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Linda Farmer, Certified Zentangle Teacher


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Tangle Refresher 137 and seeking advice for left-handed tanglers from the Zentangle® community

Tangle Refresher!New tangler Eryl H. of the UK asks,

Does being left handed affect how you draw the patterns. I’m a beginner in the UK with no CZT nearby so teaching myself but I find it difficult to naturally draw some of the patterns.

Is it just me??

Thanks for your interesting question, Eryl. There are probably others out there wondering the same thing and perhaps the left-handed members of the Zentangle community will give us their advice and suggestions in the comments.

In the meantime, here’s two cents from my general, but right-handed perspective.

I think “drawing naturally” varies with each person and how much they’ve done any kind of “drawing” before, or even if they write anything by hand very frequently.

As Maria writes in The Book of Zentangle: “Give yourself more time to draw each stroke. The fine motor skills you use for typing or texting are different from the ones you use to draw. Let your muscles get used to drawing.

As someone who primarily communicated with a keyboard and didn’t draw at all before I discovered Zentangle and started this site, I generally have to practice each tangle quite a few times before the muscle memory gets it to my satisfaction. Some tangles do come more easily than others too and what’s “easy” for you might be a challenge for me.

I’m right handed and sprained my thumb quite severely some years ago. I find making curved strokes can often be a challenge because my thumb isn’t as flexible as it should be. It doesn’t take kindly to looong straight strokes either. But keeping at it helps.

So … net out = perseverance! 🙂

Your thoughts?? Eryl and I would truly appreciate hearing from the lefties in the community. In the meantime, enjoy a great weekend and this Buried Treasure …

* * *

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.

BTW as you visit these tangles please do leave a comment of thanks and encouragement to show the artists you appreciate them for sharing their creativity to inspire yours. And please share a link to your favorite tangles with your followers on all your social media. Thanks!

Zenful tangling!

Buried Treasure from the tangling past
Zentangle pattern: Purk. Image © Linda Farmer and ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. You may use this image for your personal non-commercial reference only. The unauthorized pinning, reproduction or distribution of this copyrighted work is illegal. Purk
Zentangle pattern: Rio. Image © Linda Farmer and ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. You may use this image for your personal non-commercial reference only. The unauthorized pinning, reproduction or distribution of this copyrighted work is illegal. Rio
Zentangle pattern: Blooms. Image © Linda Farmer and ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. You may use this image for your personal non-commercial reference only. The unauthorized pinning, reproduction or distribution of this copyrighted work is illegal. Blooms
Zentangle pattern: Cylon. Image © Linda Farmer and ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. You may use this image for your personal non-commercial reference only. The unauthorized pinning, reproduction or distribution of this copyrighted work is illegal. Cylon
Zentangle pattern: Narwal. Image © Linda Farmer and ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. You may use this image for your personal non-commercial reference only. The unauthorized pinning, reproduction or distribution of this copyrighted work is illegal. Narwal
Revisit the Tangle Refresher from a year ago Tangle Refresher 109

More good stuff …


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21 comments to Tangle Refresher 137 and seeking advice for left-handed tanglers from the Zentangle® community

  • Annette Derksen

    Iam a leftie when it comes to eating drawing and writing. Although I have learnt to write with my right hand it doesn’t flow as smoothly as my left.
    All I can say it get better with practice, practice and more practice.
    So my left hand is getting better at Zentangle and love to tangle.
    Thanks for all you and your team do for us. Been struggling with food allergies and finally getting some results. Been a real challenge but Zentangle has helped me get through a lot of it.

    • Linda Farmer, CZT

      I can relate to the food allergies, Annette. My specialist says “You’re allergic to everything!”. A challenge indeed. Great that tangling helps by taking your mind off things. Thanks for your input.

  • Oil City Anita

    Hi! I too am a left-handed tangler (as well as a CZT) with no prior drawing experience before discovering this art form. The only disconnect I’ve found is when it comes to drawing lines: do I draw them towards me or away from me? I have found that I prefer drawing towards me, since I’d rather see where I’m going, rather than where I’ve been. And I find that my drawing hand gets in the way (I can’t tell where I’m headed) if I draw away from me. Hope this helps. And Eryl, welcome to the world of Zentangle. Anita, CZT6

  • Carla Szczuka

    Hello, I am a proud leftie too and I agree with Oil City Anita about drawing the lines towards me. I just do the tangles opposite. If the pattern calls for a line from upper right to lower left, I do opposite. The grids work out fine. And practice, practice…

  • Vera Whiting

    Hi there, I am quite definitely left-handed and really enjoy tangling. Just turn your tile until it feels comfortable to draw a curve or line. Remember that us Lefties have the advantage as we already draw with the right side of the brain (remember the book with that title?) Just persevere Eryl. Best wishes Vera (also in UK)

  • I’m left-handed, but it sounds like your problem might have more to do with technique than handedness. Some things to pay attention to:
    – how is your paper placed? When drawing certain lines or curves, you may need to move the paper so you can keep drawing in a direction that is easier for you.
    – how are you holding your hand and arm? Try keeping your hand straight and below the line you are drawing.
    – how are you holding the pen/pencil? Three points here. This is hard to explain, but here’s an article on the subject- Right or left handed, there are good ways and bad ways to hold your pencil for drawing. Also, don’t tighten up. Keep your grip loose and you’ll have more control (my high school teacher use to walk around and try grabbing our pens from our hands. If she couldn’t do it easily, she’d tell us to lighten up).
    – how are you drawing your longer lines and curves? If you draw from the shoulder rather than the wrist, you can more easily draw long lines. To do this, lift your arm off the table a bit and move your entire arm instead of just your hand. Like all things, these techniques take practice (especially changing your grip), so don’t give up if it take a while.

  • Lorraine Antieau

    Another leftie here! Always thought I couldn’t draw, struggled in school, especially with smudges, also feeling like I couldn’t tell the right direction to draw things: a clockwise curve always turned out curving counterclockwise, etc. Maybe I’m a wee bit dyslexic, too. So gave up on art, pretty much. Never did learn to knit or crochet, either, to my regret — no left-handed teachers around. Discovering Zentangle, especially the encouragement to take my time and practice the patterns and also practice self-acceptance, and voila! An artist is born! I love Zentangle; it has helped me overcome feelings of not being very creative, and given me many hours of meditative pleasure! Still have to be conscious not to drag my hand, and complex patterns can be tricky, but I practice until it feels like my hand understands the pattern, and away I go.

  • I’m a lefty, too, but I find tangling not hard at all. It might be because I’ve drawn nearly all my life and tangling is not so far away from that. I find writing much harder, trying not to smear what I’ve just written. Only recently, more than 20 years after I learned how to write I learned how to write “correctly” as a lefty and after trying it out I must say that this is nothing that I’ll ever learn. I’d rather spend the time trying tangling – where I can turn the tile in my favour.

    But I’m curious: Which tangles do you find hard to tangle, Eryl? My experience is that everyone has his/her own “problem tangles” (s)he is struggling with. It would be interesting to see if we leftys are struggling with the same type of tangles! But to be honest I doubt that very much. Everybody is different, even among the left-handed tanglers there should be many differences!

  • Sue Zanker

    The saying….”I am Unique, just like everyone else”!….. comes to mind here. I am right handed but over the years I have taught quite a few lefties and in fact some of the really “famous” Calligraphers, are indeed lefthanded and do beautiful work too. I think a key word “PRACTICE” comes in here and another couple of words I am very fond of, are …..”Practice will not make it perfect, but it will make it BETTER”. It works in Calligraphy and Tangling. If you find a particular directional line difficult, practice doing it every which way, to see which one suits YOU. Ultimately, you can listen to other peoples’ advice,and try different things, but it all boils down to YOU in the end and with tangling “having no mistakes, only opportunities”, so rest assured, it is a whole lot easier to do than Calligraphy! Go Girl!

  • Jeannie Fletcher

    Being left handed has never been a problem for me, I often draw my zentangles the oposite way round, to get used to doing this set up a mirror beside the tangle you want to try and copy what you see in the mirror. My mum taught me to knit that way too.

  • Robin P

    I’m strongly left-sided and, except for guitar and knitting, do everything left-handed. However, I’m also old enough to have had ready access to art classes in school and my mother (a former commercial artist) always encouraged us kids to explore lots of art media. I’ve always doodled when my hands are idle. So like you, Linda, I may have some sort of advantage over Eryl because of my exposure to “hand activities”.

    Some of the tangles I’ve tried are difficult for me, but I don’t feel it’s because of being left-handed. Some others were awkward at first but I got the hang of them. I don’t think my handedness has been a handicap in pursuing Zentangle. On the other hand (sorry), I don’t hesitate to reverse stepout directions, doing a step toward the right instead of the left, if that seems more natural to me. I’ve always been good at reversing directions to suit myself.

    And while I’m writing, I’d like to thank you for your wonderful website. I collect tangle patterns and have gotten a lot from you. I was taught the basics and some “advanced” things from CZT Jean Smeriglio, but have also learned a lot from the links you give us for new material to play with.

    Most sincerely,

  • Linda Farmer, CZT

    Thank you all so much for the excellent input, there’s helpful advice regardless of which “handedness” you are.

    It’s especially delightful to hear from some “old” friends too, Sandra and Anita. 🙂

  • Joyce

    I’m a right-handed person, but due to a severe, inoperable rotator cuff tear in my right shoulder, I had to do things with my left hand for quite a while; I was determined to continue drawing Zentangle (as well as other crafts and hobbies), so did it with my left hand. I do have to empathize with the left-handers; it’s not easy! However, perseverance did help me overcome, and even now, with my right arm back in use (but not truly healed), I draw with my left hand so that my brain will recognize that it’s a good thing to do.

    All I can say is what so many have already said; paper or tile placement, how one holds the pen, just finding your “comfort zone” for drawing, is the way to learn it. I’ve been drawing Zentangle patterns for almost five years, and drawing in general for 60 of my 63 years, and force myself to do it with both hands “just in case,” as my artist mother used to say.

    One thing that might help, though it sounds contrary to logic: try drawing with your right hand; it forces your brain to see things differently, and will make using your dominant left hand much easier. That was what my mother advised her four children to do; use the opposite hand when you want to learn to use the dominant one better. Works every time, no matter what you’re learning. Messy at first, but highly effective.

  • Sarah Fowler

    Hey there, I’m a lefty and I found working from right to left does help. So similar to what someone else has mentioned, when drawing the stepouts to a tangle I will start them the other way round/other side of the space, from the right side to the left…..hope that helps and hasn’t confused you further?. Happy tangling….

  • Myra

    As an artist and confirmed left hander (so much so that, as a small child, when my parents asked me which was my right hand, I would hold out my left because it was my “correct” hand?) I find that there are changes that I make to the way I draw tangles. I will always start my drawing from the right as this prevents smudges. If I find that a particular piece is proving more difficult to produce then I try turning it sideways or even upside down. Most of us south paws have had to develop alternative ways of doing right handed tasks so we are generally able to adapt. Happy tangling folks

  • Eryl Hoskins

    Thank you all so much for offering such a variety of advice. I’ll have no excuse now. I guess one of my problems, apart from being left handed is I’m also a perfectionist so I’m trying hard not to be. To take more time and practice more is what I am trying to do and I’m finding a wobbly line or a small error in the pattern quite appealing. It makes my effort look artistic in a way and not produced by a computer!
    Thank you Linda for putting my problem to your friends and being encouraging as I’m not able to find a nearby CZT in the UK. I’m so glad I found tangling and such a great supportive group of people. Thank you all once again.

  • Joan Lilley CZT16

    Lefties could try turning the tile inwards from the top about 45 degrees. This works for writing. Would be interested to know if this actually helps for tangling.

  • EJ

    I many times start at the top of what I am beginning and to the right very frequently, going to my left, so as to avoid smudges. But this isn’t true all the time. I turn what I am tangling abt 45 degrees and I turn it again and again on some patterns. I go with what works for me, as probably anybody does.

    Tangling isn’t about perfection. It’s about you and your pen and being in tune with yourself.

    A piece of advice I received from someone who did his doctoral research and dissertation in this subject is to draw with your non-dominant hand. You have no expectations of being able to succeed therefore anything you accomplish with your “other” hand will be considered good. He is an illustrator of children’s books in Australia and is quite accomplished, so I took his advice seriously.

  • Linda Dochter, CZT

    I’m thinking this is more a question of dominant hand motor skills then it is right vs left. I often find that my attempts to draw symmetry are lopsided on one side. I was advised to draw half of a tangle or stroke using my dominant hand, give my tile a 1/2 turn, then draw the other half. In the end, there is no left or right in Zentangle. It’s all good.

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