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!

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Two for Tuesday

We think of tangles as a painter thinks of colors. You can use them "out of the tube." You can mix them. You can create different images with the same tangle/color.

Verdigogh and hollibaugh were the tangles on Maria's tangle palette she used most to create these two quite different Zentangles.

Click images for larger view.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Facets & Newsletter

We just sent out our Novermber 28, 2010 newsletter.  You can read it online here.

Here are some larger images of a new tangle, facets, for you to enjoy.

Thanks again to Nancy Pinke, CZT, for sharing this great new tangle with us. Be sure to read the instructions on how to create facets in our newsletter.

Click images for larger view.

Thursday, November 25, 2010


Today is our Thanksgiving Day holiday.

We are thankful today and every day that you are part of our world and that you have invited us into yours.

And we're thankful we all have this great gift of creativity and the chance to enjoy it.

Rick and Maria

Wednesday, November 24, 2010


Nancy, who works with us, did something that disagreed with her right foot's fifth metatarsal. Ouch!

However with the help of some Crescent Moon and other tangles on her walking boot, she's healing much more stylishly.

Click image for larger view.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

To the Edge!

I remember a bumper sticker that said, "If you're not living on the edge, you're taking up too much room."

Well, this Zentangle goes to all four edges and takes up all the room in between as well. You can clearly see where Maria drew her string for her tangles.

As I was going to photograph it, Maria asks (in all seriousness), "Do you want to add something to it, first?" LOL! Actually, this is the Zentangle that Zenry picked to pose with yesterday and he already added his strokes.

Click image for larger view.

Monday, November 22, 2010


Meet Zenry.

At least we think that's his name. He doesn't talk much, but he loves to create Zentangles.

He's also quite a late riser. He apologizes that this blog post was later than usual.

For more on Zenry's background, see this post on Carol Ohl's blog. We ordered Zenry from Carol's sister, Cathy Helmers, who created him.

Thanks Cathy! Zenry is having a wonderful time exploring his new digs.

Click image for larger view.

Friday, November 19, 2010


Where do we get our inspirations?

Maria created this Zentangle after seeing Molly's illuminated letter. She loved Molly's interweaving of that black ribbon. So she used it rhythmically on this tile.

Maria always says, "I learn from my children."

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Two Tiles

Here is one with one tangle . . .

And one with several tangles (and a bit of tomato sauce!).

Notice, in the upper left corner, how Maria is playing with pen pressure in a rhythmic and repetitive way. Although not designed for it, a Sakura® Pigma™ Micron 01 can range from a barely touching the paper thin line to a nearly breaking the pen nib thick line.

Click images for larger view

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Daily Zentangle

AC writes:
Hi there –

Thoroughly enjoying playing with your ideas [. . .]!

I wanted to share with you my new daily activity at work. How could I resist all those white squares??

I look forward to taking one of your classes in the future. Thank you!!

How much fun is that! Thank you for sharing your "days" with us.

Click image for larger view. (Blurs are redactions.) 

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

H is for . . .

. . . Hollibaugh.

Here is Molly's version of one of our Master Class projects.

Here are some detail views.

Molly's husband, Nick (Hollibaugh) created our tangle hollibaugh. You can appreciate a resonance between hollibaugh and Nick's creations here.

Click images for larger views.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Zentangle Surreal

Anika Sylte of Norway wrote,
Hi Rick & Maria.

I love Zentangle and finallly I found my way to combine that and my drawings and surrealism.

Here is the result, hope you like it ;)

Zentanglelove from Annika
Take a look at what she sent. Below each image is a link to its blog entry.

And with beautifully betweed plaited hair . . .

Thank you so much, Annika!

Click images for larger view.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Got a Light?

You should know by now that there is no such thing for Maria as white space that can't be tangled!

Close up, you can see that this frosted glass lampshade is "pre-strung"!

Materials used:
  • Sakura® Pigma™ Graphic 1 (black)
  • Lampshade in situ (frosted)

Click images for larger view.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Zentangle Pumpkin

With a few pumpkins still on porches and snow starting to fall here in New England, this contribution from Penny Raile, CZT, is quite appropriate.

Thank you, Penny!

Click image for larger view.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Tick, Tock . . .

Terri Greenberg, CZT, authors the TeeZeeTee blog which is on our blogroll. Recently she blogged about her contribution to Craig Giffen's Mail Clock.

We thought it was a great concept and a great contribution. We wanted to make sure you could enjoy it, too.

Thanks, Terri!

Click image for larger view.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

A Conversation

Although few and far between, every now and then we'll receive a "Who the *!#% do you think you are to say you invented doodling!?" email.

We recently received just such an email. After a week with no reply we thought we'd open up this conversation for you to jump in. Both emails are complete and unedited other than removing sender's name and email.

Zentangle Form
Name: ______
Email: ______@_________.com
Comments: "It is a fascinating new art form that is fun and relaxing."

1) It's not new. Patterned drawing is one of the oldest forms of mark making. The oldest known examples: 60,000 years old

2) Just because you make up a cute name for something does not mean you've discovered something new or unique. The most irritating thing about this whole charade is; these ideas have been around since before religion was formalized in pretty much every culture. Sand paintings, mandalas and probably another dozen forms that all have the same basic effect of the motion of creating random patterns inducing an altered state of consciousness. Holy Crap you people are ignorant.

3) It's called DOODLES people. Scientists know about it, Artists know about it, Monks, Holy Men and seemingly every body but you two know about it.

As stupid as this is, and as ignorant as you and the people you are targeting are; you are probably making money hand over fist.

Wow. Gobsmacked.

Our reply:
Hi ______,

Interestingly, a few minutes before we got your message we received this one from England:

"What have you done! Just when I thought I should be acting like a well behaved old lady at 91, I get to hear about zentangles. Now I can’t look at a piece of paper without picking up a pen and....hours later.. What is mother up to now! Anyway, thanks a million, you have given me a new outlook to each day. Thank you so much."

Yes, patterned drawing is an ancient, primal and common experience and "language" of humans throughout all cultures, languages, religions and eras. That's a big part of what we tell people and likely a big part of Zentangle's acceptance, because it is so instantly recognized as familiar, but overlooked nevertheless. We trace the lineage of many of our patterns (or tangles) to basic patterns from nature and many cultures from all over this world.

One of our contributions with Zentangle is to deconstruct patterns to their most basic parts (ideally three or less basic strokes) so that a self-described non-artist can recreate them through easy repetition within a predefined area -- and enjoy both process and result. This opens up possibilities of creative pleasure to almost anyone - many of whom long ago decided it was not possible for them - "I am not an artist," "I can't draw," etc.

So, while pattern drawing is not new, (we feel it's not the same as how many people understand "doodling"-- for instance Zentangle's tangles are not, as you say, "random," but very specific) our approach, or teaching method, has made the joys of putting pen to paper accessible to many people around this world -- like that 91 year lady from England -- who otherwise might not have experienced what you likely do every day.

Regarding "making money hand over fist," we find it interesting that in the few critical emails we do receive, they all have mentioned how much money we are supposedly making.

While each day offers an opportunity for us to learn something new, we respectfully disagree with your assertion that people who enjoy Zentangle are ignorant.

Every few months we'll get a message like yours, but I've got to say, yours is one of the best! We usually don't respond, but this is a good exercise and we look forward to the possibility of a reply.

Rick (and Maria)
Pertinent to this conversation is an insightful blog post by Verlin. We invite you to read all of it, but here's an excerpt.
My father grew up in an Amish home where musical instruments were forbidden. While I was yet in grade school, I would see him bring home from his monthly excursions to the local auction barn keyboard musical instruments; a bellows organ, an upright piano, or several accordions. I would marvel as in a few minutes he could teach himself to play familiar hymns as the family sang along. His method of teaching me to solve any problem was, “If you just look at it long enough, it will come to you." My brain was not wired like his. I never learned to play “by ear.”

For certain gifted people no lessons are necessary to create art; not so for the general population. We need a way of learning to make art we enjoy. Zentangle makes that possible for us “one stroke at a time.”
Last night I (Rick) learned a new word that applies to this conversation: "Syntropy." Syntropy (originally known as "negentropy") was renamed by Albert Szent-Gyorgyi and further popularized by Buckminster Fuller.
From Syntropics® website:
Syntropy was described by Hungarian chemist Albert Szent-Gyorgyi, a Nobel Prize winner, as a disposition toward elaboration in living things. The concept expresses the tendency of all organic matter to develop and unfold new qualities as it moves through time.

Syntropic Cycle: Writing in a 1983 Training magazine article, R. Mulligan, training coordinator for Connecticut Yankee Atomic Power Company in East Hampton, CT identified the concept of a Syntropic Cycle. As a trainer, Mulligan described this cycle in terms of the basic fundamental human drive to learn. He wrote:

“Like chemical reactions that need a primer to explode them into action, most students need a 'spark' to move them away from habitual indifference (a result of the opposing principle of 'entropy') and toward naturally self-perpetuating and self-fulfilling learning. A kind of "energy barrier" stands in the way."

Knowing that all students are disposed to enter a Syntropic Cycle of self-motivated learning if they can be triggered into action is a big help to trainers because joyful learning appears to be emotionally based. Emotions are accessible and susceptible to influence.”
We feel that Zentangle's approach triggers a Syntropic Cycle by which putting pen to paper becomes a new (or renewed) and joyful experience and an expanding and self-sustaining process. This is particularly impactful for people who perceive themselves as non-artists.

There's another interesting tidbit of info in all this. Of the two writers of this type of email who made their identity known (including the above quoted one), both had college level art degrees. Not sure if there is a conclusion to "draw," but it was interesting.

We believe that Zentangle's accessible method and approach provides a confidence, structure and resulting joy that is fueling the expansion of so many online galleries of beautiful Zentangle creations. Just take a moment to search around online and you will appreciate the creativity that is blossoming and the fun that people are having.

We are so grateful to everyone who understands our passion and our intent. We also appreciate those who don't, because it makes this conversation possible.

If you are so inspired, we invite you to contribute to this conversation by commenting below. We'll forward a link to the person who originally wrote us.

Rick & Maria


Monday, November 8, 2010

Friday, November 5, 2010

Zentangle Mandolin

A mandolin that hangs on our wall* . . .

. . . served as a model for Maria to paint this gouache on goatskin piece . . .

. . . which we adapted for our 2006 Christmas card.

Here's a detail view of its pick guard with mother-of-pearl tangles and its string connector with engraved tangles.

* This is not the first time this mandolin has modeled for Maria! Also, notice the Zentangle painted on wall and "stuck" in the door jamb.

Click on images for larger view.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Full-size DVD

We originally had a small DVD in our Zentangle Kit. When it was in it's sleeve it was about the same size as our tiles and that was neat.

However this small DVD can't run in increasingly popular slot-loading DVD players like in most Apple computers. It was becoming too much of a hassle for us and our customers. Now we ship full-size DVDs with all our kits.

To create a larger label, Maria copied a small DVD at 200% and taped it to a large sheet of our Zentangle tile paper. She drew a circle for our border, strings within that, and then we tangled away. We didn't shade it because of the silkscreen printing method.

This larger DVD label provides another good visual example of using various tangles.

Click images for larger view.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010


We were making reprints of this piece Maria created for Victoria Magazine. We had forgotten how beautiful its Zentangle sky was.

(Of course, given our occasional short term memory, we may also have forgotten that we've published this before in our blog!  :-)

Print size is approximately 13 x 19 inches.

Click image for larger view.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010


We read this "fortune" and wanted to share it with you.

Of course, a little enjoyment goes a long way, too.

Click images for larger view.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Zentangle Haiku

Cherie sent us this email last night,
The challenge this month was to compose a Haiku and use it for inspiration for your art, using stitching as part of the design element.

I composed a haiku about Zentangle, and designed my piece to be a visual Haiku. The design is divided into three sections : top left (first verse) is five lines of a pattern, mid section (second verse) is seven different patterns, and the right side and bottom (third verse) Is five feather patterns. The design is drawn on white silk dupioni, and then hand embroidered using single ply of cotton, rayon, or metallic threads and beading, quilting through the batting as I stitched. The feathers and black velvet border are machine quilted.

The Haiku:

Calming mind and soul
A string with five, seven, five:
Zentangle Haiku

I think the work you do is so generous and giving. Thank you for the privilege of receiving your daily inspiration!

Thank you for sending that, Cherie. It's beautiful!

We invite readers to visit her blog and enjoy a larger view of her Zentangle creation and what else she wrote. In particular, notice how she used beads for her small circles in the upper left.

Click image for larger view.