Sarah is an artist and Certified Zentangle Teacher. She teaches Zentangle and mindfulness practices through her business Zen and Zin. She helps people unlock their creativity by leading them to draw beautiful works of art. Through Zentangle and meditative exercises and techniques, she trains people to start living mindfully, thus helping them to manage stress and other negative emotions.
Sarah also creates art based on commissions and designs her own mindful coloring books.
I’ve been pretty radio silent on my social media recently. And this poor blog has been woefully neglected all year — literally my last post was celebrating the new year, and I even have a drafted post about some of my work from January that I literally FORGOT to finish…..even though the concept of the post was all about just finishing something and not pursuing perfection. Ha! The universe is funny sometimes.
Aside from being pretty busy with my day job, I’ve been mulling over the purpose of Zen & Zin and whether I want to keep pushing forward with it. Some things haven’t been working for me and I felt like I’d painted myself into a corner creatively and artistically. I haven’t felt I was accomplishing what I set out to do when I originally created Zen & Zin. The name doesn’t resonate with me anymore either, as it’s reflects a different time in my life that is so different from my life now.
So, I’ve taken a bit of a break, without guilting myself the whole time for not posting and sharing content, and really allowed myself to step away. Because of that, I’ve developed a pretty decent idea of what I want my platform to be about and what I want to offer moving forward.
I think most of you are really going to like it! There’s still going to be plenty of Zentangle related things, but I want to incorporate some of my other interests–mandalas, watercolor, lettering, outdoorsy things, cooking and baking, and a slew of other meditative and creative practices. I see a big change happening in my life over the next 1-2 years, which will allow me to get back into some of my other creative pursuits as well, and I want to share those with you too when the time comes!
So, stay tuned! I hope to re-launch officially in the beginning of 2022 and I’ll try to share some tidbits here along the way!
And I hope you’ll consider the text in the image above – taking a break, from anything, is not unproductive. Sometimes it’s the most productive thing you can do in the long run!
A whole year has gone by – some days it felt like it would never end and other days it felt like it was just whooshing by without a care in the world!
I don’t know about you, but it’s made me re-evaluate some things in my life. I’m not setting any resolutions for this year, though I have decided to eat some vegetables and take the stairs more often. Basically, this was me all 2020:
I did make some decisions about what to do about my artwork and my classes. And I’m really excited about them!
All of my classes are currently available on Etsy for instant access (unless it’s a pre-order) and my favorite prints are available there too! I’m hoping to stock the inventory with other fun things like stickers and t-shirts too. So long as 2021 behaves and let’s me do my thing!
I’m also really excited to revitalize my private Facebook Group for current and former students. I want to make it a fun and safe space to post pictures of tangles and ask for advice.
And, I’m bringing back to life a Zentangle® and mindfulness curriculum program that I developed about 5-6 years ago. It’s a yearlong program that will help folks use the Zentangle method and some other techniques to practice mindfulness and gain more control over themselves emotionally and mentally. Stay tuned for more information on that! I hope to have everything finalized by the end of the year!
If you haven’t watched Schitt’s Creek yet – I highly recommend it. Of course, I’m a big Eugene Levy and Catherine O’Hara fan, so I may be biased. But, it got me through some days this year!
So, first thing up this year is – it’s my 10 year Zentangle birthday on January 8th! 10 years since I was first introduced to this thing that has had such a positive impact on my life.
To celebrate I’ve created a fun little freebie for all my email subscribers, if you’re already subscribed you don’t have to do anything! If you’re not – easy peasy! I’ve included a form for you to complete so you can join!
I created this freebie because I really want to help people increase their confidence in their Zentangle practice, and by doing so I truly think their personal confidence will grow too! I’ve also included a little extra special offer that you’ll just have to wait to find out about!
Aside from that I’m kicking the year off by joining the 7F5R Fragment of your Imagination Challenge – a super fun challenge that will keep the creative juices flowing!
I’m also digging into the Zentangle® Zenthology issued to Certified Zentangle Teachers™ to see what tangles I can unearth. I’m basically acting as the Indiana Jones of Zentangle archaeology 🙂
There are a ton of patterns in there that hardly anyone uses. So, I’m exploring those and sharing videos of them with my Instagram followers. It’s super fun to dig around in the ancient archives of patterns and dust off some neglected tangles!
So my year is off to a regular start, not going to jinx it with anything too exciting or too many plans. We’re going with the flow over here! 🙂
What have you done to mildly celebrate the new year? I’d love to hear!
Somehow we’ve made it to November already. I have a hard time believing it. This year has gone by so fast – and so much has happened that I’m shocked to remember that some things were only a few weeks or a month ago.
And now we’re heading into a new season – one of traditions and excitement in normal times, but maybe fraught with hesitation, loneliness, and even sadness as many of those traditions will look different this year. It’s not ideal, but I for one am going to do what I can to make the most of it.
My creativity seems to have run dry, but I know it’s just a sign of the times. I’m a little worn out and a little stressed. So, I turn to my art practice for relief. Yes, even if my creativity is running low I still try to do creative things! They bring me comfort. And sometimes even just allowing myself to put pen or paint to paper will help me to feel creative again and get those juices flowing.
My Zentangle® practice also helps me to stay mindful. While there are a lot of things to be stressed or sad about, there are also things to be mindful of and grateful for. Air in my lungs, a roof over my head, food in my pantry, art supplies in the cabinet (and all over my desk), my doofy pup who can’t help but put a smile on my face, colleagues who are supportive, family to stay in touch with, friends to share a long-distanced joke with. These are things that I remember to think of when the day gets tough.
The Zentangle method gives us a great opportunity to hold a space to allow for this mindfulness. Right there in the steps we are directed to have “Appreciation and Gratitude”. This directive does not extend only to your Zentangle tile, but can also extend far beyond.
What if every day we challenged ourselves to apply the Zentangle method in our real lives? What would that look like?
Appreciation and Gratitude
Take a moment to express appreciation and gratitude for the things in your life that keep you going. Are you breathing clean air, drinking clean water? Are the clouds in the sky creating cute shapes? Are your favorite jeans fittings *just right* today?
Maybe these are the bullets of your to-do list. Maybe it’s how many times you hit the snooze button before waking up (read: ME). Maybe they are just mental notes for yourself to remember throughout the day.
Your daily schedule perhaps? Or just a reminder to hold space for mindfulness. A container to store your blessings and kind thoughts.
Live life! Do the things!
Add a little oomph – add pepper to your steak, wear that bright pink top you’ve been ignoring in your closet.
Sign and Initial
Can you put your stamp on this day? Is there something you’re proud to have accomplished? Maybe some days this is making the bed, maybe others it is achieving a goal at work – it doesn’t have to be earth-shattering or profound to matter.
Appreciation and Gratitude
We’ve made it to the end of the day, so take a moment again to appreciate and express gratitude for at least one thing. Again, somedays you just might appreciate that you were able to find matching socks. No thing is too small to appreciate these days!
I don’t know about you. But I think that is pretty cool. We can take this wonderful method that we typically only use when we’re sitting down to tangle, and extrapolate it to the rest of our lives? I think if we’d all did this, it would have a pretty amazing impact on our lives.
So going back to being a little low in the creative-fuel tank. I have some things that I do in my creative world that help me to juice back up.
Once is so stupidly simple, yet it is so relaxing – I update or create my catalog of favorite tangles. I do this by using Bijou-sized tiles and doing little samples of each pattern I like to use. I’ll also throw a few patterns in that I don’t normally use just to force myself to try something new now and again.
Recently, I re-found this cool little flash card deck that is perfect for such an activity!
It’s great because I can enjoy watching the latest Netflix series with my husband (The Queen’s Gambit, anyone?!) or listen to a podcast or audiobook and do this at the same time. There’s no pressure to create something amazing, just a little sample reference to use later.
Another thing I like to do is to take classes when I can. Most recently I have taken Whimsy by Kelly‘s watercolor gem class. It’s not something I would normally do on my own, but it was a lot of fun and I hope to play more with it! I also took a class on Mid-Century Modern Tangles with Brian Crimmins–which was a fun way to learn about how some tangles look like mid-century modern design and we create a little ‘zine with them. I then participated in Julie Gibbons‘ free/yearly “Mandala Magic” 5-day workshop. I’ve taken her free workshop a few times, and each time I learn something new about myself and create something beautiful. I’ve also taken her year-long programs a couple of times, and they’ve been magnificent.
Learning from others helps me to keep my ideas flowing, but also takes the pressure of teaching off. You have to fill your cup, before you can pour it out, right?
If you’re feeling stuck or out of creative juice – take a class from someone else. Even if it’s something that’s not quite up your alley–try something new! You’ll be surprised how it might benefit you (maybe you’ll discover a new technique to apply to your preferred creative outlet!). You can see from the photos above that each of the classes I took was a completely different concept. And each one has benefitted my creativity in different ways!
So, here’s where my shameless plug comes in 😀 😀 😀 I have two class options coming up to round out the year, and soon I’ll release my Spring 2021 schedule (just waiting on it to be formally published!).
First, I have my Exploring Zentangle class starting next Tuesday, November 24th, 6-8pm CST. It’s a 4-week course of intermediate-level tangling. We’ll cover high-focus tangling, a Choose Your Own Tangle Adventure, tangling with 1 string on 4 tiles, embedded letters, and much more! It’s going to be a great way to slide through the holidays and keep that zen feeling all the way through! The class is held through Madison Area Technical College – but you don’t need to be in Madison to join since it’s virtual! Sign up HERE
I also have my Patreon live tangling sessions. The next one is this week, Wednesday, November 18th and we’re going to create some fun Harvest Mandalas! You can use whatever materials you have at home! The session runs from 6pm CST to about 8pm or so. Sign up here (if you would prefer to sign up and subscribe through PayPal – you can do that here). (there will be one more live tangling session in December, too! Dates to come!)
If you can’t join the classes, no worries! I do hope you’ll join me in living the Zentangle Method through the holiday season! I know it will help me stay mindful and present in the moment. And that can’t be a bad thing, right?
Let me know if you plan on joining classes or joining in on living the Method this season!
Sarah, 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.
I hope you are all doing well and staying safe and healthy. I have been rather busy myself at my regular job, but also busy tangling and planning fun lessons! I did manage to get out of town for my birthday earlier this month and enjoyed a cabin in the woods – with lots of tangling! I am definitely feeling the burnout this year – like I am sure you probably are too! Take this as a reminder to take care of yourself. Take a break – even if it’s just hiding in an empty room and breathing for a few minutes. Refill that cup (mine has coffee of course) before it’s empty. And try to remember that the grumpy person next to you probably needs a breath and a re-filled cup too, so try to extend them a little grace with a smile (or sm-eyes like we’re doing a lot of these days!) and a hello 🙂
If you aren’t already – follow me on Instagram to see what tangles are coming out my by pens! I’ve had a lot of fun with the Zentangle, Inc. Project Packs the past few months, but also tangling lots of fun abstract things too!
I have 2 classes starting soon at Madison College – they’re online so you can join from anywhere in the world! (Classes take place a Central Time US).
Explore the world of circles and patterns as we dive into creating Zendalas (a Zentangle Method-inspired approach) and Mandalas (a geometric approach used in Hindu, Buddhism, and other religions). Mandalas are an ancient form of geometry and art that reflect the self. The process of making a mandala is meditative and reflective. Take your meditative art to the next level! We’ll explore loose, hand-drawn designs as well as use simple tools (such as a compass and straight-edge ruler) to create intricate designs. We’ll also explore how to use these as meditative anchors as well. No experience needed! Each week will include instructions to creating a mandala, as well as background and historical information, and a meditative prompt. Expect to finish the mandala on your own, as the intricate designs may need more time than class allows.
And lastly – if 3-4 week long classes aren’t your thing, I am doing a once a month Tangle Hangout Session. You can subscribe through PayPal or through Patreon for $7/month. Our next session is Wednesday, October 28th at 6pm Central Time. You’ll receive the access link a few days in advance.
Hello from my safe haven to yours. I hope you are staying sane, healthy, and positive! And if you’re not, feel free to let me know. I am happy to be a sounding board or to keep you in my thoughts and send positive vibes your way.
We’re about 10 or so weeks into *this* and I feel like I’m starting to finally find a groove, or at least some contentment. That doesn’t mean I’m not internally freaking out on the regular, but at least that’s become a little bit more predictable and I can see it coming.
As I mentioned previously, I’ve been truly relieved to have my Zentangle practice to fall back on and have an outlet for creativity. I’ve also still been baking like crazy, but it’s a more physical thing for me to do that feels productive, which is nice!
I’ve been playing a lot more with materials I don’t use on a regular basis. My Sakura Gelly Rolls are having their moment in my household. I have white ones, pastel ones, Moonlight, Moonlight Greys, Neon, Souffle. Funnily enough, I don’t have a single black one! But, I have a wide variety, collected over the years, so it’s about time I put them to good use!
Having discovered how many of these things I have, not to mention the surplus of other random art supplies, I thought it would be a good idea to use up what I have and really pair down my art supply cache. Using the Marie Kondo adage “Does it bring you joy?” – I have to really consider which of my art supplies I am using, which ones I need. If I’m not using them, why? Is it because I don’t like them? Or, do I just not use that kind of media? Things to ponder in this day and age!
So, I am going to use up what I have – what doesn’t get used will get donated or given away to friends and family, to hopefully bring them joy instead! 🙂
Back to my point of finding a rhythm. Using these Gelly Rolls has somewhat opened the flood gates for me. Because I’m “playing” with them, I have allowed myself to just go with the flow. I don’t try to make something extravagant or amazing (which I usually try not to do, but, hey, I’m human!).
And what’s come of it is a little bit of an obsession with this thing I call a Tangle Mashup – where I combine the techniques or key pen strokes of the patterns Guordgeous and Diva Dance. It’s so fun! And oh so relaxing.
Doing these tangles over and over have allowed me to find that zen-ful rhythm every time I sit down. And, each time, something new and wonderful happens! A little curve there or a little orb there completely changes the entire composition!
This is obviously the same across all Zentangle pieces, right? But it never ceases to amaze me the world of possibilities in just a simple little line of ink.
I’m really excited for the next month as I get to introduce a new group to the Zentangle Method! My online class at Madison College starts next Tuesday and I can’t wait to meet my new students. I am also creating fun content for my Patrons.
There’s still time to register for my Madison College class – and you don’t have to be in Madison, since it’s online! You can also work with what materials you have at home, so there’s no need to go out and buy more if it’s not possible for you.
And, of course, you can sign up for Patreon at any time and get access to all the previous months’ content! I just finished publishing May’s content and I released a class on using small marks or tangle patterns as TEXTURES! SO FUN!
What’s your current favorite tangle obsession? Or, have you found another fun hobby to keep you in rhythm during this time? Leave a comment below to let me know 🙂
First, let me say that I hope you are doing well – that you are in a safe place, that you’re healthy, and have something or someone to keep you sane.
Second, I have been putting off writing a blog post because ::gestures at everything::
All of our inboxes and social media feeds have been bombarded, swamped, and otherwise hijacked about news about “it,” how to tell if you have “it,” here’s 1,000,000 free resources to help you keep from getting bored or to stay productive.
I’m tired, I’m stressed, and I am seriously scatterbrained. I’ve never been the type of person to forget why I went into a room – but now I am full on going into a room to do Activity A and end up starting Activities X, Y, and Z….only to remember Activity A like 4 days later.
At the very least, I have Zentangle®. And oh, thank heavens for that! There have been so many times in the last 6 weeks that I have needed a breather, or something to keep my hands busy that didn’t involve stress-inhaling Hot Cheetos or shame-guzzling Apothic Dark wine by the bottle. I still do both those things, maybe just in smaller increments. But, with my Zentangle® practice I am able to force myself to focus, to steady my nerves, and create something beautiful. It’s help redirect a frenetic energy into a calmer one and to help me get back on track with work (I’m working from home, which should be the greatest thing ever – it’s not! Likely because it’s not exactly voluntary).
Is it 100% effective all of the time?
Of course not! But it does give me something tangible to hang on to and I am certainly not worried about getting bored. It also helps give me a sense of community. There are so many other tanglers out there that I am acquainted with solely because of Zentangle. We are all sharing our experiences and our art and it helps to have that thread of connectivity to the real world!
I am also still holding my Tangle Hangout Sessions on Zoom – almost weekly (I had to cancel tonight because I had too many things to do that I kept putting off-and here I am doing one of them! If you would like to join – just shoot me an email and I’ll send you the link (if you’re reading this as one of my mailing list subscribers you can just reply to the email)! I am also randomly popping onto Instagram Live to do some tangling – thought that’s a bit more sporadic and I haven’t do so in a week or so. But, in any of these sessions I so enjoy seeing everyone’s faces and comments. It gives me something to look forward to every week (and a great way to keep track of which day it is!).
If you’re at a loss as to what to do – whether you’ve done Zentangle or not – just take a pen and a piece of paper and draw a line, then another next to it, and then again. Keep doing that – slowly and making sure to breath. Focus on each millimeter of ink to paper and keep going until you can’t anymore. I promise – just taking that simple action and repeating over and over again will help you reset and feel a little bit better.
Leave a comment or send me an email – tell me how you’re doing and how you’re coping. I love hearing from you!
And, hey, if you’re bored or need some extra Zentangle-y instruction and coaching – come join me on my Patreon!
It’s hard to believe we’re in a new year and a new decade! Time flies by faster every day it seems.
I’m not super into Resolutions, but I usually like to take the first few weeks of the new year to reflect on the things I want to continue doing in the new year, or things I want to improve on. However, this year I am kind of hitting the ground running so I don’t have as much leisure to take my time!
I have multiple classes coming up here in the Madison, WI area. The first is at Revel DIY Craft Bar, which I am super excited about! These ladies have been killing it and are really doing something successfully that I had thought about doing a few years ago – creating a place that people can go to do a little crafting in a chill environment. Their projects are totally accessible and not terribly expensive. I’ll be teaching an introductory level class there in mid-January…and hopefully it’ll be successful enough that we can add more workshops in the future! If you’d like to sign up click here
I am also going to be teaching at Madison Area Technical College in February! We’re starting off with a 3-week series of Discover Zentangle®. We’ll go through all the foundational areas of Zentangle and create a really nice base understanding and hopefully create some new Zentangle enthusiasts! You can sign up here
But, back to resolutions, or the lack thereof. Because I don’t have a lot of time to reflect and plan this January, I’m starting to feel just a touch overwhelmed. I have a lot going on between preparing for classes, normal work responsibilities, and chores and whatnot that need to be done at home. Not to mention having fun and creating art for the sake of creating and having fun!
What I’ve found that works for me, and maybe it will work for you too, is to focus on one or two things that I can actually control. They can be small things, or big things, but make sure they’re manageable. Last year, I started to focus on what I was eating and making sure to get out and go for a little walk every day. That turned into some amazing changes for me! I started feeling better, getting more active, and my confidence went up – all super helpful things when I also decided to get back into my degree field and find a new job.
This year, there are so many things in the air! With the loss of my Skillshare platform I am really starting to feel the anxiety from that, but I am also really excited about teaching the aforementioned “brick-and-mortar” classes. I’ll also be taking on new responsibilities at work. AND, I have my Patreon now which is a lot of work especially in the beginning stages where I need to plan AND produce content fairly quickly! I feel like my mind looks a lot like the Zendala up there!
So, what are some things that I can focus on to maintain a little control when life is crazy? I’m not sure yet! I know one thing I want to do is to do more meal prep. Eating healthy is great and mostly easy to do, except it’s a lot of work when you have a million other things to do. So once or twice a month I will do a big meal prep session so I can focus on other things the rest of the time.
I also want to do one creative focus this year. I think I will start participating in one or two challenges per month so that I am not too overwhelmed, but also making sure that I am keeping up my own art practice!
The great thing about my un-resolutions is that I can adjust them! If they’re not working or they’re not meeting my needs in any way, I can change! There’s no failure here, no mistakes, just a redirection. A tangleation, you might say 🙂
So you’ve made it this far and I appreciate you reading all my ramblings. I hope you’ll try out so un-resolutions. If you need a creative outlet, please consider my Zentangle classes – if you’re not in Madison I have my Patreon that will be a great resource!
So, here’s to 2020 and letting small changes have big impacts…. or something motivational like that 🙂 And if all else fails, just put your pen to paper and get your tangle on!
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.
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!
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!
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!
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!