Posted in Zentangle

Just a Touch…

Sometimes, just a touch of embellishment can make an ordinary pattern special and dramatic.

When Molly Hollibaugh blithely drew a slightly embellished Printemps tangle during a CZT27 Seminar session about drawing on an Aprentice tile, a soft chorus of Oooo’s and Aah’s filled the room. Printemps is a simple coil pattern, and one of the first taught during beginner workshops. By itself, it is elegant. When Molly added her simple embellishment, it became exquisite. 

Here is the progression from Nice! to Spectacular!

  A simple Printemps element, an added crescent aura along one side on each loop of the coil, a simple ink fill–an elegant result! 
When I posted my “hotel tile” in the Zentangle Mosaic® app, drawn from a string I created during the CZT seminar, I received several questions about how to draw it. As you can see, it is an easy embellishment. Below is the tile that brought on queries.


This tile would have little impact as a monotangle of original Printemps, but adding several weighted ones added drama and depth. Since Printemps is my “go-to” tangle when inspiration fails, I am delighted to have another option for drawing it. 

Just goes to show that it can take so little to add a lot! 

Until next time, Happy Tangling!

Posted in Zentangle

 In the Mail…

Originally published in February of 2017, this post keeps ending back in my drafts folder with no explanation. I have published it twice before but it seems to get returned to drafts after a few days. Nothing here should interfere with copyright laws, I can find nothing offensive in the post, and I employ my own photos. This is basically a book review of several publications. If it gets flagged by someone, I would greatly appreciate a note of explanation.

If you know me, then you know I get “little kid surprised” when I get something special in the mail, even if I ordered it and was expecting it. Sometimes I think that I order online so I can open a new package– like every mail delivery day is my birthday. Thursday was no different. I received a bunch of art supplies in the mail–Sakura pens and pen brushes, tons of practice tiles, Chai Latte, and a book! I thought the pens would top my excitement meter. It turned out that it was the book that sent the excitement rating off the chart.

The book is Yoga for your Brain, by Sandy Steen Bartholomew. Published in 2011, it is an “older” Zentangle how-to book, but it’s ideas are fresh to a novice tangler like me, and the author Re-defines Zentangle in a fresh and awakening manner. It looks like a book I will turn to over and over for years to come.

What makes it exciting? This isn’t just any old how to tangle book. Ms. Bartholomew shows you how to see like an artist and tangler. New patterns are all around us if we just take a moment to see them. Sure, we look at stuff all the time. But are we seeing potential patterns to tangle? The author demonstrates how she came up with tangle patterns during a “whirlwind tour.” And she shares her secrets with the rest of us–all while providing lots of instruction and helpful tips on aspects of tangling. 

This book is not the author’s first book on tangling. It’s the sequel to Totally Tangled, my copy of which should reach me from Amazon by the end of next week (I live in the Caribbean and we get our mail through a mail service once or twice a week). If you are completely new to Zentangle® and the Zentangle Method®, your most cost-effective book is the Zentangle Primer, by Zentangle founders Rick Roberts and Maria Thomas. At almost $50, it’s a little costly, but I learned about its value after spending three times it’s price on other books (see my post, “Growing Into Tangling,” here). The Primer is available on the official Zentangle web site. I don’t know yet if Totally Tangled is the next best book for the beginning tangler. I continue to recommend Beckah Krahula’s book, One Zentangle a Day, available online from Amazon, as the second-best “first” Zentangle book. 

Since Yoga for your Brain book was published, Sandy Steen Bartholomew has had other Zentangle publications. She has a writing style that tells you what you need to know in very concise language that gets right to her point (and your pen point) quickly. Tons of illustrations–from step-outs to project ideas–make it almost picture-book simple to understand and follow along, yet it is packed with information on tangling techniques, creating your own tangles, and projects that are both crafty and artistic. These make the book as useful to professional artists looking to add Zentangle art to their work as to all the talented crafters and newbie tanglers out there. It is under $13 on Amazon, so it’s an investment that won’t break your budget. But the small price hides a wealth of ideas and tips, making the investment a great opportunity, especially for your artistic growth. 

Until next time, Happy Tangling! 

Posted in Zentangle

My Journey to CZT27 and Back

This post is not a travelogue. But it is about a journey–a very personal one.
For the past twenty-five years or so, I have been struggling with depression. Many of us know that environment can elate or depress. Sometimes it’s the physical environment, sometimes it’s a social environment. Other times it is the environment we create in our heads. Often, two or more combine to make our journey through life far from ideal. 

Post CZT27 hotel tangle

When depression hits, it often takes a while to recognize it for what it is. As a person who analyzes–and often over-analyzes–what is going on around me, I sometimes underestimate how deeply I can sink. That’s what happened this time, I believe.

Four years ago, I left Los Angeles (which I really loved!) for a beautiful tropical island in the Caribbean where I now live. Shortly before leaving, my doctor and I thought it might be a good time to try life without antidepressants. So he weaned me off and cautioned me to get back on if I felt I needed them again. After twenty or so years of chemical help to get me through the day, it felt kind of good to experience life without the shroud of medication. Unfortunately, that didn’t last long, although it took four years to recognize the symptoms. I found that, despite a move to Paradise, what didn’t change was the family unit. At my age and with my lack of financial support caused by the move, I had nowhere to go. I needed–and continue to need–an escape from the psychological bashing which I know is unintentional, mostly because my partner in life is so incredibly clueless. He is basically a good man, but lives in a tiny vacuum world where he defines everything based on how he wants his world to be, not as the world truly is. Because he cannot separate himself from his job, and because his limited observation skills take in only the job, he functions differently than most people do. That’s something I can deal with when I have some chemical support to help me separate myself from his unintentionally cruel remarks. But on my own, I sink slowly into dark depths of criticism for not being a scientist.

About three weeks before Seminar, I was in my doctor’s office begging for help. A few days earlier, I recognized that I was nearing the bottom of an abyss, and I was hoping to make it to Seminar in better spirits. I had been so excited about going, but found myself growing apathetic. Tangling daily helped to stave off the gloom; tangling also helped me realize how deeply I had become entrenched in the mire. Tangling and the incredible Mosaic community’s support and encouragement of my work helped immeasurably–but it wasn’t enough to keep me from sinking. The sinking was slower, but I finally recognized that it was preventing me only from crashing soon and crashing hard. I could see and feel the downward pull in the tiles I was producing, no matter how hard I tried to draw happy and less rigid tangles.

Post-CZT27 tangle on a turbulent jet

Normally, it takes about two to two-and-a-half weeks for me to experience results from antidepressants. I may have been far deeper than I recognized because I felt no change when I arrived in Providence two days before Seminar began. I slept for the better portion of those two days. The chilly air and rain upon my arrival probably added to the fatigue. Or perhaps it was the sleep deprivation of my insomnia that finally caught up with me. The point is that I made up a bit of sleep loss. But when I went through my suitcase, I realized what a hurried and poor job of packing I had done, not to mention that I had meant to bring a larger suitcase. So off to the mall I trotted to replace the cane I forgot at home and to purchase clothes more appropriate to New England spring weather. Shopping should make me feel better, right? No such luck. I ended up buying dark gray and black. Talk about color matching mind…

On Sunday, the first day of CZT27, I was changing rooms to share one with another attendee. Even through the excitement of finding out my roommate was the incomparable Frannie Lip (Mosaic name @fplshCZT ), I could feel the depression like a cold wet blanket smothering me. It was awful. I still hadn’t shaken the gloom, and I became really worried that I would never shake it–at least, not in time to enjoy the Seminar. I had been taking my Pristiq® for 22 days by the first day, and it just wasn’t working. To say that I despaired would be an understatement. And still my tangles were too tight and depressing.

Thankfully, the electric atmosphere of the classroom full of enthusiastic and happy participants managed to drill through a small portion of the gloom. I was able to experience some of the energy and love of the room. I have no doubt that the positive energy kicked the Pristiq in the butt and jump-started my slow climb to the surface. Soon, I felt less despair and more of the excitement. That energy kept growing, loosened up my tangling, making me care less about those “nonexistent” mistakes (always remediable), and allowed me to enjoy the people and experience–maybe not as fully as I would have liked, but we all have to start somewhere! 

A fun CZT27 creatin

My trip home was a nightmare. At least, most travelers would have regarded it as one. For me, the growing peace and the memories of the event helped me keep the travel problems in perspective. I tangled in the Logan Airport hotel, in the hotel I hadn’t anticipated visiting in Charlotte NC; I tangled through four hours of a more direct next-day flight home, I tangled while waiting for my luggage–containing most of my tangling supplies for future classes as well as my precious Zentangle journal–decided my suitcase wanted to spend one more day with Frannie’s luggage. And I noted the improvement in my work. I don’t believe the meds alone would have helped. I don’t know if tangling alone would have helped, even though it kept me from falling apart sooner and sinking deeper. I am convinced that the combination of meds and Seminar pulled me out of the abyss faster than I could have hoped. I am even more convinced that tangling was the stronger influence.

For those of you who have noted a big improvement in my tangling over the past week or so, now you know why. It wasn’t just the Seminar with its incredible people and experiences; it wasn’t just the pharmaceutical. Mostly it was the tangling and Seminar, but I am grateful that I caught my depression before it became so much worse that I would have missed my flight to Providence with the stimulating, energizing, calming, comforting atmosphere in CZT27 Seminar. 

A happy, quilt-like tangle once home

My previous post about the wonders of Seminar was not embellished. Rather, with Seminar kick-starting the meds into action, I was able to tear away the obfuscating veil while writing and express the excitement that I couldn’t express during Seminar itself. My art mproved as the fog drifted away slowly as we moved from session to session. This improvement was my first indication that something was changing for the better. I began gaining confidence and reassessing whether a tile I hadn’t quite finished during a session was complete enough as it was. I noticed my lines flowed better, and that I had stopped caring so much about wobbly pens. I began enjoying the tangling process so much more–I thought earlier that I was enjoying the Zentangle Method; now I knew that I hadn’t even begun to experience the joy and sense of accomplishment. 

Thank you to all I met at Seminar for the first time, to all whose faces and personalities I can now add to the qualities of friendship that began on Mosaic, to the founders Maria Thomas and Rick Roberts and their advice and exuberance, to Molly Hollibaugh and Martha Huggins for their wonderful guidance sessions, to Julie (whose last name continues to escape me) for answering my Mosaic questions, to the rest of Maria’s family and the founders’ friend’s who made the event so successful, and to all participants whose work I admired but whose acquaintance I didn’t make. Each of you with your unique contributions to Seminar helped me rise from the darkness. Words cannot express my gratitude. Bless you all!

With an overflowing heart,

Ellie ( DrEllieCZT )

Posted in Zentangle

CZT27 Seminar, Providence RI


I am a CZT! That’s a Certified Zentangle Teacher. 

This post is way overdue. It has been a week since Seminar ended, and I am still walking on clouds from the positive energy generated by the 93 attendees, the presentations by Zentangle founders and family (relatives and adoptees!), and the hushed intensive participation in activities and practice. 
Above are Frannie (my roommate and fantastic artist) and Amber (one of my favorite Mosaic app tanglers). In the second photo, I am the short old person on the right, with Frannie on the left.

One of the best parts about Seminar was meeting tanglers whose work I got to know and respect on the Zentangle Mosaic® app. There were more Mosaic friends than I expected, as I assumed most were already CZTs–their work is that good!  What a surprise to discover that so many were trainees like me! So much to discuss and learn from each other, and now a shared experience to bring us closer!

CZT27 Seminar was held April 23 through April 26, 2017, in the historic and fabulous Providence Biltmore Hotel, an architectural masterpiece of Arte Neuvou and Art Deco! Every part of the building that we explored had beautiful grillwork, inlays, sculpture… a treat for the eyes and inspiration for new patterns! The staff was wonderful, polite, and friendly; accommodations were luxurious; and the ambiance was conducive to relaxation and creation. Meals were incredible master works that challenged Cordon Blu restaurants, despite our numbers. Break “snacks” could challenge formal British teas. We were so pampered!

But despite the luxury, we worked. We worked hard. So much was introduced at each session! The Tuesday sessions left many of our heads spinning from the skills and information presented and acquired in that single day. I saw no one leaving the class room whose eyes were not glazed over. 

As always, the best part was meeting such talented artists from all over the globe–34 countries were represented (I think that’s the right number!) and more than two-thirds of the States. What a diverse and glorious group! Frannie, my roommate, is from Brisbane, Australia–an incredibly long trip crossing timelines and losing and gaining days. Others came from France, Germany, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, Taiwan, China, India, and many many more places. Our session brought the number of CZTs to over 2700 internationally. And the next two Providence-based certification sessions in June will bring that number close to 3000. With a few sessions scheduled to be given in China later this year, the number of CZTs available to teach this meditative art method will skyrocket! The Zentangle Method just keeps growing! 

We learned how to conduct the introductory workshops, mostly through modeling. Rarely were we told “Do this first, then that,” except for which tangles to teach first–and that is because these patterns set the stage for vocabulary and concepts for all the other tangle patterns created by the founders and by tanglers from all over the Internet and the world. 

At each new session, we started the day or session with new tools that would be used for that lesson’s techniques. I came home with almost as many gifted tools as purchased ones. Pencils and pens, samples of different types of tiles, an official Zentangle® journal, a CZT carry bag, “CZT Only” booklet of official tangles and their step-outs, and so much more. 

We learned new tangles and old, and string creation techniques. We learned what we can and cannot do as official representatives of Zentangle and the Zentangle Method. We learned some official vocabulary and some not so official terms. We shared our work in class mosaics that took up half a large rectangular banquet table. We got ideas for journaling and initiated them with the tiles we produced, organized under the session names. 

Here are a few pages from my Zentangle journal.

        

The first photo depicts the how and why of the Zentangle Method, accompanied by a powerful discussion of the elegance of limits. The next photo is of an unfinished tile with a string I drew for the String Theory session. After it spent some time in the class mosaic, I decided that I really like it just the way it is, with the unfilled string as part of the completed whole. The final tile is special to me. The pattern is called Verdigogh, and was one of the first patterns I tried to learn on my own a year ago. Drawn during the Deconstruction session, it represents the best Verdigogh I have ever drawn. Despite following step-outs and studying various videos on YouTube, it took watching it drawn in person for me to draw it to my personal satisfaction. How much of this was due to the presenter (Martha,I think), personal experience, ambiance, group energy, or a combination of these, I don’t know. But I am incredibly proud of the complex yet simple-to-draw achievement. 

There are many other tangled tiles in my journal. Over the next several posts, I will share several more. For now, I want to tell you just a bit more about #CZT27 Seminar.

We tangled classic tiles, 3Z tiles, black tiles, bijou tiles, renaissance tiles, and Zendala tiles–even Apprentice tiles! We tangled in black and in brown. We learned ways to use graphite to best advantage and charcoal white pencils on tiles of any color. We each tangled a section of a seminar mosaic that was framed and given by lottery to a very lucky participant. 

During breaks, we marveled at the artistic creations by attendees–tangled origami sculptures, tangled plates and boxes and carvings. Tangle-decorated album and journal covers, frames, orbs, jewelry… so much to see that my mind could not absorb it all. Seeing supplies and tools in the Zentangle Store was like entering an exquisite toy shop full of potential purchases. I wanted one of everything! Unfortunately, funds and luggage space were limited. 

The group energy, the exhuberance of founders Maria Thomas and Rick Roberts, and the teaching techniques of Molly Hollibaugh, Martha Huggins, and Julie (whose last name escapes me) sustained our interest and activities during sessions and in between. There was humor, compassion, serious periods, and flow–lots of flow. 

Words cannot express the whole experience. I am so grateful to have been gifted with the CZT training experience. I was in a Wonderland where only good things and better things happen. 

Next time, I will share some personal challenges that could have prevented me from experiencing the full effect of the Seminar, but that quickly made me appreciate the experience even more. 

Until next time, Happy Tangling!

Zentangle Mosaic® name: @DrEllieCZT

Frannie’s Mosaic name: @fplshCZT

Amber’s Mosaic name: @AmberRainCZT

🙃

Posted in Zentangle

Strutz and Borblz: Tangles from the UK

Patterns: Strutz and Borblz, by Sarah Fowler; and original Zentangle patterns Flux, Fescue, Mooka, Paradox, and Printemps; and Baecube by Barbara Steyer

Today’s new tangle patterns come to us from Sarah Fowler, from the United Kingdom. Sarah has been using these tangles for some time, and has recently shared the step-outs on the Zentangle Mosaic app. Recently, Strutz was featured in the TanglePatterns.com newsletter. 

Here are the step-outs for Strutz and Borblz, followed by some of Sarah’s tiles that feature these patterns. 

   
   


Hoping you find these patterns as fun to draw as I do, I wish you Happy Tangling! 

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Posted in Zentangle

Baecube Tangle Pattern by Barbara Steyer

For those of us who enjoy drawing geometric patterns, German tangler Barbara Steyer has created a wonderful design! She calls it Baecube. I love Baecube because it creates a wonderful 3-dimensional weave effect. 

Below is the step-out that is also posted in the Zentangle Mosaic app.


Here are a few tiles Barbara tangled using Baecube. 

  

  
In her Zendala, Barbara enhances her tile with a pattern called Strutz and created by Sarah Fowler.  Strutz will be featured in the next blog post. However, I wanted to include some tiles using Baecube that Sarah tangled.

By the way, if you use the Mosaic app, Barbara is @Baeste. Find many of her wonderful tiles there!

    
My next post will include patterns Strutz and Borblz, both created by Sarah of the United Kingdom.

Until next time, Happy Tangling!

Posted in Zentangle

Back to Basics 3

For the past couple of weeks, I have been sticking to my Back to Basics approach to tangling, partly to escape the feeling of being overwhelmed by so many new patterns emerging, partly to remind myself of the patterns I learned almost a year ago when I first started tangling. Using the Zentangle Primer, Volume 1, by Zentangle founders Maria Thomas and Rick Roberts, I started again from the beginning of the book, re-doing all the exercises with fresh eyes as well as accumulated experience. 

The very simplicity of the way I tangled through the first six lessons helped me touch base with the reasons I started tangling to begin with–to relax and re-center my mind, to let go for a few moments of the demands of the world around me, to remind myself that I can still learn new things and create. And so I kept things simple–nothing fancy or extravagant; just the original tangles presented in the Primer, without embellishment except as the exercises required. 

The tiles and tangles below are studies based on some of the Lesson 6 featured patterns and related exercises.

  

  

Only seven of the basic twenty-one tangles introduced in the first six chapters were used to create these four tangled tiles. One tangle–the checkerboard-like Knights Bridge–is used so often that I forgot that it wasn’t introduced in the Primer at all! It was introduced very early in One Zentangle a Day, by Beckah Krahula, the book that introduced me to Zentangle. (Incidentally, Ms. Krahula’s book was published in 2012–four years before the Zentangle Primer, Vol. 1 came out.) 

The order of things in the Primer allows the tangler to build artistic and Zentangle techniques as well as an arsenal of patterns that naturally spring forward during a meditative tangling session. Four basic patterns are introduced in the first chapter, three more in the second, one “correction” pattern in Chapter 5, and fourteen (15, if you count two versions of Flux separately) in Chapter 6, with the third through fifth chapter dedicated respectively to strings, shading techniques, and creative means of turning mistakes into new tangling opportunities. All of this information is presented using only the first seven tangles. The purpose is to not only show the abundance of creative tiles that can be produced by only seven patterns, but to also explore artistic techniques and elements of the Zentangle Method© and philosophy using the limited array of patterns which should become very familiar to the tangler as the lessons progress. Each lesson also encourages new pattern and design creation from two or more patterns, and provides suggestions for embellishment that make each pattern one’s own. 

Each time I work through these first chapters I try to vary the patterns I use, especially for the string and shading exercises in Chapters 4 and 5. Applying the exercises and techniques to newer or simply different patterns enhances the way I draw and use the patterns. This emboldens me to try new things with strings and with patterns new to me. Therefore, each pass through Primer provides not only new ideas for tangling, but serves as a reminder of classic drawing techniques and patterns and techniques that I forgot about as I picked up and used more and more patterns and as I developed my own style. This time through, I limited my tangling to only these first 23 patterns, concentrating on the first seven. 

(Note: The tiles above are from Chapter 6, which introduces the additional 14 or 15 patterns. As the newer patterns were presented, I concentrated on the single pattern–or combined a few consecutive patterns–presented in order up to that point. Exercises at the end of the chapter allowed more flexibility than I imposed on myself.) 

There is always the tendency to use the newest patterns as one tangles, so that “older” and classic patterns kind of fall out of memory for a while. Working through the Primer again–or just using it for inspiration or a reminder of a technique–reminds me of what has become part of my style as well as of the roots of my tangling. Mostly, it reminds me why I began to tangle and why I continue to tangle, even if I temporarily become overwhelmed with possibilities and the idea of meditation seems to fly out the window. 

Next week I will concentrate on one of my favorite Back to Basics chapters in the Primer–reticula and fragments. 

Until next time, Happy Tangling!

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