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Tuesday, March 21, 2017

What's Your Idea?



Rick writes:

Many people send us pictures of their Zentangle art and tell amazing stories about how drawing Zentangle art benefited them. They describe rising above fear, depression, grief and suicide. They report relief from severe pain, mental and physical traumas, addictions, insomnia, and even selective mutism.

When Maria and I began teaching, we did not expect such stories.

At first, I thought it might be because when you enter the relaxed focus of Zentangle art you access a recess from the pressures and demands of the world. For example, imagine picking up something light, like a glass of water . . . no problem. But hold that glass at arm’s length for a while and your arm will ache. However if you can put it down every now and then, it’s easier to hold it out for a longer time, even though it still weighs the same. Even knowing you can put it down whenever you need helps.

This morning I began to wonder if there’s something more behind these stories and came up with another analogy.

Imagine you are riding in a car and the radio is playing something irritating, but you don’t know how to change the station (perhaps you borrowed your friend’s car). You could drive to the radio station, confront the people there and insist they change their broadcast or, you could pull over and learn how to tune in a station you like.

Maybe these amazing stories have something to do with discovering a metaphorical inner tuning dial that can access other stations, even if only while tangling.

The point of this metaphor is not that you should tune in a particular station, rather that such a method to deliberately shift focus is available at all . . . and all wrapped in the enjoyable experience putting pen to paper and creating unexpectedly beautiful images in a fun and relaxing way.

These are the sorts of thoughts and questions that fascinate me.

What are your experiences? What are your thoughts?

I look forward to reading about your experiences and your ideas.

Many thanks,
Rick
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The art at the beginning includes Maria's and my 3Z Tiles (from the "12 Days of 3Z" Blog series) and Maria's lettering and butterfly. We made this to welcome students to our 2017 Certified Zentangle Teacher training seminars.

I had to include some Zentangle art with this article! And, it was also a good way to remind you about the upcoming seminars! :-)

Thanks again for your comments!

R

 

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.

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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!




Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Kitchen Table Tangles with Indy and Mazzy


Molly writes:

“I learn from my children.”

My mom always said that about me and my brother and sister as we were growing up. It made me giggle because I felt like she was the one guiding and teaching us. I just assumed she was kidding or trying to make us feel good.

Now that I'm a mother, I'm learning what she meant. Every day is a new lesson as I watch my children explore, discover, and absorb all that they can from life. I have learned to listen to what they have to say because they truly do have something to say. They inspire and challenge me. They bring a perspective to situations that I would not have seen. They are funny and brilliant. Their creativity is raw and unfiltered. I remind myself daily to stop and soak it all in.

Naturally, I have special connection with my children, but I have learned that all children are amazing and that they charm and enlighten those around them in magical ways all over this world.

Teaching the Zentangle Method is a beautiful thing for me. I love seeing my students' eyes light up as their creations morph from being a collection of pen lines into being actual art. I teach all ages of students and I love it all.

I teach children the same way I teach adults. Maybe we don’t sit as long. Perhaps I use a different analogy here and there, but for the most part, it all stays the same. I teach the same Zentangle Method. And just as in my adult classes, we always start and finish with gratitude and appreciation.

I do notice that children's responses to my teachings and suggestions are much more animated and confident than adult responses. Many times, the kids will boldly go in a completely different direction than I suggested or instructed. I encourage this enthusiasm to explore uncharted and unexpected territories. There is also much less self-criticism. They seem less concerned with the outcome than adults.

During class, I sometimes think they are not listening to what I am saying. I carry on as if I am talking to myself but then out of nowhere, they will reference something I said weeks before. I am always so excited when they absorb the positive things I say about their work and proudly say, “Thank you.”

I later hear them commenting on their classmates work as they take a moment to appreciate each others’ creations, not just their own. I love the chaos and eagerness in their strokes. I love to listen to the giggles and chatter between one another. I secretly know that I am learning more from them than they are learning from me.

One recent snow day here in New England, I asked my own kids if they wanted to watch the new “Kitchen Table Tangle” video and tangle along with Meme and Ricky. I left them alone as I did some things around the house. They watched it and paused it as they tangled along and then watched it again and again. After they were done, they asked me if I could film them doing a tangle. “Sure,” I said. “Why not?”

Once again, I had a wonderful opportunity to “learn from my children.”

Full disclosure . . . I had no part in the planning of this video.


 
By Indy (age 7) and Mazzy (age 5) 

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What have you learned from the children in your life?

Tell us your story in the comments below. We will pick a random name from our commenters. If it's you, we will send you one of our new Zentangle Apprentice Kits (ZAK) . . .


. . . for the child in your life.

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This and other Kitchen Table Tangles are available to subscribers on our app: Zentangle Mosaic. For more information on the app visit this link.

Enjoy!