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Zentangle - What is it?!

Here's an image that gives you an idea of what Zentangle is all about. As they say, a picture paints a thousand words! I drew this piece as a backdrop for advertising my workshops. Every single pattern on this piece of work is easy to do. It's just about taking one step at a time.

Zentangle is also great for card-making too. Here are a few ways I've used 'tangles' (structured patterns) on my cards. See here and here. As you can see, there are many uses for Zentangle. Some people create pictures; others use them for mindfulness and journalling. The list is endless.

Having trained as a Certified Zentangle Teacher (CZT), I have been running some Zentangle workshops. The most common question I get asked when I talk about these workshops is, 'What is it?' So I thought I'd answer this in a blog post :)

What is Zentangle?

The founders of Zentangle. Inc. say this: "The Zentangle Method™️ is an easy-to-learn, relaxing, and fun way to create beautiful images by drawing structured patterns. We call these patterns tangles. You create tangles with combinations of dots, lines, simple curves, S-curves and orbs. These simple shapes are the "Elemental Strokes" in all Zentangle art". Find out more here.

For me, it's a mindful art form using structured patterns and a way to get into Zen! Here are a few different examples, including the background image.

What are the benefits of taking up Zentangle?

Where do I start? Yes, it is easy to learn, relaxing and fun, but it's also incredible for getting you out of your head, stopping that constant mental chatter about what you need to do and focusing on something beautiful. When you hear people say they have hobbies that get them into 'flow' or 'the zone', and you wish you could do that, then Zentangle could be your thing. It's so calming.

I suffer from intermittent bouts of anxiety, and there's nothing better than sitting down to draw and letting go of all distractions and anxious thoughts. Zentangle allows you to practice a bit of self-care, where all you concentrate on is one single stroke at a time.

Zentangle is a non-representational art - abstract, so it's not meant to look like anything. This takes the pressure off of trying to produce a piece of art that looks like something else. Your tangling can take you in many directions. You might start with one idea in mind, and your final piece ends up completely different but still beautiful in its own way. A bit like life.

Other benefits are:

  • More focus and concentration

  • Stress relief

  • Better sleep

  • Distraction from grief, trauma, and inner mental conflict

  • Increased confidence

  • Pain management

And SO many more ...

Find out more about studies undertaken here and here. You might also like this article on Psychology Today.

What happens in a typical Beginner's Zentangle workshop? (well, in mine anyway!)

I introduce people to the Zentangle Method and teach them how to draw 'tangles', the structured patterns that allow you to create mini art pieces. Every pattern is deconstructed into six steps or less, so it's very easy to break it down. Even if you think you can't draw, you CAN!

Tangles (structured patterns) are drawn onto 'tiles' - pieces of card that are typically 3.5" x 3.5", although both pens and tiles come in many sizes and colours. The beauty of the smaller size is that it doesn't feel overwhelming.

We start with a black pen and white card so that there are no decisions to be made. It's a simple case of getting started.

The beauty of Zentangle isn't just in the drawing, though. It's the amazing philosophies about life that run through it, such as being intentional, knowing that mistakes are simply opportunities to learn, and that 'Anything is possible, one stroke at a time'. This ethos is one of the main reasons I learned to teach it. I've been practising Slow Living for a couple of years now. In a nutshell, it's all about living intentionally, so Zentangle matches this perfectly).

Come and join me in a workshop or local Tangle Time session. Find out more here.

What people are saying about Zentangle:

"Ruby's workshop is amazing. She creates a fun and curious atmosphere. I encourage you to try out Zentangle. I love it already". - Gail Gibson
"Highly recommended, great activity for de-stressing, very absorbing, and great teacher too". - Dawn Campbell
"Fab class. 2 hours disappeared in a flash. So enjoyable, and Ruby is a great teacher". - Anne Marie Mcgeechan
Highly recommend this class. Ruby is a great teacher. I really entered the zone, and the 2 hours passed so quickly - Anne Glen.
"Loved this, and still loving creating my mini pieces of artwork". - Amanda Peet.

I hope that I've helped you demystify Zentangle. If you really want to discover what it's all about, come and join me for a workshop. It would be great to meet you!

Until next time, ciao for now!

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