Zen Tango

Zen Tango

When I made my creative goals for 2016, it was my intention to put more art into my life. I’d started a Crafty.com drawing class, and I meant to finish it. I invested a chunk of money in supplies…

…but I never made it past the first couple of lessons.

Learning a new skill takes time, and that’s time away from writing. I know creating in a different medium will refuel the writer in me. I really do want to learn to draw, but I cringe at sacrificing the time.

Zentangling seemed less intimidating, so I thought I’d explore it.

First Attempt

My first attempt.

If you’re not familiar with zentangling, it’s an art form that shares the benefits of meditation. Calligrapher Maria Thomas and former monk Rick Roberts developed the practice. Kass Hall, artist and author of Zentangle® untangled, explains, “Zentangle is the use of repetetitive, basic pattern drawing…Zentangle is about being thoughtful. Deliberate. Focused…it forces you to stop, think about and feel what you’re doing.” You can learn more about zentangle on the official website.

(Click on any of the smaller images below to see an enlargement  and/or caption.)

I started out by lurking on a zentangle group on Facebook. I admired what other people were doing and promised myself I would try–soon.

Then the organizer of the group proposed a year-long challenge of strings, actually a new square every day divided into sections for participant to fill with the patterns of their choice. I decided to use the challenge (on a hit-or-miss basis) as a means of practicing the patterns.

Honestly, you can learn anything on YouTube, so I looked for some tutorials online. The first ones I used were posted by a girl named Jessie. Here’s her introductory video:

I picked out a few of the patterns to practice, and then I began some of the challenge designs. (I’ve scattered them throughout the article.)



This loopy string seemed to call for a loopy design.


And not every Zentangle has to be a string. These are some designs I practiced on index cards for the ICAD challenge:




Cabin Floor

2016-06-19 13.31.09

a hybrid of Zentangle patterns Echo and Facet







And a couple more strings:


Betweed, Muzic, Whiska, Tipple



Kaleido, Fetti, Heartline, FlutterBi, Stubs, Rami

Are you a Zentangler? What are some of your favorite patterns? Share in the comments below.



About Andrea R Huelsenbeck

Andrea R Huelsenbeck is a wife, a mother of five and a former elementary general music teacher. A freelance writer in the 1990s, her nonfiction articles and book reviews appeared in Raising Arizona Kids, Christian Library Journal, and other publications. She is currently working on a young adult mystical fantasy novel and a mystery.

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