What is Zentangle?
Linda Farmer, Certified Zentangle Teacher

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RANDOM SELECTOR

Use this Random Tangle Selector with your TanglePatterns.com TANGLE GUIDE, 2016 Edition to help you select tangles. See Page 6 of the Guide for instructions. You can also use this to select random Strings.

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A pattern is not always a tangle

What is a tangle?

A tangle has no pre-planning with pencil guidelines, grids or dots, no erased lines.
It’s just pure Zentangle magic . . . one pen stroke at a time.

The Zentangle® Method was designed to remove the thinking, planning, decision-making and other obstacles that often hinder creativity or even prevent people from creating art at all.

For this reason Zentangles are intended to be as little like drawing pictures as possible. Thus patterns that are drawings of a recognizable naturalistic or actual object, figure, or scene, are not tangles. For example, floral patterns are not usually tangles.

“Keep it Non-representational. Zentangle artwork is intended to be non-representational. Zentangle’s elemental strokes are also non-representational. We don’t teach complex elements such as hearts, stars or flowers. Tangles are also non-representational.”

From The Book of Zentangle

“It’s also why (for the most part) we give our tangles names that have little relationship with what a tangle looks like,” writes co-founder Rick Roberts. “We usually choose names that don’t create a preconception of how a tangle should look.”

This is the heart of the Zentangle Method. By eliminating recognizable objects or scenes — and thus the associated “thinking” that goes with them — we become totally focused on each stroke of the abstract, structured pattern-making that grows organically into the usually-surprising end result. This process intentionally short-circuits the restless mind and facilitates the pleasurable calm we experience in our Zentangle practice.

Characteristics defining a tangle (aka Maria’s Rules)

Maria writes that in Zentangle “a pattern is not always a tangle” and tangles should be “magical, simple and easy to create”.

These are the characteristics that define a tangle:
The elemental strokes of a tangle in Zentangle

  1. a tangle is abstract, non-objective (non-representational)
  2. a tangle is non-directional, it has no up or down orientation — there’s no “right side up”
  3. a tangle is usually an overall pattern that grows organically, rather than a single motif. Zentangle is about “the repetition of a stroke, not the repetition of a drawing.
  4. a tangle is at most 2 or 3 simple strokes — “Usually the number of elemental strokes needed are 3 or less. Often, you only need one or two. By ‘elemental strokes’ we mean a dot, a straight(-ish) line, a curve (like a parenthesis), a reverse curve (like an ‘S’), and an orb or circle.
  5. a tangle is simple enough to draw without using a pre-printed grid, pencil guidelines or an eraser. “It also has to be done without any underlying pencil structure or preplanned grid.Inked grids or dots, however, are often part of a tangle.
  6. a tangle never uses rulers, stencils, or any other mechanical construction aids
  7. a tangle is elegant, unique

Submit your pattern

If you have deconstructed the steps for a pattern that meets the requirements of a tangle and would like to share it on TanglePatterns, please visit the SUBMIT YOUR PATTERN tab at the top of the page for more information.

Related Links


TanglePatterns.com TANGLE GUIDE, 2016 Edition

TanglePatterns.com TANGL GUIDE, 2016 Edition The current Edition of my TANGLE GUIDE. This instant-download digital eBook contains all the tangles on the site from May 2010 through December 31, 2015. It's a must-have tool for using the site.
Visit the BOOK REVIEWS page for more details on its features and view a sample page.
Visit the STORE > E-BOOKS page for more information and support TanglePatterns.com by getting your copy now!
If you're new to Zentangle® and tangling, my TanglePatterns.com BEGINNER'S GUIDE TO ZENTANGLE is just what you need to get started. Also available en Français and en Español.
Zentangle Primer Volume 1 Remember you can get your official Zentangle supplies here too, including the fabulous new Zentangle PRIMER Vol 1. It's your CZT-in-a-book by the founders of Zentangle®! Visit the STORE tab on the top menu bar or click on the image. For more about the content and to read the rave reviews, visit the BOOK REVIEWS tab.
"Absolutely the best Zentangle Book yet! As an accomplished artist I used to think I did not need instruction on this art form. How wrong I was! My tangling improved by leaps and bounds after reading this book. If you think you have Zentangle down then you need this book more than ever!" ~ Kris H
The Official Zentangle Kit Another great jump-starter for new tanglers is the original Official Zentangle Kit. The Kit includes all the supplies you'll need to get started properly: Sakura Micron Pens, Zentangle Tiles, pencil, sharpener, tortillion, a booklet and an instructional DVD by co-founder Maria Thomas. Click on the image for more information about the Kit and its contents.

 

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