Sunday, July 18, 2010

Zentangles... so there's a name for that?

Recently, I started hearing about a "new" drawing phenomenon called Zentangles. The term started popping up in various blogs I read, so I began to investigate. The word "new" appears in quotes because doodling in this way isn't really new - it surely wasn't new to me... I've been doing it for years - as have many others (like Zoe Nelson and Catherine Witherell). The part that's new, is the phenomenon of lots of people drawing and doodling who weren't in the habit of doodling or making art. It's pretty much gone viral, with workshops, websites, books and related materials - including kits - appearing practically everywhere. There's even Zentangle Flicker Group.

Isn't it great that so many people have discovered this? It's always been a meditative form of drawing for me. Many of my jewelry designs were inspired by these patterned doodles, some of which I've been repeating for over 30 years - which I always just called "doodles." But now, I guess there's another name for it...

Another form of Zentangle that appeared on the scene is the Zendala. Zentangle + Mandala = Zendala (you may have read how much I like Mandalas and creating them in many ways). The images to the left aren't quite the style of the Zentangles drawn in a circle, but they are Mandalas made from some of my favorite doodles with an iPod Touch kaleidoscope program. They were later used as designs under transparent enamel... the possibilities are infinite.

Maybe I'm only helping to fuel the Zentangle "craze" by blogging about it. But this definitely a craze I can support. I love this kind of drawing and have filled pages with similar looking doodles over the years. And I found that many of the patterns I've used are commonly used by other doodlers. No doubt many posted are offshoots of things seen on the internet or in Zentangle instructions, but still, it's kinda fun to see that somebody thought of the same pattern I did - I might see a pattern I started doing 20 or 30 years ago. I hadn't seen theirs - and they hadn't seen mine... I actually think that's pretty cool.

Learning about the Zentangle phenomenon has been useful because for the last several years my doodles have been drawn with only one weight of pen - a fine line marker - mostly because I carry only one such marker with me. And mine look more "sketched" because of it - filling in the larger areas with a fine marker. Vickie Hallmark was inspired to make Zentangles - and hers are far from sketched, they have a cut paper or woodcut print quality. Seeing the various markers people are using for these has reminded me to go back and use different size markers to get more varied line width. I used to use Koh-I-Noor Rapiograph pens for doodles in the days when I did a lot of technical illustration. They aren't so practical for doodles now, but back then I always had them handy.

So grab a pen and start to doodle. You'll get lost. Everything old is new again... I'd be curious to hear how many others have been making "Zentangles" and didn't even know it...


  1. I would 'zentangle' (aka doodle) in my notebooks in high school and college during boring lectures. Threw out the notebooks when school was over and the doodles went with them. Wish now that I still had them...

  2. I zentangle too - just thought it was plain old doodling!

  3. Thanks for the link, Catherine! I find it amazing that the Zentangle (registered trademark) people have formed an entire business around this! You can become a Certified Zentangle Teacher and hold workshops to teach people how to do it. Are there really people who need to take a class? I can't imagine...

  4. It's a very clever marketing idea but I do think it goes a bit far for some to claim it's a new drawing style though. Like you said, it's been around for a long time (it was very popular during the 60's and 70's when I was in school in England).

  5. Your work is proof that "doodling" is not only meditative it can lead to beautiful and inspired art!
    thanks for the post on zentangles