Welcome to BLOG Zentangle. To learn about Zentangle, visit our website, read our free newsletters, take a class with a local Certified Zentangle Teacher (CZT), and best of all . . . create your own!


Tuesday, March 21, 2017

What's Your Idea?



Rick writes:

Many people send us pictures of their Zentangle art and tell amazing stories about how drawing Zentangle art benefited them. They describe rising above fear, depression, grief and suicide. They report relief from severe pain, mental and physical traumas, addictions, insomnia, and even selective mutism.

When Maria and I began teaching, we did not expect such stories.

At first, I thought it might be because when you enter the relaxed focus of Zentangle art you access a recess from the pressures and demands of the world. For example, imagine picking up something light, like a glass of water . . . no problem. But hold that glass at arm’s length for a while and your arm will ache. However if you can put it down every now and then, it’s easier to hold it out for a longer time, even though it still weighs the same. Even knowing you can put it down whenever you need helps.

This morning I began to wonder if there’s something more behind these stories and came up with another analogy.

Imagine you are riding in a car and the radio is playing something irritating, but you don’t know how to change the station (perhaps you borrowed your friend’s car). You could drive to the radio station, confront the people there and insist they change their broadcast or, you could pull over and learn how to tune in a station you like.

Maybe these amazing stories have something to do with discovering a metaphorical inner tuning dial that can access other stations, even if only while tangling.

The point of this metaphor is not that you should tune in a particular station, rather that such a method to deliberately shift focus is available at all . . . and all wrapped in the enjoyable experience putting pen to paper and creating unexpectedly beautiful images in a fun and relaxing way.

These are the sorts of thoughts and questions that fascinate me.

What are your experiences? What are your thoughts?

I look forward to reading about your experiences and your ideas.

Many thanks,
Rick
-----+-----

The art at the beginning includes Maria's and my 3Z Tiles (from the "12 Days of 3Z" Blog series) and Maria's lettering and butterfly. We made this to welcome students to our 2017 Certified Zentangle Teacher training seminars.

I had to include some Zentangle art with this article! And, it was also a good way to remind you about the upcoming seminars! :-)

Thanks again for your comments!

R

 

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Revisiting a Basic Comfort

Rick writes:
In 2007, we started BLOG Zentangle and began our enjoyable series of conversations within our Zentangle community.

In reading through these blog posts with their insightful comments, we decided to bring a few of them to your attention from time to time. It is easy, for me anyway, to sometimes think of old information as stale information. But these insights and conversations are anything BUT stale!

Particularly this one, which is all about getting back to basics of putting pen to paper in ways that bring a focused comfort.

So, we invite you to enjoy this comforting conversation from 2012.



                     Begin previous post . . .                 

We recently received this email . . .

Hi guys, Am I a dweeb for wanting to stick with basic tangles? I love the simple, basic designs. The advanced stuff is nice, but I like where I'm at. I feel kinda bad with all the fancy designs on the net and my basic designs aren't anything to write home about, but I like them. It's impossible to make it into the Who's Who of Zentangle unless my Tangles are over the top. This is discouraging at times. 

Thank you for writing. This brings up such an important point.

The charm of Zentangle's method is that you can relax into the pleasure of creating "one stroke at a time" without concern for the outcome. We often speak of Zentangle as a practice. We never speak of it as a competition.

A useful analogy is reading. Would you enjoy a book better if you could read it faster? Perhaps you could read more books, but at what cost? When you can afford to read at a comfortable pace you can savor a turn of phrase, look up a new word, or gaze into an unfocused distance as you imagine a setting and see yourself in it.

It's also relaxing to read an author with whose style and characters you already know and enjoy. It's not necessary to always read a new author on a new subject every time you pick up a book.

Same with Zentangle. Or a walk in the woods. Or cooking.

Maria writes:
Where is it written that we must constantly strive for more complex and focused tangles? There is something to be said for tried and true, simple and familiar . . . like "mac & cheese" vs. the latest recipe on a food blog. My "mac & cheese" tangle is mooka; Rick's is flux. It's the one I start tangling when I need to draw and not think. Maybe I throw in a bit of poke-leaf sometimes.

Every time I draw mooka something morphs. It looks nothing like the original plans I might have had when I began . . . it grabs other tangles and ingests their aspects all on its own.

But for me, comfort it is.

Rick continues . . .
We both sat down yesterday afternoon (Sunday) to create two basic tiles:



Maria did mooka; I did flux. It looks like Maria surfed mooka whereas I walked my well-worn flux pathway and added some familiar hollibaugh. We did these independently. After we finished and I saw them together, I remarked to Maria about how many similarities these quite different tiles shared.

I did my tile with traditional corner dots, border, and a "Z" shaped string. My flux and hollibaugh almost always look the same from tile to tile. For me, this is part of their charm and why that email struck such a chord. Often my favorite part is shading what I've just tangled but with this tile I most enjoyed coloring in the black behind hollibaugh.

Thanks again to the writer of that email for the inspiration to create these tiles and have this conversation.

Maria continues . . .
I say, draw whatever tangle makes you happy at that moment. That is the essence of Zentangle, enjoying putting pen to paper one stroke at a time. It feels so good to enjoy that moment without fretting about an outcome or someone else's opinion. 

So, if you want to learn a new tangle (or explore a new path or try a new food), that's fine. But most times what you want is a comfort tangle; and then, comfort tangles it is!
  • Tried
  • True
  • Simple
  • Familiar
So, what are your "Mac & Cheese" tangles?  (And, why?)

Click images for more basic comfort.

                     End previous post.                 



Share with us your comments below. You can see the earlier comments at the original post of this conversation here.

-----+-----

In our previous blog post, we offered to send a Zentangle Apprentice Kit to one of the commenters. Our random number selector chose:

kat van rooyen, czt

Congratulations, Kat! Please email maria @ zentangle dot com to let us know where to send your Zentangle Apprentice Kit!




Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Kitchen Table Tangles with Indy and Mazzy


Molly writes:

“I learn from my children.”

My mom always said that about me and my brother and sister as we were growing up. It made me giggle because I felt like she was the one guiding and teaching us. I just assumed she was kidding or trying to make us feel good.

Now that I'm a mother, I'm learning what she meant. Every day is a new lesson as I watch my children explore, discover, and absorb all that they can from life. I have learned to listen to what they have to say because they truly do have something to say. They inspire and challenge me. They bring a perspective to situations that I would not have seen. They are funny and brilliant. Their creativity is raw and unfiltered. I remind myself daily to stop and soak it all in.

Naturally, I have special connection with my children, but I have learned that all children are amazing and that they charm and enlighten those around them in magical ways all over this world.

Teaching the Zentangle Method is a beautiful thing for me. I love seeing my students' eyes light up as their creations morph from being a collection of pen lines into being actual art. I teach all ages of students and I love it all.

I teach children the same way I teach adults. Maybe we don’t sit as long. Perhaps I use a different analogy here and there, but for the most part, it all stays the same. I teach the same Zentangle Method. And just as in my adult classes, we always start and finish with gratitude and appreciation.

I do notice that children's responses to my teachings and suggestions are much more animated and confident than adult responses. Many times, the kids will boldly go in a completely different direction than I suggested or instructed. I encourage this enthusiasm to explore uncharted and unexpected territories. There is also much less self-criticism. They seem less concerned with the outcome than adults.

During class, I sometimes think they are not listening to what I am saying. I carry on as if I am talking to myself but then out of nowhere, they will reference something I said weeks before. I am always so excited when they absorb the positive things I say about their work and proudly say, “Thank you.”

I later hear them commenting on their classmates work as they take a moment to appreciate each others’ creations, not just their own. I love the chaos and eagerness in their strokes. I love to listen to the giggles and chatter between one another. I secretly know that I am learning more from them than they are learning from me.

One recent snow day here in New England, I asked my own kids if they wanted to watch the new “Kitchen Table Tangle” video and tangle along with Meme and Ricky. I left them alone as I did some things around the house. They watched it and paused it as they tangled along and then watched it again and again. After they were done, they asked me if I could film them doing a tangle. “Sure,” I said. “Why not?”

Once again, I had a wonderful opportunity to “learn from my children.”

Full disclosure . . . I had no part in the planning of this video.


 
By Indy (age 7) and Mazzy (age 5) 

-----+-----

What have you learned from the children in your life?

Tell us your story in the comments below. We will pick a random name from our commenters. If it's you, we will send you one of our new Zentangle Apprentice Kits (ZAK) . . .


. . . for the child in your life.

-----+-----

This and other Kitchen Table Tangles are available to subscribers on our app: Zentangle Mosaic. For more information on the app visit this link.

Enjoy!


Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Elisa Murphy, CZT


CZT Family Tree
We always say that the Zentangle Method attracts really awesome people. We have had the pleasure of working with wonderful Certified Zentangle Teachers (CZT) all over the world and we are excited to share these wonderful people with the entire Zentangle Community. Through our new series, CZT Family Tree, we will introduce individual CZTs.


Today, we are excited to introduce Elisa Murphy.

-----+-----

Name: Elisa Murphy                                                                                    

CZT seminar: #15



Hometown: Milford, Massachusetts, USA


Favorite Tangle: Tripoli


Favorite Place to Tangle:
My super sunny back porch! It's at the top of a hill so it feels like I'm sitting in a tree house. I love being in my PJs, grabbing my quilt, huge cup of coffee, lap desk, tangling supplies and heading out there to snuggle and tangle.

How I use the Zentangle Method in my life:
For me, it's all about metaphors and philosophy. I think about the cues I give while teaching a class and challenge myself to carry them over into my thoughts.  Here’s a quick example. The tip of the micron pen is super delicate. If you press down too hard on it, that nib is going to bend and feel nasty to tangle with. Like the micron pen tip, if I try to force the way I want things to go, sometimes it just doesn’t work. If I ease up and give life room to “flow,” my experiences might just be a little easier.


My Favorite story or memory about teaching the Zentangle Method:
This is going to sound weird, but my favorite memory about a Zentangle class hasn’t happened yet! I’m writing this in February. I can honestly tell you that my favorite memory about teaching a Zentangle class will be on March 10th. Let me explain.

Two weeks ago a woman from my youngest daughter’s school PTO (parent teacher organization) asked if I could teach a fundraiser for their school. I was psyched! So many parents at school have voiced curiosity about Zentangle but have never made it to a class. This fundraiser might be the motivation to finally get some to try it out!

I got my calendar out and asked for the date. March 10th. UGH. FULL STOP.
Here’s the thing. I have two daughters. I always will. My youngest daughter, Hannah,  is 11. My oldest daughter, Rachel, died four years ago. March 10th is her 18th birthday. So now what? What do I do?

After an emotional and loving conversation with my husband, I reached out to my fellow CZTs on social media and filled them in. The response that I received was breathtaking. CZTs who I know and others who I’ve never met reached back with support and solid, thoughtful suggestions about how I might weave something about my kiddo into the class as a private way to celebrate her. One CZT then gave me the “Ah ha!” thought that I needed. She asked (paraphrasing) wouldn’t it be a beautiful gift from your daughter if you teach this class and there’s just one person that comes who really needs it?

Yup. She’s right. That’s why I became a CZT in the first place. I want to make a difference and help. I started practicing the Zentangle Method while trying to find some grace and direction. The possibility of teaching a class on Rachel’s 18th birthday and possibly introducing some of that grace to another who really could use it? That’s priceless. The class is scheduled.

This – the class that hasn’t happened yet – in my opinion is the Zentangle philosophy coming to life. The product (teaching the class) isn’t what’s important. The true beauty is in the process. I’m challenging myself to grow in a way that has me feeling excited, but also vulnerable and uncertain. Not only my husband, but also my CZT family, near and far, showed up and reminded me how beautiful the growth process can be, while still acknowledging the struggle.

I am truly blessed that when I think about the classes I’ve taught, I am in awe of the connections and joy they have brought as I share the Zentangle Method with others. This one’s different though. Deciding to teach this class challenges me to my core. It’s a huge step in my quest to find grace as my journey continues without one of my children here to kiss goodnight. With the love and support of my Murphy family as well as my CZT family, this is by far the most powerful CZT experience.

On top of all that, I’ve already discovered that there is a person coming who just might be that “one person who really needs it.” How cool is that?


Through my experiences as a CZT, I have learned:
I have learned to measure my success as a teacher by the experience folks have, not how closely they follow my instructions or how their tiles look. If a student leaves my class feeling a little better, a little more confident, a little more peaceful than when they walked in the door, then THAT’S my success. That’s why I do this.


If I’m not tangling, you will find me:
You will find me taking care of my family, volunteering in the community or desperately attempting to find the secret to effective time management and focus. I’ve decided to take my teaching to a level beyond “hobby” and into a successful business. It’s totally out of my comfort zone but that’s where the growth comes in.

Zentangle Mosaic Name: Elisa

Website: elisasnowandzen.com

-----+-----

Thank you so much, Elisa! 

We look forward to sharing more CZT stories in future blog posts.

R&M





Tuesday, February 21, 2017

On a "clear" day . . .

Before I started my stationery company, Pendragon, Ink (many years ago!), I used to do a lot of painting. Painting was always fun. It kept me excited about life and and always thinking of the next canvas to cover or series to start. In a painting mindset, I noticed everything and was constantly ​taking notes or making sketches for the next day's endeavor.

One of my favorite parts was at the end when I often added a coat (or two or three) of gloss varnish to the surface of my (dry!) finished piece.

Just so you know, this is an occasional personal preference, not an absolute. I am not suggesting one has to varnish all their art! But this is an element on my palette of choices that I like the look of. I like how it can add depth and richness and increase color saturation. With a few coats it resembles those beautiful old paintings in museums that I love. Imagine, for example, an old table that you have just sanded, the wood all bare, and then you add a coat of varnish/shellac/urethane . . . what a difference!

Anyone who knows me, knows how quickly I do just about everything . . . I eat fast, cook fast, sew fast . . . well you get the picture. I paint with acrylics instead of oils for the same reason . . . Speed! But to me, acrylics seemed a bit flat or dull, so the varnish provided a look that the acrylic paint alone could not.

I was thinking about this the other day while I was tangling. "Hmm, I wonder what would happen if I varnished a tile?" But just to varnish a tiny tile every time the need arose would be a lot of work and clean-up . . . not what I wanted.

So I tried something different. I grabbed a bottle of clear nail polish and went to town! It was a dream come true! Here was this miniature handy-dandy brush, right in the the bottle, just the right size and I did not have to clean it afterwards! I had so many half filled bottles of all kinds of clear coats. The one I used here  has a very subtle pink tint to it, just a whisper. But it brought out a whole new feeling of life wherever I applied it.

These tiles have about 3 coats on them. The first coat seals the paper, the second adds a bit of luster (you can stop at this point) but I added another for depth. Wait for each coat to dry before putting on the next. Of course follow the directions on the bottle. I use this in a room where the smell won't bother anyone. (Molly tells me that I can also try ModPodge, a water based varnish, for a similar effect. Ah . . . another project to look forward to!)

You can see on this diptych (a 2-paneled artwork) . . .


. . . that I varnished the right side panel, and not the left so you can see the difference.

On this next heart piece on which I varnished the upper left corner . . .


. . . to create a dramatic difference dark to light.

Next, I was experimenting on a tan tile, (one I had in my collection, that I did not mind if I screwed it up) and just varnished the "orbital cone-shaped whatch-a-ma-callit" in the middle.


It was pretty dark to begin with and got darker. When the coats were dry, I went back in and added white dots on the surface, and they just popped right off the paper!


If you decide to try this, start with a tile you don't mind experimenting with. You don't have to cover the whole tile. In fact, on each of these I only varnished small portions. I liked how it was more interesting than covering the whole tile.

That marvelous feeling I got from varnishing my old paintings returned. . . like a dear old friend. . . .


I'm not going to do this to all my tiles for sure, but once in a while it might be cool. It's just a nice addition to my growing bag of tricks!

What have you added to your bag of tricks that you can share with us?

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

tHE ART of Zentangle

Happy Valentine's Day!

Maria writes:
In my readings lately, I discovered that Zentangle is quite "hearty". . . and in more ways than you might have imagined.

Definitions from my trusty dictionary:

HEARTY: adjective
  • Warm-hearted
  • Genuine
  • Heart-felt
  • Wholehearted
  • Exuberant
  • Unrestrained
  • Strong and well
  • Substantial
  • Abundant . . . AND
  • Nourishing
Nourishing I think, most of all, nourishing. It feeds our heart, frees our emotions. It supports our needs, wants and enhances our lives. One needs heart to create beautiful things. And in my heart, I just know these things.

Rick writes:
In our English language, "art" is found within "heart."

What a delicious metaphor for "drawing" on your heART's inspiration.

How do you access heart-felt art? Our Zentangle suggestion is to do it one stroke at a time.

Put your heart into each simple stroke with deliberate and loving attention. Leave the next stroke's concerns to the next stroke. When it's time for that next stroke, approach it with an open heart. Gently allow your heart (and mind) to open to what unfolds as you tangle and be gentle and relaxed about your expectations.

As you practice the Zentangle Method you begin to trust your heART more and more. You learn to trust that you'll know what to do when it's time to do it. You begin to discover the beauty that flows from within. You discover how good that flow can feel.

-----+-----

This blog post is the companion for this newsletter.

In that newsletter, we showed this tile:


This step-out shows how Maria adapted the basic waybop tangle for this tile:


We invite Zentangle Mosaic subscribers to post their creations using this step-out under the hashtag:

#iheartwaybop

If you are not yet a subscriber, you can still download the app for free and search that hashtag to see what everyone posted.

-----+-----

Here are larger views of the fun heart images from the newsletter:





Indy, Molly's seven-year-old daughter, was watching our "Kitchen Table Tangle" video for waybop and decided to do one:


Beautiful!

-----+-----

And for some more definitions . . .
  • Heartener: giving courage or confidence
  • Heartsome: giving cheer or spirit
  • Heartstring: hmm . . . what's your definition?

We wish everyone a Happy Valentine's Day!

R&M





Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Why are Zentangle Mosaics Fascinating?

I love the fountain pen Maria gave me for Christmas. I keep that pen and a blank book with me all the time to capture ideas that suddenly sparkle but which can, just as suddenly, vanish dream-like without a trace.

So now I write whenever an idea sparkles. And as I write, that initial spark usually sparkles other ideas and I write those, too.

When I tangle, I never know where my starting strokes will take me. But I trust the process and proceed one stroke at a time. I’ll write the same way – one subject at a time – and together we can watch where this takes us.

To answer the questioning title of this essay, “Why are Zentangle mosaics fascinating?” I suggest that Zentangle mosaics are fascinating because each tile is unique.

If you’ve had the pleasure to be in a Zentangle workshop with a CZT* and placed your tile in a mosaic, you know how good that feels. At that moment all your self-criticism chatter disappears. Your tile remains unique, yet it fits the overall mosaic beautifully. And when you think about it, that mosaic exists because it contains each person’s unique expression of his or her creative flow that could only have happened at that moment. In other words, because your unique tile is there.

That good feeling inspired us to create our Zentangle Mosaic app with its Waterfall mode where tiles flow in and out of a mosaic that fills your screen. If all the tiles in the Waterfall display were the same, there would be no reason to keep watching it or to scroll through it.

 
A Zentangle tile does not need to meet some standard of excellence to be part of a mosaic. And, who would even begin to judge that? Your objective in tangling is not to create the perfect tile.

Your objective is to enjoy that exhilaration of creativity that flows as you make each pencil or pen stroke and then discover where those take you. Admire your tile as you turn it this way and that. Then place it in the mosaic . . . a mosaic that is uniquely beautiful because of your tile . . . a mosaic that could not exist without your tile.

Two things to remember about a Zentangle Mosaic:
  1. Its unique tiles make it fascinating
  2. Without your tile, that mosaic would not exist.

Comments invited.

Best always,
Rick


* Certified Zentangle Teacher [list]