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!

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Good Tangle Hunting

We were in Stowe, Vermont recently and saw this carpet:

"That would make an awesome tangle!" So we grabbed our camera and quick took a picture. Later Maria did a rough sketch where we were eating as she didn't have her "Field Notes" book with her.

What to name it? How about "stoic"? (Stowe - stoic, we have fun with this!)

I played with it this morning. I like it as I tend to be "drawn" to straight lines and look forward to playing with it some more. Maria likes "curvy." Not to get too stereotypical about male/female archetypes, but it does play to our line of, "I'm zen, she's tangle."

Click any image to enlarge

This is another of many patterns that begins with a grid. It's neat because it looks woven without trying to weave it which we don't do in Zentangle - too much left brain work for that.

We'll break this down in steps in one of our future newsletters.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Newsletter Discussion - March 30, 2010

We just emailed our March 30, 2010 newsletter and we're looking forward to your questions and comments.

If you don't already receive our free newsletter, you can sign up for it here. At that link you can also read all of our earlier newsletters.

Out like a swamp!

We can't remember if March came" in like a lion" or "a lamb," but there's so much rain, it's seems to be going "out like a swamp."

And with all that water, we expect there will be lots of growth - like this Zentangle Maria just created. It's a mix of hollibaugh-like leaves inspired by this plate's border along with a some knightsbridge and a few other tangles peeking through.

Click images to enlarge

Monday, March 29, 2010


My middle-of-the-night thoughts have brought me back, once again, to gratitude. I am grateful for Rick, our family, friends, a warm kitchen, the constant availability of clean water, good food (and some good wine) and always, a pen and paper at hand to ease my aching creativity outbursts.

- Maria

Click Images to Enlarge

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Beautiful Day

We stopped by to see Nick and Molly this weekend. They had been creating Zentangles and we borrowed a few to share with you.

May you enjoy them as much as we are.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Maria's Blotter

Maria uses suede matting as a desk blotter. Whenever ink drops or splashes, it's an invitation to a new Zentangle. Here's a shot of her current blotter. She goes through quite a few.

(A dear friend suggested we include some photos of us, so we'll sneak a few in now and then. :-)

Here's another view:

And a closeup:

If there's a message here, it's that mistakes (or spills) can always become seeds for new inspiration. Speaking of spills being a seed for inspiration, there's a great story about what happened after a bottle of ink came uncapped next to her precious Zentangle pattern "field notes" sketch book - but that's another post for another day.

Materials used on this blotter are our regular Sakura Pigma 01, a pencil and a touch of white chalk.

As always, you can click images for a larger view. Let me rephrase that. Make sure you click that last one!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Paradox - Q&A

We recently had a conversation about our tangle "Paradox" which was taught in this newsletter. Here's part of that conversation:

Hi Rick and Maria. First, I love your site and learning patterns for Zentangles. I am hooked. I am having a really hard time learning your Paradox pattern however. I can't get mine to curve like yours. I don't know what I am doing wrong. I was wondering if you would do another lesson on your paradox that goes further than the one you have on there now. I really want to learn this one but just can't grasp it.

I wrote back:

Two key items to keep in mind are (1) Always make your lines straight, and (2) Always turn your tile each time you draw a line. This latter step may not seem necessary but for me it is, otherwise I lose my place. First draw a triangle, or square. Then, per newsletter instructions, turn your tile each time so you draw your straight line in the same direction. It is easiest to draw my line towards me. We call this tangle "paradox" because by only using straight lines, you create beautiful spirals.

Recently she replied:

I sent you an email a month ago asking you for help with Paradox. I am attaching three Zentangles with Paradox to show you how much your help was to me and how much fun I am having in doing these. Thank you so much.

Here are two she sent. Beautiful! (Trivia note: This tangle is sometimes called "Rick's Paradox.")

[Click any image for large view]

When you create adjacent paradoxes, you have a choice of which way to "rotate" your paradox. In this next Zentangle, I rotated adjacent paradoxes in opposite directions. You can see more examples of this effect in this newsletter.


Here's that same effect translated into 3D:


This shape is a cuboctahedron and was a favorite of Buckminster Fuller. To create this I tangled a square and an adjacent triangle, made copies and assembled those. Here's its original before shading:

All of these inner lines are done by hand - no ruler. If you look at any one line in the above image, you'd  see that some are pretty shaky and erratic. Embrace that! Once you're done, it becomes part of your pattern's overall color.

On another note, you may have noticed that many of our tangles are only one or two strokes that repeat over and over. We put a lot of time and thought into deconstructing familiar and seemingly complex patterns down to their essentials. This allows you to get into Zentangle's process without trying to draw something.

Imaging if someone asked you to draw a logarithmically spiraling pyramid . . . "Huh!?" 

But with Zentangle's approach, simple repetition of basic elements (in this case, a straight line) allows something quite beautiful to unfold in a very enjoyable way.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Email Excerpt

Maria wrote this reply to an email she received and I wanted to post it because a lot of questions we get are probably shared by many. This person's question was about why aspects of their Zentangles didn't look as "good" as Maria's.
Hi, I am just getting around to answering my emails . . . so many!!

You have to cut yourself some slack. I saw your work . . . it's all beautiful. If I were to make any comment . . . I would say to draw your tangles more deliberately. Zentangle is not like any other art form. You want to draw every LINE deliberately, enjoying watching your pen create each line. The patterns fill the spaces created by the string. The string is just a suggestion and not a demand to where you put your tangles. You may start to place your tangle in one area, but maybe you want to finish that space with another tangle or leave it blank.

I tell my students that if you are doing the tangle "Tipple" - the one that looks like a sink full of bubbles - you want to draw each bubble slowly and not so much round as beautiful.

These pens are somewhat pressure sensitive so if you press a little harder on one side of the bubble and let up on the other . . . you create a rhythm of sorts . . . like music. If you played piano pressing every note the same, the result would be less than pleasant. If the weight of your penstroke was on the same side of each bubble, it creates a "shade" and adds to the pattern. You can do this to every pattern. Static . . . when doing the zig zag lines . . . the first zig is a light line, the next is heavier . . . consistently all the way down . . . then repeating the same pattern on each consecutive line. So simple, but very dynamic.

Practice, enjoy, hold it at arm's length OFTEN and admire your own work and never compare it to ANYONE'S. Just enjoy the process. Good Night, best, Maria

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

How do you say . . .

. . . "Zentangle" in a different language?


But for folks who don't speak English, what about all those other words on our website? Well, we just added a neat translation tool from Google on most of our pages. So now you can share our site with your friends whose first language is something other than English.

What's neat about all this of course is that Zentangles themselves never need translating. Anyone from any culture, language or time in history understands patterns and the charm of letting yourself relax into making them.

And just like any language, each person has a unique tone or accent. Here's a Zentangle created by Molly Hollibaugh, CZT (and daughter!).

Monday, March 22, 2010

Knightsbridge and Florz

Question: What do you do with only three claw and ball stool legs?

Answer: Make a stool with three legs!

We photographed this stool on our kitchen's tiled floor that inspired our tangle Florz. We teach Florz in our Zentangle Kit. It's one of many tangles which resonates from an underlying grid - much like the tangle we call Knightsbridge

Of course, this stool would not be complete without Maria adding something special -- in this case, a touch of Knightsbridge to one of the legs.

[Click images to enlarge]

Sunday, March 21, 2010

A, Bee, Z . . .

Sun is shining this morning so I took Maria's Zentangle outside for a picture.  Showed it to the girls in our backyard hives. They seemed to enjoy it on their way to gather Spring nectar flows.

Happy Spring! (or Fall, for our friends south of the equator)

Friday, March 19, 2010

Zentangle in 2nd Grade

Yesterday we had the privilege and pleasure to share Zentangle with our grandson's second grade class. What an amazing experience! We learned so much and were happy to have been proved wrong in so many of our assumptions and preconceptions.

We used to think that 3rd or 4th grades was about as early as someone could really enjoy and appreciate Zentangle. Well, yesterday changed that idea! This class was full of exuberance,  enjoyment and creative talent. We made Zentangles for almost 2 hours at the end of their day and only stopped because school was over. As we were packing our things and buses were arriving there were still students scattered around the classroom focused in creating their Zentangles.

Their relaxed focus, insightful comments and easy confidence in trying something new on their own was wonderful to see.

After creating our first Zentangle together, with their teachers joining right in, we put them all together in a mosaic. (We love this part. Which ones are the teachers'? Which ones are the students'? Each one is different, yet they all "fit" together.)

We asked if they wanted to do another, "YES!" came an enthusiastic reply, so we began another Zentangle.

Their teacher was amazed at their continued ongoing focus - for well over an hour and a half.

For this class we cut and round-cornered some 5 inch square tiles. We used a Sakura Pigma Micron 08 instead of our regular 01 because an 08's tip, while a bit larger, is more sturdy. We gave them eight tiles, a pen and a pencil in a small box with their names written on their boxes.

You can click any image for a larger view.

Thanks again to our grandson Wyatt, his classmates and his teachers for a wonderful day!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Scrap Paper

Every kitchen needs a stash of scrap paper. We keep ours in a box on a kitchen window seat . . .

. . . and fill it with scraps from our local printer.

This box is from a dear friend's mom who gave us a bottle of wine in it. Maria tore the Zentangle insert to size and just stuck in place with double-sided tape - no varnish or anything.

[click images for larger view]

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Knock on wood

Wood is another great surface to tangle on. Here is a lid to a glass jar and a tongue depressor.

[Click any image for larger view]

Recently, Maria saw a tongue depressor, "Ooh, a blank surface!" Here's a closer look with Zentangles, front and back:

Tongue depressors (and popsicle sticks) are usually made from birch wood. Birch is great because with its nice tight grain, your ink doesn't bleed and feather out even on unfinished wood.

(Trivia: Did you know -- one reason birch is used for tongue depressors and popsicle sticks is that it has no taste to it.)

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Another early morning

I think this time change is playing with our heads. We were up early, or rather, Maria was up early and created this Zentangle that perks up our old roses that we haven't brought ourselves to toss. I took these pix on our porch. Looks like a beautiful clear morning after a long stretch of drenching rain.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Thank you, Nancy

Nancy Lindemeyer is, among many things, the founding editor of Victoria Magazine. She recently called Maria and they had a great chat which Nancy summarized in this sweet post on her blog.

We assume (you know what they say about assuming!) that you know about other parts of our lives as we link to them in our newsletters and website. But, just in case you haven't seen it, you may enjoy this site. It speaks to some of the insights and background that informs Zentangle.


Zentangle Any(Every!)where

We have Zentangles drawn all over our home. Here's one "tucked" behind a lightswitch. Maria will trace a tile and then create a Zentangle -- in this case, using our regular pencil and Pigma 01 pen.

These pictures are taken in our front hall where we stack our outgoing packages. Oh, and that hand? It's a bird feeder meant to be nailed to a tree. That's where we put chocolate for our UPS driver!

(click images for larger view)

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Newsletter Discussion - March 14, 2010

One of our intentions for this blog is to provide a place to ask questions about and discuss our various newsletter topics. We just emailed our first newsletter since our blog began and we're looking forward to your questions and comments.  

View our March 14, 2010 newsletter here.

If you don't already receive our free newsletter, you can sign up for it here. At that link you can also read all of our earlier newsletters.

Happy Pi Day

In celebration of Pi Day* we're posting this Zentangle with lots of circles that Maria created.

(Click for larger view)

* As in 3.14, as in 3/14, as in March 14 . . . Pi Day!

Friday, March 12, 2010

Zentangle and Crochet

We live in a patterned world and it's wonderful to watch how Zentangle's approach translates into different media.

This week, one of our CZTs came by our studio to pick up some supplies. She crochets and brought a beautiful Zentangle inspired freeform piece of crochet creation. In that day's hustle and bustle we forgot to get a picture though. Later she sent us this email:

You will LOVE this.

I picked up the tiles, kits, etc. this afternoon, go to check out email... Well, the freeform crochet yahoo group that I belong to has a big thread about how wonderful zentangle is!!!!! I sent them links to www.zentangle.com and the blog. I am SO EXCITED!

Here is a link to a ff crochet piece that one of the members of the list created that was inspired by zentangle.... Check it out!!!

We shouldn't be surprised that Zentangle would interest folks who crochet - after all, one of Zentangle's basic components is a "string."

Here's that link. It really is beautiful. Thank you!

Three for Friday plus . . .

What to do when you can't pick just one?

Pick three!

(Click any image for full size view)

Newly created Zentangles usually go on our kitchen table lamp. It's just perfect for holding a Zentangle!