Tripoli may be a place and a fantastic vacation destination, but tripoli is also a Zentangle pattern. If you have the Zentangle® Mosaic app, you probably saw this week’s Kitchen Tabe Tangling (KTT) video on how to draw tripoli and embellish the elements. Although i have been tangling with tripoli for quite a while, the video added some new information about tripoli that I didn’t think about before. The KTT inspired me to both blog about this versatile pattern as well as to try my hand at something more creative than the mundane way in which I’ve been drawing it.
Tripoli is not a single triangle element, but a bunch of elements connecting to form free-flowing paths and groupings of triangular shapes. Typically, the triangles are filled with “fragments,” which are patterns used in part to fill elements of a grid pattern. Below are a few example of simple grid patterns.
Fragments can be used all sorts of ways, including to fill a shape or to embellish a string.
Usually, when tripoli is tangled, each triangle is filled with a fragment. In the examples shown below, you can see how the tripoli elements build from each other. The next triangle builds from a line that auras one side of the previous triangle.
In these tangles, grouped triangles are about the same size and contain the same fragment pattern. However, there is no hard and fast rule; consecutive triangles can grow or shrink, and fragments can change from one element to the next.
The wonderful thing about tripoli is that the elements don’t need to be filled at all. The individual triangles can be filled with anything that seems to fit the path or grouping as well. In the example below, the paths and groupings reminded me of a bunch of flowers in a garden. So I filled the triangle elements to reflect that. Shading and color smoothed the edges and points to look more like something Nature would do.
Each “petal” and “leaf” is a pointed triangle, and most of the sides of the triangles are slightly curved–mostly because I prefer a bit of curve over straight lines. Each triangle began with an aura of one side of the previous triangle. The aura became the first side of the next triangle. It is even OK to slightly “hook” the aura if you are going for a rounded grouping–or just because. In this example, although some triangles were later filled with a pattern that resembles the veins found on a leaf, the rest were simply filled with color and texture to resemble petals. Even the butterfly body started out as a triangle which was subsequently filled with color.
Tripoli is one of the most versatile Zentangle patterns. It can become a lizzard or a flower and many things in between. The flow of the path or the grouping your pen creates as you tangle suggests an object or design. You fill the triangles with patterns or color or texture to produce beautiful effects.
Remember: Anything is possible one stroke at a time.®
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!
A new pattern from Germany’s Jutta Gladnigg was shared on The Zentangle Mosaic® app recently, and I immediately asked for permission to share it. Jutta has the most amazing eye for finding patterns in unexpected places. This one is based on a logo she spotted on a business vehicle while waiting to cross a busy street. The 3-D effect caught her eye, and she was determined to deconstruct it for tangling.
Jutta uses bold shading with softer, darker graphite than many tanglers use, and it is that darker shade that give her work such depth and dimension.
Below is NY tangler and CZT Jody Genovese’s interpretation of SoDeceiving, beautifully filled with the Printemps pattern. Using General’s Charcoal White pencil really brings out the roundness of the columns and adds so much light.
This tile was created by Jutta and German tangler and CZT Nadine Roller, incorporating two of Nadine’s beautiful patterns.
My own efforts with SoDeceiving took a rather different direction as I played with variations inspired by the tiles above.
I continue to play with this marvelous pattern. A quick-and-dirty curved version is giving me still more ideas to play with, this one filled with ‘Nzeppel.
Visit Nadine’s website to see her wonderful patterns, read her blogs, and get some wonderful inspiration and lessons. Although mostly in German, there are English language portions, and her step-outs are so clear that language is not a problem.
Today, Jutta has just posted a new flower-like pattern that she shared for the first time on the Zentangle Mosaic® app. Hopefully, she will allow me to post the step-out for it here. You are going to love it!
Until next time, Happy Tangling!
The Zentangle Mosaic app is available for the iPhone/iPad from the Apple Store, and for Android devices from the Google Play Store.
Follow Jutta on Mosaic as JuttaGladnigg, Nadine as NadineRollerCZT, Jody as JodyGenoveseCZT, and me as DrEllieCZT.
Tangler, Artist, and CZT Jutta Gladnigg has created a wonderful new pattern called AD 690. It is a great pattern that reminds me of a crochet hook, but has a story behind it of a period of gladiators and romance. According to Jutta, the pattern first appeared in the year AD 690. It is found in the Gospels of St. Willibrord of Luxembourg, and is associated with Evangelist St. Mark. Clearly, Jutta has done her research!
Jutta Gladnigg is active in the creation of new tangle patterns. AD690 is only the latest in a series of lovely designs. More of her work can be seen on the Zentangle Mosaic app, to which she is a frequent contributor. Jutta is one of the most supportive of and helpful CZT on Mosaic to newbie and experienced tanglers alike. I have learned much from Jutta.
It is with great honor that I present to you, with Jutta’s permission, the step-out for AD690.
Larger versions of Jutta’s inset tiles follow.
Here is yet another of Jutta’s pattern, drawn with the checkerboard tangle called Knights Bridge.
Although I have a long way to go before I can do AD690 nearly as well, here are some tiles in which I used this pattern for the first time (not counting the practice in my sketchbook, that is).
Working along on Lesson 6 in the Zentangle Primer, I drew two tiles of the next pattern, Rixty, and uploaded them to the Zentangle Mosaic app as I finished them. The first was a monotangle to which I decided to add color; the second featured Rixty, but had other tangles included. Rixty isn’t my favorite patterns, but I tried to do a good job just the same, even if I wasn’t concerned about drawing pretty tiles.
There is a major flaw in both of these tiles, although the compositions are barely affected. But I know the problem, and so do other tanglers who use Rixty.
The problem? The triangles are all upside down!
A few weeks ago, I was playing with the inverted triangles and morphing them into shamrocks to see if I could use them that way for a composition. The problem is that the inversion apparently “wrote over” the part of my brain that knew what Rixty is supposed to look like. Today, even though I reviewed the step-out and drew them correctly in a practice sketch, I turned them around again when I drew the tiles and never realized why they felt wrong while I was drawing them. The “wrongness” hit me as I was placing the tiles in my album.
Now, a very important tenet of the Zentangle philosophy is that there are no mistakes. If we perceive an error, we should view it as an opportunity to make something new or different. The idea is that there are no do-overs in life–not like a re-take for a TV show or movie–so that all we can do is make the most of what we did by accepting it, creating something new or different, and moving on. In some instances, there is a “fix” that can be applied to mask the problem area, but in most cases we need to use the inadvertent new pattern and use it in some way that lets us finish the work.
The “moving on” part doesn’t really relate to my new-styled Rixtys since I wasn’t even aware at the time that I had erred. The error neither stopped me in my tangling tracks nor affected the way I drew the rest of the tangle. In actuality, I created a tangleation of Rixty in the way I drew it. A tangleation is a change to an established pattern that adds something or changes part of the basic pattern concept. Despite the fact that it wasn’t my intent, I made a big change to the construct of Rixty. That others recognize it as Rixty regardless of the triangle orientation may add interest for tanglers who know the basic idea of Rixty. It could very well be that viewers think this was deliberate. And so, the error is not important, and maybe shouldn’t be considered an error at all.
Zentangle is such a forgiving and versatile art form. No wonder it is so relaxing! It is next to impossible to make a mistake!
Yesterday was a big surprise. My morning email brought a request from Zentangle.com to use one of my tiles for part of a Mosaic App T3 (Tangles, Tips, & Techniques) post for St. Patrick’s Day. Shocked out of my mind, I agreed, of course, thanking them for the honor in my reply.
Nothing fancy or exciting, I know. It was the idea that was being used, although maybe the shamrock doing a jig got someone smiling.
I love the tangle called Way Bop, and waited somewhat impatiently for months for a step-out to come out. I tried to mimic Way Bops as drawn by artists and tanglers for the Zentangle Mosaic app and for challenges all over the Internet. I came close, but the procedure I used was convoluted and the results were far from satisfying. I was certain there was an easier way to draw Way Bop, and that I would have to wait until the step-out was released.
About a month ago, Zentangle released the step-out for Way Bop (link to my post with step-outs) along with another step-out of a heart-shaped variation. I must admit that I was excited beyond words. I started drawing nice, conservative Way Bops, but realized I have a long way to go before I can draw ones that look like the fancy ones appearing all over tangling blogs and in Mosaic. So I started fooling around. Here is one of my favorites, called Anger Management. And another that was inspired by a hibiscus outside of my patio door.
Way Bop is an amazingly versatile tangle that looks best when it is used as a structure for filling in with other tangles and “fragments.” But it is a flexible enough pattern to be morphed into all sorts of fun and modernistic shapes.
After tangling a heart-shaped Way Bop for the Valentangle 2017 challenge on Facebook, I figured other shapes could be made from the pattern, too. So last week I started fooling around with shamrock shapes. Here are some examples–nothing fancy or beautiful, but they definitely are shamrock shapes filled in with other tangles or shapes.
If you can’t tell, I love Way Bop! If you need the original step-out mentioned above, click on the link in the second paragraph. It takes you to the post that contains both the regular and the heart-shaped variation step-outs.
Where can Way Bop take your tangling? Anywhere you want it to go, of course!
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.
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, Zentangle.com, 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.
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.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!
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!
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!