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Tuesday, November 9, 2010

A Conversation

Although few and far between, every now and then we'll receive a "Who the *!#% do you think you are to say you invented doodling!?" email.

We recently received just such an email. After a week with no reply we thought we'd open up this conversation for you to jump in. Both emails are complete and unedited other than removing sender's name and email.

Zentangle Form
Name: ______
Email: ______@_________.com
Comments: "It is a fascinating new art form that is fun and relaxing."

1) It's not new. Patterned drawing is one of the oldest forms of mark making. The oldest known examples: 60,000 years old

2) Just because you make up a cute name for something does not mean you've discovered something new or unique. The most irritating thing about this whole charade is; these ideas have been around since before religion was formalized in pretty much every culture. Sand paintings, mandalas and probably another dozen forms that all have the same basic effect of the motion of creating random patterns inducing an altered state of consciousness. Holy Crap you people are ignorant.

3) It's called DOODLES people. Scientists know about it, Artists know about it, Monks, Holy Men and seemingly every body but you two know about it.

As stupid as this is, and as ignorant as you and the people you are targeting are; you are probably making money hand over fist.

Wow. Gobsmacked.

Our reply:
Hi ______,

Interestingly, a few minutes before we got your message we received this one from England:

"What have you done! Just when I thought I should be acting like a well behaved old lady at 91, I get to hear about zentangles. Now I can’t look at a piece of paper without picking up a pen and....hours later.. What is mother up to now! Anyway, thanks a million, you have given me a new outlook to each day. Thank you so much."

Yes, patterned drawing is an ancient, primal and common experience and "language" of humans throughout all cultures, languages, religions and eras. That's a big part of what we tell people and likely a big part of Zentangle's acceptance, because it is so instantly recognized as familiar, but overlooked nevertheless. We trace the lineage of many of our patterns (or tangles) to basic patterns from nature and many cultures from all over this world.

One of our contributions with Zentangle is to deconstruct patterns to their most basic parts (ideally three or less basic strokes) so that a self-described non-artist can recreate them through easy repetition within a predefined area -- and enjoy both process and result. This opens up possibilities of creative pleasure to almost anyone - many of whom long ago decided it was not possible for them - "I am not an artist," "I can't draw," etc.

So, while pattern drawing is not new, (we feel it's not the same as how many people understand "doodling"-- for instance Zentangle's tangles are not, as you say, "random," but very specific) our approach, or teaching method, has made the joys of putting pen to paper accessible to many people around this world -- like that 91 year lady from England -- who otherwise might not have experienced what you likely do every day.

Regarding "making money hand over fist," we find it interesting that in the few critical emails we do receive, they all have mentioned how much money we are supposedly making.

While each day offers an opportunity for us to learn something new, we respectfully disagree with your assertion that people who enjoy Zentangle are ignorant.

Every few months we'll get a message like yours, but I've got to say, yours is one of the best! We usually don't respond, but this is a good exercise and we look forward to the possibility of a reply.

Rick (and Maria)
Pertinent to this conversation is an insightful blog post by Verlin. We invite you to read all of it, but here's an excerpt.
My father grew up in an Amish home where musical instruments were forbidden. While I was yet in grade school, I would see him bring home from his monthly excursions to the local auction barn keyboard musical instruments; a bellows organ, an upright piano, or several accordions. I would marvel as in a few minutes he could teach himself to play familiar hymns as the family sang along. His method of teaching me to solve any problem was, “If you just look at it long enough, it will come to you." My brain was not wired like his. I never learned to play “by ear.”

For certain gifted people no lessons are necessary to create art; not so for the general population. We need a way of learning to make art we enjoy. Zentangle makes that possible for us “one stroke at a time.”
Last night I (Rick) learned a new word that applies to this conversation: "Syntropy." Syntropy (originally known as "negentropy") was renamed by Albert Szent-Gyorgyi and further popularized by Buckminster Fuller.
From Syntropics® website:
Syntropy was described by Hungarian chemist Albert Szent-Gyorgyi, a Nobel Prize winner, as a disposition toward elaboration in living things. The concept expresses the tendency of all organic matter to develop and unfold new qualities as it moves through time.

Syntropic Cycle: Writing in a 1983 Training magazine article, R. Mulligan, training coordinator for Connecticut Yankee Atomic Power Company in East Hampton, CT identified the concept of a Syntropic Cycle. As a trainer, Mulligan described this cycle in terms of the basic fundamental human drive to learn. He wrote:

“Like chemical reactions that need a primer to explode them into action, most students need a 'spark' to move them away from habitual indifference (a result of the opposing principle of 'entropy') and toward naturally self-perpetuating and self-fulfilling learning. A kind of "energy barrier" stands in the way."

Knowing that all students are disposed to enter a Syntropic Cycle of self-motivated learning if they can be triggered into action is a big help to trainers because joyful learning appears to be emotionally based. Emotions are accessible and susceptible to influence.”
We feel that Zentangle's approach triggers a Syntropic Cycle by which putting pen to paper becomes a new (or renewed) and joyful experience and an expanding and self-sustaining process. This is particularly impactful for people who perceive themselves as non-artists.

There's another interesting tidbit of info in all this. Of the two writers of this type of email who made their identity known (including the above quoted one), both had college level art degrees. Not sure if there is a conclusion to "draw," but it was interesting.

We believe that Zentangle's accessible method and approach provides a confidence, structure and resulting joy that is fueling the expansion of so many online galleries of beautiful Zentangle creations. Just take a moment to search around online and you will appreciate the creativity that is blossoming and the fun that people are having.

We are so grateful to everyone who understands our passion and our intent. We also appreciate those who don't, because it makes this conversation possible.

If you are so inspired, we invite you to contribute to this conversation by commenting below. We'll forward a link to the person who originally wrote us.

Rick & Maria



Lisa Firke said...

Hi, Rick & Maria:

Great post.

I am wondering if the reason you get this kind of push-back is that the wide scope of the Zentangle umbrella threatens the artist's sense of his/her own originality?

That is, having created an elaborate and beautiful drawing, is it then quashing and reductive to find that the result is "merely" a Zentangle? As if somehow belonging to such a distinctive genre lessens the value of the work?

I know this was a question I had to answer for myself when I discovered the Zentangle approach has so much in common with my own natural style. Having shaken off that insecurity, I find myself applying Zentangle-like approaches to many different media.

A bounding shape, a "string", and the way an area is filled--it's a rich structure that can hold almost anything. I appreciate the way you've articulated it. It's helped me stretch myself as an artist.

Carole Ohl said...

Maybe it just comes down to intent. Some can feel the intent of another, and some cannot. Sometimes our own projections/issues can get in the way of feeling the intent that is truly there. If we skim the surface of any story we can miss essential parts, and we might even jump to conclusions that steamroll right over the parts we did not see. But if we openly look and feel our way into the story, we will find the intent. Thanks for posting. Like you said, gotta appreciate the opportunity for the conversation!

Karen said...

I think the author is irate that you are making money off of something that has been around for thousands of years. He misses the point entirely, anyone can doodle, but you have presented it in a way that is accessible to people who wouldn’t have done it otherwise. I am one of those people who feel they can’t draw, but after looking at some of my Zentangle creations, I have much more confidence.

Many artists create income by teaching traditional forms of arts and crafts. They write books, offer classes and even sell the supplies needed. While they might not be creating something entirely new, they are creating the presentation and their take on the craft. Yes, and many give their version their own name, like you have done with Zentangle.

People don’t have to buy your products or take your classes to enjoy the process. I have only purchased some pens, paper and one book, none from you, but would not hesitate to credit Zentangle as the inspiration for what I do.

kass said...

As the holder of both University degrees in Art and Education (not a double, seperate qualifications!), I would like to contribute the following to the conversation:

Zentangle is not doodling.

Doodling is random and has no rhyme or reason. As soon as thought goes into doodling, it becomes something else. Doodling is done while you're on hold waiting for your phone company or bored in class.

Zentangle is the use of repetitive, DELIBERATE stroke making to create something that is simple, yet beautiful. Its broken down, simplistic approach makes it accessible to artists such as myself as well as non-artists. I have used Zentangle successfully with school students and with retirees (one of whom recently also studied art in New York City and was very impressed).

I have also used Zentangle for theraputic use during major health issues I've had, and it's process has allowed me to escape from the situation and focus on something which has brought me joy. I have shared Zentangle with many of my specialist doctors (some of whom are world-reknown) and they too think it is (a) beautiful and (b) an outstanding example of art as therapy.

Like ALL things in the art form, nothing is entirely original - as artists we are ALL influenced by other art, our surroundings and circumstance. I know that Rick and Maria proudly recognise their influences in creating Zentangle. What they have invented is not many of the patterns, but the concept of breaking them down and using them in ways that have rarely been explored before. They have brought together a range of ideas and created something new with them.

So before anyone starts to write their nasty emails about Zentangle, I would recommend a few things:

1. Read the entire website. Take a Zentangle class. Explore Flickr. Have a really good look at what's around before shooting from the hip.

2. Mind your manners.


3. Remember, karma can be a b#%@&.

Kindest regards,


creative side said...

First off, I have to disagree with the last statement that proposes a difference between doodling and Zentangle. I could go back to some of my college notbooks and show you what looks like Zentangle that is doodling. I think that there is an overlap between both.

Secondly, I have always told people that if they can write their name they can draw.PERIOD Writing incorporates the same skills as drawing and especially one which we never acknowledge as drawing and that is PRACTICE. If you look at some of your early writing it will look much diferent than your current writing and the difference is the practice. Much of the "I can't do that" explanation is a matter of not really wanting to take the time to do it or to go through the pain of practicing it. That is why Zentangle is so popular. There is an instant result without much practice. As you and I see, practice even makes a difference in Zentangle. To prove it, spend a given amount of realistic time trying to write with your non dominant hand. It has to practice, even though it knows the forms.

So, to the happy, or not so happy, just keep on working if it. If it satifies you or if it doesn't, then find something else that satifies you, just Enjoy your life.

Anonymous said...

I have to say, even if Zentangle is 'doodling' it doesn't matter ... I can't 'doodle'. BUT I can take the patterns and see how to draw them ...so I can Zentangle. I still have problems shading, but with practice I am getting better. And learning Zentangle patterns has given me a tiny boost of confidence to try to draw. So, doesn't matter if someone is 'against' it ... to me that is like asking why pay for a watercolor class? A collage class? A writing class? Because you want to, maybe?

Lois Heinani Stokes said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Lois Heinani Stokes said...

In Hawaii, when a kupuna (elder) hears remarks such as the one you received ~ She smiles and says oh... followed by a silent pause. Then she whispers under her breath ~ Aloha

Lois(and Earl)

An artist said...

Math has been around for how long? Yet, new math books emerge all the time. Educators are always attempting to find ways to bring math to more people.

Zentangle is a new way of teaching something old. It is a method that will reach people who have been unreachable. This is usually responded to with accolades.

For many, there is the belief that art is something you are born with, or not. While there are truly gifted people in art, math and science, there are many more people who are accomplished and who do wonderful things having learned any of these subjects at the hands of wonderful teachers.

Those who are gifted, or have been blessed with an education, in art(or any subject area)do not always readily relate to those less opportuned or fortunate. It is unfortunate for them.

I like what a kapuna would say, "Oh..." Pause and carry on.

Donna Hornsby said...

My take on the difference between Zentangle and doodle: it is the happy place that I get to visit when I create a Zentangle. The Zentangle (artwork) is a secondary benefit.

Debby said...

I believe you handled the criticism with grace. I have learned in my own business that for every 100 people you please there will always be one that is unhappy. The harsh words of that one are always the ones that stick with you, no matter how many others sing your praises.

The author's points could very well have been made in a much kinder and gentler way but obviously he/she just doesn't get it.

Timaree said...

I am still hoping to buy your zentangle kit. It's a bit expensive but I still want it. Am I to think that I am handing my fistsful of dollars over to an ancient drawing method with no real benefit to me in today's world or something. I think not. The wheel has been invented but it's always being changed and bettered. I don't think there is anything new under the sun - except to those who don't know what is there yet and although I've seen some patterns I still don't quite know how to start tangling really. Painting has been around forever but that doesn't mean I know how to do it and it seems to be okay to go to classes where they will teach you the latest in how to do it (art degrees are earned doing this).

I ran across an online teacher who insists artists don't even think of themselves as artists, that you have to be educated to be one and after that you then earn your way to being called one. What! I disagree. Cave dwellers, egyptian tomb decorators and the like never earned a degree. Grandma Moses never earned a degree in order to paint. But I'll bet you the writer (and this is how I "draw" a conclusion about the email/art degreed person) with his degree thinks like the teacher I know. In other words that person is a snob. Don't worry overmuch about that. Just keep doing what you are doing. If people didn't think it was worth it, they wouldn't keep buying your kits or the books that are out. They wouldn't keep zentangling! You fill a niche and you aren't telling other artist's that there work isn't real or telling other artist teachers to quit because it's old hat so really, let it slide off your shoulders. There are always some sourpusses out there who want to make people unhappy.

Tinkered Art said...

“One of our contributions with Zentangle is to deconstruct patterns to their most basic parts (ideally three or less basic strokes) so that a self-described non-artist can recreate them through easy repetition within a predefined area -- and enjoy both process and result. This opens up possibilities of creative pleasure to almost anyone - many of whom long ago decided it was not possible for them - "I am not an artist," "I can't draw," etc.”

I hope the complaining artist will pay particular attention to the above quote from your reply. I am one of those “I am not an artist/can't draw” folks. I didn't know that or believe it until an elementary school art teacher informed me that I really didn't possess much artistic talent and should stick to softball and PE. Given the tone of the email I have no qualms in thinking that this person has probably said something similar to crush the dreams of some other aspiring artist.

It has taken almost 50 years for me to find my own truth - the artist within that has always been there - just too afraid to venture out lest some other “Art God” be lurking nearby to strike again.

The contributions you provided with Zentanlge has been invaluable in my growing confidence as an artist – a word I no longer fear saying proudly an out loud. My hope is that many more will find the magic that is Zentangle.

Sarah Garrity said...

I just recently had two people shut me down with the "it's just doodling" comment. But this one was pretty harsh. I take offense to being called ignorant.

I'm not only educated, I am an educator. In education there are MANY examples I could give that parallel what Rick and Maria have done. Here is just one:
Most educators use what are called visual organizers. There are tons of them out there, called many things and used many ways. Much like what you have labeled doodles. However, a company called Thinking Maps took several basic visual organizers, gave each a specific name and a specific purpose. We recieved training on how we were to use them. They created a specific process which needed to be followed. Now many probably thought it was stupid because the organizers had been around and now this company was acting like they invented them. It wasn't the shape of the organizer that mattered, it was the process of using it. And for my kids the process made all the difference.

I think the process is the difference between Zentangle and doodle. And the appreciation of the work. I don't have a single memo sheet with doodles all over that I have signed and would like to frame.

Thanks for letting me chime in!

Heather Victoria Held said...

Hi Rick and Maria,

I am sure you will get a ton of responses to this email. Thanks for sharing it with us. I find the exercise of zentangles very meditative and empowering. Unless someone has experienced the joy of being in a zentangle class it is really hard to explain the differences of doodling. I have seen the positive effect this exercise can have on aging people, those recovering from serious illness, depressed people, troubled teens and the list goes on. It is putting something tangible and accessible in their hands and removing the negative barriers that have held them back artistically for so many years. I think you have offered a very powerful gift to us. As a calligrapher, a time out to zentangle can often unblock a creative barrier for me or just realign me after hours of tedious and exacting work at a desk. I am so thankful for what you have given us. If you are making money hand over fist, I would be cheering you on!
love you both,

Jane Monk said...

I can draw, I can doodle and I can draw in the Zentangle style ... I have always drawn and I am self-taught - although educated in a different field than art, but ... Zentangle has been the catalyst for me to go deeper into my art and rediscover my style again. We forget the joy that simple drawing can bring ... it is available for us all because of the simplicity. This is what Rick and Maria have given us ... the ability to look and see that each and every one of us can draw and create beauty with enjoyment and they have given us Zentangle which is the vehicle to achieve this and they have given it with such generosity and grace. The simplicity of Zentangle may very well bring artistic expression to the masses - who else has done this?

Genevieve said...

What a great discussion... I'm enjoying reading everyone's point of view. I have read a few blog posts here and there along the same lines as the email you received (a recent one referred to Zentangle as "a trap for the gullible").

I agree that the deconstruction of the patterns is one of the significant things that Zentangle brings to the table. No matter how many times I draw Paradox, there's still something magical about it. I love that I will be able to teach Zentangle to people who are convinced they can't draw.

Thanks Rick and Maria, and everyone else who is participating in this discussion for helping us to answer these questions and comments when they come up.

ptrish40 said...

Money cannot buy happiness, a sense of peace, love, generocity (naming only a few) and when one is in a room with Rick and Maria and sharing in the "Zentangle" experience this is what you feel and this is what you know that Rick and Maria share with each other and all of us who choose to share a Zentangle journey. I feel sad that the person who wrote that email may never understand or experience this. What Rick and Maria have is better than earning money hand over fist. But you know what - if they do earn some $$$ hooorah for them!!! Patty CZT-4

Melinda Barlow CZT said...

I too need to make a comment, I work with teens/Adults at my local library, (I am the Librarian) and when Zentangles were taught to a room of 150 teen the feeling was undescribable. Noise teens were focused, creativity, empowered and thought it was "cool".
Our Zentangle instructor, gave them power that they did not know they had. This is what moved me to become a CZT and teach the art of tangling to others. I can only give Rick and Maria the biggest thank you for opening up a wonderful new world of art to those who many have thought they could not draw.
As for me I come from a family where my mother was deaf and music was not played in our home, but after learning to tangle with the Zentangle method. I thought if I can do this what else can I do. I now am learning to play the Guitar the Suzuki Method, not to far removed from the Zentangle Method of art.
Thank You Rick and Maria for your wonderful, creative art with unexpected benefits.
Melinda B.

Sue Clark said...

"The greatest ignorance is to reject something you know nothing about". Author Unknown

Need I say more! This has been a great discussion and I agree wholeheartedly with all of the comments posted so far. Rick and Maria, you have handled this will the usual grace and style we have all come to love and respect about you. I have had a life long love of drawing that I ignored for years, other than doodling in meetings at work. Now that I have retired, Zentangle has brought back the joy of creating art again. Doing a zentangle or zentangle inspired art is nothing even close to doodling. I can't wait to start teaching this wonderful art form to others so they can share in the same joy it has brought me.

Margaret said...

Wonderful comments everyone. I would simply add that the tone of the original e-mail and the tone of the response says it all regarding the state-of-mind of each writer. I wish the writer of the original comments more peace of mind. Smile. Breathe. Draw a little.

Joyce said...

Maria and Rick,

Hello again, and thank you for my fabulous memory bank from attending training within the Zentangle fold. I, too, am one of those sillies who collects college degrees. I take classes and have equipped myself as an educator for a couple of good reasons - providing for myself, spending my days with happy short people (I teach elementary art and actually get paid for it!) and because it's important that I make the world a better place for my having been in it.

*That* is the seminal difference between simpler forms of doodling and Zentangle. Doodling is space-filling or time-filling and is aside and apart from who I am. Zentangle is deliberate, intentional, and reflective. Yes, it's related to graphics and calligraphic forms and yes, its very simplicity might raise the hackles on a multi-degreed Artist (capital A intentional...)

It's also a way to connect - with children, with patterns from nature, with friends I share the craft with, and back to you and your family there in MA.

Try not to let the people who think that artmaking is a zero sum game take too much of your time and energy. The poor things probably don't get to spend enough time with eight year olds. No wonder they smile so rarely!


Hil-ink said...

I will probably repeat what so many have said..I have drawn and "doodled" my whole life. I am a professional calligrapher and ever since I received the zentangle kit, my calligraphy has improved, the way I look at things has improved and even though it is an art that has been around forever, it takes certain teachers to be able to communicate it and you two have done that for so many people so screw the naysayers!

Shelly Beauch said...

The pot has been stirred and the good bits will rise to the top. Each day inspiration grows around the world by generous, kind and creative souls. Friendships are made, links to far countries and creative ideas are discussed. All this because we start that one stroke at a time. Zentangle is the froth and bubble that is so beautifully shared, thanks Rick and Maria for your generosity. And we all need to make some money the best way we can.

creative side said...

One more comment from me. You can choose to grumble or you can choose to be amazed at life. You get to choose. May you choose wisely.

Charmion S. said...

I don't understand folks who think an artist needs to be dead before he is allowed to make money; I don't understand folks whose self-esteem is so low that they need to degrade others (calling them "ignorant") before they can feel good about themselves; I don't understand folks who can't let others get some joy and satisfaction out of drawing, tangling, doodling or whatever else you want to call it because he/she doesn't have an MFA or PHD in Art. Your angry e-mailer needs to "Get a life" -- or maybe he/she should sit down, take a deep breath and a square of paper, make some dots in the corners, connect the dots, draw a string and start drawing, doodling or tangling or whatever else he/she wants to call it. Someone needs a hug.

nancyubin said...

Great discussion!
Shortly after I came home from CZT#3 I was confronted by an 'Art' teacher with these words-I can't believe you spent $$$ to learn this method!(read in to that-what a fool!)
I replied that I had 'flunked' art in 7th grade, never put a pen to paper thereafter and was so VERY grateful to find that even I could create with this form, and that it had opened other doors as well. I was therefore assuming others who were 'stuck' might appreciate a teacher too and I was sure that she might not 'need' to be taught, there are probably people who will.3 weeks later she asked to be on the notification list for classes I am giving locally.
There is room for all perspectives-ie turn your tile.

DreamScribe said...

One of the most wonderful elements of Zentangles are the beauty, simplicity, creativity & unique potential of tangles.

I'm a qualified graphic designer who, 7 years ago could not draw her way out of a wet paper bag! I could design anything if the artwork was provided. I believed I couldn't draw and thought myself a designer not an artist.

In an effort to learn to create original art I started with Chinese brush painting - another very meditative artform. From there my journey led me to calligraphy, a unique combination of the ability to write and draw. (I love what creative side wrote above). However, there's an element to calligraphy that is - like piano scales - practice. Truly great calligraphers have talent and vision to create their own style based on traditional calligraphic letterforms.

When I discovered Zentangles, I quickly discovered two very important (to me) realisations:

1. A Zentangle is never 'right' or 'wrong.' It is -like the iChing- a commentary on change. A representation of passing moments. Each stroke arises from my pen and, as I move to the next stroke, becomes part of the past. When I look at a completed Zentangle I appreciate the moments it represents. It is a true & beautiful illustration of the Anicca (ever changing) nature of my Self at the time I drew it. There is no judgement to be made. No measuring its success or failure. It is Simply and Elementally Self Truth. (This is, of course, my own experience of tangling.)

2. The second realisation was this - there are infinite possibilities for creative invention and insight in the discovery and design of new tangles. Sometimes, when I start to 'learn' a tangle pattern, I make a happy accident in following the steps and, from there I experience -not disappointment- excitement! Here's a chance to take a design in a new direction. To create something that is based on an existing tangle, but new! At other times I watch my pen as new tangle patterns emerge from my creative subconscious! There is no hard slog practice here - only Play! The very simplicity of tangles makes them clever, deliberative, equanimous, meditative & full of infinite potential for more creativity!

By following Rick & Maria's philosophy of Zentangle - esp. watching Maria's fluid and organic drawing on the DVD - I have made new discoveries about the way I draw. Eg. if I'm stressed and finding it hard to draw a smooth line, I draw on an exhaled breath. By becoming aware of my breathing as I create each stroke, the way I draw is transformed. Also, if I'm trying to draw a line parallel to another, I've found it's best not to look at the line I'm drawing but at the line I'm following. It was revolutionary for me to avoid looking at the tip of my pen, but this shift in thinking has made an amazing difference!

When making any stroke, watching the 'white space' I am drawing it around & visualising its shape - changes the way that I draw, and the way I think about the way I draw. What's the most important part of a beautiful vase? The empty space it encloses, of course!

When I add shadows I am amused to hear myself thinking, "Now, if I were a shadow, where would I be?" I've become a part of my Zentangle - as much as it is a part of me!

There are so many life truths embedded in Rick and Maria's philosophy of Zentangle. I value these truths deeply & believe my journey of creative discovery led me to these specifically because of the way Rick & Maria present and teach Zentangle.

This is the uniqueness. This is the originality they have gifted us with. This is the world of possibility and artistic 'ability' they have opened for artists and non-artists alike.

Thank you Rick & Maria.

Radiant Sketch Works said...

I think what amazes me most about the email that Rick and Maria received is that it was sent at all. And yes, I know, that's terribly naive but really, they receive them on a regular basis? What a waste of energy. What did the individual hope to accomplish by writing to them? Why not channel that energy into their own art or back into helping the community, (which is ALWAYS the best use of extra time and energy). Engaging in thoughtful debate is a necessary part of human civilization, we are all entitled to our opinions. But ignorance is not an opinion. To quote Martin Luther King Jr. “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”

Anonymous said...

Everyone has so succinctly responded to these emails that there is little I can add. I have two additional thoughts - it strikes me as troubling or even sad that these 2 folks with art degrees bring such negativity to the party. I'm wondering why? Wish there was a way to reach out to them. My other thought is that the questions of what is art and who decides brings to mind the long and winding road quilts have taken to be recognized as an art form.


Raine said...

Okay...here's my 2 cents:

Although I consider myself an artist, I have never been able to "doodle". I lack whatever synapses make it possible to do most anything "random", like doodling. However, Zentangle has provided me with the tools to draw a small piece of art with an unfocused yet structured experience, frequently providing a zen-like sense of relaxation.

Also, I was fortunate to be able to take Rick and Maria's 3rd CZT certification training this past fall. Up until then I had been experiencing a creative block following the death of my mother a year ago. I just couldn't find any inspiration...my muse was dry. But after I started Zentangling, I found that the creative juices were not only stirred up with this artform but with other media. I worked in art journals and created mixed-media pieces with abandon! I think it's a great example of triggering a Syntropic Cycle!

Sarah from NC said...

Dear Rick and Maria and all the CZT team,
What a wonderful lesson in respect, kindness, joy and generosity. This discussion has been much better than many of my Bible studies and has given me the courage to respond with respect when people attach me.
I have been guilty of "judgements" in the past, but now I'm learning a new path and I look forward to the "possible."
Sarah Higgins, CZT #4

Karen Wallace said...

Interesting. Does it really matter as long as one feels and gets lost in the creative act and experiences relaxation, joy or new imaginings? Warmly, Karen

Capescrapper said...

Wow, it is so interesting to see all the takes on Zentangles. I myself have loved doodling since I was a little girl and when I saw Zentangles for the first time I was amazed. So with that said, I appreciate everyone's opinions on this subject. To each his own but I for one am really glad that I have been introduced to Zentangles!

Julie in MA.

And Rick, I love the explanation of Syntropic Cycle. Interesting stuff!

Anonymous said...

If all of these comments to your original post haven't shown you a different view, then you may just be stubborn! I also consider myself an artist, I don't have a gallery that represents me, other than my church and my friends, but this I know for sure we are meant as human beings to teach one another! Language, social skills, planetary skills, and animal husbandry. Just because someone has a masters in gardening, doesn't mean they are a gardener! First they have to create something themselves, and then teach others. Propagation is not a sin, neither is zentangle. IT is an art to bring out the latent art tendencies in another human and show them yes, help them know they too are creative, God was the first artist, he gave us that inheritance, we all have it, it just needs to be awakened. So watch out! new artists are being born through the wonderful zen experience of one line at a time.
Learn this lesson and move on.

heidig said...

I've taken both a "doodling" class and have learned to create "tangles". Yes, in my mind they are similar but also very different. As far as "making money hand over fist" - that's no one's business. I will say that when I purchased my kit from my local scrapbook store, it came with a very small disk that wouldn't work in my Mac laptop. I emailed Rick and within one hour he responded by saying he would mail me the larger disk the next day - free of charge! I ask you, what company do you know of that would do that in today's society. None! As my mother used to say, "if you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all".

Unknown said...

Just getting into Zen Doodles - love the structured freedom! This episode reminds me of when I started teaching calligraphy (beginner level; I'm not dazzling!). A woman in my church objected to my asking a tuition fee, saying that we should be sharing our gifts. Well, I've paid hundreds (thousands by now!) to learn how to draw letters and although I give away most of my work, I see nothing wrong with asking for money to teach.

Mary Lou said...

Really, I can't stand snobbery in any form, but especially in "intellectual elitism." I love what you have discovered and shared. If you are able to make some kind of a living through your efforts, more power to you.

You shared:
"One of our contributions with Zentangle is to deconstruct patterns to their most basic parts (ideally three or less basic strokes)."

I have recently found a book titled Hobo Quilts by author Debra G. Henninger. In it, she does something similar, by taking hobo symbols and translating them in to simple, graphic quilt blocks. I have found myself looking at her "glossary" of symbols and wondering which could be turned in to Zentangles!

Keep up the good work.

Mary Lou

Nancy Pinke said...

A previous post said that Zentangle was a new way of teaching something old. That is so true! On the flight home from the last CZT seminar, I struck up a conversation with a young man seated next to me watching me draw a Zentangle. I asked him if he could do that. His response was, "Oh no--art was my worst subject in school." Ok--pull out a tile and show him a tangle! When the plane landed he knew 5 tangles and had created a Zentangle to take home to his son. He was truly excited about it and said, "This is better than Sudoku!" So in a very short time and small way, my showing him how to create a Zentangle helped him see that art doesn't need to be feared as a "worst subject". I will never know if he pursues more drawing, but it makes me smile inside to know my first Zentangle student enjoyed learning an art. I have an art degree, have taught painting, and supported my extensive animal family with sculpture and painting animals for more than 30 years while my husband has supported our human family. Art had become a job to me. Now Zentangle has reawakened my joy in doing art purely for fun rather than as a job. I am most greatful to Rick and Maria for the opportunity they have provided to learn the simplicity of Zentangle both in it's creation and in it's teaching. This week I will teach my first official class and hope that the students find Zentangle as easy and enjoyable as the nice young man on the plane.
Nancy Pinke CZT #4

Dayle Mathis said...

I have shared with Maria and Rick how Zentangle has changed my life. I have a blog that I began over a month ago that was negative and sounded almost final in my perception of my life. It took me weeks to open my Zentangle kit, and now I find myself drawing shapes even while reading email or playing a game. I have many physical problems that have struck me down from an active, healthy woman to a 51 yr. old who sees so many doctors, all who tell me they can't do anything for me. It has caused emotional issues, and a feeling of uselessness. This from growing up never having a childhood disease or broken a bone. I tried all the meditation, physical therapy, positive thinking. I just got worse. Ended up giving my stuff away, lost my home, my career, can't work, no interaction with others. I have become a hermit. Zentangle has released in me an artist, a way to express my feelings and emotions with pen/pencil and paper. I lose time when I Zentangle. I have shared some drawings with my roommate, hesitantly, and was surprised and overcome by her response that they were beautiful, and she has noticed a change in me. I am happier, more positive, and take less medication. I am healing from the inside out. Yes, I still have physical problems, but I am not dead. In fact I am alive again, eager to wake up and start the day. And I want to share this with others like me, who have given up. I have incorporated Zentangle into my daily life, and I share it in my blog. I start my mornings with Zentangle, peaceful music, stress free time for me. Before the day kicks in and issues arise as they do. I have my life back, and that is what Zentangle has given me. I found something positive that had nothing to do with the negative in my life, and I "tried" it. If I could, I would buy and send a Zentangle kit to everyone who desires one but can't quite afford one. It took me a while to get mine. But it has opened doors I never thought would open again. I am making friends, meeting people, and feeling comfortable in my own skin. Because I found a way to release my negativity, turn it into positivity, and break the chains that had me bound. Thank you Rick and Maria, for your site, your sharing spirits, and all the other Zentangle sites that do not hesitate to share their designs and ideas. For those who haven't begun Zentangling because you don't have the kit, paper and pencil will do for now, go to some sites, try some designs, and you are on your way. It will open a new path in your life, heal you in ways you never thought you could heal. And for the "Negative Nellie's" out there, I hope you read some of these wonderful posts and "try" a Zentangle or two. You may just enjoy it, and feel a happiness of creation creeping up on you.

Best Regard,
Dayle Mathis

- byrd said...

I'll play devil's advocate here.

ZENTANGLES ARE DANGEROUS! Why? Because they are ADDICTIVE and highly, highly contageous!

I learned about Zentangling on line and while I have never taken a class (I hope to take a class--which just shows how far down I have gone!) I have followed blogs and done much Zentangling on my own.

I showed Zentangling to some friends who said (Each and every one of them) "Oh, i could never do that! I am not an artist." Yet now they are tangling like crazy --one of them has gone so far as to create her own Christmas cards using Zentangling.

I took Zentangling to my Art Guild -- and they have all started tangling -- every one of them!

I showed the Zentangles to a friend who is a therapist who specializes in Veterines, and she has taken them to retreat after retreat, helping Veterines nd their familes.

And so it goes.
Beware, be very aware! Zentnagling is Addictive and Contageous! AND, thyere is no 12-step group for recovery.

janets said...

Dear Rick and Maria

I am so grateful to you for introducing the world to Zentangles. I enjoy doing zentangles in a book i carry around with me.recently i attended a meeting which was so boring,the speaker had nothing of interest to say to us. i felt absolutely sleepy, couldnt keep my eyes open, then I took out my notebook and began a new block. within seconds i was wide awake and focused on my zentangles. Wow! what a fantastic feeling, knowing a creative outlet like Zentangles can inspire, motivate and bring out the best in me.Those people who have negative thoughts about it dont know what they are missing out on - a whole new world of creative designs.Thank You for this new art form.

Kristen H said...

These are great comments in a repeat argument in all genres of art. I am also a graphic artist and someone complained in that forum that having the illustrator tutorials is "robbing" from the designers by teaching others to do the work. I disagree. You can present knowledge to people and still those people are going to turn that information into their own. Those who have the drive to turn it into a career will go with that. Those who just use this information for fun, relaxation, or themselves will do just that. Just because I tell you how I create my designs does not allow for you to magically create your own designs. I have been drawing zen tangle style designs for years... I am still excited to see EVERY new email and post that I can, because the personalization within is amazing to me.
There is always a downer, and the sad thing is, is that they don't hang around to read the comeback.

Keep doing what you are doing.

And if it is angering to some, don't buy the book or kit.

Anonymous said...

First let me say that I am an enthusiastic tangler. I became hooked on this artform from the start. I'm self taught using Rick and Maria's site as well as others and several books. I also bought the kit, which helped me along. I teach this wonderful art but without the benefit of being a CZT. And of course, I do tell my students that I am not certified.

With that said, my concern is with the expense involved in becoming certified. This may be where the comments on "making money hand over fist" come into play. It IS very expensive to become a CZT. Those of us not on the east coast also have the additional expense of transportation. I would love to become a CZT but it seems this is a "rich man's" artform. At least if you want to learn more and teach others. I'm sure seeing Rick and Maria's home provides an exceptional experience to those attending the training. But there certainly must be a way to translate this to a "road show" and with less expense to the students. If seems that the desire to share and teach others is limited.

Yes, I know there are CZTs that can teach in other parts of the country, I have yet to have one call or email me back with class information. I've tried several within a 100 mile radius. (Did they incur the expense for personal use only?) And, if I did get one to respond, they can't certify.

So for now, I'll continue to tangle, share this artform with others in my own way but always feel I'm still missing something and not providing those folks that I teach the full experience.

Elaine Brady Smith said...

Rick and Maria,

If you are making money hand over fist from Zentangle...I applaud you both. Anyone who comes up with a winning idea and markets it successfully these days is absolutely brilliant in my book. You both deserve all the kudos and cash you get for this wonderful idea and for all the joy that it has given your followers and customers.

I have shared Zentangle with dozens of friends and students. Their reaction to Zentangle has always been one of amazement at what can be achieved on a tiny piece of card stock in so little time giving so much satisfaction. This is about more than "doodling".

One of my goals in life right now is to attend Zentangle U sometime within the next few years just to learn more and become even more inspired by the amazing world of Zentangle.


Elaine Brady Smith

Suzy Shedd said...

I'm quite fascinated that people actually SEND e-mails like this -- what can they be thinking? Why does it matter to them? Clearly, this is about what they lack.

But the, "it's just doodling" point does benefit from clarification, I think. I've been a doodler all my life; I'm ADD enough that I'd never have made it through WAY too many lengthy professional conferences without it. With doodling though, I've never had the same sense of INTENTION -- my strokes were random and unfocused. I might get a result I liked and I might not, but either way I usually didn't get anything I could replicate. Tangling feels very purposeful and much more "visual," as I know what shapes my strokes will have and how they relate to each other. I may not always be able to "control" the result, but I AM able to attempt specific patterns, and improve them with practice. That's VERY different from my doodling experience.

What these very negative people discount is the value of teaching. Somehow, the power of wonderful teaching gets turned into sneers about the fact that teachers should be paid for their work and expertise. I can't WAIT to get my teaching at the CZT training and I'm thrilled about being able to share it with others.

Thank you so much, Rick & Maria!

MaryM said...

What lovely feedback from the original comment. I believe people do the best they can do at any given moment. Perhaps after we write and press send, we have second thoughts. I want to believe all the comments sent are sent with honesty and compassion. I learned something from the initial comment, albeit the delivery took something away from it as well. However, all the discussion is the GOOD thing that came from it. And the fact that now I am going to look at historical sites/sights with a new eye, one of appreciation for all the creative spirit there is in this world, before, now and after us. Thanks for a great discussion. Remember, that is the GOOD thing about a comment such as you received!! All things have their blessings! Mary

MB said...

Happy Sunday Zentanglers
I am not much of a blog commenter due to time constraints; however,because I am BRAND NEW to Zentangling, I feel moved to share my own experience thus far ( like as in 6 weeks of about 10 to 30 minutes of practice)ever few days.
I learned of ZT during an evening chat inf my first online mixed media class I am taking. and loving. The women talked about how relaxing it is and how after a while it becomes meditative,which, to be honest,did not look at all possible to me as My eyes took in hundreds of lines and shapes.
Again, My dear friend a neuroscientist said ,one of the best things an adult can do to stimulate our aging brains is to learn something new-most powerfully. learn something we truly believe we cannot do
OF course many of the patterns looked familiar as pattern colors shapes forms are recognizable in everything a human being creates, in any possible genre
I am a life long creative person ;who decided to make myself learn to draw because i have never been able to in my almost 5 decades of life.
At least that is what id been telling myself since kindergarten
Music and dance and singing and photography have been my expression of creation.
Anyhow to get straight to the point, I forged ahead got a set of pens, cut some 3.5 inch squares and began. Little came easily and when i got frustrated i stopped an moved onto another pattern
after about 2 weeks of this, i noticed a hard to articulate changes in the way i was drawing and seeing colors and light in my mixed media class.
I also found myself wanting to tangle
It occurred to me that a desired pattern could be traced over in a relaxed state and then i could better move on to draw it freehand within the square
i am still very much a beginner and i am really OK with that. I was like a kid at Christmas when my amazon box finally arrived with the zentangling book and I've just ordered an alphabet lesson off of Etsy.
Sure signs that my brain, in all of its fine motor weaknesses, is enjoying this process.
Finally you keenly pointed out that the 2 critical letters came from people with degrees in the fine arts. I would venture to guess that they are not teachers , or have not had the experience of teaching young children on a regular basis with success;,because no matter what age we are,when we enter into a new creative adventure using our hands,we are young children,needing and wanting each step explained clearly and repeatedly.Tthe older we are, some encouragement to quiet all the lovely inner critics who have grown over the years is a welcomed addition.
Granted I have not yet been to a workshop, nor do i know their cost, so I cannot address these issues; however, with that said, it has been my repeated experience in the creative world,that when you do really well, or create something that resonates with the masses, the critics come out in proportional amounts.
Know that I am grateful to the women in chat that pushed me in the direction of zentangling,which reminds me...its time to tangle!

phatbuster said...

Although I've never signed up for a Zentangle class or indeed actually afford to buy a kit, I would defend Rick and Maria and the concept of Zentangles.

Whilst it's true on the surface Zentangles looks just like doodling, believe me it's not. I doodle, I doodle in way to try and copy the results of the zentangle form. I enjoy what I do, although it's not quite the same. I used to doodle without thought, or aim. It was random, meaningless sketches, squiggles and silly drawings.

The difference between Zentangle and doodling is quite easy to explain. Doodling is a subconscious , stream-of-consciousness drawing, which is undirected. Zentangles are directed, purposeful artforms with a certain level of randomness built in. (After all how many Zentangles have you seen that are identical in anyway?).

As for making money from it, so what. Artists sell their works for money..sometimes at grossly over-the-top prices for what amounts to slops of paint on canvass which passes for art these days. Artists also sell their knowledge to students ...so what is the difference.

Thank you Rick and Maria. I think you've come up with an art form that is original in thought and concept even if the roots of it have been around for thousands of years and you have brought pleasure and much more besides to many, many people.

Carol said...

Although I was "gifted" as an artist from childhood on, I never caught the spark that would have made me passionate about it -- I never became comfortable with the idea of expressing my deepest self through art. I could create art on command, but it didn't come from the heart.

Naturally, this empty talent led me to advertising, a field I worked in for many years and came to despise. Then I became disabled some years ago and could no longer work. Years went by without so much as a doodle.

When I accidentally discovered the Zentangle site, I knew I would never be able to achieve the casual grace of Maria and Rick's work, but I gave it a shot anyway, with a pencil on the back of an envelope.

And I astounded myself. What a wonderful thing, to discover something new in myself after all these years! For a long time, I had been thinking in terms of what my life had been... and now I had found a way to think in terms of what I might yet become.

In my situation, I cannot afford the Zentangle kit -- and a class is strictly a fantasy for me. But even with ordinary writing pens and 20-pound bond, I can use the zentangle concept to create beauty... and that's all it needs to be about. No cathartic messages from deep in the psyche, no mysterious masterpiece that will be auctioned at Sotheby's after I die... just something pretty. That's enough.

And that insight alone is a gift that I'm deeply grateful for. Thank you, Maria and Rick, for sharing your ideas so generously...and for recognizing that art doesn't have to be Art.

Laura said...

The original poster of the 'harsh' email is just jealous because they didn't think of it first so they could rake in the 'big bucks.'

Kudos to you Rick and Maria for bringing such a fantastic venue that so many people enjoy and now feel more confident and better about themselves.

You have touched so many lives in so many ways and I truly think that means more to you than the 'big bucks.'

Lisa Martin said...

oh this is good. :) I didn't have time to read all the comments but i read the first letter and some of the second. i liked the letter from the 91 yr old. i wished i had known about zentangles when i was 16 or so. it's like knowing about zentangles bridges some kind of a gap. like, i enjoy doodling, but i didn't think to take it to that level! it's very fun!! keep on keeping on...

Anonymous said...

Teachers are catalysts, bridges, matchmakers, and interpreters -- while we sometimes invent our own material, we more often create a way to better access, adapt, and apply existing knowledge in new ways for our students. Art teachers are reprocessing past knowledge and experience to pass it on to the next generation. Perhaps your critic was making false assumptions,conclusions, and accusations and needs zentherapy?

Unknown said...

To doodle means "a design, figure, or the like, made by idle scribbling." This is not what I think when I am making a Zentangle pattern. I am new to Zentangle and love what I have learned on my own. I cannot afford to take a Zentangle class, but if I could I would so be there.

I have found Zentangle to be helpful in a number of ways; I go into a relaxed state of mind and it has helped my concentration in other areas of my life.

I am not an art educated person, I have a degree in Accounting. But, I am learning to use the right side of my brain as I do alot of art now and making Zentangles has helped me to think "outside the box".

I think the people that write e-mails like that are just jealous that they did not have the insight or the know how to come up with something as amazing as Zentangle and that is their true intentions for ranting like they do.

Keep up the great work you all are doing and thank you for giving us uneducated art people something to learn with!

Happy Wonderer said...

I feel that the original poster is a miserable human being who is happy only when he can criticize what others are doing...in other words put them down enough that they can be miserable with him. I am not an artist. Have no talent in that respect. I am excited about Zentangling and although I have not yet bought a kit, that due to overburdened finances,but I do intend to do so,and before the end of the year.


brazenhussy said...

Yes, I agree with Vi.
That person is terribly unhappy.
What do you suppose he does for fun and relaxation? Anyone can get an art degree, but that doesn't make them an artist. Maybe that's why they are unhappy. :)

LK said...

I'm a Special Education teacher in Ontario, Canada, and I've been teaching grade 4 and 5 students to Zentangle in a Zentangle's extra-curricular activity. The simple "one stroke at a time" method has allowed the kids to be successful at creating stunning works of art. Doodling may not be new, but Zentangling's specific, simple methodology allows these kids to create beautiful work that they initially didn't think they'd be able to do. They love it and I've never had so much fun volunteering my time for an extra-curricular activity! Thank you Maria and Rick. Perhaps the person who wrote the email that started this conversation just can't see past the finished product to consider the process and it's ability to enable literally everyone to be successful. Maybe the reason he/she hasn't replied is that it's too difficult to publicly admit one's error.

Anonymous said...

It's hard to know what the motivations were behind the email you received. Was s/he hoping to stop you from what you are doing? Or just make you feel bad about it? Or to let you know that although you have "fooled" so many, this person is not fooled? I once read that when people are angry, it's because their standards have been violated. So perhaps it violates his/her standards that someone is profiting financially from something that "should" be free because it's ancient and seemingly accessible to all? Or that you are making it into something more than it deserves to be, marketing it as more than it is, and therefore taking advantage of people who don't know any better?

I hope that your thoughtful and gracious reply, combined with all these comments, has helped this person to see that you do in fact add value to the process, which is worthy to be compensated. If not, well, it has helped me, especially as an example of a response to anger.

Thank you for what you are doing.

Anonymous said...

I love Zentangles! I don't have the time or the room to write my many reasons, but you who tangle know what those reasons are. It's a passion of mine that began over two years ago, and I have absolutely no doubt that I will tangle for the rest of my life. I, personally, choose to call it an "art" because I enjoy how it looks and the freedom I feel when creating it.

Recently a woman told me how very happy she was that she majored in art because both of her children were so very artistic! Hmmm! That makes about as much sense to me as the email you received from the "art major".

Each of us has a mind of our own and knows what we want and what we need to make us happy, to give us peace. We also have the opportunity to choose how we wish to view that which surrounds us.

Having said that, I view the thinking of both of these degree-holding artists as foolish, selfish and a waste of effort. And my reading of what they had to say was certainly a waste of time!

Mother with the two children, why do you think your degree in art will just hand artistic abilities to your children? Have they no minds of their own? And emailer, for what reason are you even on the Zentangle web site? Are you not here only to complain, argue and attempt to show your importance? Where is the artistic passion, where is the simple understanding for the need for any and all types of artistic endeavor?

The word "Zentangle" easily draws interest because we are curious about what it is. We choose to look into it, and we like what we see. And we learn what we can do to help relax, refuel and greatly enjoy ourselves -- with pen and paper!

I enjoy many types of art and realize that what one thinks of as art is certainly not what another might think of as art. I choose what I like and I call it art if I wish to call it art!

Thank you for having brought Zentangling to those of us who truly enjoy what we've learned and continue to learn. And thank you for printing the email so that we might choose to respond to it. I imagine, however, our responses will never be read by the doubter. However, this is a very good opportunity for us to remember who we are and what really matters to each of us.

Oh yes, I can easily recognize whether lines in ink on paper are doodles or Zentangles,and I do not need a degree in anything to determine that! Oh, by the way, I can truly say that I have never doodled "one stroke at a time"!

Anonymous said...

A person who is so critical, is often reflecting on a shortcoming that he or she has, and one that they have NOT learned to accept. Also, people who focus on earnings of others, are often rather well-off themselves and either (1) cannot share their wealth easily - ie they always worry about losing 'it' or (2) live in daily competition for more, more, more.....such a vicious and unproductive waste of time. Personally, I love to meet artisans who have such rich & fascinating stories about "their path to their art career". Being open minded is one of the healthiest traits to possess.....just watch a toddler playing with an empty cardboard box.
Holly H.

Unknown said...

I live in the UK and Tangling is not wide spread here. I learned the name from a card crafter and was on the internet to find out what this was all about. I am now spending far too much time looking at others work and saying wow. I have a little go and found it so thereputic. Art I was always told is just a bundle of lines, distributed to look pleasing to the eye. Doodling is never this and those who think that Zentangling is old hat should be looking at the work to be seen on the internet. By the way if you are making lots of money [which I doubt] then good luck to you.

Anonymous said...

Hi Maria and Rick,

I really don't understand where this is coming from. This person is offended in a way that we, the dumb people are lurched into spending OUR money to learn this? Isn't that a matter of free choice, did you put a gun to our heads to do so? I am happy that I stumbled upon your website recently. i love to look at all the patterns that you freely share, and I did not mind to pay for some quality materials to work with. That was MY CHOICE and a good one for me. I am enjoying these materials and what I can do with them.

Thank you for so much inspiration and giving me a richer life!

Love, Merel from the Netherlands

nanciful56 said...

I am a psychiatric nurse and artist. I thank you so much for this fun media. It has met many needs for me.I LOVE IT. I have a small square tablet with 100 pages, by my bed. I do a tangle every night. My "rules" are only one tangle, no more than 20 minutes, try to be fluid with my drawing, not thinking and planning, only spontaneously using what I have learned from yall.
First, it allows me, even in the fullest day of work, to be creative, to do art. I don't have to go to my studio, pull out the paints/pastels, plan a big project. Second, my work is emotionally taxing (adult psychiatric ICU) and I need to unwind.I need to not think or process too much of the day, something for myself.
Thirdly, it gives me a meditative moment to relax my mind. I am sleeping better than I have in years. If you look closely at some of them there is a little dot where I have fallen asleep with the pen in my hand. I just work it into the design.
Forth, I am teaching my friends and children so we can share our community of creativity.

Sonya said...

After reading the rather perturbed comment I am reminded of the saying, "If you don't have anything nice to say . . . " Who cares if you make money off of this? If someone wants to spend their money on a kit to learn the methods then they are intelligent enough to know whether they "need" it or just WANT it and have made the decision to spend the money. In doing so they haven't been coerced or duped into it, they made a choice to do so! Maybe people who come to classes and such just like the company of other who are interested in the same things while sharing, exploring creativity, learning, playing and practicing of this "not worthy of being called art in his opinion" activity. No harm that people have been doing "zendoodling" since the world was created and now some are paying to "learn" it.

Penny L Arrowood said...

WOW... Great comments, ALL! I was particularly interested in this post having had a very similar conversation with a member of my Mixed Media Art Guild just last week! In the heat of the moment, it was easy to chalk her comments up to "to each his own" - but having read the comments here, I will feel more well armed should this topic come up again.

I will even admit to being a little skeptical of the fervor of this movement myself - UNTIL I actually sat down and played with it! I treated myself to the 'official kit' for my 42nd birthday, last year; and since that time have incorporated tangling into several of my own creative endeavors. It IS relaxing. It IS much like a mini, mental vacation. It IS amazing to see what can come from changing ones perspective (as one poster has said here: "turning the tile"). It IS very much like "Yoga for the brain" (a la Sandy Steen Bartholomew).

Perhaps the 'grumbling e-mail' was just the result of someone not seeing the forest for the trees... Something need not be difficult, complicated, or require a university degree to yield stunning, joyous, and personally rewarding results!

Thank you, Rick & Maria, for allowing your followers the chance to participate in the discourse!

Anonymous said...

I recently took a Zentangle workshop and it did exactly for me what you said you wanted to do ... showed me that even an uncreative, unartistic person like me could draw these beautiful designs by breaking them down into simple step by steps. From there I can also make my own designs by simple steps.
thank you!

Anonymous said...

A few months ago I posted on a wedding blog about the potential of using Zentangling as part of my wedding theme. I'd talked about doing my invitations, table numbers, place cards, and favour boxes. I even went as far as considering Zentagling on white silk flowers and even having pens and paper around for guests if they were inspired or inclined to Zentangle. At one point, I was even tempted to try and Zentangle on part of my dress (which, yes, admittedly was perhaps a little overboard).

I recieved several comments from both points of view; some thought it was a wonderful idea and would've loved to have seen more if I'd gone down that path. Others greeted me with a tone similar to the original email Rick and Maria describe here - "What's so great about doodling, and why the hell would you wanted it in your wedding."

At first I was quite hurt, why shouldn't I want something so important to me to be part of my wedding somehow?

It dawned on me that maybe I'd gone a little bit overboard trying to incorporate it into so many things, and that it'd be just fine on the invitations or something small.

Obviously, it's not for everyone. And no matter what, we're going to be challeneged by naysayers, (how many times have we all heard "ugh, what do you like that for?"_), but no one can dictate to us what we should and shouldn't like.

And for those of us who love Zentangle, whether or not we've had life-changing experiences, all the more power to us!

Anonymous said...

Respectfully, all this back and forth is not so important to me. I just want to put drawing implement to paper ...

Anonymous said...

I'm new to blogs, new to tangling, and I only know of Rick and Maria through the website. What I'm not new to is the fine art of respect, kindness, finding joy in life, and finding a way of communicating with civility. I believe Rick and Maria have not only shown us all how they have deconstructed a complicated design into one that is stunningly possible for us to create, but they demonstrate a gentle, respectful appoach to life in their work and in their communications.
This whole money issue is simply envy. I believe the angry writer deep down knows that, had he had the patience, thoughtfulness and insight, he too could have found a way to deconstruct designs into an artform achievable by many and appreciated by 99 of 100. Zentangle is not only an art, it is therapeutic. Having suffered from migraines for many years that keep me from gainful employment, I've found tangling eases the tension, and even helps to divert an on-coming episode. Zentangle brings me medication freedom, peace of mind (literally and figuratively!), and great joy. Thank you, Rick and Maria, for bringing us all a sense of balance and peace in a chaotic world.

Unknown said...

May you dream well, and have all of your dreams come true. My name is Kevin Swanson, and I am Syntropic Systems. I hope that you are able to enter a "Syntropic Cycle" and help others to achieve the same growth. If any of you are interested in following my occasional posts via Twitter, it's your choice. We are all only one person, and yet that person's actions have tremendous potential for good or bad effects on the Universe.
I choose to try good. What do you choose?

Anonymous said...

For two years I have had some time on my hands due to our economic trends. Translation: out of a job. One of the things I have been investigating is pattern design and ornament because I am interested in printing on fabric.

I've learned some interesting things. First, most of the patterns you see around you, on fabrics, carpets and so on, are far from original and most can be easily connected to 19th and early 20th century sources such as Owen Jones's The Grammar of Ornament. When I see a new fabric design, I am surprised how often I can see that it is derived from one of these sources.

Second, a little searching turns up lots of books on creating patterns--those by Lewis Day, et al. Some of these are textbooks which indicate that creating basic patterns, with tools such as ruler, protractor and compass, was a common part of the school curriculum. I turned up one textbook that deals with freehand drawing of patterns.

I am one of those persons who was told in early elementary school that I was not 'artistic'. I was deeply hurt, and unfortunately, I believed this misguided teacher for many years. Also, I was not gifted with an ability to draw or sketch something in a way that met my standards.

Using your Zentangle approach, instead of just doodling something to throw away later, I can draw something that I genuinely like, that satisfies a deep need to create something pleasing. This is a wondrous gift. I just learned that I will be going to work in the next week or so and one of the first things I intend to treat myself to is one of your Zentangle kits.

It's interesting to me that the writer of the critical email assumed you are "making money hand over fist". I hope you are earning a generous income from Zentangle. I wonder what that person has created or developed that makes a satisfying form of personal expression accessible to nearly anyone....

MJBoyle said...

JUST ANOTHER ARTIST - I love Zentangling and use it in Art Therapy. My Husband and Daughter say the same things about spending money to take classes or to become a CZT.I constantly take classes in all forms of art. I also teach many forms of art. I see no reason why taking a Zentangle class would be any different. I find that the problem I, and perhaps others, have is that I have always made full page doodles, sructured, simple and complex, as cards and framed pictures. Now I must credit M & R for something I did before they captured the public forum. I've had this happen in more than one media. (S)he who publishes first gets all the credit, names all the aspects of it and everyone else is a copycat. To be honest, I do resent that. I congratulate those who publish, make their name, market and make whatever money they make but taking sole credit is truly bothersome.
The name Zentangle is really wonderful!

Anonymous said...

I love Zenangle and am so pleased I found the Zentangle site. Sometimes you need to be given 'permission' to create and Zentangling has done this for me _ I do at least one a day. As a wannabe 'artist' I can honestly say that Zentangling is also paving the way for me to tackle other types of drawing - slowly, and one stroke at time.
From the UK

andreakay said...

I would suggest that the irateness comes from you trying to patent this form of drawing. That part annoys me, too. I don't mind you making money from doing whatever it is you do, but to patent patterns? That bit is the no-no.

Lynn said...

I agree. Also: Nadia Russ and Neo-Pop Realism which came first, is better and is flush with instructional books as well without trying to patent "instruct student to connect the dots" (that is really in the Patent request)

Aggressive patenting is most un-Zen, and I want no part in it. Nor do I find congruity in looking for a Zen experience while huffing about "what do I care about the ethics of it's helped ME! Maybe rename it "Profit Margin through excessive litigation Doodle"

Lynn said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

I have just skimmed through all the posts here wondering if there would be someone like me but was not surprised to find that there was not. I should say that I am one of those people who say "I cannot draw a straight line", but I really mean it, however I stumbled upon Zentangle on Pinterest and with misgivings decided to give it a go. As there are no
teachers or classes near to my home I bought Rick and Maria's kit and decided to try and tackle it by using the step by step diagrams in the kit and on Pinterest. All to no avail, I should just mention that I am not an unintelligent person, I worked all my life in administration and communications but cannot follow a map or interpret technical drawings of any kind.
I know that Rick and Maria and many other Zentanglers say that wobbly lines are just happy accidents but when you have looked at the tangle over and over and what you produce looks nothing like what you are trying to interpret it becomes very disappointing. So, I have now come to the conclusion that I am one of the (it seems) very few who just cannot do it.

Unknown said...

Although I disagree with most of what this person who instigated this conversation, I have to say just one thing - I want to learn Zentangle, but I am going to have to teach myself and make my own supplies because 1) the official supplies here in Australia are too expensive for a pensioner, and 2) I can't find a teacher in Hobart, Tasmania who takes beginner classes, and even if I could, it would cost a lot more than I could afford, particularly as I guess I would want to do more than just one session. So, I'm searching the web for everything I can find about Zentangle, and have bought several wonderful books (and I am getting some more in the morning for Christmas), and once things have quietened down after Christmas I will be starting in earnest. It really has me fascinated, and I can't wait to start putting pen to paper. I hope you have a wonderful Christmas, and that the New Year is filled with peace, love and joy for you both, and for all the other people who do Zentangle out there in the big wide world. Thank the Lord for the internet!!!!

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