Lo, many moons ago I wrote a rather snarky post about Zentangles VS. Mandalas and how all the fuss really just seemed to me like a marketing ploy. (Let’s remember the $50.00 kit price.) So fast forward a few years and what falls into my hands? Zentangle Basics. The lovely and charming Marie Browning herself gave the the book to try out as well as a little video demo using Tombow markers at CHA, so I promised to give it a shot.
Just to recap, Zentangling is a form of mindful doodling. The idea is to start with a basic shape- like a square- and then make a loop or squiggle dividing the shape into segments. You then fill the segments will fill patterns until you are satisfied. Zentangle aficionados say it’s therapeutic, mind-quieting, and even “addictive.” (See?? Just like Buddist Mandalas.)Â Mostly done with pen and ink, at least to start, it can be a fairly inexpensive craft/art/practice.
So I followed the first exercise in the book- fill the square. I drew the square and the squiggle first in pencil, then filled in with my new favorite markers, Bic Mark-its.
Ok, so that got my imagination revving and my juices flowing. I didn’t get to finish it all in one sitting (I am a mom. Need I say more?) but by the next day, here’s what I came up with:
I was pretty pleased. The hardest part is actually finishing. I kept going back in and adding little details. But I figure I’d better wrap it up and try a different version. This time I started with a hex with pen and ink, then added some colored pencil.
Lastly, I took my inspiration from Marie and tried a different shape. Hearts it is!
This one used navy Bic Mark-it for the ink work, then Derwent Inktense pencils to color it in & watercolor it. I used some Radiant Rains shimmer sprays to fill in the background. I suppose I should have done that first, but it turned out OK.
So, in the course of my review, I was spending a fair amount of time coloring and doodling, and my nine-year-old son asked me what I was doing. So I showed him. He picked it up OK, but he also got a little stumped when it came to fill patterns. He wanted to use only colored pencils, so his Zentangle turned out like this:
Which leads me to the next conclusion- this would be great with kids in art class. You can teach them a basic structure, a few techniques, and then encourage their imagination. Well, back in the day, my art teacher taught us a similar technique. Build a shape, then create segments, then fill it in with shading (instead of patterns.) As a matter of fact, I still have my example of this technique: it was my submission in the Kiwanis Art Contest. And as a matter of another fact, I won the girls’ competition in middle school division.Â Here it is- Zentangle circa 1984, from a 13-year-old Jenny:
So maybe that’s why I was so resistant to Zentangles- it’s a mutation of something I learned in middle school…hm…..
But I will amend my original post- ZentanglingÂ IS fun. I found myself at a Holiday Inn a few weeks ago, and all I could think was how the pattern in the rug would make a great Zentangle fill.Â This is a great take-it-with-you project, too. I’m planning on copying fill patterns into my travel journal when we go on vacation.
My lasting impression of the book? It’sÂ a great springing-off point for exploring the technique. Age appropriate for 10 and up, it will appeal to most “arty” folk. You can feel like an artist without too much fuss! AndÂ for only $8.95 MSRP, it’s a great way to ease into it without attending a pricey workshop or buying an expensive kit.
(And for the record, I’m STILL against “certified Zentagle teachers.” If you want a healing art experience, find an art therapist. But that’s a rant for a different day.)
Do you Zentangle? Want to try? I’d love to hear your thoughts!
Disclosure: Book was a gift from Marie Browning- thanks, Marie! ; )
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