exercises for the brain and hand

One thing that recurs in any art practice, and in my regular Zentangle® practice, is the idea of exercise. It builds skill, just like an exercise program for your body builds muscles and endurance. It’s also about welcoming the “what if?” question, repeatedly conjuring up new explorations. Artists everywhere often conduct their explorations within constraints, like using only black and white, or straight lines, or a certain canvas shape… and the results, in turn, lead to new exercises and explorations.

For anyone who has learned the Zentangle art form (and for anyone ready to jump in), there’s a new exercise waiting for you every Monday morning at iamthedivaczt, a blog hosted by Laura Harms, who hails from Saskatoon, Saskatchewan in Canada. If you have time, do more than one! You’ll find yourself asking more what-ifs and inviting yourself to more exercise. The results are amazing, and limitless.

This week, the challenge was to create a duotangle using only the divadance and crescent moon tangles, two official Zentangle patterns. You can see where I got to with them, below.


Above, I explored drawing divadance by filling in the spaces between the lines (on the left side).


I looked at what Simone Bischoff did for the challenge, and really liked how she used circles instead of half-circles for the crescent moon tangle. So, I tried it myself (upper right).


I decided not to use solid black areas in the tangles, and stuck with repeating lines.




10 thoughts on “exercises for the brain and hand

  1. I really like your idea of ‘what ifs’. And the idea of doing more than one tile to go in different directions. I love the dark line through the first one and the contrasting lightness of the last tile.

    • Thanks Ray! I think that welcoming and exploring those little questions is where great ideas come from. If, every time I wondered, “What if I…[fill in the blank]?” I replied to myself, “Nah, no good,” and didn’t follow through, I think life would be much more shallow and uninteresting.

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