Mississhippi's Madness

A place to share my creative pursuits

Drawing: what the heck are Zentangles?


I have been following a blog for a while – Clouds of Colour. Bec does lovely art works that are Zentangles. I had no idea what a Zentangle was, so yesterday, while recuperating from the flu I sat down and did some research on the net.

The first place I visited (via Google search) was Zentangle, home of the creators of this artform, Rick and Maria Thomas. Then whilst browsing and reading I discovered another great blog, Tangle Patterns, where the very generous Linda Farmer, a qualified Zentangle instructor, has posted many of the patterns than have been designed as part of the Zentangle process.

Photo of Zentangle artwork reprinted with kind permission of the artist, Linda Farmer of TanglePatterns.com

Zentangle “is a way of creating beautiful images from repetitive patterns.” That is the first information I read about Zentangles on Zentangle.com. I have always enjoyed patterns. I used to create something like Zentangles when I was in high school, doodling on pages, creating puzzle-like images, one shape at a time.

What I think I like most about this is that anyone could do it. If you have ever doodled, you can create Zentangles.

Zentangle patterns

These are my drawings of some of the patterns I found on the Tangle Patterns website. They give you step by step instructions on how to make the patterns. It was quite meditative, sitting and drawing these, which is something the creators of Zentangles found when they started.

Zentangles remind me of why I love to sit and do cross stitch. I do one stitch at a time and end up with a beautiful picture at the end of it, only with Zentangles, it is one line at a time. I have always found cross stitch very relaxing, the repetition of the stitches leaving my mind to wander wherever it pleases. Knitting can also be a bit like that, unless you are working on an intricate pattern that requires your whole attention.

Last night, whilst watching Amazing Race Australia, I noticed a building in India that made me want to draw. It had a wall of doors. In the end I stopped watching the TV and just drew, using Zentangle patterns to fill in the spaces. I wouldn’t say what I ended up with was a work of art, but I had a lot of fun creating it and just playing.

It looks like a bit of a mess to me, but it was fun to attempt some of the patterns in ways other than small sample squares. If you want to see what a good Zentangle looks like, go to one of the web sites I mentioned before and see what the very talented artists are creating. The Zentangle blog has a great list of artists who create zentangles as part of their art practice – please go take a look.

I have a feeling this will be a great way to free up my mind before painting, to just let go and see where the pen and line take me, and lose some of my detail orientation which is part of my control-freak nature šŸ™‚ .

I look forward to see where this may take me.


Author: Elaine

Artist, writer, married, mother, living with Ankylosing Spondylitis and winning (most of the time). My creative impulses have led me to drawing, pastel painting, writing, handcrafts and photography.

17 thoughts on “Drawing: what the heck are Zentangles?

  1. Interesting blog, never heard of zentangles before šŸ™‚ Clearly you don’t do Teresa Wentzler cross stitch as there is NOTHING relaxing about them.

    You should look at elizabethan blackwork – a lovely combination of embroidery and zentangles




    http://i.embpersons.com/cute/org/42984f52b53a.jpg – a picture

    • Thanks for the links Stacy. I have seen blackwork, fascinating stuff. My mother worked in the handcraft industry for years so I was exposed to a lot of the old style crafts when I was quite young. But I am going to sit down and have a good browse through these links – thanks heaps!

  2. Reblogged this on Land Of Reblogs and commented:
    I call it “doodle art”. Love it!

  3. I think what you created is lovely! I’ve never heard of Zentagles before either, but as soon as I saw yours it occurred to me that they can be used in crazy quilting too! They look like very artistic doodles… very interesting!

    • Thanks Adriana. Apparently there are a lot of people who do use them for quilting. I’m going to share the idea with my local art and craft group as they are all mad quilters, so it will be interesting to see if any of them take up the idea.

  4. I think I was zentangling back in high school – one look at my text books and the Year books are testament to that, much to the teachers’ disgust! It’s great to let your mind drfit away whist drawing like this – you have some beautiful work here!

    Friends of mine have whole sketchbooks filled with these – I’m tempted to print them on fabric -such original stuff.

    Looking forward to seeing more of this from you!

    • I’m very drawn to black and white and think these would also be great in printmaking. I’m going to play and then maybe cut some lino using them and see what happens – should be fun.

  5. Thank you for the link! The drawing you did is very cool! And you’re right, its all about doodling….and everyone can doodle šŸ˜€ Glad you had fun with it, you can see why I have so much fun doing art. ā™„ Bec

    • I really like what you did with the paper bunting – a cool idea! I haven’t been doing much drawing lately so maybe I need to pull the zentangles out to get my inspiration back šŸ™‚

  6. Thanks for sharing this info, I did not realise that there was a name for this but when we were young my sister used to spend hours creating patterns in black ink on white paper that, if my memory serves me right, could be defined as Zentangle work. Knowing her she will still have some of them somewhere, she keeps everything. I will send her a link to your post I am sure she will be as fascinated as me

    • I doodled a lot as a kid too so these were really interesting to me too. I was playing with Zentangles a bit whilst on holiday recently – very relaxing and absorbing in their own way. There is another blog – Clouds of Colour – where Bec incorporates Zentangles into her watercolour work. She does some really beautiful work.

  7. I was a doodler when I was younger and loved it. As I got older I got more controlling, and thus my doodles suffered. I’m attempting to re-learn the art of doodling. To let go of my controlling nature and just relax, letting myself make “mistakes”, and letting the art take me where IT wants to go, not where I think it should go. Zentangles I believe are going to be a great way for me to do this.

    I am a mixed media artist. If you’d like, please check out my blog:

    I will definitely be following your blog. šŸ™‚

    • Hi,
      Thanks for visiting and following my blog. Zentangles are fun and a great way to be creative when you haven’t much time. Hope you have fun with them too.

      My blog is a little quiet right now as I have had to return to full time work, but I’ll get back to it, in the New Year when I get back into the art studio.

      Look forward to catching up with your blog too.

      • I understand completely. Full-time jobs are important (they pay for our art supplies after all!). I will be hopefully updating mine with more regularity after the new years as well. Holidays are a crazy time.


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