Photos and text by Alora Rueth in the Summer 2015 issue which can be purchased at http://www.magzter.com/US/Country-Diva-LLC/Country-Diva/Lifestyle/
I never heard of Zentangle® until by accident there it was on Facebook. A neighbor, Rosie Fellenz, posted her latest creation on her timeline, and it intrigued me. First, I had no clue what it was and, second, I had no idea my neighbor was an artist. When I saw her work after first seeing it, I thought it was just doodling. As she posted more pieces on Facebook, I came to realize it was more than that.
What Is Zentangle®?
According to Wikipedia (The Free Encyclopedia) online, Zentangle® is a new type of art. It was created by a calligrapher (Maria Thomas) and a monk (Rick Roberts). When one looks at it, it does look like abstract art. It can take on a basic or simple form of just drawing one simple pattern or it can be advanced by fitting simple patterns together. While Zentangle® is relatively new, the patterns are not. They are derived from designs found in nature that have been around for centuries inspired by various cultures and are not that hard to recreate, although originals were developed by the creators of Zentangle®. However, one cannot say that Zentangle® artists are restricted to centuries’ old patterns. New patterns are being developed and rapidly growing in number. There are people who teach Zentangle® who must be certified through a program taught by its creators, a simple system known as the Zentangle® Method taught at Providence, Rhode Island. There are teachers worldwide including the North Pole per the official website, http://www.zentangle.com.
It all began with a smartphone. Rosie discovered the Pinterest app after hearing a lot about it from other people she knew and thought she would look into it. That is where she found Zentangle®.
Soon after creating her own Pinterest account, she created boards on Pinterest which held “pins” or photos/tutorials about Zentangle® that inspired her. Her collection grew as time went on, and she was thankful for the Pinterest feature that lets a pinner know when a photo has been pinned before on a board. Pinterest had her as she says “hook, line and sinker.”
Getting Started With Zentangle®
Rosie proceeded to learn more about Zentangle® mainly through Pinterest. She learned patterns through the various pins she collected on her boards as a result of her own searches on the site and videos that were provided there as well. She found the videos helpful because they showed step by step how to complete a drawing. She would look at a pattern and then create her own version of it. She will use Google sometimes to view images of Zentangle®, but she has found most of them already are on Pinterest. She owns a book of patterns, but again she says most of them are on Pinterest. She then realized that it didn’t pay to spend money on books when she could get what she needed from Pinterest.
Rosie started with a pencil. She then added pens. The key to creating Zentangle® properly is the tip of the pen. It is best done with a Sakura Micron of .05 size, which has a tip finer than the average pen and can be found in craft or scrapbooking stores like Michaels. Pens like the Papermate Ink Joy may work, but the down side of them is what Rosie calls “blotching” which results in bleeding into the paper. Some people use a Sharpie with a fine tip, but she prefers the Micron and gel pens which create a smoother line. She uses protractors, a compass to make circles and ruler to help create her designs. She has a blender (used typically for rubber stamping) to make shadows when using a pencil on drawings.
Although any kind of paper will do like scratch paper to get started including recycled paper, Artist Tiles is better which also can be purchased at Michaels. Gel doesn’t saturate it or go through like it would with recycled paper or paper that is too thin. She also likes to use artist sketch books to prevent accumulating too much paper. These books also serve as reference books that hold various types of designs she has learned to create. Grid paper can also be used as Rosie has seen on Pinterest but doesn’t use it herself, even though others claim it helps keep a design proper in terms of size and perspective.
She has a lot of circles in her drawings. “Don’t ask me why, but they are relaxing. You can do a lot with circles,” she says. She will use a compass or even a Dixie cup to create them. She also likes to use Celtic designs like the Celtic knot.
She doesn’t incorporate people into her designs and rarely does animals, though she has seen people use both in their designs. They will focus more on the hair of a person, not the face, or create designs with rabbits. While some artists have an end result in mind, Rosie has no idea what her piece will look like at the beginning. She will draw upon Pinterest for inspiration and even tattoos she sees on people. As she creates a piece, she doesn’t focus on the end of its journey but the journey, itself.
Rosie describes her pieces as just “doodles.” She does take them to events where her work is judged. For those occasions, she uses better paper. She stays away from lined paper and goes with plain paper when her work is judged. She will use gel pens for the production of smoother lines.
She has developed a preference along the way for using red ink with black ink. “Red is a rich color to me,” she says. She doesn’t like to use ore than one color. She says, “Sometimes the color can take away from what you’re doing, and it doesn’t turn out sometimes.” She has used other colors though, and she will use color pencils for those.
Rosie has also discovered she has a perfectionist’s tendencies at times when she works on a piece. When some aspect like a line, for example, doesn’t go the way she wants it to, she will find a way to work around it. There are times though when she has “drawer’s block,” and there are other times she will push through it and finish a piece. That is not to say that there are those times when she will get halfway through a piece and after struggling with it ends up throwing it away. Even though there are no rules per se with Zentangle®, Rosie admits that she can become “too persnickety” about fixing what she calls mistakes. No one else may notice them, but she does.
What she would like to do is combine Zentangle® and fractal art some day. In terms of fractal art or what she calls “space art,” she says, “That’s done with a computer and with mathematics.” According to Rosie, fractal art is created using geometry where there are many lines. Each line has a mathematical value to it like a 0.5 or a 0.2. If you want to change a line, it is a matter of bringing it down numerically to shape it, though she is not one hundred percent sure until she explores this further. She likes the colors used in fractal art. She would like to try it with fractal where one part could be a Zentangle® design placed within fractal art lines on paper, not on computer.
The Why of Zentangle®
Rosie likes zentangling because there is no right or wrong way of doing it. “It’s of your own doing…you may have an idea of how you want it to look like when you’re done, but when you’re done, it’s not anything like you thought it was going to be, but yet it turned out good. Like I said, there is no rhyme or reason to it.”
She likes to begin her day working on Zentangle® because it relaxes her. Other times when she would like to do it, she can’t relax enough to create because of distractions. Still for the most part, she finds it as a means of dealing with stress productively.
Another advantage is that she can take it anywhere without needing a lot of special tools, and there are a lot of ways Zentangle® can be created.
She isn’t the only one who has figured out Zentangle® as a creative means to relax. According to a blog post by Psychology Today’s Cathy Malchiodi, PhD, on March 31, 2014, Zentangle® is seen as a self-help art therapy that is “used to enhance relaxation and focus.”
Rosie’s Advice For Beginners
“Just start out; do something.” Look at patterns on Pinterest, and “go with the one that grabs your interest.” For example, Zentangle® paisleys attracted her at the beginning. Whatever looked appealing to her, she went with.
My Point of View
From what I have seen of Zentangle®, I can say it resembles abstract art. Some of Rosie’s pieces reminded me of MC Escher’s work which was produced in its purest form on paper and wood blocks. Unlike art that is driven by a purpose or vision, Zentangle® is driven by raw inspiration and the Zentangle® artist’s own creativity from within. There is no logic to it or deep thought that goes into it. It just happens.