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Once upon a time, I got tangled up in my zen.

I doodle. It’s a life-long thing, really. So, when I discovered Zentangling a few years back, I fell for it. Hard. Capitol “L” style...but I also discovered scratching out floral scenes on the side of an agenda and patterning reverse lettering in notebooks does not make a Zentangle!

As I am wont to do, I decided if it was worth learning, it was worth reading about, so I purchased a few books to study the origin, methods, and patterns. I discovered that tangling is meant to bring upon a meditative state and that there are some rules to follow if you plan to be an official tangler.

For instance, according to the official Zentangle website, you must draw each stroke consciously and deliberately, focused on the act of drawing each single line. You never use an eraser and you don’t plan your composition. Each monotone abstract should inspire you to enter a relaxed state. This system is quite different from the many tangle knock-offs I’ve adored that used multiple color and thoughtfully designed layouts.

The original Zentangling duo (Maria Thomas and Rick Roberts) instead encourage tanglers to:

  1. Use a pencil to draw four dots, one in each corner of the tile.

  2. With the same pencil, connect the four dots into a frame.

  3. From here, use a single pen (they recommend Sakura Pigma Micron 01 black pens) to draw a random pattern, or “string,” throughout the framed area. You can also go back over the frame with your pen.

  4. Begin filling in the blank spaces created by the overlapping “string” and frame with various Zentangle patterns.

  5. Each space should be filled with determination and focus, not rushing to complete a blank and fill another.

  6. When you have filled in the spaces to your liking, use the pencil and a smudge stick to add shading.

As I began tangling, the designer inside me looked for composition, sought a specific point of view and wanted to build on pattern elements...creating a full page of just circular-based tangles, or creating one pattern in large scale, to fill with smaller tangles in an orderly way. I also discovered I felt an inner push to fill the tiles quickly so as not to lose sight of my design inspiration. In other words, I did not find my zen at all.

So, I’m giving myself a challenge. 12 tiles, 12 weeks. I will not plan composition and I will only use a single color (note: a single color...maybe not all black because I’m such a rebel) for each tile. I’ll post my progress and update you that elusive zen!

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