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Tuesday, May 30, 2017

John Nordell, CZT

CZT Family Tree
We always say that the Zentangle Method attracts really awesome people. We have had the pleasure of working with wonderful Certified Zentangle Teachers (CZT) all over the world and we are excited to share these wonderful people with the entire Zentangle Community. Through our series, CZT Family Tree, we will introduce individual CZTs.

Today, we are excited to introduce John Nordell


Name: John Nordell

CZT#:  8

Hometown: Cambridge, MA

Photo Credit: Beth Reynolds

Favorite tangle: Cubine

Favorite place to tangle: In front of the class, teaching the Zentangle Method to my college students.

How I use the Zentangle Method in my life:  I look for possibility in what I might initially perceive as a mistake.  This ability to crack open the door to possibilities beyond my imagination is a gift.

My favorite story or memory about teaching the Zentangle Method is:  I was set up to teach a Zentangle Workshop for a Cancer Support group, a mix of patients, survivors and oncology nurses.  As participants entered the room, one woman, after seeing the display of my pieces of Zentangle art, announced, “There is no way I can do that.  I am not an artist!”  I assured her that “One Stroke at A Time” she could do it. Towards the end of the workshop, she started to make some positive declarations.  After completing her Zentangle tile, she exclaimed.  “I made some art.  I am an artist.  I am going to frame this!”

Through my experiences as a CZT, I have learned:  The first time I taught a class for payment, I was nervous and messed up teaching a tangle.  I was sitting there mortified, wondering to myself if I needed to hand out refunds.  I finally decided to be honest, become vulnerable, and admit that I had made some errors teaching the tangle.  I was gearing up to ask the students if they wanted their money back.  They would hear nothing of it, echoing back to me the Zentangle philosophy I had just shared:  “There are not mistakes, only possibilities.  Isn’t this what you have been talking about?”  I was humbled by their forgiveness.

If I’m not tangling, you will find me…: Creating art that relates to the intersection of environmentalism and technology.

Website/Blog:  www.createlookenjoy.com

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

How many times do we have to tell you?... Cut it out!

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!

So, we invite you to enjoy this post from 2011.

                     Begin previous post . . .                  

Maria writes:
"Mom!!!!! (always screamed in two syllables!) . . . He's (my older brother) teasing me again . . . CUT IT OUT!!! Mom, tell him to stop . . . knock it off or I'll tell Dad . . . I said cut it out!"

David yells back, "No! YOU cut it out!"

Some of us have had those childhood nightmares (daymares?) of a sibling making our lives intolerable (or so it seemed). In actuality, it was never so bad. It just interrupted the rhythm of whatever I was doing. I was always content playing by myself, amused with my art or tiny dolls . . . but I guess my brother wasn't so much.

Of course, today we are both in our 60's and he's a really great guy, always was, love him to bits. It must be some sort of rite of passage to go through this routine, choreographed in the heavens by well-meaning beings getting us ready for what life lies ahead.

What does this have to do with Zentangle, you wonder? Well I took this chant to heart. Perhaps it was really angels telling me what to do.

"Cut it out!"

I always listen to my guardian angels . . . albeit somewhat late.

This one is done on a blank Zendala tile, folded once to create a sort of rocking horse effect.

With this next one . . .

. . . I folded the top (white tile) and back tile (black) along the diagonals. The white one folded with the crease facing out vertically, the black one creased inward horizontally. I stitched the white tile (yes, with needle and thread!) at two corners,

then I made a small horizontal slit at the top and inserted the top corner of the back tile into the slit.

I cut these tiles with an X-Acto® knife, something I am comfortable with. But you could use some cuticle scissors or fine embroidery scissors (if you don't mind using them on paper). Then, I tangled around the cut-outs.

A fun project for sure.

On this last one, I used 2 square tiles, white on the back and black for the front. I traced a circle (using the cap of my cayenne pepper jar, about 2" diameter) and cut out the center.

Then I folded the black tile in half (with art facing out), opened it and folded in half the other way (again with the art facing out). Then opened it up flat.

This just gives you a way to form the black tile into 3-D and the circular hole ends up looking like a square!

On the white tile, I cut 2 slits in each corner, (see example) big enough to slip the corners of the back tile in the larger slit, and out the smaller one, of each corner. Voila! A 3-D "Cayenne-tile"

This last little Zendala-ette is the piece I cut out of the blank square black tile. I just couldn't toss it!

Tuesday, May 16, 2017


Rick writes:

Deconstruction: To reduce a pattern to its elemental strokes so that a user of the Zentangle Method can recreate it as a tangle by repeating those strokes one at a time in a simple, structured sequence.

Why is deconstruction important?

When you tangle a deconstructed tangle:
  • The part of you that solves problems or criticizes takes a break. 
  • You enter a state of “flow” as you focus on each stroke, because 
  • You know you’ll know what to do later when the time comes, and since 
  • You’re not concerned about the outcome, 
  • You enjoy the process. 

Inspirations for tangles are all around us. I saw this box in a museum:

 It inspired the tangle well. **

As you become aware of patterns, you will also begin to see their structure and their “elemental strokes.”
In the Zentangle Method elemental strokes are a dot, a straight(ish) line, a curve, an “S” shape and an orb. With these elements, you can draw all our tangles. This is why we say, “If you can write your name, you can create Zentangle Art.  
When you understand that all patterns are made of smaller elements, you look at patterns in art with a new perspective.

Complex patterns and designs become understandable as you discover their elemental strokes and structure . . . in other words, when you deconstruct it. And once you deconstruct it, you can tangle it. And once you can tangle it, you can express it in your own style.

Deconstruction Suggestions 
  1. Keep it simple. Most of our tangles are made from one, two, or maybe (like well) three elemental strokes. 
  2. Keep it non-representational. 

If you think you’ve come up with a new tangle, send it to Linda Farmer, CZT, at www.tanglepatterns.com and she may post it on her site.*
NOTE: Creating a pattern and deconstructing a pattern are different. Many Zentangle tangles are deconstructed from pre-existing patterns. For instance, the pattern that inspired the tangle well was created centuries ago. 
One More Suggestion 
We say that the “Zentangle Method is a metaphor for life,” that “Life is an artform,” and that “Everyone is an artist.”

Patterns are everywhere . . . and not just the obvious ones you might associate with the Zentangle Method of drawing. For instance, there are patterns of behavior, personal interaction and social organization. You can also apply a Zentangle approach to those patterns.

What are their “elemental strokes”? How are they arranged? Can you deconstruct it? Can you “tangle” it? And even more fascinating, might discover a new “tangle” of behavior or interaction or organization for others to explore?

Remember, “Life is an artform” and “Everyone is an artist”!


There were SO many wonderful posts from our last blog that we randomly picked three (instead of one) winners. All three will receive a print of Maria’s Zentangle Color Wheel. Maria gilded the “Z” on one of the prints with gold leaf . . . we’ll send that to the first name we drew.

1. ForgetmenotTangles
2. Laura Story
3. Pamela Scott

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

Thank you all for all your heartfelt comments!

See you soon!

Rick and Maria

* Tangle Patterns is a great resource, run by a CZT, but not affiliated with Zentangle, Inc.

** More about well in this newsletter.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Color Wheel

                               (source: Wikipedia) 

Maria writes:

When I was first introduced to the classic color wheel, I thought I had been handed a secret to the mysteries of my universe. By the time I was seven or eight years old, I knew I was an artist, no matter what anyone else thought. My life revolved around whatever little precious thing I could create.

This color wheel showed me that colors were more than just a choice out of a crayon box. I now realized I had the power to create my own colors. That big box with dozens of colors of crayons no longer had the wonder it once had over me. I no longer needed it!

Now, I demanded colors I could mix myself. A benevolent elderly woman (my mother used to sew or alter all her clothes) found out about my need for paints and bought me a set of water colors. It wasn't a beginner's set with circles of dried paint; it was a real adult set of decent of water color tubes and two beautiful brushes. I thought I had died and gone to heaven. My art immediately switched to more creative paintings and a fascination of no limitations.

Over the years I had a repeating dream in which I discovered a new color that no one else could see. In my dream it was so beautiful and beneficial that all I wanted to do was show it to others. However my problem was that no one else could see it!

Fast-forward 50 years and my dreams of discovering a new color were still alive. When Rick and I discovered Zentangle, I knew somehow that this was the color I had been searching for . . . dreaming of. As years went on and the Zentangle community and its creativity blossomed, I wanted a way to give back to our community of tanglers that gift that I was given so many years ago.
 Well, MY gift had been a color wheel, but what if we had a tangle wheel, of three of the most basic teaching tangles as primary colors, combinations of these as secondary, and all that comes between. Granted, I could not fit them all in there, but the theory of limitless tangle choices existed there.

As I was creating the tangle wheel, I thought of other art forms: language, dance, music. . . . and they all fell into the same system. 26 letters, combine them to create poetry and stories. Dance movements, maybe not so fascinating in isolation, but combine them to create exotic dances. Learn and practice the basic parts of an art, then proceed to combine them, enjoy them, and finally, go beyond and break the rules.

A major secret I discovered to enter my creative universe that I want to share with you is: PERMISSION. You don't need other's permission or blessing to be creative, only your own. Try new things, love what you create, admire what you find beautiful, and share your creations with others. That sentiment informs all our work with the Zentangle Method.

May this wheel and the sentiment behind it inspire you in thought and action.


What inspires you?

What turns on the switch of your creativity?

Share your thoughts in the comments below and we will pick a writer at random and send that person this 17 x 17 inch print of our Zentangle "Tangle" wheel!

And most importantly, have fun!


Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Welcome CZT 27!

Our new home for our Certified Zentangle Teacher training seminars is so wonderful, it feels like we've always been here!

In this our twenty-seventh seminar we all made new friends and renewed old friendships. Some CZTs returned to take the seminar again and some people have been so active on the Zentangle Mosaic app that we already felt we knew them. It was wonderful!

As usual, we have some great images to share. Let's start by welcoming the CZT Class of 27!

This time 18 countries were represented. We added St. Maarten to the list so now there are CZTs in 39 countries!

This seminar was held in the Providence Biltmore. As we remarked earlier, this hotel was built for a Zentangle event because of its decorative tangle-inspiring style.

Let's take a closer look at that ceiling . . .

All you had to was look up . . . or around to get inspiration.

Speaking about inspiration, the beautiful art that CZTs shared provided even more inspiration to put pen to paper:

After each session, we put our tiles together in a mosaic. It was always amazing to see how each person's unique expression fit ever so elegantly into the mosaic:

Class time was focused and fun . . .

 After catching a candid of Molly in front of the tangled wings . . .

Maria and I took pictures of each other:

How wonderful it would be to package the love and creativity and community that happens at these seminars into this blog. If we could, we would. But until that is possible, we will look forward to sharing it with you in person at a future seminar!


All of us at Zentangle HQ are SO grateful for all who traveled from near and far to make this experience all that it could be.

Thank you!

For all who are about to come or who are considering attending, we look forward to meeting you and working with you.

Until next time . . .

Rick and Maria


Upcoming seminars:

June 18-21, 2017

June 25-28, 2017