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Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Embracing your Zentangle practice

 Julie writes: 
 
I really do believe that we are our own worst critics. When it comes to our Zentangle art, we know there are no mistakes and no preconceived outcomes, but sometimes (it’s okay to admit it) we compare our work to others and feel inadequate. One comment I get from many Mosaic App users is "I love looking at everyone's work but mine is not good enough yet to post." Today's blog is to tell you to embrace your Zentangle practice, let go of this insecurities and (literally or metaphorically) post that tile!

 If there is one thing that I know, my Zentangle practice is much more about the process, the journey, than it is the outcome. Don’t get me wrong, I love finishing a tile. The satisfaction that I created something, a beautiful piece of artwork, is not something I had until the Zentangle Method. The real beauty to me is not in my finished work, it is in the process of getting there.

I was fortunate enough to have grown up next door to Rick and Maria and was a Zentangle “guinea pig.” I have been tangling for almost half my life but it was not until 2013 when I started working for Zentangle, Inc. that I really kicked my practice into high gear. In the beginning, it was intimidating. I was surrounded by the artwork of Maria, Rick and Molly each day and when my tiles did not look like theirs, I will be the first to admit that I felt discouraged. I felt pressure to tangle more, to learn more tangles and to be better. Where did this pressure come from? Myself. It was all my own insecurities.

It was not until I settled into my Zentangle practice that I was able to let go of my insecurities. I was able to do this when I began to embrace the process, the act of creating, and not just the finished product. It was okay that my tiles did not look like anyone else's, because I created it, one stroke at a time. It was okay that my tiles did not flow like Maria’s, hold as much graphite as Molly’s or have the geometric edge that Rick’s had, because that was their style and I had mine. It was okay that I did not know all the tangles because all I needed was a few of my mac and cheese tangles to make a beautiful tile. It was okay to draw marasu over and over (and over) again as long as I enjoy creating those tiles. Creating Zentangle art is such a personal process, my tiles should not look like anyone else’s.






Share with us in the comments below how you embrace your Zentangle practice and we will choose a commenter at random to receive a Zentangle surprise!


Thanks for reading!
- Julie 

50 comments:

Susan Cook said...

Thank you for this post. I too look at the work of others on the Mosaic App and feel that my work is inadequate. I do add some of my tiles but feel they pare in comparison. But I keep at it and end up surprising myself occasionally. The process and good feelings I get from it are what keeps me moving forward.

Inge F. said...

Thanks a lot dear Julie for this comment. I see so many awesome tiles in the app that must be preplanned, this is not the way I want to go. I need Zentangle for my personal relaxation. I always tell my students not to spend too much time on the web and do their own thing. I know they won´t do what I am telling them but maybe they remember my words when they are getting more and more frustrated. For a teacher it is hard work to remember the students again and again that the process getting there is more important than the final artwork. I love to see the very peronal style of all my students and they inspire me from the very first moment definitely as much as I inspire them.

Kat van Rooyen, CZT said...

I will remember this post when I get intimidated...if Julie, who lived next door to ZHQ, can overcome it, then so can I! ✨Thank you so much✨

kathe garden said...

When I teach a class, I tell the students it's much like "Chopped" cooking on TV. We all the the same ingredients (patterns) and come up with different dishes (tiles) which is AWESOME. This seems to put everyone at ease to just "let go" and get your zen on :)

Anonymous said...

I get a weekly newsletter from Linda Farmer and always practice the old tagkes that she reviews as well as the new ones. I have found that to be an awesome way to try new things and practice some ones I already know.
Michelle Smith
smithmvs@metrocast.net

Cynthia said...

I embrace my Zentangle practice by knowing that my tiles all represent specific moments in time that were a gift of peace, no matter how long or short. It has also helped immensely to realize that I very often like the finished tile much better when I look at it after having put it away for a while. I see it again and think, "wow, did I really draw that cool piece of art?" Having never felt like an "artist," I can now say that I do create art, one stroke at a time, so maybe I am an artist after all. Zentangle has unlocked my inner artist and I am so grateful.

Chai said...

This post is one to share with our students. It's always nice to have someone compliment my work and when the compliments aren't there for whatever reason, it can be disheartening. Then I remind myself, it's not about the finished product, but the journey. And I for one, truly enjoy my journey.
Thanks for sharing Julie!
Terri CZT 16

J East said...

Originally, most of my "free time" for Zentangle was during ER and hospital waiting room episodes while care-giving for my elderly mother. It really helped me stay present without going into stress cycles, and seemed to help anyone who stopped to see what I was doing to decompress also.
Now that she is gone and I'm busy trying to reinvent my life at age 62, my only Zentangle time has been using it in college classes for my graphic design students who think they can't draw. So I have to start out with basics, slow down the speed demons and get the digital device addicts attention, and work towards getting 15 - 20 people in the flow long enough to drop their distractions, which really helps put me back in the zen zone too!

Sandy Kelley-Jones said...

I embrace my Zentangle practice by sharing almost all my tangles as host of the Facebook Group Today's Tangles. I own 'em when I love 'em and even when I don't. I hope in this way to encourage other members to own their own tangles. The other night when I was having trouble sleeping I sat up to Tangle and did a piece I found lovely and later in the day realized it's personal significance for me. The tile happened because I did the method, dots, borders, tangles...I greatly appreciated being able to tangle rather than stress over not sleeping. Later in the day I tried to do a similar tangle and it ended up looking forced, didn't have the flow because my mindset wasn't the same. I need the method and the flowing strokes that follow.

Thanks Julie for sharing your experience. It helps more than you can know. Hugs to ya!

Zen Zone Begins! said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
LindaJF said...

Zentangle has brought me peace and the zen feeling that is often indescribable. I enjoy seeing the beautiful tiles that others have created and these give me inspiration to keep practicing!

Tharina said...

I have to remind myself every time I sit down to tangle that I am not in a competition and that I am on my own journey. I can simply enjoy the act of tangling. It does make me smile though to hear that Julie had the same feelings of insecurity - I would never have thought that after looking at her beautiful work!

Tharina said...

I have to remind myself every time I sit down to tangle that I am not in a competition and that I am on my own journey. I can simply enjoy the act of tangling. It does make me smile though to hear that Julie had the same feelings of insecurity - I would never have thought that after looking at her beautiful work!

Joanna Quincey said...

This is perfect, Julie, and echoes exactly what I have been telling myself and others to whom I have, and am, introducing Zentangle.

The process and the experience is what is important and by following that the outcome will take care of itself. We do, each of us, have our own different style and that makes each individual piece of Zentangle created a unique and beautiful piece of art. A reflection of our own 'person'.

I, too, questioned myself and my work but realised that the only 'competition' or critiscm comes from within ourselves and that realisation enables us to face our worries and fears (and this goes way beyond Zentangle).

I have read all the comments so far and am touched by the honesty and joy expressed.
Zenjo

Phyllis said...

My favorite saying has always been: It's not the destination, but the journey. And this is my feelings when I create Zentangle Art. It has been a great stress relief for me.

Ria Matheussen said...

Dear Julie,
I'm so glad with this post.
Me too, used to compare my work a lot of time with others and it happened often that I thought: I will never reach that level. Now I know that's so wrong. As you wrote, everyone has his own personal style and everyone is growing, little by little.
I wanna thank you for those honest words and how to come back to the real spirit of Zentangle: enjoying every minute while drawing!!!

luvhymns said...

You have such encouraging words. It's hard to pick up a pen right now but just looking at your work and that of others brings breath into my life. Here's hoping a pen will soon be a part of my life again!

Quwatha Valentine said...

I, too, am my own worst critic. I know I shouldn't compare my work to others. Some tangles look as though they are preplanned but that isn't my style. I never know where my tangle is going to take me. I enjoy the process and the surprise at the end.

Tonya said...

Thank you Julie!! I feel like I don't have enough expierence to share my tiles. I feel more like I'm a little kid doing art surrounded by all of these expierenced adults who have been doing this for a long long time. Does that make sense?? I want to practice tangling more and become more confident. Thank you again for sharing your expierence, it has really helped me.

PamS said...

Oh, the timing of your words, Julie is perfect! Thank you! I have been in a slump partially as there have been events (accident and illness in 2 of our 4 elderly parents) that have limited tangling time, a feeling that I am not 'progressing' as I would like (see last comment); as I see others doing and while excited to be heading to CZT seminar #29 in just a couple of weeks where I know I will learn so much and feel so much positivity, a little scared too, doubting myself, feeling I haven't established a style nor certain I ever will. Upon reflection, I remember voicing a similar doubt about one of my tiles (self deprecation anyone?) some months ago on the Mosaic and the comments that turned my head around from this community were fast to come and uplifting. And i realized i love so many different styles on the app, and find good in every piece and so i imagine maybe how i should look at my own work. So I muted my inner, doubtful voice (I didn't want to let anyone down!) and that helped (till this little interlude) and it seemed I had more joy in tangling, so for today, with your thoughful reminder I will once again focus on the moment...one stroke at a time.

Tonia C said...

This blog couldn't have come at a more precise time. I do a tile a day by choice and I'm addicted to creating a tile because I believe I can make art. However, I feel i have to do "x" number of challenges to get better, buy books to learn more, collect step-outs, and am constantly comparing my work to others. There are moments when I don't compare and truly enjoy the outcome as much as the process. However that lasts until I start the next tile and have to learn new tangles for the challenge. I notice I rush a lot to get my tile done and on mosaic app. I compare how many comments I get and wonder "will I ever get to others' level?" I do plan on getting certified to understand more. But I have to keep reminding myself it's a process, I've done a lot since I started in February and to take it slow. I will create my own style one step at a time and one stroke at a time.

Ginny Lockhart said...

When I returned home from ZenAgain I felt strongly that I did not want to learn new tangles so much as I wanted to do more with the tangles I already knew. I was encouraged to be more creative! Your thoughts reinforce the mindset needed to do just that! Thank you, Julie! 💖

Anonymous said...

Thank you Julie for this wonderful post on the full meaning of practicing the Zentangle method.

Eleanore Miller, Ed.D. said...

Julie, your post resonates with what many of us had gone through and continue to go through. I am still going through the process of feeling good enough, even though I share my better work on Mosaic. It took me a long time to get past the disappointment of my wobbly pen, but I've paid less attention to it since attending Seminar. That was an empowering experience for me. When I get overwhelmed with new tangles or frustrated over my inability to produce certain patterns, I just go back to basics and remind myself of my purpose and how far I've come during this past year.
Thank you for sharing your thoughts and feelings. From someone with as much experience with the Method, it means a lot to my personal journey.

Laurel Regan said...

I sometimes fall into the trap of insecurity about my own art when I'm browsing the gorgeous work on the Mosaic app, but I remind myself how sad it makes me feel when I hear others say that their work isn't "good enough" to post, and I get over myself. It's all good. :)

Jennifer Kwiecien CZT said...

Julie,
Thanks for sharing your tangles and your thoughts. Sharing is an act of courage and I am always inspired and grateful for the gifts that come from all that.

elianna987 said...

Julie, your post really resonated with me. I am challenged to just let go and create, even though I know it is the process and not the outcome that matters. Practice, practice, practice, I guess. Thanks for your post! - Debbie Butterfield, CZT 19

J. Stough said...

Julie's comments hit a "nerve" with me living in "Tangle Land" too! When I see other postings with straight lines and everything looking perfect, sadly I allow those old insecurities to come back in which is unproductive. During my 5 years of tangling, I still find when I want to duplicate favorite tangles onto another tile, I always learn something new about the tangle patterns or my approach to the them. It is also true regarding Mandalas', because the ones I just "let happen" are the ones that become my favorites. For me, tangling is a process that teaches me many types of lessons so I welcome the challenges and enjoy the results. Tangling is a joy!

Ragged Ray said...

I've been to those comparative places, and even compared to myself at times - thinking that my tangling is getting 'better' or 'worse'. But I'm learning to let it be what it needs to be on any given day. Today for example I learned of a friend's death - and I knew that tangling would give me a calm space to reflect without thinking. My lines were wobbly and unsure, but a little Bijou tile gave me exactly what I needed and that tile will be a precious marker of this difficult but negotiated day.

Crinklechips said...

I read somewhere that it takes 10,000 hours to be proficient at any craft. Knowing this allows me to be with the fact that my journey into art is going to be awash with imperfection! As stated in the post, it's about 'The Journey' not the destination. I remind myself that each stroke is bringing me closer to the expression and style that I am seeking out through Zentangle art. Lastly I am slowly relaxing more as I tangle. As a drawing beginner I initially found it quite a tense procedure. Now that I understand I have some proficiency, grace is slowly edging in...

Holly Moseley said...

I often use my Zentangle tiles as an encouragement or prayer for others. I write a short note on the back to let them know of my intention. One day, I made a tile for my favorite waitress because she was having a bad day. I called it "portable laughter". When I handed it to her she said, "So, you're an artist?" I paused, swallowed, and then owned it. Yes, I am an artist!

Lianne said...

Julie, thank you for your post. I believe it is human nature to criticize our own selves. Or is it society that is always telling us we are wrong or not good enough. All through school I was always criticized for not doing as well as my older sister, society gives us sooo many rules/laws to follow & we get fined for breaking them (e.g late payments, speeding over limit by 2km an hour, etc). Zentangle is my place of safety in this harsh world where I am free to explore my creativity and find peace. There are no rules to break with Zentangle. I love the journey and the destination doesn't matter. I share this thought with my students and I love when they begin to fly on their own and stop the self criticism.

Cindy Bowles said...

I tell my students (and anyone else I can capture for a few moments) that I loved Zentangle from the moment I laid eyes on it! After a came back from CZT training I loved it even more as I began to see the depth of what ZT could offer to people. Today I can say I have a whole new level of appreciation for ZT. Six months ago I was diagnosed with stage 4 metastatic breast cancer. Everyday I'm feeling well enough to do my ZT is a really good day!

Leslee Feiwus said...

This was a great reminder that we are all individuals with our own individual styles. We can appreciate everyones work without lessening ours. Everyone is an artist and every tile is unique as we all are.

Pat Floerke said...

I tangle some most days, and rather than thinking about embracing my zentangle practice, I feel like it embraces me. Tangling feels so good that generally I quickly get to a point where the tangling just catches me up and carries me away. My most anxious moments are when I tangle a tile I intend to post somewhere, especially if it's a traveling tangle where I don't want to "mess up" someone else's beautiful start. Knowing from experience that no one will judge me and that my tangling is likely to be more beautiful the more relaxed and "zen" I feel helps me remember that my own enjoyment is my truest measure of success.

Karen said...

I felt the same as you Julie...embracing the process was a new way of thinking for me. Now that I practice every day, I look forward to my drawing time, just for the love of it and not for the outcome. Thank you for sharing.

Susan Theron said...

I of course also feel inadequate when I look at other people's tiles. There are such great Zentangle artists out there, but then I also remind me that I am who I am and I enjoy the Zentangle process. I've put my tiles in photo albums and when I look at them I am amazed at the art I've created. Thanks for the idea of Zentangle!

Roseanne V. Sabol said...

Dear Julie ~ how timely your words are. I had never, never considered myself as having any artistic ability. After all, no one in my family, as far back as I could go, was an artist. I fight the "it's not good enough" demon, although lately, I have decided that what I do is not for anyone but ME. And if I enjoy the journey and the process, that's all that matters. Just recently I realized that that was the gift of Zentangle to me. Little by little, I am coming to appreciate that what I create is not important. It's the freedom it's given me to just enjoy the process. What comes from that is gravy.
Thanks, again, dear Julie. Tangle on 🌹❤️

Pat Floerke said...

My word, what a difference this blog has made in my zentangle practice, even though I already had a pretty good handle on embracing my own practice. After reading the blog, I keep finding myself thinking, "I could try that if I want" in a defiant sort of tone, and then I do. What freedom!

Dolly Bolen said...

I love Zentangle and all the artists, those that are starting out as I once was in 2013 when I discovered Zentangle for the first time on the Internet and those who appear more accomplished and notice I said "appear more accomplished" than "are more accomplished" because I do not know most of the artists who create Zentangle. As for the Zentangle Mosaic App, I look at it as an opportunity to connect with other artists of all kinds and I appreciate everyone's journey especially my own. ZIA art is preplanned but in my opinion most traditional Zentangle art is unplanned which is why I love it so much and love to teach the freedom to create and enjoy the journey to others! I have been a traditional artist for most of my life but find with Zentangle is is much more accepting and positive than the traditional art world and again this is just my opinion based on my personal experiences so I find I am tangling more than creating much traditional art anymore. Accept yourself and your art, be kind to others and remember everyone started at one time or another creating Zentangle art and as artists we should encourage and accept each other. Take the time to comment or appreciate others on the Mosaic App and that will take your mind off yourself and give a little happiness to others!

Linda Dochter said...

I'm often on the look-out for tiles and tangles that suggest "motion" or "story" to me. I see those little Pokeroots and Printemps struggling to push Purk up Shattuck mountain while Marasu is about to crush them all as it rumbles down the mountain. This tile belongs in a storybook.

Brava, Julie

Jennifer Sparrow said...

Thank you, Julie, for this inspirational blog. I recently had a "dry spell" in my daily practice, when other stuff seemed more important and timely. After a few weeks, I realized how disjointed and unfocused life seemed. I have happily returned to my daily practice of the Method, and a focus on process not product. The results are pleasing!

Anoeska W said...

Julie, thanks for the reminder! I will share this with my students. <3

Pumpkin Becki said...

At first I tried a few patterns on my own, practicing in thumbnail size boxes and a little suede effect notebook, then I would show my family and friends, and quickly moved on to Tangling in public, it's a very liberating thing. While I'm waiting at the hairdressers, the doctor's surgery, at my desk at lunchtime. I get so absorbed that I don't worry about my surroundings or if anyone is watching, and often people ask me what I'm doing, how they can do it, if I can design them a new tattoo, do a birthday card for their friend...you name it :). I've never been able to doodle as a way of concentrating (in a meeting for example), I get too engrossed, but as a way of refocusing my mind and stepping out of the fast lane for fifteen minutes, it's perfect :) xx

Valerie Hayes said...

Folks on the app are so supportive that there really is nothing to be intimidated about, and some of the people behind my favorite tiles are among the most supportive, so I say, take a running start and shout ' cowabunga' as you cannonball into the waterfall, because standing at the water's edge dipping a to in is kinda stationary.

Jennifer Meyers said...

Ahhh, this post is such a clear reminder of the purpose of Zentangle. Many of my tiles just don't turn out "pretty" or even "cool". But they all have a mind shifting effect . And I have found that it is too easy to shift into " production" mode. Yet the quality of the Zentangle method is that even in this mental frame, the action of one stroke at a time affects my life positively- afterwards I am always able to carry on in a calmer , more centered way. I have noticed that when I am trying harder to "make "something turn out "good" , it generally does not turn out as interesting as the tile that I concentrate more on "one stroke at a time". I have learned to throw tiles away - like the chalk artists on city sidewalks- grateful for the more lasting effect they have had simply through the Zentangle method. Sometimes I feel like a tile in process!

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Deborah Raaen said...

Dear Tonia C, I have found that the more you comment on other people's tiles on the app the more comments you get yourself. It is such a supportive community. So those that have been on there a while will naturally have more comments than others. So try not to think in that way.After a while you feel you know the others personally, like having a whole new group of friends. Perhaps it would be wise to not do challenges and relax with the process instead. All the best in your further practice. :-)

sassy said...

I love Kathe Garden's reference to zentangle being like "Chopped". It is a very good comparison...I just need to remember that my "dish" is just as good as anyone else's.

Donna From Tx said...

I am newly certified from czt28 seminar this week. I had never done the method before coming to Rhode Island. I had just seen examples of the ZIA on the web and didn't know how anyone could produce such art. I finally found something with the description including the word Zentangle and googled it and knew I had to learn. In a community of 957 there really aren't a lot of instructors. So I came to Rhode Island.
Talk about intimidation. When I saw our first mosaic I was ready to pack it in. They were all so gorgeous and there was mine. I even palmed one of my tiles on the way out to avoid included it. I had to laugh the next morning that Maria announced some were missing so I had to cough it up.ive been on the appand love what I see. I think Maria and Rick really drive the point the point home that there are no mistakes, that every tile is a work of art, that the journey more important than the product. Now my only regret is that I didn't find Zentangle sooner. I am sharing with my grandkids today and I know they'll love. They arrived Thursday just after I got home. Yesterday they want to swim so today we do art. I showed them some of my tiles and bless their sweet hearts, they're excited. Grandkids are the best. Rick and Maria are right behind them.
Thanks so much