What is Zentangle?

What is Zentangle?

I like saying “I’m getting certified to teach Zentangle” whenever I get a chance. This  usually solicits a varying degree of confused looks from the other party. I imagine that it is like hearing someone say “I’m getting trained to be a racewalker”. ‘Zen’, ‘tangle’, ‘race’ and ‘walker’, these are very familiar sounding words. You kind of get the general idea from the name itself. You feel like you should know what it is but you are not entirely sure.

Sometimes the conversation just moves along. “Oh, okay. That sounds interesting… I really like my Zumba instructor!” The most typical response that I receive is “Zen…what? What is that?” Then I’m obliged…I mean delighted to explain what Zentangle is.

Here’s the definition according to it’s founders:

The Zentangle Method is an easy-to-learn, relaxing, and fun way to create beautiful images by drawing structured patterns. Almost anyone can use it to create beautiful images. It increases focus and creativity, provides artistic satisfaction along with an increased sense of personal well being. The Zentangle Method is enjoyed all over this world across a wide range of skills, interests and ages.” – Zentangle.com

I usually say something like this. “Well, it’s a super easy artform that anyone can do. You learn and repeat patterns to create a small piece of art. What I like about Zentangle is that the focus is not on the artwork itself, but on the process of creation. It’s really relaxing and it helps you to focus. It has meditation or mindfulness practice aspects and is very therapeutic. You should give it a try.” Then I whip out my iPhone and show some Zentangles from online or in my photo stream.

Thank goodness for technology! A picture is worth a thousand words, right? But recently I’m starting to think maybe showing these images is not as good of an idea as it seems. I just said that the process is more important than the artwork itself, didn’t I? These images, no matter how beautiful they are, do not tell any story on their own. It’s because Zentangle is something you experience, not something you look and admire from afar. The artwork is just a bonus.

If you read my About page, you’ll see that it didn’t really spark my interest until I personally experienced the real Zentangle method. There are 8 steps in the Zentangle method, which I will explain in detail in another blog post, but here’s the overview.

  1. Appreciation / Gratitude
  2. Four corner dots
  3. Border
  4. String
  5. Tangle
  6. Shading
  7. Initial / Sign
  8. Appreciation

Doesn’t it sound fun and relaxing? It’s tempting to look at a beautiful piece online and tell yourself that you can never create something like that. I know, I was there. But don’t you think that we all deserve to experience something beautiful and relaxing in our lives?

By the way, did you know that racewalking is an actual Olympic sport? We tend to focus on the number of gold medals, but just like Zentangle, the Olympic Games are so much more than that.

“The most important thing in the Olympic Games is not to win but to take part, just as the most important thing in life is not the triumph, but the struggle. The essential thing is not to have conquered, but to have fought well.” – The Olympic Creed

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