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Friday, 14 August 2015

One Zentangle A Day - Book Review

I created all the art works in this blog getting inspired by the book.

Blog 32

Three years ago, my supervisor asked me if I would be interested in promoting my Famous Artists art courses for kids in the upcoming summer camp “Doodle'n'Draw” and I did not hesitate at all to accept this offer. For my regular four week sessions, I determine the artists we will study before posters are printed for the promotion of the course. This way, the parents and children know ahead of time which artists' works we will be working from. On the other hand, in my 10 to 12 week drawing course, I only prepare the first class, then ask my students what they would like to draw. It is their course, and I want them to enjoy the things we are drawing because if the like a subject, they are much more eager to participate and also more successful. However, for the camp, I did not know what the kids were expecting. I was also aware that I would not be able to support everyone in the group of 20+ children the same way I can do it during a class with up to 12 students. Therefore, I decided to start the week with a warm-up exercise of doodling.

While I was browsing for ideas, I saw the word “Zentangle” for the first time. As I always like to be well prepared I wanted to find out more about this new trend. I wanted to know the difference between a doodle and a Zentangle. A bought a couple of books in preparation of the camp, one of them was “ONE ZENTANGLE A DAY” by Beckah Krahula (ISBN 978-1-59253-811-9). I did not use the book for the camp as I was sure that the 7 – 12 year old children would not be able to calm themselves in a big classroom setting to follow the strict method of Zentangling.

The mindfulness and complete focus on the creation of the design that stays within a fixed format and with a prescribed method of using repetitive patterns is the big difference between the Zentangle and a doodle. Doodles are generally created while you are otherwise occupied, e.g. during a not so interesting class, a meeting or during a long phone conversation. The doodle is done without full attention.

I did not even look at the book after that for a long time. However, whenever we go to the cottage with the whole family, space is an issue. In general, the car is so packed, that my painting gear does not fit. Instead, I usually take some pencils, watercolours, and a sketch pad. The last two times, I also brought the book. I am not too worried about doing a design each day. I just work through it when I feel like it. I wanted to try out the approach of learning new tangles for every exercise to increase my repertoire of patterns, and see some examples of interweaving the pattern so make the designs more interesting.

I have been following Krahula's instructions and enjoyed the many suggestions and examples. However, sometimes, I had a hard time understanding her explanations, or I had to look for definitions of terms in a later section of the book. In addition, some of the step-by-step illustrations of the tangles miss steps or the steps look different than the final tangle. While I see all the names of the different tangles, I will never be able to remember them, nor do I feel it is necessary to create beautiful pieces.

The list of materials for Zentangling is thorough, and the descriptions for the use of the different kinds of pens, pencils, watercolours, markers, and pastels very useful. However, I got annoyed when the author explained the difference between Zentangles which are done on the 3.5” x 3.5” official Zentangle tile and Zentangle inspired art (ZIA) which is done on a different surface, or in a different size or shape. A nice marketing scheme to increase the sale of the official products!


While you can follow most of the daily pattern with some basic equipment, you can spend a lot of money if you want to try out all the materials used for the exercises.

All in all, you get a ton of inspirations, even with regard to 3D creations. When I went through the book, I loved all the delicate patterns, and look forward to trying out the rest of the zentangles in the following chapters. I will definitely not buy all the equipment suggested but will modify the exercises to use the materials I already have at home. For me, it is all about adapting the exercises to my own style, and to use the materials that help me to express myself. This does not mean that you should not try new equipment but get comfortable with some basics first before you invest tons of money in materials that will end up somewhere at the bottom of a drawer, never to be seen again.

Have you already worked with this book or can you recommend another book? Do you enjoy the relaxation from doodling, or Zentangle inspired art? How do you feel about the many names of the different tangles? Do they matter to you or do you just enjoy the different patterns? Do you use the technique to relax? Please share your thoughts with me.



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