When my kids were little, I introduced them first to fingerpainting and then to watercolors. The fingerpainting stage was messy. I would cover their toddler table with a large plastic leaf bag and robe them in smocks and stand vigilant to steady the water bowl they used to rinse their hands when they wanted to switch colors.
But when they were old enough for watercolors, the level of supervision could be considerably less. So I joined them in the fun. I’d cover the entire dining room table with leaf bags, set out three sets of paints and three cups of water for rinsing brushes, and sit down with them. We had some lovely times painting together. And I found that I enjoyed the painting almost as much as I enjoyed the time with my children.
I remembered that I’d loved drawing since I was a kid myself, and wondered if it might be good to reactivate this interest. I read a few chapters of Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain, but it seemed overly ambitious for me at that moment. So I poked around online and stumbled upon the Zentangle® website.
I loved what I saw there, but the starter kit was $50, a little steep for something I just wanted to experiment with. So I bookmarked it for later and went on with my life, breaking out the watercolors every now and then, even after my kids were no longer interested.
To be honest, I forgot all about Zentangles until this June, when I decided I needed a quiet activity for the evenings that didn’t involve a computer screen or a TV screen. I tried an adult coloring book, but that didn’t quite work for me. And then I remembered…something.
“Wasn’t there some kind of pen-and-ink drawing?” I said to myself. “It looked really cool. I remember I wanted to try it, but it was awfully expensive. What was the name of it?”
As you can see, my memory was very sketchy. All I had was the picture in my mind of that cool black-and-white drawing.
Luckily, I had bookmarked the site with the info. Even more luckily, I found the bookmark when I went scrolling through the hundreds of bookmarks that I’ve created. (I bookmark a lot of pages when I’m researching for my novels.)
I clicked the bookmark, it directed me to the correct site, and I said, “Oh, yeah! That’s it!” when I saw it. But I still couldn’t go for the $50 price tag.
You can guess the answer. There was. It was reasonably priced. And it looked like it would have just the how-to information I wanted. I purchased One Zentangle a Day and leaped on it when it arrived.
The book is not perfect. The author includes a fair bit of verbiage on shading and use of color which is not a part of the Zentangle method, although it can be used with Zentangle-inspired art. Unfortunately, this extraneous material is not particularly well explained. However, I didn’t get the book for instruction in shading or using color.
Zentangling is essentially an exploration of pattern and how different patterns can be fitted together. It’s a new name for a very old pastime.
The book presents three new patterns at a time, showing how to draw each one step by step. With each set of patterns is an example of a drawing that features them (usually mixed with a few more). You, the reader, are instructed to practice the patterns first and then to draw your own Zentangle using the new patterns, together with a few of the other patterns you’ve already learned.
So I’ve been doing just that, and it’s been a lot of fun. It has proven an excellent evening activity when I’m not in the mood to read or when I’m too tired to do anything else.
Here are some of my practice squares of patterns I learned during the first 4 days I used the book.
The first couple of weeks, when I drew my own Zentangle, I always used the new patterns plus a few of the older ones when the design seemed to call for them. Lately, my designs seem to demand that I use only two of the new patterns instead of all three. Since I’m doing this for fun, I go with my inspiration. It means that I’m getting “behind,” in that I’m collecting patterns I have yet to use, but who cares! I’m not in any hurry to reach the end of the book.
Here’s the Zentangle I drew using the patterns shown above.
What do you think? Does it look like fun to you? What do you do when you need something quiet, but engrossing?