Friday, January 15, 2010

Inspiration Pays a Visit

I've been needing a shot of Zentangle inspiration lately. I've been working on this new book and drawing tangles for hours and hours. Working out complicated designs... Anyway, my head was starting to feeling squishy and stringy (you already know this, right? You've been practicing "Squid"?).

Today I got the BEST kind of re-inspiration in the form of two Zentangle gurus. Well, THE gurus. Rick and Maria from Zentangle stopped by my shop and studio on their way home from a vacation in Vermont. We talked for hours about ideas and patterns and the funny origins of Tangle names. By the time they left I was really feeling like there is definitely a purpose to all THIS. Thanks guys!

Something we talked about that I wanted to share with you all is "names".  Have you been wondering about the strange names that many... well, all... the Tangles have? There is a reason! A great example is Poke Root. A few posts back we talked about how it can look like mushrooms or my ping pong paddles, or berries. Now, if you know that Poke Root is a plant and it has round berries, you will never be happy with your Tangle if it doesn't look like round berries. Right? But if it had been named Pokey or you just didn't know what it was (I didn't) then you might draw your mushroom shaped Poke Root and add your own embellishments and be thrilled. By naming a pattern with a limiting name, like Holes or Balls or Fern, the tangler gets trapped in seeing it as an object to be drawn "correctly". If you give a Tangle a silly name, name it after your dog, switch letters around... whatever... you free it to become whatever the tangler needs it to be at the moment.

I have never been very good at coming up with titles or names, but now I understand the importance of spending a few minutes thinking about it. Try using a name from another language even. I'm working on a pattern that looks like (I think) a Eurpean city skyline. I'm thinking of calling it "CUdad". "Ciudad" is less limiting than "city". The names are really only for reference. And they can be very useful. I received some very interesting variations on my "Pane" tangle. And I love seeing someone write: "This is my tangle called ____. It is based on "Pane" by SandyB but uses a twist and some contrast..." When you look at Pane, you might see boxes, or a carved wall, or a geometric background. I saw a stained glass window. If I had called it "Window" it would have been hard to see the other options. Does this make sense?

OK, once you've got that all down. The next important thing is to think of all these Tangles as building blocks. There are basic patterns - like grids and circles and Crescent moon - that are the foundation for hundreds of other patterns! Challenge yourself to combine them. For example: take something like Knightsbridge (basic checkerboard) and combine it with Keeko (basket-weave crosshatching). What do you get? Did you put the cross-hatching in the black or the white squares? Did you blow Keeko up big and use each section as if it were the checkerboard squares? See how many different ways you might combine things.

OK enough - I need some popcorn and a sprawl on the couch! (and I'd love to see what you all come up with! - leave a link in your comment if you want to show off any of your own work.) Goodnight!


  1. I'm so glad to hear you are better. You've seen my work, but if you want to see more my blog has a mix of what you've seen and new:

  2. How exciting to have them stop in at your studio and help to refill your sails with a sense of fresh wind. I always find the patterns you offer to be intriguing and can't help to run off and play with details in them. I recently did what I call a megatangle--20 patterns--some I learned from you and the rest inspired by the world around me because of what you've taught me here. I featured it (and you too) in my blog entry. Thank you so much for all that you do! -janeen (a.k.a. FluffyJ)

  3. Loving this blog! YOu are so creative and I enjoy stopping by to see all the new things you are thinking about. If you want to check out some of my doodles here's my flickr:

    I'd love to know what you think!

  4. Just loved your alphabet zentangle book! It has really inspired me!!! Thanks tons!

  5. I am planning on taking the CZT training in October (hoping to become the first in my state!!), and looking forward to many hours of zentangling, meeting Rick and Maria, and learning from others!! I have shared some of the technique with the art teachers I work with (almost 50 of them) and some of them have taken off with the idea...the kids' work is SO amazing. I am inspired in my own work, and at the same time inspiring the kids....incredible!


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