[This post was revised on April 23, 2015 after I became a Certified Zentangle Teacher (CZT)]
My name is
Jane Doe Suzanne and I’m a tangle addict.
Apparently, I’m also a pusher as several friends are now also tangle addicts. (You know who you are.) The thing is, I don’t really want to be cured of my tangle addiction.
You notice there’s a little “R”in a circle after the word “Zentangle” in the title of this post. That’s because Zentangle is a registered trademark. Rick Roberts and Maria Thomas, who trademarked the term, describe their Zentangle method as “an easy-to-learn, relaxing, and fun way to create beautiful images by drawing structured patterns”. My initial reaction was “this is doodling on steroids”. N.B.: Rick and Maria don’t like the “D” word. 😉
There were signs of my potential for this addiction early on. If my law partners found a page of notes from a meeting laying around the conference room, they could recognize it as mine by my distinctive doodles. Three years of attending law school lectures allowed me to perfect some of my more elaborate favorites. (Hey, doodling is more polite than sleeping, or reading the newspaper in the back of the lecture room. From a distance, it looks like one is intently taking notes about the pearls of legal wisdom being shared from the podium).
With some relief I learned from a CBS Sunday Morning piece that there is actually scientific proof that doodling improves concentration during lectures, meetings and even telephone calls, by engaging enough of the mind to keep one from
spacing out daydreaming. A Wall Street Journal article maintains that the images we create help us recall the information we heard while we were “doodling” them. I think that’s probably true. After all, notwithstanding despite my penchant for doodling, I passed the Bar Exam on the first try.
According to the CBS Sunday morning story, unlike anything in Washington these days, doodling is a bipartisan activity. John F. Kennedy and Ronald Reagan both doodled and Hillary Clinton was seen doodling during a United Nations meeting.
I was very happy to learn that doodling is actually a “thing”—other than just — well —doodling. It’s “tangling”. “Official” Zentangling has its own vocabulary and a starter kit you can purchase. In fact, on Amazon.com there are no fewer than 220 Zentangle related books and supplies you can buy. There are some official rules for the Zentangle method and there are Certified Zentangle Teachers (CZT’s) who have taken a course with Roberts and Thomas—(yay me!).
I thought having “rules” to follow while tangling might be too anxiety producing for me. I was that kid who always compulsively colored inside the lines—which caused my creative artist father great concern. One of the official Zentangle method rules is that there is no such thing as a mistake; hence, you will not be given an eraser in an introductory Zentangle class. This rule used to make me anxious. I’m a person who needs to own my mistakes, correct them and move on.
Now that I’ve learned more about Zentangle from the Mother Ship (so to speak), I’m pretty sure I “get” the nuances of the “Zentangle method” and I can report that I’m a happier, less anxious person now that the Zentangle method is part of my life. I could never calm my mind enough to master pure meditation, but I can draw tangles for hours. Sometimes I find myself in a zone akin to what I think those who meditate are attempting to achieve. Other times, while I’m tangling, I find I can finally think through and find solutions for problems or issues that have been vexing me in the somewhat frenetic, chaotic place that is my brain “in real life”.
In case you stray from the official Zentangle method construct, you can call your creation “Zentangle Inspired Art” — a/k/a ZIA. (I’ve had enough acronyms in my lawyer life given that my area of concentration was Social Security disability law. The US government spawns acronyms like trailer parks spawn tornadoes. I don’t
need want my visual art creative outlet to have any acronyms.)
7 Warning Signs that You’re Probably a Tangle Addict
- You find drawing repetitive patterns and filling in minute details to be relaxing.
- You see patterns in everything, everywhere.
- You purchase (and wear!) patterned clothing that you previously wouldn’t have been caught dead in.
- Your fingers (and your clothing, furniture and possibly your white dog) are stained with indelible ink.
- It is not safe to leave you alone in an art supply store with a credit card.
- You belong to more than one Facebook group with the word “Zentangle” in its title.
- You look forward to long airplane rides because you can tangle for many hours without feeling guilty that you should be doing something else — especially if the plane ride is longer than the battery life on your laptop. This is why tangling is a perfect addiction for travel bloggers.
turned on to introduced to tangling by blogger Laurel Regan. Others have stumbled across it at trade shows, attended a class at a local community center, found it on the internet (when they’re supposed to be researching something else), or by striking up a conversation with someone tangling on a park bench during their lunch break.
Give Zentangle a try. But, if you get hooked, Don’t. Blame. Me!
Addendum: If you’re ready to spend some money to support your habit, here are some things to help you get started. If you make your purchases through these links, Boomeresque earns a
very small commission from Amazon that does not increase your cost. I’m also an authorized seller of proprietary Zentangle products. Contact me if you are interested in purchasing any of those.
These are the bookes I started with:
For those of you who need some supplies, these pens and “stumps” (for shading and blending) are good place to start: