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!

Monday, August 29, 2011


Irene has visited and departed. A loud and messy guest, we were happy to see her go. Although she was gentler with us than others she visited, we still have a fair amount of cleaning up and catching up.

Interestingly Irene also brought a sort of reverie which often accompanies a period of focused attention.

Maria expressed that storm induced reverie on this Zentangle tile . . .

. . . and Raphaƫl Enthoven, captured a bit of reverie in words in this piece which was translated from the French by Betsy Wing and published in the NY Times.

"Reverie" is one of our favorite words for it comes closest to describing that state of relaxed focus which often occurs while creating Zentangle art.

Karen Woodbine, CZT, [blog] forwarded this link to us and we are grateful that she did.

This article is a feast. Set aside some time to savor it without interruption.

A quote:
. . . reverie celebrates the rediscovery of understanding and imagination, sets free the secret of disinterest which, because it lets you see beauty without your consent and see nature without ego, invests the world with intense interest.
Previously, we would use six words to describe what we do in our Zentangle work. Now, we use three.

"We teach reverie."

Click image for larger view.

Friday, August 26, 2011

More Paradox

Margaret Bremner, CZT, has shared notes of many of her paradox explorations in the form of "tips and then some." If you enjoy creating with this tangle we invite you to read her blog entry.

Reading through her blog, I thought about using paradox for a two sided shape. I chose a vesica piscis which is formed by the overlap of two equal circles when the edge of one is on the center of the other.

Here's one result:

Thank you, Margaret, for that inspiration.

Maria and I just took a couple wonderful days off to relax and draw and write. That's why there weren't any blogs these past few days.

It looks like we may take a few more days off as we receive another guest, Irene. Her logo is eerily similar to the tangle above.

Please be patient if our responses and shipping are slower than normal during the next few days.

Our thoughts and best wishes to everyone, particularly to anyone whom Irene might visit.

Click images for larger view.

Monday, August 22, 2011

"A". . .

. . . is for A new friend we made this weekend.

Materials list:
  • Zentangle® Tile
  • Sakura® Pigma Micron 01 Black pen
  • Sakura® Pigma Micron 01 Brown pen
  • Pencil
  • Raised gold leaf
  • Gratitude

Click image for larger view of how grateful we are.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Challenge No. 35

Maria writes:

So nice to have these challenges . . . a reason to try something you hadn't thought of or do something you haven't done in a long while. I wanted to keep this one simple, but my middle-of-the-night sleeplessness wouldn't let me. My first three appeared too complex, too contrived, too "drawn."

Then I did this one . . . a mix of new and old tangles.

And it really is true what many of our emails say . . . I slept great after creating that Zentangle tile in the middle of the night!

Click image for larger view.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

More assunta

We received this email from "ML" this morning.

Hi Maria and Rick,

What a lovely new tangle I found in the newsletter.

I have been experimenting Assunta, and I like to show you what I did with it. It’s very inspiring to work with this tangle.

Thanks for sharing.

Love, "ML"

Those are some fun and creative tangleations* of assunta, ML. Thank you so much for sending that inspiring email for all of us to enjoy.

It is such a thrill for us to see the many unanticipated and beautiful directions you all explore with these tangles.

*Tangleation: Tangle variation, most often in combination with another tangle.

Click image for larger view.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Maria replies . . .

Maria replies to yesterday's blog . . .

Although I may not have inherited all of my aunt's noble traits, she was an artist, untrained but passionate, and her focus was on lettering.

I had never heard the word calligraphy as a child, but I loved her "fancy writing." I remember studying this piece for long bits of time when I was 4 or 5 years old and marveling at its beauty. It now hangs in my studio.

My aunt was not, by today's standards, a very good calligrapher . . . but her work pushed me to be the artist I am. So here's to my Aunt Alice (Sister Maria Fidelis) who died in her late 90's many years ago.

What was her most profound message to me? That you do not have to be a great artist to be great. And that you do not have to be a great artist to inspire others to want to create art . . . to inspire in someone the idea that they can create art.

Who will come across one of your Zentangle tiles and become inspired to do great things?

Thank you so much for all your comments on yesterday's blog.  (I had a wonderful day!)

Click images for a larger view.

Monday, August 15, 2011


This blog, with its larger images and a place for comments, is a companion to this newsletter.

Here is a more detailed image of that beautifully carved bench that inspired assunta.

It's so beautiful and to think it was created 800-900 years ago, give or take a century. I wonder if this craftsperson used a 1/2 S-curve template to create the overall pattern . . . trace . . . rotate, trace . . . flip, trace . . . rinse and repeat . . .

Happy Birthday, Maria!

Click image for larger views. 
Click newsletter link to open this present and celebrate with us.

Friday, August 12, 2011

So Much Fun!

We keep our dictionary on an old book stand. We use it often.

Recently, we moved it into a new room and it was in want of a fresh look.

Maria got some gesso, a couple Sakura® Pigma Graphic 1's and . . .

. . . had so much fun!

(All topped off with a few coats of polyurethane.)

Click images for larger views of fun.

Thursday, August 11, 2011


Every now and then something simple and familiar makes itself known in a new and fresh way. I look at it in amazement and wonder why I never saw it that way, or in this case, why I never appreciated it in this way.

Particularly when it's a simple insight that probably many others have seen, when the "aha" hits, it's both humbling and exhilarating.

This morning I was reading Charles Hugh Smith's An Unconventional Guide to Investing in Troubled Times in which Charles quotes legendary trader Ed Seykota, "Whatever you put your mind to, whatever you expect, be it positive or negative, you tend to draw into your life."

This is not a particularly new thought. But what struck me was Ed's use of "draw."

Zentangle's slogan is "Anything is possible, one stroke at a time." And not to get all "pop psychology" on you, but you "draw" each stroke one at a time and Ed's use of "draw" as attract offered a wonderful (and obvious) parallel to that.

I looked up "draw" on The Free Dictionary. Here are a few of their slightly edited definitions for "draw."
  • Cause to come by attracting; attract
  • Move after or toward one by applying continuous force; draw the chair closer to the table
  • Move in a given direction or to a given position, as by leading: The teacher drew the children into the room to see the decorations.
  • Move or pull so as to cover or uncover something: draw the curtains.
  • Cause to flow forth: a pump drawing water
  • Take in (air, for example); inhale.
  • Take or pull out: drew out a wallet.
  • Extract or take for one's own use: draw strength from one's friends.
  • Take in from a given group, type, or region: draw clients from all levels of society.
  • Bring about deliberately; provoke: draw enemy fire; draw a penalty on an opponent.
  • Evoke a response; elicit: a performance that drew cheers
  • Earn; gain: deposits that draw interest
  • Use (a check, for example) when paying.
  • Receive on a regular basis or at a specified time: draw a pension.
  • Take or receive by chance: draw lots.
  • To take (cards) from a dealer or central stack.
  • Pull back the string of (a bow).
  • Stretch taut.
  • Flatten, stretch, or mold (metal) by hammering or die stamping.
  • Shape or elongate (a wire, for example) by pulling through dies.
  • Inscribe (a line or lines) with a pencil or other marking implement.
  • Make a likeness of on a surface, using mostly lines; depict with lines: drew a map of the area; drawing landscapes and still lifes.
  • Formulate or devise from evidence or data at hand: draw a comparison.
  • Compose or write out in legal format: draw a deed.
  • Use or call upon part of a fund or supply: drawing on an account; drew from the experience of fellow workers.

There are many more examples and definitions of "draw" on that page but I didn't include them all. I had to "draw the line" somewhere.

This all just goes to underscore our personal ideas, that life really is an artform, and that everyone is an artist.

Everyone draws.


Wednesday, August 10, 2011


Maria came across a wooden drawer pull yesterday.

Out came her black Sakura® Pigma Micron 01 and she tangled some mooka. She added pencil shading, white chalk highlighting and a couple coats of spray polyurethane.

Now, we're looking at all the knobs in our home with a new perspective.

And if we don't use it as a drawer pull, it still makes a great miniature lawn ornament!

Click images for larger views.

Monday, August 8, 2011

So . . .

So many possibilities . . .

So few words necessary.

Click images for larger views.

Friday, August 5, 2011


Maria was playing around with more "bordering" yesterday. She was just about to put a picture in this Zentangle tile. I suggested we post it as it is. It's so bright and open to endless possible images.

This is a lighthearted reminder that we each get to pick what goes into that space to focus on.

We're focusing on what we want more of . . . the wonderful people that Zentangle attracts, the wonderful feedback we receive, and how grateful we are to have met so many of you.

Thank you.

Rick and Maria

Click image for larger view of possibilities.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

A Good Opportunity

Some people think that if it's got an area with black lines in a pattern it's "a Zentangle."

But filling an area with patterns is not new. That concept is at least as old as illuminated letters on manuscripts from well before the 14th century.

The Zentangle method is more than that. If you have taken a class with a Certified Zentangle Teacher (CZT) or have enjoyed our Zentangle Kit, you can appreciate this comparison.

Think of "Zentangle" as an adjective to describe our teaching method and to describe art created and inspired by that method.

With Zentangle's process, we make no claim to any pattern or design. That is part of our shared human and natural heritage. Our Zentangle contribution is a method that enables almost anyone - particularly people who think they "aren't artists" - to create beautiful images and feel good at the same time.

As one person said, "This isn't art for the masses, it's art by the masses."

Maybe that is one reason behind the occasional strong reaction from a professional artist to Zentangle creations. 

An imperfect but useful analogy is Shin'ichi Suzuki's method for learning music.

As we understand it, Mr. Suzuki believed that almost any child, even those who "aren't musical" can enjoy playing beautiful music. Mr. Suzuki never claimed a particular instrument or style of music as his invention even though he initially focused on classical violin.

So, what inspired this post?

We recently learned that clients of our Certified Zentangle Teachers are receiving an email which begins,

We have to let you know that you were informed wrongly about the background of the art form you work with. So-called "zentangle" is not "zentangle". This art form was originally created way back in 1989 by artist Nadia Russ (www.nadiaruss.com), who January 4, 2003 created a word NeoPopRealism and announced this new style of visual arts internationally.

Right after that, some two people, who even not artists, came with new name to the same idea and concept. They simplified it because actually they couldn't draw, but wanted to sell Nadia Russ' idea. You know the rest with selling kits, etc from "zentangle" website and other sources.

Recently, NeoPopRealism creator Nadia Russ found out about new "inventors" of her style of the drawing and it was shocking news. Please read what people from all over the world say about this matter at: http://zentanglestolenconcept.blogspot.com
[ . . . ]
We don't know who's sending these emails because they're unsigned. But someone did send them and someone created a blog. It is our responsibility to our CZTs, to their clients and to our customers to provide information to allow each person to evaluate this situation and come to his or her own conclusions.

We had not heard of Nadia Russ or seen her work until mid June of this year when someone sent similar emails to our CZTs.

If your friends or customers receive an email on behalf of Nadia Russ, just refer them to this blog entry. If they still have it, please ask them to forward the email to us in case we need it later.

We've reproduced the email in full below. Coincidentally, it also mentions that she "recently published" a book. We haven't seen it, but we trust that our publisher's staff will follow up on it as they see fit.

Nadia Russ is an accomplished artist and she sounds like a very nice person. We would probably get along quite well if we met in person. Here are her "NeoPopRealist Commandments" from her website on May 12, 2008: [credit: web.archive.org]

  1. Be beautiful;
  2. Be creative & productive; never stop studying & learning;
  3. Be peace-loving, positive-minded;
  4. Do not accept communist philosophy;
  5. Be free-minded,do the best you can to move the world to peace and harmony;
  6. Be family oriented, self-disciplined;
  7. Be free spirited. Follow your dreams, if they are not destructive, but constructive;
  8. Believe in GOD. God is one;
  9. Be supportive to those who needs you, be generous;
  10. Create your life as a great adventurous story.

Full text of email forwarded to us by a CZT:
Rick & Maria,

Egads, the hospital I teach at was sent this crazy email. I assume other CZT's got it but wanted to share it with you in case. I'm not planning on responding.

[name], CZT


**[Team NeoPopRealism Journal] has submitted the following message from the Contact Us: [name of hospital]**


We have to let you know that you were informed wrongly about the background of the art form you work with. So-called "zentangle" is not "zentangle". This art form was originally created way back in 1989 by artist Nadia Russ (www.nadiaruss.com), who January 4, 2003 created a word NeoPopRealism and announced this new style of visual arts internationally.

Right after that, some two people, who even not artists, came with new name to the same idea and concept. They simplified it because actually they couldn't draw, but wanted to sell Nadia Russ' idea. You know the rest with selling kits, etc from "zentangle" website and other sources.

Recently, NeoPopRealism creator Nadia Russ found out about new "inventors" of her style of the drawing and it was shocking news.

Please read what people from all over the world say about this matter at:

This is absolutely beautiful artistic style - drawing with ink pen using line and repetitive patterns while your mind is in state of meditation. And no one should limit yourself to 3,5"x3,5"paper and Sakura pen. It will look great on every piece of paper and using any ink pen. No limitations or restrictions should be to anyone who loves to draw and meditate!

Rick Roberts and Maria Thomas state in they website that "Zentangle method and art form is copyrighted. It is absurdity, and there is no such registration inhttp://www.copyright.gov/records/website of the US Copyright Office. It can be checked in a minute just searching a word "zentangle".

Many unfounded information and absurdity can be found in "zentangle" website, including their obsession with the copyright issue. They feature in their websites patterns that Nadia Russ uses since 1989. But "zentangle" website say it was created recently...

What Roberts and Thomas created is a word and trademark "zentangle" to re-name NeoPopRealism and sell it in their goods and teaching services.

If you have questions, concern or just thoughts please contact us atneopoprealism1@yahoo.com(http://neopoprealismjournal.wetpaint.com). If you need any information about art style, its detailed history or would like to collaborate to develop your new projects and give some more information to your art lovers about art form they love, Nadia Russ will be happy to hear from you. Her contact information can be found inwww.nadiaruss.com, or email hernadiaruss@yahoo.com.

Also to bring the truth into confused minds would be great if you mentioned in your website and other sources about who is the original creator of this fascinating art form - ink drawing without eraser, using line and repetitive patterns by adding this note:

Originally, the concept of ink drawing without eraser, using line and repetitive patterns, was created in 1989 by artist NADIA RUSS, and in 2003 announced internationally as the NeoPopRealism style of visual arts.

Best regards,
NeoPopRealism Journal & Wonderpedia http://neopoprealismjournal.wetpaint.com

PS There is a book was recently published "How to Draw NeoPopRealism Ink Images: Basics" by NeoPopRealism PRESS. Everyone who loves to draw the repetitive patterns will love this book as it will bring them on another, artistic level of self expression through ink pen, line and repetitive patterns. Also it is the great, step-by-step teaching material for students and for teachers. Available at https://www.createspace.com/3655822

If you still want more, you can read:

. . . and with the Internet's "Wayback" machine you can read this definition of NeoPopRealism on her website in March 31, 2004:


'New Style, New Word'

NeoPopRealism is New Style I developed and now present to the public. NeoPopRealism combines brightness and simplicity of Pop Art with deep philosophical Realism. NeoPopRealism interested in whimsical contemporary world with its technological and cultural achievements, reflects psychological and social diversity.

Lets look in past. 1900, the year when Plank came with his Quantum Theory; 1907, the year when Picasso presented to the world his cubism. In 1910 came futurism... New times bring new ideas.

New millennium brought NeoPopRealism. This style carry bright color's energy and has graphic nature. Philosophical and whimsical same time. Subject - mostly Faces.
How to paint in this new maner? I'll give more details and few lessons in near future. Welcome back.
Nadia Russ 

You're still reading?


Thank you for your patience.

We are grateful for this opportunity to share what our Zentangle method and what Zentangle creations are all about.

We look forward to your comments and questions.

Best regards,

Rick and Maria


Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Line 'em Up!

Maria writes:

Some of you have mentioned your difficulty in creating strings. Whenever I am confronted with that, I resort to something real simple . . . stripes! . . . lines, ribbons, pipes, moldings, borders.

In one of my past lives, I was part owner of a frame shop. I did not do the actual "cut the frame" part, but I often did the custom mat jobs . . . with either "French lines," marbled paper borders or calligraphy.

Now, this has morphed into creating patterned borders around art or photos in a Zentangle way whether with pen and ink or with brush and color.

There is a basic simplicity of tangling within the string of a stripe and then shading on the outer edges to tie it all together.

This is also a fun exercise/challenge to do with tangles that you wouldn't immediately think of as "border" tangles.


Rather impressive.

Very cool!


I am especially attracted to the unevenness of these stripes and borders because it's obviously hand-made . . . not machine made. So, no worries if your strings aren't perfectly straight or parallel!

Click images for larger views.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Meeting Notes

We had a wonderful conference call over the weekend.

We both took notes.

Here are Maria's. I've added my comments (shading) to her notes so you could appreciate the depth of what we discussed.

It was an enjoyable and productive conversation.

We published a new newsletter (and tangle) last night. Read it here.

Click image for more details of what we talked about.  :-)