Zentangle – Art Time

Zentangle is a method of black and white line drawing within a 3.5 inch tile or square that requires focus, deliberation, and mindfulness to perform a meditation in pen. (This is my own definition broken down from what I’ve read across the internet. You can go to Zentangle.com for a more detailed overview.) I just discovered the word a few days ago, but in actuality, it is something I’ve created since I was a kid – you know, before iPad and smart phones and even video games other then Pong. I used to draw strings on paper with a crayon and fill them in with patterns and colors to create something unique. I still do it from time to time as an adult, usually when I’m waiting somewhere in public and I need something to clear my mind of all the noise and chaos around me. Too bad I didn’t jump on the wagon years ago to tag a name on it and get credit for the “invention” – and then produce kits to make it easy for people to get started. The next time I have an idea like that, I need to do better marketing.

Truly, you don’t need a kit. You don’t even need skill. You just need a piece of paper and a pen and a little time on your hands to draw. Everyone has a creative side that needs nurtured, even if only to hang it on the refrigerator door for a while.


First, draw a square approximately 3.5 inches (10 cm) on each side. It doesn’t have to be perfect or straight. It’s actually better if it isn’t.




Next, create a “string” – a baseline within the square with creates compartments for your tangles.String



Now, start filling in each compartment with a pattern or tangle. You can make it simple – just lines or circles or other geometric shape, or you can make it more complex, with a weave or flower pattern.




After you fill in each compartment, you can also add shading using the cross hatching method.


Other than the box outline and initial thread, all of the above is done in pen, so you can’t erase any “mistakes” – in fact, you can’ make any with this method. Just go with the flow. Do what feels right and enjoy the creation. This is art that is supposed to clear your mind and allow your senses to reset. I use this when I have writer’s block (like today), or when I just want to scribble an hour away because I don’t want to do anything else (like all the time).

As you get more advanced with the method, you can do more complex patterns and shadings.There isn’t supposed to be any orientation (up or down) and some will say there shouldn’t be a plan. I’ve seen several drawings labeled as Zentangles on-line that look more like deliberate drawings of cats, butterflies, and seashells than random meditative drawing. Not that you can’t work a realistic image into your tangle – I’ve made small suns and flowers in some of these. But if you deliberately set out to draw a cat, I think you are missing the whole idea. You be the judge.

Right now, I’m experimenting with many different variables in the tangles so see what I can do best. I have a book of recycled paper pages just waiting to be filled with a few months’ worth of tangles.

All over the internet, you will find patterns shared by other artists, so if you can’t think of anything, do a little research. Many of the patterns even have names. In fact, there is an entire glossary of terms that go along with Tangling. I usually just grab a pattern from my surroundings – such as a tile floor, wallpaper, magazine image, or nature.


Zentangle Resources:






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