a year of zentangle

Every day for a year now, since my Zentangle Kit arrived by mail, I have enjoyed making Zentangle tiles. I’ve learned so many tangles, and really gotten into the groove of picking up a pen and drawing in a mindful way. What was it that I did before? It’s really hard to say.

The diva started her challenges long before I caught wind of this lovely practice. Every week she issues a new idea for investigation and interpretation. This week it was a repeat of her second challenge: draw a string with two pencils banded together.

This week I also enjoyed seeing and learning from Margaret Bremner, who lives in the same province as diva Laura Harms. She shared a sampler of linear tangles, just perfect for the narrow alleys created by drawing a string with parallel lines, and a super fun post about the tangle called cadent. Wow!

Of course I had to try all of the ideas! My first tile includes a tangle that Margaret created, called chebucto, and some experimenting with cadent.


The tangles used in the tile above are knightsbridge, chebucto, paradox, bateek, tripoli, flux, deelish, flukes, cadent, and voga. Bateek is a tangle created by Linda Farmer, and voga is by Carole Ohl; two more people from whom I draw a lot of inspiration.


More tangles from Margaret and Carole, also vigne from Sue Jacobs, elven from Helena Hadzijaneva, and deelish from Stephanie Skelton. The list of them all: beadlines, quib, vigne, punzel, black pearlz, striping, knightsbridge, adente, elven, coaster, unyun, diva dance, deelish, knase, and voga.


I did the above tile without a challenge in mind, but it seems to fit the theme. Tangles used: knightsbridge, copada, vega with zander, bunzo, camellia, flux, striping, and hollibaugh.


two tangles, two interpretations

In my various readings on the interwebs this week, I’ve found two recurring, related themes. The first: people have been asking about how to get over artist’s block. And second, when we try too hard, the end result is stale.

I’ve said it before: bless you if you have read all the way from the beginning of this blog. If you wandered this way with me, you would see that I started the blog smack in the middle of a block.

I didn’t say it.

In fact, I didn’t even know it (or at least, acknowledge it).

And, I can only see it now for what it was. But it was there. Big, dense, quiet, and a little panicky. I avoided art-making, even though I felt (often urgently) as though I needed to draw, or paint. And I did do the work, as much as I could force myself to.

I started this blog as part of that forcing. If I had to make a post, then I had to make something in a sketchbook or somewhere, to have something to talk about. The results, however, seemed lackluster and purposeless. And, I felt a lot of stress because of it, striving harder and harder to find a direction and meaning.

About a year ago, I discovered Zentangle. Suddenly, the making of art was effortless, and the results made sense. The key was that Zentangle helped me stop trying so hard. Zentangle breaks the complex down into very small and simple pieces (strokes of a pen), and yet the results are incredibly personal and beautiful.

I haven’t stopped my practice for longer than a day or two in that year, and I plan not to stop. In learning to create in the moment, a new sort of flow emerged. The block, so firmly entrenched and in place, was worn away. Rather quickly, in fact. And other elements of life began to flow along with my re-emerged art-self. I stopped expecting something with Great Artistic Meaning to be pushed into place. Instead, I just let things happen.

The diva challenge this week is to make a duo-tangle (use only two tangles) using cirquital and opus. Interesting that both tiles look so different, but come from the same hand and pen. That is another element of not forcing something to happen… you get to see the many sides of yourself (think kaleidoscope) as you go with the flow.





repetition and symmetry

The assignment this week from the diva was to use stencils to create the underlying string for tangling. I found all kinds of similarities to the work I did earlier in the week, creating a symmetrical zendala.

Despite my usual avoidance of designs using symmetrical balance, I found that I enjoyed it from a Zentangle perspective. If I focused on each stroke as an individual moment to be present within, it didn’t matter that I was creating a design that incorporated repeated, balanced elements.


The tangles I used in the zendala: inapod, striping, ynix, mooka, flux, and lamar.

Likewise, the repeating shapes of a stencil seemed to naturally invite some tangle repetition. I found myself leaning toward it, rather than trying to differentiate too much. Aside from deciding which shapes received a certain tangle, I was free to relax into the pen strokes.


The tangles in the above tile are flux, hurry, striping, and tipple.


I used dansk inside the hexagon shapes of this stencil, and then just repeated lines, stopping toward the center to let some negative space become part of the design.

summer tangling

Two winters ago, the ice and snow did their best work and popped out a section of the retaining wall next to my garage. Last summer, I pulled and dug and dragged all the rock down. Dodging the heat wave, I managed to put in the first three layers before winter.

This spring (and into the summer) I was back, piecing together the layers for a few good hours every weekend. Here’s a picture of the wall without the heaviest stones on top. I’m still working on those.


While hefting fifty-pound rocks is nowhere near gently drawing on a small, square tile, there was something very intriguing and engaging about fitting the pieces together, kind of like drawing.

I have continued my Zentangle practice when I’m not outside, and thought I’d post my most recent tile, done in response to the diva’s challenge this week: use birdie feet, by Owl Loving April.

diva125The tangles in this tile are hibred, sláinte, riverstones, tripoli, knightsbridge, bridgen, and birdie feet.