another angle on zen…

June 4, 2011 § 11 Comments


Still “taking” journaling class tho’ have missed several due to work. What? How can work interfere, you ask.
Ah, well, it just does, I answer.  It’s been … busy. Terribly un-zen-ish.

So, tying together what’s mentioned so far, that is, journaling class and work and zen, here is something I learned in one journaling evening that you will think, at first blush, has nothing to do with journaling. And yet, somehow it does. Cheri Remington, our beloved journaling leader, took a workshop’s time to intro us to “zentangles.”  We talked about them, watched an excellent DVD demo and then, we got to work creating our own.

Nor and I were lost in it as soon as we began. Mine are typically simple, quick, tossed off in order to detox a little.
Take a look at some of these, complex, simple, beautiful. Beyond doodling ( I can hear you muttering about it being doodling – but that’s OK!)

I find myself zentangling in certain meetings (not out of disrespect, though.).
I create them when I cannot write (not time or place).
I am painting them all over a wood barstool in our kitchen.
And have offered to do them all over one of Snarl’s bicycles in black and white “tangles.” He remains skeptical.
I will do more, maybe even a quilt. Not just to affect a complete project but because I love the deliberateness and at the same time, the “lostness” of doing them.

There are books on doing it. Though some of you will find you are already creating them. High-end doodling? Perhaps. Junk art? mmmm….perhaps.  The new “wallpaper” in my home office?  Yup, I think so. Only several hundred more of them to go.

my first one…

Intrinsically simple, zentangles can go whacky with intensity and detail.
Use a 3×3 inch square.  Put dots in each of the four corners, about 1/2″ in from the paper’s edge. Connect the four dots to form an inner square. Now, within your square, draw one line through it, in any direction and touching any of the 4 sides of your square … or not.
And now you have “sections” within your little square. Using an extra extra extra fine (gel) pen, draw any sort of repetitive pattern within each of the sections. All in all, this can be considered a 3 to 4 minutes “exercise.”  Typically these are done in black ink on white paper. No reason to listen to any rules, though!

It is relaxing.
It slows any frantic-ness.
It offers something on which to concentrate.
It does not set out to be creative, necessarily. It sets out to do a focused “exercise.” The result, however, is fun, possibly dynamic.
It gives one something to do in time that seems otherwise…oddly or unnecessarily spent?

Just try it.

this one was done during a meeting

You might find a book or two on the subject interesting, at least to jumpstart your zentangle art.
And this is a wonderful site to read prior to inking your art!


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§ 11 Responses to another angle on zen…

  • typehype says:

    i love the two middle ones! i envision them as tiles.

  • anno says:

    faszenating! (and fun, too!) Thanks…

  • shoreacres says:

    Sorry – here comes the skeptic. 😉 Anything that arrives dragging books-for-purchase, paypal accounts, user forums, and high-flown language about intentionality and maximizing time limits in its wake is just too, too reminiscent of the folks over in Sedona, the ones who promise to recharge the cosmic energy in the crystals you send them for the low, low price of only $49.95 (plus shipping and handling).

    Those are doodles. They’re fun, they’re attractive, they focus, they do have a certain je ne sais quoi. But maybe their primary value is giving the keyboard tappers of the world a reason to keep using a pen or pencil!

    Hope your weekend’s going well – I’m watching the antics of a baby bluejay just now!

  • shoreacres says:

    I was in the middle of the canned veggies when it came to me – if you decide to stop in the middle of one of these, do you become “Dis-zentangled”?


  • Those are so cool! I love them! Maybe that is art i could actually do. 🙂

    The test is behind me! Hooray! I get my life back. I am trying not to rehash the 240 questions I answered yesterday. Some are still flowing through my head and I have an urge to look it up and see if I got it right, but I think it’s more zen/healthy for me to just let it go. And, well, the first thing I did this am after we got back from church+brunch was box those textbooks up! Felt good. Dear God, I hope they can remain forever packed!

    So now onto more fun thoughts like books! Paris! Nor’s wedding! 🙂

  • Care says:

    Oh! I love the zentangles! Thank you. 🙂

  • mandy says:

    I really love the thought of these zentangles. A great way to release some internal feelings. A friend recently asked me to help her get back into writing/journaling. I asked Nor for some recommendations, perhaps you could suggest some too?

  • ruthie822 says:

    I can see Linda’s point about this as commercial enterprise, but frankly that did not occur to me when I read your post. I was excited, because I’ve been pulled to do more of this kind of thing, after recently getting two books that are entirely hand-written (printed, but not type set). I was a doodler in college classes, and I’ve always loved special pens. Gel pens are the best, and I have all colors.

    I guess another way to look at books about it is that people look for new creative sparks of inspiration. Why not create something for them? And make some money. I think we can sometimes react strongly to commercialism, rightly so, and lose sight of the fact that people need to earn money, and why not earn it doing what they love, and offering inspiration to others? If they can sell a book, super!

    Anyway, that’s my two cents, even though I probably need to be more skeptical about such enterprises.

  • jeanie says:

    I do it in meetings. A number of art bloggers I follow do it often. But Joanne of Ad Libitum on my blogroll had an amazing use for a zentangle in a post two or three down from the top. She zentangled the roof of her car so it would be easy to find in a parking lot. I wouldn’t be so brave!

    I am less into doing them as art, but I do like the routine of creating one. You can call it a doodle — maybe so — but it does indeed relax and I like them!

  • Heather says:

    Maybe I should wallpaper my cubicle with zentangles! I could also have a zen garden on top of the filing cabinet and a small zen waterfall on my counter top…

  • julietwilson says:

    that’s a lovely creative activity with pretty results too…

    Crafty Green poet

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