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?
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.
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 🙂
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.
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.
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!
As you peruse this website and my social media posts, you may start to ask yourself, Why Zentangle®? You may wonder why not hundreds, but thousands of people are so drawn to this method, this art form. And why do so many choose to learn from a Certified Zentangle Teacher. I mean, it’s just doodles and lines and circles, right? Right.
The simplicity behind the Zentangle® method* is what makes it so great. And once you start you realize it’s not JUST doodles, but intentional strokes of the pen, it all starts to make sense. It is abstract, too, so you don’t have to worry about making things right or perfect. It’s all about the process.
So, why do you need to learn from a Certified Zentangle Teacher, like me? You don’t. There are tons of wonderful books, blogs, and Facebook Groups to help you learn on your own. But, I can nearly guarantee you won’t enjoy learning alone as much as you will with a CZT and with your closest friends. There is camaraderie that takes place when you learn with your friends and develop new skills together. And the CZT is there to help guide you and encourage you along the way. I designed Zen and Zin Parties so that you could experience the learning of Zentangle n the privacy and comfort of tor home and with your favorite people. It is just that much more fun!
So, why am I writing this?
It’s been a rough week for me. I’ve been uninspired, unmotivated, and even a little stubborn against trying to get out of my own funk. I couldn’t find it in me to do ANYTHING-no tangling, no journaling, not even coloring. And then someone sent me a picture of what they did this week in their weekly get-together. Beautiful tangles. I could see the passion coming through in their strokes and I was excited and inspired again, because I had a part in their journey.
It brings me joy to see my “alumni” get together after the party has ended to continue to learn and grow together. I get to see friendships strengthen, confidences grow, and creativity blossom over and over and over again. How cool is that?
As a CZT I am here to help you learn and grow. And I am learning and growing right long side you. Even though I am “certified” it doesn’t mean I’m perfect, knowing all the names of patterns or how to do them. It doesn’t mean that I don’t have bad days or that I am always happy with the results of my tangling, regardless of how great the process was. It doesn’t even mean I get every stroke right or can teach anyone better than another CZT or better than they can each themselves. It does mean, however, that I am committed to learning, to growing, to making mistakes, and to help you do the same!
So, come learn with me and enjoy the world of Zentangle!
*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.