the fascinating orb

It’s a sphere, it’s a circle, a button, a ring, a hole. Pretty simple, and yet it can make so many fun patterns. In Zentangle, a bunch of circles clustered together is called tipple, and with or without shading, they make an interesting surface.

This week the diva Laura Harms challenged everyone to use tipple. I stuck with circular forms, and added a couple more circular Zentangle patterns to the mix.

I agree with Laura that getting lost in the mindfulness of drawing is easy with circles. They spill out across the tile and don’t require a lot of mental prompting about what to put where.


Tangles used: tipple, onamato, and Margaret Bremner’s lotus pods. The ones that look like targets are a bit like Suzanne McNeill’s bubble, just not as uniform.


lefty, loosie!

It never hurts to try drawing or writing with that poor, maimed and shriveled appendage that never does anything but hold things in place and go “OW!” when you hit it with the hammer. This week, the diva challenge is to do just that, with the tangle called bales. She (Laura Harms) calls it a non-domonotangle (non-dominant monotangle, get it?) and invites us to increase creativity by firing up our brains in new and different ways. So, I set out to draw a Zentangle with my left hand. And yes, it is my visibly smaller hand and is totally weaker than my dominant right.

As I drew, I first found myself reflecting about my parents. Both are very artistic, and in their 80s. My mom was the person who taught me to draw human proportions when I was in the third grade. I wanted to draw more realistic-looking people.

Mom’s frustrated by how shaky her drawing hand is, now, at age 81. I can empathize, with this exercise. The pen felt weird in my left hand, as though I couldn’t grasp it correctly. And I had to use a lot, lot, lot of will and determination just to draw a curve, or have edges meet up at a center point. My dad uses paint, and as a result, more big-motor arm muscles: maybe my Zentangle tile should have been three feet square instead of 3.5 inches!

Then, I started thinking about drawing as a child. Or, how it might be to learn to draw again if I ever suffered a brain injury or stroke… or lost my right hand. I would have to start from the beginning, first with the big motions, learning control. Eventually, a small pen wouldn’t feel as though it could slip from my fingers at any moment. Remember some of the first ABC letters you tried? Things could go backwards or sideways very easily, and precision was not the name of the game.

And then, I started getting into drawing with my left hand. It was wobbly, of course. But the design— the idea I wanted to express— was still there. Maybe, in its wiggly wobble, it is a little more delicate than my always-sure right hand might convey. The shading is scribbly, yet still expressive. But the idea is still whole.


Thank you, diva Laura. I did get to visit another side of creativity and think some new ideas, just by using my other hand.

trying new ideas

The grid came alive with the diva challenge 131 this week… use the tangle dex as a monotangle (that is, use only the one tangle (and any tangellations thereof that you create). I think maybe I didn’t gravitate toward dex before because it seemed like there wasn’t a lot of room for expansion and elaboration. Here is the original step-out, if you would like to learn it. Sometimes it takes a challenge to really investigate an idea, and realize that there really is room to play.


On July 25, Margaret Bremner created an absolutely wonderful post about cadent, one of the official Zentangle tangles. Wow, and bravo. She even made charts! I couldn’t read the post and NOT try some of the variations.


Tangles used in addition to cadent: river, rain, flukes, black pearlz, coaster, sez, paisley boa, and betweed.

Try your own! Once you learn the basics of Zentangle, and have a few tiles (or a fresh new sketchbook page) at your disposal, it’s easy to start with the basics and then start asking “what if?” What if I make more than one line? What if I draw an aura around this? What if I do it again? What if I don’t draw it the way they direct me to?

As a CZT (certified zentangle teacher), I get to witness the profound transformation that happens when everyday people, who believe they cannot draw, take the first steps in asking these what-if questions. At first, they ask for permission: can I do this? or this? And I always say, “Yes, you certainly can.”

And that’s what it’s all about.

take the time, make the time

I am really glad that our diva of Zentangle challenges comes up with a new idea for tangling every week. I do love exploring new assignments, and often have so much going on in other realms that without that extra boost, I might not take the bits of time necessary for drawing. The challenge this week: use string no. 004 from the collection of strings and tangles that is

diva129-1Tangles I used in the tile above: cadent, tagh, bunzo, opus, Tricia Faraone’s sanibelle, and Carole Ohi’s floatfest.


On a walk during lunch this week, I noticed some symbols spray-painted on the sidewalk, indicating gas or cable lines under the concrete. I used variations thereof in the upper right, in addition to the following tangles: sez, diva dance, springkle, striping, quib, hibred, lanie by Adele Bruno, asian fans by Suzanne McNeill, and leaflet by Helen Williams.