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What is Zentangle?
Linda Farmer, Certified Zentangle Teacher


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Tangle Refresher 119 – Featuring suggestions for Beginners on some tangles to get started …

Tangle Refresher!The new year always brings many new people to Zentangle® and then come the emails asking “which tangles should I start with?”. Which ones are good for Beginners?

While it’s true there’s a mind-boggling array of great tangles on the site, as Rick and Maria say “Anything is possible … one stroke at a time.™” This applies to drawing tangles and the mindful practice of deliberate stroke-making.

My personal advice to beginners is to start with what are sometimes referred to as “the official tangles” — the official tangles are the Zentangle-originals (from Zentangle HQ) that are listed and linked on the top menu bar under ZENTANGLES > LINDA’S LIST OF OFFICIAL TANGLES.

You could create Zentangles for the next year with just a few of the Zentangle-originals with instructions available from that list and never get bored playing with them and variations you come up with yourself.

And from that list, here are few that are perfect to get everyone tangling:

  1. Crescent Moon – with this tangle we learn the technique of the aura and it’s the classic starter tangle
  2. Hollibaugh – with this tangle we learn the technique of drawing behind
  3. Bales – a basic grid tangle that is almost infinitely variable and it’s a core official tangle
  4. Printemps – a fun tangle that’s full of swirls
  5. Cadent – a little more challenging than the first four, but another classic tangle that’s infinitely variable as you’ll see in CZT Margaret Bremner’s excellent tutorial
  6. Ahh – so simple and can add a bit of lightness and movement to a tile

To my CZT colleagues: you are welcome to chip in with your favorite tangles for beginners in the comments!

Another little tip … for best results try to use up to 3 or 4 tangles at most in a tile, more than that and your Zentangle will probably look very busy. Monotangles are also very popular, this is where you use one tangle (with or without variations) for a Zentangle. For explanations of these unfamiliar terms, see the ZENTANGLES > ZENTANGLE TERMINOLOGY page.

My TanglePatterns BEGINNER’S GUIDE to Zentangle also contains a longer list of tangles that are good for beginners but these few are a great start.

Just jump in and draw! Zentangle tiles are designed to be small and manageable so you’re not overwhelmed. And as you do more and more of them you’ll be delighted to see your art improve with each one.

Want proof? These are my own examples of Printemps. The one on the left is the one I first posted for Printemps when I started TanglePatterns almost six years ago as a complete novice at drawing. The example on the right is one I drew to replace my original after a couple of years of drawing of any kind. Practice improves your fine motor skills and thus your pen control.


Keep all of your tiles! Sign and date the back. In a few weeks you can look back at your first tiles and see just how far you’ve come.

And once you get going, remember to have a go at more of the Zentangle-originals on LINDA’S LIST.

I leave you with a quote from the article “Brené Brown on the Physics of Vulnerability and What Resilient People Have in Common” on,

Creativity embeds knowledge so that it can become practice. We move what we’re learning from our heads to our hearts through our hands. We are born makers, and creativity is the ultimate act of integration — it is how we fold our experiences into our being… The Asaro tribe of Indonesia and Papua New Guinea has a beautiful saying: ‘Knowledge is only a rumor until it lives in the muscle.’

* * *

The Tangle Refresher series, aka Buried Treasure, comes to you every two weeks and it 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 please share the tangles with your followers on all your favorite social media. Thanks!

Buried Treasure from a year ago
Zentangle pattern: Knightsbridge. © Linda Farmer and ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. You may use this image for your personal non-commercial reference only. Republishing or redistributing IN ANY FORM including pinning is prohibited under law without express permission. Knightsbridge
Zentangle pattern: Roxi Roxi
Zentangle pattern: Onion Drops Onion Drops
Zentangle pattern: Znzu Znzu
Zentangle pattern: Beanious Beanious
Revisit the Tangle Refresher from a year ago Tangle Refresher 91

More good stuff …

  • Personal accounts of how Zentangle has dramatically changed lives – click on the “STORIES” tab on the pink alphabetic menu bar
  • The Zen of Zentangle – CZT Carole Ohl’s beautiful description of the experience of Zentangle, “More than a Metaphor”
  • New to Zentangle®? The Official Zentangle Kit has everything you need to get started, including a great DVD tutorial by Zentangle co-founder Maria Thomas.
  • Everything you need to know about creating Zentangle-Inspired Art or Products
  • Free Interweave eBook – Know Your Rights: Copyright 101 for crafters and artists
  • Tangle Pattern Refreshers – the entire Buried Treasure series.
  • Find more tutorials on TanglePatterns by visiting the TUTORIALS tab on the pink alphabetic menu bar
  • Find a CZT near you – the link to the list of Certified Zentangle Teachers is located in the left sidebar of the site under the heading SOURCE WEBSITES.
  • Interested in becoming a Certified Zentangle Teacher (CZT®)? Here’s more information.
  • Linda’s List of Zentangle-original tangles — THE tangles to learn first if you’re new to Zentangle.


Enhance your Zentangle experience while supporting TanglePatterns:

CURRENT EDITION! TANGLE GUIDE, 2024 Edition TANGLE GUIDE, 2024 Edition The 13th Edition of the TANGLE GUIDE is an instant-download 109-page interactive digital eBook/PDF containing approximately 2,000 tangles on the site from May 2010 through December 31, 2023. It's a great resource and a must-have digital tool for using the site. Visit the STORE > E-BOOKS page and help keep going by getting your copy now!

"Linda, Thank you! I was relying on too few and getting stuck after 3 years of daily working with Zentangle. This has inspired me to ‘begin again’ with renewed excitement." ~ Barbara R.

See the BOOK REVIEWS page for more details on its features and view a sample page. Note: this is a digital product you download immediately when you place your order, nothing will be physically mailed to you.
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If you're new to Zentangle® and tangling, my BEGINNER'S GUIDE TO ZENTANGLE is just what you need to get started. Also available en Français and en Español.

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.
NEW! Now available in KINDLE format for $9.99. Spanish Edition here. Japanese Edition here.
"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


4 comments to Tangle Refresher 119 – Featuring suggestions for Beginners on some tangles to get started …

  • Jan Brandt, CZT XII, Reno, Nevada, USA

    Thank you, Linda! Another tangle that’s great for beginners is Shattuck. 🙂

  • Melena

    Thank you Linda, for the list of some basic tangles. I use cadent quite a bit but had never thought about tangleations of that tangle. I went to the Cadent page and followed your advice to go to Margaret Bremner’s website and check out her tutorial. Oh my! I will be trying out Cadent in so many more ways now. It will probably be in my next few tiles in some form or another.

    I’m not a beginner, but I still have trouble seeing what else can be done with a particular tangle. Maybe this will jumpstart my brain. 😉

    Thanks again for a wonderful website.

  • Paula

    Thank you, Linda, for this great newsletter and web site. I have been tangling for about three years, and throughout this time, have drawn many tiles, some of which I really did not like. I was tempted to throw them away, but did not. What is really neat is I’m so glad I kept them. I have discovered various new applications for them, and am using them in ways that I could not have imagined three years ago. So, my advice to new tanglers is to save all your work, as you have no idea what great ideas may come to you in the coming years!

  • Kejo

    I have found ‘Nzeppel (“random” version) to be excellent for beginners. It’s very easy to draw and the result is quite stunning.

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