Kerrie Woodhouse

Whimsical words and watercolour

Learning to exhale with Zentangle

Beginner Resourcesphoenixarttally

I've spent so much of my life in the world of business and economics, and there is a part of me that loves that. It can be exciting and dynamic. But much like many other parts of life (juggling work, parenting, domestic chores, fitness, etc.) it seems to me to be all 'inhale'. 'Exhaling' seems increasingly tricky.  I have been learning to meditate for many years, and think that it is likely to be something I continue to work on for the rest of my life. I don't know about you, but I find as a busy, active person, that sitting still and trying to just 'be' can be frustrating and sometimes impossible. It can be about as soothing and effective as the well meant words, 'don't panic', offered to an hysterical woman.

I have discovered the delightful art of Zentangle, and this seems to be an easily applied salve to the troubled mind. There is no pressure of colour choice (usually black pen, Sakura Pigma Micron, for preference) and no possibility of making a mistake (the art is non-representational). Beautiful patterns emerge from the repetition of simple lines and strokes. Each tangle is supposed to be small (3 1/2 inch square), making it quick to complete. I must admit I enjoy it so much that I have done tangles of all sorts of sizes depending on available time and mood!

Zentangle artists seem to be among the most generous, I think. A quick Google search will turn up an abundance of reference material for a beginner, and with just a few simple pointers, it is easy to get started. The first stop would have to be to see the creators of Zentangle (Rick and Maria Thomas) and hear their explanations of the ethos of Zentangle. The site also offers beginner's kits, and other resources, as well as a list of Certified Zentangle Trainers in your area.

'Knyt' and 'Cruffle' from the instructions on

I think my favourite Zentangle resource would have to be Linda Farmer's site where there is a comprehensive library of step by step instructions for different patterns, generously shared by Tanglers everywhere. I really enjoy learning a new pattern and seeing how a potentially complex design is broken down to its simple parts.

Whether it is to de-stress, to warm up and get into the art 'zone' or for no reason at all, I think Zentangle really is for everyone.