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Linda Farmer, Certified Zentangle Teacher
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How to draw ICANTHIS

Zentangle pattern: Icanthis. 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.Second “Special Edition” of the day!

Icanthis is the second of two new Zentangle®-original tangles introduced at the recent zenAgain reunion for CZTs in November and published today as part of Rick and Maria’s “Twelve Days of 3Zs Christmas” series, together with Drawings (published here earlier today).

Icanthis was inspired by the Acanthus leaf and on Wikipedia we learn:

“The acanthus is one of the most common plant forms to make foliage ornament and decoration.

Some of the most detailed and elaborate acanthus decoration occurs in important buildings of Byzantine architecture, where the leaves are undercut, drilled, and spread over a wide surface. Use of the motif continued in Medieval art, particularly in sculpture and wood carving and in friezes, although usually it is stylized and generalized, so that one doubts that the artists connected it with any plant in particular.

Emphasis mine above. Very Zentangle-like, n’est-ce pas? As I recall, Maria is a huge William Morris fan and here’s a lovely example from wallpaper he designed in 1875.

William Morris Acanthus Wallpaper

Acanthus Wallpaper designed by William Morris in 1875. From the Victoria & Albert Museum Collection. “Specimen of ‘Acanthus’ wallpaper, foliate pattern of intertwined acanthus leaves in shades of green.”

Here’s a great quote attributed to William Morris:

Ornamental pattern-work, to be raised above the contempt of reasonable men, must possess three qualities: beauty, imagination, and order.”

If you’ve corresponded with me by email, you’ll recognize it from my “signature” at the end of every email.

In the newsletter Rick writes,

The acanthus leaf had inspired so many architectural and pattern motifs throughout history that Maria just had to take a deconstruction crack at it.

‘S’ and ‘Curve’ join again in icanthis.”

When Icanthis was first shared with the CZT community I did quite a bit of research on the acanthus. Among many beautiful examples on the WWW in addition to the William Morris example above, I found these to be particularly inspiring. So many varied and different, yet similar beautiful interpretations.

Drawings and Icanthis,

were inspired by patterns seen in nature (wings and leaves). We remind you that our intention is not to draw wings or to draw leaves. Rather our objective is to take the inspiration of these iconic shapes and deconstruct them so that you can tangle them into inspired images that may look like nothing anyone has ever seen!”

My example of Icanthis could have used a little more space to wander and my work continues on this one. Why am I thinking of dandelions? Icanthis is definitely a challenge, lots of versions tried until I was reasonably satisfied although I could have toned back the shading a bit. Moral of that personal story: use better lighting when tangling!

For Maria’s illustrated step-by-step instructions for tangling Icanthis, visit this newsletter.

We invite you to explore the organic potential that these steps automatically inspire. Once again, we remind you that your tangles are not supposed to look like ours . . . but rather, to look like yours!

UPDATE October 2018: Video from a lecture given by Zentangle co-founders in August 2018 in the final event of the National Museum of American Illustrators (NMAI) 2018 Summer Lecture Series. This video below starts at approximately 34 minutes where Maria demonstrates how to tangle Icanthis. Visit this link for the original post about this video.

Today is the tenth day of the series which has thus far included:

“On the x day of 3Zs, Bijou tangled me … ”

  1. A tile full of tripoli! – Tripoli steps here
  2. A fetching diva dancingDiva Dance steps here
  3. Some winsome bits of shattuckShattuck steps here
  4. Some marasu encircling – Marasu steps here
  5. Gold, glowing tipplesTipple steps here
  6. Swirling molygon-ings – Molygon steps here
  7. Dark and naughty knightsbridgeKnightsbridge steps here
  8. Perky pokeleafs peeking – Pokeleaf steps here
  9. Tangled auraknot-ings – Auraknot steps here
  10. Not so boring drawingsDrawings steps here
  11. {Icanthis steps on this page}


Martha tangles Icanthis in Project Pack #10’s Day 2 video

On Day 2 Martha explores spiral tangles and demonstrates Icanthis starting at the 27:44 time marker:

Check out the tag zentangle for all of the Zentangle®-original tangles with online instructions.

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3 comments to How to draw ICANTHIS

  • Judy O.

    Thanks for sharing the research you did on the Acanthus – The drawings on the website you mentioned give lots of ideas for variations….

  • Wonton

    It’s funny that you point out your regret in the amount of shading you employ in your tangle. When I initially viewed the thumbnail for your tangle, my first thought was that I loved how you shaded it. 🙂

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