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How to draw MORRISSEAU

Zentangle pattern: Morrisseau. 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.Hi again everyone, lovely to see you and welcome to another fine Monday!

Our tangle today is Morrisseau and it’s from Canadian CZT Cherryl Moote. A fitting way to celebrate Canadian Thanksgiving today is by paying tribute to an iconic Canadian Native artist and introducing him to the worldwide Zentangle® community.

Cherryl writes,

Norval Morrisseau, also known as Copper Thunderbird, was an Indigenous Canadian artist from the Ojibway Bingwi Neyaashi Anishinaabek First Nation. He was born in Northern Ontario in the 1930s and died just over a decade ago.

I became aware of his work in my 20s and followed it with interest. It was exhibited widely in Ontario where I live. I find his images striking and they carry great meaning.

I’ve spent decades researching comparative mythologies and his work shows deep spirituality and mysticism. During his career his work was shown to Picasso who was deeply touched by the imagery. Hence the reason he is known as the “Picasso of the North”.

I was so delighted when I saw Cherryl’s Morrisseau tangle. Robert and I have been fans of the works of Canadian indigenous artists and specifically Norval Morrisseau and the Kakegamic brothers (Josh and Goyce), since the early days of our marriage in the 1970’s.

At that time we met Morrisseau at a gallery showing in Toronto and this poster of his Self Portrait is displayed in our front hall. This image reoccurs in several forms in his later art and with different titles.

The Self Portrait is an early Morrisseau, he’s known for his glorious colors and if you delve into his art you will see that the backgrounds soon become filled with the bright, amazing color and imagery that makes his art so distinguishable — like this beautiful cover of Morrisseau’s book The Art of Norval Morrisseau.

Morrisseau is known as “the grandfather of Canadian Native Art“, “using primary colours straight out of the tubes, Morrisseau painted the spiritual reality that had been the foundation of Ojibwa life for thousands of years.

Morrisseau created works depicting the legends of his people, the cultural and political tensions between native Canadian and European traditions, his existential struggles, and his deep spirituality and mysticism. His style is characterized by thick black outlines and bright colors.

He founded the Woodlands School of Canadian art and was a prominent member of the “Indian Group of Seven”.

In addition to his Wikipedia entry (strangely lacking a single example of his artwork), you can read more about Morrisseau from his page on the prestigious McMichael Canadian Art Collection – Home to the Art of Canada – website here.

If you are interested in learning more about the meaning of Woodland art symbolism — including the often-seen divided circle — see this page.

About her tangle Cherryl writes,

My work often features shapes drawn with smooth edges and weighting. I love drawing river rocks and tucking images and tangles inside them.

This winter as I had time to work on new imagery I found myself thinking about how we are all connected even though we are kept apart at the moment.

I started drawing simple shapes and connecting them with smooth strokes.

As I worked I began to think about Morrisseau and I decided to name this tangle after him as a tribute to his work and influence in the art world.

The illustrated steps for Morrisseau are included below AND Cherryl also very generously recorded this video just for us. She introduces the artist who gave her the inspiration for this tangle and takes us through the steps for tangling it. Towards the end of the video Cherryl shows her beautiful Zentangle-inspired Meander Book and an accordion book made from an old map, both ZIAs featuring Morrisseau the tangle.



Cherryl illustrates the step-by-step instructions for drawing Morrisseau below where she includes a simple, minimalist monotangle.

How to draw the Zentangle pattern Morrisseau, tangle and deconstruction by Cherryl Moote. Image copyright the artist and used with permission, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

As you enjoy any of the tangles on the site, please leave a comment of thanks and encouragement to show the artists you appreciate them for sharing their creativity to inspire yours. Your thanks helps motivate them to continue to share! And please share a link to your favorite tangles on social media. Thanks!

Check out the tag cherrylm for more of Cherryl’s tangles on You can also find Cherryl here on her website.

Postscript: After I had this post written, quite accidentally/coincidentally I discovered that many now consider Columbus Day as Indigenous Peoples’ Day. I did not know that. According to the Smithsonian,

To date, 14 states— Alabama, Alaska, Hawai’i, Idaho, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Dakota, Vermont, and Wisconsin—and the District of Columbia, more than 130 cities, and growing numbers of school districts celebrate Indigenous Peoples’ Day in place of or in addition to Columbus Day.

How-To Bookmaking Activities

For free K-12 Lesson Plan PDFs and videos of instructions for making a variety of books including a Meander book, visit this page at the J. Willard Marriott Library at the University of Utah.

Related Links

  1. Looking for tangles by Artist or Type? For details visit the ABOUT > HOW TO FIND TANGLES BY ARTIST OR TYPE page on the top menu bar of any page on the site.
  2. What is a Zentangle? — if you are new to the Zentangle Method, start here for the fundamentals.
  3. Zentangle terminology — a glossary of terms used in this art form.
  4. How to use the site — an excellent free video tutorial showing how to use the site as well as pointing out lots of useful features you might have missed.
  5. Linda's List of Zentangle-Original Patterns — here is the complete list of original tangles (aka "official tangles") created and introduced by founders Rick Roberts and Maria Thomas, including those not published online. If you are new to the Zentangle Method I highly recommend learning a few of the published Zentangle classics first.
  6. "A Zentangle has no up or down and is not a picture of something, so you have no worries about whether you can draw a hand, or a duck. You always succeed in creating a Zentangle." Thus patterns that are drawings of a recognizable naturalistic or actual object, figure, or scene, are not tangles. A pattern is not always a tangle — here's what makes a tangle. TIP: tangles never start with pencil planning.
  7. How to submit your pattern deconstruction to TanglePatterns
  8. For lots of great FREE tutorials on TanglePatterns, click on the TUTORIALS link in the pink alphabetic menu bar below the tangle images at the top of any page.
  9. Strings! Have we got STRINGS! Click on the STRINGS link in the pink alphabetic menu bar below the tangle images at the top of any page for 250 different (free) Zentangle-starters. More than enough for any lifetime!
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26 comments to How to draw MORRISSEAU

  • Jody Genovese

    Cherryl this is really wonderful. Thank you for the video and so many ways to use this versatile pattern. My mind is racing with possibilities right now.

  • Meg Scott

    Hi Cherryl,

    I adore your tribute tangle to Morrisseau. Well done! Your website is dazzling. I just made my first accordian book. Thanks for all the inspiration and shared energy.

  • Linda Davis

    This is a fascinating article! Not only is the tangle elegantly simple with an interesting history, but the whole article about the indigenous people in Canada was wonderful to read and learn from. All the various websites are great and I definitely learned a many new things, including how to make a variety of simple books from the links introduced in the article.

    Thanks to Cheryl Moote and to for a wonderful Indigenous Day contribution!

    Linda Davis

  • Dr Donna Mahoney

    This gave me goose bumps! What an amazing tribute! Thank you Cherryl Moote! Beautiful Zentangle art!

  • The self portrait of the artist is wonderful and so is his art. Thank you Linda and Cherryl for a wonderful story and a pretty new tangle!

  • Donna Lamoureux

    I feel inspired, Cheryl! Thank you for sharing your art, and certainly Morrisseau’s. Can’t wait to do this.

  • Melena

    I love this tangle Cherryl, and all the possibilities it brings. I also loved learning a bit of Indigenous Canadian history. I am going to explore this more. But for now I am going to draw this Morrisseau Tangle as many ways as I can. I love using bright colors too, and this is so perfect for that. It was just what I was looking for even though I didn’t know it. Thank you so much Cherryl, and thank you Linda for posting it.

  • Thank you Cherryl for introducing such a lovely tangle. Feeling very inspired by your video and your beautiful work. I love the history behind it. I can’t wait to have a go.


    Thank you, Linda, for a fascinating post and Cheryl for a captivating tangle. So many possibilities.

  • Quite delightful Cherryl! I look forward to giving this try.

    Some years ago I was informed, by an aboriginal artist, that the black lines connecting the various elements of their artwork are representative of the fact that everything in the world is connected, somehow, in some way. Nothing floats loose, all alone.

  • Susan Kelley Pundt

    This is a really fun one!

  • Thanks for all the knowledge on this tangle and artist. Loved seeing the video and the meander book. Will have to try that.

  • Jenn Brayton

    As a Canadian uni professor, I have used Norval Morrisseau as a teaching example since my start back way back in the late 90s. I love his work and have seen his exhibitions and he’s truly incredible!! Thank you so very much for this amazing tangle Cheryl!! The video is wonderful 🙂

    And Linda, thank you for the detailed post with so many great links to learn more about Morrisseau’s career and art 🙂 And thank you for choosing a Canadian CZT and Canadian influenced tangle 🙂

  • Lise Orwig

    Once again, you have proven how your talent can be shared and extended to all of us- Zentangle artists, book artists and calligraphers. Thank you for sharing the Morrisseau tangle and all that can be seen with it. Love your style, Cherri!!!

  • Oh Thank you so much !!! This pulled me out of my slump! I love drawing neurotangles and there are some similarities… wow! My creative juices are flooding my soul and mind!

  • Brenda Urbanik

    Thank you so much for this tangle Cherryl, and Linda, and for sharing all the history and links that allow us to delve a little deeper. So very grateful for your video Cherryl, I love your booklets and totally love how you incorporated writing into your art. I was so taken in with the simplicity and brightness of this tangle that I put pen to paper immediately!

  • Cynthia Rothbard

    I loved this tangle and learning so much about the Indigenous tribes of Morrisseau. Every week, I look forward to your tangle presentation. I always learn so much. Thank You for this gift, especially during this time of Covid and politics. You are getting me through with joy and excitement.

  • jan mustain

    Thank you so much. Have put a book on Morrisseau on hold at the library and can’t wait to pick it up.

  • Mary Ann

    This was WONDERFUL!!!! Not only did I learn a new tangle, but I now discovered a new artist I wasn’t aware of. THANK YOU!!!! I love his work! Your video was excellent. I looked at your work and said ‘NO WAY can I do that.” But then your video made it seem so easy. The most important thing you taught me was to go slow. Take your time and enjoy the movement of your pen. And as you were drawing the shapes, I could see you on the beach sketching those beautiful rocks. LOVED this video!

  • Hanna

    Lovely pattern. So many possibilities. This one tangle will keep me occupied for a long timme.

  • Martha Murphy

    Thank you to Cheryl Moote! I absolutely love Morrisseau!

  • Peyton

    Cherryl, thank you for sharing your work and taking time to make a video. (Linda, thank you for continuing to connect all of us to art and artists like Cherryl. Your newsletter is a wonderful resource.) Morrisseau is an unusual and beautiful tangle. I was drawn (haha) to it immediately and am so grateful to have a step-out and video. Just finished my first tile, and want to do another immediately! I’ve only been tangling for a little over a year, and haven’t ventured into color yet – but this tangle is urging me on 🙂

  • Susanna Redaelli

    Just wonderful! I’m very inspired by your tangling. Thank you so much!

  • Deanna Williford

    Cherryl, I absolutely LOVE this tangle!! I got to see Morrissau’s original work in Taos in 2013 and meet a man who claimed to be his assistant up until his death and was in charge of selling his work. I was fascinated by his pieces of art!!! Now I’m zealous about working with your tangle – THANK YOU!

  • Bev Davy

    So enjoyed this tangle! Thanks so much for sharing?

  • Nathan Guest

    I met Norval Morrisseau about 30 years ago. We were members of a mystical, spiritual group that was called Eckenkar. At that time, I had no idea who he was or would become. But I felt then that with every word he spoke, that he was the most spiritual and enlightened human being I had ever met.

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