Posted in Zentangle

Quiet day…

Today was the first quiet day–afternoon, actually, but still quiet–that I have had in quite a while. I am finally happy with my temporary work space setup, and continue to await construction completion and furniture delivery. But this afternoon…

This is the first experimentation I have done in quite a while. I used a Magic Pencil (available at many art stores and at Amazon), which changes color as you draw. I’ve done a few of these in the past on white tiles, but this is the first time I tried it on a black tile.

For the shading/highlighting, I used General’s Charcoal White, a sort of white pastel type pencil that is the “official” whit shading pencil of the Zentangle community. Despite its versatility when used with other media, I found it difficult to use as effectively as I would have liked with the very waxy Magic Pencil. As I said, an experiment. For two reasons 1) to test hoe the two pencils interact; and 2) to ease my way into using black tiles again.

Black tiles are great until you draw your first white Gelly Roll pen on it. We are used to seeing black ink on white paper, but less often see white pen on a black surface. Thus, originally, it took me many months to feel brave enough to tangle on black tiles. So I deliberately purchased a big box of the tiles. The moment I had lots of them, my fear disappeared, and I was drawing all sorts of beautiful designs while experimenting with several brands of white gel pen. The moment I found my perfect combination (a fine-line Angelic gel pen), I took to black tiles like s fish to water.

After Hurricane Irma, when I had fewer supplies than I was used to (I thought all were lost during Irma, but was flooded with donations from the Zentangle community), my fear of tangling on black tiles returned in proportion to the decrease in my supply of these tiles. For me, it must be the knowledge that I could “ruin” lots of black tiles and still have many more left to explore.

I think I spoke in previous posts about the generosity of the Zentangle community (especially of Zentangle’s HQ and many of the CZTs (Certified Zentangle Teachers) and regular tanglers from the Zentangle Mosaic app (available in free and full subscription forms from Google’s Play Store for Android devices and from the Apple Store for iOS versions for iPads and iPhones). They sent tiles (mostly white, and in various sizes and shapes), as well as Micron pens, Zentangle and other B3 drawing pencils, sketch pads, colorful Prismacolor Pencils, watercolor pencils, color Microns, color staining tissue, watercolor sets– well, everything and anything anyone has seen me use on the app. One CZT, @JodyGenovese, even sent me river rocks to tangle! It seems the community loved my color-touched tiles as much as (more than?) my black ink on white paper tiles.

Alas, I finally had to break down and buy a box of black tiles again, even though I waited until we reached the UK. And I did take advantage of those black tiles again! Unfortunately, there are only so many supplies you can cart around the world, so many donations and personal purchases were shared as I traveled, and before returning to Sint Maarten.

It took me months to get back to my island home (St. Martin island) and discover that many of my blank tiles and tangling supplies were in great shape after Irma. As Irma was threatening to bear down on us, I stored as many raw paper and pen supplies as I could in watertight plastic storage containers. I doubted that they could survive a hurricane of Irma’s strength, but the boxes had been expensive enough when I bought them, and I figured my supplies had the best chance of surviving in them. Well, as unpacked or paper box packed items and books turned to pulp around these boxes, and the Irma-given skylight in the ceiling let in all water possible, the items in the boxes survived! Among the supplies were many black tiles and white gel pens and pencils.

It took a while longer to set up a quiet place for meditative tangling, but a few days ago I succeeded, and drew my first white on black tile in ages. That’s the one featured. I was afraid I had lost both my passion for tangling and my ability to produce creative tiles, but I learned with this featured tile that maybe I just need more practice–maybe start at the beginning again– to regain my confidence as well as my meditation abilities.

Sometimes all I need is a bit of encouragement from the wonderful people on the Zentangle Mosaic app, and a stack of black tiles, to find my niche again.

Thank you to all who helped with stuff and with emotional support during a very trying period of my life. I am all set now to go out into the community and volunteer to teach with free supplies to community groups who continue to help those in need, whether children who need to learn to sit still for 15 minutes, or adults dealing with serious health and post-Irma trauma issues. The Mosaic community has provided me with so many supplies to share that I needed extra suitcases and several parcels to bring supplies home with me to share with those in need. I need to buy a few items where Irma shorted me, but I have plenty of supplies to get started here in Sint Maarten (the Dutch side of St. Martin, where my home is). One school has already asked me to teach it’s teachers so they can pass on the anxiety reducing Method to their students. Other organizations are considering. Other groups are putting me in touch with yet more groups. I hope to be really busy soon, and leave the house and contractors to themselves and my Cujo-wannabe dog. Sharing the Zentangle Method. Rings me incredible joy and peace. I want to share that with my ravaged community as we all pitch into the rebuilding effort.

Happy tangling!

Posted in Zentangle

Humble Beginnings

Earlier this week, on the Zentangle® Mosaic® app, founder Maria Thomas shared one of her first tangling pieces from very early in The Zentangle Method®’s history. She encouraged us to share our firsts. 

As I read through descriptions of uploaded first works, I marveled at how many tanglers were introduced to Zentangle through use of the book One Zentangle a Day, by Beckah Krahula. Individuals who had not been able to locate a CZT (that’s Certified Zentangle Teacher) began their tangling journey using that book One Zentangle a Day was published in 2012, four years before the more comprehensive Zentangle Primer, Vol. 1 came out. Although Suzanne McNeil had been publishing thin workbook-style books for several years by then, it did not take a rocket scientist’s math abilities to realize that Krahula’s book was more cost-efficient and comprehensive than twelve workbook volumes. Before spending $50 on the official Zentangle kit (available from the Zentangle.com site or from any CZT) and, for the past year, another $50 on the Primer, so many of us took the less expensive introductory experience of purchasing One Zentangle and a stack of inexpensive card stock paper tiles by Peter Pauper Press (probably all purchased via Amazon, too!). Or we used sketchbooks in lieu of tiles. This way, if we didn’t like tangling, we spent less than $30 for book and tools rather than $100 or more to get started. Not one of us regrets having spent that $100 later, though, because the tangling journey made us feel good, and we needed more.

My tangling journey began 15 months ago, with One Zentangle a Day and a sketch book that had many of my traditional drawing attempts in its first half. I worked almost exclusively in the journal for several weeks, mostly because I lacked the confidence to ruin even a cheap tile. Sometimes, I drew 3.5-inch squares to simulate tiles. More often, I simply drew a square that was big enough to tangle in, but was either larger or smaller than an actual tangling tile. Perhaps I was deciding whether I liked tangling, or maybe I was sticking to the sketchbook  because I needed the sense of familiarity and security of a well-used surface. It took a while before I started using the inexpensive tiles.

Much of my tangling was originally done in pencil–just in case I wanted to erase, even though we don’t erase in tangling. Then I moved on to more complex tangling as I learned more patterns and came up with more strings. Gradually, my work improved and I out-grew One Zentangle a Day

That’s when I decided to invest in the Zentangle Kit, the Primer, and finally the Zentangle Mosaic app. Following the lessons in the Primer and getting insight and inspiration from fellow tanglers on Mosaic, I kept tangling and found my art–and my ability to meditate–growing, expanding, evolving. By then, I had also decided that I needed to attend the Zentangle teacher certification Seminar, if for no other reasons than to attend a formal class, and to legitimately spread the love of tangling to the island’s residents so I wouldn’t have to tangle alone. 

Maria Thomas’ challenge on the Mosaic app opened so many opportunities to share where many tanglers started, and why we started. Some people took up tangling because they were established artists wanting to learn a new technique. Many started their Zentangle journey because of a major life change–the loss of a loved one, a move to a very different environment, retirement. Still others came across the Zentangle Method when they were searching for a form of meditation that didn’t force  physical stillness. A few were introduced to tangling by a close friend. Some simply stumbled across Zentangle on the internet and thought it was pretty. Most started tangling because of several of these reasons, plus others. But we all started somewhere, fell in love with tangling, and continued to grow through certification seminars or various local tangling workshops. 

The humble beginnings project got many of us communicating and sharing how the Zentangle Method has helped us personally. Both on this blog and on another blog site (Write of Passage, or dremiller.com), I have shared both why I tangle and what my experiences have been. Among the ways Zentangle has helped me personally is calming my mind, helping me learn (or re-learn) to focus on something, relieving physical and mental tension and anxiety; and providing meditative opportunities to examine my past, including behaviors, and to brain-storm the possible impacts of important decisions. Meditation has helped me explore myself in many ways, with the topic of exploration showing up often in my tangled works. 

Why do you tangle? How did you get started? If you have been tangling a while, how has the Zentangle Method helped you with your life and your art? How has your art changed?

Leave a comment to this post and share your tangling journey!

Until next time, Happy Tangling!

Posted in Zentangle

Why I Tangle

About ten months ago, I came across Zentangle as I was researching forms of meditation, especially those I could somehow learn on my own. I had recently lost my mother, and I felt life imploding on me even though we had not been as close as we once were. Being still is more than difficult for me–it is impossible. I have more than a touch of Attention Deficeit Disorder (ADD) and need to move or be doing something if I want to concentrate. So most meditative methods seem to be out for me. I had thought about Tai Chi, but I live on a tiny island, where offerings are few. Then I came across Zentangle, and got interested in the idea of meditating through repetitive drawing of patterns. 

A Primer Lesson 1 tangle from my files.

No one will ever accuse me of having even the slightest artistic talents. I took drawing lessons a few years back to learn perspective and techniques; the lessons helped, but talent was clearly lacking. So Zentangle’s claim that artistic abilities were not necessary intrigued me. I had to learn more.

According to the official web site, Zentangle.com, the best way to learn the Zentangle method is to attend classes offered by a Certified Zentangle Teacher (CZT) in my area. Well, the island of St. Martin in the Caribbean Sea is small, and Zentangle hasn’t made it this far. I live in Sint Maarten, the Dutch country on this tiny island. The French side has a slightly smaller population. Even between the two countries, the total population is barely that of a small town back in the States. It is not surprising that there are no CZTs here, even though there are plenty of them in the Netherlands. Clearly, I would be on my own.

The second best method of learning to tangle, according to the web, is to purchase the official book. Instead, I bought a copy of a book called One Zentangle a Day, basing my purchase decision on the far lower cost compared with that of the official Zentangle Primer. I ordered One Zentangle from Amazon, along with the recommended pen, 3.5-inch square artist tiles, tortillions, and 2B pencils. Once I had everything together, i started experiencing Zentangle. 

Each day, I poured my morning coffee and got out my book. Often, it took me longer than a day to complete a lesson, as I found myself getting frustrated with my apparent inability to draw even the simplest shapes and patterns. Clearly, I was doing something wrong, as I was not getting the expected benefits. As I “meditatively” journaled my journey into tangling on my writing blog (Write of Passage)–or maybe I was critiquing?–I began to notice a change in my attitude toward the process. It was actually working! 

As I tangled my way through the book, I kept reading up on Zentangle. Finally, I broke down and purchased the official Zentangle Primer: volume 1 from the web site. Before making this purchase, I bought several e-books on tangling, and even a set of workbook-like books. By then, I had spent close to 4 times the cost of the Primer

A tile from Primer Lesson 2
As it turned out, The Primer is all I really needed! The Zentangle method and philosophy is clearly laid out, including the celebratory nature of The Zentangle method and process. The reasoning behind the steps of the method is clearly defined, beginning patterns are illustrated as “step-outs” (which provide breakdowns of drawing even some very complex patterns!), and easy to follow lessons provide a framework for drawing. Even methods of shading and highlighting are included to add depth and dimension to basically flat drawings. Patterns, as presented, progress logically so that elements and methods from an earlier pattern are clearly evident in patterns of greater complexity. Best of all, entire charts of “fragments” to be used in rectangular, triangular, and circular grid spaces provide ideas and jumping off points for working on one’s own–including development of one’s own patterns and fragments. Everything a beginner needs to get started correctly is in the Primer, and web sites for inspiration and more advanced patterns are listed for the adventurists. 

My work is not fancy, although I have learned to experiment with different materials and media for an occasional artistic touch. Tangles who understand the Zentangle method and process see the work for what it is and are not influenced by fancy patterns and flashy colors. That’s not to say fancy tiles have no place; it’s just that the simple process, simple tools, and simple black ink reduce the process to its essential elements–simple, controlled, relaxing, meditative strokes. The Zentangle motto is “Anything is possible one stroke at a time.” The products of advanced tanglers attests to the creative processes released by this clean and simple methodology. 

A “3Z” tile recently completed for the Valentangle2017 challenge on FB

At this point, I have been tangling for ten months, and using the Primer for about half that time. When I need to touch base with my center or need to relax, I reach for a tile, my Micron pen, my 2B pencil, and a torillon. I go through the eight steps discussed in two previous posts. And I begin to lose myself in the process of Zentangle. I don’t have to be home to tangle, and the small size and simple tools are so portable that a “kit” can be carried easily in a pocket or bag so I can tangle anywhere. As I tangle, thoughts pass through my mind. As in any meditation, some are let go, others are contemplated while part of my mind focuses on drawing a pattern or two. Sometimes, I need to tangle more than one tile to get full benefit. Sometimes I lose concentration and need to set a tile aside. Sometimes, an “artsy” inspiration comes to me for later or immediate attention. Each time I create something new. Each time, I learn something new about the process, pattern manipulation, or myself. When I make a mistake, I incorporate it into the process and move on. In Zentangle, there are no mistakes, only opportunities–for growth, for change, for coping, for living, for learning. 

Simple tools, simple process, celebratory appreciation, meditation–all while producing a miniature work of art. 

That is why I tangle.

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