Welcome to BLOG Zentangle. To learn about Zentangle, visit our website, read our free newsletters, take a class with a local Certified Zentangle Teacher (CZT), and best of all . . . create your own!

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Tangling Outside the Box

Molly writes: 

 Some of you may have heard of the phrase, “thinking outside the box”. This metaphor speaks of a creative thought process that perhaps explores an unknown territory, looks at something from a new perspective, offers a unique approach and steps outside of the otherwise expected way. Encouraging this perspective on brainstorming and problem solving often leads to new and exciting exploration and discovery.

I was raised in an “outside the box” house. Every day, every meal, every holiday, every hairdo, even every prom dress was a new adventure. Sometimes I would ask to get back in the box. Not an option. Looking back I realize how lucky I was. I now know to not just look at things for what they are or what they have always been but rather what they could be. Life is full of change, growth and opportunity and aren’t we lucky to be able to take advantage of that.

To me the Zentangle Method is a beautiful collision of structure and chaos. While it nurtures specific steps and illuminates borders it also encourages us to take our practice into uncharted territories. It pushes us to not fear so called mistakes, but rather see them as seeds for new opportunities. It invites us to “color outside the lines,” and to be lead only by those strokes that we put down ourselves. It teaches us that our unique marks are not only beautiful, but also important because of their uniqueness. 

We often say to our Zentangle artists to learn the rules so that you can break them. I love the structure and beauty of the method as it written, and I find it so inspiring to explore and try things a little bit differently once in a while. In the world of Zentangle art we time and time again see tanglers taking that artistic license and going “outside the box”. We continue to learn and be inspired by the all the ways you are doing this. This type of thinking is different for everyone. It might be that tangling a little lower the string line is a big deal for you, or you might be someone who likes adventure like perhaps tangling underwater like mermaids do.

When the time is right take a leap in your practice. Jump at that opportunity. Allow yourself to look at something for what it could be.

Whether it was a so called mistake or flash of brilliance that led you there, it took that bit of confidence to take a chance to see what could happen when you not only "think outside the box" … but actually “tangle outside the box". 

Join us with your "outside the box adventure" … Tell us your story here and post your work on the Zentangle Mosaic App using #outsidethebox. You can also download the Zentangle Mosaic app for free and search #outstidethebox to see the Zentangle art from across the globe!

We welcome both literal and metaphorical interpretations here … we do like to have fun after all.
We will pick a commenter at random to send a box of Zentangle goodies to in our next blog!

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Tiny Tutorial...Take Two!

Rick writes:
In 2007, we started BLOG Zentangle and began our enjoyable series of conversations within our Zentangle community.

In reading through these blog posts with their insightful comments, we decided to bring a few of them to your attention from time to time. It is easy, for me anyway, to sometimes think of old information as stale information. But these insights and conversations are anything BUT stale!

We invite you to enjoy this tiny tutorial from 2011...

                     Begin previous post . . .                  

Maria and I were talking about what to do for a blog yesterday. She started writing some notes for a tiny tutorial.

When you concentrate on every stroke of your pen, not worrying about what your tile will look like, and not hurrying through a tile because you have something else on your mind, you can focus on the different types of lines your pen can make. As you pay attention to these different lines, you may realize you have more "control" than you thought.

. . . let's explore what we can discover through control of our pens. I'm talking about good control, not obsessive control

Did you know that Rick and I spent countless hours trying out different pens on all types of wonderful papers? We unanimously agreed on the Sakura® Pigma® Micron 01 pen and Fabriano's Tiepolo paper. We love the subtle things you can do with this combination of pen and paper.

As an exercise, experiment with different pressures:

#1 - just tickle the tile
#2 - average pressure
#3 - pressing firmly (but not so heavy as to damage your pen)

Getting the look you want often involves slooooooowing down. Try making your strokes very slowly and see if it makes a difference in your deliberate lines . . .

Check out what bubbles look like the next time you are doing dishes or washing your hands . . . how beautiful!

Using this same deliberate approach . . .

. . . as compared with:

In this exercise with purk (one of my favorite tangles) by making your lines a bit lighter and your orbs a bit darker and slightly larger than what fits between your lines, it gives an illusion that this tangle is almost alive and moving. These orbs are busting out, creating perspective, contrast, depth and interest.

This tiny tutorial is not meant to get you to do something in some sort of so-called "correct" manner. It is also not meant to imply that there is a preferred outcome for your Zentangle creations. Our intention is to expand your range of choices and options. Sometimes, in looking for another pen or another color or another tangle, we overlook unexplored options that we already have. In this tiny tutorial, we're exploring the options of speed (of stroke) and pressure (of stroke) . . . an opportunity for a new focus, seeing things with new eyes.

Next time you open your Zentangle Kit and begin to tangle, you may discover more tools and options than you thought were in your kit (or in yourself)!

Click images for larger view.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Katharina Königsbauer-Kolb, CZT

CZT Family Tree
We always say that the Zentangle Method attracts really awesome people. We have had the pleasure of working with wonderful Certified Zentangle Teachers (CZT) all over the world and we are excited to share these wonderful people with the entire Zentangle Community. Through our series, CZT Family Tree, we will introduce individual CZTs.

Today, we are excited to introduce Katharina Königsbauer-Kolb


Name: Katharina Königsbauer-Kolb

CZT#:  18

Hometown:Diessen am Ammersee, Germany

Favorite tangle: It is changing all the time. At the moment, pokeleaf.

Favorite place to tangle: at my desk

How I use the Zentangle Method in my life:to focus and relax

My favorite story or memory about teaching the Zentangle Method is: I love the unbelievable silence in classes with children.

Through my experiences as a CZT, I have learned:  There is always a solution!

If I’m not tangling, you will find me…: Doing yoga or playing with my kids.

Website/Blog:  www.tanglekunst.de

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

When in doubt, aura!

Molly writes: 

I was stuck in the middle of a tile the other day. Doesn’t happen often, but every once in a while I hit a little road block. So paused for a bit and then for some reason heard my mother’s voice in my head, “When in doubt … aura."

So I picked my pen back up and just started to aura some of the lines that were already there. Those auras then led me to my next strokes and then the next which evolved into more tangles and so on.

For those of you new to Zentangle, We use the word aura to describe a line that echoes or mimics a previously drawn shape or line. Auras are simple and beautiful. It is a part of my practice that immediately allows me to enter space of calm. After creating that tile I kept getting lost in the idea of auras and it triggered some memories from my childhood. I having flashbacks of my mom creating with auras before way before we called them auras. I suddenly remembered my mother helping us with projects. She would write fancy letters on something and then show us how to closely draw a border around the letter forms that mimicked the shape and then we would draw patterns around the bordering line. She would teach us how to cut out photos and then show us how to draw a line around the shape to create funky frames. We would draw cartoons, illustrations and block letters and then we would draw these fun framing lines around the compositions to pull it all together. It was one aura after another. I started to laugh out loud when I thought about when we were whiny or bored she would make us run around the house 5 times … basically creating human auras around the house. I realized she had been carrying around this trick for years. "When in doubt, aura."

Was this part of her parenting mantra? How awesome. Once my head was in the aura zone … then I started to see the auras everywhere. Beautiful simple lines outlining and mimicking other lines and shapes within other art forms and works of art. A rock plummeting into a pond causing rippling circular waves. My loud voice in cavern repeating itself. The years of a tree’s life visible in its cross section with beautiful radiating rings. How amazing that we can cultivate this into our practice … just like a rock or a tree. How wonderful that this amazing beautiful technique not only found a home in the Zentangle Method but a beautiful descriptive name as well. I love that The Zentangle Method offers that access to creative flow. No time? You can tangle in a few minutes. No space? you can tangle in the palm of your hand. No artistic experience? If you can write your name you can tangle. Don’t know what tangle to draw? Roll the icosahedron die. Still cannot decide what stoke to do next … well you can always just aura.

When my Mom and Rick were coming up with method they had all of these experiences that lead them to make certain choices about the method and techniques, but I never thought about the aura component until now. So many of our tangles are variations and formula's of auras. So the next time your stuck on what to do on a tile … remember this. When is doubt, aura. 


Speaking of auras, check out this blog from 2014 where Rick and Maria explore auras.  

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Traveling Tangles and . . .

Rick writes:

At our CZT reunion last year, we held a silent auction to fund scholarships for CZT seminars. Several of the items available were original art by Maria and me. The effort was successful and because of it, we were able to help several people attend seminars in 2017.

After the auction, several people asked that if they matched winning bid for our art, could they also get one. We said, "Sure!"

We thought we had sent them all out until earlier this week we received a call and learned we had not. Yikes!

So we gave this lovely person a choice of tiles and she chose one which Maria then matted and framed. When I saw what she had done, I interrupted her (as I often do!) so I could photograph it. This piece was just too beautiful not to share. It would also make a great blog post.

Here it is:

Maria began the tile with a gentle field of mooka "sprouts." I added the indyrella over it.

If you have the Zentangle Mosaic app, you will recognize this tile as part of a conversation we're enjoying about layering tangles. (You can find them all by searching with the #tranzending hashtag.) While you are searching, also search the hashtag #travelingtangles. This refers to tiles that two (or more) people create. In this case, Maria and I were only across the table, but many traveling tangles are created across the world. It is inspiring to see the blending of different styles and techniques!

Maria mounted the tile into a piece of the Tibetan lokta paper that we used on our first Zentangle Kit boxes. Then she tangled and embellished the double thick matte and we signed it.

Here's a close-up:

Beautiful, Maria!


You can do all the searches discussed in this blog post with the free version of our Zentangle Mosaic app. It's available for Android smartphones, iPhones and iPads.


Tuesday, August 8, 2017

A Feast for the Eyes!

Martha Writes:

 I love to cook. From early on in my childhood I was drawn to the kitchen- not so much a hunger to eat but a hunger to create. I felt comfort in the process of preparing food to share with others. I was lucky enough to meet a chef who wanted to teach me and I spent the summer of my 15th year learning to use a knife - to chop an onion, to mince garlic, to peel and dice a carrot, some celery. It was all about practice and passion. He taught me to have respect for my tools and inspired a confidence in my abilities as a “creator” of food that I have never forgotten. I learned that even the most complicated recipes started with the same fundamental ingredients that I had just prepared and that was all I needed to go forth and create!

Recently, I began prepping a meal for a gathering of friends. I set out my old cutting board, my favorite blade in hand, and began to chop. This recipe is one that I have made dozens of times. My ingredients, carefully selected and washed, are similar to the last time but always some variation becomes necessary. Hmm, I’m out of this but that would be a great substitute! As it often is, I am alone in my kitchen, my territory, and I quickly get into a quiet rhythm of peeling, dicing, mincing, chopping, and squeezing all the while getting lost in my chore. (sound familiar?) At last, these seemingly simple tasks spawns a glorious, nourishing dish for all to enjoy.

 I am not sure why it was this specific day that the thought occurred to me. This process, this repetitive task, is so much like Zentangle! When we first learn the method, we practice our crescent moon, our hollibaugh and printemps. We learn that only the best tools should be used for this future masterpiece. We learn that we are artists and that it feels amazing when someone appreciates you and your artistic ability. Then confidence ensues and we get a bit daring- a dash of dingbatz, a pinch of sparkle, a dollop of diva dance and before you know it you have a completely unplanned treasure for the eyes!

With only a few basic ingredients (tangles) we have all the tools we need to create the most comforting feast for the eyes. Yes, there are days when we feel courageous or have a bit more time but both have boundless enjoyment for all to share. So, what’s your favorite Zentangle Recipe? Do you like simple, fundamental ingredients, or are you more adventurous and willing to take risks? Like all good recipes, Zentangle is meant to be shared. We would love to hear your favorite tangle combinations- inspiring us all to try something new.

 Bon Appetangle! 

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

What's in a Name?

Molly writes; 

 In the famous play, Romeo and Juliet, by William Shakespeare, Juliet speaks to Romeo,

 “What's in a name? that which we call a rose 
By any other name would smell as sweet.” 

I love this phrase. It makes me ponder many things. I think about what a beautiful thing it is that people and many animals alike have developed sophisticated ways to communicate. I think about the complexity of both the spoken and written word. I think about how practically everything has a word or a name that labels it or describes it. And then how different words are used in different languages, cultures, or geographic locations to describe the same thing. And to think about this system again ... does that "thing" change at all without that label or word to identify it? Do we see it differently? Does a different word change or alter its existence? We use words to inform, identify, educate and communicate, but as Juliet says, "What's in a name?"

 For instance, here is a word that is frequently used and has very important meaning in so many places across the globe. In English we call it love, but in other languages you will see it as basque, voljeti, обичам, estimar, voljeti, láska, elsker, liefde, armastus, rakkaus, amour, amar, liebe, αγαπώ, szerelem, elska, is breá, amare, mīlestība, meilė, сакам, imħabba, elsker, люблю, љубав, láska, ljubezen, amor, älskar, любов, caru, ליבע, 爱, and 愛. And this is only to name a few. Each word identifies the same thing but the word itself that is used is different in each language.

Another example is when I was a little girl, my mother would make this casserole made with layers of ground beef, corn and green beans and topped with mashed potatoes. It was called Pâté Chinois. I thought our family invented it. Years later I was at school and on the menu was this thing called Shepard's Pie. When I saw what it was, I thought, that is not Shepard's Pie! That is Pâté Chinois! Did they steal our family recipe and change the name? How dare they? So it turns out my family did not invent this recipe, they didn't even name it. It is a very old recipe. With more than a handful of names and variations. Does what it is called change the way it is made or alter the flavor? Perhaps in our heads a little ... but not really.

What does this all have to do with the Zentangle method? Well I think about the vocabulary of Zentangle. How we have such fun words to reference techniques and terms and we have names for all these amazing patterns we call tangles. This language is so helpful to identify, communicate and learn the Zentangle Method. We use language to teach this method. And we love to use it, but can we learn it and use it without any language at all? YES! We totally can! That is what is so amazing about this method. It can be beautifully understood, practiced and shared without a single word ... written or spoken. It crosses cultures, continents, religions, and generations. Zentangle art becomes a language in itself.

We put names on tangles and their step-outs so that we can identify them and learn how to create them. It does not mean that we invented the pattern or that we were the only one to ever discover it or create a step-out for it. Are their some tangles that are perhaps original patterns? ... maybe? but many of our tangles are beautiful patterns rediscovered from history and nature. We just come up with a way to draw them and identify them. So is it possible for one tangle to have more than one name? Sure it is. Is it possible that the same tangle has multiple step-outs? Of course. Can there be multiple variations of the same tangle? Yes again.

“What's in a name? that which we call crescent moon
By any other name would still be the same beautiful tangle”

Tangle on my friends.


The winners from our last blog are:

1. a free year's subscription to Zentangle Mosaic: Mary (Biology professor)

Please email julie [at] zentangle [dot] com

2. Anything is Possible One Stroke at a Time Print: Linda JF

Please email your shipping information to maria [at] zentangle [dot] com

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Make Your Mark!

Rick writes:

I often hear, “Go out and make your mark!” But people are so used to consuming what others create, they forget they can make their own marks.

Maria and I believe that life is an art form. We also believe that each person is an artist. However, most forget that creativity is easy, natural and fun.

Ask students in any 3rd grade class, "How many here are artists?" and every hand will reach for the sky. But ask them again in high school and rarely will a hand move.

As you take tests throughout years of schooling you learn there are predetermined right answers. Everything else is wrong. When you solve crossword or Sudoku puzzles, each has one predetermined solution. Even coloring books convey the subtle message that someone else is authorized to create the marks within which you must color.

When you do not use your creativity, it atrophies.

So how can you regain your creative passion? Our (predictable) answer is . . . the Zentangle Method, of course!

The Zentangle Method teaches you how to make marks and then (most importantly), how to make them your own. In Zentangle art, there are no predetermined “right” answers. However the Zentangle Method offers the necessary structure so you can express your marks with ease and confidence.

You have an infinite reservoir of creativity. With the Zentangle Method you will begin to appreciate the vastness of that reservoir. You will discover how good it feels to exercise your imagination and express your creativity. You can make a mark on your world. Begin that process by discovering how fun it is to make your marks on paper.

With each stroke, more imagination, creativity and confidence show up. You discover that the necessary stroke shows up when you need it. Gratitude shows up. You admire what you create.

What will be your contribution? . . . your service? . . . your offering? What mark will you make?

Life is an art form.

You are an artist.

Anything IS possible, one stroke at a time.™

Make your mark!



How has the Zentangle Method helped you to make your marks, your way? Please tell us in the comments below and we will choose two names to receive one of the following gifts with our gratitude:
  1. A year's subscription to the Zentangle Mosaic app!
  2. A print of Maria's beautiful "Anything is possible, one stroke at a time" poster

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Welcome CZT 29!

Thank you to everyone who attended our CZT 28 seminar at the Providence Biltmore from June 25 - 29.

We are thrilled to introduce you to the CZT Class of 29!

In this seminar we shared all things Zentangle with people from:
  • Belgium
  • Canada
  • China
  • France
  • Germany
  • Hong Kong
  • Japan
  • Korea
  • Kuwait
  • The Netherlands
  • New Zealand
  • Taiwan
  • Thailand, and
  • 27 states in USA
After this class, we now have over 3,000 CZTs in 40 countries . . . Wow!

Many students shared amazing examples of their Zentangle art and Zentangle inspired creations:

Peter Ouyang joined us from Sakura of America to help us better understand how Sakura pens work to create Zentangle art:

As always, the mosaics of Zentangle tiles drew everyone's attention. It's one thing to see your own tile you just created, it's another to see it in a mosaic of over 100 other tiles!

"Speaking" of sharing your tiles in a mosaic, Julie Willand (of Zentangle, Inc.) explained how to use the Zentangle Mosaic app to share your individual Zentangle tiles in a world wide mosaic:

We look forward to sharing the seminar magic with you in person at future seminars. They are magic!


All of us at Zentangle HQ are SO grateful for all who traveled from near and far to make this experience all that it could be.

Thank you!

For all who are about to come or who are considering attending, we look forward to meeting you and working with you.

Until next time . . .

Rick and Maria

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Welcome CZT 28!

We are so grateful to all the wonderful people who joined with us at CZT 28 at our new home in the Providence Biltmore from June 18 - 21.

And here they are . . . please welcome the CZT Class of 28!

In this seminar we shared all things Zentangle with people from:
  • Argentina
  • Australia
  • Canada
  • Colombia
  • Czech Republic
  • Germany
  • Hong Kong
  • Japan
  • Korea
  • The Netherlands
  • Singapore
  • South Africa
  • Taiwan, and
  • 31 states in USA
Once again, students were so generous with sharing their Zentangle art and Zentangle inspired creations with us all:

Our time in the classroom was fun . . .

. . . and engaging.

Everyone admired the mosaics from each exercise as each unique tile contributed to so many masterpieces worthy of contemplation.

We look forward to sharing the seminar magic with you in person at a future seminar!


All of us at Zentangle HQ are SO grateful for all who traveled from near and far to make this experience all that it could be.

Thank you!

For all who are about to come or who are considering attending, we look forward to meeting you and working with you.

Until next time . . .

Rick and Maria

The winners from our last blog are:

1. Leslee Feiwus
2. Alice McCullum
3. Deborah Butterfield CZT 19 

Please email your shipping info to maria (at) zentangle (dot) com.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Unexpected Outcomes

Maria writes:

Not too long ago, I got a (slightly) panicked call from​ one of my daughters while driving her children to school. "Stop the car, I'm gonna be sick," one said.

Pull over, emergency avoided, turn around . . . and head back home.

"Mom, can you take the other child to school?"

"I can't, but Rick can."

An hour later she calls back, "False alarm – ate more breakfast and wants to play – we're going back to school!"

The teacher was not surprised. She knows how much this child dislikes public speaking and today was this child's turn to speak in front of the class.

Flash-backward. . . 50 - 60 years, and I can remember exactly the same thing happening to me like it was yesterday! The symptoms precisely the same, the fear worse than I could imagine. This fear stayed with me all through life, never being big into groups, not wanting to teach, and for sure never wanting to speak in front of any size group.

As I replayed these memories over the last couple days, I realized those fears have totally disappeared.

What changed in my life?

Zentangle, of course.

We get heartfelt messages, letters, emails and conversations from folks telling stories of how creating Zentangle art helped their lives. . . but I had never pondered how it helped my life.

When the Zentangle Method "presented" itself to Rick and me, the first words I said to Rick were, "We have to teach this to others." 

It didn't occur to me at the time that this meant I had to become a teacher and a public speaker. And when tanglers of the world asked "Where are your books?" I became a writer, too.

Creating Zentangle art did not make me an artist. I had been there, done that since I was 5 years old. But what did change was I became a fearless teacher, speaker and writer . . . and I am having the time of my life doing things I never thought I could do. (Anything really is possible . . . !)

And that, my friends, is what I am grateful for.

How cool is that?

So now, the big question is . . . "How has practicing the Zentangle Method and creating Zentangle art changed your life?"

We'd love to hear your stories, and others will, too.

As usual, we will choose a name at random (we use an online random number generator) and send some fine goodies your way!

We love being able to do that.


Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Humble Beginnings

 Julie writes:

Last week I wrote about how we need to stop comparing our Zentangle art to others and embrace our practice. Well, Maria liked the blog (and your responses) so much that she suggested I write one about comparing our Zentangle art to… our Zentangle art. Are you scratching your head? That’s ok. It will all make sense.

Consider this – a world class ballerina’s first step as a baby was probably a wobbly one. Michael Jordan probably missed his first basket and Julia Child probably burned her first soufflé. They all may be known as exceptional in their field, but they all started somewhere.

And so did we.

The more you practice something, the better you get at it. The same rings true with your Zentangle practice. The more you tangle, the better you get at it. By “better,” I mean, you become more comfortable with the pen and paper. You refine your style and master techniques and tangles. You find a safe space where the pen meets the paper and you grow. But, you had to start somewhere.

 After last week’s blog, Maria thought it was a good idea to find the first tile she ever did and encouraged us to do the same. It was humbling to compare where we started to where we are now. To see how our Zentangle practice has evolved and our styles have emerged. It is also a good exercise when you are feeling inadequate about your work, to see how far you’ve come.

Julie, 2004

Rick, 2004

Maria, 2004

Molly, 2004

Whether you have been tangling for a week or for years, we encourage you to compare your first tile to your most recent tile. The tiles tell the story of your Zentangle journey.

Join us in this exercise on the Zentangle Mosaic app by uploading your first tile(s) using the hashtag #humblebeginnings. You can also download the app for free and search #humblebeginnings to see where Zentangle artists from around the world got their start.

If you are not on the app, you can find your first tile(s) and hang it somewhere you will see it often, to remind you how you’ve grown!


When I wrote last week’s blog post, I hesitated before I hit “publish.” The irony was not lost on me that I was feeling insecure about posting a blog about overcoming insecurity. I am so glad that I did. Your responses were heartfelt and I was filled with appreciation and gratitude for all of you that shared. We selected one commenter at random to receive a Zentangle surprise:

J. Stough

Please email your mailing address to julie (at) zentangle (dot) com

Happy Tangling!