Sunday, February 6, 2011

Theory of Zenangle

Theory of Zentangle

Zentangle is simple to understand and easy to enjoy — even if you are convinced you are not an artist. With Zentangle, you can always explore new areas of experience and insight.
Here are some theories which explain why Zentangle is not only easy and enjoyable, but also profound and uplifting.

Anything is Possible One Stroke at a Time

At first glance, a Zentangle can seem intricate and complicated. But, when you see how it is done, you realize how simple it is. When you create a Zentangle, you realize how fun and engrossing it is.
We love presenting to a class or seminar full of people who are convinced they could never draw a Zentangle. Then, within 15 minutes, they have easily accomplished what they thought impossible. This is one of our favorite Zentangle metaphors. You can transfer that insight and experience of success and accomplishment to any life experience. Something may look complicated, but you know you can do it one simple stroke at a time.

Deliberate Stroke

In Zentangle, you draw each stroke consciously and deliberately. We are always making "strokes" (thoughts, words, deeds) in our life. By taking Zentangle's inspiration to make each stroke deliberate, you understand how those apparently small and insignificant "strokes" of our moment to moment lives contribute to your life's pattern.

Deliberate Focus

Just as you make a deliberate pen stroke on your Zentangle, that very act of putting your pen to paper focuses your attention in a way similar to meditation or being "in the zone." As your eye follows your pen strokes your attention shifts to a state that allows fresh thoughts, new perspectives, and creative insights to flow unhindered by anxiety or effort.

No Eraser

There is no eraser in life and there is no eraser in Zentangle. However, in Zentangle (and in life), you discover that even if you make what seems to be a mistake, you can then build on that event as a new pattern and go in unexpected and exciting new directions.

Unknown Outcomes

Unlike most art, or most activities, you start out intentionally not knowing what your Zentangle will look like. Zentangle takes brainstorming to a new level with its metaphor of "not knowing" and by not planning ahead for an intended outcome. This method supports and inspires participants to build and expand on each new idea unhindered and unconstrained by limiting preconceptions.


Zentangle mimics this universe's fractal nature. Each stroke creates a tangle (our word for a pattern). Tangles are nested within a string (our word for a line which creates areas within which tangles are drawn). Tiles (our word for our paper on which you draw a Zentangle) can be grouped in mosaics of still larger patterns.


With no correct answer, Zentangle offers both a freedom and a challenge. Unlike crossword, jigsaw, or Sudoku puzzles, there is no predetermined right answer. You cannot fail to create a Zentangle. At first this freedom can be a bit unnerving. Soon it becomes a freeing and uplifting experience as you realize you can create never-ending, ever-changing "solutions."


You always succeed when you do a Zentangle because you always create a pattern. A Zentangle has no up or down and is not a picture of something, so you have no worries about whether you can draw a hand, or a duck. You always succeed in creating a Zentangle.

Comfortable Format

A Zentangle tile is 3 1/2 inches square (which, with respect to Fibonacci proportions, is equivalent to 89 millimeters or 21 picas). Zentangle is designed to be completed in one sitting. You can finish one in about 15 minutes. You get an immediate sense of accomplishment by completing your work of art in increments.

Meditational Artform

Zentangle's non-verbal language of patterns and proportions can open doors to insights which seemed locked before. Creating Zentangles opens those doors, not because they were locked, but because those doors swing on non-verbal hinges. When you create a Zentangle you can enter a meditative state in which intuitive insights flow freely. Get inspirations, ideas and answers unhindered by expectations or worries.


Zentangle is small enough to fit in your pocket or purse. You can always have everything you need with you to create a Zentangle wherever you are. Zentangle tiles are even stiff enough to be held in your hand while you draw on them.

Use Either Hand

Zentangle is so unique and simple that you can create one with either hand. Many studies show this activates a different brain circuitry, increasing creativity and your ability to problem solve.

High Quality Materials

Out of respect for yourself and your craft, always use the best tools and materials you can afford. With that in mind, we chose Zentangle's paper (fine, individually die-cut printmaking paper selected for its texture and archival characteristics), pens (Sakura's archival pigma micron pens, the only pen of its kind to use non-fading pH balanced pigments instead of dyes) and a finely-tooled magnesium pencil sharpener.

Beautiful Results

As you can see in our Gallery, Zentangle's results are beautiful and inspire further self-confidence and creativity. Zentangle leaves a trail of creativity and beauty you can revisit and recapitulate whenever you want. Zentangles are like dreams that don't fade and continue to instruct and inspire, weeks or years later.


Like a Japanese Tea Ceremony, when you create a Zentangle you also create a personal environment. You can use Zentangle as a tool to deliberately focus your thoughts.

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