Sunday, April 8, 2012

Inspiration from Zenspiration

I finally had time to take a really good look at Joanne Fink's book, Zenspirations - Letters & Patterning. This is a nice diversion from all the traditional Zentangle® books out there. Actually, it is NOT a Zentangle book, but rather a guide to drawing... "Frames, shapes, monograms, patterns & borders"... in Joanne's distinctive style. There are a lot of beautiful examples of her work, and a little bit of instruction. It doesn't really teach HOW to draw patterns, but gives lots of ideas on how to use such patterns.

I also watched a great video on YouTube of Joanne demonstrating how to draw her intriguing dangles and vertical patterning. This is the part of the book I was most interested in, and I admit, most disappointed with, when I discovered that there is only one page about it in the book. But watching her draw on the video made me want to grab my own pen and start "dangling"!

I love the way she found inspiration from Zentangle and incorporated it back into her own work, and style. I also love the idea of drawing down, or up, with tangles. I will admit, although it might shock some of you (!) that the hardest part of Zentangle - for me - is drawing in a non-representational manner. Horrors! I am an illustrator by nature and I crave a story. The story doesn't always come from people or creatures interacting in a scene. Sometimes, it can be letters or even a squiggly line.

Here's an example... the text from the cover of Totally Tangled:

Do you see how the two types of letters have personalities? Conflict? There's a bit of a story going on for those who notice that sort of thing. And by dangling something, it automatically creates action and interest.

Two years ago I did this mural for a local shop. It's dangly - I found it easier to just start from the top and work down. The mural we have been working on in my studio's stairwell started from the bottom and grew upwards.

So all this has been brewing in my head - growing and dangling tangles, stories, Joanne's dangle-style... AND the current preference for Zendalas... I found myself trying out the new Zentangle® Zendalas. Yes, tangling just for fun. What a concept. So I mixed it all together and got this (chaos?):

I used one of the blank tiles (most in the pack are pre-strung), started from the center-ish, added some lines and danglies - working around in a circle. Then, I added some Btl Joos and Mooka tangles. I added more straight lines behind the tangles and dangles and filled some of them with other tangles. I started shading with a pencil, but didn't like the way the paper was responding. I tried a gray Pitt marker, looked a little better... the paper is soft and very absorbative. I thought it still seemed a little flat, so I added some punches of red.

I like it. Although it is more an illustrated "Big Bang!" than a serene, contemplative, balanced Zendala. But I am more of the former than the latter anyway. In the CZT group on Facebook, there are so many seriously beautiful Zendalas appearing all of a sudden. Since I am feeling a little (w)itchy this week, I will go and post this one and see what people say. Hee hee. :-)


  1. I'm going to have to have a look at that book. I love your zendala. TFS.

  2. Hee hee back...I love waht you've done with the zendala!

  3. Think "Frank Lloyd Wright." Thanks for bringing the video to our attention. Excellent commenary, too! Since becoming acquainted with Zentangle and its offshoots, I've become aware of how so-called "native" art was created. Someplace early in my art education, the value of creating patterns was forgotten. I've sought a way to study it for years (I'm 68) and now I've found it through you and tangled websites. Thanks to all!

  4. Big Bang - perfect description - Love it!! More evidence that zentangles can fit every mood ;-)

  5. Hi Sandy -

    Thanks for the review of Joanne's book. I have to admit that her video is what prompted me to purchase the book online. Like you, I was drawn to the dangles, so different and whimsical. I was disappointed to find that there were only 2 pages (facing each other) with information on the dangles. I was really hoping she would offer more dangles. But, I have to say the book is beautiful and inspirational.

    Also, just have to let you know that I LOVE your books, so much info packed into them. Everytime I pick them up I find something new I missed before. Kind of like looking in that old antique store filled to the brim with something new and exciting in every little corner - LOL! And I really love your Dangling Zendala, real eye candy! Your dangles look like they are dying to jump the tile and start dangling everything in sight!

    Elaine Allen

  6. I love this zendala! It opens my eyes to possibilities. An the red - yummy. Thank you for all you do.

  7. What a fabulously fun tangle. I love the bits of red popping up in it.

  8. That zendala is precisely why I follow you, Sandy. Thanks for a wonderful example of stepping outside the box. I have had no interest at all in tangling the pre-strung zendala's - too structured for me.

  9. Thanks everyone!
    Structure is great when you are learning something. It removes the excuse of not getting started, because you don't know what to do. That's the true magic of Zentangle. It gets you started. But I think that most people, once they have rediscovered their creative confidence, want to do something "different" - more their own style. The irony is that we often find our own style by imitating or investigating other peoples' styles. Or maybe that's a paradox? Either way, we are all Mash-Ups!

  10. I'll admit I wasn't particularly taken with Joanne's 'dangles' but having seen your zendala my eyes have opened a bit. And the pops of red... perfect! just enough of them. I've been having such a good time with the pre-strung zendalas I haven't bothered with the blank ones yet. But having seen yours here, and Maria's recent post I think I'll have to get out a blank tile next!

  11. Yoga for the Brain and Totally Tangled have to be my favorite books, but Joanne's Zenspirations would be next on my list. All three books are so full of ideas. They make me want to grab my pen and start creating! I haven't gotten into doing zendalas yet, but I've seen some beautiful ones on line. Your zendala is totally you, fun and unique! I love it!

  12. What an awesome article this is. I have all the books mentioned and love the dangles but haven't tried them yet. I've been working in my art journals with painting but I'm thinking I could do both with the dangles. Sounds like some fun coming up! Love your zendala!


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