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Once upon a time, I wrapped my zen.

Can you believe it’s been twelve weeks since I started my Zentangle challenge? I’ve drug you along as I focused on size, shape, and shading - all according to the official Zentangle method to improve my tangle skill set and now here we are...wondering where the time has gone and what we have learned. Well, at least what I’ve learned. You probably already knew I’d chatter on about the oddest of things so there may not have been too much new for you.

Here’s what I learned:

I learned to slow down.

Before the official method challenge, I envisioned my finished layout and dashed in to complete the tile. Finished was my goal. While I still pause at the beginning of a tile to decide what shape(s) I’ll use and what mood I want to evoke, I now focus on each small space...and each small stroke. I no longer feel compelled to chop-chop through each mark to complete a pattern that will complete a space that will complete a tile.

I learned to scale back.

Ah, the great nib-width debate and how it rages on. No? Just me? Using a single width pen for each tile taught me that, while it's easier and sometimes faster, to swap pen nib widths for the various patterns I’m drawing, sometimes sticking with a single nib is just as expedient. I still look forward to using multiple widths (and color...COLOR!) in future tiles, but the restrictive exercise reinforced the first lesson (slow down) and reminded me simple and pure can be magical.

I learned to go with the flow.

From shading haphazardly to sketchy stroke marks to flat-out drawing mistakes, I have experienced lots of acceptance with this challenge. For a designer, this was probably the hardest lesson for me to learn and I’ll admit, I still look back at some tiles with contempt. Promising myself (and you!) that I’d draw a tile each week and post it required me to accept when I made a mistake, incorporate or change it, and continue with my tile.

I learned to expand ideas.

I have always been a proponent of design research, but the official method required me to find inspiration and instruction all over the internet. Stripping down shapes to their most basic level and building new patterns from them brought me both new resources and the confidence to elaborate on existing patterns.

Who knew twelve small tiles, a pencil, and a little ink could teach me such important life skills? While I am already planning more tiles, free doodles, multiple pen-widths, and color (did I mention color?), I know that these lessons will stay with me and guide me back whenever I find I am lost in design thinking when I should be creating for joy. For now, I’m off to run amuck with my new found freedom!

Oh, one last thing...I decided it would be optimal to see just how far I’ve come so I composited my 12 tiles into a single image...without further ado, I give you the completed Zentangle challenge:

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