Struggles of a New Zentangle Learner
Over the summer I decided I would finally start to learn the wonderful art of Zentangle after seeing so much lovely work displayed on the Internet.
I've always longed to be an artist and never had the slightest iota of drawing talent. But this looked like something even I could learn, and the testimony of Zentangle artists I followed was encouraging.
I was scheduled for wrist surgery in July, so I knew I’d be disabled for a while, but I couldn’t resist the urge to bring this beautiful art into my world. With a Christmas gift card, I went to Barnes & Noble. I bought two books: One Zentangle a Day and The Joy of Zentangle. As I looked through them I was chafing at the bit to be able to start learning.
When my hand was well enough I began. Before buying the official tiles, I wanted to practice a little. I had a sketch pad, and I measured and drew the 3 ½” by 3 ½” squares that mimicked the tiles. I started drawing a few individual tangles, some one at a time, some together with others in one square. Some I was pleased with; others made me feel like a five-year-old trying to draw with a pencil for the first time.
Nevertheless, I kept on going, and I began to discover some favorite tangles, as well as those I needed much more practice on. And soon I did buy those tiles and began making my own official Zentangles. They were rough, to say the least.
This one was my first attempt.
This uses three tangles, Crescent Moon (on the left and right edges), Static (probably self-explanatory, in the middle sections), and Tipple (the different sized circles), which quickly became one of my favorites. Because I so much liked the way the thin band of Tipple looked crossing over Static, I decided to name it String of Pearls, and since then, just for fun. I’ve been naming my Zentangles according to what they remind me of.
(Note: in these early tangles I haven't yet experimented with shading; there's a little more in later ones.)
The next two incorporate Poke Root (the ones that look like cherries with stems), Festune (the flatter ovals), and Hollibaugh, the crossing bars. To my surprise, because I usually prefer curving designs, I really liked Hollibaugh. It reminds me of the kind of spotlights you see at the Academy Awards, and the black areas give dramatic interest to the design. The other two, though, I’m not satisfied with. I need to practice them more, especially Poke Root.
In the following I used Tipple and Hollibaugh again, along with Jonqual (the black-and-white squares), Nipa (the bubbles and wavy lines), and Shattuck (the “bulb” in the center).
You can probably see why I like Tipple so much: it’s wonderful for filling in wherever you have empty spaces, its mixture of large, small, and tiny circles is pleasing to the eye, and it can look like many different things, from bubbles to stones in a stream.
Thus began my Zentangle “journey.” In a future post, I’ll share a few of my more recent attempts.
And, like other Zentanglers, I definitely encourage anyone who’s interested in creating art to try this. It’s fun and challenging and very satisfying. I love looking at my completed Zentangles, and I’m eager to go on learning and improving.
What more can you ask for from a hobby?