I first started to see tangle patterns specifically the Zentangle style, as pioneered by Rick Roberts and Maria Thomas, show up on blogs a few years ago, but it wasn't until last year that I tried it.
This stress-free type of doodling and drawing claims to be able to be both relaxing and focusing. One book refers to this art form as "yoga for the brain". All you need to create your own drawn tangles is a micropen, a pencil and something to draw on. The teacher I met suggested a nice cold-press watercolor paper as a base although she prefers the official zentangle squares.
Today, I will be reviewing 3 books on this art form - Zentangle Basics and Zentangle 2 by Certified Zentange Teacher (CZT) Suzanne McNeill as well as Totally Tangled by Sandy Steen Bartholomew (CZT).
My daughter recently took a class on Zentangle at our local community center and became hooked instantly. I took a second class with her and found it a very diverting activity, filled with fun and creativity. I also loved that there are no erasers allowed in Zentangle because there really are no mistakes. You don't need drawing talent just the will to create.
I bought her Suzanne McNeill's books to extend her Zentangle experience. Zentangle Basics is an easy-to-use book with a brief but informative introduction and simple to follow instructions. It contains 25 patterns (or tangles) to start the new Zentangler off with lots of options. Each tangle is shown step-by-step so that even non-rule followers and non-direction-readers like me can follow along. Personal interpretation is highly encouraged.
As well as showing individual tangles, Suzanne shows how they work together to create a finished piece of art.
Here's a simple piece of Zentangle which uses several of the tangles or versions thereof in Zentangle Basics including W2, Chevron, Tagh, Cross Stitch, Tufts and King's Crown:
In Zentangle 2, Suzanne uses her clear and easy to follow writing style to give inspiration with 25 more tangles. For this volume, Suzanne expands on the uses of Zentangle that she had mentioned in her first book. She demonstrates how you can use Zentangle to add flair to scrapbook pages, art journals, titles, and cards. Once again, she shows step-by-step instructions using a method of showing the current step in red that I like very much.
Here's a quick piece I made using patterns from Zentangle 2Beelight, Up and Across, Black Box, and Pillows:
Sandy Steen Bartholomew's book Totally Tangled similarly gives fabulous instructions and wonderful examples of zentangle art. Sandy gets quickly into the actual art and Totally Tangled is filled with great tips and ideas to get you creating. She packs tons of fabulous patterns and ideas into this streamlined volume.
Here's a piece I made using some of the tangles in Sandy's book including Jacki, Laydee, Chugh, Inbloom, Flyte, Awdry as well as tangles inspired by some of the illustrations shown:
So which book do I like best? I puzzled about that for quite some time and decided I loved them all. Like Zentangle, all the books were stress-free and filled with great instructions and examples. Each was put together in such a way that I was inspired without being intimidated.
Want to share your Zentangle fun online? Here's a few guidelines. You can share your completed work but please do not share step-by-step instructions of a tangle that you did not personally create. Just as you would not share a collage image or repackage it and sell it, you cannot republish or recreate the steps of a tangle without permission from the creator. For more information, check out this great article on TanglePatterns.com.