I recently came across this form of meditative drawing which is called Zentangle. It is a fun way of creating beautiful images by drawing structured repetitive patterns. These patterns are called tangles. The “Zen” was added to it because the act of drawing zentangles is deliberate, pleasurable, meditative and you feel lighter after finishing one just like meditation.
Rick Roberts and Maria Thomas are the founders of this form of art. As they describe on their website, www.zentangles.com, Maria would draw patterns on top of a manuscript that she was working on. In speaking to Rick, she described feelings of selflessness, timelessness, effortlessness and a rich immersion in what she was doing – all classic aspects of a flow state. Rick who had earlier practiced meditation for many years identified this as meditation, and the two then created a system so that others could experience the same bliss. The Zentangle Method was born.
When I first came across it I felt a connection almost immediately as like many others I too had this habit of doodling on the sides of my notepad during a boring college lecture or a rather dull and uninteresting meeting at the workplace and sometime even during phone calls. I often felt that the patterns I drew were appealing (at least to me) but I never tried to pursue them as art or give them a larger space or structured form. However I do remember that when discarding old notebooks or diaries I used to fondly turn the pages and revisit the patterns I had drawn on those pages and take one more look at them.
Difference between a Zentangle and a Doodle
My first thought was that it is an extension of doodling but in a little organised manner. However once I started to explore this I realised that there are subtle differences between doodling and zentangling. Doodles are usually created during times when the person making them is having trouble paying attention to something else that’s going on, like a lecture or a phone call. However the creation of a Zentangle drawing is deliberate.
Unlike doodling, the person creating a Zentangle is giving it his or her full, undivided attention. A Zentangle cannot be created while on the phone or a boring meeting/lecture, because attention is an inherent part of this art form.The Zentangle Method helps you create a feeling of relaxed focus.
Creating a zentangle is a very liberating process and you will realise that once you start it it is so engrossing and soothing that it is hard to stop. Since this was my first attempt at it I used a reference drawing to create the drawing.
However zentangle in its original form is meant to be a form of expression of your thoughts and feelings and to me it a very good way of calming down your mind if your mind is distracted. Hence the act of creating the Zentangle is just as important as the final outcome. I think it helps the mind to sift thru information and organise it and provide the much needed mental peace.
So go-ahead explore it – there are hundreds of patterns available on the internet and Pinterest is a good place to look for them apart from Google search. Please do share your experiences of how you felt after creating your zentangle drawing.