Thursday, 28 March 2013

Art Attack - Resolutions Get Crafty with Zentangle

My resolution for March was to 'Do Something Creative'.  I have gone back to college and joined a Creative Writing Course; I've been writing short stories for competitions and had a couple of  letters published in Writers' Forum Magazine.  My blog was also featured in my local newspaper.  I have created vision boards to help with story ideas and last week we looked at creative ways to fund raise for your chosen charity.

To finish off my creative month I am going to have a 'doodle fest', using the American Zentangle method.  This is a creative art form where all you need is paper, pencil and a pen.

Don't panic if you can't draw or paint, if you've never used acrylics or pastels or if you think a canvas is something you sleep under - which of course it is but that's for another blog post!

A couple of years ago I discovered this creative art form which is not only simple to do, even for a
non-drawer but also therapeutic and meditative (huge tick in the box for my holistic alter ego).

Cast your mind back to your school days for a moment.  Were your school books covered in little doodles?  Spider webs drawn across your Math book; eyes, bubbles and snakes sketched on the homework diary and of course, the occasional love heart - complete with initials - on your French text book.

Alison from Old Hall Crafts
We all 'doodle', whether it's on school books, drawing a moustache on Simon Cowell's picture in a magazine or on the gas bill as you wait in the phone queue "You are TENTH in the line, your call is important to us..." doodle, doodle, doodle and oops your love hearts have horns and breathe fire!

I visited the Hobby Craft Exhibition at the National Exhibition Centre in Birmingham and met the inspirational Alison Thompson from Old Hall Crafts. I pop along to say hello to Alison at every show and she loves to see returning customers and their creations.

She was the woman responsible for my addiction to Zentangling.  Of course this particular addiction has helped me to become better at meditation and calm any anxieties that crop up day to day.

My children love to tangle and my daughter's friends often create amazing little projects when they stop for a sleep over.

Q.  So what is Zentangle?

Zentangle was created by Rick Roberts and Maria Thomas.  Maria was working on background patterns for a manuscript and mentioned to Rick what a feel-good experience it was and how she was able to focus without thought or worry as she worked.  Rick realised she was describing the feeling you achieve during meditation.  They put their heads and together and hey presto!

My Zentangles
Don't worry if you can't even draw a straight line, this could be the creative pursuit for you.  There is no right or wrong way.  In fact, if you did 'go wrong' then chances are you've just invented a new 'tangle' pattern.

There are some wonderful videos on YouTube to help you create fantastic patterns or for inspiration.

I would recommend logging on to the Zentangle website for top tips and amazing designs and ideas, Rick and Maria's blog is a wonderful read and you can also subscribe to their newsletter and be kept up to date on Zentangle news and events.

Q Why do it?

You may wonder why I bother spending time zentangling but I can say it has helped me on many occasions.

  • Insomnia - We've all had sleepless night for one reason or another.  Having a blank notepad and pen by the bed means I can tangle for a while, calming my thoughts and drift easily back to sleep.

  • Sausage & Mash moments - The ladies on my meditation classes understand all about Sausage & Mash moments.  You are drifting into a meditative state, concentrating on your breathing then - wham!! - 'did I put the cat out?', 'have I locked the back door?', 'shall we have sausage and mash for tea?'

Zentangling helps you to concentrate on being in the moment and allows you to leave your Sausage & Mash moments for later - reducing stress and anxiety and improving your focus.

You don't have to keep your new found creative talents to yourself either.  Frame a tangle, make cards or book marks.  You can even tangle on furniture, MDF letters and fabric to enjoy at home.

Q How do I Start?

As I mentioned earlier, Tangles can be drawn on anything but traditional tangles are drawn on 'tiles'.  (3 1/2" x 3 1/2" smooth art paper square).

  1. Draw a dot in each corner with a pencil
  2. Join the dots, don't worry if your line is wobbly, it adds to the uniqueness.
  3. Draw a zigzag, a loop or a swirl across the centre (see the picture)
  4. Using a pen (Micron are recommended) draw tangle patterns in each section.
  5. Simple as that!

There are many books available as well as the online resources to find tangle patterns but look around you, at your wallpaper, the pattern on your socks even the tread on your trainers, they all make perfect tangle patterns to use on your art.

With summer fast approaching and the end of the school year, it would be the perfect time to get tangling and make some Zentangle gifts for teachers' presents.  Journal book covers, book marks, thank you cards...

...why not give it a go and let me know how you get on, I would love to showcase some on my blog.

Finally I would like to express my thanks to Rick and Maria for giving me permission to share their wonderful creation with my readers.  Please do stop by their site and say hello.

NB:  "Zentangle", the red square, and "Anything is possible, one stroke at a time" are registered trade-marks of Zentangle, Inc.


So March has drawn to a close which means I have achieved the third resolution on my list - hurray!

April is going to be a tough one - Alcohol Free for 30 days!  I think I may be Zentangling quite a bit over the next month!

Pop back next week for top tips on surviving the Easter holidays tea-total...eek!


  1. Hello Shelley,
    What a fab Blog.
    Your enthusiasm for Zentangle is immense. It was super to see you again last week at the NEC Show and thank you for bringing me many of your tangles. It is wonderful to see how you have progressed over the months since starting. I like your "Smile" mdf wall plaque very much and what's more it's very "in" at the moment.
    I'm also impressed with your photo of me.... so is my husband! I generally take a shocking picture, hence my reluctance, lol.
    I wish you all the very best for your next months challenge... I very much doubt I would last the first few days, let alone the month.

    Please do keep in touch.
    (Old Hall Crafts)

    1. Thanks Alison, glad you like the post (and the pic!) Let's hope it entices a few more into the Zentangle fold! x

  2. Wow, what a great post, really motivated me. Can't wait for next week.