Art trends are so interesting and along with the Adult Coloring Book Craze…. this doodle idea of Zentangle has also become ridiculously popular but what do they all mean. It sort of sounds like a new language and it kinda is.
What is Zentangle?
Zentangle is an official trademarked name for specific “Tangles” that the creators and official CZT’s (Certified Zentangle Teachers) have created. You will see the name of the CZT or Rick Roberts and Maria Thomas the couple who are the creators of this new art trend. I really am attracted to these very detailed and organized designs but the whole idea behind Zentangle is the “ZEN” part of it.. to be able to relax and create something quickly and inexpensively that turns into a piece of art. What I don’t like about it is all the RULES that seem to follow this trendy hobby. You are almost mandated that you really aren’t doing REAL Zentangle until you take a class from a CZT.
You have to use a micron pen from Sakura, and you MUST purchase the official Zentangle tiles. The Zentangle “Kit” contains 34 3.5 x 3.5 tiles, 2 Sakura pens, 2 pencils and a sharpener, a DVD and a card with several tiny patterns on it. You can buy just the official Zentangle tiles but those are pretty pricey since all you really need is a writing utensil and any blank piece of paper. Suggesting all these rules to be an official “Zentangle” rubs me the wrong way. There are several private groups on Facebook and many of them are delightful with lots of ideas and encouraging members to do their own thing and create, but others demand you only use official tangles on the 3.5 x 3.5 cards to be able to post there and no questions are to be asked or answered about the art. There is also a do not erase rule, a only black and white rule and you can only use official Zentangle patterns.
Zentangle terminology is also very important to the strict CZT’s so you don’t call it doodling if you are using Zentangle Patterns that are Tangling. If you are using anything other than the official tiles and black pen and shading with a pencil then what you are creating is call Zentangle Inspired Art (ZIA) Rules are not where I find MY Zen. My suggestion is to hit Youtube for FREE and learn from the wonderful and talented CZT’s and non-CZT’s that are sharing how to do tangles.
My Favorite Zentangle Books (So Far)
I checked out every Zentangle book my library had available and also purchased a couple. I really like Sandy Bartholomew’s books the best. They might not be the best first Zentangle book to buy but they are very entertaining and PACKED with images, techniques and tips. They are smaller than you might expect but every page is used to the fullest. The two I’ve purchased are TOTALLY TANGLED Zentangle & Beyond – This book isn’t for the newest beginner.
First I would visit lots of the Zentangle Video instructions I listed above for free, buy some pens and paper and play for a while. but Sandy’s books take you to a new place with LOADS of ideas to take your tangles off of those tiny cards and onto things like her bathroom floor and cute dolls. She’s a mixed media artist so for her the mixing of tangles and art and fun drawings is much more in line with my idea of ART and ZEN.
YOGA for your BRAIN also by Sandy Steen Bartholomew teaches even more tangles around 60 in this book with a handy reference guide in the back. She also does a wonderful job of teaching shading to the untrained artist. She even has a section on Rock Zen Doodling CLICK HERE TO BUY
High on the list would be the “One Zentangle a Day: A 6 Week Course in Creative Drawing” by Beckah Krahula
Beckah gives you lots of background about Zentangle and art in general and then has step-outs for 2-4 tangles a day and then practice ideas after you learn the tangles of the day. If you could only get one book, I’d probably get this one. I learned the most from the daily readings and practice.
JOY OF ZENTANGLE – as a newbie to Zentangling I really enjoyed this book. There are a ton of tangles to learn with great step-outs for them. This book was the one that started to irritate me with all of the rules and talk about copyrights of the tangles etc. but I enjoyed the instruction and just ignored the ads that declared you HAD to buy the kit and take a class to REALLY Zentangle.. Ridiculous!
Click to Order Amazon US, UK or Canada
You can purchase several official small Zentangle kits on Amazon
ATC Zentangle Pack – ATC stands for Artist Trading Cards so this set has 1 Black Micron 01, 03, 05; 1 Black Graphite Pencil, 1 Tortillion and 5 3.5″ x 2.5″ White Tiles
Official Definition of Zentangle – The Zentangle Method is an easy-to-learn, relaxing, and fun way to create beautiful images by drawing structured patterns. Almost anyone can use it to create beautiful images. It increases focus and creativity, provides artistic satisfaction along with an increased sense of personal well being. The Zentangle Method is enjoyed all over this world across a wide range of skills, interests and ages. We believe that life is an art form and that our Zentangle Method is an elegant metaphor for deliberate artistry in life.Source Zentangle.com
The Reviews for this book by Jane Marbaix has gotten rave reviews from beginners and accomplished tanglers alike as it has some of the best step – by – step instructions of 70 popular tangles and shows them in a string and an example along with the names of the other tangles used in the image.
The same author has a book designed for Children but from the reviews, it’s also nice for beginning tanglers.
Design Originals Zentangle Books
Design Originals makes really high quality nicely printed books that come in a series of different Zentangle patterns.
- Zentangle 1 – Basics
- Zentangle 2 – Ideas for Scrapbooks & Journals
- Zentangle 3 – Tangling with Rubber Stamps
- Zentangle 4 – 40 New Tangles
- Zentangle 5 – Fabulous Jewelry – Take tangling beyond paper to bling, shrink plastic, dominoes, and wearable art with 40 new tangles to inspire your repertoire of design possibilities.
- Zentangle 6 – Making Cards with Stencils
- Zentangle 7 – Circles, Zendalas & Shapes
- Zentangle 8 – Workbook Edition (Design Originals) Monograms, Alphabets, and 40 All-New Tangles
- Zentangle 9 – Workbook Edition: Adding Beautiful Colors with Mixed Media
- Zentangle 10 – Featuring Dimensional Tangle Projects
- Zentangle 11 – Lettering, Quotes, and Inspirational Sayings
- Zentangle 12 – Workbook Edition: Innovative Art Techniques & Projects
Favorite YouTube Zentangle Resources
Ellen Wolten’s Videos are really great and easy to follow.
Here is Heartrope which I was having a hard time figuring out.
A Little Lime is another favorite and you get to hear her Aussie accent (We Americans love that)
And there are a few on the Official Zentangle YouTube Channel here.
Maria teaches Betweed which is one of my very favorite tangle patterns. Maria is an excellent instructor on these videos but there are only these 3 “OFFICIAL” ones.
The TanglePatterns.com page is a must-visit as it has over 500 tangles with links to the “Step-Outs” for each Zentangle. A Step Out includes the step by step method to create a complex looking pattern. It’s comprehensive and very organized. Make sure you have an hour or two to browse. Linda Farmer, CZT has spent many hours linking up all this information.
Non-Official & “Official” Supplies
If you want to check out a few of the Zentangle tiles you can get this little starter pack sold by Sakura that has 5 tiles, 5 Microns, a Pencil for under. I’ve seen this at Hobby lobby so if you use your 40% off coupon that’s about the same price.
The Apprentice sized Zentangle tiles which measure 4.5 x 4.5 on Official Z Paper . Be warned though that these aren’t the exact same paper as the official 3.5 x 3.5 tiles AND they have writing on the back so if you like to tangle on both sides then you aren’t going to be able to.
You can also buy the Apprentice Kit for CZT’s to teach a class on Amazon for about half the price of the official website. Zentangle.com has it for much more.
Tools I have purchased and loved to be ZEN with my Zentangle Art
Micron Pens from Sakura.. I do LOVE these pens and have been using them since the 80’s when archival scrapbooking was first a “Thing”. They are relatively inexpensive with this 3 pack of Micron Pigma pens from Sakura. Here are some basics and tips & tricks for Pigma pens here.
I’ve also enjoyed using Staedtler Pigment Liners that come in the same sizes as Sakura and write quite nicely. I also really like the handy plastic case they come in.
Doodle Shading Pencils
Once again, any #2 pencils will work, you know the kind you used on your school testing days back in the day but if you want to get fancy you can get 2B Soft artist pencils. Staedtler Lumograph Graphite Drawing and Sketching Pencils are nice and come in a tin of 6 or Derwent Graphic Pencils in this tin of 10.
You’ll need a pencil sharpener of course but no need to break the bank on this one, but please do find a quality one, my favorite is the KUM brand out of Germany. They work amazingly well for a small price. You’ll need a couple of them because if you are like me, you’ll use them a LOT. I recommend this Kum 3-pack
A decent eraser is a must and I’ve recently become addicted to the pencils style that fits nicely into tiny spaces and stays clean. These are my new addiction Tombow MONO Zero Pen-Style Eraser Refill Round Tip + Square Tip + 4 Refills they are perfect for all erasing!
You’ll need Paper Tortillions (or blending stumps) as well, don’t worry, I’d never heard of these before either but apparently real artists all use them so now that you are going to do Zentangle that makes you a real artist! They are tightly wrapped paper that come to a point and you are going to use them to shade your Zentangle creations. You can pick these up at any hobby shop.
This drawing kit contains a bit of everything you need too so that’s an easy option.
Where should you Tangle your Zen? The only place to get the official 3.5 x 3.5 Zentangle Cards is on the Zentangle.com website at .52 per card + shipping. ( I did just order some so I could say I truthfully if they are any better or worse than cutting your own at a fraction of the price) I prefer working in an Art Journal so I can see my progress and refer to step-outs I’ve done of some of my favorite Tangles. This one is my favorite and I save it for when I really want to get my Zen on I love the Strathmore Visual Journal. It is Spiral Bound 5.5 x 8 and it’s a Mixed Media Vellum paper. With this smaller size I can tuck it into my bag, take along a couple of pens and be able to Doodle anywhere.
It’s perfectly fine to use any paper you have on hand but the feel of nicer paper under your pen and when you go back in to do your shading will make a huge difference. If you want to get a similar feel to the official paper then chose a watercolor paper or mixed media paper. If you want to tangle on the 3.5 x 3.5 cards simply cut them yourself for a much more economical way to tangle on tiles. Personally I decided to tangle in a mixed media journaling type of art paper book. They even come in tan or grey paper or even black paper where you use white or gel pens to tangle with (again this is a no-no to official Zentanglers but it’s really gorgeous!
Check out my latest Zentangle Pinterest Board. Follow this board: Zentangle in Color on Pinterest. Your options for ways to color your Zentangles and Doodles are pretty much unlimited.. The difference in price and quality will show up with whether or not the markers smear easily and how bright and vibrant the colors are. Again the Sakura Gelly Roll pens have been favorites for years and years.. not just since doodling and Zentangles arrived on the scene.
Check out these Zentangle Facebook Groups to join the community.
- Anything Goes – Tangled Art For Everyone
- Square One Purely Fun Zentangle
- Tangle All-Around
- Tangle Folks
- Zentangle Enthusiasts
Adding Color to your Zentangles & Doodles
Officially all Zentangles must be black white and shades of grey you make with your pencil but if you need color in your life, these are the supplies I use and recommend.
Gelly Roll Pens I Love
Sakura 6-Piece Gelly Roll Assorted Colors Stardust Meteor Pen Set This Gelly roll stardust meteor set is gorgeous! Colors included are: silver, marine, copper, pink, green and blue.
Sakura 10-Piece Gelly Roll Moonlight Gel Ink Pen Set – Fluorescent Moonlight colors are not fade-resistant, but no smears, feathers, or bleed-through on most papers. Best effects on black paper and can be used on white paper. I haven’t played with these very much since I tend to use white paper but they are on my next thing to try list. CLICK HERE TO BUY
Sakura 10-Piece Gelly Roll Metallic Gel Ink Pen Set – LOVE love these pens It’s really hard for me to decide if I like the glitter pens (aka Stardust) or these metallic ones best. Metallic colors include silver, copper, blue, red, green, purple, pink, emerald and 2 golds.
Sakura Souffle 10-piece Gelly Roll Gel Ink Pen Set –Souffle dries lighter and pastel than when you first draw it on. The Souffle looks fabulous on darker papers or on top of darker inks or paint. The set consists of-Yellow, Orange, Green, Pink, Purple, Light green, Light orange, Blue, Gray and White. Joanne Fink is a big fan of Sakura. Find her on Youtube for demos of all of the products. CLICK HERE TO BUY
If you already know you are going to want everything then you can splurge on this jumbo pack of Sakura Jelly Roll pens that have all the glitters, metallics, golds, silvers and moonlights as part of the pack. The problem with these packs are the large number of gold and silvers. I use those only for accents but this pack has a TON so you might be better off with just getting exactly what you want in the smaller packs. I DO really like that storage case though… looking to see if I can find one that is similar. CLICK HERE TO BUY
Koi Coloring Brush Markers – This is a 12 color set that works just like watercolors so you can get really pretty and blended effects in your coloring and Zenspirations and Zentangle Inspired designs. CLICK HERE TO BUY
Koi Watercolors – I just bought this set so I haven’t gotten to play with it yet but I loved that it comes with a medium water brush. Sakura 24-Piece Koi Assorted Water Colors Field Sketch Set with Brush – This Koi kit is a Portable field sketch kit for use on the go or at home and it includes brush, sponge, built-in palette, 24 mini watercolor cakes, plastic case with a refillable koi water brush to transport and store water.
Maybe it’s just because I grew up coloring my folders with these pens but I’m still a big fan of Flair pens. On Amazon check all the different packs for the best price that day, this seems to vary WIDELY. CLICK HERE TO BUY
AMAZON PRIME – If you aren’t a member you should look into it.
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