left to my own devices

Focus, frame, string, fill, shade, and sign. I can’t remember where I read this condensed list of the steps to create a Zentangle, but it stuck with me (and it’s easier to remember than the more in-depth lists out there. And, for me, it’s a perfect, no-nonsense way to proceed. Here are some recent tiles I did when I was not responding to a challenge or a chapter in a book.

I don’t really have a notion of what tangles I’m going to use when I sit down and draw a string. Often I want to try new ones, so I usually begin with those. In the first tile, I wanted to try vigne, by Sue Jacobs, so I started with that (I varied it a little). That suggested plant-like forms to me, so I followed with punzel, chillon with a little flower in each square, and an old favorite, flux, with tipple in between the leaves.

Hibred, onamato, striping, and kitchener became a sort of backdrop to the leaf forms. Because those are more familiar to me, they are more likely to pop into my head when an area is suggested by the string.


Another combination of old and new happened in the tile, below. I wanted to try an interesting shape for the string, one I’ve used in drawings here and there, incorporating elongated tube forms on either side of a lightly curving central line. I wanted to try 8’s, by Jane Eileen Malone. Again, the new was balanced by old favorites that came along as I worked: indy-rella, purk, striping, knightsbridge, tripoli, sand swirls, printemps, and nipa.


I haven’t done a lot of Zendala tiles, but definitely want to try more. I like the blank tiles the best so far, because I can choose how much symmetry I want to incorporate. In this Zendala, I use a tangellation of hibred and knase, deelight, shing, eye-wa, and lotus pods.




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