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Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Revisiting a Basic Comfort

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

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

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

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

                     Begin previous post . . .                 

We recently received this email . . .

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

But for me, comfort it is.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Click images for more basic comfort.

                     End previous post.                 

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


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

kat van rooyen, czt

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


Unknown said...

I can draw printemps "'til the cows come home" and then some more. So many ways to draw it, I have discovered with the help of the artists on the Mosaic.
I have spent many an afternoon re-reading your blog posts and feeling enriched. Your comfortable voices are uplifting and inspiring. Thanks for the redux.
Natalie Kessler, CZT XIII

Tangled Inklings said...

This is timeless advice - and a timely reminder. Thanks!
And congrats Kat!

Antonine said...

Thank you for this! I remember mentioning to you, Rick, at CZT training that I was following several weekly challenges, but I didn't see my work getting better. You literally snorted! And said challenges are like competitive meditation. That brought me back to more mindful and relaxing Tangling. Thank you!

Unknown said...

It was great fun reading your mac 'n' cheese comfort tangle analogy. I find myself turning to the basic patterns and even the Z string when I let life get too complicated. I love tipple for its versatility, and also because the name makes me giggle. My other go-to strategy is to do a mono tile, using just a single pattern. The hollibaugh technique seemed like magic when I learned it, so a mono tile that relies on hollibaugh is a current favorite .... Quib and auraknot offer so many variations.

Terri Y CZT16 said...

With so many choices offered to me, I still like my mac-n-cheese tangles. I try out the tangles and variances and sometimes find one I add to my mac-n-cheese menu. I would like to see more use of the lesser used original tangles, like visiting with old friends. I go thru my book and select those tangles I have forgotten about when I need fresh ideas and it works like a charm for me. I admire others art and would love to be where they are in this journey, however, I am where I need to be in my journey and I'm loving every zenful moment of it! Thanks to y'all!

Jacquelyn Morris-Smith said...

I fell in love with Zentangle Method from the very beginning. I enjoy seeing the new tangles and practicing them as well. Simple is my strength. I teach very basic as well. I am a quilter also, and I became a CZT to help me integrate this method into the quilts I make, I thank you, Rick and Maria for simplicity.\

Bette Abdu said...

Thank you for this insightful post. It reminded me that the basic Zentangle Method is where I find that relaxed focus and my exercise in mindfulness. This is what originally drew me to Zentangle. My Mac-and-Cheese tangle is Poke Leaf. Often it just appears if I have paper and pen in hand. I try to help my students understand that it isn't the end result that is most important - it is the process that is paramount.
Bette Abdu, CZT
New Hampshire, USA and San Carlos, Panamá

Molly said...

I too love to get lost in those tangles that seem to be extensions of my pen. I find that I go through phases where I will draw one particular tangle for a while and then it will morph into another ... you can always tell what my tangle of the moment is.
Congrats to Kat and the lucky little person you find to share it with. Make sure you show them zingo.

Nancy CZT18 said...

Thank you for these words of wisdom. My favorite patterns, that always seem to appear in my tiles, are Printemps and Shattuck. One offers a circular pattern and the other a linear based pattern. These two combined with others offer a nice balance to my tiles. And Bales is a tried and true, comforting pattern that has endless possibilities. Love the beauty of Bales and always teach it in my Introduction to Zentangle classes. Happy Tangling!

michele wynne said...

Thank you so much for this great post! I used to go a little ADD searching for that next great pattern to build my library and it caused me some agitation. I've learned that next great pattern finds me;-) My mac 'n cheese patterns are Mooka and Sandswirl, followed very closely by Crescent Moon.

Unknown said...

Oh yes,this was a very timely blog for me to read. I am preparing for CZT #27 by reading and doing the exercisess in the "Zentangle Primer Vol 1". Maria and Rick both stress this point in several places in the text. We are by nature competitive animals - I treasure the fact that my Zentangle practice is a haven from such creative pressure. And yes, sometimes I find myself wanting to be more elegant and intricate - yet the intrinsic mindfulness of the Zentangle method is in and of itself so much more rewarding. Thank you!

Kat van Rooyen, CZT said...

I was so schooled to see my name at the end of this post! Yay!!! I'm thrilled and overjoyed!

And this post... I ate it up! I get teased and called the Poke Leaf Queen 👑 Because IRS a rare tile of mine that is t graced with poke leaf. I could cover a wall with it easily! (Too bad we rent!) and I was swapping a traveling tile with someone who insisted I leave it out.... it became no fun any more, and that defeats the purpose.

Kat van Rooyen, CZT said...

It is, not IRS!

PamS said...

Loved today's KTT on the Mosaic and that it directed me here. My 'go to' tangle is Hollibaugh with crescent moon a close second so particularly enjoyed the view in today's video. This is a very good reminder of the joy to be found in basic, comfort tangles. I think I'll go tangle some hollibaugh now!

PS congrats, Kathy to you and whomever you share the apprentice kit with!

Aimee said...

I love this post! Thank you to the person who sent the email. I feel the same way!

aun1993 said...

My favourite was always the poke root.
Whenever I don't know what to draw or still have space to fill in, I would fill in with pokeroots. Some times, flux or Mooka would do the jobs too.
I like there flexibility and free flow.

Anonymous said...

Very appropriate post for me. I learned to tangle long before I learned the zen. I started with the books of patterns and even tangled a pair of canvas shoes. (Nerve wracking) Then years later after took a class from a CZT. That is when I really started to stress less and tangling got a lot less competitive for me. I have found myself putting Cadent on paper everywhere, especially after starting to use graph paper for my bullet journals. Sometimes there are other tangles in it, but Cadent seems to flow out of my pen before I realize what I am doing.

Thank you for reminding me why I need this.

JoyandJay said...

I, too, very often fall back on already-familiar Zentangle patterns, having an embarrassing propensity for not being able to "catch on" readily to patterns quickly. I really love curving patterns--Doozaly, Flux (both versions), Meringue, and so many others--but often find I simply cannot get them to look like they're meant to look. When that happens, I nearly always turn to a pattern I do know and work on it until my hands and mind will work together to do the newer patterns. In the case of Meringue, however, that simply has not happened, so I think I came up with a whole new pattern on my own. I know that many people like it--none of them artists--and they have stated they like the "beautiful wings" I draw (and they're not meant to be wings--it's just how my mind's "hands" translates Meringue).

No, nothing wrong at all with sticking with the basics. After all, Zentangle is based on the basics--straight lines, curves, orbs, to name a few--without which we wouldn't have all the wonderful designs we're so blessed to be exposed to on this site.