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What is Zentangle?
I have recently discovered and fallen in love with doodle drawings also commonly called Zentangle or doodle drawing. This type of art has been around since the beginning of man, but has recently experienced a resurgence in popularity due to Rick Roberts and Maria Thomas giving it the name Zentangle and dictating rules to follow as you create it.
Most artists, however, don’t really believe in following rules so we take what we can from the art form and then invent our own ways of creating. Artists then call their works Zentangle Inspired Art (ZIA) or simply just doodle drawings.
One thing I have chosen to incorporate into my art is including my favorite quotes, sayings, and scriptures. I then tangle around them making beautiful motivational art that I can decorate my home with.
Benefits of Tangling
The original intent of creating Zentangle was for meditational purposes. The idea is that as you concentrate on making the repetitive strokes necessary to create the fill patterns you are able to relax your mind and let go of the jumbled thoughts of the day. It affects my mind in a way similar to deep breathing exercises and has actually been called “yoga for the brain”.
2- Develop Creative Abilities
Anyone can begin creating ZIA by following the myriad of step by step instructions available for different patterns. Check out my Zentangle Pintrest board where I have saved many different patterns for reference. As you become more familiar with your favorite patterns then you can start to add your own embellishments and variations to make each piece uniquely you.
3- Increase Hand Eye Coordination and Spatial Awareness
The careful creation of each stroke can do a lot to increase hand eye muscle coordination. You can make strokes large or small. You have to match angles and align different strokes to create correct patterns. All of this programs the brain to be aware of spatial relationships. It is excellent for kids to work on their writing skills which can then hopefully translate into better penmanship.
For me personally Zentangling has been wonderful therapy. Creating with permanent pens represents life; I can’t erase so I have to find a way to turn my “mistakes” into a part of the finished product. I also like to include my favorite thoughts, quotes, and scriptures into my work. This gives me time to ponder on the message of those words and how I can then apply them in my life.
For many people doodling can be a way to process through their emotions of fear, anger, hurt, embarrassment, and more. It can also be used in addiction therapy by giving a patient something to focus their mind on as they are working on avoiding their triggers and cravings.
5- Increased Attention Span
Entangling requires concentration and focus. The repetitive strokes and patterns train the user to calm their mind and focus one creating their art. Often the act of doodling can increase a person’s ability to listen to a class or lecture going on as it draws their mind away from other external distractions.
6- The Finished Product
Of course the finished art itself is the number one benefit of tangling. Through the act of creating and sharing art self-esteem is boosted. A person feels like they have contributed to their community in a meaningful way. They also can be reminded of the other benefits they experienced while creating each time they look at the piece.
There are many good resources out their for learning the art of Zentangle. The first of course would be the actual Zentangle website. Here you can learn the story behind the creation on the official rules as well as get reference for many patterns to try. They even have a list of certified Zentangle instructors if you’d rather learn form a class instead of by researching on your own.
There are several great books out there as well. One that has been highly recommended in many of the groups I am in on Facebook (there are several of them so just search Zentangle then join the ones that appeal to you) is One Zentangle a Day by Beckah Krahula. This is a 6 week course that will teach you new techniques and patterns each day.
For kids we have and love the book “Zentangle for Kidz” by sandy Bartholomew. This fun book is written comic book style and introduces children to the art of Zentangle as well as including instructions for several patterns.
Sandy also has several other books and sets of pattern step-out inspirations cards. You can use these cards when you are stuck not knowing which pattern to draw next. Simply pull out a card and use whatever pattern it instructs you on!
The most basic supplies needed for Entangling are paper, permanent fine line black pen, pencil, eraser, and pattern references. I started with Sakura pens and a set of Royal & Langnickel sketching pencils. I got the sets on both of these so that I would have a variety of options for line widths and shading capabilities. I also use Koh-i-Noor Woodless Colored Pencils.
I recently added Arteza fineliners to my collection so that I can do more works in color. I also have the Prismacolor colored pencils which I just ADORE. they are totally worth the higher price. The color goes on so smooth and super pigmented.
I often will make copies of my black and white line work before adding color so I can experiment with different options. I love to pull my tangled pieces into Photoshop or Corel Painter to play with with different colorization methods. I love that I can do many different methods on one piece of art by utilizing the technology available to me.
Here is an example of my most recent ZIA. I created the word art in Photoshop and printed it on regular white paper. I then created my line drawing with the Sakura pens. I scanned it into the computer and made a copy for coloring with colored pencils. I then pulled it into Corel Painter and did one copy with just shading and a second copy with various watercolor brushes. I had a ton of fun and now I can’t decide which one I like best! If you happen to like it prints of this and my other works are available on Fine Art America.