Saturday, May 4, 2013

Taking on Tangling, Officially

If you've been reading my blog for any time at all, you know that I have occasionally posted about tangling projects, such as my tangled Easter eggs and tangled trading cards.  I discovered the concept of Zentangles two years ago, and have purchased several books on the subject, predominately the ones by Suzanne McNeill.  Thus far, I have been a "self-taught" Zentangle artist, I guess you could say.  But today I had the chance to get some "official" training.
Our Zentangle Starter Kit
Morris Arboretum in Chestnut Hill (an area of Philadelphia) offered a two-hour class in Zentangle, taught by Certified Zentangle Teacher (CZT) Terri Greenberg.  Twenty students gathered in the Horticultural Center, receiving a starter kit for tangling.  The drawstring bag contained five tiles, an official pencil, and a Pigma Micron 01 black ink pen, along with a couple of handouts and a note-taking pamphlet.
The Horticultural Center at Morris Arboretum, the beautiful location  of our class
I was interested to use the official Zentangle tiles for my designs, as I have always used regular drawing paper in the past.  There is something satisfying about sitting down to the precisely-cut 3-1/2 by 3-1/2 inch lightly-deckle-edged square, and yet I don't foresee ordering more for my own tangling; I'm fairly satisfied with the flexibility of using my own drawing paper.  Our instructor Terri explained that the specifically-sized tile is meant to reinforce the Zentangle principle of "the elegance of limits," which many of us have considered and appreciated when we've talked about limiting our materials for collage.
Our instructor, Terri Greenberg, standing next to a projection of one of her designs, published in a local paper.
Terri, who calls herself "an art enabler," is a patient and upbeat instructor.  She trained with Zentangle originators Rick Roberts and Maria Thomas during their first year of offering training sessions.  She explained that erasers are not used in Zentangle, because you are meant to make your stroke and deal with the outcome.  Terri was available to help anyone who felt like they had "messed up" to integrate the errant stroke into their design.
One of my two completed class tiles
She walked us through the seven steps of creating a completed Zentangle:

  1. Sign and date your work on the back of a tile.
  2. Use a pencil to draw four small dots in the corners of the tile.  The dots are a kind of ritual, signifying that you are entering a creative space.  
  3. Continue to use a pencil to connect the dots in order to create a border to frame your art on the tile.
  4. Also with the pencil, create "the string," which is a line that further subdivides the space into the areas in which you will draw your tangles.
  5. Switch to a pen, and fill in each of the spaces your string has created with the tangles of your choice.  Terri showed us Knightsbridge, Printemps, Hollibaugh, Dooleo, Trentwith, Shattuck, and Huggins.  Some are official tangles, and some are designs of her own creation.
  6. Go back to using your pencil (along with your finger or a tortillon for smudging) to add shading, which causes your designs to either recede or project from the page.  I have a huge amount of trouble with shading!  
  7. As a final step, add a stylized initial, or "chop," to your piece.  Terri showed us how she created hers, and encouraged us to develop a presentation of our own initials that we like for our pieces.

I walked around during our ten minute break to sneak peeks at my classmates' projects; there were a lot of talented artists among us!  Even if everyone is doing the very same design, each person brings a little bit different look to the final result.
Our class, hard at work
Terri is offering a Zendala workshop, in both black-and-white and color, during the summertime, and a more in-depth Zentangle class in the fall.  You can check out her web site here, and search for a CZT in your area here.

Here are some of the tangle patterns we worked with today:

Check out Tangle Patterns for the best source of new tangles to try.

Happy Tangling!

Come by on Monday to find out who our Giveaway Winner is!


Jo Murray said...

I'm fascinated by would be a great thing to do when waiting, bus, meal..etc. I always have a sketchbook and pen with me, but tangles are more unobtrusive.

Beverley Baird said...

I love creating zens - looks it was a wonderful class. Thanks for the info. said...

I am still pretty clueless but the class sure sounds like fun!

Joyfulploys said...

Hi Andria...lucky, lucky you for getting to take that class! I've been getting Rick and Maria's newsletter every month for a long time. There's some awesome designs out there. I just kind of fake it but it would be nice to sit in a classroom and take a class from a certified teacher...much better than getting a book, too. I bet we'll be seeing a lot more tangles from you in the future :)

Janet said...

You're so lucky to be able to take that zentangle class. I like what you did, too. I'm sure you'll be zentangling everything now!!

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uncustomary said...

This is great. It takes real creativity to make a tangle, and I love what you come up with. Kudos on signing up for a class.

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