Reported by Heather Strenzwilk
According to the Zentangle website, a Zentangle is “an easy to learn method of creating beautiful images from repetitive patterns.” I recently received a Zentangle Kit which contains: an instructional mini DVD, full size DVD, instruction book, heavyweight artist’s paper tiles, 2 Pigma Micron 01 black pens by Sakura, golf pencil, sharpener and 20-sided die in a book shaped box covered with green organic paper. These tools are all you need to create this unique artform.
I had tried unsuccessfully to create Zentangles using information from the Internet. The DVD and companon guide in the kit were what I needed to understand the process and how to replicate the patterns. I began by watching the DVD, in which several Zentangles are created from start to finish accompanied by Oriental background music. In fact there is no dialogue on the DVD. Since I like to work and “listen” rather than watch, this forced me to watch the DVD and observe the technique.
The process is rather simple:
- On a tile, mark several points with a pencil and connect the points to create a shape (or tangle).
- Draw several lines to portion the tangle into separate areas.
- Use a Micron pen to create a unique pattern in each section.
- Use the pencil to lightly shade the edges of each pattern and outer edge of the tangle and blend the pencil to give a shaded look.
- Add your initials near the finished tile and sign and date the back of the tile.
- Admire your work.
After waching the DVD I created my first Zentangles on copy paper, first with a pencil, then a Micron pen. The pen didn’t move smoothly and my pencil shading didn’t blend well at all. I really felt like I was dragging and the process was not fun. I grabbed a Micron pen and created 2 more Zentangles. These were better (Micron pens are some of my favorite pens for journaling).
Once I had created 5-6 Zentangles, I felt more confident with the basic patterns and was able to focus on enjoying the process and not following directions. Once I switched to “fun mode,” I think my Zentangles improved. My nine year-old daughter saw what I was doing and she created several pieces herself. She used a Sharpie Ultra Fine Black Marker and her designs were bolder because of the slightly wider tip. At this point, I also started experimenting with tangles that were not square, but ultimately I prefer squares.
Next I graduated to the tiles. What a difference- the tiles are “mould-made, acid-free, 100% cotton, heavy-weight fine artists’ paper with a beautiful vellum surface finish” and were a wonderful surface for the Micron pens. It was very easy to do the pencil shading and blending on thie surface too. The small golf pencil that came with the kit was small for me so I switched to a more common (and longer) #2 pencil and shading remained successful.
When I completed a tile, I added my initials to the lower right corner of the Zentangle. On the back of each tile is a place to add a signature and date. I often forget to date my work so I like this reminder. In the future I want to punch a hole in the corner of some tiles, and add a metal ring to create a mini book of my designs.
Zentangles are definitely fun to create and were a fun way to relax and enjoy some quiet art time with my daughter. I like the relaxing Oriental music on the DVD. This is a very portable artform and one I can easily do while traveling. I sometimes replace form with color; because these are black and white, I am forced to focus on form.
All in all I had fun creating Zentangles. I learned a lot more from the companion guide and DVD than I did from surfing websites for information. The paper tiles are wonderful, and I loved how easy it was to work with them. Micron pens have been one of my staple pens for years, so I was happy to work with them in the kit. Rolling the 20-sided die (Icoshedron) to help me choose a tangle seemed silly to me but might be attractive to someone else. I also liked the box that stores all of the items from the kit (except the full-size DVD which doesn’t fit.) However, the price of the kit was $49.00 which was way more money than I would ever pay for a kit like this.
- Love the paper tiles in the kit. Wish it came with more than 34 tiles.
- Tools come packed in a sturdy yet attractive storage box
- Additional tiles are available (55 tiles for $29)
- Micron pens are excellent pens and perfect for the art form
- Online gallery for inspiration; live classes available in select areas
- The kit is very expensive ($49.00)
Are you familiar with Zentangles? Please share your thoughts with our readers.