give my students the opportunity to follow their intuition and embellish their tangles with only a little bit of direction and coaching. There were so many unique outcomes, I was totally amazed!

I absolutely loved seeing what each person came up with! Their ideas infused me with new inspiration. You new tanglers keep me going!

I also received a lot of great requests and ideas  for future classes. So, now I am going through those requests to plan and schedule more classes!

Some options include:

  • Magical Mandalas: how to construct them and apply Zentangle-inspired patterns to create beautiful mandalas.
  • Beyond Basics: practice drawing your own string, layering tangles, and complete more tangles that might seem complicated!
  • Couples Night: We’ll cover the basics and a little more, as well as complete tiles together by trading off or trading strings.

I am also going to be doing a giveaway challenge in the coming weeks. Make sure you and your friends are subscribed so that you don’t miss out on any updates! It’s going to be a really fun virtual event!

So, if you were in my classes, and you’re reading this, thank you for the fresh infusion of inspiration and for being AMAZING students!

If you weren’t able to make it these past few weekends, I hope to catch you at my next class!

Leave me a comment below to tell me about your first Zentangle experience.

Cheers,

Sarah, Zen & Zin

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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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Prepping for Classes…Yahoo!

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.

My first ever Zentangle tile, recreated this past fall! Almost 6 years apart

 

So, every new class, I hope I show at least one person to that door, behind which lay hundreds of creative possibilities.

 

Cheers,

 

Sarah, Zen & Zin

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Tips for Staying Inspired!

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?

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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.

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A blank page

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!
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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!

Tanglin’ at the ‘mat

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!

Made-fresh mini donuts with a Meyer Lemon and Pear butter? YES PLEASE! And that design is so simple, but so eye catching!

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!

Printemps, printemps, printemps!

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!

New-to-me music, weekly!

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!

Cheers!

Sarah, Zen & Zin

 

Some tangling I did while live on Instagram last weekend

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Quick Update – Super Excited!

Hey Tangle Friends!

Just wanted to shoot you all a quick update, because I am super excited….

:::drum roll:::

I am offering two classes at the end of April! Both are Zentangle® 101 classes, but each has a different atmosphere. Check out the events below and get yourself registered!

These events are in the Portland, Oregon area, so if you’re not here, share with your friends. Or, maybe get crazy and come up and visit! 😉

I should have another post up this week, but I couldn’t wait to share!

Cheers!

Sarah

Zen&Zin

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It’s Been Awhile!

Being silly in the passenger seat

Hello!

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!

Tangling away

  The calm before the storm

Tiles pre-stained with coffee and tea leads to amazing student tangle work

 

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!

My class workspace

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.

Beginners class tangles

Feather gems and intermediate tangles

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.

Such talented tangle artists my students are

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!

Close up shot of mandala inking

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!

Tangling on watercolors

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!

The Brave Little Toaster taking a break in Bend Oregon

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!

Cheers!

Sarah, Zen & Zin

 

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