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Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Humble Beginnings

 Julie writes:

Last week I wrote about how we need to stop comparing our Zentangle art to others and embrace our practice. Well, Maria liked the blog (and your responses) so much that she suggested I write one about comparing our Zentangle art to… our Zentangle art. Are you scratching your head? That’s ok. It will all make sense.

Consider this – a world class ballerina’s first step as a baby was probably a wobbly one. Michael Jordan probably missed his first basket and Julia Child probably burned her first soufflé. They all may be known as exceptional in their field, but they all started somewhere.

And so did we.

The more you practice something, the better you get at it. The same rings true with your Zentangle practice. The more you tangle, the better you get at it. By “better,” I mean, you become more comfortable with the pen and paper. You refine your style and master techniques and tangles. You find a safe space where the pen meets the paper and you grow. But, you had to start somewhere.

 After last week’s blog, Maria thought it was a good idea to find the first tile she ever did and encouraged us to do the same. It was humbling to compare where we started to where we are now. To see how our Zentangle practice has evolved and our styles have emerged. It is also a good exercise when you are feeling inadequate about your work, to see how far you’ve come.

Julie, 2004

Rick, 2004

Maria, 2004

Molly, 2004

Whether you have been tangling for a week or for years, we encourage you to compare your first tile to your most recent tile. The tiles tell the story of your Zentangle journey.

Join us in this exercise on the Zentangle Mosaic app by uploading your first tile(s) using the hashtag #humblebeginnings. You can also download the app for free and search #humblebeginnings to see where Zentangle artists from around the world got their start.

If you are not on the app, you can find your first tile(s) and hang it somewhere you will see it often, to remind you how you’ve grown!


When I wrote last week’s blog post, I hesitated before I hit “publish.” The irony was not lost on me that I was feeling insecure about posting a blog about overcoming insecurity. I am so glad that I did. Your responses were heartfelt and I was filled with appreciation and gratitude for all of you that shared. We selected one commenter at random to receive a Zentangle surprise:

J. Stough

Please email your mailing address to julie (at) zentangle (dot) com

Happy Tangling!


Unknown said...

Oh my gosh..I loved Julie's post last week as it totally hit home. I like to comment as much as I can on Mosaic and often tell people we are our own worst critics and everyone sees your tiles differently than you see them so post away. I then find myself feeling like my tiles aren't always the best, but try to take my own advice and post them anyway.
Now this post..how wonderful to show this and prove that we all grow so much through daily practice. It isn't about how much praise you get, but the peace you get from the practice. The stillness that this method brings about. Along the way your lines just get better and you develop your own style and that is just a bonus from what Zentangle really gives you.
I keep all of my tiles in a binder arranged chronologically so I can look back and see where I have been so to speak. It is a neat reminder.
As always a huge thank you from me..I'm ever grateful I stumbled across a book 3 years ago.

PamS said...

Congrats to J. Stough! As for today's blog I am a grinning idiot because it runs so true and can not wait to get home later today to post my first tile and see other's examples too. Thanks for a further reminder of all our humble beg8nnings and for sharing all of your 2004 examples. I am 8nspired daily by you all!

Ruth said...

What a great topic for today's blog! Personally, I found that participating in CZT training recently helped me feel more confident in my abilities and to realize how far I had come already from when I started practicing Zentangle. Thank you all for everything you do!

Bajja said...

These last two blog posts are so very very wonderful! And I'm very very grateful for the reminders :) xxx

Unknown said...

What a great idea! It will be fascinating seeing everyone's early tiles and, as you say, hopefully give people new to zentangle a confidence boost .....brilliant! 😃
Saffy xxx

Unknown said...

I often share this with my students. I keep everything I did in my first year in a book that I pass around to the class. They feel a lot more confident seeing that, so it relaxes them into really having fun instead of trying for perfection,

Donna Jacobson CZT said...

Julie, this is a great post and sooooo true!! Just the other day I was telling my students why it is so important to save your first tile! xxoo

Unknown said...

Wonderful post! I keep my tiles in binders chronologically, though I've given many away but NOT my first one! Very valuable, that one.

Kim Kohler said...

It's awesome to see all of your 1st tiles! I love the idea of showing my first tiles to students to show them how it all began. I'm going to have to do some digging to find those tiles.

Debbie said...

So wise ... yes, I have compared my first tile, and even showed my classes the first two. They were very appreciative - I don't know exactly the word to describe their reaction. But I could tell they were inspired. I'm so glad I wrote "My first tile" on the tile!

Thanks for your post.

Debbie Butterfield, CZT 19

gobarb26 said...

I like the post from last week as well as today's post. It really does make us think about where we started and where we are now! I think this is something we should show our students! I frequently go back in time and look at some of my first tiles. I am not exactly sure which is my very first one, but I can get an idea of where I started. I do have a tendency to compare myself to others. However, when I show my work to other people, including my students, they think my work is amazing! Maybe it just is...
Barb B. CZT

Anonymous said...

Since I didn't think to number or date them at the time, I don't know now which was my first attempt tile or where it might be.

However, I have learned to use this with my Drawing Fundamentals students at college by having them do a drawing of one of their own hands at the beginning of the semester and another one as their "final exam" at the end.
I file their first drawings away, and they get handed back with the final version months later --- we're almost always all blown away with the changes over such a relatively short time.
Students who feel like they couldn't draw to begin with or haven't improved because they're comparing their work to other students are typically amazed.

Unknown said...

Wow... how appropriate! I go through stages of confidence followed by massive insecurity. I will make a tile i love and then have several days of low creativity where i can't come up with a singal oeiginal idea. During these times i look at other people's posts and think my brain could never be so clever... but then inspiration will return without warning and i produce something new to love and I'm so greatful that i kept picking up my pen. I think each tile, even my least favorites, are tiny miracles. Something amazing and tangible came from inside my head. It is a little piece of me that didn't exist, but now will always be there. I can't help but wonder what tile will i love next?

Dolly Bolen said...

Today I just posted some of my first attempts at Zentangle back in 2013 on the Zentangle Mosaic App and I must admit I didn't even know really what Zentangle was back then! I did date and label my first official Zentangle tile in October 2013 when I took a class from two CZTs and I am so glad I did document the journey to where I am now. After that first class I decided to become a CZT and the rest is history. I love Zentangle and all it has to offer, especially the welcoming and supportive community on the Zentangle Mosaic App! I look at all art I do as opportunities to grow as an artist and if someone can help me, I welcome their help and if I can help someone else in their Zentangle journey, I am happy to do so as well. Sometimes the tiles I think are not my best are the ones that grow on me, either through my kids telling me something I didn't see in my tiles or from other artists on the App, beauty is truly in the eye of the beholder!

Jan Brandt, CZT said...

What a great suggestion! It's been a long time since I looked at my first tile (it wasn't even a tile ... just ball point pen on a piece of printer paper). I've thought several times I should show my students so now that several posters have mentioned it, I believe I will too! What FUN to see Julie's, Rick's, Maria's and Molly's first tiles from 13 years ago! The journey from then 'til now has been phenomenal. I will post mine on the app and look forward to seeing everyone else's too!

jeanchaneyaz said...

This was such a great post. Thank you for sharing your beginning tiles. What an inspiration!

ria matheussen said...

It's very nice to show us the beginning tiles of you, Rick, Maria and Molly. They are quiet different from the latest ones.
I agree that patience and exercises are important to grow. Now and than I also take a look on the tiles of my start an the latest ones. It is very pleasant to know that everyone can grow.
Thank you for this post!

painterG said...

This comment is such a great reminder about the magic of our creativity, and the fact that it tends to have a mind of its own, that we usually can not control...but it is there, just waiting for us to get out of its way! Thanks

Tangles and More said...

I am not on Mosaic so cannot post my first tile but I remember, I think a Diva Challenge a while ago that addressed this very subject. I do not think I have ever seen any of Rick of Maria's early tiles. It is nice to see their progression. I try to remind people of this all the time in classes or when I have a site set up at an event an they say that they could not do this. I do keep my tiles in an album. It is a fun and revealing exercise to go back and periodically look at them. Besides that things that you mentioned I sometimes find tangles that I used before and have forgotten about. Helps me keep some fresh work.

Lianne said...

Thanks again Julie. Wonderful to see everyone's journey from humble beginnings to the present. Like life, Zentangle is a journey, and one I am so enjoying and sharing with all my students. I had not thought about showing examples of my first tiles. I will in future. Thanks for the tip.

NaRong said...

I keep all of my tiles in a binder arranged chronologically so I can look back and see where I have been so to speak. It is a neat reminder.
gclub online

Unknown said...

What a great idea! It will be fascinating seeing everyone's early tiles and, as you say, hopefully give people new to zentangle a confidence boost .....brilliant!