Sunday, March 16, 2014

Tangled up in tangles? Check this out, and just breathe...

You are not alone if you have become overwhelmed with the sheer quantity of tangles and patterns available to us today. In addition to around 150 official Zentangle® tangles, there are hundreds more unofficial ones created by Certified Zentangle Teachers and tangling enthusiasts alike. (See where Linda Farmer does a tremendous job capturing and posting them.)

Students in my classes will hopefully recall that I've said up front that...
  • You do not have to memorize all the tangle patterns and their names and steps.
  • You do not have to LIKE all of the tangle patterns.
  • You will likely find some tangle patterns easier for you than others (and those may NOT be the ones that your tangling friend finds easiest).
  • You do not have to USE all of the tangle patterns (and there's no guilt in that).
  • You do not have to try to collect printed or e-copies of every tangle pattern that is out there. (For those who like to catalog, feel free, but don't let it consume you, because it can!)
If you are tangled up in tangles, here's some ideas to incorporate in your practice of Zentangle as you move along the journey.
  • When you are looking to tangle for relaxation or meditation or stress-management, go with the tangles that you enjoy and find flow more easily for you.
  • When you have a little more time, are not feeling pressed, and are open to stretching a bit, take on one of those more challenging tangles.
  • Take the pressure out of the challenge by using the practice space in your sketchbook instead of a tile. (Note: If you don't have a sketchbook, I highly recommend getting one. It doesn't have to be fancy, and a relatively inexpensive, medium-sized spiral-bound with 90 lb. mixed media paper will be fine with your Micron pens.)
  • EXPECT that the new tangle isn't going to flow smoothly at first.
  • When you take on a new tangle that isn't as easy for you, do what my fellow CZT, Brenda Shaver-Shahin (Half Moon St. Boutique) in Ontario, Canada, recommends. Draw the tangle in a larger size. Don't be afraid to try it really big. Then you can work toward getting it down into a smaller format. For some people, this helps them get the steps in mind and smooth the flow.
Zentangle is about the process, the enjoyment, the satisfaction, the joy and wonder at what comes out almost magically in the end. It's not about the guilt, the stress, constantly striving for perfection, or doing it all. Relax. Breathe. Breathe some more. And let tangling with the Zentangle method be a bright spot of respite in your life. Tangle on and be well!


  1. Great tips!! Thanks Ann--this is wonderful!

  2. Thank you, Jane, for your kind words. Since posting these thoughts, I've had several people comment to me that this really hit a chord with them. I hope it continues to be of help to other tanglers.