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 CZTs (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 called 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 CZTs and non-CZTs 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, Europe or Canada
You can purchase several official small 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 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.
Check out these Facebook Groups to join the community.
Since writing this article when I created this site back in 2016, Zentangling has enjoyed a resurgence with more books including Zentangle coloring books. Check the links below for more information on this fun mindfulness practice
AMAZON PRIME – If you aren’t a member you should look into it.
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