designs with straight lines

We get to explore three tangles that use straight lines on day nineteen of One Zentangle A Day… and what fun to use them all together. Of course, some curves happen here and there, especially with the addition of some ix.


Rain, beeline, cubine, and ix.

Also in the day nineteen chapter, a tangle-enhancer that I hadn’t yet tried: a dewdrop.


Shattuck (with a dewdrop), static, flux, amaze, and cadent.


amazing feats of scheduling

My mom, at least as long as I have known her, has always been impressed by people who have super packed and hectic schedules, racing from thing to thing to thing to thing… yet they get it all done and accomplished. I’m a lot like my mom in this regard. Those people amaze me, but I like to take my time with things. After I take some time, I like to think about whatever it was I did, or saw, or made.

Lately, though, I’ve felt a little crazy inside, as if I was taking on too much, and not giving things their due amount of time and thought. So, I gave the crazy-inside-feeling a little thought, and came up with a list. It’s a list of things I do, frequently or not, that are important to me in my life (in no special order):

1. Commute about one to two hours a day by mass transit
2. Work eight or so hours, with a half-hour lunch (Zentangle!), every weekday
3. Draw… mostly Zentangles, these days
4. Paint when I get an hour or four
5. Teach Zentangle classes
6. Participate in a virtual book club about Zentangle (drawing, blogging)
7. Participate in the Diva’s weekly challenge as I’m able (drawing, blogging)
8. Keeping track of and writing the odd post on my blog, other than book club or diva challenge
9. Exercise, both aerobic and weight-bearing (half to one hour daily)
10. Spend some much-enjoyed time with my mom, dad, any siblings that are around, and my wonderful daughter (parents and daughter are an hour away, sibs much farther)
11. Pat the cat, do the laundry, run for groceries, and soon… yard work, finish building my stone wall, and paint the rest of the window trim!
12. Spend time with friends.

Wait a minute. Did I just say, a few paragraphs ago, that I wasn’t one of those people who make a mad dash through everything?

Despite the list, I think I am still one of those one-thing-at-a-time people. But I think I figured out a key thing: scheduling. Oh, sure… I have always been able to write things in a calendar… but this is about scheduling appointments with myself to be able to participate fully in the things I love to do.

There are, of course, things like work and laundry that simply must be done. There are other things that I can slot into my schedule, not on a daily basis, but weekly, or monthly, or quarterly. Or in the case of the yard work, plant native prairie plants that don’t need a lot of work, but look good and attract cool animals.

It can all fit if I don’t expect to work on it all at once, every day.

Anyway, I just finished a couple of fun weeks of teaching Zentangle. So now I can jump into a diva challenge like no. 111: a monotangle of mooka!

I took a few moments to think about all the mooka I’ve seen around, and wondered, what if mooka was less curvy and more straight-lined? What would happen then? Here’s what happened for me:


Enjoy, and I’ll see you the next time around.

a commitment to regular practice

Everyone who has discovered Zentangle has a story about it. Zentangle founders Maria Thomas and Rick Roberts have their story about how the idea and process of Zentangle unfolded for them. They also share their stories of how others react to and enjoy learning it. All of the stories show what depth and meaning there is in this simple art form, with a plot that includes meditation, focus, and beauty.

My own story is about a post card that arrived last July. When I wrote about experiencing Zentangle for the first time, I was thrilled. I still am.

A few years ago, I attended a painting workshop at the Peninsula School of Art in Fish Creek, Wisconsin. Wendell Arneson, a true gem of an art instructor, reminded us of the importance of a regular practice. It doesn’t matter what you do, but to keep creative energy flowing and growing, you must commit to making art every day.

I knew this was true, but it wasn’t until Zentangle came along that I was able to put it into practice. Now, new ideas happen all the time. Each small tile is the seed for new ideas and new things to try.

Beckah Krahula’s book, One Zentangle A Day, is one way to experience new tangles and have an excuse to draw. On day eighteen, which is about curvilinear geometric patterns, she challenges us to draw three new tangles: gneiss, cadent, and huggins. I combined them with knightsbridge, flukes, printemps, and yincut in this tile.


And then, Beckah covers the idea of using perspective in a tile. I think that’s a really tall order (especially in one small portion of a chapter), but I enjoyed using curved lines to carve out an imaginary foreground and background.


I departed from the tangles introduced in the book so far and used n’zeppel, xyp, tagh, shattuck, flux, many moons (a new tangle by Margaret Bremner), jonqal, paradox, and eye-wa.

Have a look at what the other virtual book club participants thought about day eighteen, and the tiles they created. Always inspiring!

a new experience in every tile

One of the many fascinating aspects of Zentangle is that such a vibrant array of interpretations happen despite a certain degree of conformity. Same small tiles, same patterns, same pens, same basic steps— but each new creation is different. In each small tile lies infinite possibility.


In this tile I used courant, quandary, vitruvius, sedgling, and lilypads, a tangle by Margaret Bremner. I created the tile for day seventeen of One Zentangle A Day, the book by Beckah Krahula and for the virtual book club that is experiencing OZAD together.

organic tangles

Day fifteen of the virtual tangling book club was a favorite of mine. The chapter introduces three more tangles (all three are favorites) and introduces tangled journaling and the idea of carrying Zentangle materials with you all the time.

I have been carrying sketchbooks with me for a long time. I added two small Zentangle sketchbooks to my bag when I first discovered Zentangle in July of 2012. One is to record new tangles that I learn, and the other is to draw ZIAs (Zentangle Inspired Art). A small stack of tiles comes along with me now.

I can’t say whether I prefer organic or geometric tangles. I like both ends of the spectrum, and I like using them together for interesting contrasts. Beckah Krahula introduced yincut as an organic tangle. I think of it as a geometric tangle because it’s drawn into a grid, but agree that it can take on an organic flavor.

Here is day fifteen’s tile:


The tangles I used for this tile were mooka, onamato, flux, tipple, yincut, locar, and verdigogh.

planes of decoration and value

When I was teaching at our county technical college in the graphic communications program, I heard one of my colleagues describing the layers that we use in Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator, and InDesign. “The layers are stacked up like pancakes on the page,” she said, “The top pancake is closest to you, and the bottom pancake is farthest away. That means your page is the plate.”

I think this is similar to what Beckah Krahula describes in the introduction to day fourteen in her book, One Zentangle A Day. Through shading (or the value levels of the tangles we choose), we indicate our top, middle, and bottom pancakes.

There are other visual indicators we can use to signify what is in front and what’s behind, but using shading and value tones is a biggie.

And, I think she is right. We aren’t drawing a vast depth of space, with foreground, middle ground, and background, in Zentangle. Our abstract patterns keep us pretty close to the surface. We might be able to get to several pancakes of depth, but not thousands.

In my Zentangle tile for day fourteen, I used dyon (one I hadn’t tried before), chainging, tipple, keeko, crescent moon, and khirkee.

day14You can see what others are up to on day fourteen of the virtual book club here. Ha! I am posting this on March 10, and the original book club post was February 20. That means I’m about eighteen days behind the pack, and still plodding along.

a new challenge!

Diva Laura Harms’ latest challenge no. 108 is to use the whyz tangle by Jane MacKugler. It’s great fun to play with.

About fun: At the CZT training in Providence, Maria Thomas and Rick Roberts would often say, “Now here’s something that’s really fun,” and proceed to show us something new to draw. And it was fun… a lot of fun. The experience does not need to be hurtling down a hill on two long boards strapped to your feet to be thrilling. I do like to ski, but find just as much enjoyment from the Zentangle experience. Maybe more.


In the tile above, along with two interpretations of whyz, I used flux, meer, crescent moon, tripoli, shattuck, and tried out Margaret Bremner’s krli-qs.


Here is some quandary, a hibred-knase mixture, whyz, betweed, keeko, and avreal, along with some spidery star shapes that just happened along the way.

transitions: telling a story

On day thirteen of One Zentangle A Day, Beckah Krahula describes deconstructing as an area where a pattern falls apart or transitions to another pattern. Transitions like this, she says, add interest and “gives the art piece a story.”

There are lots of parallels to draw, thinking of composition in terms of storytelling, or composing or playing music. Repetition, rhythm, harmony, and transition are just a few of the conceptual ideas that are similar, whether you are making a painting or strumming a guitar.

I think of deconstruction as a particular action, and associated analysis, that has to do with form, rather than a transition in and of itself. You can deconstruct a form to help a transition along, reconstructing the form in another way. I think of M.C. Escher when I think of this kind of transition. Within the first minute of this video, you’ll see what I mean. (I haven’t watched the whole thing, but it looks really interesting).

Transition can happen by deconstructing and reconstructing, and it can happen in other ways. A lot depends on what you are moving from, and to. It can be as simple as putting two objects or areas close to each other, something that happens quite naturally as you fill areas of a string with different tangles. Because two areas are next to each other, they relate to each other. You can push the relationship by overlapping, or extending one area into another.

In the Zentangle world, deconstruction is about breaking a form down into simpler parts. When you figure out how to recreate a pattern that you’ve seen out in the world, you break it down into simple, linear elements (preferably one or two) that are easy to understand and are easy to draw.

I think Beckah Krahula gives us a lot of food for thought and discussion with day thirteen. I am a bit of a purist when it comes to Zentangle: I think that the composition happens naturally when you just go with what’s happening under your pen, so there is no need to think so much about what you are making. But I do like to extend one pattern into another! The art student in me loves to try all these new ideas.

Here is my day thirteen tile. I tried to create a progression between the grid-based patterns that swoop through the bottom half. I used onamato, knightsbridge, nekton, florz, and beelight tangles to create the tile.



creating harmony and variety

The assignment for day twelve in One Zentangle A Day is to use the chillon and bales tangles together. They are alike in that both begin with a grid of squares, and both incorporate drawing arcs along the edges. Their similarity is one way to create harmony.

Variety comes in by altering them in some way. I added an aura inside the bales squares and filled it with black. Chillon seemed lacking, so I added orbs with black pearlz in each.

I also used festune and printemps to bring circular forms to the tile… more variety. Vega and knightsbridge bring a bit of both variety and harmony to the tile.

The end result? Not one of my favorites. But the exploration gave me plenty of ideas for future explorations in composition.