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Discovering Zentangles as a creative practice

by Anja
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If you have been following my blog for a little while, you already know that I recently launched a Mandala Coloring Book.

A year ago, drawing never crossed my mind. I always thought I was terrible at it and never spend much time trying to get better. After finishing college, I rarely stepped foot in an art supply store.

Writing became my outlet, my escape from everyday worries until the dreaded block finally hit me. I was left with nothing but a deep depression. What will my outlet be now?, I wondered often.

I always felt the need to do something. It took me many years to rediscover knitting. As much as I love feeling of soft yarn passing through my fingers I wasn’t able to express myself just recreate someone else’s art.

Stress eventually got the best of me. By then, coloring books for adults were becoming all the rage. They were fun and relaxing at the same time.

Finding an outlet

I certainly needed to let go of anxiety, so I bought my first coloring book last summer. Once I got home, I retrieved my old watercolor pencils out from the depths of my closet and started coloring.

I’m not going to say that the relief was immediate but after so many years of working with a keyboard it felt good to hold a pencil in my hands again. After filling the white spaces with colors, things seemed to calm down in my brain.

It was only a matter of time until I went back to the art supply store. So many things had changed since then! There were so many new tools available: brushes with a water deposit, India ink brushes and pens with archival ink that you did not have to clean afterwards. I returned home with a bunch of Staedtler’s Pigment Liners, a beautiful notebook for mixed media and a new eraser.

Drawing Mandalas

Mandala
Mandalas had fascinated me for quite some time and I finally wanted to draw my own. So one afternoon I just started drawing. I promised myself not to care about the outcome and not give the perfectionist in me a chance to complain.

If I made a mistake, I would ignore it or find a way to work it into the piece. I did start a few and not like them straight away, but I also forced myself to not tear them out of the notebook and maybe give them a chance to work on them later.

After a few months, I had close to twenty pieces, which ended up in the coloring book, and felt more at ease with my drawing skills. In those months I found out that I love drawing lines and shapes in black and white, my preferred colors. And last, that I had a need to try other ways to express myself.

Discovering Zentangles As a Creative Practice

I recently purchased Beckah Krahula’s One Zentangle A Day book because I was feeling curious about these little works of art and decided to give Zentangles a try.

Zentangle Art 02A tangle is done on a 3.5” (8.9 cm) square tile, and with black and white patterns a work of art is made. You start with a pencil string. Next you fill in the patterns using a pen (they recommend Microns, I’m using Staedtler’s Pigment Liners).You’re not allowed to use an eraser, you’ve to work with what you’ve got. This may seem like a challenge. I find calmness in letting a tile become what it wants to be. I don’t plan a tangle. I just follow the pattern each day suggest and let the pencil and pen do the rest.

Drawing tangles is the perfect activity to quiet the inner critic and start a meditation practice and get in touch with the flow.

While working on the book, I’m planning to share the finish tangles with you. Maybe you’ll be inspired to begin your own tangle practice, and find a new way to explore other parts of your creativity.

What are your creative outlets? Have you struggled with a creative block? How did you overcome it? I’d love to know! Share in the comments.

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