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Linda Farmer, Certified Zentangle Teacher


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Tangle Refresher 104 – Featuring thoughts on Zentangle and Robert Genn’s creating intuitively

Tangle Refresher!I believe if we follow the structure of the Zentangle Method that eliminates thinking, planning, and picture-making — we become open to the creative potential of our own intuition. Then our art grows organically, intuitively, one deliberate pen stroke at a time.” Quoting myself from Tangle Refresher 53, June 2013.

Two years ago I shared my thoughts about how the art of Zentangle opens the doors to the creative potential of our own intuition. This was inspired by an article published in his twice-weekly newsletter by the late Canadian artist Robert Genn. Sadly Robert died earlier this year from pancreatic cancer but his daughter Sara has admirably taken the reins and continues his legacy of twice-weekly artist-food-for-thought.

Given the glut of largely questionable Zentangle-ish youtube videos and “unauthentic” books on the market these days, I wanted to share this post again and remind us that our intuition, not planning, is at the heart of Zentangle. As Rick and Maria write in The Book of Zentangle, it’s a “structured method of putting pen to paper with no expectation.” I invite your comments …

* * *

“One of my oldest and favorite subscriptions is the Twice-Weekly Letter from Canadian artist, Robert Genn. He’s a wonderful painter who waxes philosophical on all matters related to art. He’s always sincere, helpful, and thought-provoking.

Robert’s current newsletter is about “How to paint intuitively“. He explores the definition of intuition and some thoughts from “bright minds” who’ve “had a hard time determining just what intuition is.

Robert Genn Twice-Weekly Letter

This image uses his delightful “Self-portrait with Emily” from the home page of his Painter’s Keys website. Click this image to see a larger version.

Robert then gives his own list of suggestions of how to paint intuitively, determined by his interest “in practical systems that might be applied in daily easel-life.”

Some of his suggestions for painters might also be helpful with the pen-and-ink art of Zentangle®. I believe if we follow the structure of the Zentangle Method that eliminates thinking, planning, and picture-making — we become open to the creative potential of our own intuition. Then our art grows organically, intuitively, one deliberate pen stroke at a time.

Robert’s suggestion to “Pay little or no attention to reference material” [while you’re in the moment of creating] struck a particular chord with me. I have a bad habit of perusing “reference material” — books, magazines, and God-help-me, the internet — attempting to multi-task while creating. And you’d think I’d know better. Not only does it suck up valuable creative time, but for me it also leads to confusion and indecision. Too many ideas, too much input. Bifurcation. Instead of being inspired by reference material, I short-circuit, become blocked. I’m much better when I sit with only my pen and tile and simply allow. My art is better, and I feel better too.

Intuition is perception via the unconscious that brings forth ideas, images, new possibilities and ways out of blocked situations. – Carl Jung via Robert Genn

Don’t get me wrong, of course there is a time and place for reference material. Then it percolates in your neural network and emerges later with your own innovations and interpretations when you are creating intuitively. I am glad to be reminded by Robert not to combine the two processes in the same time zone. And to make creative time the highest priority.

With Zentangle, I don’t personally need the “distraction” he suggests is important to the painting process. But I can see how it would help when creating a painting where there’s so much planning and decision-making involved. Still, a little background music never hurts while tangling either!

I’ll be interested to hear your thoughts on Robert’s article and his suggestions, please add them in the comments below …

* * *

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 it would be great if you’d take a moment to leave a comment of thanks and encouragement for the tangler who’s shared with us, and Tweet or “like” the page on Facebook to share the tangles with your followers. Sharing links are on the left side of each tangle’s page. Thanks!

Buried Treasure from a year ago
Zentangle pattern: Bunzo. Image © Linda Farmer and Bunzo
Zentangle pattern: Double D's. Image © Linda Farmer and Double D’s
Zentangle pattern: Kelp. Image © Linda Farmer and Kelp
Zentangle pattern: Fandango Fandango
Zentangle pattern: Axlexa. Image © Linda Farmer and Axlexa
Revisit the Tangle Refresher from a year ago Tangle Refresher 76

More good stuff …


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4 comments to Tangle Refresher 104 – Featuring thoughts on Zentangle and Robert Genn’s creating intuitively

  • Yvonne Edmondson

    Linda, your article regarding Carl Jung/Robert Genn was talking directly to me in so many areas. One in particular regarding the separation of the structured tangles and leading me to break away and go with paper, pencil & pen and work the intuitive/creative side.
    I e being tangling for two years and certainly enjoy the results but I’ve found I penning myself down and loosing some of the confidence and creativity I had before..
    Your are article are jewels and I I often over look the message and start with the new tangle..there is so much information I miss. Examples of how to get to the next level is often missed. Also the seemingly “How to’s” like holding a pen a certain way to make a circle easier or making a “Y” to make an even pattern (flower, etc).
    Again thank you for such a great site..

  • sister7

    About intuition from Robert Genn, “…Carl Jung, considered intuition an “irrational function.” The reformed priest Thomas Merton thought it was a way to see what he called “spiritual reality,” describing intuition as a “legitimate struggle against conceptual knowledge.” My acupuncturist said, of a Zentangle that I showed her as we wrapped up our last session, ‘this looks like your energy. Please bring this one back next time we meet…’ I’m looking forward to our next appointment! Thanks for this great Tangle Refresher 104.

  • Nancy Anta

    I love this website and as someone new to Zentangle, I’ve learned a lot from it. I’ve looked for the articles Yvonne mentioned about drawing circles and Y’s but couldn’t find them. Could someone please point me in the right direction? Thanks!

    • Linda Farmer, CZT

      Hi Nancy and welcome. I’m thinking Yvonne was referring in general to the tips I give with each tangle and making sure to take time to read the entire post (i.e., slow down and READ deliberately, one word at a time* 😉 ) or you’ll miss useful information. For instance, the tip about the Y shape came in the tangle 63Y. Hope that helps!

      * based on Zentangle’s “anything is possible one stroke at a time”™, and our constant reminder to slow down and make each stroke deliberately.

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