Returning to my tangled roots

It’s been almost 9 years since my first experience with Zentangle®.

It’s hard to believe it’s been that many years, especially when I look back and realize I had no idea how profound an impact that experience would have on my life.

*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.

I was a recent college graduate, working in my first “real” job (I’ve since learned that all jobs are real!), and floundering a bit in my personal life. I needed a hobby, an outlet. Something creative. I liked to color in coloring books, but was starting to feel it just wasn’t enough. But, I didn’t know how to draw or knit or build anything.

My mom mentioned one day that we should try this Zentangle thing. What the heck is it? Doodling? Drawing? I didn’t really understand, and I was really quite skeptical. But, mom offered to pay, so hey why not? (Also, I love my mom and love spending time with her, so this was just an added bonus).

Leading up to that first class I did very little research, I had seen some “Zentangle” things and was already feeling overwhelmed. I even had a co-worker, who was wonderfully artistic, show me her “Zentangle” art she created just from looking at pictures on the internet. What the heck! I’ll never be able to do that! That’s so complicated. So, I started to worry.

Fast forward to the day of class. We got to the stamp shop it was taking place in. Mom’s friend joined us (someone I consider a friend myself now too!). Class started and something flickered inside me. As class went on I was more and more amazed! This is so fun! This is so simple! I wish I had this all my life! I found out the CZT was teaching another “intermediate” class that afternoon, so I signed up for that too! By the end of the day I had 6 hours of class time under my belt, a bag of supplies to take home, and a fire burning brighter than I’d felt in a long time. A Tangler Was Born!

My very first tangle! I’ve saved it all these years and love showing people where I started.

Looking back, it really is amazing. I had no idea that this little thing would turn into such a huge part of my life. I’ve obviously since become a Certified Zentangle Teacher myself. But I also now consider myself an artist. I’ve tried different mediums, I even took a Drawing 101 class at the community college and drew actual things! I still prefer abstract – more for the flow process, it’s easier to relax when I’m not trying to perfectly capture the shadows in a still life picture.

More than anything is that Zentangle has brought so many wonderful people into my life. I’ve been able to share this love of mine with people all over the world through social media. But I’ve also taught classes in-person, attended workshops, and joined communities that gather around this silly little thing called Zentangle.

So this week, when one of the handful of ways I share my classes and inspires other just dissolved before my eyes, I was heartbroken. But, I cannot dwell, I have to move forward. So I’ve decided to go the route of Patreon. I had considered this platform months ago but decided to stick with what I knew – oh how life has its own plans! This platform allows me to set up several options to be accessible to students, both financially but also personally! I want to watch my students grow and be able to communicate with them regularly and offer more content than just Zentangle, but more Zentangle-inspired things like drawing spirals or mandalas, or using watercolors. I have a lot of content lined up, on top of re-packaging and sharing the content that I had shared on Skillshare. I also plan to have some Sip and Tangle live video sessions, too. It’s great to be able to do everything within one platform!

So, I know I’ve posted a lot this week, and you’re probably tired of all my ramblings : ) But, I hope you’ll come check things out on Patreon and continue on this Tangled Adventure with me!

My first tile – revisited!

All new Patrons in December will receive a 30 minute Tangle Intro video where I revisit that very first tile I created in my first Zentangle class. I’ll muse about my experience but also show you step by step the Zentangle method and how to create the tile as well!

Until next time!

Cheers! – Sarah

A Series of Unfortunate Events…

Hi friends,

I wanted to send out a quick update about my Skillshare classes. I received a few replies this weekend about my links not working.

Turns out, Skillshare has deemed my classes no longer worthy – they no longer meet their guidelines. I haven’t been able to pinpoint exactly what guidelines they don’t meet, so I’m sure you can understand why I am devastated.

Unless a drastic change occurs in their communications with me, I’ll likely be moving to a new platform to bring you my classes instead of investing time in something that may not even fit their new requirements.

Do you have a preferred platform? Give me your feedback, I’m all ears to ideas!

Thanks for sticking with me! If you care to send me a note or leave a comment I could sure use a pick-me-up!

-Sarah

Searching for that “it” factor

It’s that time of year again when I realize I am truly awful at regularly blogging! What can I say? I prefer drawing to writing and other responsibilities!

Mental Health day from work turned into drawing a lot, a lot, a lot of lines!

I’ve spent this year trying to identify my creative aesthetic. What do I love doing most? What do I love most about others’ work? What pushes my creative buttons, inspires me to continue on? What makes me go “Oh, I love that!” or “How can I do that myself?”

A lot of this introspection and observation also reminded me of my Dynamics of Psychology in my undergrad program. While the first half of the class had me scratching my head and questioning everything I had learned about psychology thus far, I’ve realized years later that what I didn’t seem to learn in that class left an impression on me. Without getting too sciencey and breaking my own brain trying to explain, I’ll explain a little about what I absorbed from that class.

Fractals are everywhere. Repeating endlessly to eternity, forming the fabric of the existence of everything physically tangible. How it relates to psychology? I dont quite remember, but they’re pretty! And they consist of repeated lines and patterns. Sound familiar?

Fractals in kale!

And, humans and other living creatures will continue to behave a certain way until they approach an event or stimulus that causes them to change their actions or way of thinking, even if minutely. That small factor can completely change their lives both immediately and forever. Kind of like the butterfly effect, but not really. Again. Repeated behaviors, linear until they’re not.

Hmmm… brain broken yet? Mine is a little!

So how does this relate to my art and Zentangle practice? Let’s go back to my journey to discover that “it” factor.

It comes down to auras. Repeated lines. Echos. Halos. Vibrations. Rings from drops of water in a puddle. The steam rising from a pot of boiling water. Rays of light emanating from the sun and the moon and the stars.

So what if I just draw a line and aura it over and over? What if my pen gets bumped and now that line is no longer perfectly straight? Aura that new silhouette, that’s what!

And so, I set about to intentionally focus on auras in my work. Sometimes a border, sometimes wiggly lines over and over and over.

So now, a technique introduced to me by the Zentangle Method has woven itself into my life and my creative work in a way that I can only explain as revolutionary.

Am I being dramatic about a silly little concept? Probably. But for me, this epiphany and exploration has been really grounding and a great wellspring of creativity for me.

A 9x12ish canvas painted with super matte black, and tangled on with white ink

So, do you want to learn how to harness the power of the aura? I have just the thing for you (you saw this coming, right?).

Yep, I have a new Skillshare class available! I had every intention to publish this class 3 months ago, but life and excuses, excuses.

As always I am giving my email subscribers a free access link and a 2 months free link – use whichever you prefer! Skillshare does require an account, but if you’re just using the free access link you shouldn’t need to enter any payment information. If you decide to use the 2 free months, you will need to enter payment information. But, I know for a fact that it is SUPER easy to cancel your subscription and Skillshare doesn’t make it difficult or give you a guilt trip for doing so.

Free Access Link: https://skl.sh/2qOyUTQ

2 Free Months Link: https://skl.sh/2QThdxc

If you can leave a review, you’ll have my eternal gratitude! And I’ll have your feedback to use to improve or keep doing what I’m doing!

Examples from the Auras class

I hope you’ll enjoy!

Summer is winding down…

Ha! As soon as I said I might start blogging on the reg, I should have known that was a lie. Summer is now winding down, and it’s my favorite time of the year: fall! and my birthday! At the beginning of summer I started a new job. It occurred right after my last post and it’s been a whirlwind summer ever since! I’ve actually been working two jobs as I stuck around and helped my old employer out while they found a replacement. I love my new job and everyone there is amazing. I hope to stick with them a long time and grow in my adult education background.

I’ve also had a lot of fun this summer. Ted and I took a bus down to Chicago and had some amazing deep dish pizza followed by a trip to WNDR museum – super fun and super Instagrammable. My mom came to visit, which was so wonderful and so needed! We went kayaking, which I’ve never done before but can’t wait to do again! I showed mom around Madison…now I’m looking forward to my BFF’s visit next week for my birthday! I love my birthday, and even more so here in Wisconsin because the weather is always amazing — not hot like it was growing up in Phoenix! We’ll get some kayaking in as well as a little Ice Age Trail light hike, eat some good food, and catch up!

I have been working on another Skillshare class the past few weeks. Since I’ve been working with auras so much in my practice recently, I figured I might as well find a way to share my approach with the world! It’s funny timing, too, because Zentangle HQ also released their Project Pack series that featured a lot of auras. I find it curious how so many tanglers seem to be on the same creative wavelength. If you haven’t checked out Zentangle’s videos yet, I highly recommend them!

If you’ve followed me on Instagram you’ve seen me playing with a lot of fun art supplies and techniques. I recently picked up Blackest Black acrylic paint from Culture Hustle and it’s gloriously black (read the amazing back story to this pigment here). I painted a canvas with it and I am currently working on tangling over it in white with one of my fountain pens. I was really excited to discover a white fountain pen ink, and I think it’s really going to increase my white on black tangling productivity–as well as help me reach my goal of using all/mostly sustainable and renewable art supplies, one less thing to throw in the garbage! And, it’s going to look awesome! I haven’t decided yet if I will sell it or keep it, I guess it depends on how it actually turns out!

So, as summer comes to a close, keep a look out for my next Skillshare class! It’s going to be thorough and include several different completed tiles. I’ll also start working on my next class – white on black!

A peek at my upcoming Skillshare Class

I have received a few reviews on my older Skillshare classes that have mentioned the video and audio quality. It’s been something I have wanted to go back and change for a long time, and as time goes by I think it becomes a more glaring issue… but that happens when technology is constantly updating! So, I have high hopes too for going back and updating my older classes over the next few months so that the videos are shot with more modern technology 🙂

Until next time!

Tangle.Sip.Repeat.

-Sarah

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. 

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. 

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

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

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

No Mistakes…Really

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.

Uh, oh. Inktastrophe!

 

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.

My Sakura Micron took a few too many bumps down the road while travelling. The ink came pouring down the barrel (slow-mo style). I used the edges of my tile to clean up what I could, got a big blob in the middle of my tile….and kept tangling away. I love the grungy look this mishap created!

 

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!).

Guordgeous was not my friend that day. So, I took some sparkly black ink and covered the whole thing. Then, used a sparkly gelly rolly to add a new pattern in the dark area. Boom. I love how this one turned out!

Second, you can put the tile away for another day; I’ve done this often and it works like a charm.

I originally did not like how this tile was forming. It started with the top right fengle-mooka piece. I put it away for months. Picked it back up and added some embellishments. Voila, happy with the results!

It’s even possible to run into issues with the pattern YOU created. This one just wasn’t working, but I finished it. Worth it!

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!

 

But…

 

Don’t.

 

Tear.

 

Up.

 

Your.

 

Art.

 

Cheers!

 

-Sarah, Zen & Zin