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What is Zentangle?
Linda Farmer, Certified Zentangle Teacher


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Tangle Refresher 95

Tangle Refresher!Today we’re seeking your input for a fellow tangler who asks for advice about what to do if you get stuck completing a Zentangle®.

Melissa would like to know, “What do others do when they get stuck and are not sure what to put where next or is everything preplanned? [What do you do when] you’re in the middle of a Zentangle or ZIA and just don’t know what to do next?”

Let’s start with advice from Zentangle’s founders Rick and Maria.

The whole idea behind Zentangle is there’s no pre-planning, no expectations, just let go and follow your intuition. Then when you find yourself thinking about the outcome rather than just tangling, Maria recommends going to your “mac and cheese” tangle, the one you love to draw, “the one I start tangling when I need to draw and not think.

The charm of Zentangle’s method is that you can relax into the pleasure of creating ‘one stroke at a time’ without concern for the outcome. We often speak of Zentangle as a practice. We never speak of it as a competition.

Maria says,

Draw whatever tangle makes you happy at that moment. That is the essence of Zentangle, enjoying putting pen to paper one stroke at a time. It feels so good to enjoy that moment without fretting about an outcome or someone else’s opinion.

So, if you want to learn a new tangle (or explore a new path or try a new food), that’s fine. But most times what you want is a comfort tangle; and then, comfort tangles it is!

 * Tried
*  True
*  Simple
* Familiar

And remember too, this sage advice from Bijou, “Sometimes I even leave a section blank; which is occasionally my best choice!

So fellow tanglers, what are your thoughts on the matter? How do you proceed when you run out of steam but somehow feel your Zentangle is not finished yet?

And which ones are your reliable, familiar, comfort tangles?

Note: Today’s Refresher is also filed on the TUTORIALS tab when you need to find it for future reference.

* * *

The Tangle Refresher series, aka Buried Treasure, spotlights hidden tangle gems from the past. It can remind you of tangles you might not have used for a while or introduce you to some you haven’t come across yet.

Here are five more tangle pattern gems and a Tangle Refresher from a year (or two) ago for your tangling pleasure. Remember to check out the “More Good Stuff” links below too. Zenful tangling!

BTW as you visit these tangles please leave a comment and Tweet or “like” them on Facebook so they get shared with a wider audience. Sharing links are on the left side of each pattern’s page. Thanks!

Buried Treasure from a year ago
Zentangle pattern: HURRY Hurry
Zentangle pattern: Telis Telis
Zentangle pattern: Boo*Kee Boo*Kee
Zentangle pattern: Tips Tips
Zentangle pattern: Knot Rickz Knot Rickz
Revisit the Tangle Refresher from a year ago Tangle Refresher 67

More good stuff …


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Zentangle Primer Volume 1 This is the only Zentangle book you'll ever need: the fabulous 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.
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11 comments to Tangle Refresher 95

  • D.McComb

    Hi Linda:
    A timely email, as I was about to tangle my calendar.

    Your #1 Fan .

  • Jeana

    When I get stuck, I lay it to the side and come back to it later, but I haven’t been doing this art for very long. I love the idea of doing what is familiar. I look at mine and notice I use the same pattern in most of my tangles. So after reading this, I guess that’s ok. My “mac and cheese” pattern is Knightsbridge. It shows up in most of my tangles.

  • Susan

    I can get “stuck” in a few different ways, and each uses a different solution.

    If the tangle I’m working seems “unfinished”, I often add a solid or dotted aura, which can expand into (or lead into) another tangle.

    If I need another tangle, but nothing feels “right”, my go-to tangle is Antidots. For me, it fits any space, and can fill any space.

    If neither of these solutions feels right, I set it aside for a while. When I come back to it, I sometimes find that it doesn’t actually need anything else. (thanks, Bijou!)

  • Sue Zanker

    Wise words yet again from Bijou, via Maria and Rick! If tangles are not coming easily and my Zentangle square is lacking something in a space, I say to myself, “maybe it’s MEANT to be a space, in the scheme of things!”
    so I usually let it be just that…..
    I have Tripoli as my “go to” tangle as that too can fit just about anywhere, either in its structured shape or ‘hanging loose’ on the own and scattered randomly wherever……

  • This happend to me yesterday.
    I couldn’t think of a tangle that would compliment what I had. So I worked on something else for a while and coming back to it decided to just draw up the border and add some color instead of more tangles. And I was happy with the result. 🙂

  • Jan Brandt, CZT XII

    When my tangling muse takes a break and leaves me in an extended state of pause, I hold my tile out at arm’s length and notice a few things: Is there enough black/white contrast to please my eye? Does the shape enclosed by an empty part of my string suggest a pattern? Does my tile want more curvy or straight lines to bring some balance? Usually the answer to one (or more) of these questions is enough to start some momentum again. If not, there’s always my icosahedron & legend!

  • joan

    I too go to my favorites often, but I have so many I then have to make another decision on which favorite to use. I seem to be doing the same ones, so I have now started using this method….I pick a number, then using this Tangle Patterns site I start with the A’s, then go to the number I picked and learn that tangle. Even if it’s one I wouldn’t normally pick or looks too complicated I still try it. I have found many of my “favorites ” using this method and it’s fun. Favs are hollibaugh, cadent and squid.

  • Pat Floerke

    I keep a couple of sketchbooks of all the tangles I’ve ever tried. Flipping through them,something almost always catches my eye with a “I’d enjoy drawing that” rather than “yes, that’s just what I need for that space.” I’ve also been known to set a tile aside and finish it later, ‘cuz when I’m blocked, it’s often because there’s something different that I need more than that tile at that moment.

  • Sue van Hees

    I think I often am “stuck” because I am overwhelmed with the number of tangles and I start thinking rather than just letting it flow. I usually leave the tile, start another and usually in that process, I come up with an idea. I think at times, we have so many tangles to choose from it becomes too encompassing and we need to return to the simplicity.

  • Vicki Mitchell

    My favorite “go-tos” are: 1) start flipping through my step-out sheets with nothing in mind until a pattern grabs me (this does work if you try to find something), or 2) choose a reference (a book, a website, and apply an appropriate random number generator. If all else fails, clean house. Inspiration WILL strike immediately.

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