Posted in Zentangle

Drawing Bigger

Today I started making a conscious effort to draw bigger. 

One of the many pieces of advice found in the book Zentangle Primer is to draw patterns large. When certain patterns are drawn large, other patterns can be drawn inside. Patterns that are larger also require more control and focus, and fill up a tile faster. A single pattern drawn very large can serve as the tile’s string.

When I get caught up in tangling, I tend to draw my patterns small. Consequently, my tiles turn out darker than I like. Sometimes, they take on a cluttered appearance. Too often, my tiles take a very long time to draw, sometimes making the mediation almost tedious, detracting from the intended relaxation. Thankfully, tedium rarely happens. 

This morning, I tangled larger than usual for most of the piece. It went faster and resulted in an airier-looking tangle. 

The border was added last and  was drawn along the outside of the original boundaries, without “straightening out,” to give the piece a more spontaneous feel. 

Although I need to tangle still larger, this is a step in the right direction. The 8-step Zentangle meditation took far less time than my usual tiles (20 minutes compared with my average hour or so), and, surprisingly, left me feeling more refreshed. 

Patterns used in this tile are Henna Drum (the bachelors button looking half-round) and Flee (the cone-flower-like pattern in the bottom right area). Along the outside of the original pencil border, I added a chain of Scoodle elements.

The pattern Flee, drawn even bigger, allows enough space within the pattern to fill leaves and petals with additional tangles. Here, although I left the petals alone, I filled the leaves with the Printemps pattern to give them texture. The Printemps was drawn with the 2B graphite drawing pencil recommended for shading. The leaves were drawn with the Micron 05 pen, which creates a line about twice as thick as the Micron 01 pen. The texture would be richer drawn with the Micron 01, or somewhere in between if I had used a Micron 005 instead of graphite. The same or different pattern (or several patterns) could have been used to fill in the petals for a totally different effect. 
In the last tile, the pattern Flee serves as the string for tangling other patterns in the spaces created by petals and leaves. 
Drawing a pattern very big on your tile can give you a lot more options, especially if inspiration is not coming. Each drawing size yields different possibilities. Those possibilities are endless! 

Tangle, relax, set imagination free, explore your creativity!

Happy tangling!

Posted in Zentangle

New Tangle: Frenot

This new tangle is one I have been using for several months, calling it Frenot. I haven’t posted a step-out before, mostly because I was not sure it is unique. Now, I am pretty certain it is something new.

Frenot  was inspired by the French knot in embroidery work. While unpacking from our move last year, I came across a tiny piece I started years and years ago but never finished. One stitch that was used in it was the French knot. There was a cluster of French knots, creating a ring of petals or blooms. It inspired me to create a tangled interpretation. Being completely new to Zentangle, I didn’t know that anyone can create and name a tangle. Although I used it in some of my tiles, I was afraid to share those tiles because they contained an “unknown” pattern.  It took a while to realize that 1) anyone can create a new pattern; and 2) it is unique, as far as I can tell. 

Although I have been tangling for more than ten months now, I have been working pretty much on my own. That’s why I continue to call myself a newbie or beginner. I have learned so much! There is still so much to learn! Recently, however, I have had a lot of Zentangle-related help from several lovely people on the Zentangle Mosaic app (iPhone/iPad and Android formats available). No one has been more of a help and inspiration to me than Jody Genovese, CZT. It is thanks in large part to Jody’s encouragement on my tangling explorations and experiments that I have gained confidence–in my ability to tangle, and in my willingness to share. So I dedicate this new pattern to her. 

Here is the step-out for Frenot.

Step-out for new tangle pattern Frenot

Here are a few tiles on which I used Frenot. Two of them I shared on Mosaic. 

If you like Frenot and use it in a tile or other work, please feel free to include a photo or a link in the comments section. I would love to see how you use it! 

Until next time,

Happy Tangling!

Posted in Zentangle

Inspired to Create

Inspired by Yoga for Your Brain (see earlier post, InTheMail), I created a new tangle. I don’t have a picture of the photo that inspired me, but I found it while looking through a magazine in the doctor’s waiting room. The article and photos dealt with an architectural dig in Central America. I was surprised to find a tangle pattern among the ancient artifacts!

It was two days before I recorded what I saw as a potential Zentangle pattern. To my eye, it functions best as a grid or border tangle.

My new pattern, Stonework.

 This picture shows a hurriedly drawn grid with a few minor differences in the basic pattern–shading, rounding, rotation. I think it might also work well as a background pattern, but we’ll see what I come up with. 

If you want to try it, here is the step-out. Stonework step-out

For me, I start diagonal ovals and rounded strokes with rounding off the corners. Part of the reason is that my astigmatism causes distortion of lines for me. It is easier to connect two points than to try to figure out where to start curving–I am almost always wrong when I try to guesstimate. In drawing the smaller oblongs, I start with the longest, basically doing the same thing as for the diagonal with the rounded ends. The rest of the row is just elongated C’s, followed by a circle. Finally, I either round (fill in) around the ends or shade. 

When the pattern is used in a grid with rotated diagonals, the effect can be flower-like. As a border, the patterns can all go in the same direction, or the direction can be rotated. In corners, the pattern can be “mitered,” especially if the horizontals and verticals are drawn in different rotations. 

Before creating the step-out and naming the pattern, I checked through all the patterns in’s latest e-book catalog (2017) called Presenting … The Tangles. To the best of my ability to discriminate, this tangle is unique. Two or three patterns might be roughly similar, but none share more than one characteristic with Stonework. One pattern has stacked oblongs, but they are all the same size. Another pattern has a diagonal oblong, but no vertical or horizontal ones. That’s as close as other patterns came to this one. 

Please let me know if Stonework is the same as another pattern. Zentangle is an international community, and not all countries share tangles. I have seen tangles on various web sites online that are identical but share several different names. At the very least, I would like to share the names of the patterns for cross-reference. 

If you use this pattern, please leave a comment and a picture or link to where it is posted. Thanks!

Happy Tangling! 

Posted in Zentangle

Diva Challenge 304

It’s the last day to submit to the Diva Challenge #304. The tangle is Way Bop. So many tanglers contribute beautiful serious works that are rich in textures, patterns, and movement. I decided to submit my fun and fanciful Carnival Dancer 💃 because this tangle was so much fun to do. I had been experimenting with contrast for shading, which didn’t quite work out the way I had thought it would. That the dancer emerged was a bonus to my fun, though.


Posted in Zentangle

Endorphins on My Mind

Zentangle is in large part a mindful method of stress reduction. When one tangles, a meditative calm sets in, often releasing unexpected bubbles of creativity that positively excite us into a focused frame of mind as we concentrate on what the pen is drawing. Sometimes we plan our tangling; sometimes the pen seems to take over and the only things left to our minds is to focus on steady strokes, straight lines, and smooth curves. As we are doing all this, the brain and body release endorphins, and we feel better and better. 

Endorphins are those feel-good hormones produced by our bodies’ brains and nervous systems to inhibit pain and produce a euphoric state (probably to reduce pain!). They have a calming effect on our nerves. They want to soothe whether the pain is physical or emotional. They also make us want to reach the same levels of feel-goodedness again and again and again. In short, they are addictive.

When we are stressed or under psychological pressure, we tend to tighten up, which causes muscles to ache and heads to throb. Whether we think about it not, we need for our systems to release a few endorphins to make the pain and stress go away. If we don’t take proactive measures to reduce the effects of stress, everything gets worse–muscles knot up more, the throbbing in our heads takes on the sensation of being pounded by a psychopathic drummer, aches increase, and so on in a downward cycle. 

Because we often can’t think straight when we reach the point of physical discomfort, the best proactive approach is to practice endorphin-releasing activities to either lessen the effects of stress or to keep stressful situations from taking us to a point of no return. Some people run every day or two; other people work out at the gym; still others take yoga classes. Some of us Zentangle.

Zentangle can be practiced anywhere–in the grocery checkout line, in the doctor’s waiting room, in a restaurant waiting for an order, in front of the TV, in bed–well, anywhere at all. Even if people use smart phones to record appointments and lists, a pencil, pen, and small note pad or artist tile are easy to always slip into a pocket or purse, or keep on the nightstand. Zentangle requires no special clothes or equipment. A smal amount of time–maybe 15 minutes–is all that’s needed, and no appointments or schedules are required. 

If the paper or tile gets a little smudged or wrinkled as it travels along with you during the day, those elements just add charm and character to the tangle. Here’s a tile I drew while waiting in the car for my husband’s haircut to be finished. 

Creases from cell phone pushed on top in my purse were accented with graphite. A scribble from a lost pen cap was incorporated into the design–sort of.

Nothing fancy, and I admit I shaded it at home because he came out faster than I expected–but still not a bad little piece of on-the-go tangling. It was a little cramped behind the wheel, as I am very short, but I had enough elbow room to draw and relax a bit ( and I could have moved the seat back). My husband always calls for pick-up too early. Rather than be angry, I tangle while I wait and let the endorphins flow. And if I am not finished when I reach the cashier or my breakfast order arrives (or my husband gets in the car) I can set the tile aside to complete it another time. I don’t need to worry about forgetting what the next step was supposed to be because Zentangles are unplanned. The patterns should be those that come to me when the pen reaches a blank space. When that space is reached–in the next microsecond, a year, or any time in between–the pattern that comes to mind is the one that goes there. It’s OK to plan the patterns; it’s just not necessary.

An idea just came to mind. It is time, I think, to tangle another tile and get another endorphin fix.

Until next time, Happy Tangling! 

Posted in Zentangle

Growing Into Tangling

Browsing through my album of tiles and my sketchbooks over the weekend was an interesting and surprising experience. I have been tangling since the end of April, 2016–about 10 months. What I saw was growth as well as regression–typical of any learning progress. When my work became more attractive, the same patterns and techniques appeared in a cluster. During times of learning new techniques and patterns, the work became cluttered or less cleanly drawn. The pattern kept repeating in cycles, only now becoming less extreme in its swings. 

One of my first tangles, late April, 2016. I thought this was so cool! I knew only 9 patterns then, and I included them all!
Today’s morning meditation is cheerier, more confident, with a pattern or two learned in the past week. I can confidently draw over 100 patterns now, am familiar with a couple hundred more, and I keep learning a new one or two each day. Only 7 patterns were used.

If you look at the tangles above, you can see that, in my early tile, what I lacked in pattern skills I tried to hide behind a bit of flare. Today’s tile is less stilted. Whether it is more pleasant to view is not my call, but I find it more breezy, better developed, and stronger, even though two of the patterns used here are out of my sketchbook and on a tile for the first time.

To be honest, I have no inate artistic talent or abilities, and it is only about three years since I learned to produce any art at all. I took up drawing lessons to learn to see things as an artist might, and had limited success. My teacher suggested switching to acrylics (I’m too  slow) or oils (which I feared). I even picked up watercolor books and videos and tried to learn that, only to discover that watercolor presents its own unique set of challenges. Then, less than a year ago, I learned about Zentangle. 

I had been looking for a method of meditation and relaxation that involved movement. Although Tai Chi was an option, I couldn’t find classes here on the island–not then, anyway. Besides, going to a Tai Chi class would have involved getting into the car and searching for parking–not very conducive to relaxation. 

“Zentangle” was a term I remembered referenced in several of my art how-to books. I thought at first it was some new professional school or method of art. Then I found out it isn’t art in the traditional sense at all–it’s Zentangle, pure and simple. That it centers around drawing is a good thing, I thought to myself. That it can be done by even the most artistically challenged is even better! So I researched more. 

Although certified Zentangle teachers (CZTs) can be found all over the world–increasingly in China and India–none seem to be in Sint Maarten, the tiny island (well, half-island) country in the Caribbean. So I ordered a book or two from Amazon and set out to see if I could teach myself. I spent well over 20 years teaching children and young men and women professionally. Surely I could teach myself, too.

And I did teach myself Zentangle, of a sort. On the official Zentangle site,, the recommendation is to learn the Zentangle method from a CTZ through a workshop. The second best way to learn is by purchasing the Zentangle Primer, Volume 1, and the Zentangle starter kit, both available for purchase on the web official site. After months of trying with other sources, I broke down and purchased both. Not only did I wish I had done that from the beginning, but I also decided that, because Zentangle was so helpful to me, I wanted to bring Zentangle to this tiny island. In two months, I will be attending a Zentangle seminar to become a CZT so I can do just that. 

My copy of The Zentangle Primer gets used almost every day. I may never get to all the ideas inside! The book contains step-outs for dozens of patterns that make the complex easy to draw and embellish, as well as dozens of sample “fragments” to develop and “reticula” ideas for grid tangles and strings.

Here’s the thing: I may not have started off with the best self-teaching materials, but I did start off with an excellent resource, One Zentangle a Day, a book by Beckah Krahula, CZT.

My well-used copy that contains six weeks of lessons and about 75 patterns with step by step directions.
It gave me enough information and techniques to get me started, even if I became frustrated sometimes. As a beginner’s reference, it is a great book, especially if you are looking for at least a little of the mindfulness and relaxation benefits. It contains a lot of information for trying Zentangle on for size, but it doesn’t cover Zentangle principles in depth. A great “first” book at low cost. If all you are looking for is art or crafting ideas, it is also a great source of ideas and buying information. But for a deeper understanding of the Zentangle method and its effects on calming your mind and increasing both focus and creativity–and if you want a book that will continue to be a resource for years to come–then The Zentangle Primer is a must-have book. 

For me, a helpful resource is an app called Zentangle Mosaic, available in Apple iPad and iPhone format, as well as in Android format. It is an excellent source of inspiration, tips, and friendly and supportive members from all over the world. Many well-known and respected CZTs share their work on the app regularly. Many up-and-coming CZTs participate and provide advice and support. Zentangle founders Rick Roberts and Maria Thomas share their own work, new ideas, and even exclusive videos there. Rick, Maria, and their family interact with members all the time, providing feedback and encouragement, especially to new tanglers. It is a marvelous community of tanglers. Posted work is validated for its “Zentagleness” (my word). There is a free option, if all you want from the app is inspiration, and a paid option, which allows you to upload photos of your work and actively communicate with Mosaic subscribers. I don’t know enough about the free version to compare it to the paid subscription, but I believe that, as lovely as the free version is for viewing others’ work, the most useful features come only with membership. To me, the benefits I derived from the paid subscription is priceless, especially since I tangle alone here on the island. 

 Encouragement from members of Mosaic got me participating in national and international challenges on Facebook and blog sites. The challenges are not as supportive as Mosaic, but I have learned to judge tangles on “Zentangleness” instead of eye candy. Many challenge submissions are Zentangle Inspired Art, which can be beautiful and whimsical, but a lot are by professional artists. They each have something to teach, though, even if the intention is not there. There are many artsy and craft ideas presented by challenge participants. Mindful tangling is difficult to put out there when one is not an artist. My tangling may not compete in artistry, but it solidly represents the Zentangle method and purpose. After one or two posts, I was no longer intimidated by the pros. For an example of a short (two-week) challenge, visit “valentangle2017” on Facebook. It came with a book of instructions for what to include in each day’s tile, along with lovely examples to use as models. The contributor pool was just over 200 participants–small by Facebook standards. Lots of beautiful work on display, though. 

All of these resources have helped me grow as a tangler. I firmly believe, however, that workshops are the best way to learn Zentangle. When I tangle alone, even with supportive online communities available, it’s difficult to get questions answered or discussions on techniques moving smoothly. There is something about face-to-face contact that helps those of us seeking the mindfulness and meditative aspects of Zentangle. Hopefully, I won’t be tangling “alone” on the island for much longer! 

Happy tangling! 

Posted in Art, Zentangle

Color My World Blue!

It was a picture-perfect Caribbean day this afternoon–deep blue sky, lagoon waters more blue than green for a change, and light just seemed to flow all around, even in the shade of a rom open to the sky.

I had just finished tangling another tile, and was photographing it for upload to the Zentangle Mosaic app when I noticed the iPad was turning the picture blue. This had happened once before in recent weeks, and I hadn’t noticed the color until it was too late. This time, I did notice a very pale blue tint to the photo, and took the photo again. And again. And … We’ll, you get the picture. I tried moving outdoors–same blue. I moved to a different room–blue. And then I noticed all the shadows indoors and out had a definite blue tinge. 

An hour later, and long after I posted the tile, the blue was gone. 

Normally, I am pretty aware of light–it’s color, it’s texture, it’s luminosity, if you will. So I am not sure why I paid so little attention to changes in light color since moving to the island four years ago. Thankfully, today I did notice, and this will change how I perceive the island forever. 

Latitude, as one friend suggested? Reflection of ocean and sky? Just the right weather conditions?  A mix of these and more? Something new to research and explore as I tangle away. 

The tile here was part of a sort of challenge on the Zentangle Mosaic app by the founders of Zentangle. The idea is that we all run into stumbling blocks occasionally regarding what to tangle. The suggestion was to draw a frame that is far from the edges. Next step, aura it–outline it bigger on the outside. Next, draw a Mooka pattern–or a Zinger or other “long-stemmed” pattern starting at an interior corner and moving behind the frame so its “head” rests on top. Then embellish. Just a few simple steps to start the creative juices flowing. Before you know it, you have a completed tangle! 

When I draw challenges or challenge-like tangles, I like to keep things very simple. If I don’t, i keep adding elements until the pattern looks cluttered. Maybe that’s a reflection of what is going on internally, but I don’t always like the effect of dumping my clutter onto a tile. So I minimize. The benefits of meditation are still there, as I still need to focus and concentrate to keep lines straight and relatively even distances. But I stop long before I might if tangling completely from my own mind with no suggestions from outside. 

We each have our own style of tangling, especially under unique situations. This is my “challenge style.” And sometimes it turns blue. 

Posted in Art, Zentangle

A Sleepless Night

The night before last, I got no sleep. Zero minutes of sleep. None. 

Although insomnia hits me often–averaging every second night–I usually get at least two hours of sleep in. I know this because my Fitbit tells me so. But that night, nothing was allowing me to fall asleep.

Why am I telling you this? Because something interesting occurred and was “recorded” by my Fitbit: for the hour or so of tangling to help me relax, the app decided that all it’s measurements showed I had slept for 49 consecutive minutes! 

No, I wasn’t actually sleeping during that time. I was tangling, and was apparently deep enough into a relaxed, meditative state that Fitbit believed I was asleep. Since I have my sleep measures set to “sensitive,” the device doesn’t count any periods of movement of any kind as sleep time. It calls it restless time, possibly because the app has no way of knowing if I am simply in a less deep state of sleep or if I am in a waking-up state. So it does not count those periods as sleep. Since it is hard to draw without moving, all my other body signs must have fooled the app into thinking I was in an actual sleep state. 

Even though I already experience the restful nature of Zentangle, it was both surprising and welcoming to have the meditation state and time confirmed by a scientific device. Just another reason to tangle on! 

Posted in Zentangle

My Way Bop Examples

Yesterday I posted the official public step-out for the Zentangle® called Way Bop. I included a few of my first attempts. Today I am posting photos of two more I tangled today

The first one is drawn on a black square tile, using a white Gelly Rollâ„¢ pen for the design and General’s Charcoal Whiteâ„¢ pencil for shading. 
The second tile is a “pre-strung” Zendala® tile. That means it comes with strings already on the tile. The string breaks the tile up into smaller drawing/coloring areas. For the basic structure of the Way Bop, I “jumped the fence” (ignored the lines) a lot. Then I jumped a lot more fences to fill in with other Zentangle designs. 

Imagine what you can do! 

Remember: Anything is possible one stroke at a time! ®

Posted in Art, Zentangle

A New Zentangle: Way Bop

For some time, I have been seeing a wonderful pattern drawn by CZTs (Certified Zentangle Teachers) appearing in the Zentangle Mosaic app on my iPad. It is intricate, beautiful, and full of tangling possibilities. The tangle is called Way Bop, an interesting name selected during a CZT-only event in 2016, when it was first introduced. Often, when Zentangle puts out a brand new pattern, the step-out is first provided only to CZTs to teach in their own workshops. After a while, the step-out is made available to everyone else. 

Some patterns are relatively easy to deconstruct. This was not one of them for me, and I was delighted when the step-out was made public this past week in the Zentangle blog newsletter (click to view it). Along with it came a variation with a heart motif for Valentine’s Day. If you are an avid tangler and subscribe to the Zentangle app for iOS or Android, you also have access to an exclusive video showing founder Maria Thomas drawing and embellishing this pattern while founder Rick Roberts narrates. 

Because this is still a very new pattern for me, my interpretations are still elementary and awkward. Despite this, my attempts are not too bad–not as elegant as they may later become, and lacking any great artistic qualities, but pleasant and intricate enough for early tries. 

The one on the right was drawn as a Valentine, based on the heart variation step-out of Way Bop. On the left is a first shot at something more intricate than the simplest result.

Looks difficult, doesn’t it? Well, here are copies of the Step-outs from the newsletter to show you how easy this pattern becomes once the steps are logically presented. Just follow the arrows! 

Way Bop Step-out
Heart Variation of Way Bop

The spaces created by the Way Bop pattern can be filled with other patterns, surrounded by tangles and embellishments, colored in–so many possibilities! 

For a recent 14-day FaceBook-based Zentangle challenge for Valentine’s Day (search with Valentangle2017), I tangled an impression of my home here in Sint Maarten. I had been playing with Way Bop for less than an hour when I drew this as a meditation in my sketchbook. It shows the garden, the view of the lagoon, and the “rippled tile” tin roof. The challenge theme was “Home is where the heart is.” 

Just drawing this pattern is soothing and meditative. Adding elements to enhance the tangle is challenging, fun, and meditative in its own right. 

If you are on the island of St. Martin in the Caribbean, as resident or visitor, feel free to contact me. In two months, I will be attending a certification seminar in Rhode Island, earning my certification. I will return home to my island as a CZT, ready to spread Zentangle to everyone who wants a meditative methodology that results in a small work of art, especially to those who are convinced they can’t draw. I can’t draw, but I can tangle! 

My Island Home: “Home is where the heart is.”