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Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Zentangle, Beyond the Basics

I was very happy to attend a Zentangle seminar at 1440 Multiversity this month. If you are not familiar with 1440, I recommend  you check them out at It's in Scott's Valley near Santa Cruz, and it's a learning center with many inspiring courses and teachers. Apparently Silicon Valley billionaire Scott Kriens and his wife Joanie purchased the old, shuttered, 75 acre Bethany Christian College campus and built a center that is a real pleasure to visit. They constructed beautiful buildings for residences and for classrooms. They invited meditation teachers such as Jack Kornfield, art innovators like Zentangle founders Rick Roberts and Maria Thomas, and many other interesting leaders of our time. It's a real pleasure to be there.

Rick and Maria are a delight. Unassuming and full of interesting ideas. The theme was CONTRAST. We did a number of Zentangles that used light and dark creatively. Here are some of mine with a few comments for each. I hope you enjoy them.

This was my favorite. I love Diva Dance Rock 'N Roll on the left, looking for all the world like a rose. The Knightsbridge with its stripes is so dramatic, and it shows the power of the contrasting black and white. Pokeleaf in the middle provides an unexpected contrast between geometric and organic patterns.

My very own Egyptian columns. We used white pencils for highlight and dark shading in between the columns. This is a Renaissance (pale brown) Zendala tile, which is what we used for the rest of the program. Rick showed some slides of DaVinci and Raphael drawings on this light brown colored paper to explain why they named them Renaissance tiles. 

My second favorite. The big overall tangle patttern is WayBop, always fun. It's decorated in the middle cross with some orbs (fancy word for little circles or ovals). The light on dark orbs again show the power of contrast. Pokeroot berries give a dramatic contrast against the black background.  Maria encouraged us to draw some runaway pokeroot berries creeping into the WayBop. She is very whimsical, and that's a good antidote to being to exacting when tangling.

The rest of the time was spent on what Rick and Maria christened "dingsplats." These are named for dingbats. In typography, a dingbat is an ornament or a graphical spacer used between chapters or for other decoration. It was timely for me to hear more about dingbats, because our CZT group had just last month spent a happy morning together learning about them and drawing them. Here are my two Dingbats that I did with the CZT group,so you get the idea. This floral tangle patttern is called Kiss. With some Fescu tendrils creeping out of the rectangle. These dingbats were drawn by me, but designed by CZT group menber Cheryl Wilson.
This one would look good at the start of a chapter.  In late-breaking, non-Zentangle  news,  I am completely thrilled that my new book has been accepted by a publisher. I mention this because I am thinking of having dingbats between the chapters. We shall see. It might  work. I also mention this because it is one of the great things to happen to me in life so far!

This second dingbat uses tangle pattern Mac Rah Mee. I love the woven center that all the tendrils emerge from. This is a dingbat you would put in the corner of a page Again, both these designs are credited to Cheryl. You can see how creative she is!

Rick and Maria named these last three Zentangles dingSplats. This one uses Knightsbridge.  Knightsbridge is a great tangle pattern for experiencing the power of Contrast. You can see how the black and white make a strong statement. I got the idea for why they chose the name dingSplats when Rick said that this one looked like an entire bottle of Knightsbridge had spilled all over the floor. Splat!

Here is Dingsplat #2. Again a lot of contrast created with black and also using a white pencil again. Lotsa orbs. The Zentangle team was orb-smitten at this seminar, to good effect. The center tangle pattern is called SpokeN. As in spokes.

Here is the last Dingsplat. It was fun to revisit the amazing tangle pattern 'NZeppel. It was pointed out that 'NZeppel looks like you are squeezing round balloons into rectangular boxes. I loved that. Both Molly and Martha,daughters of Zentangle founder Maria Thomas, did a lot of demonstrating at our seminar. They are both very talented and articulate, and they both maintain the high level of quality set by Rick and Maria in their demos. Here we have more orbs and "lacy loops," which is what they called the little pulled threads around the outside border.

Once again, just like at my CZT training in 2016, this 1440 Multiversity seminar was just a delight for me. I spent hour after hour in the zone,my favorite place. This fall I am splurging on Zentangle seminars. I'll be at Zenagain, a seminar for CZT's in Providence. It starts in just a few weeks. I will post again when I get back, mid November. Thanks for following all this! I hope it is interesting to you.

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

It's been a long time since my last post here, more than two months! That's because I am working on my book like crazy. I have identified a real publisher that I am hoping  will accept my manuscript. Wish me luck. I am editing and rewriting like crazy. It is feeling much more put together than previously, and I am excited about it.

But back to Zentangling, my CZT group met 10 days ago, and Cheryl Wilson guided us through a fun project that you might want to try. Here's how.

First you fold a piece of paper and cut it the way you would make a snowflake for your Christmas tree:

By cutting off the excess paper in a curve, about 3 inches along the folded edge (shown here on the left side), I got a six inch snowflake. Next you open up the snowflake:

Then you trace it onto a piece of paper that is nice enought to Zentangle onto:

Finally you can Zentangle it. Notice the one I zentangled is rotated from the outline above. You can get more than one look, just by rotating the snowflake a bit and retracing it on a new piece of paper.

I used a lot of tangles, but I was trying to tune in to ones that would work well together. That's Paradox in the middle, and there are four large areas of Fassettoo, one of my all-time, easy as pie favorites. There are four ovals of Tagh, and the other four darker drama tangles are Fengle. Next to the Tagh areas are four sections of Vincut, a tangle I had never used before but quite like, especially with its sparkle enhancement. B'tweed and Mooka are along the outside. I do love B'Tweed. To me it has a magical quality, some Native American essence that I can't explain. Mooka is very hard for me. I never seem to capture the beautiful beer poster Mucha girl's curling tendrils of hair that it is meant in invoke. Mine look more like little nested fetuses clutching their tiny fists and hoping to be born. Hang in there guys, you're going to make it! 

I always find it interesting that what is hard for me is easy for you and then later gets not only easy for me, but I fall in love with it, and by then you have moved on and can't even remember its name.
 Everything Always Changing.

Here is the mosaic by all four of us CZT's who did Cheryl's project. I love mosaics because everybody does the exact same thing, step by step, and then everyone's looks totally different. Mine wasn't finished yet, lower right, but you can see how I started out.

The day after our CZT meeting I left for Playa del Carmen, Mexico, with Stu and friends Dave and Jozeffa. Jozeffa was Zentangling up a storm and she inspired me to join in. Here are a couple of tangles I did with Jozeffa.

This one is Aurakas, one of those tangle patterns that must have center stage at all time. Don't tangle patterns have personalities, like people? This one is wrapped up in herself, but deservedly so, she is beautiful and dynamic! 

She is surrounded by the Poke siblings, -leaf and -root. If you look up Pokeroot on the web, the photograph of the plant looks just like the tangle. That is amazing to me. I thought the tangle pattern was completely fanciful, complete fiction, never dreamed such a fun little fellow could be representational. 
This experience was very similar to finding out that the show Vikings was based on actual Viking history, and that they really did pull off the Sack of Paris in 845AD. I only looked it up because I thought it was completely preposterous and the writers should all be fired for making up such dumb stuff that could never have really happened. I had no idea I was watching history until this plot line arose, halfway into Season 4. Goes to show you.

True confession, this Zentangle I lifted right off the box of Tangle Deck 1. It has the old stand-bys Tipple, Shattuck and Printemps with Florz at the bottom (on the floor). It's the first time I ever used Flukes, and I was surprised by how much I liked it. Lynn Mead's Tangle Decks have become very precious to me. I use them all the time for the step-outs and just for browsing around looking for the next tangle pattern to try. Thank you Lynn.

Next, I tried a pre-strung Zendala. Here I was inspired by my dear friend Jody, who was turning out gorgeous pre-strung Zendala's while we watched the Oscars. Jody has a demanding job and has become an accomplished mindful, multi-tasker. Sound like a contradiction? I don't think so, I've seen it with my own eyes.
Watching Jody made me want to the pre-strung Zendala tile, too. Finally I a round tuit. I started with Paradox in the middle paired with B'Tweed this time. Love them together. Then Munchin in three of the pointy star-arms, Flukes in another three because I hoped they would look like roof tiles and they do! and finally the last three have Hurry. Hurry seems like a tangle you could build pyramids with if needed. Watch out King Tut.

To close, here's a mosaic of  Jozeffa's and my Zentangles from Mexico. You've seen my three above, the rest are gloriously hers. Go Jozeffa!! I can't remember if she inspired me to use Aurakas or vice versa. True collaboration. Love her use of Striping on the left and Flux on the right. 

That's all the Zen that fits. I hope I have made up at least in part for my long silence. I promise to be more frequent, book biz permitting. Best wishes to all of you who made it all the way down to this last paragraph. Here is your well-deserved Easter Egg.

Monday, March 12, 2018

First Opus Tiles - MySwing

My last post was about MySwing, a tangle pattern I just love doing. It's funny how some patterns fit in my hand, and others just don't. All the Zentanglers I know report this phenomenon. For me, MySwing is one of the best. I like it so much, that when I was looking for a nice gift for my brother-in-law Victor, of whom I am very fond, I decided to frame and gift him with one of my favorite tiles, the first MySwing I ever did, that my CZT Cheryl Wilson showed me, and that I posted last month. Oh well, here it is again as I would like to show you the whole progression that started with giving this Zentangle away.

My next step was to do it on a black Apprentice tile with white ink from the dreamy new Sakura Gelly Roll #10 pen. It flows the way the tangle flows in my mind. And I love the ethereal glow you get when you shade with a white pencil and blend it with a tourtillion.

A little backstory: months ago I purchased a small pack of Opus tiles. Opus tiles are a creation, and they are big,10.5" square! They sat on the shelf in their brown wrapper, giving me dirty looks because I was avoiding them. They were right, I just wasn't ready for my first Opus tile. I didn't want to "mess it up." It was expensive and it was gorgeous. It needed an idea worthy of such a fine material. But art starts in the back of the brain, and while doing the above Zentangles, the idea began to form that MySwing would be great on an Opus Tile. I was so happy on the day I finally took out the Opus tile out of its wrapper and covered it my MySwings. Here is Opus Tile Number 1.

I had so much fun doing this! Almost immediately upon finishing it, I thought it would look good with color. Hey, I thought I was done! But no rest for the Zentangler. Each idea is precious and sometimes I feel like I am just a crucible for the Cosmic Zentangle Intelligence. She wants to see what she wants to see next and my number was up. I could only obey.

What to use to add color? I decided to sacrifice one precious Opus tile to try out all the different coloring media that I own, so I could really see with my own two eyes what worked best. I didn't want to guess. I colored all over the Opus test tile. I tried different types of colored pencils. The waxy, Prismacolor pencils and the fluffy Stabilo CarbOthello that are more dusty and soft, like pastels. (I love these!). I tried my small set of Inktense Pencils that you draw with and then brush with water for all kinds of bleeding effects. I drew some MySwings and filled in areas from my small set of Copic markers. These professional quality markers are apparently used by cartoonists worldwide and are just great for filling in color areas with smooth consistent color. But watercolors won. Only watercolor produced the flowing color that went with the flowing tangle pattern. I tested plain watercolor, watercolor mixed with salt, mixed with alcohol, with saran wrap pressed into it while it was wet which makes wonderful strange pale streaks all over. But the salted watercolors were the smoothest and the most peaceful. They were a bit more intense than the plain ones, and they won.

I decided to leave my first Opus tile alone and I set out to create a new one with color. The color came first. This is a great way to add color to the whole Zentangle process. Put the color down first, and then let it be your string, let it show you the composition, and everything will harmonize and look great. We hope. I used a wet-into-wet technique with my good Winsor and Newton tube paints and a big fat fine #12 sable brush. I put the color down first and let it dry completely, for a couple of days in fact. Then I lay the MySwing pattern over it, honoring the color fields with the pattern. A little shading and at the end, I was happy!

I have had a hard time giving away my creations since i started doing Zentangle. I wanted a "record" of what i was doing. I was surprised that the act of giving away the MySwing tile to my brother-in-law created an emptiness in me that I could actually feel. That emptiness was soon filled by the  succession of creative projects as reported here. Things evolved. Good lesson for me: let go. The little words letting go mean exactly the same as that big word  liberation. When you liberate something, you let it go free. Enough hanging on. Come on over and choose a Zentangle that you would like to take home. Maybe we can even find you a frame.

What better thing to do with ones life than to litter the world with beautiful objects?

Sunday, January 21, 2018


I love MySwing,, a tangle from Simone Menzel, CZT. It was shown to me by my Zentangle teacher Cheryl Wilson. Thanks Simone and Cheryl!

I am gearing up to do an Opus tile (large format) for the first time and want to use MySwing. Here are my 2 efforts of today:

Friday, January 19, 2018

String Theory - Random Objects Diva Challenge #347

This week's Diva Challenge was to find some objects around the house and trace them onto a 3.5" tile to make a string. Here is my set of objects:

This includes my cute little purple garden shears, a round lid from gummy bears at the Mexico City St Regis (absolute lap of luxury!), a gummy bear himself, a nail file and a 3Z tile.

Here's what I did with it. I should have taken a picture of the string, but wasn't that smart at the time. Too soon old, too late smart. What the heck does that mean? I don't really know.

You can see the fat blade of my garden shears at the lower left and the 3Z tile right above it. The drama black shape in the middle with a weird Crescent Moon is the gummy bear outline and the jar lid is the partial circle at the upper left with Frumkey in it. I do love Frumkey. I used opus with an aura, and on the right is Finery. It looks better when there is more than column. But I still like it. Otherwise, you will find Zinger, Bales, and Flux (Maria's version). The Diva used a wonderful tangle that I tried to figure out that looks like bales of grasses. Don't know what it is, does anyone know the name? If so, please leave a comment.  Have a great week.

Thursday, December 28, 2017

The Twelve Days of Zentangle

For the past 12 days, I have been tangling every day along with the Zentangle Blog's The Twelve Days of Zentangle. I was a few days behind, but that didn't really matter. It has been very enjoyable, and I have learned a lot. The above tile is my favorite of all the twelve projects. In this blog post, I am going to talk about each day's project just a little. 

The Twelve Days of Zentangle are organized around the history of Zentangle, since it was first invented by Rick Roberts and Maria Thomas back in 2003. Over the years since then, many new materials and approaches have been introduced by Rick and Maria. They organized the individual projects for each of the Twelve Days around this history. 

I purchased their Project Pack #2, which has all the materials to complete the entire twelve days. You don't have to do that, but I recommend it. It was nice to know that I had just the right pen, just the right tiles, etc. The pack includes the new Micron PN, a fabulous tool for Zentangling, now replacing the micron 01 in my mind. And the new GellyRoll pens where the white gel ink flows with heavenly ease. What an improvement!

Day One

If you took an Introduction to Zentangle class, the first thing you did was create the famous "Tile Number One," designed to introduce you to basic Zentangle concepts. You started with Crescent Moon and learned about aura-ing. Then you did Hollibaugh and learned about Drawing Behind. Printemps taught you how wonderful a simple repeating figure could be, and finally Bales was your first grid pattern. I would call Day One of the Twelve Days of Zentangle Tile Number One on Steroids. The crazy Crescent Moon is at the lower left. Hollibaugh was illustrated by Mr. Hollibaugh himself, but with curvy aura-ed Hollibaugh boards instead of the normal straight ones we all know and love. Printemps got little perfs inside and Bales went a bit wonky with some nice dark spots. Maria put the crazy sprout in the middle and it was off to the races. It was fun to revisit Tile Number One.

Day Two

On day two Molly Hollibaugh led us in making a construction that celebrated the introduction of the black tile. It's fun tangling on multiple tiles and cutting them out and gluing them together into forms. The top diamond shape is a black tile with the center cut out and four corners inserted into the white tile beneath, tab-a into-slot-b-style. A friend admired this very genuinely. I had set an intention to pay attention to, and if possible to act upon generous impulses during the holidays. Since I felt the impulse to give it to her, i did. This was a departure for me, as I have every Zentangle I have ever done in a book. Time to let some go and get on with it. What better goal in life than to disperse beautiful things throughtout the world.

Day Three

Day Three celebrated the introduction of the Zendala tile, and a new tangle pattern named Rumpus. I really like how this came out. 

Day Four

Rick celebrated the Apprentice tile, a slightly larger tile than the standard one. He also illustrated Diva Dance in a new way, with unexpected long tendrils of Diva Dance Rock 'N Roll weaving themselves under Diva Dance Walz. Diva Dance was named in honor of the Diva of the Diva Challenge, which I love entering each week on That aside, I found this whole Zentangle a little creepy, like it was going to come alive and cause a lot of problems any minute. 

 Day Five

This day of Zentangle celebrated the black Zendala. Once again we used scissors and glue. The white Zendala tile has two butterfly shaped cut outs so you can see the black Zendala beneath, and the Knightsbridge tangle pattern done in white fills that space. Pepper spirals look like candy fun and kissing Mooka's reach and twine. I don't think my version quite captured the magic, but I had a good time doing it. 

Day Six

Day Six celebrated the introduction of the Renaissance Tile, so named because of its beautiful color, frequently found in Renaissance work. Rick and Maria also introduced a new tangle pattern here, called Toodles. I found myself putting a square around my previously unbounded chop and really liking it. I'm happy that Zentanglers change their chops frequently without anyone considering it a sign of being fickle. Art changes, life changes, chops change. Vive La Change.

Day Seven

On day seven we celebrated the renaissance Zendala. This was a fun Zentangle to make. We started with a pre-strung tile, something I had not done before. We did some circular figures in the center. Then we filled all the individual areas with a kind of Paradox fragment, using both black and brown microns.

Day Eight

On day eight, we celebrated the introduction of the Bijou tile, the smaller tile that is named for Bijou the snail. This little character was a stowaway in Rick and Maria's luggage after a trip to Paris. When they found the snail in their luggage, they were charmed by him and named him Bijou. Bijou has lots to say and thus many aphorisms are attributed to him. The funniest part of this story is that many animal rights people complained to Rick and Maria. 

I enjoyed making a crown with a Bijou tile, then cutting off the bottom corner. This crown is mounted on our bottle of Johnny Walker Red, which seemed appropriate. 

Day Nine

I loved this one. Celebrating the renaissance and black Bijou tiles, we cut and glued to make a combo renaissance/black tile. Then we combined 4 of them into this mosaic. 

Day Ten

Hands down, this is my favorite. It reminds me of my black watch plaid pleated skirt that i loved so much in high school. Combine it with a pair of white bobbie sox, brown penny loafers (with the penny) and a blue oxford button down shirt under a navy blue cashmere cardigan, the kind with a ribbon down the front for the buttons. I was in preppy heaven. At long last I had clothes that let me fit in. But that's another story...

If you look, you can see that the large pattern over the entire tile is Rick's Paradox. But then it is treated as a reticula with the stripes fragment filling in each section. I love how the white pencil shading makes it glow.

Day Eleven

Celebrating the introduction of white and black 3Z (triangular) tiles, we glued some togehter to make stars. The gold Gelly Roll pen is really pretty but doesn't show up well here.

Day Twelve

We cut slits into 3 renaissance 3Z tiles to make a tree. Using the plate string idea, (see my Delft blue plates post from a few months ago) we drew arcs as our string and decorated the tree with tangles. The tangles were all fragments from the Zentangle Primer, each identified by it's letter/number id code. These few pages of the Primer kind of expanded the Zentangle Universe exponentially, at least for me. I highly recommend this book.

Here's to the Zentangle Universe. To all its kind and generous inhabitants and to our kind and generous leaders Rick and Maria and family. I am so happy to have found this special, gentle, creative and positive world. Gives me hope. Happy New Year to you all.

Friday, December 8, 2017

Tangle for the Season

This week's Diva Challenge #344 ( was to use AfterGlo, the star-like pattern that you can see above. I have been working my way through Project Pack 01, which I highly recommend as lots of fun and a good learning tool. You can find it here. It includes nine different videos that guide you through making wonderful Zentangles that will inspire your own creativity and designs. 

Project Pack 01 emphasizes using the new Sakura white Gelly Roll pens on black tiles. The pens have been re-designed so they are now fabulous. The ink flows beautifully without any skipping. The pack comes with all the supplies you need to follow along with the videos, including 3 different widths of Gelly Roll pens. You don't have to buy the pack to participate, you can just pick up the supplies yourself and follow along. But the pack is nice, because you know you have all the pieces in place. 

The Diva Challenge tangle pattern AfterGlo looked Christmassy to me, so I remembered Merriberries, which was designed my Zentangle mentor Cheryl Wilson, CZT. I added in a few Merriberries, Those are the holly-like shapes with the white berries in the center. Finally peppermint seemed like it could hold its own in a Christmas theme so in went tangle pattern Pepper. 

At that point I felt that things did not look integrated, so I drew randomly sized, small orbs all over the remaining black spaces to tie it all together. I have always loved how a million tiny circles make a beautiful texture that brings all the other elements together. 

Thanks for reading my blog! I welcome your comments.