How to get started with Zentangle
I’m no artist. I’d love to be able to pick up a sketch pad and be able to create fab pencil portraits, or work up a watercolour landscape, and while I really enjoy the process the results are, well, not the best. I guess with some creative disciplines when we feel that we don’t have a talent for them we are kind of put off from trying them, but trying them is the one way that we’ll ever be able to boost our skills.
As I said, I’m no artist, but what I am, my friends, is a doodler. For ever page in my notebook that is filled with lists there is a page dedicated to little flowers, lovehearts, stars, chevrons, hexi motifs…you name it, I doodle it! Turns out that with a little bit of thought this fun penmanship can become a striking piece of art! You guys, I’ve discovered Zentangle, and I can’t get enough of it!
Zentangle is an artwork that I can truly get behind. Not heard of this amazing style of doodle-artwork, then you need to check it out! There are some completely amazing Zentangle artists out there, but essentially this is an easy artfrom that I’m pretty sure anyone can master! The basic principle is that you are creating a design or image featuring a series of repeated shapes, usually housed with an some form of simple structure – see, a series of repeated shapes, it’s like all those years of doodling were actually practice and training for Zentangle!
I don’t know about you, but when faced with a blank sheet in a sketch book I sometimes get ‘stage fright’. I don’t quite know where to start, where to place my first marks – which is a pretty weird feeling for a girl who has no problems slicing straight into pretty fabrics or casting on with a brand new yarn, just to see what I can make. So, I thought I’d share my simple method for getting started with Zengtangle!
Grab your supplies…
Here’s the best part – you really don’t need heaps of supplies – a notebook or sketch pad, a pencil and a fine line marker (these are usually black, but if you want to grab a handful of colours, go right ahead!)
Get over that blank page stage fright right away, with a pencil draw out a large box on your page, this will be the frame in which you’ll work – see now that’s not too daunting, is it?
Section the box into a number of different areas, using pencil. Into each box add a series of shapes, these can be as simple as you like – stars, circles, grid lines, boxes, anything that takes your fancy. These will provide the outline for different sections with which you will fill with repeated patterns.
Switch from the pencil to the marker pen and begin working in one section at a time, drawing (doodling!) repeated shapes to fill the section. Once that section in filled, move on to the next section and pick a different repeated pattern and begin to fill that section. You can work over the outline of the grid in a marker pen, as I have done here to make the sections more prominent, or you can simple use the fine line marker to work over the lines.
Continue working across the grid filling in each of the sections with different repeated patterns. I’m pretty sure that by this stage the fascination will have truly taken hold! Because you are working in small repeated designs you’ll find that there are a seemingly endless possibilities for the doodle-drawing that you can use in each section.
Before you know it you’ll be filling pages in your sketchbook with a whole host of exciting and dramatic designs – now it doesn’t get much more satisfying than that!
The process of creating a Zentangle is very organic, you don’t need to set out with a vision for the finished piece in mind before you begin – which is great for someone like me who can sit staring at a blank sheet for a lifetime thinking over and over, ‘but, what can I draw?’ With Zentangle the answer to that question is anything – now that’s a pretty empowering creative feeling!
The more I Zentangle the more I learn about shape and space, about organic and geometric patterns, about negative space and perspective – lessons in art that I never thought for a second I would get a grip on without the aid of a talented tutor. And, here I am learning it all by myself…whilst doodling!
I’ll go right ahead and let you know that this is a truly addictive creative pastime! You never feel as though you can go wrong – yet you’ll learn little lessons with each one, get new ideas and discover new techniques for creating striking effects while, well, doodling! As soon as you finish one design, you’ll want to get started on the next – which is great for a compulsive doodler like me! So, if you’re on the other end of a phone call with me, chances are that this is what I”ll be doing at the same time!
Are you a doodler by nature – do you Zentangle?